Too Small until He Wasn't: The Zachary Jones Story
Original Article (Neutral Zone)
Zachary Jones was born in the small town of Glenn Allen, Virginia to a minor pro hockey equipment manager who had his son in skates at an early age. Zac's passion for the game grew as did his ability and he climbed his way up the amateur hockey ranks. At 15 years old he secured a spot on one of the country's premier midget hockey programs; South Kent School, also known as Selects Academy in Connecticut.
"South Kent was the only school that I toured and I fell in love with it right from the start," said Jones. "I was recruited by Coach Rask and couldn't turn down the opportunity to get a great education and play for a powerhouse program who competes for national championships every year."
In his first season, his team made it the Tier 1 National Tournament in Pittsburgh, PA and Jones was one of their top performers. Despite his success, most colleges and junior teams kept their distance, afraid of his 5'5" frame as a defenseman. Although he was selected twice to the National Development Camp in Buffalo, NY for the country's top 180 skaters, he was passed over in the USHL Draft for two straight years.
"Honestly getting passed up twice in the draft has helped my development. I've always been a smaller kid and when some teams told me this year that I was too small, I was so mad that all I could think about was proving all of the coaches and scouts what they were missing when they passed on me."
He didn't get discouraged about being undrafted and uncommitted. Instead, he sought out Selects Academy U18 Head Coach Matt Plante to ask why he was getting overlooked and what he could do about it. After working on his game both on and off the ice in the spring, he came into the summer hockey an improved, more polished prospect.
"Colleges really started to call me after the Liberty Bell Games and it just took off from there." Liberty Bell Games is a showcase of the best 2000-2002 talent in the Atlantic region put on by longtime NHL Scout Lew Mongezzulo.
His recruitment began quickly and schools from across the East were starting to show interest and inviting him on campus for tours.
"I toured Providence, RPI, Union, and UMass, but it came down to UMass and Union. It was the hardest decision of my life but I thought UMass was the best fit for me. It was hard because I have so much respect for Coach Bennett and the Union coaching staff. UMass has everything a hockey player could ask for, top notch facilities, an unbelievable coaching staff, and a great campus and school. The coaching staff at UMass is one of, if not, the top coaching staffs in all of college hockey."
With his college destination now in place, he is focused on having a strong season with Selects Academy U18's and competing for a National Championship.
What kind of player can fans expect from the Virginia native?
"I like to play an offensive game, but with that being said I always make sure that our own end comes first. A lot of defenseman play a go-go-go type of game, where as I like to slow the play down and control the puck."
Jones' story may not be the most typical, coming out of a small town in Virginia and being a 5'5" defenseman; but his perseverance, work ethic and skill provide a great example to youth players that it doesn't matter how big you are or where you come from. If you can play, you can play and Zachary Jones can play.
2016 Liberty Bell Games Review
Forgive this belated review.
Nonetheless, on the weekend of June 3-5, 2016 USHR traveled down to New Jersey for the eighth annual Liberty Bell Games.
The tournament moved to the Jersey Shore this year. Specifically, to the Red Bank Armory Ice Complex, which is exactly what its name suggests, a World War I era armory repurposed in 1998 by Doug and Leslie Brooks. The Brooks, who are also in charge of daily operations, put much sweat and imagination into overhauling what had been an underutilized property.
The Armory, then, is one of the nicest 'new' rinks we've seen on the East Coast. It also fits into the fabric of the town (pop. 12,206), which boasts a central business district featuring an array of restaurants and shops within easy walking distance. The town sits on the south bank of the Navesink River, with Sandy Hook just minutes away.
As for the tournament itself, it's very scout-friendly, featuring six teams comprised of a select group of '99s, '00s, and '01s, primarily from greater New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, along with a handful of players from farther south along the Atlantic Seaboard.
The tournament is the brainchild of Ottawa Senators scout Lew Mongelluzzo, with Bill Underwood serving as the Director of Scouting, and Anne Yannarella working as Vice President/Event Director. Rosters are accurate and informative, and a 100-plus page book of player profiles is provided to scouts. Uniforms look sharp, and numbers match the rosters. Games start on time.
As for the players, we felt there were three players who clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack: '01 forwards Robert Mastrosimone (BU) and Trevor Zegras, and '01 defenseman Marshall Warren (Harvard).
We felt the player pool this year was deeper up front than on the blue line. Goaltending was OK. Barring exceptional performances, it can be a little hard, during a short tournament, to really focus in on goaltenders while also watching over a hundred skaters.
As for the goalies, we gave no grades. No one wowed us. Thomas Walker, however, was the tournament's top goalie statistically. In lieu of minor penalties, penalty shots were used at the tournament. Naturally, that meant that some goalies faced more penalty shots than others, which skewed the goalie numbers. To read our complete report, visit www.ushr.com.
