Examining the ’06 USA Hockey national champion’s 2021-22 season

On the morning of April 4, Chicago Mission captured the 2022 USA Hockey National Championship at the Tier-I 15-Only age group, arguably the most prestigious title in American youth hockey today. With an emphasis on having players stay in their own birth-year for their junior draft season, the 15-Only classification has increasingly become the place to play for athletes looking to establish themselves in the eyes of junior scouts.

Mission finished the season with a 50-22-2 record, and finished as the top-ranked team in the country as well as the fourth overall team in the world rankings. The ’06 black and neon green squad out-scored its competition by 134 goals, with an average margin of victory of 1.81 goals.

Season stats don’t appear to be available anywhere online, but the national tournament totals give a good look at the leaders for the Mission squad. Charles Pardue, Jake Merens and Eero Butella all tied for the team scoring lead in the country-wide playoffs, posting 10 points apiece in six games. John Delaney had seven, Charles Arend had five, while Michael Phelan and Ryan Kroll tied for the lead among defensemen with four.

Nicholas Kempf was the dominating force between the pipes for Mission, recording a 1.41 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in his five starts out of the six games Mission needed to win the national title.

So what did the in-season success mean for the Mission roster’s off-season? Well, we start with a look at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP), which invited two of the Mission stars to its annual evaluation camp to finalize next year’s Under-17 Team. Pardue and Kempf were invited, and much like their other spring trip to Plymouth, they made that one count too, as both were named to the national team for the upcoming season.

Seven Mission players were selected in the USHL Phase-I Draft, which was the first part of a two-day draft process where the Tier-I junior league selected players exclusively from the 2006 birth-year class. Here were the Chicago players chosen:

Round 2, No. 23 overall – Waterloo – Eero Butella, forward
Round 3, No. 39 overall – Fargo – Jake Merens, forward
Round 6, No. 79 overall – Waterloo – Michael Phelan, defense
Round 6, No. 83 overall – Tri-City – Ryan Kroll, defense
Round 6, No. 87 overall – Dubuque – Charlie Arend, forward
Round 7, No. 95 – Fargo – Justin Bartley, defense
Round 9, No. 132 – Dubuque – Robert Bartell, forward

Only one team had more players selected in the USHL Phase-I Draft than Mission, and that was Detroit Compuware with eight. However, when you add the two players selected for the NTDP – which competes in the USHL – Mission would have the “top spot” in terms of players selected by the members of the top American junior league.

Two players were selected in the OHL Draft, and they were late-round picks. Butella was selected by Mississauga in the 10th round, 198 overall, while Pardue was chosen by Sudbury in the 14th round, 266 overall. Late-round American picks serve as a way for an OHL team to maintain a talented player’s rights, should the player ever consider a change of scenery as well.

Delaney and Frank DeRosa were also selected by the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights in the NCDC Entry Draft. 

College programs are allowed to extend verbal offers to the 2006 birth year starting on Aug. 1, and many of these names could resurface as commitment candidates before the summer is over.

World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of the 2006 birth year, top teams, players, news and more. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for more!

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Matthew Frost headlines the group of top 2006-born players chosen in Phase-I selection process

The Waterloo Black Hawks liked what they saw in Matthew Frost.

So much so that they made a trade to move up to get him.

The Black Hawks struck a deal with the Des Moines Buccaneers to claim the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 USHL Phase-I Draft, which they used on the 5-foot-10, 150-pound forward out of Selects Academy.

Frost, who hails from Arlington, Va., was the first player off the board in the first of a two-day selection process for the USHL. The Phase-I Draft was exclusively of the 2006 birth-year class, while the Phase-II Draft that followed was for all players eligible for junior hockey next season not yet claimed by a USHL franchise.

The USHL allows for teams to sign players to league tenders leading up to the draft, which makes the Phase-I Draft a unique process. If a USHL franchise signs a player to a tender, that functions as their first-round draft pick in the Phase-I Draft. It allows teams to bypass the draft order (which is why a few of the most sought-after players in the ’06 class appear farther down the draft board than one would expect). It comes with a catch — if a team tenders a player, he must participate in 55 percent of the team’s games in his rookie season. First-round draft picks, however, do not have to play for the team that season; they can stay with their youth/high school team, or only play in as many games as their USHL franchise would like or need.

Frost recorded 62 points in 58 games with the Selects 16U team this past season; he was one of nine first-round picks/tenders who played against competition older than his own birth year. Only six players played in the 15-Only classification for the majority of their 2021-22 season, which is notable as USA Hockey encourages more participation in the single birth-year division for the players’ crucial junior-draft season.

At No. 2, the Sioux Falls Stampede crossed the border for forward Reid Varkonyi, a native of Sherwood Park, Alberta and product of the Northern Alberta Xtreme U18 Prep team. Varkonyi, fresh off a 56 points in 34 games season against older competition, recently announced a verbal commitment to national champion Denver University, which surely motivated the Stampede to claim him despite him also being a WHL Draft selection of the Portland Winterhawks.

