September 25, 2012

Juniors Journal: Tringale, Fitzgerald talk draft buzz

By Shawn Hutcheon

When a hockey player turns 18, he realizes the one thing he has dreamed of all his life could now become a reality. It is finally his draft year and he will now be eligible to be selected by an NHL team. 

Former Lawrence Academy standout Devin Tringale is fifth in the league in scoring early on for the Valley Jr. Warriors. (Dave Arnold Photography)

For 211 players each June, that dream will come true. They will be at the draft, hear their names called by an NHL general manager, walk up to that GM, shake his hand and put on the jerseys and hats of the teams that selected them.

Most players have a good feel for whether or not they’ll be drafted, and oftentimes can gauge when they might hear their names called, as each season the NHL’s Central Scouting Service issues its list of players who are deemed worthy of consideration.

Last week, Central Scouting came out with the 2012 Preliminary Rankings. They have listed six players from the Eastern Junior Hockey League.

Ryan Fitzgerald (North Reading, Mass.) and Devin Tringale (Medford, Mass.) of the Valley Jr. Warriors, Joshua Couturier (Newbury, Mass.) of the Boston Jr. Bruins, Dakota Ford of the Islanders Hockey Club, Michael Laffin of New York Apple Core and Brett Pesce of the Jersey Hitmen are the 18-year-olds who will be under the microscope of all 30 NHL teams this season.

While some players had heard comments going into the season that they may have an opportunity to be drafted, others were surprised that they were receiving such attention from NHL scouts.

“I really didn’t have any clue,” Couturier said. “My agent, Pete Fish, told me to work hard and see what happens but it was a complete surprise and I’m very happy to see that happen.”

Tringale, who is in his second season of draft eligibility, was hoping to garner the scouts’ attention. To say he was happy to see his name on the list would be an understatement.

“I was pretty excited to see that,” Tringale said. “I’ll just keep working (hard) to improve my ranking.”

Fitzgerald sees the list as incentive to continue to improve his game throughout the season as well.

“It’s definitely a good feeling and it’s a good starting point,” Fitzgerald, who leads the EJHL in scoring, said.

The players know the dream has not been realized just yet. There is a lot of hockey to left to played between now and when the junior season ends in March. The collective effort of these players needs to become more intense as they are now competing with the others who are not only listed from the EJHL but from junior, prep and college rosters throughout North America and around the world.

Fitzgerald, whose father Tom has a Stanley Cup ring, has seen firsthand how difficult the road to the NHL can be. He best described how a player should use Central Scouting’s list as motivation.    

“You really dictate where you are at the end (of the season) with how you play,” Fitzgerald said, “but as I said, it’s a good starting point, definitely.”

Game of the Week

With 15 Eastern Junior Hockey League games on tap this week, one may think that it would be difficult to choose just a single one. Therefore, I will pick two games of the week. Thankfully, the hockey gods scheduled an early season, two-game series between the teams that occupy first place in their divisions, which will provide fans with plenty of excitement. South Division-leading New York Apple Core (2-1-0) will travel to Haverhill, Mass. to take on the undefeated Valley Jr. Warriors (4-0-0).

Apple Core goaltender Sal Magliocco has been one of the top puck-stoppers in the league and will bring a 1.76 goals-against average and .900 save percentage into the series. He will pose a tough challenge for the Jr. Warrior’s Fitzgerald, whose six points, lead the league. Fitzgerald leads a potent lineup that includes linemates Devin Tringale (fifth in league scoring) and Charlestown, Mass., native Brendan Collier (15th in league scoring). The clubs will face off Saturday at 8:35 p.m. then return to the ice on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. 

Power Rankings

To read Shawn Hutcheon’s analysis of each team in the top 15, head over to our junior power rankings page.

1) Valley Jr. Warrios (4-0-0)
2) Boston Jr. Bruins (3-0-0)
3) Islanders Hockey Club (2-0-0)
4) New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (2-1-0)
5) Northern Cyclones (3-0-0)

6) South Shore Kings (2-2-0)
7) Walpole Express (2-1-0)
8) Bay State Breakers (2-2-0)
9) Boston Jr. Rangers (2-0-1)
10) Springfield Jr. Pics (1-2-0)

11) Connecticut Wolfpack (2-0-0-1)
12) Boston Bandits (1-3-0)
13) Connecticut Oilers (0-2-0-1) 
14) Laconia Leafs (1-2-0)
15) Portland Jr. Pirated (0-3-0)

Shawn Hutcheon can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.