PLYMOUTH, Mich. – As a 16 year old, Joey Keane has played in 24 of 25 games in his first USHL season with Dubuque.
The Dubuque Fighting Saints defenseman, who is committed to play at Miami, put up 11 points in 26 games with the Under-16 Chicago Mission last season and is feeling his way out at the next level, posting two assists in 2015-16.
Another Chicago-area product, Keane is projected to join the RedHawks in the fall of 2017 by Elite Prospects.
At this point we give the obligatory disclaimer that when writing about FutureHawks, opinions are only based on this game, and that typically does not provide a completely accurate representation of the player’s abilities. However, combined with stats at this and previous levels, a decent idea can be had about a player’s strengths and weaknesses at this point.
With that in mind, Blog Of Brotherhood visited the Team USA facility last weekend and took a look at Keane:
Height: 6-0. Weight: 180. DOB: 7/2/1999. From: Homer Glen, Ill.
Games: 24. Goals: 0. Assists: 2. Points: 2. Plus-minus: 1. PIM: 18.
GAME NIGHT: Keane was on the second defense pairing to the right of 19 year old Carson Vance. He entered play with just one assist, but he would pick up his second of the season a night later against Team USA.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The first thought that comes to mind when seeing Keane is: This kid’s really 16? He displays veteran coolness on defense that makes one think the 1999 listed for his birthyear is a typo. By contrast, he is still a bit cautious, which is completely understandable and probably welcomed by the coaching staff considering he has logged all of two dozen games in this league – he rarely takes chances. Keane has a number of means by which to clear the puck out of danger, from pitch-forking it away to poke checking to whacking it up the boards, and all appear to be highly developed for his age. Again, this was just one game, but he appears to be a student of the game with his positioning and well-coached style of play. His passing is also excellent, good enough to vault him onto the top power play unit, where he logged a number of minutes due to ample Team USA minor penalties. There’s a lot to like in Keane.
FIRST PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS: Made a good pass to help get the puck out of the defensive zone…was on the ice for a Team USA goal, which was scored on a weak wrister from the blue line which was not at all a result of his play…on the power play, moved the puck well from the blue line but Dubuque did not generate a shot…made a solid offensive zone pass that resulted in a good shot on goal that was stopped…took a quality bad-angle shot in deep off a loose puck, and later that shift cleared the puck along the boards nicely in his own zone with a forward bearing down.
SECOND PERIOD HIGHIGHTS: Pitch-forked a puck to his partner from behind his own net…shot on goal off a dump in that was saved…excellent hold-in at the blue line with his skate on the power play…fanned on a PP shot in the slot…settled another tough clearing attempt at the blue line, ultimately resulting in a Dubuque goal.
THIRD PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS: Had a wrist shot blocked, and a subsequent lateral pass to his partner was picked off cleanly…blasted a puck all the way down the ice on the penalty kill, ending a scoring threat…logged tons of ice time in the final five minutes in this close game.
FINAL GAME INFO: Keane finished with the one sharp-angle shot and went even, with one goal at even strength scored by both teams while he was on the ice. Dubuque also netted a power play maker with him on the ice.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Right now he’s an impressive defensive defenseman in this league at 16. The sky seems to be the limit for Keane, and based on his ice time on the power play, penalty kill and in the final minutes (he was out there on the final shift in a one-goal game), Dubuque’s coaches agree. He makes quality passes and could be a solid quarterback on the power play, especially since he has scored at previous levels. At 6-feet-0 and 180 pounds, he definitely needs to get stronger, as he can get muscled off the puck, but his skills helped him overcome that a couple of times in this game. He should still grow at least another inch, and that combined with strength conditioning will only make him better. Keane isn’t a sexy player at this point – not a fancy passer, doesn’t blast slap shots or lay out big hits – but if you like the defensive aspect of hockey, he’s a delight to watch and has a ton of upside.
WHERE HE FITS IN AT MIAMI: If the plan for Keane truly is 2017-18, only Scott Dornbrock and Grant Hutton would be back that season from Miami’s current crop of blueliners, so his primary competition would be other incoming D-men in the incoming classes of 2016 and 2017 at that point. He is a high school junior now, so he could come in later, but if he continues to improve the next 18 months he should be ready as a true freshman. With the stronger body and more development, he could be a top shut-down defenseman who can also contribute on offense and possibly run the power play. Yes, please.
GAME PHOTOS BY CATHY LACHMANN: