USA Hockey announced today the names of 52 of the top players born in 1997 from around the country that have been invited to USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Evaluation Camp.
Three of the invited players call the state of Wisconsin home. Tarek Baker (Verona), Tommy Novak (River Falls) and Kevin Conley (Wausau) all received the special recognition Tuesday.
The camp, which will help select the 2013-14 U.S. National Under-17 Team, will take place March 22-26, at the Ann Arbor (Mich.) Ice Cube.
"Our entire staff works tirelessly all year long to prepare for this important first step in building a team," said Peter Ward, director of player personnel for the NTDP. "We look forward to evaluating these talented young men both on and off the ice."
The University of Wisconsin has typically recruited the NTDP program hard, and the Badgers' roster currently has five NTDP alumni in Nic Kerdiles, Jake McCabe, Michael Mersch, John Ramage and Frankie Simonelli.
A sophomore forward at Wausau West, Conley is coming off of his second straight trip to the WIAA boys state hockey tournament. The 5-foot-11, 183 pound Conley has good size and has a knack for scoring goals.
This season for West, Conley recorded 17 goals and 31 points in 28 games. For Team Wisconsin U-16 in the fall, Conley ironically also scored 17 goals and 31 points.
Baker is another sophomore forward who decided to leave Verona high school for the AAA circuit. Baker moved to Omaha, Neb., and joined the Omaha AAA U-16 team which won the NAPHL crown this season.
The 5-foot-10, 185 pound Baker registered 10 goals and 28 points in 22 league games in the NAPHL this season. Baker has some offensive flare and some grit to his game as well.
Novak is the third sophomore forward from the Badger state to be invited. Originally from St. Paul, Novak commutes daily to St. Thomas Academy in the twin-cities. This past weekend Novak's stock soared, as the River Falls native scored the game winning goal in the Minnesota Single-A championship game with just :06.1 seconds to play in regulation and the game tied 4-4.
The state title is the second in two years for Novak, who led the Cadet's in scoring this season with 28 goals and 57 points in 31 games. The 5-foot-11 Novak has a slender frame, but has incredible hockey awareness and is looking like a big-time college hockey recruit.
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