In recent years several metro-east hockey players have made an impact at various levels of pro or college hockey.
Here are a few of them:
* Defenseman Justin Fletcher grew up in Maryville and is still playing pro hockey in Europe.
Fletcher, who went to high school in St. Louis, played in the United States Hockey League before playing four years of college hockey at St. Cloud State,
He was in the American Hockey League for five seasons, including two with the Peoria Rivermen from 2008-10 in the St. Louis Blues organization, and also spent some time in the Tampa Bay organization. He played pro hockey in Vienna, Austria last season.
* George Cantrall, a physical forward who played for Roxana and Edwardsville in the Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association, had pro contracts with the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning. Cantrall said he played in two NHL exhibition games, but spent the bulk of his career in the minors.
* Goalie Charlie Effinger from Belleville, now 28, had a strong Division I college career at Miami (Ohio). He also played pro hockey, getting as high as the East Coast Hockey League and a brief stint with the AHL.
* Effinger's brother Eddie Effinger, a former captain and forward at Amherst College, later played for Quad City in the CHL and for Pensacola in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
* Alton native Dakota Mermis is a defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League. He had five goals and 25 points in 66 games for the London Knights last season.
* Clayton Keller is a 15-year-old forward from Swansea who played for the elite Shattuck St. Mary's program that also produced Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews.
Keller recently was asked to participate in the U.S. National Team Development Program and was a second-round pick in the OHL draft earlier this year. Keller has made a verbal commitment to play for Boston University.
-- Norm Sanders