Recruit Update; Q&A With Ryan S. Clark

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
39 GP / 20-16-1 / 3.02 GAA / .902 sv%
Boyle’s team was eliminated in the second round of the BCHL playoffs after he got injured. He did pretty well in the playoffs going 6-6-0 with a 3.00 GAA and a .907 save percentage.

Mike Busillo – D – Hartford Jr Wolfpack (AtlJHL)
41 GP / 8 G / 19 A / 27 Pts / 97 PIM
Busillo’s season is over as his Wolfpack were eliminated by Walpole in the first round of the AtlJHL playoffs. He had a goal in three playoff games.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
49 GP / 13 G / 42 A / 55 Pts / 76 PIM
Shattuck won the Tier-I Under 18 National Championship this past weekend in Simsbury, CT.  Gillespie was the 12th leading scorer in the tournament, netting two goals and three assists in the six games. 

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
50 GP / 33 G / 36 A / 69 Pts / 26 PIM
LaRue’s season has come to a close as his Waxers lost in the first round of the playoffs. He had a goal and four assists in five playoff games, including a game winner and a shorthanded goal.

Joseph Manno – South Kent Cardinal (NE Prep)
24 GP / 16 G / 27 A / 43 Pts
South Kent was upset in the prep playoffs despite being the top seed.

Steve Mastalerz – G – Kimball Union Wildcats (NE Prep)
35 GP / 24-7-4 / 1.63 GAA / .923 sv%
Mastalerz’s season is over after KUA lost in the first playoff game 4-3 in overtime.

Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
46 GP / 8 G / 7 A / 15 Pts / 14 PIM
Walsh went scoreless in his one game this week.

Oleg Yevenko -D – Fargo Force (USHL)
52 GP / 4 G / 4 A / 8 Pts / 197 PIM
Yevenko is currently suspended and hasn’t played since March 27th.

Here is a  Q&A I recently did with Ryan S. Clark.  Clark is a Maine grad (but we won’t hold that against him) who writes for the Fargo-Moorehead Forum where he covers the USHL’s Fargo Force and Minnesota high school hockey.  His blog, Slightly Chilled, covers all levels of amateur hockey.  I started following him on Twitter when the Force’s Oleg Yevenko committed to UMass and was able to get his thoughts on UMass’ towering recruit and other topics.  Much thanks to Ryan for his contribution.

Fear The Triangle: Yevenko is currently serving a multi-game suspension and was suspended at least one other time earlier this season. Since media coverage of the USHL is sometimes scarce, would you be able to shed any light on what transpired that led to the most recent or earlier suspensions?

Ryan S. Clark:  Sure. From what I gathered from talking to scouts, he used an elbow and that was enough to warrant a 6-game suspension. He’s got four more games left in the suspension. Oleg’s been suspended quite a few times this season. He’s been suspended twice according to the league’s transaction’s page. NHL and college scouts have both said what hurts him is the fact that he’s so tall that when his elbows move around, they are usually within distance of someone’s chest or higher and there are times where it could be something simple that turns into something worse.

FTT:  Yevenko obviously plays on the edge in terms of his physical style. Would you say his toughness is an asset overall to the Force or do the penalties and suspensions make him more of a liability?

RSC:  It is an asset for sure. Fargo is a physical team and it is no secret that they’re going to make a game tough just for the fact that they like to check and get gritty with people. His toughness would also be an asset because he’s so physically imposing. Coach Jason Herter has said about penalties in general that they are part of the game and that these things happen. With Oleg they happen a lot as he’s set the record for most PIMs in a career by a Force player.

FTT:  How would you describe the strengths of his game?

RSC:  Aside from size, he can actually move the puck pretty well. His shot is also pretty strong too. His shot is a hard one that when accurate can be tough to deal with. Another strength of the game is his positioning. He uses his frame to make sure he can cover the ice and get into the passing lanes. He can also block a shot too.

FTT:  What are the areas you think he needs to work on as he sets his sights on college hockey in a top conference like Hockey East?

RSC:  Speed. He sees a lot of it in practice and in the league, but speed is so killer in Hockey East to where it can be your downfall. He just needs to get faster or continue his adaptation into handling speed when it goes against him. I haven’t seen him get burned at all, then again, he wasn’t going up against the Da Costas of the world every weekend either.

