NYR Prospect Watch: 2021 7th round pick Hank Kempf

New York Rangers 2021, 7th Round Pick (208 Overall), Hank Kempf was named to the starting lineup for Cornell’s Big Red Men’s Ice Hockey team. He lined up on left defense with partner Sam Malinski on the right side as the team was in Hamden, CT on Saturday to wrap up the opening weekend of ECAC Hockey against Quinnipiac.

Both teams were victorious the night before, with Cornell head coach Mike Schafer picking up his 500th career victory in a win against Princeton University, while Quinnipiac Bobcats, and 2023 IIHF U-20 World Juniors Championship Team USA head coach, Rand Pecknold defeated the Colgate Raiders.

NYR Prospect: Hank Kempf

Hank Kempf
Cornell’s Hank Kempf warming up before the game (Photo: Alan Selavka)

With 14:23 to play in the opening frame, Quinnipiac went on their first power-play following a hooking call. Hank Kempf was featured on the first unit for Cornell, and skated back to the bench one minute into the penalty kill. Returning to the ice shortly after the penalty expired, Kempf iced the puck on his next shift while attempting a dump and change, and had to stay out for the defensive zone draw almost ten minutes in.

Kempf stood up his man near the left circle later on. It was the first big hit of the game, which elicited a loud response from the crowd. On his next shift, the puck was pinned down in the visitor’s end for a long stretch. Kempf was able to make one pass to his partner, yet was unsuccessful in breaking the puck out of his own end on another attempt. 

Jacob Quillan recorded the first goal for Quinnipiac with just under five minutes to play in the first period. Kempf was back on the ice less than a minute later for another defensive zone faceoff. Kempf cleared the zone for Cornell, and sent a cross ice pass to his partner at the opposite blueline. He held the puck in the offensive zone while the forwards changed, and sent another cross ice pass before heading to the bench himself. 

Cornell was on the penalty kill again after freshman Winter Wallace was called for hooking with 2:38 remaining in the period. Hank Kempf was out as part of the second unit for this kill, coming on with 1:05 on the clock.

The Big Red successfully managed to kill the penalty, Kempf was back on the ice for the closing seconds of the period. He showed good gap control, while also carring the puck into the offensive zone before dropping it back to a forward. It was a rough first period for the visiting team, as Quinnipiac did not allow a shot on goal, with the official stat line showing 17 for the host. 

With the start of the middle frame, Kempf appeared to have been benched, as he did not jump over the boards until there was 16:37 on the clock. After Cornell goalie Ian Shane stopped a shot, Hank Kempf kicked the puck to himself and completed a pass to a teammate before heading off the ice for a change.

Gabriel Sefer was assessed a major penalty for hitting from behind, and subsequently issued a game misconduct following a video review. While he wasn’t one of the initial penalty killers, Kempf did make two nice plays along the boards to check opposing players, and hold them until a teammate could gain possession of the puck to clear down the length of the ice. 

Coming back on with under two minutes left in the major penalty, Kempf threw another big hit before a teammate was able to gain the puck for a clearing attempt. Quinnipiac was unable to capitalize with the man advantage, with Ian Shane standing tall to keep it a one goal game. 

Later in the period, Kempf gained possession in the offensive zone, but his shot attempt was blocked. The ensuing counter attack by the Bobcats was stopped. After a long delayed call, Cornell had their first powerplay of the game with 5:25 to go in the second period on a tripping call against Jacob Quillan. Goaltender Yaniv Perets was also charged with tripping shortly thereafter, leading to a 5 on 3 powerplay for Cornell.

Hank Kempf did not see any time on the powerplay, but was out for the end of the period when the two teams were back to even strength. At the end of the second, Quinnipiac led 1-0 while holding a 23-3 shot advantage. Faceoffs were even at 15-15 (after also being tied in the first period 10-10). 

Cornell went back on the powerplay early in the third period as a result of a cross-check from Jake Johnson. The Big Red failed to generate any attack with the man advantage, ending the powerplay with no shots. Kempf jumped on the ice with just over 16 minutes left, and kept the puck in the offensive zone. 

Quinnipiac goaltender Yaniv Perets faced his first real test of the night when the Bobcats were called for another tripping penalty with 11:09 remaining. He had to adjust his equipment after taking a puck to the mask. Cornell couldn’t convert though, and continued to trail. 

With 8:27 to go, Kempf was back on the ice for the visitors, and held the puck behind the net while his team made a change. He made a couple of passes leading to a breakout before another shot attempt was blocked. Travis Mitchell was called for slashing with 6:11 to play, and Cornell once again found themselves on the penalty kill. Kempf made a nice play to ice the puck prior to heading to the bench, and Quinnipiac failed to score. 

Ian Shane came off the ice for an extra attacker with two minutes to go in the game, but had to return to the crease with 1:15 left following an icing. Jacob Quillan sealed the win for the home team with 11.1 seconds remaining, scoring his second of the game on an empty net goal. 

New York Rangers prospect Hank Kempf finished the game with 3 blocked shots in the 2-0 loss while Quinnipiac out-shot Cornell by a 28-9 margin and had a plus-24 differential in shot attempts, 60-36. 

He showed strong defensive-zone coverage, and played a physical game. From my observations, I would agree with several other scouting reports that playing the puck is not his strong suit, and the defenseman does not project to provide much from an offensive projection. 

Rangers fans will have the opportunity to see Hank Kempf in action when Cornell plays UConn Huskies on Saturday, November 26th at Madison Square Garden for “The Frozen Apple”.

Miles Wood should be on Rangers draft radar

At only 17 years old, Matthew Wood of the University of Connecticut Huskies (Hockey East) is the youngest player in college hockey this season. Wood is a skilled talent to an incoming class of 16 new players this season for an emerging Huskies team with high ambitions to win its first ever Hockey East championship and NCAA tournament appearance after falling an OT goal short last season. 

UConn Men’s Ice Hockey plays their home games at the XL Center in Hartford, CT. New York Rangers fans will recognize the venue as the home of AHL affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack. The two teams often play double headers on Saturday afternoon and night. 

Entering their ninth season in Hockey East, the Huskies had their first 20-win campaign in 2021-2022 with head coach Mike Cavanaugh returning to the #IceBus after being courted by Boston College following the retirement of long-time bench boss Jerry York.

“The guys that came back from last year are super hungry. They were one OT goal away from going to the tournament,” Wood said. “That really helps us, and they believe that this team is even more special. I think everyone in the locker room believes that too.” 

College Hockey News

Wood joined the lineup a year early after initially committing as a class of 2023 recruit. The 6-3 freshman played previously with the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL, where he holds the junior league’s record for both goals and points with 45 goals and 40 assist in 46 games last season.

He’s likely to be the highest NHL pick Connecticut has boasted, a feat currently belonging to Tage Thompson (2016 1st round, 26th overall to St. Louis Blues). The Nanaimo, British Columbia native was categorized as an A-rated prospect in the NHL’s October 25th Central Scouting report for “Players to Watch” ahead of the 2023 draft in Nashville. Wood was the only name from Hockey East to make the first round list.  In his article “THE TOP 100 NCAA PLAYERS TO GET EXCITED ABOUT FOR 2022-23” Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News listed Matthew Wood at 7. The Athletic projected him to go ninth overall in its most recent 2023 NHL Mock Draft

Through nine games this season, he’s tallied three goals, and five assists for eight points, helping UConn Men’s Ice Hockey get off to it’s best ever start to the season with an overall record of 7-1-1 (4-1-0 in Hockey East).

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