He's over in Russia with the Seacoast team watching his supposed D1 son skate against Russians that are 16 but their birth certificates say 14.
If only I was traveling the world. Instead I've been working (believe it or not, posting on the DBoard is not my actual job). Have a bit of free time after a long day, some dinner and a cold beer, so thought I would check in after the big weekend.
If I have one word to describe the 04 hockey scene this past weekend at the Breakout and elsewhere, that word is: mixed. The results were decidedly mixed for teams with a variety of factors contributing to uneven results on the first really significant weekend of the hockey season. Still early, but I think those mixed results, combined with the breakup of the dominant team Honeybaked as we knew it, and the natural ebb and flow of teams, is going to make for one of the most wide open seasons we've seen in a number of years.
Let's start right here in NE with the Breakout:
MFR -- Still the best team in NE but are we sensing some cracks in the armor? Reasonably competitive two goal wins against Valley Forge and Lac St. Louis South, and a solid 5-0 win over SSK, but a 7-0 loss to the Toronto Jr. Canadiens and a 7-2 loss to Florida Alliance? What's going on? MRF had competitive games with FA last year, but won every single game against them. FA has definitely improved, but that score is a head turner that probably says more about MFR than it does about Florida Alliance's improvement. I've always thought that MFR had a better style of play than pretty much every other team, an unbelievably strong and big defensive core, solid goaltending and two small but highly skilled forwards surrounded by a lot of good forwards who all know their role. If you watch MFR play, they always have a forward up high skating back and forth -- sometimes even at their offensive blue line -- waiting to expose the D. The minute they gain possession of the puck in the defensive zone the four remaining players are all sprinting in their lanes to transition to offense. They are the best 04 team at this. But in Bantam Major and Midget, the gap between teams becomes narrower and schemes that worked at younger ages are no longer as effective. I think that is what's happening here. That won't work with a TJC or FA who have as good or better players. MFR also lost a top D to Shattuck, and is integrating some new players. Stock slightly down.
FA -- Really quick and skilled team. Easily top 5. Added a couple new forwards and some defensive depth, including a top defender from Chicago, whose father owns and runs SuperSeries. Some of their most skilled players are small, but boy can they play. Will be back at Nationals and looks primed to make a run. Stock slightly up.
TJC -- Best youth hockey team in North America? The world? Loaded with big boy talent who will be high OHL draft picks. Play with that hallmark Canadian style were every shift is intense and fast. The 6 footer forward can flat out play. He was the MVP at WSI in Spain. Stock up.
Colorado Thunderbirds -- Upset of the weekend beating TJC. TBirds have always sought out the best competition and consistently been a top 10 team. Very direct style of tough play. They look to have improved this season. Tied Team Maryland and LSL South, and beat SSK and Seacoast. Definitely a team to keep an eye on. Stock up.
SSK -- Can't quite slug it out toe to toe with the big boys yet, but a very good team that will improve. As of right now, I would slot them in as the second best team in NE behind MFR. New forwards have really added depth. SSK needs to tighten up goals allowed to really compete. New D and goalie should help. Interestingly, goals allowed was the Achilles heel for SSK last year. They are playing an aggressive schedule. Stock slightly up.
Seacoast -- Very impressive new team with lots of upside. Nice opening win against NJ Avs, however as noted the Avs lost quality players and seemed to have a shorter bench due to injuries. Still, nice win. Also a thrilling finish against LSC North with a goal scored in the in the final 2 seconds by a fellow Quebecois. Really came back to earth with the Valley Forge and TBirds games. Seacoast has 3 legit forwards and 4-5 very solid D. Possibly second best D group in NE after MFR. Interested to see how the international travel goes, and Will be curious to see their improvement by Thanksgiving with the extra training. Stock slightly up.
Valley Forge, Team Maryland, St. Louis, NJ Avs -- All will be solid teams throughout the season.
Wizards -- Respectable showing against lesser competition. Will have to show they belong in the conversation. Hold.
