Canadiens Development Camp preview, part three: St. Cloud State dominates college tryouts

Nine players from the NCAA are skating with the Canadiens this week

Among the 42 players who were invited to Montreal’s development camp, 15 are on a tryout, nine of which are from the NCAA.

From the group of tryouts there a concentrated group of players that come out of the St. Cloud University in Minnesota, the same NCAA program that forged promising goaltending prospect Charlie Lindgren and the latest first-round draft pick, Ryan Poehling.

St. Cloud State University competes in the NCHC division along with national powerhouses University of Denver, University of Minnesota-Duluth, and University of North Dakota. They manage to hover around the centre of the pack ahead of weaker programs like Colorado College and Miami University in Ohio.

Obviously the Canadiens, or more specifically Shane Churla and amateur scout Bill Berglund, have spent a lot of time scouting Poehling, and therefore have been seeing a lot of the players on the St. Cloud team in action. It is therefore no surprise that the Canadiens invited three players from last year’s squad to the four day event to join Poehling.

Jon Lizotte is a left-handed defencemen who just completed his sophomore year, putting up ten points in both his NCAA seasons. At 6’1” & 216 lbs, his size is his big asset. He was named the team’s most improved player this past season as well as getting nominated for the NCHC All-Conference team.

Jimmy Schuldt, another 6’1” left-handed defenceman, completed his first year as the captain of the team, but saw a drop in production year-over-year from his freshman season. The 22-year-old has gone undrafted in the NHL. After being named to the NCHC all-rookie team in his freshman season, he made the all-conference honourable list team this season.

Robby Jackson is a 19-year-old left winger that still has two more seasons of NCAA eligibility. He was awarded the team’s “Three Stars of the Season” award for most three star nominations during the season.

All three remain NCAA eligible, so they cannot sign any contracts with the Canadiens unless they intend on leaving college and turning pro right away.

Other NCAA invites include:

  • Jordan Boucher, previously discussed as part of the local group of players on tryouts.
  • Brinson Pasichnuk was expected to become the first player to be drafted out of the nascent Arizona State University hockey program, but went unclaimed. The 19-year old left-handed defenceman has now seen two drafts come and go, being ranked 115th overall last season by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau. He’s an offensively-talented defenceman, selected the AJHL’s Most Outstanding Defenceman in 2016 prior to going to the NCAA.
  • Jarid Lukosevicius was the hero for the University of Denver when he scored a hat trick against Minnesota-Duluth in the final championship game that brought the team a national title. Lukosevicius was named most outstanding player of the Frozen Four. The 5’10” 22-year old forward from Squamish BC is headed into his Junior season.
  • Scott Conway played his first season at Providence College after after getting kicked off the Penn State team for violating team rules. As a result of changing NCAA teams, he was forced to miss a season of play, playing instead in the BCHL for a year where he dominated with 116 points winning the Brett Hull Trophy for top scorer in the League.
  • Brennan Saulnier, a 23-year old 6’0” centre who completed his third season for the University of Alabama Huntsville, is living out a dream of playing for the Canadiens who he has been a life-long of as a native of Halifax Nova Scotia. His sister is Canadian women’s national team member Jillian Saulnier.
  • Lewis Zertier-Gossage is a Montrealer who plays for Harvard University as a top six forward. At 6’2” the right-winger has a desirable size coupled with a scoring touch, but patience will be the key if the Habs want to sign him as he intends to complete his studies before rushing into a pro career. He will begin his Junior year next season. /

The NCAA rules are very strict when it comes to participating in National Hockey League functions. Tryouts must pay their own way to the camp, including lodging, transportation, and food. There is a slight variance to this rule, which permits a player to have their costs covered a single time by one NHL team for the first 48 hours from arriving at the practice facility. After 48 hours however a player is responsible for costs, including transportation home. Last season, Jake Evans decided to cut his participation at development camp short in order to take advantage of this window.

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