Monday Movers: Week #2

In our second addtion of the Monday Movers we highlight three players who have shown improvement in their game this season. We covered players from NAHL, USHL and AJHL last week after their showcases and will continue our junior hockey swing but head east to the MJAHL, CCHL and NCDC.

Alex Roode #27 (F, L, 6’5″, 196, Fredericton Red Wings, 11/11/2003) – Roode is a 6’5″, tall, lanky winger in his third season in the MJAHL but first with Fredericton Red Wings after winning the league championship with the Mariners last year. He was undrafted in the QMJHL despite his size and hasn’t had an easy road to junior hockey; as his first season in the league he played sparingly with 7 points in 32 games. In his championship season last year with the Mariners he took his game to new heights – not only in his 44 points in 52 games (sixth on the team) but also playing top six minutes and special teams. Roode has taken it a step further this year with Fredericton as a long, athletic, rangy winger who uses his reach to shield the puck and disrupt passing lanes on the forecheck. His stride and overall speed has noticeably improved this season and showing the edge control to make tight turns, stop and start and beat defenders on the rush. He had a goal this past week against Summerside where he got a puck on a zone entry – split the defense – went in all alone and deked the goalie for a score finishing the game with a goal and two helpers. With his size, skating ability and puck touch – he currently leads the Red Wings in scoring with a 6-6-12 line in just 6 games this season. One to keep an eye on.

Kaleb Dietsch #23 (D, L, 6’2″, 176, Ottawa Jr. Senators, 01/03/2007) – Dietsch is not your typical person on this list in that he’s already highly touted; a third round OHL pick last season who signed with Ottawa 67s this summer and made his way onto the Ottawa Jr. Senators of the CCHL. However, through his first seven games in junior hockey he has a goal and three assists and contributes on the power play and penalty kill. He is long, athletic and multi-dimensional. Last season with Southern Tier he was a bit overshadowed playing a longside second rounder Dryden Allen and was more of a safety valve but he’s now showing an offensive side to his game, more confidence with the puck and making high percentage plays. He’s snapping passes off like a veteran junior player, his tough in his own end and in his game today, he literally played the point and the net front on the power play showing his versatility. He has a long reach, disruptive, active stick that is well positioned to break up plays and wasn’t afraid to stand up opponents in the neutral zone – despite being one of the youngest players in the entire league. The 67s have a deep blue line led by two projected first-round NHL draft picks but he’ll cut his teeth in the CCHL, get a lot of ice time and development and prepare himself for his OHL career. Easy to see from his early returns at the junior level that Ottawa 67’s success of defenseman on NHL Draft day are likely to continue with Kaleb.

Jack Houser #13 (F, R, 6’2″, 210, Connecticut Jr. Rangers, 01/25/2003) – Houser enters his final year of junior hockey eligibility with the Connecticut Jr. Rangers of the NCDC and has gone from a depth forward last year to their most productive offensive player through the first seven games of the season. He played prep school hockey in Massachusetts prior to the Jr. Rangers and was a hard-working, reliable winger but never a feature piece. He then made his way to juniors and was a bottom six, high-compete grinder in his rookie year. He blocked shots, won puck battles, wore down opposing defenders and made high effort plays but not someone the team relied on for offense. This season, as a 20 year old, he’s not only leading the team, but the entire league in points with a 3-11-14 line in seven games; a two points-per-game average. What’s changed is his sense and approach; he’s not just throwing his weight around and playing an energy role but being more purposeful. He’s attacking the net, winning pucks in the corners and then activating his points and his linemates in the slot. Houser is driving to the net – taking hits to make plays and then making the dish out to the wing or shooting low pad for a juicy rebound. The ’03 veteran winger will get plenty of NCAA attention if he continues this hot start.

Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images