TORONTO, ONT. -- The New Jersey Colonials program has been a popular one for Harvard, as they dipped back into the AYHL ranks to add Alex Gaffney ('02), a crafty offensive forward who also serves as a co-captain for the team.
With credit to their coach, Noel Rubin, for breaking the news, Gaffney's commitment comes on the heels of his former '01 teammates Marshall Warren and John Farinacci both making pledges to Harvard last season. Standing no more than 5-foot-6 right now, Gaffney would undoubtedly benefit from some future physical growth, but he clearly has the pure skill and abilities that put him in the top-40 conversation within the OHL Draft region this year.
The Gaffney commitment comes after two other '02 birth-year forwards made commitments in December, with Isaac Novak commiting to Wisconsin and his New Jersey teammate Cole Vallese pledging towards Providence. Unsurprisingly, the '02 forwards have already been coveted this season as the strength of the crop clearly lies up front at this point. With several months remaining in the season, don't be surprised to see that trend continue with no shortage of high-end American names still on the board, and the top Ontario prospect, Dylan Peterson, already commiting to Boston University.
With the NCAA's ramped up aggressiveness towards players in the bantam/14U season, it'll be interesting to see if the OHL starts to combat this trend moving into 2017 and beyond. The collegiate loop has clearly identified a need - and value - in targeting players earlier than they traditionally would have, but the OHL has yet to really counter the move as their first real touch point with the age group isn't until the OHF U15 camps which take place in the summer following each bantam season.
Nonetheless, we'll continue to keep a close eye on the recruiting activity as colleges will be kicking their scouting into high gear with the Port Huron Silver Stick and THE CUP North American Championship in Buffalo just around the corner.