Jed Pietila /// Michigan Hockey Advancement
Cannon Green /// 8 Week Program, Detroit CoE
Matt Hutton /// Nashville Jr Predators
Ryan Dickinson /// 8 Week Program, Detroit CoE, OHL Cup
Richie Parent /// Tri-State Spartans, Indy CoE
Nick Trela /// 8 Week Program
Carson Riddle /// Detroit CoE, OHL Cup, World Selects Invite
Tiernan Shoudy /// 8 Week Program
Samuel Brennan /// 8 Week Program, World Selects Invite
Grant Hindman /// 8 Week Program
About NAHL Top Prospects
2020 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament Schedule (all times eastern)
Monday, February 17th
Tuesday, February 18th
USA hockey announced this week the U.S. Junior Select Team for 2019 World Junior A Challenge coming up December 7-15 in Dawson Creek, B.C. Of the 21 players announced, three are names we are very familiar with. Mitch Miller, Matt Knies, and Logan Stein will be a part of a very strong Team USA.
Miller currently plays for the Tri-City Storm (USHL) and is TPH Center of Excellence alumni for our Detroit location. Knies is a teammate in Tri-City and competed in the World Selects Invite with Total Package Hockey. Stein, currently with the Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL), played TPH Thunder AAA through 16U.
Introducing the 2019 U.S. Junior Select Team roster! #WJAC 🇺🇸
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) November 19, 2019
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — The Johnstown Tomahawks are proud to announce that team captain Filips Buncis has committed to play Division I hockey at Arizona State University for the 2017-18 season.
Buncis, a native of Riga, Latvia, has played 124 games with the Tomahawks in three seasons. The 6-3 forward has scored 71 career points (21 goals, 50 assists) and was named the first European captain in Johnstown hockey history in September 2016.
He represented Latvia at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Montreal and Toronto earlier this season and was named to the NAHL Selects team at the 2017 Top Prospects Tournament in Plymouth, Mich. in February.
For Buncis, the chance to play Division I hockey at a burgeoning program like Arizona State is a “new challenge.”
“I really liked the coaching staff, the campus and I saw it as a new challenge for me to help build a new Division I program,” Buncis said. “I believe Arizona State is a great fit for me. They are building a great program there.”
Buncis will be joining fellow countryman and Aston defenseman Gvido Jansons with the Sun Devils in 2017-18.
“I grew up with him and we are great friends,” Buncis said. “I will be cool to play on the same team with at ASU.”
In three short seasons, Buncis has established himself as a fan favorite in Johnstown, place where Buncis will look back on fondly.
“It has been an unbelievable three years here in Johnstown,” Buncis said. “Johnstown is a great hockey town with the best fans in the league. I am really glad I spent three years in Johnstown.”
Buncis also had high praise for the Tomahawks coaching staff.
“They have been a huge part of my development and helped me prepare for the next level,” Buncis said. “They trusted me with the captaincy this season and that has helped me grow as a player and person this season.”
Located in Tempe, Ariz., the Arizona State Sun Devils are a newcomer to NCAA Division I hockey as the program transitioned to Division I play starting in 2014-15. They currently compete as an Independent with plans to join a conference in 2017-18.
Tomahawks head coach, Mike Letizia, was proud of his captain for announcing his commitment.
“I could not be prouder of our captain Filips Buncis on committing to Arizona State,” Letizia said. “Filips has been one of the most decorated players in our team’s history with all the international competition he has represented his country in, being the first European captain in Johnstown hockey history and now becoming a Division I hockey player.”
Letizia commented additionally that Buncis is dedicated to the Tomahawks and the community.
“Since he has been with the Tomahawks, he has grown his game tremendously through his hard work and dedication to our hockey club,” Letizia said. “He has been a fantastic leader for this year’s team. Filips will be able to help build the tradition of ASU hockey, and I firmly believe the best is yet to come for this outstanding young man.”
In addition to the many accolades he has earned while a Tomahawk, Buncis will be departing for Latvia to attend the Team Latvia World Championship team camp in hopes of making the official roster for the 2017 IIHF World Championship in Cologne, Germany and Paris.
“I will be practicing with the best players in Latvia, basically my idols growing up,” Buncis said.
The tournament begins May 5 and concludes May 21.
