Freedom Bridge…

Weddings. Workouts. Whatever.

That’s an apt description of what life is like for the Fargo Force players eligible for the NHL Draft, which starts tonight. The Force could have eight players who could be taken in the draft.

If they were to be chosen, they would be selected on Saturday, which is the second day of the draft.

Forward Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth) said Friday he was actually getting ready for his brother’s wedding, which is later today and extends into tomorrow with another family function.

“It is a big day for him and his future wife,” Farley said. “I haven’t looked at the draft.”

Farley said he’s spent the last few weeks staying busy. He recently graduated from Fargo South and went to Duluth for a campus orientation before returning to Illinois for his brother’s wedding.

He and his family will be at their lake house on Saturday so cell phone reception might not be the best. Either way, his brother will use his smartphone to check out the draft to see if Farley has been drafted.

Down the road from Farley in Illinois is defenseman Justin Wade (Notre Dame), who said he’ll be spending the day watching his little sister.

“It is going to be a normal day for me,” he said. “If I get a call it’ll be cool or I will look online. I am not going to do anything special.”

Wade, like Farley, recently graduated from Fargo South and has been trying to enjoy his summer.

Wade, who will return to the Force next season, said he’s just used the summer to workout and catch up with friends he hasn’t seen due to splitting time between Fargo and his home in Aurora, Ill., a Chicago suburb.

Defenseman Brian Cooper (Nebraska-Omaha) actually spend Friday morning working out instead of thinking about where he could be taken in the draft.

“Yeah, I gotta be in Omaha in the next few weeks and I want to be there in shape,” Cooper said. “I am more worried about what (UNO coach Dean) Blais is going to think than NHL scouts. Come on, it’s Blais. He’s Blais.”

Cooper pointed out how Blais worked as a coach and how he’d need to be at his best when he arrived into camp.

“Well, that’s the thing about him,” Cooper said. “He talks to you and he’s a great guy. Put it this way. He’s (Force coach John) Marks. That’s what I am excited about. He’s like Marks but a little bit more intense, all the time. Marks is fun.”

Forward Jay Dickman along with Dominic Toninato (Minnesota-Duluth) are both in Pittsburgh for the draft.

For Dickman, it is his second year as an eligible player while Toninato, the god son of NHL Hall of Famer Brett Hull, is in his first year of eligiblity.

Toninato, who lives in Duluth, said his family was not impacted by flooding which has crippled the region. He and his family left Duluth and reached Pittsburgh on Thursday where they took in the Twins-Pirates game.

“You know what, I am definitely excited,” he said. “I have talked to quite a bit of teams and it is unbelievable.”

Both Dickman and Toninato will play with the Force next season.

Out There On The Ice…

Fargo Force defenseman Brian Cooper (Nebraska-Omaha) was invited on Thursday to the NHL’s Central Scouting Draft Combine.

Cooper, 18, was one of 13 USHL players invited to the camp which starts at the end of May in Toronto. Eighty-eight North American players (78 skaters, 10 goaltenders) were invited along with 17 European players (14 skaters, three goaltenders) to the combine.

In all, it is considered to be the best collection of players eligible for the NHL Draft.

The combine will run May 28 through June 2 giving NHL teams a chance to meet and speak with potential prospects.

Quite a few NHL teams have spoken with Cooper, who in the last three years has emerged as a possible third-or-fourth round pick in this summer’s draft.

The 5-10, 180-pound defenseman was the Force’s team captain and played a different style than he’s showed in the past. A young defensive corps made Cooper more of a stay-at-home defenseman who wasn’t involved much in the rush like had been in previous seasons.

Cooper finished the season with 24 points (6 goals, 18 assists) in 55 games and a plus-16 rating in 55 games this year. He also represented Team USA at the World Junior “A” Challenge for the second year in a row.

He captained the team to a bronze medal.

Cooper came to the Force as a 15-year-old and in his three-year career put up 70 points (20 goals, 50 assists) while amassing 293 penalty minutes in 161 career games while playing in a Clark Cup Finals as a rookie.

In all, he was a member of three playoff teams. He finished this year’s USHL Playoffs with three points in five games as the Force were eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals by the Lincoln Stars.

He’s currently a senior at Fargo South where holds a 3.8 grade point average and is a member of the National Honor Society. After graduation, he’ll go to Nebraska-Omaha and has said he would pursue being a podiatrist if his hockey career does not work out.

Cooper is one of several Force players eligible for this year’s draft.

