Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that Leo Bacallao, James Callahan, Carson Jones, Jonathan Panisa, and Ethan Roberts have been selected to represent our team at the 2022 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament! And that’s not all – Tyler Rennette has been named the Head Coach for Team Midwest as well!
Coach Rennette, in his fourth season at the helm of the Jr. Blues, will be assisted by newly hired Fairbanks Ice Dogs coach Dave Allison. He has led the Jr. Blues to two playoff appearances in his tenure and has led the team to our best start in franchise history this season. In total his record sits at 106-86-12-5 in 209 NAHL games and he became the 4th Jr. Blues Coach to eclipse the 100 win mark (Tony Curtale, Nick Pollos, Tony Zasowski).
“These guys have worked hard all season long, both on and off the ice, and they deserve this recognition,” said Head Coach Tyler Rennette. “We’re building something special here in Springfield this season and these five guys have been important to that process. I’m excited to be able to represent our team and organization at Top Prospects, and I look forward to seeing our players be able to experience this event.”
Leo Bacallao is in his second season with the Jr. Blues and his fourth year of junior hockey overall. He currently is second on the team in scoring with 28 points on 15 goals and 13 assists and was named an Assistant Captain at the beginning of this season. In 56 career games played with the Jr. Blues he has totaled 22 goals, 19 assists, and 188 penalty minutes. Leo represented the Jr. Blues at the 2020 Top Prospects Tournament as well.
James Callahan is in his first season in Springfield and has become a mainstay on the blue line since the beginning of camp. In 35 appearances this year he has collected 4 goals and 9 assists and leads all Jr. Blues defensemen in points with 13. Callahan joins us after playing four years at Benilde-St. Margaret’s School in Minnesota where he was the Captain his senior season. He is one of 13 rookies on the Jr. Blues roster this season.
Carson Jones is currently leading the way offensively for the Jr. Blues as we are now in the final stretch of his junior career. Jones played here in Springfield during the 2019-20 season and then played in North Iowa (NA3HL) during 2020-21 before returning this season and becoming one of our Assistant Captains. He currently has 10 goals and 19 assists in 33 games and overall in his two seasons with us he has 18 goals and 27 assists in 82 games. This is his first time representing the Jr. Blues at the Top Prospects Tournament.
Jonathan Panisa is in his third season with us here in Springfield and has been a fan favorite since he first arrived in the Fall of 2018. This year he has 9 goals and 17 assists and is third on the team in scoring. After stints in the USHL with the Central Illinois Flying Aces and Des Moines Buccaneers, JP has found a home here in Springfield and it’s shown in his production. In 79 career games with the Jr. Blues he has tallied 23 goals and 39 assists and this will be his second time representing us at Top Prospects after being selected in 2020.
Ethan Roberts is in his first season in Springfield and has been the workhorse in net since we began our return back in September. In 24 appearances this season he has registered a 14-6-1 record with a 2.74 GAA, .920 SV%, and 2 shutouts. Roberts played for the Nashville Jr. Predators 18U AAA program and the Loomis Chaffee School prior to joining the Jr. Blues. He is one of 13 rookies on the Jr. Blues roster this season.
The 2022 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament will take place February 7th and 8th at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township, PA. Team Midwest will play two games at the event: vs. Team Central on the 7th at 6:30 pm and vs. Team East on the 8th at 12:30 pm. All games are on CST and can be watched exclusively on HockeyTV.
The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament is one of the most highly scouted events of its kind, featuring almost every NHL team and NCAA Division I school. It continues to provide the hundreds of NHL and NCAA scouts in attendance with a look at the best uncommitted players the NAHL has to offer, as well as some potential NHL Draft picks. It is an important part of the NAHL event model, which is inclusive of the NAHL Showcase in September and the NAHL Robertson Cup National Championship in May.