Eagles’ Palmerio waits before committing to college
There is an offer on the table for Jake Palmerio to attend school in Michigan and play at the Division 3 National Collegiate Athletic Association level beginning next season.
The hockey team has made him an offer and Palmerio has fulfilled the education requirements that would make him a student-athlete at the school in question.
But Palmerio, a 1997 birth-year forward with the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, wants to wait it out before committing to a particular school.
For one, Palmerio still has another season of junior hockey eligibility remaining after this season.
Then there is the fact that there are other Division 3, NCAA schools that have been made aware of – and are in the process of checking out – the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Palmerio, a hard-working, character kid who plays bigger than his size.
Having passed the 20-goal mark and averaging a point-per-game as an all-purpose performer for the Eagles this season, Palmerio is a lead-by-example player who continues to impress coaches Jim Capy and Bruno Bragagnolo.
Dependable. Tough. Relentless. Hard-working.
Those are just a few of the words that coaches Capy and Bragagnolo have used to describe Palmerio, a Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native who is in his second season with the Michigan-based Eagles.
But while Palmerio will no doubt have more than one Division 3 NCAA offer to choose from when he opts to move on from the Eagles and the NOJHL and head to school, there has to be at least one Division 1 school out there that should have the kid’s name somewhere in the files.
And to be sure, the youngster’s coach from two seasons ago with the erstwhile Batchewana Attack of the now-defunct Canadian International Hockey League – the reputable Denny Lambert – is but a phone call away from any Division 1 coach who wants to ask about Palmerio.
Suffice to say that Lambert, the retired National Hockey League journeyman of more than 500 games and recently-hired as associate coach of the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League, knows a player when he sees one. Lambert is also high on character mixed with ability – and he continues to follow Palmerio.
As a matter of fact, when I asked Lambert if he thought Palmerio had the overall ability and make up to play at the Division 1 NCAA level, the reply was quick and without hesitation.
“Absolutely. Without question,” was Lambert’s response.
Lambert knows what it is like to be on the small side and off the main radar.
Never drafted into the Ontario Hockey League, Lambert made the Soo Greyhounds as an 18-year old walk-on and stuck around to play three full seasons.
Never drafted into the NHL, Lambert persevered and eventually made it to the “Show” and lasted to skate in more than 500 games in what was an improbable career.
So when the now 47-year old Lambert – who had eight years of coaching experience in the OHL with the Greyhounds prior to his current QMJHL gig in Gatineau – gives his opinion on a player, the tendency is to take him at his word.
If a guy like Lambert says a kid like Palmerio can play Division 1 NCAA hockey then I believe it.
And if there is a Division 1 NCAA coach out there looking for a reference on Palmerio, all they need do is to give Lambert a call.
Law & order
If the name of the crown prosecutor who won a conviction in the much-publicized Calgary murder trial of Douglas Garland rings a bell to Ontario Hockey League followers it’s because Shane Parker is a former coach.
Parker coached in the OHL from 1990 to 1997, beginning and ending with the North Bay Centennials and before and after a stint with the Windsor Spitfires.
An assistant coach under the legendary Bert Templeton for three seasons in North Bay, Parker then took over as head coach in Windsor for the 1993-1994 campaign. He then returned to North Bay after Templeton left for the Barrie Colts and was coach-general manager of the Centennials for two full seasons before being fired part way through the 1996-97 campaign.
After leaving North Bay the second time, Parker returned home to eastern Canada and once back in school, earned his law degree before moving to Calgary and becoming crown prosecutor.
Earlier this month, Parker convinced a Calgary jury to find the aforementioned Garland guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of a five-year-old boy and his grandparents.
Garland, 57, had been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the 2014 deaths of five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and Alvin Liknes, 66, and Kathy Liknes, 53, of Calgary.
Guelph Storm rookie defenseman Nolan Makkonen is proof that the Ontario Hockey League draft can be a difficult yet rewarding science.
A lowly ninth-round pick of the Storm at the 2015 draft, the 1999 birth-year defenseman moved up to the OHL and Guelph from the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League on January 10 of this year. He has since taken a regular shift for Guelph, which is in last place in the Western Conference in the second season of a major rebuilding project. The 6-foot, 183-pound Makkonen was selected by Guelph on the recommendation of its Sault Ste. Marie-based scout Jimmy Mancuso.
A strong kid with a good right-handed shot, Makkonen had been a steady and dependable defenseman with the NOJHL Eagles before getting the call from Guelph and signing with the OHL Storm.
A defensive-minded defender who skates well and who plays what has been called a “smart game,” Makkonen had 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points in through his 14 games with Guelph this season. Ironically, he also had 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points with the NOJHL Eagles – but in 34 games.
As he continues to get used to the faster pace of the OHL, Makkonen has earned the praise of Guelph head coach Jarrod Skalde.
“He’s an honest player who competes hard,” Skalde said of Makkonen. “He’s done a good job and we are looking ahead to what he can do for us next year and beyond.”
Indeed, the future looks bright for the Storm, which, including Makkonen, has no less than ten 1999 birth-year players on its roster.
Meanwhile, veteran Guelph general manager Mike Kelly noted that Makkonen “has taken advantage of the opportunity that has been presented him and has played some quality minutes for us. We like him.”
Makkonen’s former boss with the NOJHL Eagles, co-coach/general manager Bruno Bragagnolo said, “there was never a doubt in our minds that Nolan was ready to play in the OHL. Guelph has got itself a good defenseman and a character kid. He’s a smart kid and he knows how to play the game.”