Californians dot NHL prospect camp rosters

Summer is a great time to go camping, particularly if you’re a hockey player. Several young players with ties to California made appearances NHL development camps in the past month or so.

Some, like Austin Ortega and Collin Delia, went to multiple camps. Most are NHL free agents, but a few were draft picks.

Here is the rundown by player of who went where.

Delia, coming off a sophomore at Merrimack College in which he went 8-12-6 with a 2.96 goals-against average, attended the Anaheim Ducks’ camp as well as the Chicago Blackhawks’ a few weeks later. The 6-foot-2 net minder is from Rancho Cucamonga and played for OC Hockey Club, the California Wave, Stars and Titans.

Ortega, who will be a senior at Nebraska-Omaha, led the NCAA in game-winning goals for the second season in a row, with eight (one season after bagging 11). He went to camp with the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Escondido native, a former San Diego Jr. Gull and LA Hockey Club player, has 37 and 36 points in his past two college seasons.

Goaltender Thatcher Demko, a 2014 second-round pick of the Canucks, was in camp with Vancouver after being selected a Hobey Baker finalist after his junior season at Boston College. He posted an NCAA-best 10 shutouts and won 27 games for a Frozen Four team. His gas was 1.85 and he stopped nearly 94 percent of the shots he faced.

Fellow goaltenders Merrick Madsen and Ryan Ruck also went to camps.

Madsen, a 2013 pick by Philadelphia, was again at Flyers camp, but this time the Acton native and former California Heat player went on the heels of a stellar sophomore season at Harvard. Madsen went 18-7-3 with a .931 save percentage and a 1.99 gaa to go with his four shutouts.

No goalie in NCAA hockey may have been hotter than Ruck in the second half of his freshman season, when he went 19-2-2 to help Northeastern make a run into the NCAA Tournament. Ruck, from Coto de Caza and a former net minder for OC Hockey Club and LA Hockey, attended St. Louis Blues camp.

Tyler Moy, a Harvard teammate of Madsen’s, went to Nashville’s camp. Moy had 19 points during his junior year and was a 2015 draft pick of the Predators.

Defenseman Alec McCrea, like Moy and Demko a former Jr. Gull, went to Winnipeg’s camp. McCrea had an outstanding freshman season at Cornell, leading Big Red blue liners in points with 15.

Ortega was joined at Kings camp by former LA Hockey and Medicine Hat and Portland (WHL) standout Miles Koules, who played in the ECHL this past season.

Former LA Hockey forward Dennis Kravchenko of Laguna Niguel, who put up 28 points of Massachusetts as a sophomore, went to Calgary’s camp one summer after attending the Ducks’.

Forward Robby Jackson, who had 10 goals as a freshman for St. Cloud State, went to San Jose Sharks camp near his native Oakland. Jackson played for Santa Clara, LA Hockey and the Jr. Kings growing up.

Defenseman Scott Savage, who will be a senior at Boston College and who scored a career-high 18 points this past season, attended New Jersey’s camp.

A handful of players with ties to California clubs also made appearances.

  • Forward Nolan Stevens, a one-time Jr. King, joined his college teammate Ruck in Blues camp. St. Louis selected him in June’s Entry Draft.
  • Forward Josh Wilkins, a former Jr. King, attended Hurricanes camp in his native North Carolina.
  • Goalie Evan Sarthou, a Washington native who played for LA Hockey and the LA Jr. Kings and now plays for Tri-City of the Western Hockey League, went to Arizona’s camp.
  • Power forward Adam Erne, who played two seasons with LA Hockey but is from Connecticut, was in camp with Tampa for the fourth year in a row. Erne was a second-round pick of the Lightning in 2013.

But the best prospect camp story of the summer hands-down belongs to Savage’s former LA Hockey teammate Trevor Moore. Moore not only attended Toronto’s prospect camp but played so well that the Maple Leafs signed him to an entry-level contract before his senior season at the University of Denver. Moore, an All-American in 2014-15, had 44 points to help the Pioneers reach the Frozen Four.

More California hockey college commitments

It has been a busy season for California hockey off the ice as well as on it.

More than two dozen boys with ties to California have made NCAA Division I commitments since the calendar flipped to 2012, including a handful who played Midget hockey in the state this past season. (Note: more players added later in the day, please pardon those oversights)

That group includes three forwards on Louis Pacella’s LA Jr. Kings Midget 16U team – forward Ryan Siroky (Miami of Ohio), Garrett Gamez (Denver University) and Patrick Newell (St. Cloud State). Newell will be joined at SCSU by LA Selects 16U defenseman Kyle Mitsunaga, who played for Sandy Gasseau, himself a former St. Cloud State defenseman.

Gamez, who also played for the Selects, will be joined at Denver by former Jr. King and California Titan Gabe Levin and former Select Trevor Moore at Denver. Levin, who was one of the NAHL’s leading scorers this season for Fairbanks, will head to the Rockies next season. Gamez and Moore, who was one of the youngest players in the USHL this season for Tri-City, are scheduled to arrive in 2014.

One of Moore’s Tri-City teammates,  defenseman J.D. Peterson (a former Jr. Kings and California Wave player) committed to Alaska-Fairbanks. Peterson will have lots of company from the state. Former Titans defenseman Justin Woods (also with Fairbanks of the NAHL) and goaltender John Keeney, who played for Muskegon of the USHL, also gave verbal commits to the school. Keeney played for Orange County Hockey Club, the Anaheim Jr. Ducks and the Selects.

A trio of players have decided to play at Vermont: former Jr. Kings goaltender Billy Faust, who set a BCHL record this season with a 46-save shutout for Nanaimo; former Selects forward Dennis Kravchenko, who split time between the NAHL and USHL; and former Select Jake Fallon, who played for Indiana of the USHL.

Former San Diego Jr. Gulls teammates Tyler Moy, a center, and Alec McCrea, a defenseman, will reunite at Harvard. Moy played Midget hockey in Chicago this past season, while McCrea played for Janesville of the NAHL. They will have company in the Ivy League as Brandon Kirk of La Verne and the Clark Cup champion Green Bay Gamblers is heading to Dartmouth (my apologies for not including Brandon earlier!).

Soren Jonzzon, who played for the Santa Clara Blackhawks, California Cougars and San Jose Jr. Sharks, will play at Quinnipiac and plans to study medicine. Another Jr. Shark, forward Max Vallis (Omaha/USHL) committed to Michigan Tech.

Two more former Selects forwards who spent this past season in the USHL also are moving on. Max Edson (Waterloo) will head to Air Force, while Austin Ortega (Cedar Rapids) is going to Nebraska-Omaha

Former Jr. Kings goaltender Tomas Sholl, who emerged as the No. 1 goalie in Fresno (NAHL) this season, committed to Bowling Green.

Two former California Stars, forward David Gandara and defenseman Shawn O’Rourke, also announced their plans. Gandara, who played for Chicago of the NAHL, will go to American International, while O’Rourke, who played for Fairbanks of the NAHL, is headed to Ferris State. O’Rourke’s father, Rob, is a longtime Southern California coach.

Two more BCHL products, Prince George defenseman Chase Golightly, who  played for the Jr. Kings and Wave, Vernon forward Darren Nowick, who also played the Jr. Kings, announced their intentions. Golightly committed to Robert Morris, while Nowick will suit up for Northern Michigan.