The Green Bay Gamblers used the No. 3 overall pick on Aidan Park, another elite forward, who comes from Playa Vista, Calif. He is currently a member of Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Park, who posted 118 points in 54 games with SSM 16U this past season, had posted on his social media accounts that he was going to stay at the prestigious academy for another season. The Gamblers now have his rights — both Park and the Gamblers’ leadership can now decide when the right time is for him to make the jump to juniors.

The same case can be said for Park’s teammate Drake Murray, who was selected at No. 13 overall by the Sioux City Musketeers after posting he would be back for more at SSM.

Another SSM product worth mentioning is Macklin Celebrini, who is the poster boy for the tender dynamic skewing the draft order. Celebrini, a native of Vancouver, accomplished the rare feat of making the Shattuck 18U team during his 15-Only season, and he dominated there, racking up 117 points in 52 games.

Celebrini signed a tender with the Chicago Steel prior to the draft, following in the footsteps of ’04 birth-year uber prospect Adam Fantilli, who signed a tender with the Steel a few years ago, as well. Had there not be a tender process and those players had both announced their intentions of playing USHL and college hockey, they would have had the best odds of going No. 1 overall in their respective drafts.

Another unique USHL Draft angle to consider is that while they compete in the USHL, USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) does not participate in the draft. The NTDP has its evaluation camp after scouting the birth year all season, and then finalizes its Under-17 Team roster before the USHL Draft takes place.

Of the 10 American-born first-round picks/tenders, eight of them were invited to the NTDP Evaluation Camp – Frost and Will Felicio were the two who did not receive invitations. Frost, of course, holds the distinction of being the No. 1 overall pick in the USHL Draft, while Felicio was the lone American to be signed to a first-round tender.

Here is a full breakdown of the first round from the 2022 USHL Phase 1 Draft:

No. 1 – Waterloo – Matthew Frost (Forward, South Kent Selects Academy 16U)

No. 2 – Sioux Falls – Reid Varkonyi (Forward, Northern Alberta Xtreme U18 Prep)

No. 3 – Green Bay – Aidan Park (Forward, Shattuck-St. Mary’s 16U)

No. 4 – Waterloo – Tender – Keith McInnis (Defense, Yale Hockey Academy U18 Prep)

No. 5 – Fargo – Mac Swanson (Forward, Team Alaska 15O)

No. 6 – Cedar Rapids – Lukas Fischer (Defense, Compuware 15O)

No. 7 – Madison – Tender – Will Felicio (Defense, Mount St. Charles 15O)

No. 8 – Des Moines – Geno Carcone (Forward, Bishop Kearney Selects 15O)

No. 9 – Youngstown – Tory Pitner (Defense, South Kent Selects Academy 15O)

No. 10 – Muskegon – Tender – Sacha Boisvert (Forward, Mount St. Charles 15O)

No. 11 – Lincoln – Adam Kleber (Defense, Chaska High School)

No. 12 – Dubuque – Gavin Cornforth (Forward, Thayer Academy Tigers)

No. 13 – Sioux City – Drake Murray (Defense, Shattuck-St. Mary’s 16U)

No. 14 – Chicago – Tender – Macklin Celebrini (Forward, Shattuck-St. Mary’s 18U)

No. 15 – Tri-City – Tender – Matthew Virgilio (Defense, St. Andrew’s College)

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Misa goes No. 1, Toronto Jr. Canadiens dominate first round selections

As expected — and formally announced a day early — Michael Misa was the No. 1 pick in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection.

The latest of a select few to be granted exceptional status and be allowed to enter the OHL draft a year early, Misa was announced as the Saginaw Spirit first overall selection at a press conference Thursday. The elite prospect from the Mississauga Senators U16 team posted 43 points in 27 games, helping them to an OHL Cup championship this spring.

On Friday, the rest of the first round (and the second and third) was completed by the OHL member clubs, kicking off Day 1 of the two-day selection process.

Malcolm Spence, a teammate of Misa’s on the Senators, was selected No. 2 overall by the Erie Otters to start Friday’s festivities. Spence posted 56 points in 28 games with the Senators this season.

At No. 3, the Sudbury Wolves claimed center Nathan Villeneuve of the Navan Grads U18 team. Villeneuve, competing in the HEO U18 division, posted 67 points in only 30 games. Next up was the first defenseman selected in this year’s draft, as the Niagara Ice Dogs took Sam Dickinson out of the Toronto Marlboros organization. Dickinson knows how to orchestrate an offense from the back-end, having recorded 35 assists and 39 total points in 46 games.

Porter Martone of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens was selected at No. 5 by the Sarnia Sting – he posted a whopping 104 points in 53 games.

