College hockey has its first weekend in the books and it was a barn-burner. Sacred Heart upset No. 1 UMass-Lowell, while Alaska-Anchorage toppled Frozen Four runner-up Quinnipiac. The Seawolves followed it up with a win over Air Force to claim the Kendall Hockey Classic, which they hosted. Over in the United States League, goalie Cole Bruns has a five-game shutout streak going. Here’s a look at the rest of the prospect world.
Dom Toninato, C – University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (NCHC)
Back in his USHL days, Toninato was a force – and not just because he played for Fargo. He helped the team make it to the Clark Cup final and is now a college man, looking for that Frozen Four action.
“It definitely gave me more games,” he said. “And it was good to get that playoff experience with the best-of-five series. Growing up we never had that, it was always one-and-done. The pace of the USHL is a lot faster than high school, so the whole atmosphere helped.”
Now part of a UMD program that has quickly risen in stature and won a national championship in 2011, Toninato has a fellow Toronto Maple Leafs prospect to learn from in Tony Cameranesi, a sophomore who also came from the Minnesota high school circuit.
They even had a chance to hang out at the Leafs’ rookie camp the past two summers, so Cameranesi could fill him in on the UMD experience this time.
“We were roommates there last year, so I got to know him pretty well,” Toninato said. “I see him around Duluth and we talk about it, so I got a feel for what it will be like.”
In his first weekend of action, Toninato was one of Duluth’s best faceoff men and that’s just one element of the complete game he’d like to play. No surprise, given that he likes to watch Chicago’s Jonathan Toews play.
“He’s a two-way center that takes pride in his defensive zone,” Toninato said. “Good on draws, good leader.”
If Toninato can develop in that direction at Duluth, the Leafs will be very happy. Drafted 126th overall by Toronto in 2012.
Riley Barber, RW – Miami University RedHawks (NCHC)
Ohio State cannot like Barber right now. In two victories, the offensively gifted winger potted four goals in the second game, one night after playing setup man and grabbing two assists. A standout with Team USA’s gold medal world junior team last year, he may be in line for the captaincy this time. Drafted 167th overall by Washington in 2012.
Sam Reinhart, C – Kootenay Ice (WHL)
Reinhart’s biggest gift is the manner in which he thinks the game – he’s just on a higher level than most of us. When he combines that knowledge with his hands, it’s go time and he’s been all over the scoresheet so far. In 10 games, the youngest of the Reinhart clan has seven goals and 21 points to rank second overall in the Western League. Draft eligible in 2014.
Jon Gillies, G – Providence College Friars (Hockey East)
Gillies gave up just one goal in a pair of victories over Minnesota State-Mankato, topping it off with a 38-save shutout. Another potential key for Team USA’s world junior squad in Sweden, Gillies is sporting a 0.50 goals-against average and .984 save percentage right now. Drafted 75th overall by Calgary in 2012.
Brendan Perlini, LW – Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
A power forward in the making, Perlini is lighting it up for the young Dogs and now stands second in Ontario League scoring with 10 goals and 19 points in just nine games. The left winger got stronger over the summer and considering he already had the skating and the shot down, he’s cooking up a potent mix in Niagara. Draft eligible in 2014.
Andrew Copp, C – University of Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten)
A former football quarterback who was passed over in his first draft, Copp has already grown leaps and bounds in Ann Arbor and he’s only a sophomore. Copp made out with two goals and five points on the weekend as the Wolverines got an impressive win over Boston College and a drubbing of RPI. With his hockey sense and determination, you could see a lot more offense this year. Drafted 104th overall by Winnipeg in 2013.
Mark Friedman, D – Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
A smart blueliner who skates well and can play a lot of minutes, Friedman is having himself a great offensive campaign so far, leading the USHL in scoring from the blueline with seven points in five games. A late birthday committed to Bowling Green, he could make a big difference for the Falcons in the near future. Draft eligible in 2014.
Joe Hicketts, D – Victoria Royals (WHL)
Hicketts scorched Lethbridge in a pair of games last week, gouging the Hurricanes for five points overall. Though he’s a smaller offensive defenseman, Hicketts plays the game with tenacity and isn’t afraid to head into traffic if need be. He has nine points through 10 games for the Royals. Draft eligible in 2014.
Daniel Audette, C – Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
A smaller but offensively gifted pivot, Audette is really coming into his own during his second season with the expansion Phoenix. The son of former NHLer Donald Audette and the franchise’s first-ever draft pick leads the team with 12 assists and 15 points through a dozen games. Draft eligible in 2014.
Derek Forbort, D – Manchester Monarchs (AHL)
A big kid blessed with great physical attributes, Forbort has sometimes underwhelmed with his drive in the past, which is why Los Angeles must have been happy to see him net a Gordie Howe hat trick against Portland last week. This is his first true season of pro after a career with the University of North Dakota. Drafted 15th overall by Los Angeles in 2010.