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