US Hockey Report
1770 Massachusetts Ave., #195
Cambridge, MA 02140
Liberty Bell Games Review
USHR spent the past weekend at the Liberty Bell Games, which this year moved north -- from the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorees, NJ -- to a new home at the Middletown Ice World facility in Middletown, NJ.
We have been coming to this event, run by Ottawa Senators scout Lew Mongelluzzo, for the past three years. The facilities, the programs, the scout book, the food, and the tournament as a whole is top-notch. They take care of your needs, and if there is a more organized and better run summer event in the Northeast, we have yet to see it.
This year, along with the move to northern New Jersey, the tournament grew, and was made stronger, as players from New York were added to what before had been an exclusively New Jersey/Pennsylvania mix. For 2016, Mongelluzzo plans to add a limited number of players from the Southeast District.
Each of the players at the Liberty Bell Games is selected by a scouting staff headed up by Bill Underwood. They are then ranked and evenly distributed over the tournament's six teams. It works well: there were a lot of one-goal and overtime games. The players range in age from '00s to '98s, which gives scouts a good opportunity to see the '00s against older competition.
We have listed, by birth year, the players that stood out for us. Due to the larger player pool, the piece below is a bit longer than previous years.
Liberty Bell Games' Alumni Selected at 2014 NHL Draft
We would like to congratulate the following Liberty Bell Games' Alumni who were selected in the 2014 NHL Draft held at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27 & 28. We wish you continued success!
Anthony DeAngelo by the Tampa Bay Lightning
Kevin Lebanc by the San Jose Sharks
John Piccinich by the Toronto Maple Leafs
Dwyer Tschantz by the St. Louis Blues
Chandler Yakimowicz by the St. Louis Blues
Hun's Evan Barratt and Jonathan Bendorf ready to showcase talent in the Liberty Bell Games
June 9, 2014
By Tony Piscotta, For The Trentonian
EVESHAM — When Jeff Barratt arrived in New Jersey in the early 1990's along with Doug Baran to run the ice hockey programs at the then-new Ice Land rink in Hamilton there was no program like the Liberty Bell Games showcase that is taking place this weekend at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees...
View the Full Article
Liberty Bell Games Review
June 12, 2014
By U.S. Hockey Report
Last weekend, the U.S. Hockey Report journeyed down to the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ to take in the Liberty Bell Games, now in its sixth season.
Ottawa Senators scout Lew Mongelluzzo, a Philadelphia native and the tournament's President/CEO, does an excellent job bringing in the area's top high-school-age talent for the five-team showcase. There is something for everyone here, from future D-I, major junior, and pro prospects to a good number of kids who would do well by the prep/NESCAC route.
The tournament's Coordinator of Scouting is Kitchener Rangers (OHL) scout Bill Underwood, a Yardley, PA native with a strong line on the regionâ€™s young talent. It showed, too, as the games were crisp, and the teams well balanced. The makeup of the teams was roughly 40 percent '97s, 40 percent '98s, and 20 percent '99s.
A major attraction to the tournament is its strong regional identity, which enables scouts to get a good feel for the local player pool. Each team plays four games over the course of the weekend, and they are all in the same rink so you don't have to go running all over the place. In addition, Mongelluzzo and his staff put together a hefty profile book with a page for each player. Needless to say, it's a very scout-friendly tournament. It's player-friendly, too. Among other things, the players' jerseys are really well designed — a huge step above standard-issue tournament jerseys.
Next year, the tournament will expand to six teams and bring in some of the better players from the Washington, DC/Virginia area, as well as Long Island.
A Graduate of the "Liberty Bell Games" BC's Johnny Gaudreau wins Hobey Baker Award.
April 12, 2014
Local hockey talent was on display for scouts at Skate Zone last weekend
June 12, 2013
Original Article (NHL)
VOORHEES, N.J. - The 5th annual Liberty Bell Games took place last weekend at the Flyers Skate Zone here and was an overwhelming success.
More than 90 of the areas top high-school age hockey talent, selected from a pool of 216 applicants, played for five different teams during the weekend in front of nearly 60 professional, collegiate, junior, prep school and independent scouts.
During some down time on Saturday, the participating players were given tours of the practice facility by Flyers Ambassador of Hockey Todd Fedoruk and sat through a compelling presentation on training, developing players and prospects from Flyers Director of Player Development Ian Laperriere.
Kicking off the event, the Liberty Bell Games provided certificates of appreciation to their corporate partners from Wendy's and Comcast-Spectacor and presented Flyers president and COO of Comcast-Spectacor Peter Luukko with a certificate of appreciation.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren was also on hand for the start of the event.
