As we move into the New Year, most junior hockey leagues around the world are headed towards the midpoints of their seasons. This means that we now have a decent sample size with which we can analyze how recruits have been playing and what kind of progress they have made. In this article, we’ll take a look at the direction current Michigan Tech hockey recruits have been trending. There have been a lot of ups and downs from this crop of players, so let’s get started.
Matthew Van Blaricom, F, Humboldt (SJHL)
The Saskatchewan league isn’t the strongest junior A league in Canada, but that doesn’t make what Van Blaricom is doing any less impressive. At the time of this article’s writing, Van Blaricom has amassed a whopping 37 points in just 24 games. For reference, no other U18 player in the SJHL is even over a point per game at this point. On top of his incredible production, Van Blaricom was recently named as a player to watch on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary list for the 2024 NHL draft. Van Blaricom was given a W grade, which indicates that he may garner consideration for a late round selection, but for a program that doesn’t recruit many NHL draft picks, this is still incredibly encouraging to see. Van Blaricom recently starred at the World Junior A Championship for Canada West, where he led the team in goals en route to a gold medal. To simply make that team as a 17 year old from the SJHL is rare enough, let alone leading it in goal scoring. The Huskies may have a good one here.
Rylan Brown, D, Okotoks (AJHL)
Brown has made major leaps in his game over the past year or so, and it seems that he has really figured out how to fully utilize his offensive skill set. Brown has been hovering around a point per game pace for Okotoks this season and has been QBing their top powerplay unit. Brown joined Van Blaircom in winning gold for Canada West, and while he was a bit more up and down than his fellow Michigan Tech commit he still played a fairly significant role, especially on the powerplay.
Reid Daavettila, W, Fargo (USHL)
Daavettila’s production had cooled since a red hot start to the season, but his scoring pace has picked up again as the season has progressed (18 points in 31 games). Daavettila has been a key depth piece for a very good Fargo team, where he has featured heavily on the penalty kill and anchored a very strong 4th line prior to a promotion up the lineup. Daavettila is now listed at 6’2”, 192 lbs and will bring some much needed size and jam to Michigan Tech’s forward group when he arrives on campus. Daavettila’s start to this season marks a huge improvement over last year, where he struggled to produce in the NAHL.
Tyler Miller, D, Waterloo (USHL)
Miller’s transition to the USHL this season has been seamless. He’s stepped into a big role as Waterloo’s top defenseman and is heavily relied upon in all situations. For a defenseman whose calling card is his play in his own zone, Miller’s production has been solid. He’s garnered 15 points in 29 games at the time of this article’s writing. Miller’s production may slow as the season progresses given Waterloo’s recent acquisition of Denver commit Will Felicio (who figures to eat into Miller’s powerplay time), but he is still trending very nicely as a potential top 4 defenseman at the collegiate level.
Maks Percic, D, Merritt (BCHL)
Percic made a seamless transition to North America with the Vernon Vipers before a midseason trade sent him to Merritt. Percic has been a rock defensively so far this season and will look to continue that moving forward in a new environment. Peric has begun to look more and more like a potential impact player at the collegiate level and should eventually anchor a shutdown pairing for the Huskies.
Ryder Matter, C, Spruce Grove (AJHL)
Skogen Schrott, W, Prince George (BCHL)
Charles Tardif, C, Maine (NAHL)
All of the players listed above have had solid starts to their junior seasons. Matter’s production is a bit underwhelming, but he plays for a Spruce Grove team that has struggled to score and has maintained his strong two way play. Schrott has had some ups and downs as he transitions from AAA to junior hockey, but he’s been fairly productive all things considered. Tardif is one of the leading scorers in the NAHL, but that’s almost to be expected as an overage player committed to a program the size of Michigan Tech. At this point in time, it’s not abundantly clear that Tardif is still committed to Michigan Tech, but he’s still present on Chris Heisenberg’s master recruiting list.
Logan Morrell, W, Langley (BCHL)
Morrell’s size and grit mean that he may be able to carve out a role at the D1 level, but his production this season has been underwhelming. Prior to a recent trade to the Langley Rivermen, Morrell had just 9 points in 24 games as an overage player for Coquitlam. Michigan Tech will hope that the move to Langley will help to spark more offense from Morrell before he heads to campus next fall.
Ethan Dekay, F, Wisconsin (NAHL)
Dekay was a player that the Michigan Tech coaching staff likely had high hopes for given his AAA production, but the offensive skills have just not transferred to junior hockey. Dekay had just 3 points in 19 games with Cowichan Valley in the BCHL this season, though he has 4 points in his first 4 games with the Wisconsin Windigo. With only one season of junior eligibility remaining beyond this year he has a lot of work to do to prove he belongs at the D1 level.
Quinn Disher, W, Wisconsin (NAHL)
Disher’s wild ride from last season has continued with a tumultuous start this season. He had just two points in 10 games with Prince George of the BCHL prior to a move to Wisconsin of the NAHL. Disher became the third Michigan Tech commit to leave the BCHL and join Wisconsin, which prompts speculation that the Huskies coaching staff likely has something to do with these moves given the proximity to Houghton and the fact that the Windigo are coached by former Husky Blake Hietila. Disher is an overager and has no junior eligibility remaining beyond this season, so the Huskies may have a decision to make regarding his future.
In my last article I mentioned that highly promising forward prospect Brandon Hilton was not playing anywhere to start the season and that still appears to be the case. It may be safe to assume that Hilton is out of hockey at this point, which would be a major loss for the Huskies.
Tech Hockey Guide can confirm that goaltender Max Beckford is no longer committed to Michigan Tech. This leaves the Huskies needing a goaltender for the fall, as Blake Pietila is in his final season of eligibility. Max Vayrynen is the heir apparent to Pietila’s throne, so expect the new goaltender to a freshman who can sit behind Vayrynen for a few seasons or an experienced backup from the portal.
Nathan is currently a student at Michigan Tech, studying Engineering Management. He cultivated his love for the game over a 10 year youth hockey career and is excited to bring his passion to Tech Hockey Guide and Michigan Tech hockey. While not at school, Nathan resides in the Chicagoland area