Defenseman Justin Wade (Notre Dame) along with forwards Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth), Jay Dickman, Nate Arentz and Dominic Toninato (Minnesota-Duluth) are all also eligible for the draft.

Sometimes In The Fall…

Considering the talk about Troy Hesketh a year ago, what happened to him on Wednesday clearly shows how much things have changed.

Hesketh, a third-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 2009, verbally committed to playing college hockey today at Hamline. Hamline is a Division III school. Hesketh is a former Wisconsin commit.

To put it bluntly, third-round draft picks go play in college or Major Junior. They don’t play D-III hockey. In fact, it has been asked: Is this the first time a third-round draft pick will play at a D-III school?

Either way, I have a phone call out to Hamline to see if Hesketh will be playing there next season.

That in itself shows how rocky of a year it has been for Hesketh, who played high school hockey at Minnetonka (MN-HS) where he was considered to be one of the state’s best players.

What could be considered even more interesting is that no one knows where Hesketh will play this season. He was last with Sioux City and was later cut from the team. The league office said Wednesday morning that Hesketh wasn’t invited to tryout camp by any team in the league.

Usually, that means a league like the NAHL would most likely be his next option.

As was earlier stated, it has been a tough time for Hesketh and here’s why. He opened last pre-season with the Force before being traded to Chicago a few days before the regular season started.

He was part of a hapless Steel team that went on to win nine games. Hesketh wasn’t there for the whole season as he was traded to Sioux City. During that time he was fighting off the after affects of a concussion he suffered.

Then news broke that Wisconsin dropped Hesketh because he didn’t have the scores to gain acceptance into the school for the coming 2011-12 season. It resulted in Wisconsin getting Benilde-St. Margaret’s (MN-HS) Patrick Daly, who was drafted by the New Jersey Devils.

And that pretty much sums up Troy Hesketh’s 2010-11 season.

The Right Profile…

Well, USHL, you finally got your chance to prove you do belong with the big boys in Major Junior and you’re not a “stepping stone.”

The numbers suggest it. After all, it was the USHL (37) that had more players on NHL Central Scouting’s Prelim Futures List than the The QMJHL (31), than The OHL (29) or The WHL (26).

People, both in and out of America, have ripped you and your league so badly that you’d think JWoww and Vinny put you on blast like that.

They say the USHL can’t produce first-round draft picks unless the NTDP comes in and does an Obama to help them save face. It appears the USHL might not need a bailout with three projected first rounders in Jordan Schmaltz (Sioux City/North Dakota) and Dubuque duo Zemgus Girgensons (Vermont) and Michael Matheson (Boston College).

Oh and you did manage to keep Schmaltz away from the OHL, Girgensons away from the WHL and Matheson away from The Q.

Problem is, nobody cares about that and given this summer, why should they?

American hockey has taken a public relations kick to the groin this off-season. So many top-flight Americans are going Major Junior and in some cases (see Jamie Oleksiak) they rather just not be American altogether.

Then there’s what happened with Penticton in the BCHL fleecing seven Americans – most notably Wayzata’s Mario Lucia (Minnesota Wild) and Edina’s Steven Fogarty (Notre Dame/New York Rangers) – from USHL teams.

Don’t forget even younger top-end Americans like Brandon Shea and Adam Erne. Shea was set to play with the NTDP and opted instead for the The Q. Same goes for Erne, who spent last season with the Indiana Ice before deciding to take his talents to Quebec.

And then there’s what happened with Anthony DeAngelo exchanging Cedar Rapids for Sarnia.

Having so many high-end kids leave is more than a slap in the face. And if you think I’m wrong Elin Nordegren is on Line 1 to say otherwise.

Point is American hockey needs a bounce-back year. They need it the way school needs teachers, the way that Kathie Lee needed Regis or the way Kanye needed Jesus. This summer’s NHL Draft was a start. The USHL (27) had more players drafted than The Q (22). But more needs to be done.

We know the USHL can’t exactly send a Zack Morris-like telegraph before every game saying they need to beat Valley or in this case Major Junior. But you know damn well that they want this to work.

This could be one of the most, if not the most important season in the USHL’s history. For all the talk they’ve done about being a viable option along with college hockey to reach the NHL, they better hope to God this is the year that can jump start it.

It is the kind of year where the USHL needs to sit down and ask the following question: Will 2011-12 be our Waterloo (not like Bliss Littler, though his team can help) or will this be our Normandy, where we really entrench ourselves in a long, long battle with Major Junior?

