Friday, August 04, 2006

New Hockey Verbal!

As first reported in the Wisconsin State Journal, Ben Winnett, a recruit for the class of 2007, has picked the Wolverines over the Wisconsin Badgers. He comes from the same team in the BCHL that produced Andrew Ebbett. He's not very big, listed at 6'0" 170, but an article linked below suggested he was playing last year at about 158 lbs.

He was sixth on his team last year with 18-31--49 in 60 games played, but those are considered pretty good numbers for someone his age. Bob Miller has since posted several times that the folks down at Yost are very much looking forward to him joining the team.

Also linked on the Yost Post was Paul Shaheen's excellent article about the commit. Ben sounds like an outstanding young man, who is willing to work hard to make himself a better hockey player.

Some choice bits from the article:

But at only 158 pounds, he wasn't necessarily fond of the physical side of the
game--something he knew had to change.

"I wanted to add strength, and
put on more weight," says the 17 year-old from New Westminster, BC, "so I hired
a full-time trainer, and he's helped me put on 12 pounds over the summer. I'm
working out daily, and eating six meals a day."

"So many people around me said I was a Michigan type player," says Winnett, a
high school senior and one of the most well-spoken young men his age. "With my
skating, offense and awareness, many guys branded me a Wolverine. I was
flattered by that."

"My favorite NHL player is Darcy Tucker," Winnett explains. "One day, the phone
rang, and it was Darcy Tucker on the other end of the line. I couldn't believe
it. He played under coach Don Hay in Kamloops in the early 90's. The Vancouver
Giants hold my WHL rights, and that's where Hay coaches now. So coach Hay called
in a favor to Darcy and asked him to call me. It was really a thrill," Winnett
reflects. "He wasn't necessarily trying to talk me out of college, he just
encouraged me to at least consider the option of Major A. I appreciated that,
but playing hockey and preparing for the world thereafter is very important to

His coach was also extremely complimentary of him. It sounds like he'll start flashing more of that offensive talent this year.

He joins a recruiting class that already has some talented forwards in it: Matt Rust from the NTDP, Louie Caporusso from St. Mike's, Aaron Palushaj from Des Moines (hopefully that one works out better than our other Des Moines recruit), Max Pacioretty who will be playing for Sioux City next year, and perhaps even Robbie Czarnik who isn't scheduled to be in until 2008. Czarnik was mentioned as a 2007 recruit in Shaheen's article, which could mean he's thinking about accelerating this year. Or he could've just been off by a year.

Regardless, there are some high-end forwards coming in in 2007 (not to mention uber-recruit Tristin Llewellyn, Chad Langlais, and goalie Bryan Hogan bolstering the back end). Looks like Red and Company have already nailed down a great class in 07. If they can somehow make that Pat Kane's first full season in college hockey as well, we'll be shittin' into tall cotton as my boss would say (I have no clue what that means).

Just don't let the LA Kings draft him.

Elsewhere, some very odd (and scary/sad) news out of the ChampCar World Series. 2002 Champion Cristiano Da Matta was testing his car at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI when a deer ran onto the track and was struck by Da Matta's car which was going over 100 mph. Da Matta was knocked unconscious and at the moment is in critical condition, having had surgery to remove a subdural hematoma. He's going to be in a medically-induced coma for at least a couple of days, and here's hoping and praying for a full recovery of a darn good driver. You don't see too many things happen that are freakier than that.

Funny moment in the Tigers/Devil Rays game the other night. The announcers were talking about this Devil Rays player that is a "switch-hitter" but only hits .064 from the other side of the plate. My question is this: If you're only batting .064 from the opposite side, do you really qualify as a switch-hitter anymore? Couldn't pretty much any major league hitter step across the plate and get a hit 6 times out of 100? Moreso, if you're batting that poorly when you switch-hit, shouldn't you just keep hitting from the usual side? Are you really reaping any benefits from hitting from the right side against left-handed pitchers if you're only getting on base 8 times out of 125? Couldn't you probably do better just hitting from the left side?

Just curious.

I'd also like to join others in tipping my hat to Mr. Brian Cook from mgoblog for his performance at the World Series of Poker. Despite the horribly unlucky outcome, that was a great run and here's hoping you qualify again next year.

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