(Note: The majority of the players mentioned here have signed official National Letters of Intent. There may be some players with only verbal commitments. The confirmation of these players has been culled from a variety of sources, including, but not limited to, information released by their current leagues.)
Graduates: Forwards: Jim Lawrence, Ryan Reinheller, Pat Hallett, Scott McIlroy; Defense: Darren Tiemstra, Chad Hamilton
Second-year coach Guy Gadowsky continues to bring in new players to mold the program. This class includes two offensive threats from the AJHL, Jason Grinevich, 25-33-58 in 36 games with Drayton Valley, and diminuative 17-year old center Doug Auchenberg (16-29-45 in 27 games), an offensive wiz who recently was traded to the Camrose Kodiaks. Billy Crumm, a Junior A veteran with Waterloo of the USHL (3-5-8 in 19 games), is a solid winger, and Tomi Karlsson, from Finland, is an unknown.
Graduates: Forwards: Ryan Murphy, Curtis Valentine, Dennis Williams; Defense: Doug Schueller, Louis Mass; Goal: Shawn Timm
Bowling Green got the goalie they needed in Jordan Sigalet (Victoria, BCHL), who was highly-recruited after his BCHL All-Rookie team selection last season. Two defensemen, Taylor Christie (Thornhill, OPJHL), a stay-at-home player (1-5-6 in 23 games) and Matt Lynn (Wellington, OPJHL), an offensive defender (5-10-15 in 26 games), will contribute to replacing the graduating Schueller and Mass.
Graduates: Forwards: Kevin Swider, Rob Lighfoot, Jon Rogger; Defense: Scott Lewis, Jim Dube; Goal: Vince Owen
Skip Renauld, a former member of the Saskatchewan Under-17 team, and last year’s Royal Cup champions Ft. McMurray, is a young, top-flight defenseman (5-13-18 and 116 PIM in 32 games). His goalie on last year’s championship Ft. McMurray squad, Mike Brown, has since moved on to the Crowsnest Pass franchise, but continues to impress. Left wing Derek Nesbitt from Sarnia (WOJHL) is a high-energy winger (6-12-18 in 22 games).
Graduates: Forwards: Ryan Vince, Mike Vigilante, Bart Redden; Defense: Ryan Knox, Klemen Kelgar, Matt Frick; Goal: Jayme Platt
Jeff Mushaluk, who passed up partial scholarship offers last year in hopes of increasing his stock, has seen the gamble pay off with his commitment to the Lakers. At Trail (BCHL), he has quarterbacked the team and led it in scoring with 14-22-36 in 32 games, although he is equally adept at throwing around his 6-foot-3 size. Another experienced defender is James Laux, who has 9-13-22 totals in 32 games for the Weyburn Red Wings of the SJHL. His goalie at Weyburn, Terry Denike, and his 2.31 GAA and .908 save percentage, is ready to replace Platt. Up front, LSSU got commitments from gritty winger Ryan Bennett from Des Moines (13-10-23 in 24 games) and Andy Contois from Green Bay (5-11-16 in 21 games), a past member of the US Select 17 team.
Graduates: Forwards: Gregor Krajnc, Ernie Hartleib, Anthony Donskov, Jason Deskins, Pat Leahy; Defense: Clarke Walford
Second-year coach Enrico Blasi focused recruiting efforts up front, garnering four forwards. Last season he received a commitment from Chad Larose, a 5-9 center who brings offensive skills that should translate into the college game. Todd Grant, from Danville (NAHL), has blossomed as a scorer in his second season of Jr. A play (14-16-30 in 22 games). Winger A.J. Greco, from the Buffalo area, is sought for his 6-2 size, and has a developing scoring touch (3-11-14 in 23 games). Vinnie Pulera, a small prep center from Shattuck St. Mary’s will be looked upon to increase his strength to complement his offensive skills. Behind the blueline, Joe Pomaranski comes in from the U.S. National Program.
Graduates: Forwards: Mark Kosick, Josh Langfield, Scott Matzka, Geoff Koch, Bill Trainor, (possibly Andy Hilbert); Defense: David Huntzicker, Bob Gassoff, (possibly Jeff Jillson); Goal: L.J. Scarpace
By signing a mammoth nine-player class, the Maize and Blue took early steps to fill the hole that will be created by the departure of its large senior class, potentially a pair of underclassmen, and the unexpected departure of Mike Comrie. Up front, Michigan renewed its Eastern prep pipeline — one which brought them Greg Crozier, Matt Herr, Geoff Koch and Bubba Berenzweig in the past — with the February commitment by Michael Woolford (Cushing), voted the Prep player of the Year by United States Hockey Report. Milan Gajic chose Michigan over Michigan State, Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud, and follows up last year’s 81 points by leading the BCHL with 29-35-64 totals in 31 games. Dwight Helminen, a small, fast center from the U.S. National Program, whose February verbal made him one of the earliest commits, also should contribute right away. Jason Ryznar and Eric Nystrom, two more U.S. National players, are hard-working wingers who bring size and decent scoring touches to the front lines. Michigan also upgraded the defense with the trio of Reilly Olsen, Brandon Rodgers and Eric Werner. Werner struggled with the U.S. National Team last season, but has blossomed as a playmaker with the powerful Sioux Falls USHL team (2-19-21 in 20 games). Olsen was set to attend Michigan last season, but elected to spend one more year at Vernon (BCHL), for which he has 14 points. In March, Michigan filled its goaltending need by gaining a commitment from Team USA’s top goalie prospect, Jason Bacashihua (Chicago, NAHL), early preparation for graduating Kevin O’Malley and Josh Blackburn in 2001. Bacashishua represents an elite American backstop, having starred for the U.S. in the Under-17 tournament last season.