That’s only a question the league, its teams and to a degree, its players can answer.

Whatever the answer may be, there will be critics. There will be some Canadians touting that no matter what the USHL does, it can never compete with Major Junior. Those people probably feel the USHL needs to keep to itself and not mess with those three eighth-grade boys waiting to take their lunch money.

Yet if the USHL has a good year at the draft among other things, maybe people won’t have to wonder if they belong at all.

And maybe more will see it as a viable option – instead of stepping stone -after all.

Strict Machine…

Not sure if you got a chance to check it out but NHL Central Scouting released its’ preliminary Futures List of North American players.

Basically the list is comprised of what’s deemed to be the top skaters in 15 junior leagues and states with high school hockey. The list is broken down into three classes depending on the league. The “A” List are the top-tier players while the “B” List is the second tier and the “C” List is the lowest level.

MN-HS has 15 players with no “A” List players but 10 “B” list players including Moorhead’s Michael Bitzer, who is a potential favorite to win the Frank Brimsek Award for the state’s top senior goaltender.  Shattuck-St. Mary’s has the most representatives on the list with seven players headlined by Zach Stepan (Wisconsin).

Apple Valley’s AJ Michaelson (Minnesota) is on the MN-HS list but will spend this season with the Waterloo Black Hawks in the USHL. Lakeville North goaltender Charlie Lindgren will also spend this season in the USHL playing for the Sioux Falls Stampede.

As for the USHL, it has five “A” List players but it is technically six as Michael Matheson (Boston College) will spend this season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Joining Matheson on the list is Dubuque teammate Zemgus Girgensons (Vermont), Jordan Schmaltz (Sioux City/North Dakota) and NTDP trio Nick Kerdiles, Jacob Trouba and Cameron Darcy, who decommitted from Northeastern earlier this week.

UPDATED: Earlier I reported that the USHL is listed with 26 players but technically has at least 31 because of players from other leagues who plan on playing in the USHL this season such as Matheson.

But thanks to Vancouver Canucks scout and Indiana Ice chief scout Judd Brackett, he brought to my attention six players on the list that will be playing in the USHL this season bringing the total to 37 players.

In terms of USHL breakdown, the team with the most players on this list is the, surprise, surprise, NTDP program with nine players including Riley Barber, who is still listed with Dubuque. Next in line is the Fargo Force with five players. The Force are represented by Brian Cooper (Nebraska-Omaha), Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth), Nate Arentz, Alex Iafallo and Justin Wade. The Indiana Ice are third with three players on the list.

And for those wondering about Major Junior and how the USHL stacks up, here’s the comparisons. The infamous OHL has 29, The Q has 31 and the WHL has 26.

When it comes to “A” List players that’s where Major Junior has the expected edge. The OHL has nine players. The Q and The WHL each have eight “A” List players too.

Granted, this is what’s listed so there could be players from other junior leagues or high schools that are listed that could be playing Major Junior, but it just hasn’t been reflected yet.

Mr. Big Stuff…

It certainly wasn’t the plan Adam Micheletti had in mind, but he’s fine with the way things could play out.

When Micheletti and his Dubuque Fighting Saints got French-Canadian defenseman Michael Matheson, the plan was to get him to play in the USHL. Now, it appears Matheson could do more than just that.

“I think USA Hockey and the USHL is starting to go on the right path by increasing the imports to four players,” said Micheletti, who is the Saints’ director of player operations. “I think it is important to allow more and more competitive Canadian kids. You are allowing players who might be on the fence to go the USHL and the college route.”

Micheletti pointed out that having a player like Matheson come to the USHL could do more to raise the league’s profile.

Another thing that could help is if Matheson continues to perform in a way that has many thinking he could be a first-round draft pick.

Matheson, a Boston College commit, is one of two players the Fighting Saints have with a pretty legit chance of going in the first round. The other is Vermont commit Zemgus Girgensons.

The two comprise what could be a good year at the NHL Draft for the USHL, which is projected to have around five first-round picks.

“I think this might be the most important year for the league with Zemgus, Matheson, (Sioux City’s Jordan) Schmaltz and even (Fargo’s Brian) Cooper,” Micheletti said. “Cooper is going to be no later than a second rounder and I think that its important that the league takes advantage of that this year and let as many potential players know that you can be a first-rounder coming out of this league.”

Micheletti said when the team drafted Matheson they did their best to create a relationship with his family.

