(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: Chris Sikich, Reggie Simon; Defense: Steve Ludwig, Mark Leitner
The early signing period saw UAA grab Lee Green and Ryan Young, both Anchorage natives. Young (3-5-8 in 16 games) is a hard-working winger in the USHL. Green is a very solid 6-foot-3 with good puck instincts (1-6-7 in 21 games), and currently plays with the winning Omaha Lancers (USHL) organization.
Graduates: Forwards: Justin Morrison; Defense: Mike Colgan, Paul Manning, Brent Voorhees; Goal: Colin Zulianello
The Tigers need to replace three defenders, and started by adding Omaha (USHL) defenseman Jason Krischuk (4-14-18 in 20 games). At age 20, he should be ready for immediate duty. Up front, Colorado picked up Sioux City forward Scott Polaski last season, and his game looks to have stepped up following the extra season in the USHL (8-10-18 in 20 games).
Graduates: Forwards: Kelly Popadynetz, Bjorn Engstrom, Neil Phippen; Defense: Judd Stauss, Bryan Vines, James Armstrong
Tops among the Pioneer recruits was Jeff Drummond, a slick playmaker who led the Alberta Midget league in scoring in 1998-99 as a 17-year old, and cut his teeth as a rookie last year with 52 points. Using another year to build up his strength, he has shown the ability to control games (18-23-41 in 35 games). Luke Flughum, a speedy winger from Waterloo of the USHL (5-7-12 in 15 games), already has 17-and 28-goal seasons under his belt. The Pioneers remain in the running for David Spina, a forward with the USNDP.
Graduates: Forwards: Matt Ulwelling, Tab Lardner; Defense: Mat Snesrud, Clint Way, Adrian Fure; Goal: Jason Moilanen
The impact on recruiting of the mid-season coaching change from Tim Watters to Mike Sertich remains to be seen. Colin Murphy, a pugnatious winger, was originally slated to join Tech this season, but had to return to the AJHL for an extra year (31-24-55 and 143 PIM in 36 games). He should contribute immediately. John Snowden from Lincoln (USHL) will join the squad in time for second semester, and will bring a deft scoring touch (12-14-26 in 20 games) missing from the Huskies.
Graduates: Forwards: Erik Westrum, Aaron Miskovich, Stu Senden, Matt Leimbek; Defense: Dylan Mills
As always, Minnesota tabbed the premier Minnesota high school talent during the early signing period, nabbing a total of six players. This year, the Gophers got commitments from top forward Mike Erickson, a power left wing from Eden Prairie, and defenseman Keith Ballard. They are two of the top players at their positions. Ballard, in particular, is touted by some as the top U.S. defenseman, who has used his howitzer to post 12-12-24 in 24 games. Another recruit, Garrett Smaagaard, injured himself during the football season, and may miss this entire hockey season. Barry Tallackson is another tall forward with the USNDP, whose offense is just beginning to emerge. Jake Fleming, formerly of Osseo High, is a quick, pesky forward. Also returning is Dan Welch, who ranks among the USHL leading scorers with 15-12=27 in 22 games with Omaha during his year away from the Gophers. In goal, Travis Weber comes in as the understudy for Adam Hauser. All-in-all, this is a top 5 national class.
Graduates: Forwards: Ryan Homstol, Mark Gunderson, Derek Derow; Defense: Ryan Coole, Jesse Fibiger, Craig Pierce
This class represents Scott Sandelin’s first recruiting class, and is pretty diversified. Shifty leftwinger Evan Schwabe (Kindersley, SJHL) is a small (5-9, 150) offensive threat 17-21-38 in 30 games, after 51 points in his rookie season. Schwabe’s teammate, Neil Petruic, is one of the SJHL top defenders, posting 7-19-26 in 32 games, after a berth on last year’s SJHL all-rookie team. Tyler Brosz is an older, hard-working winger for the Olds Grizzlys, AJHL. Brosz’s offensive skills have emerged this season, where he is currently third in the AJHL scoring race with 29-37-66 in 37 games, after modest 47 and 62 point seasons. Ryan Langenbrunner, brother of Dallas Stars’ Jamie, is another hardworking forward (0-2-2 in 17 games). Luke Stauffacher is a small, finesse center who (6-10-16 in 21 games) has developed his offensive game as a 20-year old. Also added was defenseman Todd Smith from Vernon (BCHL), a stay-at-home physical defender with 4-6-10 in 30 games.
