December 21, 2012

Juniors Journal: New England midseason All-Stars

By Shawn Hutcheon

The holiday season has arrived which means it is time to unveil our midseason New England Junior Hockey All-Star team. With an abundance of talented New England natives in the Eastern Junior Hockey League and the Atlantic Junior Hockey League, there are many who are deserving of being named to the squad. Here are the standouts that made the cut:

Jack Ceglarski (Byfield, Mass.)
Forward, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights

Ceglarski leads all scorers in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League with 19 goals and 32 assists for a total of 51 points in 23 games this season. Opponents have kept him off the score sheet in just six of those twenty-three contests. The big forward (6-foot-1) also leads the league with seven game winning tallies. Ceglarski will represent the AJHL in a two game series versus a junior all star team from Russia, December 22nd and 23rd at Harvard University.

Michael Doherty (Reading, Mass.)
Forward, Islanders Hockey Club  

The Yale University recruit is third in Eastern Junior Hockey League scoring. Doherty has posted 15 goals and 27 assists for 42 points in 24 games. The EJHL rookie has impressed scouts with his speed and intelligence and has become an integral part of the Islanders on and off the ice.  

Austin Orszulak (Springfield, Mass.)
Forward, Springfield Jr. Pics

In 28 Pics tilts this season, Orszulak has posted 15 goals and 22 assists for a total of 37 points. Four of his lamplighters have come on the power play. Orszulak has also registered one shorthanded marker and two game winners. Colleges have been keeping a close eye on this gritty forward who leads by example every time he steps on the ice.

Cody Smith (Hudson, Mass.)
Defenseman, Boston Junior Bruins

The captain of the Junior Bruins has led his club to first place in the EJHL’s Northern Division. Smith is a leader in the truest sense of the word on and off the ice. He commands the defensive zone and wins a large majority of one-on-one battles. Offensively, Smith has contributed with three goals and ten assists for thirteen points in twenty-seven games. More importantly, two of his three tallies have come on the power play.

Jake Kulevich (Marblehead, Mass.)
Defenseman, South Shore Kings

The Kings have struggled at times this season, but this 6-foot-3 Colgate University recruit has not. Kulevich may not be an offensive force as he has netted one goal and six assists totaling seven points but it is his physical play along with a keen hockey sense that make him valuable to his club. This blueliner rarely gets beat in one on one situations and keeps the front of the net clear for his goaltenders.

Ben Halford (Lenox, Mass.)
Goaltender, Bay State Breakers

For the most part, it has been the consistent play of this 6-foot-5 netminder that has kept Bay State in the hunt for a playoff position in the EJHL’s Southern Division. Halford is sixth in the league with ten wins, third in the EJHL with 665 saves and fourth in the circuit with a .927 save percentage. He is known for his quick feet, exceptional positioning in the crease and lightning quick reflexes. Halford will take those qualities to Princeton University in the fall of 2013.

Game of the Week

The overall leader in the Eastern Junior Hockey League, the Jersey Hitmen will travel north to Springfield, Massachusetts for a weekend series versus the Jr. Pics in a battle of Southern Division rivals.

Jersey will bring its high powered offense (5.57 goals per game), which boasts six of the top ten scorers in the league, to western Massachusetts. The Hitmen also have the circuit’s number one power play, converting on 32 percent of its man advantage opportunities. They also have the best penalty killing units with a 89.2 percent success rate.

Springfield comes into the series in third place in the Southern Division. The Pics are four points out of second place. They will present a challenge to the Hitmen as the Pics are allowing just 2.79 goals against per game. Springfield ranks sixth in both the power play (17.4 percent) and the penalty kill (83.6 percent) in the EJHL.

The two clubs split a series on November 3rd and 4th with the Pics winning the first game (3-2) and the Hitmen taking the second tilt (7-3).  

New EnglandPower 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 (21-6-0-0-0)
2) Islanders Hockey Club 
3) Valley Jr. Warriors (17-10-0-0-0)
4) Northern Cyclones (17-6-1-2)
5) Connecticut Wolfpack (17-6-2-1) 

6) South Shore Kings (16-11-0-3-0) 
7) Walpole Express (17-6-2-0) - 
8) Springfield Jr. Pics (15-12-0-0-1) 
9) Boston Jr. Rangers (13-4-7-2) 
10) Boston Bandits (12-12-0-1-1)

11) Bay State Breakers (13-13-0-0-2)
12) New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (11-11-0-0-2)
13) Connecticut Oilers (7-15-0-2-0)
14) Laconia Leafs (7-17-4-0)
15) Portland Jr. Pirates (7-22-0-0-0) 

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