Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Seawolves Recruit Updates: Midseason 09/10



The December break is always a good time to take a comprehensive look at UAA's future hockey players.  The last post I made about all these guys back at the end of September can be found here.  Since that time I've closely followed all these guys.  I can't say I've looked at every boxscore and read every game recap but I've come pretty damn close.

There's some variability with regard to success for each of these guys so far this season but on the whole they are shaping up to be one of the better overall sets of recruits the Seawolves have listed.

I usually try to follow an alaphabetical format with these updates but I'll reverse it this time in the name of egalitarianism.

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Quinn Sproule
6ft - 195lb; May 5, 1990
Defenseman - Okotoks Oilers
In 2008/09 Quinn led Oilers defenseman in scoring with 12 goals and 19 assists in 59 games.  So far this season in 36 games he has 5 goals and 8 assists.  That's a slight dropoff in overall points but Quinn is still the leading goal scorer from the blueline.  Okotoks is currently 2nd in the AJHL's weaker Southern Division with 43 points which would put them in a tie for 5th place overall in the 16 team league.  In my early season update I "bet" that Quinn would reach the 20 goal mark this season.  Obviously, that was overly optimistic.

Normally, you'd like to see some statistical progression from earlier seasons.  Quinn will have done well if he picks up his scoring and matches his nice numbers from last year.  He's another versatile player, having played forward as a midget and converting the backend in his first season with Okotoks.  He opened this season with 3 goals in the 1st 4 games and then suffered through the next 25 games without putting the puck in the net.  In his last 7 games, Quinn has notched 2 goals and 2 assists so it appears his drought is over.  Here's a link to the best profile-style article I could find on Quinn; "versatility" and "team-player" are the two descriptors of note with regard to him.


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Wes McLeod
6ft 2in - 185lbs; September 30, 1990
Defenseman - Prince George Spruce Kings
The best place to start with talking about Wes is to link you to yesterday's extensive profile on the BCHL website.  It's tells you much more about Wes than I could possibly cover here.  He talks about wanting to get to the show as well as his continuing development when he gets to UAA.  It's a good article, so go read it.

Wes is in this 3rd season with Prince George and in just 30 games so far this year has already surpassed his numbers last year in 58 games.  In 07/08 he managed 3g-11a in 58 games.  In 08/09 he tallied 6 goals with 24 assists over the 58 game schedule.  This year he has 8 goals and 23 assists for a very nice 1 point per game average from the blueline.

Wes has received some nice perks last year and this.  He competed for Canada West in the recent World Jr. A Challenge tournament and was named to the 6 player all-tournament team.  Earlier this week he was named to the Interior Conference starting lineup for the upcoming BCHL All-Star Game.

Wes will hit the ice at UAA with as good a resume as any current/past Seawolves blueliner.  He is an elite level prospect.


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Sam Mellor
5ft 10in - 175lbs; November 13th, 1992
Forward - Trail Smoke Eaters
As excited as I am to see Wes McLeod hit the ice for UAA, I'm beside myself with regard to Sam Mellor's future at UAA.  In his BCHL rookie season Sam couldn't be classified any other way other than to say he is tearing it up.  He has 18 goals and 17 assists in 36 games.  He is the 4th leading scorer amongst all rookies and the three guys ahead of him are basically a year older.  He is the 3rd leading scorer overall on his team and currently sits #21 in goals and at #32 in overall points on the league's leading scorer table.

Sam is currently listed as coming to UAA after the 10/11 season.  But don't be surprised if the Seawolves manage to bring him in next season.  It's perhaps a bit of a push.  He'll only be 17 when the season starts but if he's able to accelerate his high school work and qualify he'd certainly be a worthwhile addition to the roster in 10/11.  With a great rookie season comes some measure of vulnerability for a kid like Sam to move over the the WHL versus persuing his education here at UAA.

Make no mistake about it.  Sam is an elite level prospect as well.  His committment to UAA will not keep WHL teams from approaching him.  It concerns me greatly that unless he and his parents value the education route that he could be a risk to go to the Dub.  I follow Sam closely through Shawn Mullin's Smoke Eater blog who does an outstanding job covering them.


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Rob Gunderson
6ft - 186lbs; April 1st, 1990
Goaltender - Brooks Bandits
Rob will come to Anchorage into a great situation for a freshman D1 goaltender.  Next season, Bryce Christianson will be the default #1 netminder and there'll be no pressure on Rob to carry the team.  No doubt Dusan Sidor will do everything in his power to challenge Rob for the #2 spot but  it can be assumed that Rob will be default choice.  During the 08/09 season with Brooks, Rob led the league in games won with 26 and only 8 losses with 3 ties in 39 starts.  This season his more modest results are 12 wins and 9 losses in 24 games.  His current save percentage is .909 compared to .921 in 08/09.

