There was more action off the ice than on it this past week as head coach and assistant general manager Jason Brooks took the road in search of players that could possibly play for the Storm.
Late last week he left for Lake Placid, New York to speak with Storm draft pick Kyle Palmieri who is currently playing with the U.S. Under 18 national team. Palmieri scored the winning goal on Sunday giving the U.S. the gold medal over Finland at the Four Nations Cup.
Palmieri, a 5’10” right winger, has verbally committed to Notre Dame next year to play NCAA hockey, but there is still a chance he may take the faster route to the NHL, through Guelph.
“I think he is a lot like a Ryan Callahan” said Brooks upon his return to Guelph halfway through his team’s ugly 4-1 loss to the weak Kingston Frontenacs. “He is a talented, skilled hockey player that we’d love to have in our line-up at some point.”
Last season Palmieri had 20 goals in just 39 games for the U.S. Under-17 team before being asked to play up a level with the under-18 squad. He had nine goals and 18 points with them. He also had 71 minutes in penalties so you can see where the Callahan comparison comes from.
Brooks made another stop at an undisclosed location to speak with another player who may be interested in joining the Storm. Brooks would only say the discussion went well with the player and his family.
Going out and aggressively recruiting players south of the border is not something the Storm has done much of in the past. Teams like London and Kitchener regularly convince players to join their teams, allowing them to re-tool without having to give up anything in return. Even though Brooks had to miss both weekend Storm games, it could turn out to be a very wise investment in his clubs future.
The other news late last week with possible Storm implications was the trading of goaltender Brandon Maxwell from Erie to Windsor for 17-year-old Andrew Yogan and a second round pick. Maxwell, the starting netminder for the U.S Under 18 team, is the son of Storm assistant coach Brad Maxwell and a player the Storm has always admired. Maxwell is considered one of the best American goalies out there and was one of four to be asked back to the final tryout out camp for the U.S. National Junior team for the big tournament over Christmas. Storm goaltender Thomas McCollum was one of the other four. Maxwell had told Erie he would not report to their team so they were forced to make a move.
When asked whether his son would report to Windsor, Brad Maxwell would only say “that has a lot to do with USA Hockey” where he is currently committed.
The best two goalies in the OHL right now are McCollum and Belleville’s Mike Murphy. The Spitfires number one, Andrew Engelage, has a record of 17-2 but has lesser stats (on a much better team) than either McCollum or Murphy. There are some who feel the Spits may try to upgrade their goaltending situation to solidify their chances at a Memorial Cup. London ratcheted up the heat by trading for veteran Peterborough netminder Trevor Cann.
So while Brooks mines the hockey universe, posturing within the tough Western Conference is well under way. Brooks’ biggest challenge over the next two months is determining whether his team is a “buyer” or a “seller” before the trading deadline.
From the Land of Oz….The Storm will officially retire the number 18 sweater of Paul Fendley on Saturday night. Fendley died as the result of an injury during a game with the Guelph CMC’s back in 1972. At least ten players from that CMC’s team will be in attendance, including Minnesota Wild general manager Doug Risebrough. Fendley’s brother Tom will also be on hand to help raise the banner.