While there isn't much to hoot and holler about regarding this season, there is next season and it's not too early to look forward. With bit of my own research and a whole lotta help from Suze from the UAA fan base at USCHO here is up to date information on UAA's next freshman class.
Erik Felde (D) - Vernon Vipers (BCHL)
In 42 games so far this season Erik has 17 goals and 38 assists. Erik began the year playing defense but is now skating at forward. Information about that change is hard to come by it's reasonable to assume that its a coach initiated move that's best for Vernon. In this radio interview (downloads an MP3 file) at juniorhockeyradio.com Erik expressed that he prefers playing defense (the interview is near the end). It's was recorded before he left Chilliwack where he started the year and he also answers questions about playing with Phil Kessel on the USNDT team a couple years ago. Erik's numbers put him at 5th in assists for the league and 13th overall in scoring @ 1.3 pts/gm. As mentioned in a previous post Erik played in the CHAHL Jr. A prospects game back in December and was player of the game for the West Team. It's impressive recognition in a game with the 40 best players in all of Jr. A Canadian hockey. Erik will bring a new dimension in defensive skating and puck handling that UAA fans haven't seen for quite some time. He is an elite recruit with a potential upside that "could" be equivalent to a Matt Carle or Jordan Leopold type player one day. Will he make me (us) forget about Martin Bakula? We'll see ...
Josh Lunden (F)- Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)
In 40 games this season Josh has 24 goals and 37 assists. He is currently ranked 3rd in scoring in the league. Josh was snubbed for the BCHL All-Star game which I can only assume is due to the fact that both of his linemates were named to the team and they're both playing in their 3rd year of juniors while Josh is only in his 2nd? Hard to say why the 3rd leading scorer in the league isn't in the All-Star game. Josh has basically doubled his production from last year with the team. He's got good size at 6'2" 200lbs and from his statistical increase it can be assumed that he knows his way around the offensive zone which bodes well for UAA considering their lackluster scoring this year. I don't know that I'd call Josh an elite recruit but his credentials are as good and/or better than any current Seawolf forward. While Felde has the potential for impactful play when he hits the ice at UAA it won't be unreasonable to expect it to be some time into next season before a player like Josh is fully adapted to the D-1 game.
Kevin Clark (F) - Winnepeg South (MJHL)
In 46 games this season Kevin has 36 goals and 35 assists for 6th in the league in overall scoring (3rd in goals and 11th in assists). There are two other interrelated and very interesting statistics regarding Mr. Clark. Firstly; he is 5' 8" 155lbs. Secondly; he is 3rd in the league in penalty minutes with 236. The league leader has 262 but I'm sure Clark can catch him if he would just really try. Seriously, I like those numbers; he's not a big kid but he obviously isn't afraid to mix it up. Coach Shyiak said that he played with "great emotion" and his current coach used the word "passion". I've perused a few of Winnipeg's box scores throughout the season and Kevin wasn't getting a lot of tripping, slashing, holding, cross-checking, ticky tack penalties. Roughing seemed to be his favorite along with fighting and a misconduct here and there. These sound like potentially negative traits but frankly all I think is Brian Kraft. Nuff said? A'ight then. He was player of the week for January 9th in the Manitoba league. I guess he didn't beat up any big guys that week. I'm pretty sure already that I'll enjoy watching him play in a UAA jersey. He's only second in the league in game winning goals though. As mentioned previously Kevin also played in the CJAHL prospects game in December. Yeah, the one with 40 of the top Jr. A players in Canada. Kevin is another player that could come in and make contributions when he hits the Sully's ice.
Ken Selby (F) - Dauphin (MJHL)
In 43 games Ken has scored 27 goals and 17 assists (9th in goals). Everything I read about Ken says SPEED SPEED SPEED and some more speed. As previously noted he won the fastest skater competition at this little get together called the CJAHL prospects game last month. Yeah, the one with 40 of the top Jr. A players in Canada. He is 5th in the league for game winning goals. His current coach characterized him as a game-breaking type of player. He only has 32 penalty minutes. He's a pretty big kid at 6' 2" 190lbs and has wheels? Nice. Nothing I like better than to see a kid fly up the ice with the puck and bury the puck. Ken is a wait and see in my mind with regard to how much and how soon we could expect to see any impactful play but I hope sooner rather than later we'll all see that game-breaking speed put to fruitful use. If you click here you can download another MP3 very recent radio interview with Ken from juniorhockeyradio.com. It's a short but good interview, the kid speaks well; and like the Felde interview it is near the end of the file.
Trevor Hunt - (D) - Chilliwack Chiefs
In 41 games this season Trevor has 9 goals and 30 assists. Which puts him at 3rd in scoring by defensemen in the league. He's playing on a team with obviously the best line in the league so I'd assume many of his 30 assists came on the power play. This tells me that he has good experience in that power play role and could enhance UAA's efforts there at some point. His coach in Chilliwack commented that he was one of the best open-ice hitters in the league. Maybe he'll be a Jeremy Mylomuk that puts some points on the board. If he can hit like Jeremy could then he's VERY VERY welcome to come here.
Two other players are coming to UAA next year. Forward Paul Crowder who "sounds" like a bit of a project. He was injured in the 14th game of the season playing for Burnaby in the BCHL and hasn't returned to action. I have no idea what the injury was. He is described as lanky and late-blooming as well needing to add strength to his upper body. He had 13 points in 13 games with 13 penalty minutes before being injured. Also coming is goalie Jon Olthuis who is 6' 3" and 190lbs. His current numbers are 35 games with a 2.93 goals against average and a save percentage of .899. He is 4th in minutes played, 14th in GAA and 7th in shots faced. If you click here you can download a video interview (.wmv format) from a series called "Inside the BCHL" with Bernie Pascall. It's low resolution.
07 recruit ('88 birthdate) defenseman Kane Lafranchise has 5 goals and 8 assists in 44 games for Spruce Grove in the AJHL. He's 6'1" 185lbs and its just too damn early to be talking about him. Look for more extensive research from me on him next year. These damn recruit updates take a long time to do so don't expect another one until the end of the Jr. season.
And a huge "shout out" to Firestorm for taking my suggestion to register and post at the USCHO fan forum. Many "phat props" to you for doing so! I like the signature. Thanks for the support.