With the schedule finally being released, Beaver fans now now where they’re going to be headed for the 2015 and 16 seasons.
Up next: Getting to know who they’ll be watching on the ice.
The Beavers announced Wednesday that five new recruits had signed national letters of intent recently, bringing the incoming freshman class up to seven for 2015-16. A few players also made verbals to BSU recently, so I’ll go over those guys as well.
Anyway, the five who signed are: Adam Lovick (Lino Lakes), Justin Baudry (LaBroquerie, Manitoba), Ian Janco (Bloomington), Daniel Billett (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Michael Soucier (Caledon, Ontario). They join previously-signed Bemidji native Dillon Eichstadt and TJ Roo (Champlin). If you’re scoring at home, that’s four defensemen and three forwards.
Considering the Beavers lost a ton of blue-line depth with the departure of Matt Prapavessis, Sam Windle and Sam Rendle to graduation, the fact that more than half of the 2015 class are blueliners makes sense.
Here’s a rundown on each of the seven incoming players.
One thing I noticed with this year’s class that’s a little different in the past: All seven played in American junior leagues this past season. Usually the Beavers have one or two guys from the BCHL, but not this season.
Also, four of the incoming recruits played for the Aberdeen Wings of the NAHL, continuing a nice pipeline that current BSU assistant coach Travis Winter kind of set up when he was the head coach in Aberdeen. Current Beavers Cory Ward and Jordan Heller also played in Aberdeen.
Anyway, we’ll start with the local kid and work from there.
Dillon Eichstadt, D (Sioux Falls, USHL, 6-0, 167; 2/7/1994)
The former Lumberjack made his verbal commitment to BSU way back in May of 2014 when he was playing with Aberdeen of the NAHL. Perhaps not coincidentally, Winter was his head coach in Aberdeen. Since then, he joined the Sioux Falls Stampede and is the top-scoring defenseman on the team (7g-19a-26pts, +6). The Stampede is still alive in the USHL Clark Cup Final and Eichstadt has 6 points — all assists — during the team’s playoff run.
TJ Roo, F (Fargo, USHL, 5-11, 186; 4/30/1994)
Another former Aberdeen Wing who was the 2013-14 NAHL Rookie of the Year. He signed in Novembver along with Eichstandt and spent this past season with the Fargo Force of the USHL. In 60 games with the Force, Roo had 13 goals and 12 assists. Roo played in high school for Totino-Grace between 2009-2013. He was a finalist for Mr. Hockey Minnesota in 2013. Also: Roo’s dad Jim played for BSU from 1981-86.
Adam Lovick, F (Coulee Region, NAHL, 6-0, 185; 5/18/1994)
Played three years for the Coulee Region Chill and was the fifth-leading scorer and tied for third in goals scored in the NAHL (30g-36a-66pts) this past season. Had six points in five playoff games for the Chill, who were ousted by Minnesota in the first round of the NAHL playoffs. Centennial High School graduate.
Justin Baudry, D (Fargo, USHL, 5-11, 186; 10/23/1996)
A second Fargo Force player coming in this season. (They, by the way, have another solid pipeline to BSU, with a couple Beaver recruits still there next season). Top scoring defenseman for Fargo with just two goals but 30 assists — the most on the team. Also led the Force with 15 power play assists (15). An alternate captain, he could develop into a puck-moving D-man in the vein of Matt Prapavessis.
Ian Janco, D (Janesville, NAHL, 6-1, 190; 7/27/1994)
A somewhat recent (January of 2015) commit, Janco is playing his third season in the NAHL, and his first for Janesville (where current BSU D-man Ruslan Pedan also played a season of juniors). The Jets are still alive for the NAHL’s Robertson Cup and Janco, an alternate captain, has helped them on the ice, with a plus-33 and 21 points. Bloomington native who played his high school puck at Jefferson.
Daniel Billett, D (Aberdeen, NAHL, 6-1, 200; 2/17/1995)
The fourth defenseman of the 2014 class. He was limited due to injury this season and only played 15 games, but has 19 points (3g-16a) in 72 games played. He’s a Colorado native who played for Culver Military Academy in Indiana in high school.
Michael Soucier F (Aberdeen, NAHL, 5-9, 170; 2/11/1995)
The seventh incoming recruit is another Aberdeen Wing (there’s a lot of them). He scored 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points — second on the team. He also had nine power play tallies to lead Aberdeen. The Ontario native previously played for the Wellington Dukes in the Ontario Junior Hockey League and also has played for the Canada East U-19 team in 2012-13 and 2013-14 in the World Junior A Challenge.
That’s the class. Seems like a lot but the Beavers lost six players to graduation — the aforementioned defense men, plus forwards Phil Brewer and Mitch Cain and goalie Andrew Walsh.
Next season’s forward group looks pretty crowded with maybe one consistent lineup up for grabs — Brewer saw lots of playing time but usually on the third line, while Cain was in and out last season with some injuries.
But it’s that defense group which will probably see the most playing time early as the Beavers figure out who fits in where.
2016 AND BEYOND
OK, so those are the guys who we know are coming in next season. What about after that?