End of Season Grades
Since I've been so lazy since the end of the season, I decided to get my act together and get to work. So without further ado, here's my end of season grades for the Tigers:
James Brannigan : D While Brannigan's playing time went down fairly drastically this season, he still did not perform very well at all. In fact, in terms of statistics Brannigan was pretty much non-existant - only four assists in 30 games. Not to mention his -11 +/- (worst on the team).
Brian Connelly : B+ Connelly was a pleasant surprise this year, putting up an impressive 17 points as a freshman (nearly .50 points per game). While there were initially concerns about his defensive play, he stepped it up later in the season and while his scoring declined, he became a very accountable defenseman.
Braydon Cox : B I was impressed with Braydon Cox this season and thought he really stepped up his game. His numbers (7 g, 9 a, 16 pts. in 38 games) were not spectacular, but I think he did a good job of leading the team and also scoring timely goals.
Addison DeBoer : C+ DeBoer had a decent year (5 g, 5a, 10 pts. in 35 games) for a freshman coming straight from high school, but also showed that he probably could have used another year of development. Nevertheless, I like the way he plays and I think his game will improve in the next few years. Size is still a concern.
Kris Fredheim : B Fredheim put up only four points in 23 games, but played excellent defense this year. I think he should have been used more this season. Look for him to be a top WCHA defenseman in years to come. Kris improved noticeably over the course of the season.
Jake Gannon : B- Gannon had a decent season this year despite putting up only two points in 37 games. His improvement from last season was quite evident. Gannon still seems prone to getting a bit overexcited while he's on the ice, and sometimes his effort to lay out huge hits detracts from his overall defensive play.
Jack Hillen : B+Hillen has been improving constantly since he arrived at CC and has become one of the team's top defenseman. He had another excellent year this season, scoring seven goals and tallying eight assists in 38 games. Also played well defensively.
Chris Kawano : Incomplete Tough to give a grade to the third-string goalie considering the limited playing time, but Kawano gets props for his hard work and commitment to the team.
Jimmy Kilpatrick : A- Kilpatrick emerged this year as one of the top players on the team, putting up 32 points in 37 games. He led the team offensively and was a godsend after the departure of so many top-flight players last season. He brings great energy every time he's on the ice.
Cody Lampl : A- Lampl put up only nine points in 37 games, but emerged as a catalyst for this young CC team. The energy that he brings to the game is absolutely unbelievable, and CC always seems to be playing better when he is on the ice. Without a doubt one of the three or four most important players on this team.
Scott McCulloch : B McCulloch got off to such a red-hot start this year that I was afraid he might bolt to the Blackhawks come the end of the season. I'm not so worried anymore. McCulloch's offensive production literally fell off a cliff at the end of the season and he ended up with only 24 points in 39 games. I still expect him to be a big scorer next season.
Brian McMillin : C Like DeBoer, I wasn't expecting a whole lot out of McMillan considering that he came to CC straight from high school. McMillin did not see a whole lot of playing time this year, and scored only two points in 22 games. Nevertheless, he seems like a hard worker and a solid role-player. I think he'll improve next season.
Drew O'Connell : D+ I had high expectations for O'Connell heading into this season and even expected him to compete with Matt Zaba for the starting job, but he ended up being one of the bigger disappointments (to me, at least) this season. Drew compiled a 2.90 GAA and .886 save percentage this season. These numbers just aren't good enough for the WCHA. While I still think that Drew could be solid if he got regular playing time, with Richard Bachman coming in next season it is looking increasingly doubtful that Drew will ever be a regular starter for this team.
Derek Patrosso : C Patrosso still has not played up to his potential. 10 points (3 g, 7 a) in 30 games isn't terrible but it also isn't anything special.
Brandon Polich : B Polich had a nice year, tallying 19 points in 36 games this season. He had good presence of mind on the ice and was good at creating chances. I also thought he was one of the better defensive forwards this season.
