Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Scoring Dynamo Garland Commits For 2015

Guy Gadowsky gained his first verbal commitment since May, and therefore his first since the announcement of Penn State's NCAA sanctions, Monday night in the form of Muskegon Lumberjacks forward Conor Garland. Garland will join Alec Marsh and Chase Berger in the entering class of 2015.

Conor Garland

Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
5'6", 146 pounds
Scituate, MA
DOB 3/11/1996


Season   Team                   Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM

2010-11  Shattuck-St. Mary's    Bntm   52   65   51  116   28
2011-12  Boston Jr. Bruins      EmJHL  40   42   52   94   53

Garland, who immediately ranks as one of PSU's biggest recruiting scores, completed a highly-successful year with the Boston Jr. Bruins organization in 2011-2012. He crushed the Empire League for 42 goals and 94 points in just 40 games as a 15-year-old, good for the third-highest scoring total in the circuit. Ordinarily, this would be the part of the post where I pick out the player's best games, but with that stat line, that's a little difficult. Instead, I'll just say this: He was held off the scoresheet four times all year. He had four points or more eight times, including a 14 point/three game stretch from January 28th through February 3rd.

Just to provide a little context for those numbers, the team was captained by Jack Eichel, another 1996, who finished immediately behind Garland in the EmJHL scoring race. Eichel committed to perennial powerhouse Boston University in the spring and will skate for the U.S. National Team Development Program U17 team this year.

The Jr. Bruins as a whole were equally stout (as you might imagine with players like Garland and Eichel leading the way), delivering a 34-4-1-1 regular season. But despite the top seed in the league playoffs and Garland's nine points in five games, the team fell just shy of the championship.

Not surprisingly on the back of that season, he's been drafted twice this year. In May, Muskegon picked Garland in the third round (40th overall) of the USHL Futures Draft, for 1996 birth year players. Last month, he was selected in the sixth round (104th overall) of the QMJHL draft by the Moncton Wildcats. Fortunately, it's the first of those two drafts that has proven more significant right now, as Garland will enter Muskegon's training camp on the team's affiliate list.

While size is not among Garland's many positive attributes, the consensus seems to be that he plays bigger than his measurements, providing more of a net-front presence than many larger players.
"Conor is a shifty, smart, heady player who can score in bunches," Lumberjacks assistant coach Steve Palmer said. "When he gets the puck around the net, it's going in."
Garland has committed heavily to developing that part of his game.
"I've always worked on [my finishing ability] since I was younger," said Garland, who skated with and against players up to five years his elder in the EmJHL. "I knew it was going to be a step up from what I was used to so I made sure I was going to be ready for it."
In the past, he's also been described as a playmaker, a hard worker, a good skater and someone who makes good decisions in all three zones. I'm struggling to figure out which aspects of playing hockey haven't been covered.

Despite his eye-popping numbers, 2011-2012 was not really a "breakout season" - Garland has been extremely highly regarded for quite some time. He attended the USA Hockey Select 15 Player Development Camp last summer and his 11 points there ranked third among all campers. Before transferring back home to Scituate High School this past year, he played in the legendary Shattuck-St. Mary's program where he led their Bantam A team in scoring in 2010-2011 with 116 points in 52 games. Still, he felt that returning to the east coast would help his visibility to colleges.

Scoring by the bucketful wherever you're playing tends to do that as well. Regardless, achievement unlocked.

By the way, one thing I automatically do while preparing these posts is search YouTube. In this case, that led to one of the more entertaining videos I've seen in a while, involving Garland and a clutch title-winning snipe. Gotta love the work invested in that setup too - note the Penn State ad on the boards.

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