Cyclones -- Also played lesser competition and were .500. Did they have players on their summer team that aren't on the regular season team? Stock slightly down.
While Rats didn't play in Breakout, they have played a number of games. Good record, but not a single win against a quality team. Looking forward to them playing some competition. Hold.
Side note, I really like the SuperSeries format where teams play a greater number of competitive games than with traditional pool and elimination tournaments. For the most part, I think the SuperSeries staff does a really good job with this.
Outside of NE, Buffalo Jr. Sabres beat Toronto Titans 4-1 and lost to the Southern Tier Admirals 2-3 in a SO. Both solid Ontario teams.
Compuware, who was top 15 last year and added a number of strong Honeybaked kids, lost its opener to Quinte Red Devils, a strong Canadian team that plays really hard and scrappy. Compuware went on to be beat several lesser Canadian teams.
Little Caesars has won all of its games easily. They improved this season, picking up some solid Detroit and Chicago players.
Ohio Blue Jackets beat Pittsburg Penguins Elite in back to back games by one goal. Pens are improved with their new academy and NHL facility. Blue Jackets have always been solid defensively, if not flashy. Both team will be in the mix in top 15.
By next week, we should see more teams in action, including Shattuck's opening series against Green Bay Jr. Gamblers. This could be Shattuck's best Bantam team since 01. One of their top D, if not top D, just broke his ankle and is out for a couple months.
Signing off, gotta go see if the wife's in the mood before it gets too late.
Seems like a bunch of teams had at least one game they'd like back - FL, JRC, MFR, NJAvs, MD, SSK, VF, STL, Seacoast- all had at least one.
Still early, but all those teams will be among the better teams most of the year.
Are you seriously trying to compare BA with Seacoast? BA is a decent E9 team but can’t handle a team like seacoast.
From the mouths of 2 pro scouts, there is not 1 04 kid in the area that is on their radar to play D1. 04 talent in NE does not compare to other parts of the country and that is a fact. You should be worried about your kid just making the HS team!!
ZZZZZ...well at least one committed to BC so.....
Let me guess, your kid is a prospect. You are just like every douchbag that your freshman hockey player is going pro. He probably dominates his town team!! Go get em!
The entire ncaa early recruitment trend is ubsurd. that aside, there are plenty “prospects” amoung the local 04 birth year, but it will take the next few years for things to shake out. Right now the early growth kids are getting all the attention because they can dominate the game with size. everyone else will catch up shortly and then it will become more clear how many 04s are able to take their game to the next level. Looking forward to see how many 04 9th graders are able to crack prep lineups this winter.
Hey buddy sorry your kid team sucks. Are you up here for the 97 Warriors 20th reunion 😂.
Sea coast finished 59th in USA last season. They added one good forward and a decent d, they might break the top 50 this season. Might
I guess we now know Anony is with the Seacoast team
Not really an impressive set of teams. Really is pay to play....
My bet is on the sabres with the most D1 commits. Team plays the right way and is filled with great players. Forwards are dangerous top to bottom and the D is unmatched
Thanks Coach!! Glad to see you're doing well...:relieved: :relieved: :relieved:
I would tend to agreee with the previous. No team around here playing like them, just a fact.
Have seen the sabres play and think they play the right way, thats all. They are a group of kids to be admired for the way they play and I think there will be a lot of prospects for schools off of this team.
I could agree with this. Think they are a great team.
Fixed your sentence for you. “I could agree with this. They think they are a great team.” You’re welcome.
Buffalo Jr. Sabres have really improved their roster over the last couple of years. They were a top 10 team a couple years ago based mainly on strength of schedule, but were regularly beaten by lower ranked teams who didn't play as strong of a schedule with all the Ontario teams in close proximity to Buffalo. Last season they upgraded their talent quite a bit by consolidating the top Buffalo players and adding a really strong and big Ontario forward. This season they continued to add quality players, including the big D from Boston Jr. Bandits. Sabres have 3-4 very legit forwards. Their improvement, and Honeybaked somewhat breaking up has really opened the door. They are clearly a top 5 team. The only NE team in the same class is MRF, and as I noted following the Boston Breakout, while MFR is still very good, it does not appear to be the same dominant team it once was. Still early.