An example of that came when the Fighting Saints added Matheson’s older brother, Kenny, to its roster heading into the Fall Classic.

They stressed not only the USHL but what college hockey could do for him in the future. Micheletti conceded that he knew Matheson would be a one-year guy.

“It takes longer for defenseman to develop and he knows that,” Micheletti said.

So far, it sounds like Matheson is already pretty far along.

He was at the NHL’s Research and Development Camp last week where he was able to impress more than his fair share of people.

Micheletti said he heard a lot of good reviews about Matheson’s skating ability saying, “he might be the best pure skater of his age group right now.”

“He isn’t as refined because he played midget hockey last year compared to others guys who played in the CHL,” Micheletti said. “I think a lot of teams could see his skating ability is near the top and so was his ability ot think the game.”

Development aside, Matheson is expected to play a major role in Dubuque’s chase for a second straight Clark Cup this season.

Micheletti said Matheson’s job will be to stimulate the Fighting Saints’ power play, which last season ranked seventh in the league.

“We are going to have an extra tool in our power play,” Micheletti said. “He is going to help out there and he can be a one-man breakout by being able to skate past everybody and help the forwards create something.”

They Say…

People talk.

And they’ve said quite a bit this summer about Dubuque Fighting Saints duo Zemgus Girgensons and Michael Matheson. Scouts, media, etc. have said both will likely be first-round picks in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Plenty has been said about whether or not both would spend this season in the USHL and jump to Major Junior.

Dubuque president of operations Adam Micheletti said Friday he’s heard the talk and that the franchise felt comfortable that both players would honor their commitment.

“You know wish someone like (Girgensons) you are always concerned,” Micheletti said. “There was a ton of money thrown at him from different teams. The one thing with him and his dad is that when they make a commitment, they stick with it.”

Girgensons was drafted by the Kelowna Rockets (WHL) and has been the subject of the typical “Will he go?” talk that often comes when any non-Canadian player has a chance at playing Major Junior

Micheletti said there was also interested from Dinamo Riga (KHL), which is Girgensons’ hometown team.

The interest from Dinamo Riga, Micheletti said, was more of a concern than the interest from Kelowna.

“But in the end,” Micheletti said. “It hasn’t given us any reason to think that he’d leave.”

Surely, it’ll be something that people will continue to talk about throughout the year.

But something no one has discussed is how Dubuque even learned about Girgensons. Micheletti said the team had a few scouts watch Girgensons when he was playing for the Green Mountain Glades (EJHL) and heard quite a few positive reviews.

The claim was that Girgensons was one of the top skaters in his age group and could potentially be a first-rounder in his draft year.

“We saved one of our tenders and we decided to go after him,” Micheletti said. “Everyone said he’s a gut tha twe had to get. We spoke with his adviser and go him two days before the deadline.”

It turned out to be a good move with Girgensons being a vital part of the Fighting Saints’ championship season.

Micheletti compared the Vermont commit to former NHL star Peter Forsberg in the sense that he didn’t care who got the credit as long as the team won.

His attitude towards winning is why he made the Latvian Junior Team at 16 and it’s another reason why Girgensons will be the team’s captain this season.

“There is not anyone who works hard as he does on and off the ice,” Micheletti said. “He was very emotional after we won.”

Girgensons has one more year with the Fighting Saints before going to Vermont.

Micheletti said that Girgensons’ time playing in the EJHL made him a fan of Vermont and it is a big reason why he decided to go there.

Now, of course, there’s that one question: Will Girgensons stay all four years?

“You never know what is going to happen in hockey and its important that he gets his education,” said Micheletti, a Boston College alum. “Is he a guy that will go all four years at Vermont? Probably not because he’s that good of a player. He’ll be ready for the NHL at some point.”

 

 

Check back tomorrow for what Micheletti had to say about the team getting Matheson and how this could be the biggest year in the USHL’s recent history.

Nothing In My Way…

Thursday, in a way, could really mimic how the next year could be for Force defenseman and Nebraska-Omaha commit Brian Cooper.

Cooper, 17, was named to the USA Hockey Under-20 Camp that will take place in August at Lake Placid. He’s one of 40 players invited to the camp and one of the few that will be playing next season in the USHL.

“It’ll be cool to go down there and see where I stand,” Cooper said.

So far, Cooper is standing in a pretty good place. He just finished his second season with the Force and had moments where he was that team’s best player. Cooper scored 11 goals and 22 assists in the regular season and was a consistent force in the playoffs.

