Monday, December 03, 2007

Looking ahead: two elite BU recruits

Saturday night December 1 at Ingalls Rink at Yale University featured an exhibition game between the USNDPT Under-18 team and Yale. This gave me the opportunity to see two of BU's recruits for next season, Vinny Saponari (photo) and David Warsofsky, as well as a few players who will be opponents in the next couple of years. In general, Yale, with less speed than Team USA, employed a "hit everything that moves" strategy. That was relatively effective but there wasn't much pinpoint passing and creative playmaking. Also, it seemed like this year's Under-18 squad is just a little less talented than what I have seen in the past couple of years. No Kessels or JVRs in the group but a very strong team nevertheless. Two of the most skilled players on the team are the BU recruits and here are my observations:

David Warsofsky - For the third consective year, the captain of the team is a BU-bound defenseman. First it was Brian Strait, then Kevin Shattenkirk, and this year it is David Warsofsky. Warsofsky is a strong skater who moves the puck up the ice with relative ease. Not only is he a good passer, he has an accurate shot from the point that makes him a good player on the PP. In the 2nd period, the puck came back to him at the point and he let go a quick one-timer that was saved by the Yale goalie. Not blessed with great size [he is listed as 5'11", 185, but Central Scouting says 5-8.25], Warsofsky plays very good positional hockey and is strong defensively. I came into the game thinking that Warsofsky might be just a PP specialist and while that may be his strength, it is clear that the coaches trust him in all situations.The coaches' confidence in him defensively was clear from the fact that he was used when the team was down 2 men in the 3rd period and again in the final minute while they were nursing a 1-goal lead. In both instances, Warsofsky came through and Team USA held on for 2-1 win. Warsofsky is currently 5th on team in scoring with 4-6-10 in 18 games.

Vinny Saponari - This might not have been one of Saponari's strongest games. I chalked this up to an incident early in the 2nd period where he came off the ice clutching the side of his head. I did not see what happened but this might have had an impact on his game. Still, I saw enough to see that he is a finesse-type player who is a very good playmaker. Saponari is 3rd on the team in scoring at 5-7-12 in 18 games. He skates well and played most of the night with two of Team USA's top forwards, Jordan Schroeder [Minnesota-bound] and Dan Kristo [NoDak]. All three are creative with the puck and they did have a couple of chances but were kept off the scoresheet. Saponari got time on both the PP and PK and is solid defensively. Not overly physical, Saponari appears to be slightly-built [listed as 5'11", 174.] Undoubtedly, Mike Boyle will work with him over the summer and he will be bulked up by the time he dons scarlet and white.

Thanks to Kevin McCarey's parents [McCarey is a talented UNH-bound D-man], I was able to find David Warsofsky's dad during the game [I don't think that the Saponaris were there]. Mr. Warsofsky was nice enough to speak with me for a few minutes. When he told me that he was from Marshfield, MA, I mentioned that this was the home of one of my all-time favorite Terriers, Mike Sullivan. Mr . Warsofsky advised that the families have actually been good friends for a long time [Sullivan's parents are, in fact, David's godparents]. He appreciated that our fans are already keeping an eye on his son - I wasn't the only BU watcher at the game - and said he is looking forward to next year.
The Under-18 team, which lost to UMass on Sunday, will play BU at Agganis on Sat. night 12/8.

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