As the NHL lockout continues, Arctic Ice Hockey will be shifting some focus to how the Winnipeg Jets' prospects are performing this season. In this feature, we will track the performance of the Winnipeg Jets' prospects playing NCAA hockey this season. Enjoy!
Connor Hellebuyck (UMass-Lowell) - Coming off of a stellar season (26-21-5, 2.49 GAA, .930 SV%) for the NAHL's Odessa Jackalopes, Hellebuyck, the Winnipeg Jets' fifth round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, will be attending the University of Massachusetts in Lowell for his freshman NCAA season. Last year's starting goaltender, junior Doug Carr, is coming off of a 22-10-1 season with a 2.13 GAA and .928 SV% will almost surely be the starter for the seventh-ranked Riverhawks. Hellebuyck could win the backup spot from Marc Boulanger and Brian Robbins, neither of whom were very impressive last season. In UMass-Lowell's first exhibition game of the season, Hellebuyck picked up the win against the University of Toronto by stopping 12 of 13 shots in 31 minutes of action during the Riverhawks' 5-2 win.
Jamie Phillips (Michigan Tech) - After spending last season with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens of the OJHL, Phillips will spend his freshman season at Michigan Tech. Phillips played the second period against Brock University in a 6-2 Michigan Tech win, Tech's first exhibition game of the season. Phillips saw 12 shots, saved 11, and was credited with the win. With last year's starter Josh Robinson graduating, the starter job is likely senior Kevin Genoe's to lose. However, like with Connor Hellebuyck, the backup position is very much up for grabs between Jamie Phillips and senior Corson Cramer.
Jason Kasdorf (RPI) - Winnipeg native Jason Kasdorf, Winnipeg's sixth round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, will be attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) for his freshman season. In RPI's first exhibition game of the season, Kasdorf played the third period, stopping all nine shots he faced from the Acadia University Axemen. With last year's goaltending tandem of Bryce Merriam and Scott Diebold both returning, Kasdorf will likely not factor much into RPI's goaltending this season. However, that'll be just fine by Winnipeg Jets' management, as Kasdorf is a long-term prospect anyway.
Peter Stoykewych (Colorado College) - Stoykewych's combination of size (6-3, 204), puck-moving skills, and smooth skating ability makes him an intriguing defensive prospect for the Winnipeg Jets. An Atlanta Thrashers 7th round pick in 2010, Peter Stoykewych will be returning to Colorado College for his second year of NCAA hockey. No. 20 Colorado College opened its exhibition season on October 7 with a 3-1 win over the University of British Columbia. In an eventful game for Stoykewych, the sophomore defenseman picked up an assist on senior (and Dallas Stars' 3rd round draft choice) Scott Winkler's shorthanded goal in the second period. Stoykewych also picked up an off-setting roughing minor late in the second period following a hard hit from Mike Boivin, and went 0-for-1 in the faceoff circle. Given that he's a defenseman, I think we can probably overlook his off-night in the face-off circle. Face-offs aside, Stoykewych played a solid game from start to finish and was named the game's second star.
Aaron Harstad (Colorado College) - Stoykewych's partner in crime and fellow Winnipeg Jets prospect Aaron Harstad was also in action October 7. It was a less eventful night for Harstad than for his teammate Stoykewych though. While Harstad ended up pointless on the night, he was on the ice when freshman Cody Bradley opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first period off a wrister from inside the faceoff circle, and was also on the ice for Winkler's shorthanded goal in the second period. With last year's top defenseman Gabe Guentzel moving on to pro hockey this season, both Stoykewych and Harstad will find opportunities to receive more ice time.
Brennan Serville (Michigan) - The Winnipeg Jets' 3rd round pick in 2011, Serville will be returning to the University of Michigan for his sophomore season. Weighing in at 202 lbs, the 6-3 Serville has certainly rounded out his frame in his first year of NCAA play at Michigan. After securing a fair amount of ice time and contributing eight points as a freshman, Winnipeg Jets brass will now be looking for Serville to round out his game as well as the Wolverines begin their season as the third-ranked team in the nation.
Jacob Trouba (Michigan) - Last but certainly not least, Winnipeg Jets' 9th overall draft choice
Filip Forsberg Mikhail Grigorenko Teuvo Teravainen Radek Faksa Jacoub Trouba is set to begin his Michigan Wolverines career on Tuesday October 9th after reportedly turning down as much as $200,000 in to play in the Ontario Hockey League. The Wolverines play host to Windsor in Ann Arbor in their first exhibition game before beginning their regular season on October 11 against the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Vinny Saponari (Northeastern University) - After spending the first two seasons of his NCAA career playing for Boston University in Hockey East, Saponari spent his junior season at Northeastern University and returns for his senior season this year. Saponari was released from the BU team after what Head Coach Jack Parker called "cumulative instances in which (they) have displayed conduct unbecoming of a Boston University hockey player". However, that period appears to be behind Saponari now, as Northeastern named Saponari this year's captain. In his first game wearing the C, Northeastern took on St. FX in an exhibition game, losing 4-3. However, Saponari recorded an assist on Northeastern's first and third goals of the night in the losing effort. He was also on the ice for Josh Day's game-winning goal for St. FX in the third period but nonetheless had a solid outing, albeit in exhibition play. Hopefully Saponari will be able to keep this up, as he should be one of Northeastern's leading scorers this season.
Yasin Cisse - Entering his sophomore season after an underwhelming freshman campaign that resulted in just five points, the former top rookie scorer in Quebec Midget AAA directed five shots on goal and was one of five different goal scorers in 13th ranked Boston University's 5-0 win over the University of Toronto in exhibition play. Interestingly, all five goals came on the power play. Cisse also received a five minute major for roughing and a 10 minute game misconduct halfway through the third period, ending his night a bit early. After some injury trouble in past seasons and an underwhelming start to his NCAA career, Winnipeg Jets fans will be looking for Cisse to stay healthy this year and regain some of his former scoring touch.
Tanner Lane - After two years in the USHL, Tanner Lane will be beginning his college career this season as a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks begin exhibition play October 8 against the University of Lethbridge and will open the NCAA season October 12 against Army. With the University of Nebraska-Omaha picked to finish eighth in its conference, Lane may well be in for a rough adjustment in his first year of NCAA hockey.
Jordan Samuels-Thomas - After leading Bowling Green State University in scoring in both 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 and sitting out 2011-2012 due to NCAA transfer rules, Jordan Samuels-Thomas will be suiting up for his junior season as a member of a strong team at Qunnipac University. With junior twins Connor and Kellen Jones - Quinnipac's first and third leading scorers last season - returning to their spots on the top line, Samuels-Thomas played on a line with senior Jeremy Langlois. Samuels-Thomas, who grew up in Connecticut just 40 minutes from the Quinnipac University campus, began his Quinnipac career with a bang by scoring the game winning goal with just 1:26 remaining in the third period of Quinnipac's 2-1 win over the No. 15 ranked University of Maine on October 6. Following his strong opening game, Samuels-Thomas got featured in his own College Hockey News article. Samuels-Thomas' success unfortunately didn't carry over to the next night, with Quinnipac losing 2-0 to Acadia University. Samuels should be a major factor for Quinnipac this season and will be an exciting prospect to track.