Buncis said he plans on coming back to lead the Tomahawks into the Robertson Cup playoffs.
“I want to win it all with this team,” he said. “I know we can do it. I want to bring the cup back to Johnstown!”
Johnstown returns to the Cambria County War Memorial Arena March 17-18 for a St. Patrick’s Green Out Weekend. The team will wear specialty Irish jerseys against the Aston Rebels presented by the Holiday Inn.
TPH would like to congratulate current Lone Star Brahmas (NAHL) goaltender Erik Gordon on his call-up to the U.S. National Team Development program.
Gordon, a long time TPH standout with the TPH Thunder AAA program, is expected to start in the next two NTDP games. The Duluth, Ga., native is having an incredible season with the Brahmas, posting an 11-2 record with a .909 save percentage in 17 games. He also has a 2.23 GAA, which ranks fifth in the NAHL.
The goaltender ranks as one of the best to come through the TPH Thunder AAA program. In his U16 season with the Thunder, Gordon posted a remarkable 1.97 goals against average and .925 save percentage. The season before in bantam play, Gordon had a 1.12 GAA in 36 games. Gordon has also played in the OHL Cup with the Thunder.
Congratulations, Erik, on your achievement!
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.”
The Orlando Solar Bears, ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and AHL’s Toronto Marlies, have announced that the club has agreed to terms with rookie goaltender Jay Williams for the 2016-17 season.
Williams completed a four-year collegiate career this past season with Miami University, where he went 10-9-1 with a 2.58 goals against average, .903 save percentage and two shutouts. In 87 career games for the RedHawks, the 23-year-old posted a record of 46-29-4 with a 2.37 goals against average, .909 save percentage and nine shutouts. During the 2014-15 campaign, he helped backstop the program to a NCHC conference title. The McLean, Va., native also appeared at Washington Capitals development camp earlier this summer.
Prior to competing for Miami, Williams spent two season sin the USHL with the Waterloo Black Hawks and Sioux Falls Stampede, where he compiled a 20-23-8 record in 52 appearances, along with a 3.21 goals against average, a .894 save percentage and five shutouts. Williams was also named a selection to the 2012 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
CAN PAUL MCAVOY BECOME KENTUCKY’S FIRST NHL PLAYER?
Kentucky has been home to minor-league ice hockey teams, and the sport has a growing club presence around the Bluegrass State.
Still, it’s one of 10 states including Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming believed not to have ever produced an NHL player.
Photo: Surrey Eagles
Paul McAvoy, an incoming freshman for the Division I Colgate University hockey team in Hamilton, NY, would love to be the player to end the drought in his home state.
“I’m trying to show that my roots from Kentucky are not by accident or by chance, that Kentucky is what molded me into a hockey player,” said McAvoy, a 20-year-old Richmond, Kentucky., native. “That’s what I would want to get across to the country if I had a chance to play at a higher level than I am now.”
Though hockey has led him around North America, it was in Kentucky that he fell in love with the game.
“When I was around 5 years old we had the Kentucky Thoroughblades for like a year or two – the AHL team – and my dad took me to a game and I loved it,” McAvoy said. “It sparked my interest right away.”
So instead of a basketball, he opted for a stick and skates, carrying on his father’s love for hockey at the Lexington Ice and Recreation Center by playing for a local youth team called the Lexington Lightning.
It wasn’t long before McAvoy and his parents could see that he was talented on the ice. He played as much as he could at the rinks in Lexington and Louisville, however, limited practice time and lower-level competition prevented McAvoy from growing his game once he reached his teens.
After gaining attention from TPH Thunder AAA, an elite-level all-star team, during his last year playing for the Louisville Stallions, McAvoy left Richmond at age 13 to move to Huntsville, Alabama. It was the biggest commitment he had ever made because he had to leave behind his family and also embrace the lofty expectations of a program known for developing NCAA-caliber players. TPH Thunder boasts 51 NCAA commitments on its website.
“I missed my family a lot, that was No. 1,” McAvoy said. “It was a tough transition for me — being 13 and all. I ended up moving home halfway through the season because I was homesick, but it was a nice thing for that team to have players from all over the Southeast because I could still live (in Kentucky) and play for them.”
