Wednesday, July 11, 2012

UConn's new class

Men’s Hockey Announces Incoming Recruits

STORRS, Conn. (July 11, 2012) – University of Connecticut men's hockey coach Bruce Marshall and his staff have announced that 10 players will join the Huskies for the 2012 season. Connecticut will add six forwards and four defensemen to the roster.

“We are definitely on the rise and we feel that this class will help us to continue to make the climb in Atlantic Hockey as we try to get to Rochester (Home of the AHA Semifinals and Finals) and make the next step in March,” said Marshall.  “We’ve made ourselves deeper and more competitive at every position for Friday and Saturday nights with this incoming group.”

2012-13 Men’s Hockey Recruiting Class Notes
-       UConn will welcome six forwards and four defensemen in 2012-13.
-       Six players hail from the North American Hockey League (Tier II), two from the Eastern Junior Hockey League (Tier III), one from the Alberta Junior Hockey League in Canada (Tier II) and one skater from the United States Hockey League (Tier I).
-       Connecticut will have four players from the St. Louis Bandits of the NAHL on the roster at the start of 2012-13.
-       Two incoming players (Joe Birmingham, Joe Schmitz) were named NAHL All-Division.
-       Seven of ten recruits served as team captain or assistant captain for their respective junior programs.
-       UConn recently announced it will join the Hockey East Association for the start of the 2014-15 season.

Joe Birmingham, Medford, N.J./St. Louis Bandits (NAHL) – 5-foot-10, 175lbs, Forward
Birmingham joins a long list of UConn players to play for the St. Louis Bandits of the NAHL, joining current Huskies Tom Comunale, Brad Smith and Garrett Bartus.  Birmingham earned a spot on the NAHL Central Division All-Star Team in 2011-12 and finished seventh in total points in the NAHL regular season last year, tallying 24 goals and 45 assists for 69 points in 60 games.  He previously captained the Northfield Mt. Hermon preparatory school in 2010-11. He looks to play right wing for the Huskies next year.

“Joe’s a good team player,” said St. Louis Bandits coach Jeff Brown.  “He’s a character guy who can skate, score and work his tail off. He’s a bit of a dynamic player too.  I’m sure he’s going to have a great college career.” 

Chris Bond, Centreville, Va./Topeka RoadRunners (NAHL) – 6-foot-2, 205lbs, Defenseman
Bond finished the 2011-12 season with the Topeka RoadRunners, tallying four goals and 13 assists for 17 points in 59 games.  Bond, a left-shot defenseman, served as an assistant captain for Topeka last season.  He was named the Defenseman of the Year for Topeka in 2011-12 and was awarded the NAHL Community Service Award in 2010-11.

“Chris is a very solid defending defenseman.  He plays with a lot of energy and takes a lot pride in the defensive part of the game,” said Topeka Roadrunners head coach Scott Langer.  “First and foremost, he’s one of the highest character kids our league has ever seen.  He keeps his body in order.  He’ll be one of the hardest working Huskies all year, that’s just the way he is.  He won’t be outworked.  He’ll help set the bar very high for the rest of the team.  He’s a great addition to that program.”

Tyler Bouchard, Glastonbury, Ct./Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 5-foot-10, 180lbs, Forward
A prolific scorer for the Springfield Pics, Bouchard totaled 35 goals and 31 assists for 66 points in just 45 games last season.  He finished the regular season ranked eighth in total points and second in goal scoring in the Eastern Junior Hockey League.  Bouchard captained Springfield last season and was selected for the EJHL All-Star Game in 2011 and 2012.

“He’s a natural goal scorer.  As soon as he gets the puck in a scoring opportunity, he can pounce on it and convert,” said Pat Tabb, head coach of the Springfield Pics.  “He’s got a quick release and an accurate, pinpoint shot.  His biggest attribute is to snap the puck off in traffic and he converts nine out of 10 times.  I think he’ll be an impact freshman who will challenge for power-play time in his first year.”

Tyler Cooke, Warwick, R.I./South Shore Kings (EJHL) – 6-foot-1, 205lbs, Defenseman
Cooke comes to Storrs after skating for the South Shore Kings of the Eastern Junior Hockey League.  In 2011-12, Cooke notched three goals and 13 assists for 16 points in 40 games as a right defenseman. 

“I think he’s a kid the coaching staff will eventually rely on.  You can rely on him in any situation,” said Scott Harlow, head coach of the South Shore Kings.  “He’s a kid who can do anything for the team when called upon.  I think he’s going to develop into a top two or three defenseman at UConn.

“With Tyler I don’t think he knows how good he can be.  He’s obviously very athletic, when he gets into that atmosphere with hockey, hockey, hockey every day, he’ll thrive there,” added Harlow.

