First NAPHL event of the season sets new standard
The final day of competition of the first NAPHL event of the season concluded on Sunday at the 11th annual NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota. By all accounts, it was the best Showcase to date and featured over 80 teams competing in the five-day event.
An all-time record of 347 scouts checked-in at the Showcase, which included those from the junior, NCAA Division I, NCAA Division III and NHL ranks.
Many of them remarked that the competition in the NAPHL was at an all-time high. Now in its fifth season the NAPHL has established itself as one of the premiere training grounds for development and is designed to maximize the exposure of all the participants through the NAHL's high-profile recruiting events like this past week’s NAHL Showcase.
The offensive and defensive Franklin Virtual Schools Peak Performers from the event in both the 18U and 16U Divisions will be announced later this week.
All 32 teams in the NAPHL played five regular season games at the NAHL Showcase. As a testament to the early parity that exists in the league for this season, only two teams at each age division made it through the five games undefeated. Here is a summary of the event:
After the first five games, two teams remain with perfect 5-0-0 records, the Anaheim Jr. Ducks and the Lansing Capitals. Both picked up five wins in their first five games thanks to a steady offense and a stingy defense, and both have nearly the same goals for as goals against. The Ducks are being led by second-year forward Riley Hummitsch, who has eight points in five games. The Capitals got contributions from just about everyone this past weekend. Ronald Hein leads the team with nine points and forward Zach Roberts had two of the five game-winning goals this past weekend.
Right behind the Ducks and Capitals are a trio of teams with 4-1-0 records including the Texas Tornado, Omaha AAA Hockey Club and Pursuit of Excellence. Texas is under the direction of two new coaches, Landon Wilson and Jon Klemm, both of who are former NHL players. Defenseman Colin Whitt is second among 18U defensemen in scoring with six points. Omaha, who is coached this season by 16U coach and former NHL’er David Wilkie, boasts the 18U Division’s top scorer in Nathan Medeiros (10 pts.) and the 18U’s top goalie in Justin Ketola (.83 GAA). Pursuit is lead by 15-year-old scoring sensation Tyler Benson, who had nine points in his first five games and who also had the scouts buzzing at the event.
The Pikes Peak Miners had a good event, finishing with a 3-1-1 record and who boast the 18U’s top scoring defenseman in David Dziezawiec. Behind Pikes Peak sits West Michigan and California with 3-2 records and the Esmark Stars, who are at 2-2-1. After that, St. Louis and Cleveland are at 2-3-0, followed by New Jersey at 1-2-2. San Jose and Phoenix are both at 1-4-0, Atlanta sits at 0-4-1 and Detroit is 0-5-0.
In the 16U Division, no one was surprised as last year’s Champion Omaha jumped out to another undefeated event. When the Midget Minor 16U national rankings come out later this month, Omaha is expected to be a Top 3 team in the country. Forward Tarek Baker registered 18 points in five games and is on an early assault to break the single-season NAPHL scoring record. However, the Lansing Capitals gained a lot of interest with their play over the weekend. The Capitals outscored their opponents by a combined 26-1 score in the five games, surrendering just a single goal during the event. Defensively, Lansing was as solid as any team at the event and both goalies, Max Quertermus and Colt Hanks posted two shutouts while in Blaine.
Three 16U teams finished the Showcase with 4-1-0 records including the New Jersey Jr. Titans, the San Jose Jr. Sharks and the Pikes Peak Miners. San Jose was led by goalie Jacob Acton who posted three shutouts at the event and didn’t surrender a single goal in 153 minutes of action. Forward Ryan Walker’s 13 points and defenseman Brad Becker’s eight points led New Jersey. Pikes Peak did it with goaltending as both David Fessenden and Ty Bever finished the event with identical 94.1% save percentages.
The Anaheim Jr. Ducks had a solid event, finishing with a 3-1-1 record. Also on the winning side of things were the California Titans, Esmark Stars and Texas Tornado, who all finished the event with 3-2-0 records. St. Louis is the lone team at 2-3-0. Four teams are 1-4-0 including Atlanta, Pursuit of Excellence, Phoenix and West Michigan. Detroit and Cleveland are both 0-5-0.
The next NAPHL event of the season will be a split event at Sharks Ice in San Jose, California from October 18-21.