Preview: Goalie Recruit Gives Bentley Recruiting Edge
by Jasper Kozak-Miller/Recruiting Writer
In the case of Atlantic Hockey, quite a few schools did a nice job filling some holes. This year, however, Bentley pulls ahead with a good sized class of eight freshmen to complement their returners extremely well.
Top Recruiting Class
The Bentley class of 2016 starts in the net with 5-foot-9 goaltender Gabe Antoni. Antoni, a former Clarkson (ECAC) recruit, from Lansdale, Pa., has had a journeyman’s career, leaving Team Comcast for a spot at Salisbury (New England Prep School) in the paint. He committed to Clarkson as a senior, but a coaching change at Clarkson found him decommitting and moving on to a minor role for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, before landing with the Jr. Blues of the NAHL. He’s found his home at Bentley, where he will complement workhorse goaltender Branden Komm, formerly of Northfield Mount Hermon, likely in a backup role.
From the net out, the Falcons add prep school alumni Kyle O’Brien and Mike Reardon. Reardon, a former Nobles defenseman, stands at 6-1 and played last year for the South Shore Kings (EJHL). He should bring an offensive touch to the Falcons' blueline, putting up 42 points in 37 games with the Kings. O’Brien, a co-captain at Cushing Academy, is a beast, and standing at 6-2, 190 pounds is a physical specimen. He can contribute offensively; bring a physical presence to the ice, and plays smart, tight hockey in his own zone. Matt Blomquist, a 6-3 defenseman from the Coulee Region Chill, should likely slot into the 7th defenseman role for the Falcons, with O’Brien and Reardon most likely stepping right into the lineup.
The Falcons also bring in Mark Meads, a 5-9 forward who played for Valley Jr. Warriors (EJHL) and had 19 points in 39 games. Meads is small, but deceptively quick and in time could fit in well once he adjusts to the pace. Fellow 5-9 freshman forward Derek Bacon, from the Okotoks Oilers (AJHL), is similarly small, but was captain of the Oilers, putting up 41 points in a 33-game shortened season after rehabbing from a broken leg. They also bring in 6-foot forwards Andrew Gladiuk (Nanaimo Clippers, BCHL) and Tyler Krause, from Okotoks as well.
As a whole, Bentley pulled in exactly the class they needed to recruit, picking up some of the better talent available at exactly the positions they needed.
Also ... (in no specific order)
After Bentley, there are quite a few solid recruiting classes. Soon-to-be Hockey East member Connectict pulls in forwards Joey Ferriss from the Michigan Warriors (NAHL), and Pat Kirtland, of the Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL), as well as quite a few other solid freshmen. Both Ferriss and Kirtland could step into the lineups this season and have impacts.
RIT has forward Andy Miller, who led the Chicago Steel (USHL) in goals last season, with 24, and 6-foot-1 defenseman Brad Shumway, who played a shortened season but was still a plus-22 from the blueline in just 26 games, leading the entire Steel roster. They also bring in Alex Kugali, a USHL veteran (three years) who stands at 6-2, 225 lbs. and should be an imposing force on the Tigers blueline. Josh Mitchell, a 5-11 forward from Alberni Valley (BCHL) led his squad with 58 points in 59 games.
Sacred Heart wins the goaltending prize of the class, getting a big-time transfer in Alex Vazzano (UVM, Gunnery), who won’t be eligible to play until next year. They also pull in 5-8 Swedish goaltender Fredrik Melander, who started for Trinity Pawling (New England Prep School) and was his team's MVP. Nick Curry, a transfer sophomore forward from Mass.-Lowell, will be eligible to play this year, and the Pioneers also bring in 6-3 defenseman Josh Phillips from the Nanaimo Clippers.
Freshman goalie Adam Harris (Selkirk Steelers, MJHL) was his squad’s MVP and a finalist for MJHL goaltender of the year, and will head to Canisius this fall to support junior goaltender Tony Capobianco in the net. Ralph Cuddemi, an incoming forward led his Mississauga Chargers (OJHL) in scoring with 27 goals and 36 assists in just 46 games. Stephen Miller, a 6-2 power forward from the EJHL’s NH Jr. Monarchs was an EJHL all-star and had 22 goals and 39 assists in 55 games that season, where they ultimately won it all.
Robert Morris brings in freshman David Friedmann, who put on an offensive clinic in the OJHL over two seasons, netting 110 points in 89 games, including 44 goals.
Mercyhurst has 6-1 OJHL defenseman Anthony Mastrodicasa, named defenseman of the year in 2010-11 when he netted 53 points. Mastrodicasa was also a two-time captain of the Vaughan Vipers. Kyle Cook, a 6-4, 215 forward from the Jr. Blues (NAHL) should be huge (cough) for Mercyhurst, as he came in 6th in the NAHL for scoring with 31 goals and 39 assists. Justin Stevens, a 5-11 defenseman from Pembroke of the CCHL should be a nice addition to the D corps as well.
Holy Cross’ freshman class is led by Tim Driscoll, who after winning a state super 8 championship with Hingham (MA-HS), did a post-grad year at Andover (New England Prep School), scoring 23 goals and 17 assists. The Crusaders will welcome his wicked wrist shot and offensive flair this winter. Joe McNamara, a four-year defenseman at Belmont Hill (New England Prep School), and captain his final year, will also likely jump right into the lineup, as should former NH Jr. Monarch defenseman Jake Bolton. Matt Vidal, another EJHL alum (Bay State Breakers), set franchise records for career points at Bay State as a two-time captain and two-time all star. The 5-9 forward from Manorville, N.Y., rounds out another solid recruiting class for Holy Cross.
Niagara grabs another UML to Atlantic Hockey transfer in Mike Conderman, a former stud at Cushing Academy. The 5-9 forward from Rochester netted 31 goals and 41 assists in his senior year at Cushing before finding his way to Umass Lowell and now, Niagara. They also bring in huge 6’4 forward Dan Kolenda (Carleton Place, CCHL), and 5-9 forward Hugo Turcotte, who was team MVP at the Winchendon School (New England Prep School), before moving on to Grande Prairie (AJHL) where he had a team-high 23 goals, while tallying 33 assists as well, in 58 games.
Air Force brings in a talented class that includes two USHL alumni: Defenseman Max Hartner (Green Bay, USHL) and 5-8 Forward Max Edson (Waterloo, USHL). They also brought in Wenatchee Wild (NAHL) forward Ben Carey and Kenai River (NAHL) defenseman Jesse Ramsey. Goaltender Chris Dylewski from Tampa Bay Jrs (EJHL South) rounds out the class.
Lastly, Army brings in a strong class highlighted by Thane Heller, a former Jr. Bruin who stands at 6-2, 210 and put up 27 goals alongside 40 assists in just 44 games in the EJHL. Christian Pomarico, a former Northwood (New England Prep School) and Muskegon (USHL) defenseman, will step right into the line-up. Mike St. Denis, a 5-9 forward from Exeter (New England Prep School), didn’t get as much attention as he likely should have behind the lights out scoring tandem of forwards Brian Hart (Harvard), Matt Beattie (Yale), and Matt Rubinoff (Bowdoin), but he quietly put up 17 goals and 15 assists in 26 games, and should contribute soon for Army.
Jasper Kozak-Miller can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter @OTBPuckWatch.