Joey Ferriss, Novi, Mich./Michigan Warriors (NAHL) – 6-foot-1, 185lbs, Forward
Ferriss most recently spent one season with the Michigan Warriors of the North American Hockey League after playing two years at Novi High School for former UConn All-American Todd Krygier.  Ferriss recorded 41 points on 14 goals and 27 assists last season for the Warriors, earning a spot at the NAHL Top Prospects Showcase.  A two-time All-State selection in Michigan in 2010 and 2011, he captained his team to the state championship in 2010-11.

“Joey is a creative player.  He will be a perfect fit at UConn,” said Krygier.  “I think Joey can do some things that will translate right away to the college game.  He can create, he sees lanes that maybe others don’t and he works hard every day.  He can find the net too.  He’s a good all-around player.”

Tyler Helton, Colorado Springs, Colo./Drayton Valley Thunder (AJHL) – 6-foot, 190lbs, Forward
Helton finished eighth in total points in the Alberta Junior Hockey League last season, registering 20 goals and 46 assists for 66 points in 60 games.  An assistant captain for Drayton Valley, Helton finished the year with a plus-15 rating.  Helton was named Team MVP and the Top Forward for Drayton Valley in 2011-12.

“Tyler is very strong on the puck, he’s got great hands.  He works well in the high traffic areas.  He’s a heads up hockey player that sees the ice well,” said Fran Gow, head coach of the Drayton Valley Thunder. “I think he’ll do very well at the next level.  He’s a fierce competitor.  Whether it’s practice or a game, he’s ready to go every day.”

Kyle Huson, Parker, Colo./Wenatchee Wild (NAHL) – 6-foot-5, 200lbs, Defenseman
Huson is the first of two players coming to Storrs from the Wenatchee Wild.  A left-shot defenseman, Huson served as an assistant captain in 2011-12 and registered two goals and 11 assists for 13 points in 58 games. Kyle Huson’s father, Jeff, played professional baseball for 13 seasons.

“He’s a leader, on and off the ice, first and foremost,” said Wenatchee assistant coach Chris Clark.  “He’s very well respected by his teammates.  Obviously, coming from a professional sport family, his parents have done a great job raising him.  I’d be shocked if he wasn’t a captain there by his junior year.
“He’s a shutdown defenseman – a big lanky kid.  Once he puts on weight and learns how to use that to his advantage, he’ll be that much better.  He has a great stick and will learn to use his body at that level,” added Clark.

Patrick Kirtland, Cary, N.C./Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL) – 6-foot, 190lbs, Forward
A left wing from the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League, the only Tier 1 junior hockey league in the nation, Kirtland tallied 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points while serving as an assistant captain in 2011-12. 

“Patrick plays a very responsible two-way game,” said Regg Simon, head coach of the Des Moines Buccaneers.  “He is effective on the fore-check because he can skate and bring a physical element, and still be trusted defensively.  He'll block a lot of shots and is an excellent penalty killer.  He also provided good leadership for our club.”  

Shawn Pauly, Bellingham, Wash./Wenatchee Wild (NAHL) – 6-foot, 185lbs, Forward
UConn’s second recruit this season from the Wenatchee Wild (Kyle Huson), Pauly finished tied for 19th in total points in the NAHL regular season with 56 points on 20 goals and 36 assists.  An assistant captain for Wenatchee, he was tabbed as the team’s Most Valuable Player last season. Pauly previously earned a spot on the NAHL All-Rookie Team in 2009-10.

“Shawn’s going to be very reliable two way center.  Also a great kid.  He’ll lead by example,” said Clark.  “He’ll play just as hard in the defensive end as he does in the offensive end.  He’ll create plays.  He has the ability to make passes most kids can’t make.” 

Joe Schmitz, Lino Lakes, Minn./Alaska Avalanche (NAHL) – 6-foot-3, 210lbs, Defenseman
Schmitz, a right-shot defenseman, served as captain for the Alaska Avalanche last season.  He finished ninth in total points by a defenseman in the NAHL regular season with 33 points on 10 goals and 23 assists.  A captain for the Avalanche, he was named to the NAHL West Division All-Star Team in 2011-12.

“He’s a tough, hard-nosed defenseman that has solid offensive ability.  He’s a jack of all trades really. We put him on the penalty kill, the power play, 5-on-6, 6-on-5.  He was the anchor of our blue line last year,” said Josh Perpinich, assistant coach of the Alaska Avalanche.

“I expect him to go in and work hard.  The best trait that Joe brought to us last year, on a consistent basis, was his leadership.  I expect that to come out over the years at UConn.  He’s going to go in and listen to the veterans and coaching staff and work hard.  I expect him to bloom into a top notch player at UConn.  I think that’s why he was so excited to join the Huskies, he knew he would fit in and impact the program,” added Perpinich.

Connecticut is set to open the regular season at UMass, a member of the Hockey East Association, on October 12.  UConn’s first home game of the 2012-13 campaign will be against Frozen Four participant Union on October 27 at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs.