Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Whalers ranked for NHL Draft, Nie an All-Star

The National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Service’s mid-term rankings, released last week, have two Plymouth Whalers rated in the first round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and another in the fourth round.

Center James Neal and right wing Dan Collins are rated 20th and 23rd, respectively, by Central Scouting and defenseman Ryan McGinnis (Fenton) is ranked 110th overall. All three players are 17 and in their second year with Plymouth.

The 2005 National Hockey League Entry Draft is tentatively scheduled for June 25-26 in Ottawa, Ont., at the Corel Centre.

“I’m happy for all three of them,” said Plymouth head coach and GM Mike Vellucci. “They’ve worked very hard to progress this far. They’re key members of our team now and will be over the next couple of years.”

Neal and Collins have also been selected to play in tonight’s Home Hardware Canadian Hockey League/NHL Top Prospects Game at GM Place in Vancouver, BC. The game features 40 of the CHL’s top prospects.

Plymouth goaltender Ryan Nie has been selected to play for the OHL’s Western Conference All-Stars in the 2005 All-Star Classic to be played Feb. 2 in Owen Sound.

Nie, 19, is among the league leaders in the OHL in several goaltending categories. In 37 games (third in the league) played this season for the Whalers, Nie has a 2.45 goals-against-average (fifth), a .919 save percentage (fifth) and 17-15-4 won-loss record. Nie posted his first shutout of the season Jan. 9 in a 3-0 victory in Sault Ste. Marie.

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