We’re back!! Yes, hockey is back in Ontario! The sounds of the puck hitting the boards, the Ref’s whistle, skates cutting a fresh sheet of ice, it’s all back.
We are thrilled to announce that we have been watching pre-season play, and loving every minute of it. While we compile our Stoney Creek report, we want to release to you 5 players to watch from the U22 division in October. Below you will find our scouts’ thoughts on 5 players who stood out this month. These 5-to-watch releases will continue throughout the season. Additionally, stay tuned for our Stoney Creek reports, our Mid-Season ranking to be released around Christmas, and our Final League Rankings to be released after playoffs.
To see more on these players, including Star Rating, Ranking, and previous Neutral Zone Scouting Reports, click their name and head to their profile.
Rhea Hicks #88 (Mississauga Jr. Hurricanes, F, 2022, Syracuse): We last Ranked Hicks with the U18 group, now moving up to the U22, we like the adjustment. The future Syracuse Orange, didn’t have the highest rank within the U18’s previously, but we are excited about what we have seen from her to start the season. She gets your attention with her speed, puck control and playmaking. She can take the puck coast to coast to bury a beauty or find an open linemate to send a crisp pass for chances. We think she has great upside this season with the Hurricanes and we look forward to tracking her more.
Isabel Wunder #9 (Durham West Jr Lightning, F, 2022, Princeton): Wunder has been scouting by Neutral Zone for years, and she has yet to let our scouts down. Each time we watch this player, we have been dazzled by her level of compete and talent. She has a very complete game, physical and feisty, speed and shot, finesse and skill combine to put good numbers on the scoresheet and keep the +/- in the positive. Coming off a top 10 finish in her age group, we see Wunder climbing the ranking charts this season as she edges closer and closer to our elusive 5-star ranking.
Kyla Josifovic #16 (Burlington Jr Barracudas, F, 2022, UConn): Number 16 for the Barracudas has the speed, shot and scoring touch to fill the highlight reel every night. Dirty dangles, sick snipes and cannonating blasts bulge the twine and make you smile. She is another player looking to up their ranking this season. She returns to the Barracudas for one more season before she joins the UConn Huskies next season. The player’s scoring touch has been tough to ignore in pre-season play.
Claire Murdoch #9 (Burlington Jr Barracudas, F, 2024): With the big jump to U20, Number 9 for the Barracudas is one of the younger members on the team, but has the hockey sense, soft hands and skating to match with any of the older veterans. Last scouted with the U14 AA group and ranked second, Murdoch is earning her keep. Fun to watch with her creativity to set up a linemate to bury the biscuit or dangle the D and light the lamp. We look forward to watching her continue to develop her game and top the charts in her age group this season.
McKenna Van Gelder #17 (Etobicoke Jr Dolphins, F, 2022, Cornell): Number 17 for the Dolphins, Van Gelder is coming off our last ranking set as #2 in her age group. She has certainly used the time off to keep her skills sharp. She is a player who brings the hunger we have all been missing from hockey. She catches your eye with her work in the faceoff circle, her playmaking ability and her scoring touch. Soft mitts and a quick release make her a scoring threat every time she is on the ice. In the faceoff circle, pucks are drawn back quick and clean for possession or pushed forward for opportunities.