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Monday, January 31, 2011

Joe LaBate: A Guy You Should Know

Do you like your centers big and skilled?

Then Minnesota ox Joseph LaBate of Holy Angels Academy is a player who should get the juices flowing.

At 6-4, 190-pounds, he's a stick figure right now, but dominating at the high school/prep level and when he fills out to his pro playing weight, look out. He has 20 goals in 19 games this season with 35 points. He went through a four-game stretch in which he potted nine goals, including a Texas hat trick (4 goals) against Blake.

Ranked behind Wayzata High winger Mario Lucia among Minnesota H.S. prospects on most scouting lists, LaBate is nevertheless flying under the radar a bit.

An effective net presence, LaBate uses his size to take away sight lines and has a quick stick. He lacks the strength to be a force right now, but is so much taller than most that he's still tough to move. Generates good power on his shot and it will only get heavier as he continues to add strength to his wiry frame. He does the dirty work in front of the net and in the corners. Like most big guys, he's able to use his big body to shield and protect the puck well, which allows his line to set up an effective cycle. He's gotten good marks for his hockey sense from scouts I've talked to as well.

Red Line Report has a nice write-up on him in the December issue (RLR breaks down the top-11 Minnesota prospects).

LaBate is an interesting player who isn't as heralded as other Minnesota prospects who have come down the line over the past several seasons, but has ability and some upside.

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