The hockey development system in Western New York (WNY) is a work in progress with several junior programs in the area, including: the Buffalo Jr. Sabers, Buffalo Stars, Buffalo Blades, Rochester Stars, and Maksymum Hockey. The competition has all of these programs doing their best building player development and graduating many highly skilled players to OHL, USHL, NAHL, prep schools, and college commitments.
Development movements in many organizations have taken place in order to provide a feeder system for most Junior programs but High School Hockey in the area seems to have hindered efforts with very few full season 16U programs with the exception of the Buffalo Regals and the newly formed 16U Rochester Monarchs. With USA Hockey’s movement toward eliminating 15 & 16 year olds from the junior feeder teams it will be much more important for the junior programs to promote a strong 15U, 16U & 18U teams within their organization.
This season the Buffalo Jr Sabers have aligned with the Buffalo Regals to promote elite player development with the hopes of building a top Junior A organization keeping WNY Hockey talent at home. In similar fashion, the Rochester Stars have developed a development system with its EJHL team. In the past, many top players have left the area for prep school, USHL, NAHL and other options to further their prospective hockey careers. WNY players featured here are from prep schools and local Junior Hockey Programs.
With all the feeder adjustments going on, some programs may have a tough road ahead unless the focus becomes on player development from bottom to top and attempting to eliminate player movement from one organization to another.
Rochester Stars (EJHL)
Dylan Shapiro, a native of Penfield, N.Y. Committed to UMass Lowell Riverhawks. 1993 birth year. 6’3″ 185 pds. Long reach. Smooth skater. Selected to 2011-2012 EJHL All Star game. Tied for lead on team with 6 goals and 18 assts for 24 pts in 37 league games.
Gordon Ceasar, a native of Oak Park Calf. 6’2″ 180 lbs. 91 birth year goalie. selected to 2011-12 EJHL all star game. Gordon is a very athletic goalie that takes up a ton of net. He is tied for 2nd in league with a .920 save percentage.
Nathan Billitier, a native of Spencerport N.Y. ’96 birth year 5’10″ 175 lbs.
The youngest player in EJHL with excellent skating ability, a Nik Lidstrom type of defenseman . Nathan was selected to USA Hockey 16U winter Olympics in Jan 2012 traveling with team to Austria. He was also selected to 40 player tryout for USA Hockey NTDP program. A strong prospect.
Phillips Exeter Academy (Prep-NH)
Mackenzie Flaherty, a native of Farmington N.Y. the ’95 birth year player is a 6’-3” 216lb defenseman is his second year at Phillips Exeter. He is a determined smooth skater with a physical presence that all his teammates rely on. He is a very hard working player that is continually working on his development on and off the ice. He aspires to be an NCAA D-1 player which is a very strong possibility according to his coach Dana Barbin due to his work ethic, physical presence, and battle ready attitude. The Phillips Exeter Academy team is presently 16-1-2
Avon Old Farms (Prep-CT)
Thomas Dockery, a native of Lockport N.Y. the 95 birth year player Coming from the Buffalo Regals 16U program he is a first year player at Avon Old Farms.