I was at the Select 15 Festival in St. Cloud last Thursday and Friday, the final two days of the camp. This is always an important camp since it's one of the first fully national camp, and the first national camp where most college teams scout.
Overall, the play at the camp was pretty competitive, though the '93 class of players doesn't look quite as strong, or have as much top-end talent as I've seen at previous camps, but it's also still incredibly in the game and tough to tell. The officiating at this camp was still a little rough, but not nearly as bad as it was at the Select 17 Festival.
As far as player trends, it looks to be nearly the opposite of last year. Both Minnesota and out east looked to have quite a few strong players, while the midwestern AAA programs, especially in Michigan, didn't have as many standout players. Four players: Colin Jacobs, Rocco Grimaldi, Vince Trochek, and Robbie Russo have reportedly been offered spots on the NTDP team. Top scorers for the tournament are here.
I'm going to change the format of this a little bit for time purposes. I'm going to list the top 5 at each position with comments, and then mention a few other notable players with comments as well. I'm going to omit the goalies since I didn't really watch them enough to get a good read, plus, it is hard to get too much of a read at this level. Overall, the goalies actually look much better here than at the Select 17s, since most of the shooters at that level don't have the strength to beat goalies from very far out.
Top 5 Forwards
1. Rocco Grimaldi- By far the most exciting player at the camp. He's little, but is a great skater and has incredible tenacity. Aside from being very skilled offensively, he was probably the best defensive forward at the camp. I think he has the potential to be a very special player.
2. Seth Ambroz-Ambroz led the camp in scoring and physically dominated over everyone. He did an excellent job of finishing when he got scoring opportunities. He looked very good, and should be a solid college player regardless, but there have also been instances in the past where a player dominated at the Select 15s because he hit an early growth spurt and was bigger than everyone else, but faded back to the rest of the pack once everyone caught up in size.
3. Travis Boyd-Made a name for himself in Minnesota high school hockey last season, and continued to look like one of the state's best players here.
4. Todd Koritzinsky-I wasn't familiar with this Wisconsin forward prior to the camp, but he was a very effective little playmaker with excellent hands.
5. Alex Gacek- Very strong on his skates, and moves well. Has an excellent shot.
Top 5 Defenseman
1. Robbie Russo(Notre Dame recruit)-The most polished hockey player at the camp. He's got decent size, moves well, can jump into the play, and plays solid defense. He's not nearly at the level of Cam Fowler or Jon Merrill when they played in the Select 15s, but he still should be a very good player.
2. Michael Paliotta-Another kid I wasn't familiar with prior to this camp, and I didn't get to see him play a lot, but what I did see was very impressive. One of the best combinations of size and skill at the camp.
3. Julian Ciocco-A very poised, mature looking defenseman. Again, a little more physically mature than his peers, but plays the game very well.
4. Andrew Ryan-Skates pretty well for a big defenseman. Looked impressive at this camp.
5. Colton Larson- A very athletic defenseman that plays a more finesse-style of defense. Skates extremely well.
Colin Jacobs-One of the most hyped players in this age group. Jacobs has all the skills to be a great player, and sometimes he looks great, but sometimes he also disappears. Still, if I had to pick one player out of this group to have a long NHL career, it would probably be Jacobs.
Max Everson-Very easily could have been in the top 5 defenseman. A solid, smart player.
Jack Barre-A big forward that skates well and was always in the middle of the play.
Matt Van Voorhis-A little on the small side for a defenseman right now, but has a lot of talent and should be great once he gets a little stronger.
Jake Achenbach-A big power forward from Pittsburgh that drew the attention of a lot of a people.
Riley Bourbonnais-Very fast forward with good skills
James McDowell-Was effective in the games I saw
EJ Faust-One of many very small players with pretty good skills.
Leonard Caglianone-A very smart, solid defenseman
Austin Rudnick-Very good for a player that will only be a freshman next year. Played strong defense and has a very good shot from the point.
Cory Czarnik-Reminded me a lot of Austin Czarnik last year. One of the younger kids at the camp, and very small, but looks like he could really develop once he matures.
Cason Hohmann-Hohmann went in the 3rd round of the WHL draft, though he doesn't have the type of size you usually associate with WHL players. He can skate very well and was one of the more polished forwards at the camp.
Max Birkinbine-One of the top players from Minnesota's bantam ranks last year. He looked like he has a lot of potential to be an excellent player. Has a great shot that makes him a dangerous scoring threat.
Barrett Kaib-The most physical defenseman at the camp. Sometimes took himself out of the play going for big hits, but very difficult to play against.
Kenny Gillespie-Originally from North Carolina, but moved to Shattuck-St. Mary's. Good size and a fast skater. Could develop his puck skills a little more.
Collin Bourque-Not Ray's son. Though he plays a similar style to Ray's youngest son Ryan. Small, but very talented forward.
Frank Mihalic-One of the hardest-working forwards at the camp. Gave 100% every shift.
Vince Trochek-Easily could have made the top 5 forwards. A lot of talent.
Ross Scherma-Played well in both games I saw him play.
AJ Jarosz-One of the more dangerous forwards on the ice in the games I saw. Potential to be one of the better players in this group.
Anthony Greco-Effective forward, but very small.
Stefan Noesen-Very big forward that is always around the net and picking up points.
Jordan Schmaltz-One of the better defenseman at the tournament.
Dan Molenaar-Eden Prairie defenseman looked impressive.