JANESVILLE – The North American Hockey League (NAHL) announced its rosters on Tuesday for next month’s Top Prospects Tournament, presented by Eason. Six Janesville Jets players will showcase their talents at the tournament, held February 23-24, 2015 at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
With the top seed in the North Division at the time of a standings freeze on January 18, Jets head coach Joe Dibble was awarded the position of North Division head coach. The first place standing also gave the Jets five roster spots to fill. Only players without an NCAA commitment at the time of selection are eligible to play for the North Division team. A separate NAHL Selects team will highlight players 18 and under, regardless of NCAA commitment status.
Forwards Brandon Schultz, Evan Feno, and Zach LaValle will join defensemen Zach Yoder and Alex Smith on the North Division team. Forward Mitch Fossier, committed to Maine, was also selected by the league to play on the NAHL Selects team.
Schultz, an 18 year-old winger from Fort Myers, Florida, is in his second season with the Jets. His 18 goals rank him behind only Adam Winborg for the team lead.
“It’s an honor to be picked for the team,” said Schultz. “I’m looking forward to playing in such a highly talked about tournament.”
LaValle, who plays on Schultz’s off wing, leads the North Division in scoring at 17 goals and 30 assists on 47 points.
“I was fortunate enough to make the roster because of the guys around me in the locker room every day,” said the 20 year-old from Oakdale, Minnesota. “[It] sounds corny but we truly play for each other and that’s why we are having such a great year.”
Schultz and LaValle, who spent most of the season jockeying for the team lead in points, are centered by Evan Feno, who will turn 20 shortly before the tournament. Feno, like Schultz, is in his second year with the Jets, but his game is more about creating scoring chances for other players. The Colorado native’s 32 assists are behind only three players for the league lead. Schultz and LaValle have scored on the majority of his assists, and will likely play alongside him in Ann Arbor.
“The opportunity to go to Top Prospects with both my linemates is amazing,” Feno said. “I would not be here without my linemates and the ability to share this experience with them is unbelievable.”
Defenseman Alex Smith, from Brownstown, Michigan, is also no stranger to playmaking. A staggering 15 of his 25 assists this year have come on the man advantage, a mark that ranks fifth in the league. Smith also turns 20 before the tournament, and will likely draw the loudest cheers.
“I’m excited to play in front of my family and friends,” Smith said. “Ann Arbor is only about 30 minutes from home so I know I will have a lot of support in the stands. Should be a fun couple of days.”
Smith’s fellow blueliner, Zach Yoder, hails from Woodstock, Georgia. At 6’4” Yoder brings the longest reach to the North Division team. Yoder, 20, has skated to a plus-25 mark this season and adds some toughness to the roster.
“I’m really excited,” Yoder said. “It’s an honor and a blessing to be chosen for an event like this.”
Perhaps thankfully, Mitch Fossier’s NAHL Selects team won’t have to face his fellow Georgian Zach Yoder or the rest of his Janesville teammates. The Selects will play the Midwest Division and the National Team Development 17-Team. Though separated on the rosters, Fossier is proud to head to Ann Arbor with his teammates.
“It’s a privilege to represent the Jets,” Fossier said. “I couldn’t have done it without the guys around me. We are having a great year and it’s been really fun.”
With Ian Janco committing to Bemidji State earlier this week, the Jets now have seven players with NCAA Division I commitments. The opportunity awaits in Ann Arbor to spotlight Schultz, LaValle, Feno, Yoder, and Smith, and potentially add to a growing list of commitments.
For more information on the Top Prospects Tournament, visit http://www.nahl.com/tpt/.