Monday, September 15, 2008

High School Hockey Elite League Thoughts

I went over to Verona this weekend and watched the better part of 3 games in the High School Hockey Elite League. Of interest to me were 2 potential UW recruits in Anders Lee and Max Gardiner of Team Southwest, and watching Team Wisconsin in general to see what they had to offer.

On saturday night, Team Southwest manhandled Norway 9-3. The score really doesn't tell how distant the teams really were, Southwest controlled the course of the game throughout. Besides Lee and Gardiner, Team SW features some other NCAA recruits in Zach Budish (minnesota), Marshall Everson (Havard), Nick Leddy (minnesota) and Danny Mattson (North Dakota). SW's top line consisted of Budish/Everson/Lee, and they were quite dominant not only against Norway, but against Team Wisconsin on sunday as well. Team SW rolled Team Wisconsin 8-1, w/ the game getting completely away from Team WI in the 3rd period.

Anders Lee was pretty impressive all weekend. It probably helped he was on an all-star line, but he did his part to make it that good. I should note that the Budish/Everson/Lee line plays together regularly for Edina HS, they should have a good season. Lee was strong in every area. He had some great passes, notched a few goals over the two games, played solid defense and worked hard for the puck in the corners. He is a beast of a player at 6-1, 210 lbs at age 18. Dplaya told me he had 9 rushing TDs through his first two HS football games as a QB. I would love to see this kid in the Cardinal and White. Hopefully he accepts the offered scholarship in the near future.

Max Gardiner didn't dominate like Lee, but he definately has the makings of a great skill set. Against Norway there was a play where his linemates were rushing the puck and he wasn't anywhere near the play, and then all of a sudden there he was backside. He came out of nowhere. He is one hell of a skater, just like his brother Jake, and most of the time it barely looks like he is trying out there, while keeping up w/ the pace of the game. He rarely got to show off his speed, but it's there. His offensive skills are solid too. Similar to Lee his is a big kid at 6-2, 180 lbs, and should grow a little yet since he is only 16. Brother Jake was there to watch him play Team WI.

I was hoping to watch Aaron Harstad, but as Dplaya is reporting, he broke his wrist and is on the shelf for a few weeks. Little disappointed, but what can you do?

A few players on Team WI impressed me. Despite the fact that it appears he got shelled, in net Andy Martin from Stoughton looked pretty decent. There wasn't much in front of him, he faced far more shots than a goalie ever should. Wes Wauters from Ashwaubenon and Cody Strang of Edgewood were Team WI's best forwards. I liked Alex Amundsen as well on defense. He is a big kid, who was pretty solid on both ends.

I was able to enjoy the Team WI/Team SW game w/ Dpalya of the Hockey in Wisconsin blog, and he has a great breakdown of both Team SW and Team WI. Dplaya's coaching background gives a nice prespective compared to my fan prespective of things.

Dplaya also mentions that scouts from Vancounver, Nashville and Ottawa were there, along w/ Coach Eaves, someone from UCONN, and a scout from the Green Bay Gamblers. I talked to the Gamblers scout, they are looking forward to a good season, and new start w/ a fresh coaching staff. If you are in the GB area on a weekend, stop by and check out the team and support WI's only USHL team.

Good way to spend a rainy weekend watching some hockey.