Brooks sits at 9th overall in the AJHL.  Rob has 24 of the team's 35 starts.  His save percentage places him at 9th overall in the league while facing the 8th highest number of shots.  Ryan was invited to the Canada West Jr. A Challenge camp but ultimately didn't make the cut.  His winning percentage on an overall lower tier squad is a positive indicator for future performance.  When asked which athlete outside of hockey for his Brooks biography, Rob answered, "Tiger Woods".  I wonder if he'd answer that question differently these days?  In any case, Rob looks to be well positioned to be the Seawolves #1 netminder for probably a couple of season's depending on who else comes down the recruiting pipeline after his arrival here.


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Matthew Friese
5ft 10in - 170lbs; April 17th, 1992
Forward - Alaska Avalanche
Matthew is listed as either arriving next season or the season after.  In his first season playing Junior A hockey as a 16 year old he scored 4 goals and had 4 assists in 34 total games.  Of all the Jr. A leagues the NAHL is perhaps the most difficult to succeed as a younger player.  It is filled with 3rd and 4th year 20 year olds and is overall a very physical circuit.  This season in 29 games he has 7 goals and 10 assists with a +/- of +8.

Matthew is one of the few very promising younger players to come from Wasilla.  He has a great deal of experience playing against older competition that could serve him well if he is accelerated to come in next season.  If he and UAA's staff decide on another year of Jr. hockey he could possibly benefit from playing in another league such as the BCHL prior to coming in.  The offensive nature of that league would allow him to experience something other than the tough grind that the NAHL always seems to be.  I hear varying evaluations of Matthew's talent that overall lead me to believe that he could have similar potential to local players like Merit Waldrop and/or Eric Walsky.


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Brett Cameron
6ft 2in - 195lbs; May 11th, 1990
Forward - Spruce Grove Saints
Brett is a classic big power winger that we're all used to seeing come to the UAA program.  He is in his 3rd year with Spruce Grove and has shown a nice steady progression in his numbers.  In 07/08 he tallied 18g-23a in 58 games, last season he popped in 28 goals and added 39 assists in 55 games.  So far this year he has 7 goals and 10 assists in 21 games.  Why just 21 games?  Brett suffered a concussion near the middle of October that kept him out of action until late November.

The Saints are the top team in the AJHL this season and ranked as one of the best teams in Canada.  They have lost only 3 games in regular time and have 30 wins.  Brett is highly regarded and it seems like Spruce Grove was very careful with his return which is a good sign whenever concussive injuries are involved.  Prior to the injury Brett was living up to his billing and was staying near the top of the leading scorers table.  It will be interesting to watch how he returns to form as Spruce Grove chases a probable RBC bid.

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Gustav Bengtson
5ft 10in - 185lbs; August 31, 1989
Forward; Sollentuna HC
After two difficult years playing for 4 different teams in the USHL and NAHL, Gustav returned to Sweden this season after UAA's staff pushed his initial committment from this season to next.  Gustav is a great example of how a foreign player can unfortunately be marginalized by coaches with more provincial attitudes.  He showed much promise in his major midget AAA season in Utah which garnered hims the UAA offer.  A promising preseason in the USHL turned sour when Gustav found himself unable to crack a talented Cedar Rapids lineup.  He prospered in the 2nd half of that season with Texas in the NAHL only to see that team suspend it's operations for a year.  In Topeka the next season he found himself once again facing a provincially minded coach with a deep roster.  He played the 2nd half of last season just down the road with Kenai River.

His return home this season could be viewed as a nuturing move for him.  Being at home after two difficult years on the road seems to be suiting him well.  In 16 games so far this season he has scored 9 goals and added 9 assists for Sollentuna in Sweden.  Here's what his current coach Stefan Holm had to say about him;
"Gustav has all the tools a player at the highest level needs. His best qualities is his tremendous skating, stickhandling and not least his great commitment to hockey both on and off the ice. He has a fast and hard shot and can play physical.
Our fans loves his great intense offensive play where he is very hard to stop a lot of the times when he goes to the net.
Gustav plays a lot of powerplay where he is skilled with the puck with his good hands. I use him also some in penalty kill even though I rather save his energy to the offense."

