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Top five NESCAC recruits for 2010-11

This year’s top five NESCAC recruits (in alphabetical order) are:

Nick Andersen – Hamilton: At 6-1 and 190 lbs, Anderson, a hard-working and skilled forward, capped off his three-year career in Canada’s premier junior hockey league, the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), with a highly productive season in 2009-10 that was cut short by an injury close to the end of the season. Playing on the first line for the Cowichan Valley Capitals, Anderson put together a stat line of 26-24-50 in 54 games in his final year, almost doubling his prior year’s production of 6-20-26 in 60 games. Anderson will bring to Hamilton an established scorer’s touch and should help continue the rapid turn-around of the Hamilton hockey program under Coach Norm Bazin’s expert tutelage.

Mike DiMare – Hamilton: DiMare, a smallish forward at 5-9 and 171, is a high-scoring speedster who brings three years of post-graduate experience to Hamilton and should be ready to go from day one for the Continentals. He is a 2007 graduate of Malden Catholic (Mass), where he was the MVP of the state’s strongest conference (the Catholic Conference), a two-time league scoring champion, and a member of the Boston Globe’s Superteam in his senior year. He did a PG year at prep powerhouse Avon Old Farms in 2007-08 where he acquitted himself well while playing along side future D1 superstars like Boston College’s Cam Atkinson and helping his team to an astonishing 27-1 record and the New England prep championship. He followed that seasoning experience with two additional years in the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL), putting up modest numbers in 2008-09 with the Bridgewater Bandits (11-15-26 in 37 games) and then turning on the jets in his final year in the EJHL with the Jersey Hitmen where he played on the number one line and finished third in the league in scoring with an eye-popping stat line of 20-46-66 in 43 games.

Tom Kader – Colby: Kader is a smooth skating and strong passing defenseman with decent size (6-1 and 200 lbs) and the skills and experience to be an immediate contributor on the blue line for the Colby Mules. After a stellar senior year at Tabor Academy (5-18-23 in 25 games) in 2009, Kader was named to the 6-member eastern team of the all-New England prep team, where he joined Bowdoin’s Dan Weiniger (and last year’s NESCAC ROY) as the only two members of that all-star team not to head for DI. Kader reportedly passed on an offer from DI West Point during his final year at Tabor in favor of a year of junior hockey with the Valley Junior Warriors of the EJHL to hone his skills. Kader enjoyed considerable success in his EJHL year, finishing seventh in scoring among defensemen (4-25-29 in 45 games) and being named to the EJHL all-star team despite playing on a mediocre team.

Andrew Kurlandski – Amherst: Kurlandski  has decent size at 6-1 and 189 lbs and, after two years of seasoning with the Jersey Hitmen of the EJHL, is more than ready to follow fellow Hitmen alum and Missourian and current Amherst star, Eddie Effinger, to Amherst. In his final year in juniors, Kurlandski came into his own as a scorer, putting up a nice stat line of 18-27-45 in 45 games and greatly improving on his first year stat line of 12-17-29 in 45 games. His team was high flying so he was only the fifth leading scorer on the Hitmen and was surrounded by DI talent. Nonetheless he outperformed Effinger in juniors so the Jeffs are likely looking at a nice addition to their offensive arsenal.

Bryden McGhee – Williams: Like some of the high-performing junior products who end up in DIII, McGhee is smallish at 5-11 and 170 lbs. He has just wrapped up an outstanding three-year career in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) that began without much promise with the Grand Prairie Storm in 2007-08 but picked up quickly after a trade to the Canmore Eagles. Once with the Eagles, McGhee’s strong offensive capabilities came together nicely, and he put together back-to-back carbon copy 57-point seasons (23-34-57 in both years). In his final year, McGhee was second in scoring on the team and tied for the 20th in the strong AJHL. McGhee has a reputation for strong leadership and offensive skills and, as a 2007 product of Canada’s National Sports Academy in Calgary, will arrive at Williams in the fall with a strong foundation in hockey fundamentals as well as three years of experience in one of Canada’s stronger junior leagues.

