Hackensack, NJ — I was watching a very action-packed game between the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders vs. the Waterloo Black Hawks. The level of play in the USHL continues to get better and Canadian snobs will always say their leagues are better, right now they are but who knows what might happen in another 10 years.
Here is a list of a few players who stood out to me:
Cedar Rapids –
Dylan Gareau – 6-4.5, 192 – F – As one of the older players in the game he was very physical. At 19, he is an agitator. He’s a fast skater who plays on the PK and takes no guff. He can take a hit as well.
Chris Birdsall – 5-11, 176 – G – 2014 draft eligible – This kid has an above average glove hand. He’s a bit of a showoff with it but he can cover the top corner of the net with it. He moves well side to side and has excellent reflexes.
Ivan Provorov – 5-11, 180 – D – 2015 draft eligible – To me he was the best player on the ice. He had great puck pursuit. He has an active stick especially on the PK. He needs to work on his first pass but his shorter concise passing was more accurate. Doesn’t shy away from contact. He’s a left-handed shot. He played a smart, safe game in his own zone and his shot was good. His skating is above average.
Hunter Warner – 6-3, 204 – D – This extremely talented defenseman will be playing in the upcoming All American Prospects Game in Pittsburgh, PA. He’s fast, highly skilled and hits hard. He’s a fast decision maker with terrific puck skills. He keeps his cool. He had very few flubs, none were costly. His hockey I.Q. gets him out of trouble. He didn’t exhibit a lot of offense but he could be 2014 gold as a puck moving d-man.
Mathias Dahlgren Israelsson – 5-10, 190 – G – This Swedish goalie did everything right. He’s been passed over twice for the draft so he’d have to be signed as a free agent down the road. He playes well in traffic. He plays the angles well and gives solid overall coverage but his size is the question mark for him turning pro.
Nick Olczyk – 5-11, 170 – F – He was struggling to get minutes. He’s 2014 draft eligible but I can only say I liked his speed and the way he played around the net. Can’t tell you much more at the moment. Ed was there watching his kid.
Zach Sanford – 6-3, 190 – F – This Washington Capitals prospect looked fast especially getting to pucks in the corner. He’s good on the rush and had one of the best shots.
Liam Pecararo – 5-10, 170 – F – He scored a nice goal and was in on a lot of scoring chances. He has some solid all-around play and good defensive instincts. He could he somebody to watch in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Mark Friedman – 5-11, 185 – D – Solid skating offensive defenseman. He had a great shot and score a terrific, top-shelf goal on the power play. He can really move the puck around with the man-advantage.