Congrats to TPH Detroit Center of Excellence student-athlete Xan Gurney, who has announced his commitment to Western Michigan University!

Gurney, a second-year TPH CoE student, is currently a defenseman on Compuware U16. The Grosse Ile, Mich., native is the 13th TPH Detroit CoE student to make a commitment to an NCAA Division I school.

The 16-year-old is in his first season back with Compuware after spending two seasons with their bantam program. Last year with Little Caesars, Gurney tallied 11 points in 17 games according to He was drafted in the fourth round (No. 53 overall) by the Chicago Steel in the 2016 USHL Futures Draft.

Congrats to former TPH Thunder AAA star Nathan Krusko on scoring his first collegiate goal for Harvard!

Krusko’s goal helped Harvard take down Bentley, 5-2, on Nov. 26.

The Alpharetta, Ga., native spent four years with the TPH Thunder AAA program, tallying 88 points in 99 games. He also played for the Minnesota Magicians (NAHL) and the Omaha Lancers (USHL) before joining the Harvard hockey program.

Congrats to TPH trained star forward Alex Debrincat, who signed a three-year, entry level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 7.

The 18-year-old has skated with TPH Detroit’s 8-week program and has posted back-to-back 50-goal seasons with the OHL’s Erie Otters. The Farmington Hills native was drafted in the second round (39th overall) by the Blackhawks in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Debrincat was also a member of the 2016 U.S. World Junior Hockey Championships squad, where he won a bronze medal. Congrats to Alex!

From the Chicago Blackhawks:

“The Chicago Blackhawks announced today that they have agreed to terms with forward Alex DeBrincat (duh-BREEN-kut) on a three-year contract. He was drafted by the Blackhawks in the second round (39th overall) of the 2016 National Hockey League Draft.

DeBrincat, 18, leads the OHL with 17 goals and is second with 35 points in 14 games with the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters this season. The Farmington Hills, Mich., native is winning 59.2 percent of his faceoffs this year. He posted his second-straight 51-goal season in 2015-16, making him one of three OHL players since 1997-98 with consecutive 50-goal seasons, joining Ottawa’s Tyler Toffoli (Los Angeles Kings) in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and Sudbury’s Norman Milley in 1998-99 and 1999-2000. He won the 2015 OHL Rookie of the Year after accumulating 104 points (51G, 53A) in his first season with Erie.

In three seasons with the Otters, DeBrincat has registered 119 goals and 121 assists in 142 career games.”

Congratulations to TPH Detroit Center of Excellence student-athlete Chase Pletzke on his commitment to Bowling Green State University.

The Bay City native and Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U18 standout is the 12th TPH Detroit CoE student to commit to an NCAA Division I school since 2014.

The 5-foot-10 forward has been a point per game player with the Jr. Grizzlies this season after posting 21 points with the U16 team last year.

Congrats to Chase on his commitment!

Mitch Fossier, a TPH Thunder alum and current Maine Black Bear, is lighting it up as a freshman and the college hockey world is taking notice. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

“Mitch Fossier, a product of Duluth’s AAA Thunder hockey program, exploded onto the college scene in his debut with the University of Maine and hasn’t slowed down.

Fossier, who was coached by former Atlanta Gladiators’ captain Paul Flache while with AAA Thunder, had a hat trick in his first game with the Black Bears on Oct. 7. The next night he scored the game-winning goal to complete a sweep of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institude.

Maine took on No. 3 Quinnipiac last weekend and Fossier had the overtime winner and assisted on two other goals.

The Alpharetta native’s eight points in four games tie him for second in the nation in scoring.

Fossier has already been named Hockey East’s rookie of the week twice. Maine plays in Miami (Ohio) this weekend.”

Congrats to TPH alum and current Lone Star Brahmas goaltender Erik Gordon on earning NAHL Player of the Week honors for the week of Oct. 31. From the NAHL:

“Thanks to three wins in Odessa this past week, the Lone Star Brahmas are not only leading the South Division, but statistically, now have the best winning percentage in the NAHL. Goalie Erik Gordon, 17, was between the pipes for two out of the three wins during the weekend and allowed just one goal on 51 shots, making 50 saves. That included a 25-save shutout on Saturday night for the 5’10/160 lbs. native of Duluth, Georgia. Gordon is a perfect 7-0-0 this season with a 1.51 goals against average and a 93.8% save percentage. “Erik was there to make the key saves. We had some breakdowns defensively this weekend and he made some big saves and stood tall when they had some quality opportunities. He was our rock back there this weekend and it was one of the big reasons we picked up three road wins against a very good Odessa team,” said Lone Star head coach Dan Wildfong.”

In a special to USA Hockey, Elizabeth Boger spoke with University of North Dakota head coach Brad Berry about how NCAA hockey coaches hit the recruiting trail. The coach of the defending NCAA Division I champions offered all sorts of advice to young hockey players looking to earn a spot on a college hockey roster:

Be aware of body language

Negative body language can be an immediate turn-off, and coaches often see that as hindering that player’s development moving forward.

“Our culture is based on positivity, and playing with energy and having a team-first mentality,” Berry said. “Any time we see that body language, whether we go watch a team, or recruit, or have that kid in our program that has it, it’s immediately addressed.”

Ask questions

Coaches want to make sure incoming players will feel comfortable at their new home away from home. When talking to coaches, ask good questions about the program, players, philosophy, school and more.

Coaches also love players who ask questions about the game. It shows a desire to learn and improve and it shows you are not satisfied.

Be a team-first player

For many coaches, a powerful point shot or keen playmaking abilities mean very little if that player’s personality doesn’t live up to their skill level. It’s not just about what a recruit can take in, but what they can give as a person.

“Giving and care – those are two words we use a lot in our culture,” Berry said. “If you can give a lot, it’s going to come back to you. … I think there’s a deep belief or a deep care in our locker room that everyone has each other’s back and that we’re really team-first.”

Stay on top of your schoolwork

Be committed to your schoolwork and driven to excel in the classroom. Remember that only a very small percentage of players go on to play in the NHL. Getting a college degree will set you up for life after college – and life after hockey. But to get into college, you need to be eligible. And remember, the better your grades and test scores are in high school, the more recruiting opportunities can present themselves due to different academic standards at different schools.

How do you respond?

Coaches are very interested in how players respond to certain situations. Complaining to the officials, flailing your arms in the air after allowing a goal and over-the-top goal celebrations show that a player cannot keep their emotions in check during the game or through adversity.

You can still be an intense competitor with an even-keeled temperament. Look no further than former North Dakota standout and current Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise.

Be coachable

Coaches aren’t just excited to land good players. They look forward to mentoring them and continuing their development, on and off the ice.

“The biggest thing for me is having a role in shaping these kids’ lives to be a good person,” Berry said. “I love seeing our players go through our program and it’s a sad day when they leave our program.”

But if you’re not a coachable kid or responsive to criticism, recruiters can see that. There are a lot of really talented players out there, and for college coaches, a lot of the time their decision making comes down to character.”