California prospect update: Cole Guttman

What NHL fan wouldn’t want to watch the annual Entry Draft in late June?

That was the position California’s Cole Guttman found himself in on June 24, but there was a catch. The Northridge native said he had an idea that there was a chance his name might appear on the draft ticker at some point.

Cole Guttman 2017Sure enough, the intuition of the former LA Selects and LA Jr. Kings center was correct. The Tampa Bay Lightning called his name in the sixth round, 180th overall, despite his absence on some of the major scouting lists entering the draft.

Guttman’s rookie season for Dubuque in the United States Hockey League is tough to overlook. He scored 54 points, equal parts goals and assists, in 53 regular-season games, and he tacked on four more points in six playoff games. And his two-way game is respectable as he checked in with a plus-21. One rival coach told as I was researching California Rubber Magazine‘s all-California Junior Team that Guttman had a mature game.

He also has a mature approach, something his teammates and coaches in Dubuque (and earlier in L.A.) acknowledged when they voted him to wear a letter during his rookie season. Next season he will be the Fighting Saints’ captain under recently hired coach Oliver David, another Golden Stater.

Guttman’s excitement at being selected in the Entry Draft was heightened by seeing good friends from his youth hockey days, Jake McGrew (sixth round, San Jose) and Vanya Lodnia (third round, Minnesota) getting picked on the same day. In all, five members of California’s 2009 Brick team, those three plus Jason Robertson (second round, Dallas) and Sasha Chmelevski (sixth round, San Jose) were picked. And a sixth – Minnesota recruit Brannon McManus, whose Chicago Steel team won the USHL’s Clark Cup – very well could have been.

In addition, Guttman, McGrew, Lodnia and McManus helped the Selects win the elite division of the Quebec International Pee Wee Tournament in 2012, along with Boston College commit Cayla Barnes, John St. Ivany, Cooper Haar and others.

Guttman, who has committed to play at St. Cloud State beginning in fall 2018, took time recently to speak with me about being selected in the draft, what his first pro prospect camp was like and his California ties.


Pacific Districts leftovers – LA Selects edition

The LA Selects sent three of their AAA teams to the Pacific District regionals this past weekend, and while the Pee Wees and Bantams advanced to the USA Hockey Nationals, I wanted to start with the 16U team.

Coach Sandy Gasseau‘s squad lost a heart-breaking semifinal to the Alaska Wolves, 4-3, in quadruple overtime in a game that ranks with the most exciting I’ve watched at this level during the past four seasons. The Selects had several chances to win it, particularly early in multiple overtimes, and ultimately outshot Alaska, 46-34, in the semifinal.

The Selects, who got second-period goals from Ethan Somoza, Stefan Malmlund and defenseman Kyle Mitsunaga (who led the team with three goals and four points for the tournament), qualified for districts as the CAHA State champion. After two round-robin victories, they lost to the rival LA Jr. Kings, 3-0, to set up the semifinal against Alaska.

At State I had a chance to ask Gasseau about his team, and he told me the season had been an unpredictable journey. He had several players playing AAA hockey for the first time and wasn’t sure how they would adapt. He saw improvement throughout the campaign, despite the loss of captain Ryan Schlerf for more than half of the season due to a severe concussion.

The Selects’ 16s deserve a lot of credit for what they accomplished and the heart they showed.


After the Selects’ Pee Wee 99s won the Elite Division of the Quebec International tournament, adding a district title would be no sweat, right? Not exactly.

The Jr. Kings led the Selects, 4-3, with 2 minutes to play only to see Brannon McManus tie and Vanya Lodnia, who was the MVP of the Quebec tournament, win it on a power-play goal just 11 seconds into overtime.

The Jr. Kings had taken a 4-3 lead with 4 minutes to play in regulation on Justin Ferrall’s second goal

“They’ve come through all year. This is a pretty resilient group,” Selects coach Shawn Pitcher said. “Never at any time did I feel they were in panic mode. They just kept plugging away.”

The Jr. Kings jumped to a 2-0 lead on goals by Casey Rhodes and Ferrall before the Selects rallied to go up 3-2 on strikes by McManus, Lodnia and Jake McGrew. The Jr. Kings tied it going into the third period on Nick Castro’s power-play goal.

“We knew (the Jr. Kings) were going to be hungry; it’s our rival,” Pitcher said. “Give the Kings credit, they didn’t give up.”

Meanwhile, the Selects’ Bantam 97s topped the Jr. Kings, 6-0, in the final to cap a weekend in which they outscored their foes, 35-4, and earned their first Nationals trip.

Robby Jackson led the tournament in points, while linemate Ty Comrie topped it in goals.

“Jackson was spectacular,” Selects coach Rick Kelly said of the center, who has nearly 200 points this season and is considered the top U.S. prospect on the West Coast among 97s. “I don’t think there is a player out there who wouldn’t have good chemistry with Robby. He is that good.”

Goaltender Evan Sarthou allowed just one goal all weekend.

“He was the MVP,” said Kelly, who has led numerous teams to Nationals. “It’s hard to spot the goalie when you win by wide margins, but he was just phenomenal. We started slow in our first game and he made one big save after another. He was the game-saver.”