But there’s more Cooper than the numbers. Cooper has the ability to take a game and make that one big play that can easily impact a game. Whether its the end-to-end rush that goes from a clearance to a scoring chance or the way he lines up a forward near the boards with an explosive hit check, he just finds a way to provide the big moment.

This upcoming season will provide plenty of big moments for Cooper, who has a chance to do something really special.

“Brian is the kind of guy that doesn’t really lead with words,” said Force coach Jason Herter. “He leads by doing. He will do things like constantly work out and the other guys see that and it is infectious.”

So much has been said about Cooper’s leadership ability and that was evidenced by the fact that he was named one of the team’s assistant captains last season. Yet with Chad Demers (Air Force), Colten St. Clair (North Dakota), Nick Oliver (St. Cloud) and Dan Weissenhofer (Air Force) all playing in college next season, it leaves Cooper as the only returning captain.

Though the Force will have players returning from last season, it easily sets up the argument and possibility that Cooper could be this team’s captain for next season.

Herter didn’t say if Cooper would be the team’s captain next year but he did point out that having a guy like him does help set an example that can be passed throughout the team.

“I know that there’s going to be more of a dependency on me,” Cooper said about being a leader for next season. “I know its going to be a situation for me kind of like what Demers, Oliver and St. Clair went through last year.”

Cooper has already earned the respect of his teammates and the coaching staff. Cooper just flew home on Wednesday and even though the Force have training camp next weekend, he was told to stay at home.

Herter told Cooper that he has no worries about him working hard in the off season and taking care of his business. Herter echoed those comments when he was asked about Cooper potentially missing any pre-season work with the Force to attend the USA Hockey camp.

“For Brian to have an opportunity like that, we want him to focus on that,” Herter said. “We know where he stands with us.”

Leadership is only part of what could define Cooper heading into next season. His play, of course, will a large portion of how he will be judged.

Cooper heads into the off-season as one of the most touted USHL players heading into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Cooper along with Sioux City defenseman Jordan Schmaltz (North Dakota) and Dubuque forward Zemgus Girgensons (Vermont) were identified by NHL Central Scouting Head Jack Barzee as the three guys to look for in 2011-12.

Praise from a man such as Barzee will surely attract more eyes on Cooper, who has already attracted so much attention.

“Kids that worry about the draft, those are the ones who just fall but the kids that don’t think about it, that just play hockey, those are the ones that get drafted,” said Herter, who was a first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks once upon a time. “If Brian tries to go out and lead the team in goals, that’s not good because that’s not his game. But if he plays his game, the points will come and the draft will take care of itself.”

Nuthin’ But A G Thang…

Know your role.

That was the lesson that Garrett Haar learned over the summer back home in California when he was training with NHL stars such as Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan among others.

“That was the most important thing they told me,” Haar said. “And I’ve just tried to do just that.”

Walk around press row during a game and you’ll hear NHL scouts talk about Haar. You’ll see their pens scribble notes and thoughts about him and the things he can do. The pens and pencils were certainly busy Saturday when he had a two-assist night in the Force’s 4-2 playoff series clinching win over the Lincoln Stars.

Haar, who is a Northeastern commit, went from relatively unknown to emerging as arguably the team’s best defenseman an honor which could also be claimed by Nebraska-Omaha commit Brian Cooper and Air Force commit Dan Weissenhofer.

The 18-year-old grew up in California and he entered the season coming into his first year in the USHL and has certainly flourished.

He worked his way into the starting line-up and onto the power play and penalty kill too. A lot of his success, he said, comes from the work he did in the offseason.

“I worked really hard in the offseason to get better at what I was doing,” Haar said. “I worked out with guys like Sheldon Souray, Shawn Horcoff and Bobby Ryan.”

Working out with all-stars and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft will make anyone better.

But what he brings to the table is an all-around game that keeps growing and Saturday was an example of it.

Haar was damn near everywhere on the ice. He helped set up Michigan Tech commit Tanner Kero’s goal to open the game and was the one that got the puck on net for North Dakota commit Colten St. Clair to knock in a tip in for a 2-1 lead in the second.

When he wasn’t doing that he was using his stick to interrupt the passing lanes. Or he was sticking to any forward that was even near the puck.

At 6-feet, 195 pounds, he has the ability to check and get low enough to deliver a blow that can disrupt a skater trying to gain momentum.

