By John Lachmann
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – It took Miami commit Anthony Louis 1:48 to record an assist on Sunday.
And while the U.S. National Development Team forward merely slid a lateral pass at his own blue line that ultimately resulted in his being credited with a secondary assist on that Team USA goal, Louis finished with five shots on goal and created numerous scoring chances in the USNDT’s 4-2 win over the USHL’s Chicago Steel at The Ice Cube.
RedHawkey visited Louis and RedHawks commit defenseman Trevor Hamilton – who also plays for the USNDT – to take a look at two of the top Miami freshmen-to-be for the 2013-14 class.
The plan was also to watch defensemen Johnny Wingels, who plays for Chicago, but he did not play due to an injury.
RedHawkey takes a deeper look at future RedHawks Anthony Louis and Trevor Hamilton:
Writer’s disclaimer: Whenever RedHawkey is viewing a future RedHawk for the first time, it always informs readers that it understands any analysis provided here is based on what is obviously a very small sample size.
Position: Forward. Height: 5-06. Weight: 142. Age: 17 (will be 18 by the start of 2013-14 season).
GP: 34. G: 14. A: 14. Pts.: 28. Plus-minus: +9. PIM: 4.
Background: Louis, who is from the far west Chicago suburbs, is a proven scorer. He netted 33 goals in 35 games in Midget in 2010-11 before joining the USNDT Under-17 team last season.
Louis led Team USA in goals with 27 in 2011-12, including 11 on the power play, and he played seven more games with his current Under-18 team, recording an assist.
Analysis: It was only one game, but Louis’ offensive ability and hockey IQ were obvious.
The funny thing was: Louis did very little to earn his assist, but he didn’t get points on scoring chances later in the game because he and his teammates were robbed a couple of times later in the game, so it evened out.
It was also obvious that Louis is very small. Like most good, small players though, he seemed to be elusive enough to avoid getting clobbered while controlling the puck.
Louis does not possess a single all-world skill, but he did display a well-rounded set of offensive tools. He has good but not great speed, a good but not great shot, good but not great stickhandling ability and his passing ability was the most impressive attribute of his game.
He took chances trying to create scoring opportunities, sending the puck into traffic to try to connect with a teammate, but he picked his spots and was smart about it. He seemed to know better than to risk a turnover for an odd-man rush.
Louis also seemed very confident with his decision making. Twice he fired the puck from behind the net in the offensive zone back to an open teammate at the blue line for a one-time, with one such chance nearly resulting in a goal.
Louis was overcoming an illness, so he may not have even been 100 percent, making his effort even more impressive.
One area Louis will need work is defensively, since Miami coach Enrico Blasi expects his forwards to be two-way players. But he still has half of a season to continue developing and his offensive ability is undeniable.
Notes from Sunday:
First period—Played five shifts…made a nice backhand pass at own blue line, teammate made another pass for a Team USA goal...in close for a wrister that the goalie deflected wide while being defended tightly, put another weak shot on that handcuffed the goalie, but the referee lose sight of the puck and blew the whistle while the puck was still loose…feed for a potential scoring chance was intercepted in front of the net…nice lateral pass created high-percentage shot for teammate, later in the shift nearly scored on a no-look backhand shot in traffic, but the puck rolled just wide of the post…carried the puck from the offensive blue line behind the net, defender dove on a pass that ended up back on Louis’ stick, fired a pass from behind the net to the blue line for a one-time blast.
Second period—Played five shifts…had a backhander denied then put a shot off the post…PP: didn’t touch the puck before coming off…beautiful 360 move followed by a backhand pass to a teammate for a shot on goal…PP: whipped the puck from behind the net in the offensive zone to a teammate for a one-time pass that was tipped away with a blocker…PP: Point-blank shot handcuffed goalie, trickled wide of the net, later in the shift stickhandled through traffic but had his shot blocked.
Third period—Played just two shifts because his team was shorthanded numerous times…PP: lost the puck in the zone along the boards but it was not cleared...excellent job of entering the offensive zone and passing to a teammate through the player defending him.
Future at Miami: Louis is small even by Miami’s current standards, but his skill set should definitely make him an instant success in Oxford.
Current RedHawks freshman Riley Barber has raised the standards
for incoming USNDT players to a ridiculous level, and Louis is not there yet.