Gustav should be an excellent addition to a UAA lineup that looks to be trending to something other than just size.  His maturity and well-travelled experiences should give him an excellent attitude when he hits the ice next year and help him become a contributor in his first year.  A big thanks here to my source in Sweden who's help has been invaluable tracking Gustav's development.


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Matt Bailey
6ft 1in - 191lbs; April 5th, 1991
Forward - Sioux Falls Stampede
Matt has the 11th highest point total in the USHL so far this season.  In 22 games he has 8 goals and 15 assists with a stellar +10 rating.  He is the 3rd leading scorer on the Stampede who currently have the 3rd highest point total in that 14 team league.  Matt was named the USHL Offensive Player of the Week on November 2nd after registering 2 goals and 3 assists in games versus Lincoln and Sioux City.  In his rookie season with struggling Tri-City Matthew suffered from some of the same provincial attitudes as Gustav Bengtson.  In Junior hockey, the kids with nearby parents get more consideration.  Players who's parents are distantly located can sometimes be screwed.  Nevertheless, Matt managed 10 goals and 14 assists on that forlorn 08/09 Tri-City team.

Matt was a Canada West U-17 selectee.  In his 1st season of Jr. A hockey (as a 16 year old) he scored 13 goals and added 15 assists for the Neepawa Natives in the MJHL.  I greatly look forward to Matt's arrival here at UAA.  By all accounts he has the necessary tools to become a solid offensive contributor.  It may be a slight stretch to call him an elite level player but he will be as fine an addition to the UAA lineup as we've seen in the last decade.  He'll come here with good size as a 19 year old and I anticipate he'll have an excellent career.

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Scott Allen
6ft 3in - 190lbs; July 6th, 1990
Forward - Spruce Grove Saints
Scott can be viewed in much the same mold as teammate Brett Cameron.  He is a classic big power winger.  He is in his 2nd full season with Spruce Grove and so far this season in 35 games has scored 17 goals and added 21 assists.  In 08/09 with the Saints he notched 15g-15a in 49 games.  In 8 games in 07/08 he scored 4 goals.  His current 1.1 points per game is a real nice scoring pace and good enough to put him at 3rd overall on the squad but tied for the lead in goals.

Scott is listed as coming to UAA in 2011 versus this coming season.  If he isn't accelerated, then look for him to become one of the leading scorers in the AJHL next season.  Spruce Grove is a powerhouse and looking at their roster I'd have to imagine they'll be serious contenders next year as well.

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At the end of this season the Seawolves lose 6 skaters and one goalie (Backstrom, Clark, Hunt, Lunden, Olthuis, Selby and Tuton). With committment years being somewhat fluid lately, I'm guessing we'll see an addition or two for next year at some point.  Unless, I specified otherwise the above players are scheduled to come in next season.  Typically, the UAA program is very tight lipped about recruits and adhere to the letter of the NCAA laws with regard to information releases.  There has been no fall LOI signup release from the University this season and I don't anticipate one.

Let's just say there were no surprises from the most recent signing period.  I do know the staff is busy as always recruiting; I know Coach Shyiak was out on a trip last week for example and that a recent staff trip included Saskacthewan.  There were a couple of anticipated AJHL prospects that went south on them in the last couple of months but there are many quality uncommitted players available in a number of leagues.  I anticipate the next new names we'll see will come out after the spring signing period unless of course the always excellent Chris Heisenberg lists someone.

35 comments:

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

A very exciting incoming class, can't wait to see them hit the ice in the Sully.

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

If magically they all can stay 4 years here.........if they properly develop.....OMFG there are gonna be an amazing senior class...dare I say better than this year's?

And, why are there so many PPG's in the BCHL, is it just league policy to call a penalty every other minute of the game, or are just opponents of Sam Mellor's Trail Smoke Eaters (BCHL) freeze up and take stupid and unneeded trips to the box?

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

Oh, and did the coaching staff maybe ban twitter? Or, did Clarky just decide twitter wasn't for him?

Donald Dunlop said...

It would be perhaps an overgeneralization to characterize the BCHL as having more penalties but there is a general feeling that western Canadian hockey tends more toward physical play ...

The BCHL is also one of the more offensively oriented leagues i.e... there isn't much trapping and the flow tends to be up and down.

So with those two factors it might make sense that guys tend to use their sticks more on an opponent versus other leagues.

But like I say ... that's all kinda overgeneralizing things.

Donald Dunlop said...

I know that when Kevin started tweeting that the school didn't have a written policy about it. They may have adopted something since then. If so, then it's likely to be an Athletic Department wide thing versus the hockey coaches nixing it.

I don't check those things very often so I hadn't noticed ... apparently Mickey Spencer was tweeting as well.

