Ashburnham, MA – On a chilly and rainy Sunday morning we made the trip up to Ashburnham in order to see two top prep teams go at it with Shattuck St. Mary’s in town to play Cushing in a scrimmage. With the lineup sheets dispersed, we made note that Cushing was missing many of it’s key players including Army commit forward Jake Hewitt and Colorado College commit defeseman Owen Paskowski. No matter though as this game promised to be a great display of draft eligible talent, made even more notable by the numerous NHL scouts who were in the building to see both teams.
The first period was a high flying affair: the teams were trading chances at each end and there was a lot of speed, skill and cunning being deployed. Ultimately the score was knotted at zero for most of the frame as both team’s goalies were equal to the task and covered up loose rebounds. The seal was finally broken with five minutes to go when Shattuck defenseman Scott Morrow (Darien, CT) let a shot rip from the point off a feed by forward and BU commit Artem Shlaine (Moscow, RUS) that found it’s way through traffic to give SSM a 1-0 lead. Roughly two minutes later they padded their lead when big forward and Michigan State commit Winter Wallace (Boulder, CO) fed an open Shlaine out front for a quick snap shot which evaded Penguins goalie Colin Ronan (Saugus, MA): 2-0 SSM. One minute later Shattuck was at it again, and guess who? It was Shlaine who got involved by darting to the far post and converting on a nice pass by North Dakota commit Jackson Kunz (Grand Forks, ND), which is how the first period ended: 3-0 SSM.
In the 2nd period, it started out with more of the same. Just over three minutes in Shlaine made a pass in the slot right in front of the Cushing net which was converted quickly by Wallace to make it 4-0 Shattuck. At that point Cushing started to push back off the breakout as junior forward Caleb Bogdanovich (Scarborough, ME) bolted to the far post and finished up high to stem the tide for Cushing: 4-1 was the score. The remainder of the period featured a lot of zone time for Shattuck and some clean breakouts for Cushing but nobody lit the lamp.
In the third period the Penguins were able to carry over the momentum from the second and they made Shattuck a little nervous as Nolan Hayes (Milton, MA) took a shot from the point that senior forward Max Dorrington (North Reading, MA) was able to get his stick on in the crease to tip home another score which cut the Shattuck lead in half: 4-2 with 11 minutes to go. Unfortunately that was as close as Cushing would get as Shlaine won a faceoff in enemy territory back to defenseman Sam Duerr (Chicago, IL) who clapped one home from the point cleanly: 5-2 was your final.
- F Artem Shlaine, Shattuck St. Mary’s (BU commit)
- D Scott Morrow, Shattuck St. Mary’s
- F Billy Norcross, Cushing (BC commit)
Despite the final score and description above, this was a closer game than the stats might indicate. Cushing has a lot of high end skill on the roster but they didn’t have all of their weapons playing. Simultaneously, while Shattuck owned the puck possession for long stretches of the game, Cushing was able to create transition offense off well-executed breakouts and beat Shattuck off the wing or to the net to create scoring chances. Stating the obivous, but Shattuck is a very, very good hockey team. They have poise, vision, awareness and of course athleticism and plenty of skill. It will be hard to find a more complete prep team in the country. But enough about team play, onto the players we liked.
For Shattuck, Artem Shlaine was sublime. We tallied up two goals and three assists for him on the day and while our scoring line may be open to debate there is no doubt that he affected every scoring play for SSM. He is a smooth skater with quick hands, great vision and plenty of confidence: he will do just fine at the D1 level. 2004-born forward Maddox Fleming (Rochester, MN) had a nice game as well. He has quick hands and quick feet and you can bet that his ability to play this effectively against players three years older will create a lot of buzz during this season. Finally, two defenders to note here (both uncommitted) are Sam Duerr and Scott Morrow. Sure, they both scored goals today but their mobility for their size is intriguing. Duerr is listed at 6’1 and Morrow at 6’2 and they both are great directional skaters who come in and out of breaks well.
For Cushing, they didn’t have the puck on their sticks nearly as much as they liked but every time juinor forward and BC commit Billy Norcross (Lynn, MA) gained possession he was a threat to make something happen. We liked his active hands and stick in the neutral zone to create turnovers and acceleration ability to turn the play up ice. He got himself in shot lanes to block potential SOGs and wasn’t afraid to play the body either. He should have a strong season for the Penguins this year. We thought senior forward and Maine commit Max Bogdanovich (Scarborough, ME) has taken a nice step forward with his hustle and pace of play. He is making himself tougher to play against as a senior using that long reach on the poke check and leaning on opposing forwards to knock the puck loose. It’s always fun to watch senior defender Tim Kippenberger (Wilmington, MA) play in his own zone because he crunches players along the boards. He can handle it effectively in tight spaces as well, but his physicality is a great tone setter for the defense.