December 8, 2012

Juniors Journal: Ceglarski leading in more ways than one

By Shawn Hutcheon

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton captain Jack Ceglarski (Byfield, Mass.) has a significant lead in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League's scoring race. (Photo: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights)

It is not unusual for junior hockey players to leave home and relocate to other parts of the country in their quest for the prize that is a college scholarship. Many head east in hopes of impressing nearby Hockey East and ECAC schools, but when a player leaves that hockey hotbed, it becomes news.

Such was the case with Byfield, Mass., native Jack Ceglarski, who left the Bay State before the 2011- 2012 season to become a member of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights of the Atlantic Junior Hockey League. Ceglarski is in his second season with the Knights, who were very happy to welcome him aboard with the assistance of another New Englander who left the region to play in the United States Hockey League.

“I acquired Jack through a former player of mine, Alex Gacek (University of Miami Redhawks), while coaching the Indiana Ice of the USHL,” Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach Justin Lyle explains. “While assembling my 2011 Chowder Cup team, Alex had phoned me about his best friend Jack, and that I should try and get him on my Chowder Cup team, to recruit him for my 2011-2012 Knights team. Unfortunately, Jack had already committed to play for another Chowder Cup team.

“During my final Chowder Cup game, I snuck across to the other rink and watched five minutes of his game. That was all I needed to confirm he was going to be a high end player for me. Along with many phone calls with Alex, I spent many nights on the phone with Jack and his family throughout the recruiting process. When I received the phone call from Jack and his father, committing to me as a Knight, I knew I had signed a special player, and one that would be a backbone of the program. Jack and I had a mutual understanding that this was going to be a tough road for the next two years, but the determination and dedication we both had for one another and the Knights organization was second to none.”

The two components of “determination and dedication” have paid off this season. Ceglarski, Coach Lyle and the rest of the Knights are currently enjoying looking down at the AJHL from its perch as the first place team in the circuit. The young forward from Massachusetts is leading by compiling the most points, not only among his WSB teammates but of the entire league. Ceglarski has registered 40 points on 18 goals and 31 assists in 28 games.

Known for possessing a lethal and accurate shot, six of his eighteen goals have been game-winners, which leads the AJHL. He is ten points ahead of the second place scorer, linemate Jason Zaleski. Ceglarski’s 31 assists are also at the head of the class in the league.

Lyle discusses his team’s captain with enthusiasm when asked what Ceglarski brings to the club both on and off the ice.

“Jack brings a team first approach to the Knights,” the Knights coach said. “He is an exceptional leader on the ice with a ‘do as I do’ mentality. He comes to work everyday and understands how important getting a little bit better every day is.  He is the first one on the ice and the last one off the ice. He's always looking for little ways to get an edge up on his opponents. Jack works his tail off in the new state-of-the-art gym at the Revolution Ice Centre. He's become very strong, which is showing through his on ice performance. Outside of the rink, he is an outstanding citizen of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area. He's always willing to help with our Knights Learn to Skate program.”

Ceglarski has become known throughout the WSB area and is becoming the center of attention every time he steps on the ice. The nineteen-year-old has the size (6-foot-1) that attracts the attention of scouts. He anticipates the play well and rarely makes a mistake when carrying the puck. He also has the ability to see teammates and thread passes to them through a maze of skates and legs which he does routinely to set up scoring opportunities.

As for the future, Lyle is doing all he can to help his captain find the school that will be the right fit for him on the ice and in the classroom.

“I have spoken to DI and DIII coaches about Jack being a part of their academic institution,” Lyle said. I” believe Jack would be a huge asset at any DI or DIII hockey program. Jack is really proving himself as a high end forward that will be an impact player wherever he chooses to play college hockey.”

Game of the Week

With the cream rising to the top of both the Eastern Junior Hockey League and the Atlantic Junior Hockey League, this week’s schedules are somewhat thin on marquee matchups but the one game that should stand out will see the Valley Jr. Warriors taking on the Springfield Jr. Pics on Sunday in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

This will be a game of two different styles as the Warriors are built on skill and rely on goaltender Brendan Leahy to make the big save when needed, which he is known to do routinely.

Springfield uses a gritty, physical style of play to wear their opponents down and force mistakes. Pics netminder Linus Lundin is a leader on and off the ice and has been the backbone to Springfield’s successes this season.

Valley won the only meeting between the two clubs, 3-1, on Nov. 17.

Power Rankings

To read Shawn Hutcheon’s analysis of each team in the top 15, head over to our junior power rankings page.

1) Boston Jr. Bruins (16-6-0-0-0) 
2) Islanders Hockey Club (14-5-0-0-1)
3) Valley Jr. Warriors (14-8-0-0-0)
4) Walpole Express (16-5-0-2) 
5) Northern Cyclones (15-5-1-1) 

6) Bay State Breakers (13-8-0-0-1) 
7) South Shore Kings (12-8-0-3-0) 
8) Springfield Jr. Pics (12-10-0-0-1) 
9) Connecticut Wolfpack (13-5-2-1) 
10) Boston Jr. Rangers (11-3-7-2) 

11) New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (10-9-0-0-1) 
12) Boston Bandits (9-12-0-0-0) 
13) Connecticut Oilers (6-12-0-2-0) 
14) Laconia Leafs (6-16-4-0) 
15) Portland Jr. Pirates (6-17-0-1-0)

Shawn Hutcheon can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.