Nine new players set to take the ice for the Panthers
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Head coach Craig Russell has announced the Plymouth State University men's ice hockey team's 2017 recruiting class. With nine new players representing five states and two countries, the defending Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) regular season champions look poised to make another deep run.
Henrik Axelson | 6-0 | 180 lbs | Right wing | Danderyd, Sweden
2016-17 stats with Ogden Mustangs (WSHL): 60 games, 28 goals, 45 assists, 73 points, 18 PIM
Coach Russell on Henrik Axelson:
"Henrik comes to us from the Ogden Mustangs where he flew under the radar. A very skilled forward with good vision, Henrik will bring a right shot playmaker to our lineup that we've been missing over the past couple of seasons. Not a physical player, but one that makes others around him better with every touch of the puck."
Brett Backman | 6-3 | 200 lbs | Left wing | Cos Cob, Conn.
2016-17 stats with Connecticut Oilers (EHL): 47 games, 19 goals, 23 assists, 42 points, 59 PIM
Coach Russell on Brett Backman:
"Brett brings a big, power forward style to our lineup. Brett is often found around the net in the offensive zone, and is a great forechecking forward with his size. A noticeable presence with his stature, and is a complete 3-zone player. He understands the game well, and plays to his strengths consistently. I would consider Brett to be a late bloomer in terms of his development, and he will certainly be looked upon to continue his rapid development early on in our season."
JR Barone | 5-10 | 175 lbs | Right center / Right wing | West Chester, Penn.
2016-17 stats with Philadelphia Flyers (USPHL Premier): 36 games, 6 goals, 21 assists, 27 points, 33 PIM
Coach Russell on JR Barone:
"JR is a highly skilled, first pass type of player. He's a pure distributor, and reminds me a lot of alum Alex Cottle. They also happen to be from the same town in PA, and are about the same size as well. JR comes from a youth program that has heightened skill development among their young players, and I expect him to bring that skill, along with his ability to distribute the puck and change speeds in all situations."
Cole Crawford | 6-0 | 190 lbs | Right defense | Alpharetta, Ga.
2016-17 stats with Boston Bandits (EHL): 43 games, 0 goals, 11 assists, 51 PIM
Coach Russell on Cole Crawford:
"Cole is a steady defenseman that makes a good first pass out of the zone, as well in transition. He takes care of our defensive zone first and wins his 1-on-1 battles, which will make any coach happy at the end of the day. He will compete for an everyday spot in our lineup, and will be someone that will help us win games with all of the little details that he takes pride in."
Jake Gerbner | 5-10 | 175 lbs | Left wing / Center | Havertown, Penn.
2016-17 stats with Kindersley Klippers/Nipawin Hawks (SJHL): 41 games, 12 goals, 13 assists, 25 points, 20 PIM
Coach Russell on Jake Gerbner:
"Jake is a consistent player that can make an impact in any situation, and in many ways. He does a lot of things very well in his style of play, many of which wouldn't show up in a box score. He's coachable, works hard, and plays a style that allows him to play any position with players of all abilities. I'm looking forward to watching Jake develop his game over the next four years with us."
Montell Greene | 6-2 | 188 lbs | Right wing | Stockholm, Sweden
2016-17 stats with Ogden Mustangs (WSHL): 60 games, 37 goals, 40 assists, 77 points, 30 PIM
Coach Russell on Montell Greene:
"Montell has the patience of a true goal scorer. He brings a big body and a natural right wing, which has been hard to come by for us over the past couple of seasons. He doesn't possess the most deadly shot, or blazing speed, yet he thinks the game on a level that allows him to get to the prime scoring areas for grade A chances on a consistent basis. Montell has had two very successful seasons in Ogden, and we hope he brings that confidence onto the ice with us immediately."
Marc Happy | 6-4 | 200 lbs | Left defense | Sterling, Mass.
2016-17 stats with Connecticut Oilers (EHL): 49 games, 16 goals, 28 assists, 44 points, 74 PIM
Coach Russell on Marc Happy:
"Marc brings a tremendous skill set to our blue line. He was one of the best defensemen in the EHL two seasons in a row, and was voted as top defenseman in 15-16. At 6-4 he skates incredibly well, and uses his mobility to escape trouble, and to join the offense. He should impress early, yet still has to understand how to defend at this level in order to best take advantage of his offensive abilities. There's no question that Marc has all the tools needed to be highly successful at the collegiate level, he just has to get out there and prove it."
Christian La Croix | 5-11 | 200 lbs | Left wing | Northford, Conn.
2016-17 stats with Connecticut Oilers (EHL): 46 games, 9 goals, 20 assists, 29 points, 38 PIM
Coach Russell on Christian La Croix:
"Christian could have the best puck skills of our entire freshman class. His vision is extraordinary, and his ability to place pucks in soft areas for his teammates can be impressive when he's on his game. It's my belief that Christian possess a very high hockey IQ yet hasn't quite realized his potential; and as good as his puck skills are, his shot is heavy and hard. He needs to use that more at this level, and will undoubtedly see the benefits of it when he does. He's a big body forward that can possess the puck well and make slick passes from down low in the offensive zone. With some improvement on his foot speed, he could be an exceptional player as his development grows."
Peter Laviolette | 6-4 | 205 lbs | Left wing | Nashville, Tenn.
2016-17 stats with Proctor Academy: 24 games, 11 goals, 9 assists, 20 points
Coach Russell on Peter Laviolette:
"Peter comes from a very strong hockey background. He suffered a football injury at the end of the fall last year (prep school) so his impact for the hockey team wasn't felt until late February when his rehabilitation had finally caught up. Peter has a ton of potential, and I'm not quite sure we'll realize how good he'll actually be until his sophomore or junior year. He's still a bit younger than most players at this level, yet he has the mindset of a pro hockey player and will certainly have a steep curve in his development. A true power forward with a mean streak, he's hungry to contribute, and is happy to finally be 100% healthy coming into the season."
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