With the prospect-game getting so much coverage these days, it’s important to see how players stack-up against each other. Naturally, the U.S. under-18 national championship is a great place to start in that regard.
Going on right now in Pittsburgh at Robert Morris University, some of the best-known prep teams in America are competing, as are their star players and a number of Prep Watch grads.
Here’s a look at some of the key names in the tourney:
Rocco Grimaldi, C – Detroit Little Caesar’s: At 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, size is obviously an issue with Grimaldi, but skill is not. The 16-year-old excelled in the Midwest Elite League’s under-18 division, tallying 43 points in 31 games. The California native’s move to Michigan has also sparked a battle between the Western and Ontario Leagues for dibs on the youngster’s draft rights. Grimaldi’s squad dropped their first tourney game 4-3 to the Cleveland Barons in a shootout.
Shane McColgan, RW – Los Angeles Jr. Kings: With a couple games in the Dub for Kelowna already under his belt already, McColgan is one to watch in the near future. The rugged right winger tallied two assists in the Kings’ 3-2 opening round win over the Russell Stover Stars of Kansas. Beau Bennett also had two assists for the Kings, while Mitch Hughes notched a hat trick. Also on the team? Anze Kopitar’s younger brother, Gasper.
Alexander Fallstrom, RW – Shattuck-St. Mary’s: The Harvard-bound Swedish national had great success with the vaunted SSM Sabres team this year, playing on a line with fellow draft-eligible European Erik Haula (who committed to the University of Minnesota). A power forward who lights the lamp, Fallstrom had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 win over the Mid-Fairfield Blues of Connecticut.
One more note on the national championship: Parity has ruled so far. Other than the hometown Pittsburgh Hornets’ 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Regals, every game has been a one-goal affair.
Up in Canada, the OHL Cup shed some light on another group of bright prospects, including Boone Jenner of the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs and Lucas Lessio of the Toronto Marlboros. Jenner and Lessio tied for second in Cup scoring with 11 points in seven games each, but it was Lessio’s Marlboros that beat Jenner’s Chiefs in the final. Another name of note was former Culver Academy goaltender Matt Mahalak, who caught on with the TPH Thunder of Atlanta and put in sturdy work. Mahalak’s 1.50 goals-against average in four games was a solid, especially since his team only scored nine goals in front of him.
A couple other Prep Watch kids have already made jumps to the next level after their club teams were finished this spring. Colin Jacobs suited up for the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL playoffs and, despite a 4-1 series loss to Spokane, the youngster tallied three points in four games to go with a plus-2 rating. Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, defenseman Scott Harrington is still going after a call-up to the Jr. A Kingston Voyageurs. Harrington has three points in 12 playoff games for the Voyageurs, who are all set to take on the Oakville Blades for the Ontario Junior League title.