Here is a look at all of the first-round selections, with more analysis below the list:

No. 1 – Saginaw – Michael Misa (Center, Mississauga Senators U16)
No. 2 – Erie – Malcolm Spence (Left Wing, Mississauga Senators U16)
No. 3 – Sudbury – Nathan Villeneuve (Center, Navan Grads U18)
No. 4 – Niagara – Sam Dickinson (Defense, Toronto Marlboros U16)
No. 5 – Sarnia – Porter Martone (Right Wing, Toronto Jr. Canadiens U16)
No. 6 – Peterborough – Jack Van Volsen (Center, Toronto Jr. Canadiens U16)
No. 7 – Ottawa – Henry Mews (Defense, Toronto Jr. Canadiens U16)
No. 8 – Oshawa – Beckett Sennecke (Left Wing, Toronto Marlboros U16)
No. 9 – Kitchener – Michael Hage (Center, Toronto Jr. Canadiens U16)
No. 10 – Barrie – Cole Beaudoin (Center, Nepean Raiders U18)
No. 11 – Owen Sound – Ben Cormier (Center, Navan Grads U18)
No. 12 – Guelph – Jett Luchanko (Right Wing, London Jr. Knights U16)
No. 13 – Mississauga – Lucas Karmiris (Center, Brantford 2 U16)
No. 14 – Oshawa – Ben Danford (Defense, Quinte Red Devils U16)
No. 15 – London – Luca Testa (Center, Niagara North Stars U16)
No. 16 – Soo – Christoper Brown (Center, North York Rangers U16)
No. 17 – Kingston – Gabriel Frasca (Center, Mississauga Senators U16)
No. 18 – Flint – Kaden Pitre (Center, Vaughan Kings U16)
No. 19 – Saginaw – Zayne Parekh (Defense, Markham Majors U16)
No. 20 – North Bay – Ethan Procyszyn (Right Wing, North Central Predators U16)
No. 21 – Ottawa – Frank Marrelli (Defense, Markham Waxers U16)
No. 22 – Windsor – Anthony Cristoforo (Defense, Toronto Jr. Canadiens U16)
No. 23 – Hamilton – Marek Vanacker (Left Wing, Brantford 99ers U16)

The Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) led the way in number of players selected in the first round with the 13 players from the storied youth organization hearing their names called. Three players came from Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO) and three came from the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario. Meanwhile, four skaters came from the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) — three from the Eastern AAA Hockey League (ETAHL) and one from South-Central AAA Hockey League. 

The GTHL’s Toronto Jr. Canadiens U16 team produced the most first-round picks from any one single team, as five players from the club were selected. The Mississauga Sens — with Misa, Spence and forward Gabriel Frasca at No. 17 — had three players picked. Two came from the Toronto Marlboros U16, two from the Navan Grads U18 and two from the Brantford 99ers.

Six of the 23 players chosen in the first round were defensemen, while the rest were forwards. The first goaltender picked was Ryerson Leenders of the Toronto Nationals U16 team at No. 32 overall in the second round by Mississauga.

All of the players selected in the first round are Canadian homegrown products. The first American player chosen was defenseman Cole Longacre; the Kitchener Rangers picked him at No. 31 overall. 

The lone bit of ‘drama’ in the battle between the junior leagues was that the No. 9 overall pick, defenseman Michael Hage of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens U16 team, signed a USHL tender with the Chicago Steel three days before the OHL draft.

For a full look at the entire 2022 OHL Priority Selection, click HERE. Want more from the world of youth hockey? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for events, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more.

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How the first round of the Phase-I Draft will unfold in America’s top junior league

Last week, the World Hockey Hub produced its first OHL Mock Draft. The actual results of the priority selection will be determined later this week.

Now, it’s time for the USHL Mock Draft, specifically for the American junior league’s Phase-I Draft set to take place next week.

The USHL draft process is split into two phases; Phase-I is exclusively for 2006-born players, while Phase-II is for all players eligible to play junior hockey who are not currently protected by a USHL club.

The other big caveat that comes with the USHL process is the inclusion of tenders — teams can make commitments to players leading up to the draft. If a player signs a USHL tender, the team forfeits their first-round pick in the Phase-I Draft. Teams can complete two tender signings leading up to the draft, meaning they can forego their first two draft selections in order to secure top players before the draft officially gets underway.

So why doesn’t every team use their tenders to basically skip the draft order and get the best players they can? USHL league rules stipulate that tendered players must play in 55 percent of the team’s regular-season games in the upcoming season, notwithstanding injury, illness or suspension. Meanwhile, if a USHL team selects a player in the Phase-I draft, they can decide the player needs another season of youth/high school hockey and only call them up to the USHL team if necessary.

The tender process makes for an unorthodox first and second round of the draft. Some teams are not selecting in either of the rounds, and it also jumbles up the perceived ‘top players’ in the draft class. The best case in 2022 is that of Macklin Celebrini, a native of British Columbia who would have certainly been in consideration for the No. 1 overall pick if he declared his intentions to play in the USHL and there was no tender process. Instead, the Chicago Steel signed Celebrini to a tender — just like they did with top NHL Draft prospect Adam Fantilli two years ago — to secure him for the upcoming season despite holding the No. 14 overall pick.

Five teams opted to go the tender route for the first round; they are starred in our mock draft. Four of the five tender signees are Canadian players; the Massachusetts product and Mount St. Charles standout defenseman is the lone American.

Below is our first-round mock draft for the Phase-I Draft, which is slated to take place on May 2. Kicking things off, we have a pair of Shattuck-St. Mary’s standouts in Aidan Park and Drake Murray. Both have publicly expressed interest in remaining at the storied prep school in Minnesota, but things change by the day in youth and junior hockey, and both of these two exceptional players are worth claiming in round one. At No. 3, we have Reid Varkonyi, who has been skating for the Northern Alberta Xtreme of the CSSHL but was participating in the NTDP Evaluation Camp. He recently announced a verbal commitment to the University of Denver, becoming just the second player in the 2006 birth-year class to make a college commitment.

