Here's a brief list of Nebraska greats:
Even at this stage of his career, as a 16 year old player about to make his Major Junior debut, he's already one of the greatest Nebraskan hockey players. According to my research, there have been 24 NHL goals scored by Cornhuskers in the history of the league.
I've played on the rink that Price grew up on. I know this for a fact, as there is only one ice sheet in Lincoln: the arena that is home to the USHL's Lincoln Stars. Its one of my favorite places to watch a hockey game - its literally a barn - built to house livestock during the state fair.
The development of Nebraska hockey has been an interesting story. The Omaha Lancers started in 1986, and have generally been successful. Lincoln won the cup in 1997 - their inaugural year. My hometown Tri-City Storm blew into town in 2000. People say the influence of Gretzky being traded to L.A. wasn't seen in homegrown players until the last few years - guys like McColgan & De Leo are part of this phenomena. Hockey fever caught in 1988, so kids growing up after that were exposed to the game. Ethan Price was born the same year the Stars came to Lincoln.
It probably would have been attractive to play for the hometown Stars, but the Youngstown Phantoms hold his rights. Different leagues aside, if it comes down to spending the year in Youngstown VS Portland - I'm taking Portland. It looks like the Stars only passed on him once, which if I'm the Stars I HAVE to take the local kid.
Often American kids are attracted to the NCAA route. However, in this part of the world the "local" college program is in Omaha - with their first year being 1997-98. Not a lot of history there. Otherwise you are looking at programs in Minnesota or Colorado - not particularly tied to the Star City.
In late July, Coach Johnston said there would only be one 16 on this years team:
As far as 16-year-old rookies go, it seems blueliner Keoni Texeira, who was selected 26th overall in 2012, will be the only one to make the jump.“I think Texeira will be our only 16 year old on our team next year,” says Johnston. “He looks like he’s ready to make an impact. We’ve been really happy with his development.”
Poking around on his twitter account, it looks like Price came to town on a mission to earn a spot:
You have to love that kind of drive in a player. Its also worth mentioning that this is a player, US born, highly touted (according to the 'Hawks), who signed post-sanctions. Presumably there's nothing the team has offered that is beyond what is WHL legal. Some have proposed that these signings may dry up, and time will tell.
Poking around the google, I found some various reviews of Price:
Chris Dilks follows the US National Development Program (USNDP). Here's his scouting report from September 2012:
Ethan Price-F-Omaha Lancers U16- Price is listed at 5'11" 190 lbs. I don't believe that for a second, but the point stands that he's not all that big, while being pretty developed physically. There's a lot to like about his game. He skates, he hits, he's got a pretty heavy snapshot with a quick release. I just wonder how high the ceiling is. Maybe I'm way off, but I see him as more of an energy guy than a big-time scorer as he advances.
His report from the March 2013 tryout camp:
Ethan Price-A strong kid. Not a ton of offensive upside, but he'll be a very tough two-way forward to play against.
Also from Chris Dilks upon Price signing:
Another American heads to Portland.
Ethan Price, a '97-born forward that skated last season with the Omaha U16 team, has signed with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. Price had 15 goals and 23 assists through 22 games with Omaha last year, helping them to an undefeated season in the NAPHL.
Price was invited to skate at the NTDP tryout camp this past spring, and was a second round selection of the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL in the league's Phase II future's draft. Previously, Portland had selected him in the 6th round of the 2012 WHL bantam draft.
Overall, it looks like a very good American addition for the Winterhawks roster.
I'm not sure if I've heard of an undefeated season in hockey at any level - and they played some heavyweights. They won the cup, too:
This past season, Price led Omaha in scoring during NAPHL games with 38 points (15 goals, 23 assists) in 22 games played. He also had eight points in five playoff games as the Omaha AAA 16U Hockey Club won the NAPHL Championship.
In July of 2013 there was a US National tryout, and Russ Bitely was there. He had Price listed as a "B" grade prospect to make the US team:
Ethan Price – Forward: Omaha AAA U16; Lincoln, NE – Draft eligible 2015
He is a shooter for certain. He likes to get that puck on his stick and fire away a quick, snap shot. He can score by placing his shots or saw him get lucky too by putting puck to the net from behind goal line and getting a fortunate bounce off defender. He handles the puck well and has some decent speed. He had a pretty solid effort at Select 16s.
I always love seeing the "C" on sweaters of guys joining the 'Hawks:
Those scouting reports are all over the board, which makes perfect sense: you're looking at a 15 year old kid playing against other 15 year old kids. I'm sure those guys are also going off of a small amount of viewings as well.
That being said, if we get the average of the reports - we are looking at a physical, two way forward with a sneaky snapshot. I like it.