I actually think MFR has one of the best playing styles around, better than Sabres, but I think other good teams have closed the gap or passed MFR heading into Bantam Major. Sabres are going to be in the conversation this year, but still have to show they can consistently beat the top teams. They weren't quite able to do that last year, but are improved this year with lots of talented players.
The rest of local NE teams are a step down, but have improved over last year. The biggest issue is that the local competition is not very good in either E9 or EHF at U14. The local competition won't be good again until U16.
Looking nationally, LC improved their roster and just beat an improved Mission team that has the top Chicago talent 4-2. LC looks to be one of the stronger Detroit teams. Shattuck had 2 wins and a tie against the Gamblers, who are a top Wisconsin team. Shattuck lost one of its top D to a broken ankle, and its second goalie is not as strong as their top goalie, who used to play for the MN Fire/Blades. Compuware, who picked up about 6 Honeybaked players, has started strong. Honeybaked plays the Sabres next week, so we'll get a pretty good read of what they'll be this year. They still have some top end players -- including 2 college commits already -- but wont' have the depth of the last couple of years.
Rats play Sabres in a couple of weeks. What's the over/under for those games? 6 goal differential?
USHL showcase (next week) should give an early reading of the national landscape. 10 of the perceived top 15 teams in the country (arguably) will be there, including last year's top-6.
A lot of Jr Sabre talk from a Boston guy...just sayin
That's because he is from Buffalo originally and his kid plays for Seacoast. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure this guy out.
The funny thing is when the jr sabres play the rats in a few weeks and gut them like a fish we will be talking about them a whole lot more:)
That’s a good one. The Rats have skaters and the Sabres don’t? That’s pretty funny to imagine.
Enjoy your win guys. Everyone runs into a hot goalie now and then. From what I heard it was totally lopsided so dont get too excited, you stole a few games last year because of a nice goalie, not a nice team.
Still early, lots of games to play, and some quality teams not even ranked yet, but I thought the first week of 04 rankings was pretty consistent with the discussion on this thread for the last several weeks, both in NE and nationally.
MFR is ranked outside the top 10 for the first time I can ever remember. They are facing some good competition this weekend in Pittsburgh, so will be interesting to see how they do.
Yesterday, SSK lost to LC, the no. 1 ranked team, 10-0. I think there are a number of talented players on SSK, but they really struggle to keep the puck out of the back of the net, especially against quality teams. I think it's a team defense issue. They simply can't compete on a national level with the way they give up goals.
Cyclones are the next highest ranked team and split games two weeks ago with Rats.
Last weekend, Rats played Florida Alliance three times, and lost all three games by a combined 18-4.
Boston Advantage next, but haven't played anyone.
Then Wizards, who lost (competitively) to the one good team they have played (Team Maryland).
Then Seacoast, who are ranked exactly one spot higher than fellow NH team Top Gun, whose top two D went to Seacoast.
Only wish all our boys the very best, but not a great start for the NE 04 teams.
I think the NE 04 teams are hurt by the fact that some of the most elite players aren't even playing U14 in NE. While there are some exceptions, not generally the case elsewhere. Top D in prep playing U18 split season, top D playing U14 Buffalo Jr. Sabres, top goalie playing U16 Islanders, top forward on Rats may have moved to U16. These are the kind of players that if they were on one team with other quality players would be difference-makers. A few other quality 04's are playing U16, etc. The opposite is true elsewhere, with often the very best 04's playing for the same team, or more depth than in NE across a few teams. Something to think about.
Another week of MHR and it looks like mass teams are drawing closer together...
04 Bandits big D playing for Buffalo Jr. Sabres this season committed to Colorado College. Not surprising to me that the next NE commit is a D.