No. 1 – Sioux Falls – Aidan Park (Forward, Shattuck-St. Mary’s)

No. 2 – Des Moines – Drake Murray (Defense, Shattuck-St. Mary’s)

No. 3 – Green Bay – Reid Varkonyi (Forward, Northern Alberta Xtreme)

*No. 4 – Waterloo – Keith McInnis (Defense, Yale Hockey Academy)

No. 5 – Cedar Rapids – Callum Hughes (Forward, Mount St. Charles)

No. 6 – Fargo – Adam Kleber (Defense, Minnesota Blades/Chaska High School)

*No. 7 – Madison – Will Felicio (Defense, Mount St. Charles)

No. 8 – Youngstown – Cole Longacre (Defense, Windy City Storm)

No. 9 – Omaha – Grant Young (Forward, Windy City Storm)

*No. 10 – Muskegon – Sacha Boisvert (Forward, Mount St. Charles)

No. 11 – Dubuque – Mac Swanson (Forward, Team Alaska)

No. 12 – Lincoln – Ben Miller (Forward, Minnesota Blades/Hill Murray High School)

No. 13 – Sioux City – Gavin Cornforth (Forward, Boston Little Bruins/Thayer Academy)

*No. 14 – Chicago – Macklin Celebrini (Forward, Shattuck-St. Mary’s)

*No. 15 – Tri-City – Matthew Virgilio (Defense, St. Andrew’s College)

Note: Selections with a * before the number are forfeited draft picks replaced with the team’s tendered player. There are three players signed to tenders that take up the team’s second-round pick, as well. They are below.

*No. 25 – Muskegon – Owen Keefe (Defense, Boston Jr. Eagles/Malden Catholic)

*No. 29 – Chicago – Michael Hage (Forward, Toronto Jr. Canadiens)

*No. 30 – Tri-City – Trevor Connelly (Forward, Long Island Gulls)

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Five Mississauga Senators Headline WHH Mock 1.0

Saginaw, meet Michael Misa.

With its new lottery process to determine which team gets the first overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection, the Saginaw Spirit was the lucky franchise to have first dibs at the 2006 birth-year class.

How do we know that the Spirit will be selecting Michael Misa? Well, it’s not official until the team announces it, but Misa is one of only a handful of players who have been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada and allowed to enter the draft a year early.

Misa, a 2007 birth-year phenom from the Mississauga Senators U16 club, is expected to join the likes of Connor McDavid, John Tavares and Shane Wright as players selected No. 1 overall after being allowed to skip their final year of youth hockey for major junior.

With that said, here is the World Hockey Hub’s mock OHL Priority Selection. One quick note before it starts, however, given the border crossing issues throughout the last two seasons, we’re going to go out on a limb and say this is an All-Canadian first-round draft class, since it’s been rather difficult for most of the OHL scouts to do their usual North-American tours.

At No. 1, as discussed, we have Misa. At this spring’s OHL Cup, he broke McDavid’s tournament record of 19 points, registering 20 as his Senators won the title. That pretty much sums it up, right? You break a McDavid record, you are most likely going No. 1 overall.

At No. 2, we have Malcolm Spence. The Hockey News says that Spence may just be the No. 1 overall pick, regardless of the exceptional status thing mentioned above. With his lethal shooting ability and ability to fly up and down the ice, it’s hard to argue with the assessment.

Michael Hage of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens checks in at No. 3. Regarded as a complete 200-foot player who can score himself and also increase the offensive output of his line mates, he’s a lock for at least the top five when the actual draft takes place.

In our eyes, Henry Mews will be the first defenseman off the board at No. 4. An offensive defenseman, he knows when to push the pace and when not to – a comparison to Jamie Drysdale has been floating around, too.

At No. 5, we think the blueline collection gets picked from again, and the Sarnia Sting take big Sam Dickinson. At 6-foot-2 and 194 pounds, he is a problem for opponents in his defensive zone, and that’s crucial to any team’s success.

Check out our full first-round mock draft below.

No. 1 – Saginaw Spirit – Michael Misa (Forward, Mississauga Senators)

No. 2 – Erie Otters – Malcolm Spence (Forward, Mississauga Senators)

No. 3 – Sudbury Wolves – Michael Hage (Forward, Toronto Jr. Canadiens)

No. 4 – Niagara IceDogs – Henry Mews (Defense, Toronto Jr. Canadiens)

No. 5 – Sarnia Sting – Sam Dickinson (Defense, Toronto Marlboros)

No. 6 – Peterborough Petes – Nathan Villeneuve (Forward, Navan Grads)

No. 7 – Ottawa 67’s – Beckett Sennecke (Forward, Toronto Marlboros)

No. 8 – Oshawa Generals – Kieron Walton (Forward, North York Rangers)

No. 9 – Kitchener Rangers – Gabriel Frasca (Forward, Mississauga Senators)

