I warned you on Friday. There was going to be some serious talent on display at the Minnesota College Hockey Showcase.
With some 10,000 folks in attendance Saturday, the Minnesota Gophers and their gaggles of young talent put on quite a show. They were led by freshman Jordan Schroeder (draft eligible in 2009), who has been dazzling folks inside the home of the Minnesota Wild since he was an eighth-grader at St. Thomas Academy (Mendota Heights). He helped the Cadets win a state title in 2006, during his freshman year of high school.
Schroeder played two years with the National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is one of the youngest players in all of college hockey. Despite his youth and relative lack of size, he's gotten plenty of attention from pro scouts.
Saturday, he showed everyone why.
Schroeder, known for his quick feet, quick mind, soft hands, and huge heart, is off to a flying start for the Gophers. He assisted on all three Minnesota goals in a 3-3 tie against Minnesota State Friday in Minneapolis. Then he scored two of Minnesota's five power-play goals in the Gophers' 6-3 win Saturday in St. Paul. He wowed an announced crowd of over 10,000 Saturday with his two-way skill.
In fact, he's already shown enough as a defensive player that coach Don Lucia isn't shy about using Schroeder on the penalty kill. Schroeder shows good smarts on both ends of the ice. It's fun to watch him skate without the puck, because you can tell he really understands what's going on around him. If your NHL team stinks, keep an eye on Schroeder. He should be picked in the first half of the first round next summer.
Schroeder wasn't the only player to put on an impressive performance Saturday in St. Paul. Here is a partial list of the players who caught my eye during the doubleheader.
- Minnesota defenseman David Fischer (NHL rights: Montreal) scored a power-play goal and tacked on an assist against MSU. Fischer is a big kid (six-three and around 200 pounds) who flashes a big shot and is strong with the puck. I hate making NHL comparisons, but if he continues to develop and puts on a bit more muscle, he could be a Pronger-type player, minus the suspensions (we hope).
- Fischer's defensive partner, Cade Fairchild (St. Louis), assisted on four goals Saturday and also scored once during Friday's game. Nothing like a five-point weekend from a blossoming offensive defenseman.
- Diminutive freshman forwards Mike Louwerse (undrafted) of Minnesota State and Mike Connolly (undrafted) of Minnesota-Duluth were very active. Louwerse scored twice and had a couple chances at a third for the Mavericks. Connolly scored a goal and assisted on another during the Bulldogs' 5-1 win over St. Cloud State in the early game.
- UMD goaltender Alex Stalock (San Jose) stopped 30 of 31 shots to earn the win in that first game.
Two Michigan sophomores had nice weekends in a weekend sweep of Ohio State in Ann Arbor (see, at least Michigan can beat Ohio State in something). Aaron Palushaj (St. Louis) had two goals and two assists on the weekend, and Louie Caporusso (Ottawa) added three goals and three assists.
Boston University's Colin Wilson (Nashville) scored twice, and senior Chris Higgins (undrafted) added a goal and three assists, as BU romped over Vermont 7-2 Saturday.
Wisconsin got in the win column for the first time Saturday. The Badgers scored five goals in the third period to beat host North Dakota 5-2. Forward Blake Geoffrion (Nashville) scored twice, and defenseman Jamie McBain (Carolina) chipped in a couple of assists.
Colorado College goaltender Richard Bachman (Dallas) stopped 84 of 88 shots as the Tigers tied Denver Friday and beat them Saturday. Bachman is from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and wasn't recruited by Denver. He seems to enjoy taking it to them.
"Tough Guy of the Week" honors definitely go to Minnesota State goaltender Mike Zacharias (undrafted), who suffered a freak cut to his forehead during the Friday game at Minnesota. Not only did he stay in the game after getting wrapped up like a mummy (on Halloween of all days), but he also started Saturday's game.