However, the 2013-14 season is 8½ months away, and Louis should only get better.
Miami only loses two regular starting forwards after this season – seniors Curtis McKenzie and Marc Hagel – and Louis should have no problem taking over one of those spots.
Again, one game is a very small sample size, but he appears to be a similar player to Alex Gacek – the January 2013 version of Gacek, which is intended as a high compliment – with a lot of upside.
Position: Defense. Height: 6-00. Weight: 185. Age: 17 (will be 18 by the start of 2013-14 season).
GP: 33. G: 1. A: 5. Pts.: 6. Plus-minus: +4. PIM: 59.
Background: Hamilton, playing in his home state of Michigan, was a member of in-state Honeybaked in 2010-11 where he rolled up two goals and eight assists in 45 games.
Last season he played for the U.S. Under-17 team and notched a pair of goals and four helpers in 54 games.
Hamilton comes from college hockey stock, as his father, Michael, played at Minnesota State-Mankato.
Analysis: Hamilton was the seventh defenseman for the USNDT on Sunday, as the coaching staff has a large roster and an extensive schedule and likes to make sure players’ ice time can be curtailed during certain games like this one.
Like Louis, Hamilton seems to have a high hockey IQ. He did not take unnecessary chances with the puck and knew where to be on the ice at all times.
The funny thing is I never look at stats before I watch an incoming player because I want to avoid forming any subconscious stereotypes, but while watching Hamilton log limited minutes on Sunday I thought he was more of an offensive defenseman.
He fired an impressive low wrist shot that almost found the net early in the game, and his passing ability was impressive.
Similar to several of Miami’s current defensemen, Hamilton was at his best defensively when he was not noticed. His positioning was excellent and he did not risk turning the puck over with dangerous passes.
Hamilton will need to become more physical, and at least on Sunday he did not get his stick in when defending players along the boards on the power play. Positioning is important, but some opponents simply went around him to make plays.
But like Louis, Hamilton is not even 18 yet and with 8½ months left until the start of the 2013-14 season, he has plenty of time to improve his game. And smarts are something that are always with a player and cannot be taught.
Despite playing seven defensemen, Hamilton’s coaching staff obviously has faith in his defensive ability, as he logged extensive ice time on the penalty kill.
His two best defensive plays of the game both came in open ice, standing players up in the neutral zone.
Notes from Sunday:
First period—Played five shifts...Touched the puck just once on his first shift and was tied up in the corner before the battle continued further up the boards…PK: should have cleared the puck with a backhand that was knocked down in the zone by a high stick that was amazingly not called, but got puck back and lifted it down the length of the ice…did not touch the puck his next two shifts but his teammates scored, giving Hamilton a plus-1 rating…made good lateral pass, later in shift fired a low wrister that just missed the net wide.
Second period—Played four shifts...connected on two lateral passes, battled for the puck in the corner in the defensive zone, puck was eventually moved to a Chicago teammate…PK: player skated around him for a point-blank wrister that was saved…4x4: was unable to clear the zone when he got the puck in traffic…fired home-run pass that nearly connected for a scoring chance, had hard mutual contact in corner fighting to get to the puck.
Third period—Played six shifts…knocked a player off the puck at his own blue line...fired a shot from the middle of the faceoff circles that was blocked before it went on net…played short shift during which he did not touch the puck…PK: cleared the puck into his team’s bench, then miscommunication when his shift ended nearly resulted in a too-many-men penalty as his replacement came out as he pivoted back briefly to rejoin the action…PK: very short shift, battled for the puck along the boards in the defensive zone, puck was moved to another Chicago player…created turnover by hitting a player at the red line that was trying to create a 2x2.
Future at Miami: Three of Miami’s starting six from this past weekend – seniors Joe Hartman, Steven Spinell and Garrett Kennedy – are graduating after this season, so the opportunity to occupy a lineup spot this fall will certainly be there.
Hamilton, who is still 17, certainly knows his job description – evidenced by his positioning and smart decisions with the puck – and partly as a result was very good when taking on opposing forwards in open ice.
Hamilton still needs to improve at winning battles along
the walls in the defensive zone, but he was facing a Chicago team loaded with players 1-2 years older.
That said, if he went into the Miami lineup this weekend he would not be a liability.
Like Louis, he has significant upside and should take over one of the vacated blue line spots next season.