Colorado College has nice facilities, is in a beautiful setting, plays in a very strong conference (last three national champions), but historically is not the strongest team. The schools in the NCHC are really far away from each other, so lots of overnight travel as compared to Hockey East, for example.
Cox posted his list of top 2004s. Couple of major omissions..,
Would love to read it, but not paying a fee to read about 04’s. Stupid!!
In retrospect, those two trips to Florida and Buffalo were ill-conceived. I guess they thought their team was better than it is. I for one would be pretty disappointed traveling for two weekends to go 0-6 and be outscored 34-7. They could have gotten better games back home, plenty of teams around here playing at their level.
Thank you Seacoast team manager who hails from Buffalo. He's trying to belittle Rats for Seacoast's benefit.
Rats will end all talk after this weekend!
End all talk due to a supreme performance? Or due to a head-scratching loss that takes them out of larger conversation?
Not the first time I will be wrong about 14 y/o kids. Congrats to 04 Buffalo Jr. Sabres. They are a really good team. Clearly I didn't see these games but I do think NVRR can play better
Looks like sea coast is not even in the conversation once out of our area. Jr Sabres crushing it again. Look no further
Rats take control for Nationals with a dominate win vs. Kings.
Rats at least put themselves a bit in the conversation with a 4 goal win over SSK, which was preceded by a 4 goal loss to SSK, and succeeded by a 2 goal loss to Cyclones, so not many certainties. I think SSK is more talented, but they give up a lot of goals. Rats is a new team so has more room for improvement over the course of the season. Still a long time before the Mass team for U14 Nationals will be decided in March 2019, and Wizards or BA might put themselves in the picture. Mass feels a bit like JV compared to the 04 teams nationally.
12 out of the top 14 2004 teams nationally were in action this past weekend at the Motown and Notre Dame tournaments. Lots of close games, and really not that much separation among the top teams.
MFR did well at ND, going 4-1. MRF seems to be doing better than the beginning of the season, but is not quite where it has been traditionally. Pittsburgh Penns Elite is going to be a tough out at Nationals. They have an academy similar to Seacoast and are improving based on how they are doing against top teams.
Seacoast was at Motown and struggled against both good and average competition. I'm still cautiously optimistic about Seacoast as a new team with the extra training they are getting and likely resulting improvement over the course of the season. Travel is a factor that is not often considered in how teams do at away tournaments.
Somebody keeps pumping the Buffalo Jr. Sabres on the DBoard. They are clearly a talented team, and have 2 DI commits (D - Colorado College; F - Penn State). They also played at Motown, but are still not ready to beat the top teams, losing 4-2 to Compuware, who beat LC 2-1 in OT in the Motown semis and lost 5-7 to Honeybaked in the finals. Those 3 Detroit teams will beat and lose to each other a bunch this year, as they already have. Interestingly, although Honeybaked won this tournament, they might be the third best team in MI behind Compuware and LC.
One team that has quietly worked its way into the Nationals conversation is the Syracuse Nationals (ironically). I look for them to move up in the rankings to become a legit at large contender. They are clearly the second best team in NY and might even potentially challenge the Buffalo Jr. Sabres. Syracuse tied and lost to MFR, and just lost in OT and won in OT against Southern Tier Admirals, the no. 2 ranked Canadian team. It's all about the match ups, but just for comparison's sake, Southern Tier Admirals beat Buffalo Jr. Sabres in a shootout, so they are all in the neighborhood of each other. This also points out just how close the top teams are, and how good the US 04 teams are, with the 15th ranked US team basically playing 2 games even with the no. 2 Canadian team.
Just for clarity, the sabres gave up empty net goals in very close games that could have gone either way against both LC and Compuware, losing both of those games by essentially 1 goal. I don't think you can rightfully say they are not ready to beat the top teams, that is really just an ill informed opinion which you are entitled to, but holds no credibility. The sabres hit three posts against LC and that made a difference in the outcome. LC was outplayed but got the win that day with some puck luck, that's hockey. Sabres have proven themselves for years and they will see those teams again.