Proud to say I will be extending my stay in Ann Arbor, I have committed to play my college hockey at the University of Michigan. #GoBlue
— Nicholas Boka (@nboka10) May 25, 2013
One time Michigan State commit Nicholas Boka has decided he’d rather stay in Ann Arbor after announcing on Twitter yesterday he will become a Wolverine.
The 1997-born blue liner was one of the first players to commit to the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-17 Team next season. He joins two other highly-touted players who have already committed to Michigan for 2015 in future NTDP teammate Brendan Warren (who was also his teammate on Compuware this past season) and Kyle Connor (Youngstown/USHL). Goalie Hayden Lavigne could also be in his class depending how the goaltending situation shapes up.
Boka had five goals and 13 assists with the Compuware U16 team this past season and he led the team with 70 penalty minutes.
USHR had a write up on the Bauer World Invitational last November that included comments on Boka:
Nick Boka, D, ’97 (Compuware U16) — Michigan State recruit is developing into a big, two-way defender who plays with an edge. Has good feet for a big kid and seemed more confident with the puck on his stick this weekend than at the Select Festival over the summer. Will likely be in the conversation when it comes to piecing together the NTDP.
And at the USA Hockey Select 15 camp last summer, USHR wrote:
30T. Nicholas Boka (#2 Red, 0-0-0) 6-0/175 — We saw the Compuware defenseman playing forward at the Bauer tourney in the fall and really felt he was a physical presence in that position, hammering defenseman on the forecheck. He Kept things simple here. Good feet.
While at the same event Russ Bitely of the Examiner rated Boka a “B-player” and said:
A good-sized kid who is probably still growing and he has a lot of upside to his game. He is not a flashy offensive-defenseman although he moves the puck well and isn’t afraid to skate it up either. He is quite mobile and plays aggressive. Boka showed some physical play at the back-end and plays sound position as well as controlling gaps. He looks to have pretty heavy shot from the point too.
The Sarnia Sting (OHL) selected Nick in the 6th round of the Ontario Hockey League Priority Draft the other month. OHL Michigan scout Kevin Hess gave a brief scouting report on Boka to MiHockeyNow:
“Good skating defender that plays on the edge. He is a punishing defender that finishes a high percentage of his checks. Great offensive instincts with a heavy shot from the point.”
So all the scouting reports on Nick seem similar in that we’re getting a good skating defenseman with a physical edge with potential offensive upside, too.
Best schedule ever?
MGoBlue.com released the full 2013-14 hockey schedule and as I previously posted, Michigan fills out their non-conference schedule with Boston College, Boston University, UMass-Lowell, Ferris State, and Niagara. This is in addition to the already announced games against New Hampshire, RIT, Nebraska-Omaha, Michigan Tech, and the outdoor Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park.
Michigan opens the season with an exhibition game against Waterloo, then the regular season begins when Boston College travels to Yost for a one-off. Boston U. and UMass-Lowell will each play a game at Yost October 25-26. The Wolverines will host Niagara for a single game on November 22, the U.S. NTDP U18 Team on December 5, and close out the first half of the season with a Wednesday night game against Ferris State.
Check out the full schedule here.
Very excited to say I am committed to play my college hockey at the University of Michigan in 2014!!
— Cutler Martin (@Cutler88Martin) May 13, 2013
Tri-City Storm (USHL) defenseman Cutler Martin tweeted this afternoon that he’s committed to Michigan for 2014. The 5-foot-11, 200 pound native of East Lansing is a ’94 birth year and will be 20 years old when he hits campus.
In his first full season with the Storm, Martin had four goals, 12 assists, a -2 rating, and 74 penalty minutes in 59 games. The prior year he only saw action in six games with Tri-City as he was primarily playing with the Victory Honda U18 major midget team.
The Storm’s website has a short bio on Martin. Lets see some of the things he lists…
HOBBIES & INTERESTS: Golfing, Tennis, Fishing, Hunting
Do hockey players really need to list golfing and fishing as hobbies? Isn’t that a given?
BEST ATHLETE YOU’VE PLAYED WITH/AGAINST: Jacob Trouba
Too bad he won’t get to play with him in Ann Arbor.
FAVORITE MOVIE: Miracle
But according to the Storm Sounds: Movie Edition feature they did with Martin a few months ago, his favorite movie is the last Harry Potter movie. I’m so confused now.
There really isn’t much more turning up from my Googlestalk. Oh, wait…there is this…
(To his credit, this was photographed while he was helping set up a new bed for a family in need, though we might need to Photoshop that hat for all future updates)
Slipping through the cracks of my Twitter feed being flooded with USHL Draft updates last night was the news that ’96-born goalie Hayden Lavigne verbally committed to Michigan. According to reports he will either be a 2014 or 2015 recruit. And with his commitment, I get the feeling Jared Rutledge won’t be returning to Michigan after his season in the USHL.
The 17-year-old native of Brampton, Ontario played for the Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League this past season. He started 18 of the 20 games he played and posted a 9-7-1 record with a 2.48 goals against average, a .922 save percentage, and four shutouts. He was named OJHL Second Team All-Prospect. His OHL rights are owned by the Belleville Bulls.
Lavigne was drafted in the 3rd round (32nd overall) by the Tri-City Storm of the USHL last night. He is expected to compete for the starting job should he go the USHL route. If not, he’s expected to be the starting goalie for Wellington.
Hayden is said to bring size and athleticism to the net. According to the Wellington Dukes he stands 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, though the USHL Draft website lists him at 6-foot-2, 174 pounds.
Jonathan Kyriacou, a scout with the Dukes, tells me via Twitter that Lavigne has “very good size at 6’3 190, sound in his crease, strong lateral movement, sees the ice well; butterfly style. positioning & consistency continued to improve over the year, which is very positive. Expected as our starter next year.”
Though he was just drafted last night, I asked Kyriacou about whether he thought Hayden would be back or go to the USHL as a result and he said, “We do expect him back in Wellington and expect him to start for us in Game 1 this upcoming season.”
Dave Wells, director of Performance Goaltending goalie training school, wrote the following testimonial of Lavigne after watching him several times with the Toronto Nationals of the Greater Toronto Hockey League (prior to joining Wellington) along with a highlight reel:
“At 6′ 3″ tall Hayden is a big goalie who is both athletic and technical. He separates himself from other goalies his age using strong positioning, consistently challenging and making saves outside the blue paint – all too rare for goalies these days. For a big goalie Hayden reads, reacts and anticipates well. He is patient, often making saves on his feet when he reads a high shot. He shuts down the low middle ice well and in my opinion was consistently one of the best ’96 goalies in the GTHL this season. This was confirmed when his peers chose him to play in the Top Prospects All Star Game.”
The Big Ten released the 2013-14 conference schedule today. I’ve updated the Schedule page to reflect that, plus added other known opponents and dates.
Michigan also reportedly has non-conference games against Boston College, Boston University, UMass-Lowell, Ferris State and Niagara. Probably an exhibition game against a Canadian university and the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 Team, too.
My guess is the NTDP exhibition will be the January 3 weekend, as has been the case the past few seasons, as U-M could potentially lose multiple players to the World Junior Championship and having an exhibition that weekend won’t affect them.
As you can see, it’s a pretty solid schedule. The non-conference schedule is loaded with several top Hockey East teams, and the Big Ten games should be exciting. If this is the type of schedule we can expect every season…yes, please! Sure beats the hell out of the lackluster non-conference schedules we’ve had lately.