All the things he did Saturday are why he’s ranked as the No. 119th North American skater in the upcoming NHL Draft. When talking to a scout about Haar, he said Haar could be drafted. The scout stopped and said, “No, he will be drafted.”

“Garrett’s the kind of guy who can make up or jump up into a play,” said Force captain and Air Force commit Chad Demers. “He’s got good speed and he’s making things happen. This time of year you need guys to step up and Garrett Haar did that for us.”

Haar’s two-point night ties him with Cooper, Demers and Joe Rehkamp for the team lead in playoff scoring with two points.

Performances like this one among others are why he’s moved up in so many opinions and has moved up on so many lists as being one of the best defensive options to come out of the USHL this season.

All of the attention, whether it be talking to scouts, doing interviews or even signing autographs has made Haar really humble.

“It’s been awesome to talk to NHL scouts,” Haar said. “Knowing that you have a chance to be part of a team’s future is a great thing.”

Further proof that with Haar it really is nothing but a ‘G’ thing.

For now, we’ll just have to chill until the next episode.

Do The Panic…

Power Forward. Potential First-Round Pick. Future Minnesota Golden Gopher and now spoiler.

No matter how you slice it, Seth Ambroz has played a variety of roles this season.

This weekend will be no different with the New Prague native trying to lead the Omaha Lancers to the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff race. The Lancers are third in the West and with a weekend sweep plus some help will more than likely grab the No. 2 seed and get a first-round bye.

Ambroz and his teammates open the road trip here in Fargo against the Force, which is also gunning for the No. 2 seed.

“It is somewhat a little stressful,” Ambroz said. “Knowing its a lot of fun being in a race like this and coming into Fargo and Sioux Falls to end the season, it shows you what you can bring to the table and you just have to wait and see how it turns out this week.”

Ambroz, who has 45 points in 54 games this season, has played an integral role in Omaha reaching the playoffs along with vying for the No. 2 seed.

The Lancers had what could be described as a bit of a slow start. Yes, the wins were there but with so many players being new to the USHL, it did take time for the to get use to each other, Ambroz said.

It was around the Christmas break where the Lancers started getting some consistency. They were use to playing together and it has resulted into the team becoming one of the Western Conference’s major players.

At one point, Omaha was even atop the standings before Dubuque recovered and took the top spot in the West.

“Everyone’s pulling their weight and it is now coming down to when it matters,” Ambroz said. “We have a good team and a lot of guys that understand what their role is and we’re putting the pieces together.”

And here’s where the story becomes about expectations, something Ambroz is pretty familiar with.

He admitted coming to Omaha, which has won the most championships of an USHL franchise. The Lancers have won 13 championships, which includes seven Clark Cups, five Anderson Cups and a Junior National Championship.

Throw the 3,000-plus fans at every home game along with the countless pro and college players the Lancers have produced and it is easy to see why expectations are such a big deal.

“The bar is set real high,” Ambroz said. “You go out the door and you see all those banners, and trust me, there’s a lot of them, you know other than making the playoffs, you have to give it a run for the Clark Cup.”

And then there’s the expectations that come with Ambroz. He’s been touted as a first-round pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.

Scouts, analysts, experts and bloggers have argued and debated if Ambroz is not only the most pro-ready player in the USHL but if he’s also just one of the best players that could be available.

Another USHL player so many people are high on for the draft is Youngstown defenseman Scott Mayfield, who is actually good friend with Ambroz.

“It is a lot of fun to play with him. I got a chance to play with him on the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge team and he’s a great guy and I love him,” Ambroz said of Mayfield, who is a Denver University commit. “He’s a great player. Big presence at defense and he has the skill and he’s able to make plays that a lot of d-men cannot make.”

The Seth-Scott obsession has even made its way to NHL.com where both are featured on a blog that is done by NHL.com’s Mike Morreale.

Ambroz said he had done a few blogs with his friend but nothing too serious until Morreale approached him about being chronicled in his draft year. Ambroz said he was humbled to even be asked and he speaks with Morreale once a month about the USHL season among other items.

Poke around NHL.com’s draft page and you’ll also find Ambroz’s photo in the mix with players like Red Deer Rebel phenom Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a player some are considering to be the top choice in the draft.

“Great to be recognized like that and to be honest, I try not to think about it,” Ambroz said about the attention leading up to the draft. “When the time comes everything works itself out and I’m confident things will go well. I am excited this summer to see what happens.”