Here’s your daily dose of knowledge to get you going in the morning, with a focus on New England hockey and connections to it.
1. What is going on in the prep space?
Sure, it’s early, but we’ve had a few notable upsets so far in prep boys hockey. First, we had powerhouse Kimball Union lose to upstart Kent at the Exeter Invitational over the weekend, which helped Kent break into the top 10 of our weekly Coaches Prep Poll. Then, heavy favorite Thayer Academy was clipped 2-1 by Phillips Andover on Wednesday. Even more surprising about the Thayer loss was that it came in their sparkling-new arena. Colin Marks (two goals) and goalie Charlie Archer were the big stars for Phillips Andover, coming up with big performances on the road. The schedule will only intensify with holiday play and tournaments, so we’ll see if this upset train keeps steaming ahead. “It’s impossible for high school kids to be perfect, and with the depth of our league, most teams can beat most teams with their best effort and a little luck,” said Loomis Chafee head coach John Zavisza. “With that reality, it’s hard to be a top team because they’re likely going to see the best effort of every team they play, whether it be another contending for the top or one that’s sub-.500. I don’t think that they’re upsets as much as they are inevitabilities.”
2. Puck struggle after Primeau’s first NHL win
Cayden Primeau, the son of former NHLer Keith Primeau and product of Northeastern University, recorded his first NHL win as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Ottawa Senators in overtime on Wednesday. Primeau, 20, made an impressive 35 saves in his second NHL start. He also faced 35 shots in his first NHL start, a 3-2 loss to the high-flying Avalanche. After the win, none other than the Senators’ Brady Tkachuk (who played a season for Boston University and is, of course, son of Keith Tkachuk of Melrose, Mass.) tried to swipe the souvenir first puck, but Carey Price was having none of it, chasing down Tkachuk as he left the ice. “Honestly, I didn’t even know it was his first-win puck,” Tkachuk said after the game, adding he played with Primeau at the U18 Worlds. Mmm-hmm.
3. Harvard getting O from D — again
The fact that Harvard is second in the ECAC shouldn’t be a surprise. And what also shouldn’t be a surprise is the fact that Reilly Walsh picked up where he left off last season and is far up the scoring ladder for the Crimson. Walsh (Andover, N.H.), a right-shooting defenseman, is currently second in team scoring, with four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 10 games. A third-round pick by the New Jersey Devils in 2017, Walsh, 20, could be headed next season to NHL camp ready to prove a thing or two. He had a breakout season last year as a sophomore, scoring 12 goals (a whopping 9 on the power play) and adding 19 assists for 31 points in 33 games. Which was pretty great (third in the ECAC, ninth in the NCAA), but actually second on the team to another defenseman: Adam Fox (Jericho, N.Y.), also a third-rounder, who was taken by the Calgary Flames in 2016 and has moved on. As now the undisputed top D-man, Walsh seems to be finding his comfort zone and will get even more power-play time, but has said he wants to improve his 5-on-5 play as well as try his luck at killing penalties. At this pace offensively, he’ll finish the season with 40 points and put himself in a better position to get a serious look by the Devils.
Paul Grant is an editor and a writer for HockeyJournal.com and Seamans Media. He previously oversaw hockey content at ESPN.com and Sporting News. You can connect with him at [email protected].