"The event certainly could not happen without our Sponsors Comcast-Spectacor and Wendy's, as well as our staff," said Liberty Bell Games and President and CEO Lew Mongelluzzo, who is also a scout for the Ottawa Senators. "Equally important are the 90 players that committed their time and demonstrated their skill level in front of a national audience.
"The Atlantic District continues to play a prominent role in producing and developing players to compete throughout the country at high levels."
The Liberty Bell Games has had 33 players in it's first four seasons go on to play Division I NCAA hockey or CHL Junior Hockey.
Three players have been drafted by NHL teams – John Gaudreau was drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 draft by Calgary, Troy Vance was selected in the fifth round of that draft by Dallas, and the Flyers took goalie Anthony Stolarz in the second round of 2012.
Next year's Liberty Bell Games will take place June 6-8, 2014 at the Skate Zone. Applications can be submitted beginning in January.
In the meantime, the inaugural Philadelphia Amateur Hockey Combine, scheduled for July 30-August 1 at the Skate Zone, will bring together more than 100 of the top amateur hockey players, ages 13-19, from coast-to-coast.
This unmatched combination of on-and-off-ice testing, practices, and full 60-minute games will provide professional and college scouts in attendance with a comprehensive look at each player.
Daily instruction and lectures will be led by NHL alumni and coaches, including Todd Fedoruk, Derian Hatcher, Ian Laperriere, Jeremy Roenick, Robert Esche, and more.
Liberty Bell Games Review
June 11, 2013
USHR spent the weekend at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ taking in the 2013 Liberty Bell Games. Ottawa Senators scout Lew Mongelluzzo does a great job in bringing the majority of the area's top high school-aged talent together for a five-team showcase. There's a little something for everyone here, ranging from players with D-I and major junior interest to a healthy number of really good prep school/NESCAC type players. And there is a variety of scouts on hand to watch them all. A nice plus for the scouts – who need to home in on exactly who they need to be watching – is the amount of quality information they are given on the players. It's helpful to be able to immediately find out what any given player's GPA is, what his parents do for a living, whether or not he wants to play junior hockey or prep hockey, where he played last year, what type of college he would like to go to. It's all good info; it's all in the book; and very well done.
Scouts flock to Voorhees for local youth hockey tournament
June 7, 2013
Original Article (Courier Post)
Summer is usually a down time for youth hockey players. School is out. Relaxation sets in before months of dry-land training and another season on the ice this fall.
Starting today, those kids better to be ready to play.
One of the highlights of the offseason is the Liberty Bell Games, celebrating its fifth anniversary this weekend at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees.
Players ages 15 through 17 will compete in a five-team tournament. A crop of 258 applicants was whittled down to the 90 players who will compete.
Instead of spending up to $1500 for similar tournaments in Boston, the Liberty Bell Games has been a staple in the northeast for local players who don't want to pay an arm and a leg to compete. The event is also free for spectators, unlike other similar tournaments.
"Everybody just seems to hit the parents over the head just because they can," said Lew Mongelluzzo, owner of the tournament and scout for the Ottawa Senators. "For us, it's just not our philosophy."
Despite a rise in popularity over the last four years, Mongelluzzo was able to keep the entrance fee at $299 every year thanks to sponsorship from Comcast-Spectacor, Wendy's and Honda.
"We produced literally hundreds of collegiate players," Mongelluzzo said. "We've produced 75 to 100 professional players at (various) levels. We've had three kids eventually drafted out of this tournament."
Salem-native Johnny Gaudreau was drafted in the fourth round by the Calgary Flames in 2001. Goalie Anthony Stolarz was taken by the Flyers in the second round last June. The Dallas Stars selected Troy Vance in the fifth round of the 2011 draft.
That kind of competition has also attracted 12 scouts from 11 NHL teams and 19 NCAA scouts. There will also be scouts from the Ontario Hockey League, United States Hockey League and local prep schools.
They're coming to watch what might be the best group of young hockey players to come through the ranks in some time.
"The '94 (birth year) group was by far the best year for prospects," Mongelluzzo said. "This group this year will overtake that group. The '98 youth level is going to be the best group we've had in the five years we've been here."
LIBERTY BELL GAMES RETURN TO PHILADELPHIA
Original Article (NHL)
The 5th Annual Liberty Bell Games sponsored by Comcast Spectacor and Wendy's return to the Philadelphia area June 7th - 9th.
This premier tournament will showcase 90 elite high school-aged players from throughout USA Hockey's Atlantic District.
Games will be spread over a three day period at The Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.
Scouts and coaches from the National Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, NCAA, United States Hockey League, and others will be in attendance.
All games are open to the public, and admission is free.