Minnesota Leads Big Ten Recruiting Class
Gophers Top Strong Group of Incoming Players
by Jasper Kozak-Miller/Recruiting Writer
The first in our preseason series of incoming recruiting classes, conference-by-conference is the Big Ten, which starts play in 2013-14 after two years of buildup.
The Big Ten's first ever set of incoming freshmen looks to be a great group, but it's the Maroon contingent of Minnesota freshmen that set the bar for future classes here. The Gophers’ class of eight is led by shifty offensive spark plug Taylor Cammarata, who despite weighing under 160 pounds, should bring plenty of offense to Mariucci this year. Cammarata, only 5-foot-7, is joined by a number of other smaller forwards including Minnesota's Mr. Hockey 2012 winner Justin Kloos, while big man Hudson Fasching looks like he will come on very strong later in his college career.
Star in-state products Tommy Vannelli, Mike Brodzinski and Jake Bischoff add some talent to the back-end for Don Lucia and company, which is incredible considering the Gophers, by most standards, have plenty of talent returning from last year.
Right behind the Gophers are the Michigan Wolverines, who are coming off an uncharacteristically tough year.
Ann Arbor has seen an exodus of some talent, as promising goaltender Jared Rutledge has left the program to develop after not meeting expectations, while first-round defenseman Jake Trouba headed north to his NHL rights-holders in Winnipeg. What's left is a very formidable nucleus of players that learned how to pull big wins out in the wake of some adversity and closed the season on a stronger note than anticipated.
They will be bolstered first and foremost by rising star J.T. Compher out of the NTDP, a hard-working talent with loads of skill, as well as Compher's lethal scoring teammate Evan Allen, a Michigan native. Allen, a Detroit Honeybaked product, will be joined by fellow Honeybaked skater Tyler Motte up front, who is a diminutive but high-energy skater who competes his tail off.
On the back-end, smooth-skating Michael Downing looks like a potential four-year cornerstone defenseman for the Big Blue, while Nolan De Jong is a big, well-regarded defenseman from the British Columbia circuit.
Michigan State and Ohio State both bring in some strong players, as expected. Spartans new-comer J.T. Stenglein should add an instant scoring threat, as could Swede Villiam Haag, a forward from the famous Frölunda Indians program. In-state product Mackenzie MacEachern is a well-built NHL prospect but may take a little while to acclimate to the pace of Division I hockey.
As for the Buckeyes, Ohio State freshman goalie Matt Tomkins looks to be a rising star between the pipes for a team that has lost a few marquee recruits in the wake of former head coach Mark Osiecki's departure this past spring.
Mike Eaves' Wisconsin Badgers add a player across the state line with one of Minnesota High School's best pure scorers of all time, Grant Besse, joining the program. Meanwhile, Jedd Soleway is a skilled Canadian forward (Vernon, B.C.) with a nose for the net and a pro hockey frame.
Penn State, with its first real season of Division I college hockey on the horizon, also enjoys its first ever positional controversy. Game-ready sophomore goaltender Matt Skoff carved out a clear spot for himself in the line-up last year just as high-end NHL-drafted netminder Eamon McAdam steps onto campus. McAdam, for his part, actually didn't have the smoothest ending to his junior career and will be looking to right the ship while simultaneously carving a name for himself in the growing legacy of Nittany Lions hockey.
Jasper Kozak-Miller covers College Hockey Recruiting and scouts Amateur Hockey Prospects for Over The Boards.