FTT:  Do you know what, if any, other schools were also looking at Yevenko?

RSC:  To my knowledge, I am not sure if others were looking at him. Most players tend to be pretty quiet about all that just because they don’t want to burn bridges. But from what I gathered, other schools were indeed looking at him.

FTT:  How are the Force’s chances to win the Clark Cup?

RSC:  They’d have to be good but they also have to be consistent. The Force have a ton of talent and everyone around the league knows that. They just have to be consistent when it matters. The thing that helps them is that entering last weekend, they were tied for the most road wins in the USHL with 19. Bad news is, they have an average home record. If they can win those home games they can be back in the Clark Cup Finals for a third straight year.

FTT:  As someone who covers both the USHL and Minnesota High School hockey, how would you compare the level of play of the two?

RSC:  Great question. In truth, they are different. The USHL is a faster, physical league that relies on talent and/or systems to win games. That and the defense and goalies on this level are far better than what you see in Minn. HS. Another thing about the USHL that makes it different is the skill level. Take a guy like Force forward Joe Rehkamp for example. He played at Breck in Minnesota and kid was easily the fastest skater in the state. He comes to the USHL where he uses his speed to kill but it hasn’t translated into a lot of goals like it did in high school.

That said, Minnesota HS hockey is very good. There is talent there and it is a great place for recruiters to go. MNHS is like any high school sport where you have a balance of power and the power is pretty much with the schools in the Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul and its suburbs.) Schools like Eden Prairie, Edina, etc. are in locations where kids can train year round and go against the best competition whether it be in the fall with the Elite League or the regular season. Then there are outstate schools like Duluth East, Moorhead and Roseau that get respect and work hard too. They also have kids in the Elite League but they are few and far between compared to the Cities schools. There is talent that can make the jump from HS to college, but most of them need the USHL or any junior league for that matter to make the transition.

FTT:  UMass recruit Kenny Gillespie is playing for Shattuck St Mary’s in Minnesota. Have you seen him play at all and what do you think of his game?

RSC:  I have not had a chance to see him play but I have been following Shattuck because how can you not? They don’t play the public schools, which is something most people outside Minnesota do not know. But know this, if you are playing at Shattuck that is saying a hell of a lot because they don’t just let bums walk into that place. If UMass or any school has someone that is at Shattuck right now, congratulations. You know that kid is going to come in with talent but more than anything, work ethic.

FTT:  UMass recruit Shane Walsh is playing for the Dubuque Saints of the USHL. Have you seen him play at all and what do you think of his game?

RSC:  I’ve seen him a few times this year and he’s not a bad player at all. He’s got some speed about him, which is a plus. The times I’ve seen him, he’s been good but just has had a hard time getting scoring chances. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Dubuque has some monsters and one guy you’re going to hear about if you haven’t already is John Gaudreau, a Northeastern commit. He’s uber talented. Going back to Walsh, he’ll be a good addition for UMass because he can play defense and he doesn’t make a lot of dumb decisions. He’ll be a hardworking forward for them.

FTT:  Lastly, how in the world does a Maine alum end up covering amateur hockey in Fargo, North Dakota?

RSC:  My goal is to cover the NHL and you can’t say you want to do it covering Texas HS Football like I was doing before I moved to Fargo. The Forum had an opening and I told myself that if I was serious about getting back into covering hockey I needed to make this move. Things have worked out to this point and that’s why I am here. Fargo is great and I enjoy being here. But I know there is an end all goal and that is the NHL. I grew up a hockey fan and I always knew I wanted to cover it. I covered the women’s team at Maine for two years and Hockey East women for a year at while I was a senior. My last two jobs got me out of hockey but I really missed the game and covering it. So I made a choice. I don’t regret it at all. Coming to Fargo has been the greatest experience of my career and I know it’ll lead to bigger things. There’s an old African saying, "You can’t hide the sun with your hand forever." My time will come, I know that.

The UMass Athletics site has another entry to Chase Langeraap’s blog following his first journey into pro hockey.

Staying in the ECHL, former UMass captain Dean Stork was named runner-up for the league’s Coach of the Year award.  Stork, in only his first year as a head coach, led the Greenville Road Warriors to the second best record in the league.