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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hockey Log: Sunday Edition

Future Watch Special

Abby Gauthier’s celebrity has already filled most every media crack in Greater Boston.

Raring to join the PC women’s hockey team this fall, Gauthier was already profiled in the Boston Globe –sixteen months ago. Three months later, she was chatting it up with Tom Cuddy of WBZ radio upon finishing a year as junior captain of the St. Mary’s of Lynn team.

And, most recently, as a reward for cementing a cumulative 174 high school goals and 344 points spaced over six eye-catching seasons at Red Sox legend Tony Conigliaro’s alma mater, she was a recent choice for ABC-Boston’s “High Five” segment, an interview now securely stapled on YouTube. (It’s been up for 17 days as of this column and has garnered a respectable 474 views).

None of this, of course, makes her a surefire barn-blower when she carries her blades into Schneider Arena in September. But, for the moment, the Providence can at least gleam with pride over beating the likes of New Hampshire, which is actually a tad closer to Lynn in the way of mileage, in this derby.

Some other slated rookies to watch for:

Ashley Cottrell, F, Detroit Little Caesars- Not unlike Finnish phenom Mari Pehkonen, Cottrell has a nice collection of suitcase stickers, have represented Team USA at the inaugural World U18s and piloted her club to the U19 national tourney. And not unlike Pehkonen’s established linemate, Alyse Ruff, Cottrell has flaunted a pre-collegiate impression of natural goal-scoring. She potted five strikes (as well as five helpers) in as many games en route to World U18 gold and hit the net another five times at Nationals, where Little Caesars eventually nabbed silver.

Kate Bacon, F, Benilde-St. Margaret’s (Minn.)- Opposite Cottrell, and under the upfront watch of future skipper Bob Deraney, Bacon inserted three goals at the World U18 tournament. With her full-time club, she dispensed 29 goals and 19 helpers en route to All-Metro membership. Her scoring touch doesn’t appear quite as substantial, but will likely be welcomed with open arms.

Jennifer Friedman, D, California Wave- Friedman has been commended as a leader for an elite franchise that only recently flooded its rinks for an all-girls squad. Along with fellow Friar pickup Laura Verahanta, she is a Wave pioneer as far as Division I future goes, and she pitched in two assists at the team’s first national tournament appearance.

Meanwhile, as far as friars.com has reported, the Tim Army Corps has officially inked four NLIs for 2008, those being goaltender Justin Gates, forwards Chad Johnson and Rob Maloney, and blueliner Danny New. Other sources such as insidecollegehockey.com (INCH) have the likes of Bridgewater Bandit grinder Chris Rooney under the Providence heading.

Over two seasons in the EJHL, Rooney has produced in mere sprinkles –upgrading his totals to 9-17-26 versus 2-11-13 the previous. It may be noted, though, that he missed hunks of both seasons, playing only 30 of 45 possible games two seasons back and 38 this year.

An appreciable fragment of Rooney’s points this season came at vital moments. He charged up three power play points, two shorthanded, and two game-clinching strikes. He was also one of only four Bandits to bat the mesh in their two-game stay in the playoffs.

One caveat, though: Rooney made himself out to be a Class A penalty minute scarfer, amassing 108 in his latter junior campaign. On four occasions, he broke double-digits in that area, including two 16-PIM nights in the space of a week back in November.

Other yet-to-be-declared but popularly cited commitments include:

Bryce Aneloski, D, Cedar Rapids (USHL)- Aneloski is just hitting the age of 18 as of this Sunday. Such striking youth would make him comparable to Joe Lavin of this year, as does his inclusion in the NHL Central Scouting leaderboard. As of Saturday, the last revisions before the June 20 draft, he was #157 amongst North American skaters. But more importantly, despite that youth, he has already sculpted himself a 6-2, 205 lb. frame, which is all the more craved given Cody Wild’s early take-off from campus.

Andy Balysky, F, Taft Prep- Balysky captained Taft to the New England Prep championships where, according to the critique of McKeen’s Hockey Prospects “had a quiet game” upon meeting New’s Avon Old Farms team. Other than that, he was also cited as “a solid skater with quick strides” “with a quick release and skates well with the puck.” But with 15 of 16 forwards presumably returning as it is, Balysky in particular will need to make a sharp first impression to get an immediate breakthrough.

Matt Bergland, F, Benilde-St. Margeret’s (Minn.)- Along with the aforementioned Maloney, Bergland would make for another intriguing steal from the State of Hockey. He split his four years amongst three different Minnesota high schools and capped things off in climactic fashion, scraping out 70 points as a Benilde senior and earning all-tournament accolades at the fabled state championships. That more explicit data is one more reason for the likes of Balysky and Rooney to enter training camp heads-up.

Bronze seven

Last Wednesday, under the direction of Warwick resident John Hynes, Team USA snatched bronze at the Russia-based U18 World Championships, besting Sweden 6-3. Seven participants, all full-time members of the National Development Program, were bearing imperial Hockey East flags.

