Raise your hand if you know how college hockey recruiting works.
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?
That's what I thought. It's also why hardly anyone follows recruiting. Unlike major sports like basketball and football, where most players come straight from high school into the muck of college athletics, hockey follows a path similar to baseball. Players can verbal at any time, but hardly any come from high school, let alone straight out of schools. Players are usually drafted by junior teams like the USHL around the time they are 16. Before that, they play on midget teams.
After they verbal and turn 18, they can sign a letter of intent (LOI) like most other athletes in the NCAA have. They don't have to though either. They can also decide to go pro, usually to the Canadian leagues where if they are good enough, they hold draft offers as well. This route was shown in Michael McCarron's decision to forgo Western Michigan after becoming the first 1st-round draft pick in Bronco history last year.
Recruits can also decide to not immediately attend school after signing a LOI. If this is chosen (and it happens more often than not), the player will stay at their current team (usually the junior team) and continue to play there to develop their skills more. That same player will have to re-sign a LOI each signing period as well until they attend.
Whew. That was fun. Does your brain hurt? Because mine did when I first had this explained to me.
Anyways, anyone who follows college hockey recruiting usually goes by one man, and one man alone: Chris Heisenberg. He is the Emperor of College Hockey Recruiting and is the best source for ANY recruiting information. His database is the most comprehensive list of recruits, both verbal and signed, available on the interwebs, and even predicts probable entry years into the collegiate ranks.
Here are the list of the players from the MAC schools and where you can watch them play. A little late in the season, but usually these seasons span into April, so there is still time to watch them.
Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
Chaz Switzer - Defenseman (Miami), Max Iacopelli - Center (WMU)
We start off with our staff writer Ron Balaskovitz's own Muskegon Lumberjacks team. Switzer is a solid player on defense with Iacopelli almost strictly all offense. Seriously, to quote "Rovitz", "he just sits at the blue line waiting for the puck, and then will bury it almost immediately."
US National Development Program (U-17 & U-18)
Jack Roslovic (U-17) - Right Wing (Miami), Louis Belpedio (U-18) - Defense (Miami), Grant Gabriele (U-17) - Defense (WMU)
The neat thing about these players is that you probably could've seen them play this past season against each of our MAC schools, with the exception of Western Michigan. The USNDP has produced lots of solid players, and even produced last year's lone NCAA commit to go in the 1st round of the NHL Entry Draft in McCarron.
Kifer Sherwood - Center (Miami), Tyler Spezia - Right Wing (BGSU)
Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
Ryan Siroky - Right Wing (Miami)
Sioux Falls (USHL)
Griffen Molino - Center (WMU), Dennis Kravchenko - Center (UMass), Brandon Hawkins - Right Wing (BGSU)
Chicago Steel (USHL)
John Schilling - Center (BGSU), Chris Nell - Goalie (BGSU), Connor McDonald - Defense (BGSU)
EDIT: Ron corrected me in that the Chicago Wolves are the AHL team, anyways, still go visit both.....If you go just for the Wolves pre-game entrance, well, yeah....I don't blame you
11-29-13 AHL Ice Hockey; Chicago Wolves Intro (via Vince Ambrogio)
Seriously, how can you hate that? SKATES FOR PREZ 2016!
Fargo Force (USHL)
Butrus Ghafari - Defense (WMU)
This guy possibly has one of the best names in the game. With an extra "r" in his first name, he'd be the ultimate enforcer on defense. Too bad he's only 5-11 though.
Indiana Ice (USHL)
Aidan Muir - Left Wing (WMU)
Muir was the first overall pick in last year's USHL Draft, and for good reason. He does stuff like this...
USHL Highlight: Aidan Muir Amazing Goal (via USHLinteractive)
Muir was also on the USA U-17 team two years ago.
Luke Shiplo - Defense (WMU)
Des Moines (USHL)
Willem Nong-Lambert - Left Wing (WMU), Corey Schueneman - Defense (WMU)
Cedar Rapids (USHL)
Frederik Tiffels - Left Wing (WMU), Scott Moldenhauer - Defense (WMU)
Tiffels played on the German Junior National Team. Moldenhauer is of no relation to any fungi.
Sioux City (USHL)
Brandon Hawkins - Right Wing (BGSU)
Brandon Montour - Defense (UMass), Mark Friedman - Defense (BGSU)
Jakob Reichert - Right Wing (BGSU), Mitch McLain - Left Wing (BGSU)
Paul Stoykewych- Defense (WMU)
You can also see Paul's brother play defense for Colorado College in the NCHC.
Liam Coughlin - Center (UMass)
Brandon Egli - Defense (UMass)
Ben Blacker - Goalie (WMU)
North York (OJHL)
John Carpino - Right Wing (WMU)
Joe McKeown - Left Wing (BGSU)
Shane Bear - Defense (UMass), Kyler Nachtigall - Left Wing (UMass), Maddison Smiley - Defense (UMass), Patrick Lee - Left Wing (UMass)
Let's just go ahead and call Brooks the UMass Minor Team. Seriously, look at that roster. Smiley and Bear could be line mates at UMass as they are a left defenseman and right defenseman respectively.
New Jersey Hitmen (USPHL)
Dominic Trento - Center (UMass)
Jake McCarthy - Defense (UMass)
Carleton Place (CJHL)
Brett D'Andrea - Center (BGSU)
Shane Bednard - Right Wing (BGSU)
Wyatt Kalynuk - Defense (WMU)
Below are midget and more "youthful" division teams. These aren't considered to be Junior teams, but still have players that are verbaled to their respective schools.
Tyler Nother - Defenseman (Miami)
Ryan Larkin - Goalie (Miami), Michael Houle - Right Wing (BGSU), Nick McKeeby (U-16) - Defense (WMU)
Karch Bachman - Right Wing (Miami), Ryan Coulter - Left Wing (BGSU)
Bryan Sienerth - Center (Miami)
Cranbook High School
Alex Alger - Forward (Miami), Austin Alger - Forward (Miami)
A rare sight to see a high school player on this list, let alone two. However, the Alger twins come packaged together, with Austin making the USA U-17 National Team last year. Alex is expected to join Miami in 2015 while Austin should join a year later.
Michael Joyaux (U-18) - Defense (Miami), Hugh McGing (U-16) - Center (WMU)
Joyaux's name should ring bells to RedHawk fans, as his brother currently plays for Miami. The younger brother will probably join after his brother is gone, meaning 8 straight years of Joyaux at defense!
Detroit Compuware U-18
Gordie Green - Center (Miami)
Lake Forest Academy
Alex Debrincat - Center (UMass)
Ty Pelton Byce - Center (UMass)
New Jersey Rockets (U-19)
Troy Conzo - Right Wing (UMass)
Shattuck St. Mary's
Colt Conrad - Center (WMU)
John Leonard - Forward (UMass)
White Bear Lake
Jake Wahlin - Center (UMass)
Probably the best Minutemen recruit on the list, the kid should join UMass in 2015. He was on the US U-18 team last year, so the hype should be big for him to hopefully breath life to the program
Feel free to visit any of these team's websites and take a peek at these players. There is a lot of good hockey to be played at the lower levels still, and lots of solid players going elsewhere outside of our four teams.