Other contenders for the top 5:

Colin Downey – Bowdoin: F from the Junior Bruins of the EJHL

Kevin Reich – Connecticut College: D from Apple Core of the EJHL

Nik Tasiopoulos – Wesleyan: F from Proctor Academy of the NEPSAC

Note: All five of the top picks are 1989 birth dates and are products of junior hockey. This means that all five have aged out of juniors and will be entering college with just about as much experience playing competitive hockey at a high level as is possible.  Because of the well-established quality of the three leagues in which the five players played, we can make some relatively safe assumptions about their likely contributions at the college level. Other players may very well surpass some or all of today’s top picks in terms of  contributions to their teams but their development is much less certain and difficult to predict. In general, they are less experienced or played in a less competitive prep or high school hockey so their futures are more difficult to chart. They’ll finish their development process in college. The development of these diamonds in the rough is one of the many things that makes DIII hockey so much fun to watch.


6 Responses

  1. How many D I players and NHL draft choices did these “older” junior players compete against in their careers vs. the NE Prep players, who by the way, also went to classes and participated at their schools? NE Prep depth of each team exceeds that the junior leagues that you mention. Perhaps your long explanation speaks louder than your words of a bias against Prep Players.

    • Not biased at all against prep players but they are harder for me to figure out. The junior products end up being the obvious picks at this stage of the game. Do you have a prep player or two in mind that you think should have made the top 5 list? I see several that I think will be very good but I wasn’t certain about top 5 status.

  2. Once again, great site. Since the previous poster asked, the answer to his question of “how many D1 players and NHL draft picks did the older junior players compete against in their career is as follows:

    – For anyone who played prep hockey, assuming they played every prep team that had a player committed to a D1 program (which is impossible), the answer would be 33 D1 players and 1 NHL first round pick
    – For the EJHL 56 D1 kids and 1 1st round NHL draft picks
    – For Nick Anderson, a Hamilton recruit who played in the BCHL, the #’s would be 83 D1 kids and 1 1st round NHL draft pick. Since Anderson played three years in that league the number of D1 players he played against is likely approaching 250. Not bad, huh?

    Prep hockey is a fantastic option, especially for kids looking at the NESCAC, but to argue it is better hockey is absurd. Oh, and since these kids are ending up in the NESCAC they obviously had no problem handling their school work.

    He does touch on a valid point, however. I think one of the most interesting story lines among incoming recruits is not how the guys on your list will perform (we are in agreement that they should be solid contributors based on their performances against top competition) , but rather how the unusually high # of players coming from non-traditional feeder programs will perform this year. I’m thinking of guys like Matheson(Bowdoin), JD Vermette and LM Belisle (Mid), Russell (Amherst) and a number of Williams’ recruits. It wouldn’t surprise me if there are a couple diamonds in the rough who surprise from that group, or if they all struggle making the big leap to NESCAC hockey. Based on past history of the program, you’d have to think that at least one of the French Canadian kids headed to Middlebury should be productive.

  3. The comment including John Russell as one who is either a “diamond in the rough” or as one who may “struggle making the big leap to NESCAC hockey” might be a bit misguided. Russell has back-to-back Minnesota State Championships to his credit, clearly demonstrating an ability to deliver in a pressure packed environment. Russell is the latest top-end goaltender to come out of Breck in Minneapolis, following in the footsteps of Jonas Oliver (Harvard, European pro), John Curry (BU, AHL Pittsburgh), and Alec Richards (Yale, AHL Chicago). Russell’s decision to forego the Juniors/D-1 route in favor of Amherst/NESCAC reflects very favorably upon NESCAC hockey, and Russell becoming an impact player in the NESCAC should not be viewed as surprising.

    • He (like most of the others in the “diamond in the rough” category) is in that category because he is young and small and chose to forego the junior/PG route.

  4. Your point is well taken, and your website is a terrific resource. I hope more MN players find their way to the NESCAC. In the meantime, as an unabashed MN High School Hockey fan, I might note that there are few (if any) stages in amateur hockey that are larger than the Minnesota High School Hockey Tournament (see link for photo), and backstopping a team to back-to-back titles is an extraordinary accomplishment. I dare say that such significant success at this level should translate rather well at the Division 3 level. A picture, in this case, might be worth a thousand words:

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