No. 10 – Barrie Colts – Jack Van Volsen (Forward, Toronto Jr. Canadiens)

No. 11 – Owen Sound Attack – Luca Testa (Forward, Niagara North Stars)

No. 12 – Guelph Storm – Liam Greentree (Forward, Markham Majors)

No. 13 – Mississauga Steelheads – Benjamin Cormier (Forward, Navan Grads)

No. 14 – Oshawa Generals – Justin Huynh (Defense, Mississauga Senators)

No. 15 – London Knights – Lucas Karmiris (Forward, Brantford 99ers)

No. 16 – Soo Greyhounds – Ben Danford (Defense, Quinte Red Devils)

No. 17 – Kingston Frontenacs – Marek Vanacker (Forward, Brantford 99ers)

No. 18 – Flint Firebirds – Frankie Marelli (Defense, Markham Waxers)

No. 19 – Saginaw Spirit – Cole Beaudoin (Forward, Nepean Raiders)

No. 20 – North Bay Battalion – Kevin He (Forward, North York Rangers)

No. 21 – Ottawa 67s – Zayne Parekh (Defense, Markham Majors)

No. 22 – Windsor Spitfires – Brodie McConnell-Barker (Defense, London Jr. Knights)

No. 23 – Hamilton Bulldogs – Jett Luchanko, (Forward, London Jr. Knights)

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Seven Minnesotans headline 23-man list of top 2006-born American players

In Plymouth, Mich., there is a two-year training program that is coveted worldwide.

USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) was designed to cultivate and enhance young American talent, and it has become the end-goal destination for the 15-Only age group each and every season.

Next year’s under-17 team roster has been announced, which means that USA Hockey has combed through the 2006 birth-year and identified the players they deem ready and able to go through a two-year gauntlet of training and competition. 

The under-17 team plays in the USHL, competing against teams that are on average, two or three years older, while also competing in international tournaments. In Year 2 of the program, they move up to the under-18 team, and continue to play in the USHL while also playing NCAA programs and more international competition. The goal is to prepare the team for the IIHF World Under-18 Championship, while also getting them ready for success at the college and professional levels.

“We were thrilled with the level of play at our March evaluation camp,” said Kevin Reiter, the NTDP’s director of player personnel. “It seems that each year, the overall talent of our pool grows deeper, and we can’t thank our volunteers all across the country enough for their hard work and dedication to youth hockey. Selecting this year’s team was incredibly difficult. We’d like to thank all of the players and families who were involved in the process and we are very much looking forward to our new group of U17s.”

The NTDP roster also gives a good look at which states are producing the top talent in a given year. For this year’s ’06 group, Minnesota wins the award for most NTDP players produced; the Land of 10,000 Lakes will be sending seven players to Plymouth next fall. That’s a notable head count in itself because over the years, some hockey leaders in Minnesota have wanted their players to stay home and play high school hockey instead of leaving for the NTDP and junior hockey circuit.

Seven other states are represented on the roster – Illinois has five, Michigan has three, Massachusetts has two, New York has two, Wisconsin has one, Pennsylvania has one and Missouri has one.

Another yearly item of note is the dual citizens that make the decision to start down the American path for international competition. This year, there’s even a player with a Canadian hometown listed in E.J. Emery, a defenseman hailing from Surrey, British Columbia. Emery spent last year with Yale Hockey Academy U17 and is a draft pick of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. 

Outside of Emery, there are some pretty clear patterns when analyzing the NTDP roster. The biggest one that jumps out is that every single player took part in last year’s USA Hockey Select 15 Camp, the first of the three development and evaluation camps that the governing body holds each offseason. Players receive invitations from their USA Hockey affiliate — some affiliates simply select a group of players, others hold tryout/evaluation processes — to compete with the best in their age group while Team USA management looks on.

For more on the players’ backgrounds leading up to the 2021-22 campaign, here’s a look at participation numbers in some of youth hockey’s most prestigious events:

15 of the player skated in the The Brick Invitational Tournament in Edmonton

11 players took part in the Quebec International Pee-Wee Tournament

17 skated in the World Selects Invitationals

And in one of those perfect examples of how there’s a different route for everybody, Brodie Ziemer was selected after leading the national tournament in scoring with 11 points in six games. He didn’t play in any of those aforementioned tournaments/showcases outside of the USA select camp. 

Seventeen of the players played at the 15O age group this season, whether it was for the full season or with a team outside their high school hockey season. On that note, five played high school hockey in 2021-22 – Minnesotans Brendan McMorrow (Benilde-St. Margaret’s), Max Plante (Hermantown), Logan Hensler (Hill-Murray), Will Skahan (St. Thomas Academy) and Massachusett’s Teddy Stiga (Belmont, along with the Boston Jr. Eagles).

