There were two high profile International tournaments in November and a number of US-born prospects have used their experience gained in those gold medal-winning efforts to add a boost to their games as they return to their respective leagues.
Taylor Cammarata was a part of the Team USA’s entry into the World Junior A Challenge, scoring a goal and four points. The University of Minnesota recruit parlayed that time in Nova Scotia into a blistering four goal, 14-point month with his Waterloo Blackhawks – doing so in just five games.
The diminutive winger, who is heading to the University of Minnesota next season, was rewarded with his efforts by being named Ferda Hockey Future Forward of the Month.
For Thomas Ebbing, the Gold medal he won alongside Cammarata is another achievement for the Michigan product. After winning a State Championship for Brother Rice in his home state last year, Ebbing’s made a seamless transition to the USHL playing in Chicago.
The five-foot-11, 170-pound winger is a complete 200-foot player; one whom head coach Scott McConnell can put out with any line combination and at any time of the game because he is that reliable a player. Ebbing is the type of player you win Championships with, and NHL teams are taking notice of this.
Blake Heinrich of Sioux City – another member of that World Junior A Challenge squad – and his Sioux City teammate Jake Guentzel both left Minnesota High School hockey after nearly winning a State Championship last season, and haven’t suffered any of the growing pains that many players go through when they make that jump.
Guentzel, the son of University of Minnesota Assistant Coach Mike Guentzel, has used his high-end hockey sense to become one of the Musketeers’ leading scorers and go-to players. Although a bit on the small side at five-foot-nine, there is some precedent for growth as both of his older brothers went through late growth spurts.
Heinrich may just emerge as one of the players who surprises many with how high he is selected. A fiercely competitive player, Heinrich excels in a physical shutdown role, and has a penchant for clobbering puck carriers with bonecrushing hits. A highly efficient puck mover, he also has deceptive puck skills that he’ll occasionally flash to contribute offensively.
Connor Hurley, 21st in Future Considerations November ranking, has been everywhere so far this Fall.
He started in the Upper Midwest Elite League, then joined the USNTDP for some NCAA Exhibitions. After a highly successful weekend with Muskegon, who took him third overall in this year’s USHL Draft, where he registered three assists, he was invited to join the USNTDP for the Four Nations Tournament, and the subsequent Gold medal run.
Lauded for how he carried himself on and off the ice by all of the coaches he’s played for so far, Hurley has simply been dominant once his High School season at Edina commenced – eight goals (three of which are game winners) and 15 points in six games. A recent Notre Dame commit, he plans on heading to Muskegon once his High School season ends.
As these players have gained momentum heading toward the mid-term, Future Considerations will be there to keep an eye on those able who start to lose it, sustain it, and those who begin to build a head of steam as the season winds down.