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

Okay, yeah just wondering, you have anything in mind that I could do 45 minutes, finals day here-and I am stuck here, bored as hell

Donald Dunlop said...

Try Justin TV

Donald Dunlop said...

Or Burnley v. Arsenal on Fox Soccer Channel ...

But only if you hate on Arsenal while watching it ...

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

Forgot to mention I'm stuck in the library and you can't stream video/audio, can't play games, basically you can't do anything..only 19 minutes left yes!

Donald Dunlop said...

Well at least you've had the luck of generally quick comment moderation on my part today ... don't count on it in the future even though my suggestions turned out to be useless.

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

It's allright

Donald Dunlop said...

The good news is that Burnley has tied it up in the 38th minute on a PK after giving up a soft goal about 9 minutes in.

I fucking hate Arsenal.

puckdangler said...

It really pisses me off reading the WCHA.com mid-season recap, saying that the Seawolves are "pretty much out of contention", but no mention of them knocking off Top Nationally-ranked teams, only that they "played nearly every team tough." WTF? Just like Rodney said, "I get no respect." GO SEAWOLVES GO

Anonymous said...

Puckdangler, what do you expect them to say? Maybe it will piss the team off and they will start to play up to their potential. We can't expect anybody out there to respect our team at this point in the season, we will need to start to earn that the first weekend series we have in '10

Anonymous said...

Knocking off top rated teams was great, we had to beat teams like minnesota state and st. cloud.
Let's start in the second half utilizes our seniors and juniors and winning those close games.
Freshman try-outs are done.
fan

Anonymous said...

Should have seen Mellor last night really tore it up.Differencemaker for sure.

Donald Dunlop said...

Mellor is even more impressive when you consider that scouts and schools were drooling over Beau Bennett until he finally committed to DU a couple of weeks ago.

Bennett has only 3 more goals than Mellor. Mellor is playing on a very young an struggling team (that is showing promise despite their record) and Bennett's team is one of the top 5 teams in probably all of canada.

Bennett is a full year older. Mellor is an incredibly great "get" as far as recruits go. He has as much if not more upside than Bennett and NHL scouts have been weighing in on Bennett in the last six months.

Mellor has shown already this season that his talent translates against older competition. I can only hope that UAA is doing everything within their power to make sure he comes here and preferably comes here next season if at all possible.

Anonymous said...

Thats exactly what I was thinking after I posted that....If Mellor had went to Penticton he would have as many or more points then Bennet. I think the NHL scouts do have Mellor on the mind as there were a few on hand for Sat's game. Also I have a strong feeling that Mellor will honor his commitment to UAA instead of the WHL....call it a hunch..

Donald Dunlop said...

Yeah ... Penticton had his rights, I missed how he ended up in Trail but good for the Smokeaters I guess.

I sure hope you're hunch is right about him coming here versus bailing for the Dub, we lost Spencer Bennett the like day after the NHL draft so I'm twitchy about that kinda stuff. I don't think Mellor is draft eligible yet so we don't have to worry about that if we just get him into UAA for the 10/11 school year.

Donald Dunlop said...

Bennett has just 3 more goals than Mellor. 16 of Bennett's 23 goals have come on the power play. Mellor has scored 15 even-strength goals and Bennett has scored less than half at 7. And Mellor is a full year younger.

Did I say that UAA has to do whatever they can legally do to ensure that Mellor comes here?

Anonymous said...

If a player is drafted by the nhl, he will get pressure from agents to push him that way.
He will also get pressure from the nhl to tie him up on a contract.
College players have time to improve there skills. If he bombs out the whl, which 75 % do, than he can start in the echl or go to a canadian university at 21.
Parents thing there son's are the next crosby.
Chl loves tying up players at 16 and 17.
Fan

Anonymous said...

Mellor I think will get drafted and once he is drafted he will not play for UAA - Mellor will either go to the WHL or get an opportunity to play at a school with a stronger hockey program that will develop him more. The BCHL is the weakest it has been in years and a player having so much potential should not take any chances that could derail his hockey career.

Donald Dunlop said...

Anon@908:
Allow me to correct you on every point. First, since he is a verbally committed player ... no other NCAA school will talk to him. 2nd, UAA is perfectly well placed for his development. The overall competition level in the WCHA is superior to the Dub. Both leagues have quality elite players aplenty.

But the difference is that in the WCHA boys can get the opportunity to develop against 22, 23 and 24 year old men. If Mellor could come to UAA and progress his scoring to 20 goals a year then he's got a good shot to go into the NHL (regardless of draft status ... though I agree he will be a pick ... but not in this years draft).

