Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jutting talks recruits

Minnesota State made it official this week, announcing the signing of defenseman Mat Knoll to its recruiting class for 2012. Knoll is playing for the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. After winning the AJHL title, the Knoll and the Saints are taking on the BCHL-champion Vernon Vipers for the Doyle Cup — Canada's Junior A national championship the winner of which moves on to the Canadian Junior A national championship tournament (Thanks for the clarification, PA!). Spruce Grove leads the best-of-seven series 2-1.

Mavericks coach Troy Jutting called Knoll one of the best defensemen on the best junior team in Canada. He said that Spruce Grove rotated six defensemen pretty equally during the regular season but that Knoll got more responsibility in the playoffs, including time on the top power play. Knoll had 10 assists in 13 playoff games. He also has on assist in the Doyle Cup so far.

"He's a 20-year-old who's played a ton of games," Jutting said. "He's in his third year in the Alberta league and was the best defenseman on the team in Lloydminster last year. He's been around the block and understands the game. He's been a very good player. He's very experienced and a leader."

Sounds like a good recruit to bring in considering the loss of Kurt Davis, Ben Youds and Channing Boe.

Knoll will join the four players who signed during the early period in November and Matt Leitner as part of a six-player rookie class (Leitner will be a sophomore).

Here's what Jutting had to say about the other recruits coming in next fall:

On forward Jean-Paul LaFontaine: "He's second (on the Green Bay Gamblers) in scoring in his first year of juniors. He's had a great year there."

On defenseman Zach Palmquist: "The team (Waterloo) was not as good this year, and his numbers were down a little offensively. But his shots were up and his (playing) time was up. ... He's had a great junior career, and we're really excited about him. We hope Zach can pick up some of the slack with what we lose with (Davis) graduating."

On defenseman Brett Stern: "He's on one of the best team in the USHL (Green Bay). ... He's had to sit behind some veteran defensemen, but he's a good hockey player. He doesn't get as much get as much playing time but when he has he's played well."

On forward Max Gaede: "He's had a good year. He's got some thing to learn. But he's a big, raw, talented kid. We're very excited about him."

On Leitner: "He's on track (to play). Obviously, he's an extremely talented kid. He has potential to be a first-line center in the WCHA."

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