Monday, November 12, 2007

Boys High School Hockey Team Previews-#1-#3

The teams that finished between first and third last season all had significant offseason losses, but also have a very talented core of players returning.

#3-Superior-They lost the most players of the top 3 teams, graduating 7 total. Two Honorable Mention All-State forwards in the form of Sean Graskey and Brian Pierpont graduated along with 4 other forwards and a defenseman. These players accounted for 46% of their goals last season. Returning for the Spartans is a very good core of players including senior defenseman Tim Smith, who was an All-State selection, a Select 17 National Development Camp participant and who is a member of Team Wisconsin Major this season. Also back is junior forward Pat Dalbec and sophomore defenseman Chris Bishop, both of whom are also playing for Team Wisconsin Minor. Throw in the fact that talent tends to regenerate itself in Superior annually (it must be the water) and it's not hard to see how they should be a formidable team once again.

GF 110 - GA 78

Losing 7 Seniors

(F) Sean Graskey: 15g-23a = 38 pts
(F) Brian Pierpont: 16g-16a = 32 pts
(F) Nate Hendry: 7g-13a = 20 pts
(F) Brian Crawford: 8g-7a = 15 pts
(F) Dave Smith: 4g-3a = 7 pts
(F) Nolan VanDamme: 0g-5a = 5 pts
(D) Matt Bombich: 2g-7a = 9 pts

#2-Eau Claire Memorial-Add together a small number of graduates from last season, a returning senior class of 11 players, and a large core of highly talented players and now you know why Eau Claire Memorial should again be considered one of the frontrunners for a State Championship this season.

Just three players graduated last season, totaling almost 18% of their offensive production. The biggest loss from the senior class was forward Isaiah Bennis, who was All-State.

My personal pick for Player of the Year this season would have been Seth Soley, the All-State forward who also played for Team Wisconsin. Unfortunately for the Old Abes, the Michigan Tech recruit opted to play in the USHL shortly after accepting his scholarship, on the very first day of high school hockey practice. Soley scored 24 goals and 26 assists for 50 points last season (going into the State Tournament) and will be sorely missed despite all the talent left on the roster.

Up front Memorial returns a senior All-State forward in Jefferson Dahl. Dahl likely would be a member of Team Wisconsin Major, but could not try out due to an injury. Another talented forward back for the Old Abes is Sophomore Shayne McLaughlin. McLaughlin is already 6'2" and 195 pounds, was a Select 15 National Development Camp participant, and is also playing for Team Wisconsin Minor. On the defensive side, senior All-State defenseman Brady Keegan and senior defenseman David Donnellan who is also a member of Team Wisconsin Major will be the anchors. If anyone manages to get past the first two layers of ECM talent, they'll have one more giant challenge to beat All-State senior goaltender Brady Sand.

GF 158 - GA 37

Losing 3 Seniors - 28 Goals (17.7% of offense)

(F) Isaiah Bennis: 20g-40a = 60 pts
(F) Mike Miland: 7g-8a = 15 pts
(F) Brad Hunsley: 1g-1a = 2 pts

#1-Fond du Lac-The Cardinals rode their depth and hot goaltending through the State Tournament last season. The depth should be back, but goaltending is a question mark. Three First Team All-State players graduated for the Cardinals, and five players overall graduated. All-State selection Ryan Smet is the only forward loss, while two defensemen inlcuding All-State selection Tyler Gross also graduated. Fondy also graduated two goaltenders including All-State selection Randy Willis. These players totaled just 20% of their scoring from last season.

The leading returning players for Fond du Lac are senior All-State forward Cody Lettau, Select 16 National Development Camp participant and Team Wisconsin Minor forward junior Sean Little, and Team Wisconsin Minor alternate sophomore Brent Martin. Fondy is also adding some firepower through two local players that are transferring in from other teams. Team Wisconsin Minor defenseman sophomore Brian Kemp is transferring in from Fond du Lac St. Mary's Springs (he played the previous season with the Capitols), while senior defenseman Ryan Tess-Wanat, who previously played with Wisconsin AAA and led the WHSEL U-18's in scoring this Spring will also be playing for Fond du Lac.

GF 128 - GA 34

Losing 5 Seniors

(F) Ryan Smet: 21g-25a = 46 pts
(D) Tyler Gross: 3g-10a = 13 pts
(D) Paul Biolo: 2g-8a = 10 pts
(G) Randy Willis: .932 Sv%
(G) Ryan Weber: .925 Sv%