The Dub offers no real advantages in development. A different "style" of play perhaps .... Every skill he has to offer can be honed in WCHA competition just as it could be in the Dub.

Both last year and this year Mellor has proven he can play against older competition. UAA must show they understand this and be working right now to ensure he can come to UAA next season.

And it's just as likely (since we don't know) that Sam and his family are one of the many that concern themselves greatly with the value that a degree has to one's life. There is value as well to be had in the college "experience" that is missing from Major Junior hockey.

Playing hockey at a Division 1 college in the U.S. builds positive character in ways the Dub or any other Major Junior program can't begin to match. The combination of classwork, homework and playing a sport at the highest level of truly amateur hockey in the world creates young men of exceptional character.

Anonymous said...

"Mellor will either go to the WHL or get an opportunity to play at a school with a stronger hockey program that will develop him more".


LOL, like Lucia is developing his 20 draft picks? Get real. And I doubt that Glencross, Lawson, Beagle, etc. would agree with you.

Even players from Michigan Tech have the opportunity to be watched by NHL scouts, they are at the WCHA games all the time. Mellor would excell at UAA, but he might not stand out against more elite talent levels.

Anonymous said...

and one correction on you, Donald. A verbal agreement is just that...verbal. Other coaches can, indeed, continue to "recruit" the player. Case in point from a number of years ago...Brian Canady of Kenai verbally committed to UAA...Dean Blais and North Dakota came calling...bye bye Canady. It happens all the time. Nothing is final until you get a SIGNED letter of intent. Even then...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that really paid off for Canady, didn't it. He was a 4th liner who saw very little ice time. Thank's for making my point.

Anonymous said...

Coaches AND players change their plans, minds, feelings, whatever. If it's not in writing...
I'd be surprised if Bengson ended up at UAA. He's not WCHA caliber, iffy to get there by senior year, and to spend a scholarship on him would be foolish. They have a verbal with him, either side can say no thanks. Same goes with the Friese kid. If he doesn't develop the way UAA hopes, why would they ultimately take him? Or, if he develops splendidly, and UM or CC or Wisc. or BC or Denver...come calling, you don't think he would listen? Of course he would. Verbal broken, both go on their way. C'est la vie.
If I had a young kid, I'd want it in writing.
And one other thing. If Mellor wants to develop into an NHL caliber player, yes, he can do it at UAA. If he wants to develop into an NHL caliber player AND compete for an NCAA championship, UAA is NOT the place to go. Truth hurts, go Seawolves, give us something to get excited about in the second half.

Anonymous said...

Excellent case in point. Canady was a highly touted recruit, and would have been a top line player for UAA.

What did Blais do with his talents? He put him on the 4th line, and Canady saw very little ice time. Why do you think that both Fournier and Bishop both left UND? The grass is not always greener.

And what Blais did was very frowned upon. Coaches aren't going to get away with that kind of crap for very long. It comes back to bite them in the ass.

Anonymous said...

The majority of the team is on there way back to anchorage.
All the best in the second half.

Fan

Anonymous said...

Shyiaks New Years Resolutions I'd like to see happen. Free Selby. Give the players the respect they deserve. Give the players back their confidence. Win the rest of the season.

jjack said...

Fuck.


Just got Rickrolled.

woofiewoof said...

Hope everyone had a GREAT Christmas!

The current UAA vs. UAA Alumni game @ the Wells Fargo Center next Saturday sounds like a blast!

Info is on the goseawolves.com website! :o)

Zzzz said...

Keep the blogger - FREE SELBY...

Just kidding Donald.

Free the Blogger and Free Selby...

Anonymous said...

Correct on Hunter...Bishop left UND because the grass was not greener in the Forks. Fournier was run out of town because of poor choices he made as to whether or not to go to class, whether or not to stay in shape, whether or not to gamble, and whether or not to drink to excess. Hell no to the first and second, Absolutely yes to third and fourth.
Back to Canady...you think Blais is worried about others frowning on his poaching someone else's verbals? Not likely..he can't hear them because his national championship rings are stuck in his ears. (Thanks Patrick Roy)
And look where the poor guy is now..making big bucks coaching Nebraska-Omaha. He'll have them contending for league and region titles before long. Not saying it's right, but Blais plays to win, he often does, and that's what people like about him. Seems UAA could use a little of that mojo nowadays.

Anonymous said...

Fournier was run out of town? I seem to remember Blais being upset with him because he left suddenly and the team didn't have time to recruit a replacement????

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