The Penguins have a ton invested in the collegiate hockey scene. As always, Faceoff-Factor will be on top of the prospect coverage this year as we bring you updates from the minor leagues, with both statistics and scouting reports.

We’ll go East to West on this report, starting out with Providence Friars hockey and defensive prospect Alex Velischek.

Drafted 123rd overall in the 2009 entry draft, the first of the Penguins two delbarton prospects is coming off of a strong rookie season where he played all 34 games as a freshman. The winner of the Rev. Herman Schneider Most Valuable Freshman award, Velischek is looking to expound on a great first campaign and continue to impress with more playing time.

To date, the Friars are 1-2, picking up a win over Northeastern with dual losses to Minnesota-Duluth after that.

Velischek has had a steady start to the year, registering one assist in the three games and sporting an even ranking despite a 7-1 trouncing by Duluth over the weekend.

The hope for us is that Velischek can unleash a little bit more offensive ability this season. He has some untapped potential there so it would be great to see him net some additional goals this year. He continues to be strong in his own end and is proving to be a great presence in front of his own net.

Moving West, St. Cloud St. has moved to 1-2-1 on the year and prospect Ben Hanowski has found himself on the score sheet a few times.

Hanowski had a great camp this year in Pittsburgh and appeared to bulk up a bit in the offseason. His performance in last year’s frozen four left a bit to be desired, as he found himself on the pine a little bit struggling to compete in the physicality of the games.

Now, Hanowski finds himself as the leading goal scorer in St. Cloud with 2 goals in 4 games, one of which is a game winner. His 12 shots is good for 4th on the team and he’s continually found himself with the puck in good areas.

His -3 has left a bit to be desired, but to be fair, he hasn’t been bad in the zone and St. Cloud has few plus players on their squad.

In 43 games last year, Hanowski only registered 9 goals. His 2 in 4 games this season has put him off to a promising start.

Remember, this is a kid that registered some major points on the Minnesota High-School hockey scene. He’ll be looking to regain that form as he continues his collegiate career. As we’ve said before, there isn’t a player in the system that has the potential to be a pure sniper like Hanowski does.

Moving even further West, the University of Denver has welcomed Beau Bennett to the lineup as they’ve gotten their season rolling as well.

Denver also finds themselves at 1-2-1 on the year, picking up a win and a tie over Vermont to start the year, and dropping two games to Boston College this weekend.

Bennett is wearing #9 for Denver and has no points in 4 games, getting limited time in each match. While he has no points in the regular season, he did notch a power-play goal in an exhibition loss to the University of Lethbridge earlier this year.

Give Bennett some time to mesh with his new team and adjust to the NCAA style of play. This is a big jump from the BCHL. Natural talent like Bennett’s will always rise to the top. It’s only a matter of time before he makes an impression at this level.

Stay tuned for more updates and thanks for reading!