From there, his nomadic lifestyle would begin. Ever since, McAvoy has lived in Cleveland, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Hamden, Conn.; Surrey, British Columbia; and now Hamilton, NY. At each stop, he stayed with a host family, known as a billet family.
Photo: Colgate Men’s Hockey Twitter (@Colgate_Hockey)
“After the first year in Alabama I got used to it,” McAvoy said. “The billet families are so important in that process of easing you into your new environment, and teammates help, but every year was a struggle at first to get acclimated to a new place and a new school. … After the first couple of weeks, it’s awesome because you get to see a new city and a new place that you wouldn’t get to see normally without hockey.”
The most noteworthy stops along his journey came after his junior hockey years. Hamden and Surrey are where McAvoy played for the Connecticut Oilers in the Eastern Hockey League and the Surrey Eagles in the British Columbia Hockey League. Those two leagues are widely known as developmental leagues for some of the most talented players in North America and have produced a long list of NHL players. It was there where he began to catch the eye of college hockey coaches.
“It’s interesting because my newly hired assistant coach (Juliano Pagliero) knew of Paul from a camp that he worked in Nashville when Paul was probably around 14, but then we lost track of him,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said. “Then he resurfaced again when he was in the EHL in Connecticut. So we were once again aware of him when Pagliero joined our staff, but it wasn’t until he got to Surrey that we really zeroed in on him.”
McAvoy won the 2014-15 EHL Championship with Connecticut in his lone year with the Oilers. He followed that up with two years in Surrey, tallying 32 goals and 48 assists through 98 games. Along with his statistical contributions, he also served as the Eagles’ captain and was named the team’s 2015-16 MVP.
“He’s a leader,” Vaughan said. “He was the captain of Surrey for two years. When you see that in a player … that said a lot to me about the type of person that he is and the kind of kid we want in our program.”
There is no doubt his success at the previous levels has raised the expectations from his college coaches for his first season with the Raiders. However, nobody puts more pressure on McAvoy than himself.
“When I first noticed (McAvoy is from Kentucky) was on his recruiting visit with his father,” Vaughan said. “It is a fascinating story, and one that I wanted to hear more of. He has the drive to do it and an unbelievable support system at home based on what they had to do to keep Paul in the game. … He’s not coming from a traditional hockey area, so I’m sure every time he walked into a new organization people were looking at him funny out of the corner of their eye.”
With his NHL aspirations, McAvoy has now become one of Kentucky’s best chances to land a player at the highest level of the sport. Even if it takes him a few years after college, he won’t give up his dream until he’s content with time he’s spent around the game.
“I think hockey is one of those things where you have to play until the fun wears out,” McAvoy said. “All sports are supposed to be fun, so once the fun stops treating me well, that’s the point that I will call it, but I think that’s a long time into the future. I’m trying to have fun with every day that I have here at Colgate, and if a professional opportunity comes along it should be even more fun.”
Whether he reaches the professional level or not, McAvoy hopes children in Kentucky with interest in hockey will notice his rise in the sport and continue to pursue their dream the same way.
“It’s been a long ride, but it’s been fun,” McAvoy said. “Anybody in Kentucky that’s thinking about hockey should know that it’s a sport that not only prepares you for high-level athletics, but it’s also about life. The lessons you learn growing up, from being mature, to being on your own, to teamwork, to work ethic are incredible.”
SINARD AND GORDON COMMIT TO PLAY DIVISION I HOCKEY
Thunder Alumni Andrew Sinard commits to play at Miami University. Sinard spent time in the USHL and the NAHL following his time with the Thunder.
Thunder Alumni Erik Gordon commits to play at the College of the Holy Cross. Gordon has spent time in the USHL, NAHL, and the AJHL following his time with the Thunder.
Total Package Hockey would like to congratulate Thunder Hockey Players Nash Wood and Aidan Flynn on their advancement to the next level of hockey.
Wood, ’99, joined the Shreveport Mudbugs of the NAHL in their game against the Odessa Jackalopes. Odessa would go on to win the game 3-2. He joined the Mudbugs after recording 19 points in 36 games with the 18U Thunder this season.
Flynn, ’02, was drafted by the Erie Otters in the 13th round of the 2018 OHL Draft. The University of Alabama-Huntsville commit scored 18 points in 35 games with the 16U Thunder.
Congratulations to both players on their achievements and continued commitment to the game!