Nate Prosser : B- Prosser played pretty well this year for a freshman, but I was still expecting a bit more production offensively after seeing his numbers from the USHL. I think down the road he will be one of CC's best defensemen, and his offensive production should go way up in the next few seasons.
Dan Quilico : C Quilico saw very limited ice time this season and when he was playing, he wasn't doing much (no points in eight games). I think he will be a good role player for CC teams in the next few years but don't count on him being a top line type of player.
Chad Rau : B If you had asked me prior to the season to guess how many points Chad would put up this year, I would have put the over/under at 50. Thus, while he had a decent season with 31 points in 39 games, I still think the best is yet to come. The nice part about this is that these numbers are not likely to impress the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have Rau's NHL rights. I still expect better next season, however. Rau has the skills to be one of the top players in the WCHA and even the country if he plays to his potential.
Brandon Straub : C Straub was a fairly solid player this year and obviously provided leadership. He seemed to become something of a liability on defense this year, however, with an unimpressive minus 9 +/-.
Billy Sweatt : A+ The younger Sweatt was without a doubt the best player on the Tigers this season. Although he missed a few weeks at the beginning of the season due to mono, he emerged as CC's most potent offensive threat at the end of the year and scored several highlight-reel type goals. Sweatt isn't just an offensive force, he has great size and can throw his body around on defense as well. Billy's speed is absolutely insane - he might be the fastest college hockey player I have ever seen. The only concern to be had about Sweatt is that he is going to be a clear flight-risk after the draft. Billy was rated 27th among North American skaters in the draft and is likely to be drafted fairly high - where he ends up should be a good indication as to how many years he will spend at CC.
Lee Sweatt : A Like his kid brother, Lee Sweatt also had an excellent season. As captain, Lee was the obvious leader of this young team and was also very impressive both offensively and defensively. While Lee went undrafted by NHL teams, he has completed his degree and is playing minor league hockey already, so hopefully one day we will see him on the big stage.
Mike Testwuide : B+ When I first saw Testwuide play this season, I was very worried that he wouldn't be able to keep up. He improved constantly throughout the season though, and also scored some important goals against rival DU (home of his brother, JP Testwuide). By the end of the season, Testwuide had proved to me that he belonged. His size is a big asset on a team that has been pretty small across the board the last few years.
Scott Thauwald : B- Scott had a decent season, scoring 13 points in 39 games, but didn't quite produce the way I expected him to. I hope that he improves next season - I think he has potential to be a very good player.
Andreas Vlassopoulos : A- Andreas rebounded in a big way from his shortened freshman season. In only 24 games, he tallied 16 points and displayed obvious chemistry with his linemates. With Vlassopoulos, B. Sweatt, Connelly, Prosser, and Fredheim, CC has a solid core to build around. Look for both Andreas and Billy Sweatt to put up enormous numbers next season.
Matt Zaba : A One of the best surprises of the season for me, although he shouldn't have been. I was expecting Drew O'Connell to start sharing netminding duties with Zaba, but Matt's play this year put an end to that idea. Zaba is probably the graduating player with the best shot of eventually playing in the NHL.
Scott Owens : B- Owens looked like a miracle worker at the beginning of the season with the great (and unpredicted) success of his young team. While he did better with this group than many people would have anticipated, I still had some issues with his decisions down the stretch (largely goaltending choices), and it's also becoming concerning to watch his teams flame out at the end of the season. Obviously, this year was not as big a disappointment as last season, but it's something to consider. Consider teams like Maine and North Dakota - both had roller coaster seasons (Maine started out great, tanked at the end and barely made it into the tournament. North Dakota started out in pathetic fashion before developing into a powerhouse at the end of the year) but played their best hockey at the end of the season, with both squads making it into the Frozen Four. CC has seemed to do the exact opposite the last two seasons. I think Owens should get a pass on this season because of the youth and inexperience of his team, but if a similar late season tailspin happens next year, it will become a concern.