Other outliers for competing outside their birth-year are: 

Kamil Bednarik, who played for New Jersey Rockets 16U

Cole Eiserman, who played for Shattuck-St. Mary’s 18U

Christian Humphreys, who played primarily for Bishop Kearney Selects 16U

Shane Vansaghi, who played for the St. Louis AAA Blues 16U

Cole Hutson, who played for the New Jersey Avalanche 16U

Eiserman is certainly one of the most highly-touted prospects joining the NTDP next fall. One of two ’06 players to be selected for Shattuck’s top team — the other being WHL No. 1 overall pick Macklin Celebrini — Eiserman posted a whopping 86 points in 53 games against players up to four years older. All of the players listed above are ones to watch; Humphreys posted 106 points in 54 games at the 16U level, and Hutson is a silky-smooth blue-liner like his brother and NTDP Under-18 Team defenseman Lane Hutson

Shattuck leads the way with five players selected from their various teams. 

Two players from the Chicago Mission 15O team that won a national title at the home of the NTDP are on the roster – forward Charlie Pardue and goaltender Nicholas Kempf. Pardue tied for the team lead with 10 points in six games in the national tournament; he was one point behind tournament leader and fellow NTDP selection Brodie Ziemer. Kempf, meanwhile, was a brick wall for Mission between the pipes in Plymouth, recording a 1.20 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in five games for the eventual champs.

Other notable names include Noah Lapointe, son of former NHL standout Martin Lapointe, and Dakoda Rheaume-Mullen, son of legendary women’s goaltender Manon Rheaume and brother of former NTDP goaltender Dylan St. Cyr.

The goalie joining Kempf between the pipes is Jack Parsons of Mount St. Charles. A native of Ithaca, N.Y., Parsons turned in a 1.77 goals-against average and .934 save percentage as the crease leader for one of the top teams in the country this year.

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Finland Youth Hockey Season Comes To A Close With Two-Game Sweep

After seven months of intense action across the country, Finland youth hockey has finally crowned its U16 national champion. Jokerit — the No. 1 seed in the playoffs — swept HIFK in a best-of-3 series to take the title on Saturday afternoon. A 4-3 win in Game 2 clinched the series victory for Jokerit, earning the championship for the Helsinki-based program. 

In Game 1, Jokerit put HIFK goaltender Otto Nuto to the test in the form of 49 shots on goal. A hat trick from forward Renny Tainio fueled the surge of offense, while Atte Vikla, Juho Keinänen, Natan Teshome and Arttu Määttä piled on in a 7-1 win.

HIFK pushed back in Game 2 though, with the season on the line. In the first period, they threw 15 shots on goal, and Matias Torkki was able to give HIFK an early lead just 6:30 into the game. Jokerit quickly responded to tie it up just 18 seconds later, but another first-period goal by Edvard Grönholm would regain the lead for HIFK. 

Joonas Paqvalin and Santeri Veiksola would combine to score the next three goals — Paqvalin with one on the power play — to take the lead for Jokerit for good. A late goal, timeout and pulled goalie for more than a minute would not be enough for HIFK to tie it up, and Jokerit would hang onto the 4-3 win.

Similar to neighboring country Sweden, Finland only awards a champion of youth hockey at the U16 age group. This year, Jokerit’s 2006-born team proved to be the best in the country by going undefeated in the playoffs. They swept No. 10 TPS 2-0 in the quarterfinals, then swept No. 8 Lukko 2-0 in the semifinals and finished with a 2-0 sweep of No. 5 HIFK this weekend.

It is the final season of youth hockey for these players, as next season, the 2006 age group will embark on its first in the SM-sarja junior leagues. Want more coverage of Finland youth hockey and other news from around the world? Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest updates in the sport.

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Nicholas Kempf, John Whipple among top performers at youth hockey championships

Earlier this week, World Hockey Hub wrapped up the 14U, 15-Only and 16U Tier 1 national championships for USA Hockey. There, we profiled the championship teams and their paths to a title.

Now, we take a closer look at some of the standouts with our All-Tournament Team selections.

Forwards:

James Reeder (Chicago Mission 16U), James Hagens (Mount St. Charles 15O), Jack Murtagh (Bishop Kearney Selects 14U)

Can we make some sort of pun for James Reeder being a man on a mission for Mission? Nobody topped his points total in the 14-16 age groups at nationals, as the Glenview, Ill., native racked up 12 points in only five games. He was crucial to his Mission team, despite them falling short in the semifinals. Two goals in a 4-3 OT win, three points in a 5-3 win, lone goal in a 3-1 loss, four points in the quarterfinals in a 6-4 win, and two assists in the aforementioned semifinals. Reeder was the driving force offensively for his team and the rest of the tournament field took notice. Reeder was a third-round pick of the Dubuque Fighting Saints in last year’s USHL Draft. 

Much like Reeder, James Hagens’ squad didn’t achieve 15O supremacy, but it wasn’t from his lack of effort. The Mount St. Charles star forward had nine points in only four games, despite being one of the top players in his age group, and surely being the focal point of defensive schemes from the opposition each night. We’re expecting that this wasn’t the last time he will spend quality time at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, as Hagens should be on the NTDP Under-17 Team next fall after strong showings at both nationals and the NTDP Evaluation Camp just a short time before. Elite Prospects has him posting 72 points in only 34 games this season.