Graduates: Forwards: Damon Whitten, Sean Patchell, Rustyn Dolyny, John Nail, Andrew Bogle; Goal: Joe Blackburn
The defensive-minded Spartans brought in one of the nation’s premier recruits in defenseman Duncan Keith (Penticton, BCHL), a diminutive playmaking quarterback (6-37-43 in 34 games), and center Jimmy Slater (Cleveland, NAHL), a top scorer at a young age (15-23-38 in 24 games). Lee Falardeau and Brock Radunske, another OHL first round pick chosing the U.S. college route (14-17-31 in 25 games for Newmarket), are also in the mix. After the signing period, Michigan State added BCHL speedster Kevin Estrada (Chilliwack, BCHL), who has increased his offensive output to place third in the BCHL scoring charts (17-34-51 in 30 games).
Graduates: Forwards: Jason Cupp, Alan Carr, Billy Pugliese, James Chalmers, Josh Lampman, Jason White, Joe Yurecko, David Noel-Bernier; Defense: Mike Skogland, Ed Cassin, Dan Zaluski
Winger Anthony Adams from Surrey (BCHL) is a scorer, compiling 24-13-37 in 29 games. Gus Groslie has added scoring to his game, and now has 9-8-17 in 18 games for Chicago (USHL). Dan Calzada was a prime recruit last season, but required an additional year at Green Bay (1-11-12 in 21 games). He should step in to lead the defense once he steps on campus next year. Defender Bryce Lampmann elected to follow his brother to Omaha, and has size to add to the blueline.
Graduates: Forwards: Mike Sandbeck, Fred Mattersdorfer, Ryan Riipi; Defense: Colin Young; Goal: Dan Ragusett
Graduating only a small class, Northern Michigan brought local talent Alan Swanson of Marquette, now with Green Bay (5-8=13 in 19 games). Also returning is Ray Ladochi, a stay-at-home defenseman who started this season at Northern Michigan, but returned for another season of junior hockey. Finish goalie Tuomi Kakki is brought in for graduating Dan Ragusett.
Graduates: Forwards: Dan Carlson, Kyle Dolder, Jay Kopischke, Matt Van Arkel, Chad Chipchase; Defense: Ryan Clark; Goal: Kyle Kolquist
Brad Wanchaluk (Ft. Saskatchewan, AJHL), who uses his playmaking skills (19-29-48 in 32 games) while bouncing between center and defense, probably will be a center for the Irish. Coach Dave Poulin also got an August commitment from Matt Amado, a promising youngster who struggled somewhat (8-11-19 in 34 games) after bring traded to Penticton (BCHL) in the offseason. Defenseman Derek Smith (USNDP) is a defensive presence who takes care of his own end, and chips in with the occasional goal.
Graduates: Forwards: J.F. Dufour; Defense: Andre Signoretti, Jaisen Freeman
The Buckeyes had few spots to fill, and, early on, lined up J.B. Bittner, a winger on the high-powered Sioux Falls (USHL) offense (11-12-23 in 20 games). They also landed Nicolas Kuiper, a second year COJHL defenseman from Hawkesbury who had 29 points as a freshman.
Graduates: Forwards: Dave Gove, Brett Mills, Steve Rymsha, Mark Wilkinson
Western Michigan’s recruiting class has bit of everything. Older Paul Glynn, a left wing from Chicago, sits fifth in NAHL scoring, with 9-25-34 in 24 games. He will be ineligible until mid-year 2001. A second forward, winger Jeremy Cheyne, finally found a home with Bow Valley and is making a mockery of the AJHL scoring race as a 20-year old (41-48-89 in 38 games). Young winger Pat Dwyer, comes from the less-heralded American West Hockey League, but has potential. On defense, Matt Ponto, scored 30 points as a 17-year old rookie defenseman with Camrose, AJHL. This season he has 25 points in 32 games, and leads his team in plus-minus. Mike Mantua, a lightning quick goalie, is standing out as a 20-year old with Des Moines, USHL.
(Chris Heisenberg operates the ultimate independent web site on recruiting, chronicling the progress of each school’s incoming class).