Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Boston High School [Print without images]

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
A midsummer hockey notebook

By Scott Barboza

Catching up on a few notes from the (melted) local ponds of late:

RANKINGS SCHMANKINGS
The NHL Draft always brings surprises, and Dexter School’s Tim Harrison was no exception.

Now, it shouldn’t come be a complete head-scratcher that the 6-foot-3 winger who’s committed to Colgate was selected by the Calgary Flames in the sixth round in last month’s draft. However, in the buildup, Harrison was ignored by NHL Central Scouting and its compilation of the top prospects in North America.  The Duxbury native did not appear on the service’s “Watch List,” midterm or final rankings reports.

Despite the lack of love from the league’s draft gurus, Harrison attracted attention from the scouting staffs of the Flames and Chicago Blackhawks during the spring and scored high marks with Calgary’s brass during the pre-draft process. So much so that the Flames took Harrison with the 157th overall pick.

“It’s a tough draw,” Dexter head coach Dan Donato told ESPN Boston. “Teams aren’t going to show their cards throughout the process, but you can get hints every now and then.”

Harrison is a bit of a character (he’s described himself as such), and is known around Dexter hockey as the straight-shooting, loquacious sort. If you need further proof, check out this segment with Flames TV from the team’s development camp earlier this month (WATCH HERE).

His gift for gab, along with the willingness to use his frame in playing the physical game, helped Harrison leave an impression on Calgary’s staff. After having an one-on-one with Harrison, one Flames scout remarked to Donato that Harrison was perhaps the best interview he’d had with a prospect in decades.

But Harrison’s also made his presence felt on ice. During development camp, as highlighted during the aforementioned clip from Calgary, Harrison also dazzled the fans with a couple of nifty moves on penalty shot drills. He also mixed it up with fellow campers on ice, showing he has a mean streak.

Just don’t be fooled by it.

“He’s a pretty mello kid, actually,” Donato said. “Colgate’s getting a great kid. Don’t know what his role will be there, but what I know is that both they and the Flamers are getting a really good kid.”

And a hoot.

EASTERN PIPELINE?
Notre Dame joins Hockey East this year, but the Irish already made a splash in the northeast recently with the commitment of Noble and Greenough center Cal Burke.

Burke, a Boxborough native, led the Bulldogs in scoring (34 points) last season. A 1997 birthdate, the 5-foot-10, 160-pounder also was selected by Cedar Rapids in May’s USHL Draft. Burke’s date of arrival in South Bend is intended for 2015-16.

“He’s a gifted player and he’s a great match for their program,” Nobles head coach Brian Day said. “Cal truly plays an all-around game. He’s a smart player and he incorporates his teammates well into the play.”

While the Irish catch a top recruit, Burke’s commitment could come with two-fold implications. For Notre Dame, entering a new conference otherwise situated exclusively in New England, perhaps Jeff Jackson’s staff will increasingly dip into the regional talent pool. With its present roster consisting primarily of players from the Midwest and out to the Pacific Ocean, can we expect Notre Dame to come east for more than road trips?

“There would definitely be advantages,” Day said to the notion. “If kids are in the Northeast, their families don’t have to always go out to Indiana to see their games, given that they’ll be playing here now. Plus, it’s a national brand, everybody’s heard of Notre Dame.”

HERE AND THERE
There were a couple of other Hockey East commitments coming from local skaters during the last week or so.

First, Austin Prep’s Nolan Vesey will become the third member of his immediate family to play college hockey, verballing to Maine. A four-year standout for the Cougars, Nolan joins father Jim (Merrimack) and older brother Jimmy (Harvard).

Nolan Vesey is a modern-day rarity though, having playing four years of MIAA hockey before earning a college hockey scholarship. Jim Clark of the Boston Herald spoke to Vesey last week about the subject last week, and the forward was candid about the struggles in staying close to home.

“I’d be the first one to tell you, my first few years at Austin I was looking at prep schools,” Vesey told Clark.

Joining Vesey among the most recent local Hockey East commits, Phillips Exeter defenseman Spenser Young announced he’d committed to Providence College earlier this week via Twitter. The rising sophomore and Brentwood, N.H. native chose the Friars from a host of interested H.E. schools.