Etem, McColgan, Maxwell headline California’s WHL ties in ’11-12

It’s too early to tell how the Anaheim Ducks’ offense will shape up this season, but should goals become scarce the Ducks might want to re-think sending California prospect Emerson Etem back to junior.

Etem (Long Beach) was a first-round pick in 2010 and a late camp cut this season. No one questions his speed or will to win, nor should they question his offensive ability after the tear he is on for the Medicine Hat Tigers thus far.

Etem was selected the WHL’s Player of the Week after scoring six goals and adding an assist in three games this past weekend. Through eight games, he has 13 goals, which leads the Dub by five. His 17 points (13-4) are one off the league lead.

Etem headlines a group of 17 players with California ties in the Dub this season.

The group is composed of two goalies (Kelowna’s Adam Brown, 91, and Tri-City’s Eric Comrie, 95); six defensemen and nine forwards.

By birth year, there are five 95s, two 94s, one 93, four 92s and five 91s.

Here is a team-by-team look at California’s prospects:

High-scoring left wing Tyler Maxwell (91), who attended training camp with the Minnesota Wild, returns for Everett. … Brown is joined in Kelowna by right wing Shane McColgan (93), a fifth-round pick of the New York Rangers in June’s NHL Entry Draft. McColgan has been a point-per-game player the past two seasons and performed so well at prospect camp that the Rangers invited him to their main camp. … Etem is joined by veteran defeneseman Matthew Konan (91), a previous invitee to Ducks camps, in Medicine Hat.

Portland’s roster includes left wing Tyler Parker (92), and defensemen Cody Castro (92) and William Wrenn (91), a 2009 San Jose Sharks pick who played for the LA Selects. Wrenn is the team’s captain. The Winter Hawks could have had a third California d-man, but Taylor Aronson, a 2010 third-round pick of the Nashville Predators, made Milwaukee of the AHL.

A third California native made Portland, center Chase De Leo, who like Comrie is part of a strong group of 95s from the state. That group also includes Tri-City center Brian Williams, Victoria left wing Taylor Crunk and Prince George defenseman Michael Mylchreest.

The 94s, who are eligible for next June’s entry draft, are Kamloops right wing Chase Souto and Spokane center Liam Stewart.

Other 92s in the Dub include a pair of defensemen, Tyler Vanscourt with Prince Albert and Brandon Underwood with Regina.

Next: A look at California’s NCAA Division I players

Book update and a few bits on 2011 California draft prospects

One question I’m asked from time to time about the hockey book is did you talk to (fill in the blank)?

Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes it’s I plan to. And other times it’s no.

As I’ve worked on the history of the state’s pro teams (Kings, Seals, Sharks and Ducks) and the beginnings of youth hockey, there have been people I’ve tried to contact who for whatever reason would not respond or when when reached declined to comment. Given that the book encompasses the history of the game in California and the whole idea is to promote what’s been done, what’s being done and what possibly could be done, it can be frustrating.

However, there have been more than 350 people associated with the game at all levels who have talked with me — many at length and many multiple times. So my approach has been to focus on what I’ve discovered and press on in those other areas. Regardless, this will be an exhaustive and informative work.

Nice story on today about Shane McColgan of Manhattan Beach. McColgan, who played for LA Hockey Club and the LA Jr. Kings, is one of three very highly ranked 21011 draft prospects from California. He was runner-up in voting for the WHL’s Rookie of the Year a season ago and one of the Kelowna Rockets’ leading scorers. It’s likely he will hear his name called during Round 1 of the NHL entry draft in June.

And he could be joined by fellow forwards Matt Nieto of Long Beach and Rocco Grimaldi of Rossmoor. Nieto, also a former LA Hockey player, is playing his freshman season at Boston University after two years in the U.S. National Team Development Program. Grimaldi, who committed to North Dakota over the summer, is playing his second season in the USNTDP program. He played for the California Wave until his family relocated to Detroit when he was 12. He helped Detroit Little Caesars win multiple USA Hockey Youth National Championships during that four-year period.


California hockey alumni updates

This week’s Alumni Report is posted at

Among the highlights:
Manhattan Beach’s Shane McColgan scores the winning goal in his second WHL game for Kelowna. Not bad for a player who is not yet old enough to drive.

West Hills’ Matt Ford continues to score at way better than a point-per-game clip for Charlotte in the ECHL.

Anaheim’s Brett Mohler had a five points in two BCHL games for Alberni Valley.

And Palos Verdes’ Richard Park had four points (two and two) in a two-game stretch for the New York Islanders.

California hockey musings

As some of you might know, I have devoted a significant amount of time to covering various angles of hockey in California as web editor for and through contributing articles to its sister publication, California Rubber magazine.

It’s been a rewarding experience in many ways, and it has complemented my work on Palm Trees and Frozen Ponds quite well.

A few things to watch for on the local hockey scene:

First, while LA Jr. Kings forward Shane McColgan will be making his WHL debut this week with the Kelowna Rockets, he might not be the only Midget player from the state heading to the Great White North this winter. LA Selects 16U goaltender Brendan Jensen could also get a game with Vancouver of the WHL. For more on that, click here. And another of the state’s AAA teams, the San Jose Jr. Sharks 18U squad, lost its top scorer – Gage Emerson – to Motor City of the NAHL recently.

I hope the McColgan family has a good travel agent. He went from LA to Pittsburgh for a Midwest Elite League showcase event and then on to Kelowna, British Columbia, where he will travel with the Rockets for two games this week before returning to LA. I’ll have more on his debut in January’s California Rubber magazine.

A couple of other big events worth mentioning – the Jr. Kings are hosting a MWEHL Showcase on Dec. 27-29 at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, and all five powerhouse Detroit midget programs are playing in it. If you’re in the area, this is an excellent way to see some very good hockey and some of the stars of tomorrow.

And if you’re curious about what’s around the corner in elite hockey, be sure to head down to Glacial Garden in Lakewood over President’s Day Weekend for the 95s tournament that the LA Selects are hosting. Top teams from all over North America are heading west for that. And congratulations to Sandy Gasseau, Rick Kelly and Bill Comrie and the boys for winning their division at the Silver Stick tournament in Whitby, Ontario, recently. That is a huge accomplishment, but we should be getting used to that by now from the Selects. The 95 team formed the backbone of last season’s Pee Wee AAA national champions.

Keep your head up and your stick on the ice.