Graduates: Forwards: T.J. Guidarelli, Peter Holoien, Tyler Baines, Ryan Severson; Defense: Ben Christopherson, Jon Bushy
Brad Thompson, a second year center with Twin Cities of the USHL (5-7-12 in 17 games) and Jon Dubel, an offensive defender with Sioux Falls (USHL). Center Jake Brenk is a tall center with good offensive skills for powerful Breck (Minn.) HS.
Graduates: Forwards: Jeff Panzer, Wes Dorey; Defense: Trevor Hammer; Goal: Karl Goehring
As always, the Sioux have a large collection of commitments. Tops up front is forward Rory McMahon, a big-time BCHL prospect, who has moved into the league’s top 25 scoring in his first year with Penticton (BCHL) where he has 14-22-36 in 31 games. The Sioux later added 5-foot-6 speedster Chris Fournier from Lincoln (USHL), who has 8-19-26 in 21 games. North Dakota brings in another Notre Dame, SJHL product in Derek Faul, a workmanlike winger with a decent scoring touch (11-15-26 in 33 games). Brian Canady, a winger with Waterloo (USHL), is now in his third year, and ready for college duty. Another early signer was Ryan Connelly, a center now at Waterloo (USHL), where he showed his ability to contribute by putting up 10-9-19 in 21 games. Behind the blueline, big Matt Jones (0-3-3 in 19 games) is young, but highly sought after. He joins the Lincoln (USHL) duo of Andy Schneider (1-13-14 in 18 games) and Nick Fuher (2-11-13 in 19 games), both of whom committed in 1999, and since have developed into an all-star tandem. Goalie Jake Brandt, the top Minnesota HS goalie last season, now backstops powerhouse Lincoln (USHL). Recently, North Dakota received a verbal commitment from James Massen (6-2, 220), who second in the USHL in scoring with 16 goals and 33 points.
St. Cloud State
Graduates: Forwards: Brandon Sampair, Peter Torsson, Keith Anderson; Defense: Brian Gaffaney, Ritchie Larson; Goal: Scott Meyer
Veteran BCHL sniper Brian McCormack, has received knocks on his skating ability, but finds the spots and can score with the best of them. He has 27 goals and 49 points in 34 games, following seasons of 23, 34 and 42 goals. Speedy David Iannazzo (12-15-27 in 21 games) with Sioux Falls, and his scoring teammate Mike Doyle (12-16-28 in 23 games), also will join the front lines for the Huskies. Billy Hengen, a high scorer in Minnesota high school, has taken some time to adjust to the USHL speed (1-2-3 in 15 games). Behemoth Des Moines defenseman James Jernberg (6-4, 240) will fill the ample skates of Brian Gaffaney.
Graduates: Forwards: Kevin Granato, Mike Cerniglia (probably Dany Heatley); Defense: Alex Brooks, Jeff Dessner, Rick Spooner; Goal: Graham Melanson
Up front, Wisconsin turned to two younger forwards who may taken time to contribute, but who have top talent. Alex Leavitt (Notre Dame, SJHL) has a pedigree similar to Michigan’s Mike Cammalleri, in that he is 16 years old, slight at 5-10, 160 pounds, but who has darted through SJHL defenses to post 14-16-30 in 31 games. Ryan MacMurchy is another youthful forward with a top midget reputation, leading all Saskatchewan AAA midget league 83 born players in scoring. He has shown flashes of that talent his first year at Vernon (BCHL), but it has not yet translated into consistent Jr. A results (3-10-13 in 31 games). The Badgers also face the task of replacing bookend defenders Dessner and Brooks, and All-American Graham Melanson. Defenseman Joe Campbell is another raw talent, lanky (6-4, 180) and just starting to adjust to the higher Jr. A level (4-3-7 in 22 games), who may return to the USHL and bulk-up next year. Wisconsin is taking its time sorting though the available goalies to find its replacment for Melanson.
(Chris Heisenberg operates the ultimate independent web site on recruiting, chronicling the progress of each school’s incoming class).