Brandon Maxwell, a 2009 BC recruit, put forth a John Muse-like performance, pushing away 42 Swedish shots en route to a personal tourney record of 4-1-0. Kind of suggests that the eyes of Jerry York and Co. know what they want and know when they see it, doesn’t it? But given Muse’s apparent solidity at The Heights (there is no indication that the tireless tumbler will even make waves in the NHL Draft) Maxwell might as well take his sweet time getting there.

The Amerks’ other two games were handled by Joe Cannatta (1-0-1), who is set to join in on Merrimack this September, though the Warriors themselves have a reliably established starter in Andrew Braithwaite. Just ask the Friars, who saw 139 of their 142 stabs at Braithwaite swallowed in three meetings this past season.

Future BU Terrier Vinny Saponari and Maine Black Bear Ryan Hegarty each pitched in three assists while soon-to-be BU blueliner David Warsofsky etched a team-best seven helpers in as many ventures. Only Robbie Czarnik, a Michigan pick-up, bettered his captain Warsofsky in terms of points with eight.

The future of New Hampshire was represented with a little less vigor through Kevin McCarey, who went pointless, and Ryan Bourque, who while posting a 2-3-5 scoring transcript is not due to come to campus until 2009.

Recruiting name game

The latest INCH lists of up and coming collegians for the next two falls are intriguingly sprinkled by names shared with a variety of famous –or, at best, middling- sports and entertainment figures.

For starters, PC’s own Chad Johnson is liable to catch speculation by crossover sports fans that some visually innovative goal-scoring merriment is in store at Schneider.

Then there’s the name of Chris Connolly –a 2008 BU signee- which might perk up the minds of ESPN yesteryear junkies. Chris Connelly (carefully note the sole spelling difference), you may or may not recall, hosted the midday talk show Unscripted during the wee months of this decade.

As of this coming autumn, Cory Schneider is back in college hockey. That is, the Rochester, N.Y.-raised, Ohio State-bound forward who shares a name with the BC Eagle-turned-Manitoba Moose. The yet-to-be-known Schneider goes into Columbus coming off a British Columbia League championship campaign with Penticton, where he pitched in six playoff goals.

Note to Hockey East backstoppers: consider refining your cages between now and 2009. A mighty mite (listed at 5-11, 155 lbs) is Northeastern-bound and his name is Andy Bathgate, just like the New York Rangers’ sharpshooter whose bloodying torpedo encouraged the late Jacques Plante to shield his face. The younger Bathgate’s Husky debut should fall roughly one month short of the 50-year anniversary of Plante’s enlightening experience (November 1, 1959).

For the same year, the Quinnipiac Bobcats have another BCHL-bred striker under their realm in Brooks Robinson. Robinson, playing for the Cowichan Valley Capitals, sported the same uniform number (91) and selfless tendencies as the Bruins’ Marc Savard, penning a team-leading 43 assists and 62 points. His expertise around third base, meanwhile, is not quite certain.

By the time Bathgate is getting acclimated in the Hub and Robinson in Hamden, Michigan will finally be welcoming a distantly forthcoming forward by the name of Chris Brown. But rather than collaborating with Rihanna and inviting her to be his Cinderella, this Brown will be bent on shattering the glass slippers of Notre Dame-like teams, something this year’s Wolverines didn’t quite pull off.

Speaking of Michigan, Ann Arbor-raised goaltender Drew Palmisano is bound this year for…East Lansing? If that doesn’t define “treason” in the Yost Nasties’ dictionary, what does?

Even more quirky, though, Palmisano shares a few common traits with the Spartans’ established crease custodian, Jeff Lerg, through a considerable size deficit (155 lbs. compared to Lerg’s 150) and the fact that he was last seen with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers.

Going for the big Bucs

Okay, this is more a personal note than anything else, but while we’re in the recruitment spirit, former NHLer J-P Parise announced his resignation Thursday from the one-of-a-kind high school powerhouse, Shattuck-St. Mary’s, to coach the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers.

Parise, whose playing resume includes a 21-game sip with the Bruins and participation in the 1972 Summit Series, was most recently entitled the school’s “Director of Prospect Evaluation” overseeing the development of such NHLers as Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and his own son, Zach Parise.

Granted, SSM is far more readable for Midwestern ice investors, but to make this story relevant to the coast, the rural Minnesota-based school produced former BC star Patrick Eaves and a handful of Friars all on Parise’s 11-year watch. The Shattuck-PC pipeline includes David Carpentier on the men’s side and current women’s assistant coach Meredith Roth and goaltender Danielle Ciarletta –just to name a few.

As a former student and puck scribe at Shattuck, I bid happy trails and best wishes to the ever-colorful Parise (or, as he is probably terming himself on a golf course this weekend, Par-Easy).

Quick Feeds: Ten days after the declaration, Michigan’s Red Berenson formally received the Spencer Penrose Award as the nation’s top coach Saturday as part of the AHCA coaches’ convention in Naples, Fla…Soon-to-be-captains in Hockey East, as declared at the schools’ respective awards banquets this week: Matt Gilroy and John McCarthy at BU; Joe Charlebois and Greg Collins at New Hampshire…The crafty Cats went so far as to bestow a “Most Worthy Opponent” at their banquet last week. The recipient was BC’s Nathan Gerbe, which is only surprising if you consider the fact that UNH swept its season series with the Eagles.

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