The Donnybrook - Christmas Edition
Facts, Gossip & Rumors From College-Bound Hockey
A Weekly TJHP Feature
Heading into Christmas break it's not a surprise there is a low amount of information to report, but The Donnybrook is committed to providing its millions of readers with up-to-date, relatively useless-but-interesting information throughout the holiday break.
In looking at the overall programs at this level nationwide, and using My Hockey Rankings as a guide, TJHP has compiled a mid-season report of sorts. The rankings below are made up of programs that offer all three levels of national-bound levels at what formerly was called "midget" hockey.
The numbers in parentheses are national rankings an 18U, 16U and 15U, respectively. The total of all three rankings is used to compile this list. Subjectivity obviously plays into the arguments as to why this list is incorrect, but this is based upon all the science and data that is available. And yes, TJHP understands the games are played on the ice, but "Top Lists" drive the internet ... and we're on the internet,
Shattuck St. Mary's (1-1-6=8)
Mount St. Charles (5-6-9=20)
Chicago Mission (10-17-11=38)
North Jersey (2-3-35=40)
Little Caesars (25-7-10=42)
Buffalo Jr. Sabres (36-4-8=48)
Neponset Valley River Rats (8-15-37=60)
When looking at 2019-20 NCAA Division I commitments -- those that have been made since July 1, 2019 -- most of these programs don't really stand out yet. The Chicago Mission 16U team leads the nation with five commitments this season, followed by the North Jersey Avalanche 16U squad with four.
At the overall program level, the Mission and the Avalanche lead the nation so far with six total commitments.
Teams tied for third with three NCAA Division I commitments are Detroit Little Caesars 16U, Gentry Academy 16U, Mount St. Charles Academy 16U, New Jersey Rockets 16U and the Trois-Rivières Estacades (Canada).
TJHP would be remiss if it didn't point out that one of the top events in all of hockey -- the World Junior Championships -- kicks off Dec. 26 in the Czech Republic. Eleven players who played in the USHL, not including 13 players who passed through the U.S. National Team Development Program, are on this year's Team USA roster. There are eight NHL first-round draft picks on this year's Team USA.
The United States does not get to ease into this year's event as they open with Canada on Dec. 26. They also play Germany, Russia, and the Czech Republic in preliminary action. The tournament concludes Jan. 5, 2020 with the medal games.
The Hudson Havoc enter Christmas break with a league-high 11-game winning streak, which has pushed them into first place in the Mid West West Division (yes ... you read that correctly ... Mid West West). The Minnesota Blue Ox clipped the Havoc on Nov. 9 for their last defeat.
The New Jersey Rockets (9) and the Skipjacks Hockey Club (7) also enter Christmas break on solid winning streaks.
The oddest streaks of the year belong to the Islanders Hockey Club, which started the season with 20 straight victories before dropping four straight at the USPHL Florida Showcase. IHC grabbed two more victories before Christmas break and are firm atop the New England Division standings.
Motor City stopped a 26-game losing streak on Dec. 21 at the USPHL's Chicago Showcase by defeating the Rum River Mallards 2-1. Motor City won its third game of the season over the Midwest Blackbirds on Oct. 4 before rattling off the 26 losses.
On the other end of the spectrum the Connecticut Nighthawks entering Christmas break with a league-high six-game losing streak. The Nighthawks were regulars in the early season Struggle Bus features because of their low roster numbers, routinely playing away games with 12 skaters. It will be interesting to see if Christmas break is the straw that breaks the camel's back in terms of this team surviving until the end of the season.
Jeff Nygaard is the editor of The Junior Hockey Podcast. He covers Junior and college-bound hockey as a traditional “beat,” in addition to breaking news stories during the course of the year.
He has a vast amount of experience on the business and organizational side of the sport as a former owner-operator of two Junior organizations and two youth clubs and has served as executive director or commissioner of the Eastern Hockey League and the United States Premier Hockey League.
A Fergus Falls, Minn., native, Nygaard grew up playing for the Fergus Falls Youth Hockey Association, Fergus Falls High School, Fergus Falls Community College and North Dakota State University programs.
He can be reached at email@example.com for questions, story ideas, and anonymous tips.