Tuesday, March 1, 2011

First Two In

Fresh off of the Chris Van Damme news of last week, we have something even bigger and more exciting. According to college hockey recruiting guru Chris Heisenberg, Penn State's NCAA program received its first two commitments yesterday.

So who are these guys? To be completely honest, I'm still trying to piece this together myself - the news pretty much blindsided me, I didn't expect anything until after the coaching hire - but here's what I could dig up quickly.

Jake Friedman

Friedman, as noted above, plays for the South Shore Kings, based out of Foxboro, MA and in the Tier III Eastern Junior Hockey League. The 5'10", 170-pound center from West Bloomfield, MI had 61 points (26 goals, 35 assists) in 45 games this season to lead the Kings in scoring. In fact, he tied for sixth in scoring in the entire league with a guy who follows me on Twitter and is committed to Union College (not bragging...okay, I am).

Oh wait, did I mention that I found a video of Friedman roofing a championship-winning goal in an early bird tournament? Well, I did. Just don't ask me how Maroon 5 got anywhere near a hockey video.

Tim Carr

Carr also plays in the EJHL, but for the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs. This season he's split the time in net pretty evenly with Boston College commit Brian Billett (crappy players don't tend to get recruited by BC) and carries a 15-2-1 record, a 2.40 goals against average, a 0.917 save percentage, and three shutouts.

Andrew Dzurita from Lions 247 put together an outstanding piece on Carr that fills in a few details, including some interesting items not directly related to his recruitment.
“It feels great, it is something special, to be a part of something like Penn State is unbelievable,” said Carr in a phone interview on Wednesday. “Coming to a school like Penn State, with the reputation they have for athletics, and the plan they have for the Division I ice hockey team, it is going to be something special.”

Clarkson, Quinnipiac, Northeastern, Sacred Heart, Union were all schools interested in the 5-foot-10, 170-poind Carr, but when rumors of Penn State making the switch to Division-1 came true, everything changed.

“Last year I talked to Coach Balboni there, and it was before they were even considering making the jump to the Divison I level, so I was just considering them as a back-up plan, in case my other Division I offers didn’t work out.”

Carr said that while Balboni will stay on as the head of hockey operations as the team transitions from club to NCAA, he could not provide any insight on who the new coach would be. Carr also stated that Penn State doesn’t want to announce their new head coach because ‘they don’t want to disrupt the flow of Divison I hockey this year,’ and that an announcement won’t come before Frozen Four.
Interestingly enough, Friedman and Carr have gone head-to-head a couple times this season. On October 9th, Friedman's Kings rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie Carr's Jr. Monarchs 4-4. The first goal in the rally was scored by Friedman 56 seconds into the second period. Then on February 13th, the Jr. Monarchs defeated South Shore 6-3. Friedman opened the scoring on the power play in that game, and later assisted on Dean Niezgoda's goal that cut the New Hampshire lead to 3-2. So Carr's team comes away with a 1-0-1 record, Carr stopped 60 of 67 shots in the two games, but Friedman scored in both. Sounds good to me.

More evidence of it being a small world: American Junior Hockey named Friedman and Carr its EJHL offensive and defensive players of the week in the same week, back in October.

Just as a reminder to those unfamiliar with college sports recruiting: both Carr's and Friedman's commitments are of the non-binding verbal variety. I believe that they would be able to make it official in April or November (forgive my newness to college hockey recruiting) - I have to imagine that November is more likely, because who's going to sign something binding without knowing who's going to be coaching them? In the meantime, I'll keep up with the progress of these two, as well as monitor for any additional verbals.

Special thanks to Without a Peer, a fantastic RPI blog, for the heads up on this news and for the link to Heisenberg's recruiting page. I highly recommend checking out both.

UPDATE 3:34 p.m.: The news has been confirmed by the Icers' official site - and from the language used ("for the upcoming 2011-12 season"), it sounds like the pair may spend a year tearing up the ACHA. It also means that an April signing is likely/necessary.

UPDATE 5:27 p.m.: Both the Kings and the Jr. Monarchs made the EJHL playoffs. The Kings play their first-round games tonight at 6:20 p.m. and tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. against the Green Mountain Glades. Both are available on FastHockey. The Jr. Monarchs earned a first-round bye on the strength of having the second-best record in the league during the regular season. Their second round series will begin Saturday against a to-be-determined first-round winner.

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