Pittsburgh – – Today was a full slate of games at the USHL Fall Classic. Teams have yet to play regular season games but they’re already getting judged as if it has begun.
The best goalie I saw today was Jiri Patera (6th round pick of the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017). His 6-2, 210 frame is perfect to make the calm butterfly saves. He made multiples in sequences without issue. He didn’t have a shutout but he did show speed up and down and poise in traffic. He does a great job of tracking the puck and he covers up quickly. One negative is he needs to work on safer clears. He flubbed a few clears but that can be fixed. Cedar Rapids has a solid netminder.
The best forward was Samuel Salonen of Sioux City. He’s a 6-3, 198 pound Finnish right winger. He took me by surprise. As the game got longer he got better. He scored two goals. The first one happened because he streaked by a defender and jammed it past a very talented goalie. He had great speed in the offensive zone. He had that extra gear we sometimes talk about. This guy will get drafted. I’m not sure what round at this time.
The best defenseman for me was Chase Blackmun. He’s 6-0, 185 and he’s a Umass-Lowell commit. He’s sneaky fast up the ice. He played well on the top pairing. He has an excellent first pass and a quick wrist shot. He’s a right-handed shot. He didn’t score the most points today. He was a solid two-way blueliner. He had 44 points in 24 games last year in high school (Wisconsin).
That’s all for today. Tomorrow is another day.