It's been quite awhile since Tech Hockey Guide went deep into recruiting news beyond tweeting or retweeting verbal commitments to Michigan Tech Hockey and updating the Recruiting grid. Over the last year, there have been 12 commitments by players who didn't join the Huskies this season. Of those, six have happened in just the last two months. Today, we start the process of fixing this information gap for you, the fan. Today we'll go through all the current commitments and try to breakdown how we think the next few years will go for recruiting. Starting soon, we'll have a new series, Recruiting Grounds, where each week we will break down one of the leagues or events where Michigan Tech has had success in recruiting over the years, including The Upper Midwest Elite League, BCHL, USHL and Midget Hockey to name a few.
For now we start with the current recruits by projected class. The Huskies appear to be almost done with recruiting for Fall 2017 with the recent commitment of defenseman Mitch Meek. He brings next year's class of blueliners to four, including officially-committed players Cooper Watson, Jake Gingell and Tristan Rostagno. Cooper would be the second of three Watson brothers to man the defense in a Huskies sweater with Cliff currently the team's captain and Carver expected to join the team in 2018. Cooper was recently cut by his USHL team but has found a home with the Vernon Vipers (BCHL). Jake Gingell now skates for former Huskies forward Brad Patterson and the Youngstown Phantoms (USHL). Tristan Rostagno bounced around over the last couple of years but has settled in with the Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL).
It appears possible that the Huskies are looking for one more forward to go with the three already likely to join the Huskies next season. Mitch Newsome, Jackson Cates and Tommy Parrottino (cover photo credit: Brandon Anderson) all appear poised to head to Houghton next fall. Newsome, the oldest of the three, currently plays for Coquitlam (BCHL) and was off to a pretty good start before getting injured. Cates and Parrottino are a year younger and in their first season of junior hockey in the USHL. Cates is getting decent playing time but hasn't produced too much yet for Waterloo, while Parrottino is off to a great start with Des Moines with four goals in his first 8 games, including this beauty:
The last recruit on the list for 2017 is another goaltender. Whether this recruit will be a walk-on or a scholarship player largely will depend on how the rest of this season goes and how confident Coach Shawhan is with going into next season as Devin Kero or Angus Redmond as the primary netminder.
The 2018 class likely includes two defensemen: Carver Watson (Chilliwack - BCHL) and Colin Swoyer (Sioux Falls - USHL). Both are off to decent starts with the new teams. Watson is currently sixth among all BCHL blueliners in points per game, scoring nearly a point per game, and he's seen a ton of time on the power play despite joining the team almost 10 games into the season. Swoyer is third on his team in points from defenders and is also seeing regular minutes on the power play.
The forwards expected to join the Huskies in 2018 are Brian Halonen (Delano - MN HS), Jagger Williamson (Vernon - BCHL), and Marcus Mitchell (Salmon Arm - BCHL). Halonen has been lighting it up in the Upper Midwest Elite League with 26 points including 13 goals. Good enough for top two in both categories. Above are highlights from his section final game last season where he scored a hat trick. Williamson is second on his team in points and goals while Mitchell is second in points despite a very slow start, including one point in his first five games. This group could be very special. This class will also be looking for a goaltender, which likely ends up the opposite of whatever they choose to do in 2017.
The Huskies have six other players committed for likely beyond 2018. All but Keaton Pehrson (Lakeville North - MN HS), have committed since June and all of them are still playing high school or midget hockey. Pehron probably has the biggest upside, as he was listed on the NHL Central Scouting Players to Watch for the 2017 Draft with a C grade, meaning he's likely to be drafted in the later rounds. Brenden Rons (Oakland Grizzlies - AAA) is the oldest of the group, and is already playing for a Midget Major. Gabe Temple (Victory Honda - U16) is a Midget Minor forward from the greater Detroit area. He should be headed to Houghton in 2019 and has showed promise thus far, scoring nearly a point per game.
Twin brothers Logan and Blake Pietila committed on the same day in June, and while they're both playing for Little Caesars U16 team, Logan is likely to come in a year before Blake because of the timing of an opening for goaltender. Blake will be a little too young to come in to replace Devin Kero in 2018, so he'll have to wait until 2020 while his brother Logan seems destine to join the team in 2019 as a forward. Evan Orr is a defenseman and teammate of the Pietila twins. He committed near the end of September and will will likely join the Huskies with Blake in 2020.
In all, the Huskies currently have 18 players committed with potential arrival dates as far out as Fall 2020. If you want to keep track of how the recruits and alumni are doing, the best source out there is Elite Prospects and their "Where are they now" feature which allows you to see the stats for the current season for all players who previously played for or are verbally committed to a team, including Michigan Tech. We'll do our best to keep the Recruiting Grid up to date with our projections for new arrivals as more players commit. That's all until next week when we start up our new series, "Recruiting Grounds," with our focus on The Upper Midwest Elite League.