Jack Murtagh matched Reeder’s scoring totals for tops in the age groups at Nationals, as he racked up 12 in five games. It should come as no surprise; the native of East Greenbush, N.Y. is already 5-foot-8 and not afraid to use his size to his advantage. We’re expecting big things from this ’07 birth-year forward as he progresses through the ranks — Murtagh thrived in his first season with the BK Selects, posting 101 points in 68 games. 

Defense:

John Whipple (Shattuck-St. Mary’s 15O) and Holden Carter (Chicago Mission 14U)

John Whipple may have been breaking in the ice at his future home during the national tournament. A recent invitee to the USA Hockey’s NTDP Evaluation Camp in Plymouth, Whipple thrived there a few weeks ago, and then again this past week at the national tournament in the same building. Whipple, a native of Morristown, N.J., led the 15O defensemen in scoring with eight points in six games. Whipple finished the season — his second with Shattuck — with 55 points in 54 games, along with 91 penalty minutes.

Holden Carter led the 14U Mission team and the blue liners in his age group in scoring at Nationals, racking up five points in six games en route to his team’s national title on home ice. We went with Carter as the representative for a Mission ’07 group who all deserve all-tournament team recognition – their ability to shut down the opposition throughout the entire tournament was impressive, to say the least. Not sure how to check the record books on this one, but Mission only allowed five shots on goal in their semifinal victory over the Northeast Wisconsin Jr. Gamblers, which has to be some kind of record, given the time and place of that defensive dominance. 

Goaltender:

Nicholas Kempf (Chicago Mission 15O)

He played in five of the six games Chicago Mission needed to capture a national championship, and along the way allowed only six goals. Kempf finished the tournament with a 1.20 goals-against average, a .944 save percentage and one shutout, serving as the rock for a Mission team that marched through the field in Plymouth, Mich., en route to the 15O title. He must have enjoyed skating on familiar ice, after just having participated in the USA Hockey’s NTDP Evaluation Camp a few weeks ago, and getting his fair share of time at USA Hockey Arena in HPHL events with rival Compuware, too. 

World Hockey Hub has more coverage of the biggest events in youth hockey! Be sure to follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitterTikTok and YouTube and never miss another update of youth hockey news worldwide.

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Top two teams compete in best-of-three series for Finland championship

A new champion in Finland youth hockey will be crowned this weekend, as Jokerit and HIFK are the only two teams left standing in contention for the U16 championship.

JUMPING WITH JOKERIT

Jokerit entered the playoffs as a favorite, with a 32-8-0 record and a top seed in the tournament. Forward Natan Teshome finished the season among the top five in the league in scoring with 34 goals and 60 points. He hasn’t played with Jokerit in a few weeks, since being called up to the U18 team. In his absence, Joonas Paqvalin, Juho Keinänen and Eemil-Olavi Hiltunen have carried the offensive torch, combining to score 10 goals and 24 points. They have accounted for more than half of Jokerit’s offense in the postseason.

The top four seeds — Jokerit being No. 2 — earned first-round byes in the U16 Finland youth hockey playoffs. Eight teams competed in the wild-card rounds; a best-of-three series where the four victorious teams advanced to the quarterfinals. 

Jokerit drew a quarterfinal matchup with No. 10 TPS; a team they had beaten twice before by a score of 9-1 and 3-2. The playoffs went in a similar fashion, with a 6-2 win and 3-1 win to eliminate TPS from the playoffs. Goaltender Harri Juntunen didn’t face a ton of action, but did stop 41-of-44 shots faced in the series.

The semifinal series with No. 8 Lukko proved to be a bit tighter. Jokerit needed to stave off a late comeback by Lukko in Game 1, where Sasu Päivärinta and Jasper Inkinen scored a pair of goals in the final minute of regulation. It wouldn’t be enough, though, as Jokerit held on to win 5-4. Paqvalin and Hiltunen posted three-point performances to help Jokerit earn the first win and set the tone for the rest of the series.

There was no comeback to be had in Game 2, as goals by Paqvalin, Keinänen and Santeri Veiksola would propel Jokerit to a commanding 5-1 win and a spot in the championship.

NO ONE HOTTER THAN HIFK

A 25-13-2 record kept HIFK near the middle of the pack; not quite a top team but certainly not the bottom either. Just three points in the standings kept them from passing HPK in the standings, and put HIFK among the eight teams needing to win a wild-card series to keep their playoff hopes alive.

What could have been an intense situation with the season on the line, HIFK rolled through its wild-card series with Ilves by way of 8-4 and 5-0 victories. The next two rounds proved to be far more nerve-racking.

Aleksi Tuovinen — the team’s leading scorer — followed up a big regular season with an even better performance in the 4-v-5 matchup in the quarterfinals. He assisted on four goals in HIFK’s 6-1 win in Game 1, and when the team dropped Game 2, he scored two goals and an assist to clinch the series win in Game 3.

That set the stage for what has been the best series of the tournament so far, when HIFK took on No. 3 Tappara in the other semifinal. 

HIFK dropped Game 1 after they were unable to put a puck past Juha Riekki, in a 1-0 finish. Tuovinen tied Game 2 with 1:16 left to force overtime and keep HIFK’s playoff hopes alive. After six minutes of extra time, Jonatan Hirschovits cashed in on a power-play goal to force a deciding Game 3.  

