Santini among locals on Central Scouting's midseason rankings
by Shawn Hutcheon/Contributor
On Tuesday, the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Bureau revealed its midseason ratings of the top draft eligible 18-year-olds on the planet. Seven players on the list play or have played in the Eastern Junior Hockey League. Four of them grew up in and went on to play for a team based in New York or New Jersey.
Jersey Hitmen forward Chad Otterman, along with Hitmen alums Brett Pesce and Connor Clifton, were named on the list.
Otterman (Harding, N.J.) is a 6-foot-2 left wing who’s been limited to five EJHL league games because of an early-season injury. He put up four points in those games, however, including a hat trick on Sept. 29 up in Portland against the Pirates. Central Scouting has not seen enough of Otterman to rank him numerically, however, they’ve seen enough of him this season to include him on the list.
"Chad is a big, strong skating player, with a wicked shot," Hitmen GM and head coach Toby Harris said. "It took him a little time to get acclimated to the EJHL coming from NJ high school hockey but once he got his feet underneath him, he was dominant at times in the early going. Speaking with our trainer, and looking over his paperwork from the team doctor, it looks like Chad should be back mid December. He will be a welcomed addition and shot in the arm that we could use going into Christmas break and into the new year."
Pesce, a Tarrytown, N.Y., native, is enjoying a strong freshman season with the University of New Hampshire. He is ranked as the 36th best skater in North America. In 20 games, the 6-foot-3 defenseman has accumulated one goal and two assists for the Wildcats.
Clifton, who hails from Matawan, N.J., joined USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program’s Under-18 team this season. In 35 United State Hockey League and international games with Team USA, he has four goals and seven assists for eleven points and is plus-10. NHL Central Scouting has him listed as the 73rd most talented player in this hemisphere.
New York Apple Core boasts another alumnus from the EJHL to be included on Central Scouting’s list.
Steve Santini, who is from Mahopac, N.Y., played for NYAC in the 2010-2011 season before departing for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. The big (6-foot-2) defenseman is known for his fluid skating and tenacious, physical style of play. He is ranked as the 47th best North American prospect.
New Jersey and New York are quickly becoming known and respected for developing some of the best hockey talent on Earth and, according to the National Hockey League’s scouts, the numbers do not lie.
Game of the Week
Normally, a Game of the Week focuses on two teams at the top of the standings meeting on the ice but this week, the contest that will provide the most excitement will see the New Jersey Titans and the Philadelphia Little Flyers face off in the City of Brotherly Love. This will be the first tilt between the two AJHL rivals with NJT holding a three point lead on PLF in the standings, both squads are sure to leave it all on the ice.
1) Jersey Hitmen (29-5-0-0-0) - The juggernaut continues to roll along. The Hitmen have won fourteen consecutive games, thirteen in the Eastern Junior Hockey League. The question is not how many games will Jersey win but can anyone defeat them at all? Jersey is in first place in the EJHL’s Southern Division and lead second place South Shore Kings by seventeen points. The Hitmen will put their undefeated streak on the line against the Connecticut Oilers this Thursday and Friday in a home and home series.
2) New York Bobcats (18-12-0-1) - After kicking off the second half of the season with a loss to the New Jersey Rockets (7-2), NYB rebounded with a series sweep over the Washington Jr. Nationals (6-5, 8-4). Although, they currently reside in sixth place in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League, they are only four points out of third place. They will try to make up that ground this week on the road in a two game set against the Philadelphia Junior Flyers.
3) Rochester Jr. Stars (14-14-03-0) - The fourth place club in the Eastern Junior Hockey League’s Northern Division. The Stars are 5-5-0 in their last ten games, including a split of a two game series versus the Boston Bandits (4-3,5-2) last week. As a result of that split, Rochester holds a one point lead in the standings over the Bandits. The schedule calls for RJS to face off against the Philadelphia Revolution for two games at home this weekend.
4) New Jersey Rockets (12-14-3-2) - The Rockets began the week with a victory over the New York Bobcats (7-2) only to follow that up with a loss to the Boston Jr. Rangers (6-3) and then tied AJHL power, Northern Cyclones (4-4). New Jersey is 5-4-1 in its last ten contests and becoming a very difficult team for opponents to play against. This week, the Walpole Express will visit the Garden State for two games on Thursday and Friday. The Connecticut Wolfpack will be in NJ on Sunday.
5) New York Apple Core (13-16-0-3-0) - Just when you think NYAC is about to go on a winning streak in the EJHL, they hit a bump in the road. New York won three consecutive tilts before Christmas then returned from the break to promptly lose three consecutive games. Last week, the Springfield Jr. Pics won a two game series over the Core (8-3, 2-1) then the Connecticut Oilers pulled off a one goal victory (4-3). This week, Apple Core will travel to Foxboro, Mass. to face off with the South Shore Kings for two matches.
6) New Jersey Titans (11-19-1-0) - Tough times have hit the Titans, losers of their last five AJHL games including last week’s losses to the Northern Cyclones (7-2) and Boston Jr. Rangers (3-2). The schedule calls for NJT to play against the Philadelphia Little Flyers in Pennsylvania on Wednesday and return home for weekend tilts versus the Walpole Express and the Connecticut Wolfpack.