Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tri-City Storm 2008-09 Preview

The Storm are coming off a disappointing season and are looking for a big time rebound. It looks like Coach Littler will have a lot of work ahead of him, though.

Key Departures:
Jordan Willert - Leader, big goal scorer.
Alex Hudson - One of the better players in the league.
Mike Cichy - Talented young forward.
Mario Lamoureux - Franchise leader in points, team leader.

Goalies (1):
Nick Hopper (1988) - UNO pushed back his scholarship, so Hopper will return to Kearney.

Goalie Evaluation:
Unless Tri-City goes out and gets a more capable goalie, I feel it could be another long year for the dedicated Storm fans. Hopper is not a terrible goalie, but I also don't believe he is a number 1 in the USHL. Perhaps if the Storm bring in some players on defense who play well in front of Hopper, he can be more successful.

Defense (4):
Chris Franks (1989) - Solid on defense, wasn't too flashy.
Greg Thocker (1990) - Young, plays on the physical side. Played quite a bit of forward last season.
Danny Heath (1990) - Lots of upside and potential, should have a solid campaign.
Brandon Martell (1988) - Injured most of the season, reportedly headed to Minnesota in 09.

Defense Evaluation:
Overall, I don't think this is a great group of defensemen. Franks is solid, as is Heath, but Thocker spent a lot of time at forward and not back on the blue line. Martell had some hype around him in high school, but it just didn't seem like he fit in well with the system Coach Littler runs. Littler is really good at bringing in quality guys on defense, so this area shouldn't be of great concern right now.

Forwards (7):
Anthony Schooley (1989) - Injury plagued, should benefit from a full year in the USHL.
Chris Hickey (1989) - Goal scorer, and has some above average speed.
Tom Craig (1989) - Appeared to be more of a grinder 3rd/4th line type.
Anthony DeCenzo (1989) - Lots of talent, could be a top Storm forward.
Troy Power (1990) - Young and raw, but started scoring more towards the end of the season.
Josh Berge (1990) - Small, but very quick and poised.
Diederick Hagemeijer (1988) - Big and physical, though nothing too fancy.

Forward Evaluation:
The Storm are set to return a few top notch forwards next season. They will rely heavily on Hickey, DeCenzo, and Berge. Even as a 90, Berge was relied on a lot last season, as he manned the point on the power play often. A year under the belt of Power should help him become a more viable option. Craig and Hagemeijer seem to play about the same style, so they could fit in nicely if they can stay physical throughout the season. Schooley is the wild card here. If he can stay healthy, the Storm will have another decent forward to work with.

Futures Evaluation:
The Storm have probably one of the best players on their futures list in David Carle. The only bad thing is, he is set to enroll at Denver this fall. Outside of him, the Storm also boast some good 91 born players in Riley Sheahan and Nick Oliver. Oliver is highly regarded in Minnesota and could be a dynamic forward if he decides to go to Kearney. Alec Rush is a very nice player on defense and would definitely be an asset for Tri-City. The pick that has always confused me is the choice of forward Jesse Brown. Brown is playing for Kingston in the OHL, so I wouldn't think the USHL would be in his plans.

Overall Evaluation: C-

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