In all three games, HIFK would throw 50-or-more shots at the Tappara goal. Only Edvard Grönholm and Viljo Kähkönen were able to put shots past Riekki through 60 minutes, and like Game 2, Game 3 would need overtime to determine a winner of the game and the series. Jere Somervuori and Matias Torkki would connect to set up Thomas Lahtinen for the game-winning goal almost eight minutes into the extra period, putting HIFK in the championship with Jokerit.

CROWNING A CHAMPION

Jokerit carries a 3-1 lead head-to-head in the regular season and comes in as the higher of the two seeds in playoffs. Game 1 of the series is scheduled for Thursday, with Game 2 set for Saturday. If necessary, Game 3 would be Sunday afternoon.

Otto Nuto has elevated his game in the postseason, with a 1.67 goals-against average and .939 save percentage, accounting for five of HIFK’s six playoff victories. HIFK does an exceptional job controlling the flow of the game and throwing plenty of shots on goal. Tuovinen and Grönholm have been the two big pillars in HIFK’s offense, while Kähkönen, Somervuori and Onni Kalto have made significant contributions late in the season. 

Will that be enough to keep Jokerit’s high-powered offense at bay? Paqvalin, Keinanen, Sakari Kostilainen and Renny Tainio make for a balanced offensive attack. Defensemen like Jeremy Mänd, Atte Vikla and Arttu Määttä get involved in a big way too, having scored 22 goals in the regular season.

Jokerit has rolled through the playoffs thus far though, and faced little adversity sweeping teams in both of its playoff series. If HIFK can keep games close enough to make Jokerit sweat, this championship series should be very interesting.

Want more coverage of the U16 Finland youth hockey national championships? Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest from the tournament, as well as other news from around the world!

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Michael Misa Has Historic Night For Mississauga Senators To Win OHL Cup

He’s been one of the most highly-touted youth hockey prospects, especially amongst his cohorts in the 2007 birth year. On Monday, he solidified those claims competing in the OHL Cup as an underager in the U16 age group.

Misa recorded a hat trick — five points in total — in the Mississauga Senators’ 6-2 win over the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, finishing with 20 points and surpassing Connor McDavid’s showcase record of 18. 

“This is the biggest tournament of minor hockey and I’ll remember this game forever,” said Misa after the victory. “It’s been a great ride with the boys and I couldn’t have dreamed of a better ending.”

Mississauga entered the tournament as the No. 1-ranked 2006 team in the world, with a 37-8-1 record. The Sens had to win a wild-card matchup against Ajax-Pickering Raiders to qualify for the field of 20 teams, where Misa also had two assists. After that, they went 3-1 in pool play, advancing to elimination rounds alongside the Jr. Canadiens as representatives of the Nash Division.

Two goals and an assist by Misa would help move the Sens past the London Jr. Knights 4-1, in the quarterfinals. His third straight three-point game would secure the 5-2 victory in the semifinals against the Markham Majors and set the stage for a rematch in the championship game.

It was the sixth meeting of the season between the Sens and Jr. Canadiens — Toronto carrying a 4-1 series lead — but Monday’s matchup was easily the most important of the bunch.

First-period goals by Bode Stewart and Malcolm Spence put Mississauga out in front less than five minutes into the game. Then three goals by Misa and another assist to top it all off sent the Sens on their way to a 6-2 OHL Cup championship.

“We took the long road,” Senators head coach Christ Stevenson told OHL Cup Online. “Obviously we didn’t have the GTHL Playoffs that we hoped for [before the tournament] but we learned from it, got to that wild card game and got better every game. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys. I’ve seen them grow and tonight means so much.”

Photo courtesy of OHL Cup Online

The victory is the first OHL Cup championship in Mississauga Senators program history. Misa (20 points), Spence (13) and Stewart (12) led the way in scoring for the Sens, and did so again when it mattered most. Forward William Moore eclipsed double digits as well with seven goals and 11 points. Evan Maillet posted a 1.90 goals-against average and .900 save percentage, winning all five of his starts, including the championship game. 

Jr. Canadiens forwards Michael Hage and Porter Martone finished two and three behind Misa in scoring. Hage had seven goals and 16 points while Martone had seven goals and 15 points. Teammate Anthony Cristoforo led all defensemen with nine points, while Markham Majors D-man Zayne Parekh scored three goals and eight points. Jacob Gibbons was among standout goalies with a 3-1 record, 1.54 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. Calem Yorke and Marko Bilic combined to post the fewest goals allowed in the tournament, giving up just seven in five games for the Toronto Marlboros before being eliminated 2-1 by the Quinte Red Devils in the quarterfinals.

Next steps for many of the 2006-born players from the tournament will be the 2022 OHL Draft on April 29 – 30th. Misa is not currently eligible for the upcoming draft, still one year removed from the process. However, he — along with his teammate Moore and London Jr. Knights forward Ryan Roobroeck — has applied for exceptional status consideration by Hockey Canada, hoping to be draft eligible by the end of the month.

World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of the 2006 birth year and all of its junior hockey draft proceedings around the world, including OHL, USHL and beyond. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube to stay up-to-date on all things youth hockey.

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