Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Whalers in 3-0 hole to Attack

Last night in Owen Sound, Brad Richardson scored three goals and added an assist to pace the Attack to a 5-0 win over the Plymouth Whalers.

Owen Sound leads the series 3-0 and can sweep with a win in Game 4 on Thursday in Plymouth.

Patrick Jarrett and Igor Gongalsky also scored and Bobby Ryan and Mike Angelidis each chipped in with a pair of assists. Mike Brown made 18 saves for his second shutout of the series.

Plymouth goaltender Ryan Nie stopped 24 of 28 shots before being replaced by Justin Garay to start the third period. Garay stopped four of five shots.

The Whalers have scored just one goal in the three playoff games so far.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Saginaw hands out year-end awards

Saginaw captain Thomas Harrison inked an ECHL deal with the Reading Royals after winning two awards at Saginaw's awards banquet.

The Saginaw Spirit hosted their 2004-05 Awards Ceremony at the Dow Event Center last Tuesday.

The 2004-05 award winners:

Leading Scorer
Marek Kvapil

Wren Blair Leadership Award
Jeff Weber

Community Service Award
Thomas Harrison

Nouvel Spirit Achievement Award
Jamie Klie

Davenport Spirit Academic Award
Daniel Borges

Heart and Soul Award
Thomas Harrison

Rookie of the Year
Marek Kvapil

Most Improved Player
Jamie Klie

Most Valuable Defenseman
Patrick McNeill

Fan Favorite
Marek Kvapil

Team Most Valuable Player
Marek Kvapil, Tom Pyatt

On a side note, Harrison inked a deal with the Reading Royals of the ECHL last week.

Indians finish season with sweep

The Soo Indians finished what could be their final NAHL regular season with a two-game sweep at home against the Youngstown Phantoms last weekend.

Ending with a 33-18-5 record, the Indians finish in second place in the North Division and will play Youngstown in a semi-final playoff series starting this weekend.

Friday night, Glenn Ylitalo scored twice and Jim Pentecost added a solo as the Soo took a 3-2 win. Goalie Jason Kearney made 16 saves.

Drew Satterley was the overtime hero Saturday as his goal 1:57 into the extra session gave the Indians another 3-2 victory. Ylitalo and Marty Gurnoe also scored for the Soo, who got a 20-save performance out of goalie Troy Redmann.

The U.S. National Under-18 Team finished first in the division, followed by the Soo, Youngstown and Fairbanks IceDogs. The Cleveland Barons and Toledo IceDiggers did not qualify for the playoffs. Team USA will play the IceDogs in the other semi-final series.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Whalers down 2-0 to Attack

Scoring just one goal in two games won't get it done in the playoffs, but maybe the Plymouth Whalers are hoping to be the exception.

The Whalers opened their first-round OHL playoff matchup with the Owen Sound Attack last weekend and lost 1-0 in Owen Sound Friday night and 6-1 Saturday night at the Compuware Sports Arena.

Friday, former Western Michigan forward Jeff Kryzakos scored the lone goal and goalie Mike Brown, formerly of the Saginaw Spirit, stopped all 21 shots he saw for the shutout. Plymouth goalie Ryan Nie made 33 saves.

Brown was again stellar Saturday night as he stopped 26 shots, only allowing a late second-period goal to Whalers co-captain John Mitchell. Nie finished with 32 saves.

Game Three is Tuesday night in Owen Sound with Game Four going Thursday night in Plymouth at 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Jackson native Kampfer earns USHL honors

Sioux City Musketeers' defenseman Steven Kampfer (Jackson) earned top honors for USHL Defensive Player of the Week by posting four points in two games played last week.

Kampfer scored both of his goals on the power play in two victories that helped put Sioux City into the postseason. He put the Musketeers on the board first against Des Moines in a 4-3 win and tallied three points against Waterloo the next night.

Kampfer has committed to the University of Michigan of the CCHA for 2006.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Whalers & Spirit players drafted by UHL teams

In yesterday's United Hockey League North American Amateur Draft, several Ontario Hockey League players with Michigan ties were taken by the 14 member teams.

Four Plymouth Whalers were drafted, all by the Richmond (Va.) RiverDogs, including defenseman Mike Knight fifth overall in the first round. Knight had actually signed with Richmond last summer before deciding to come back to Plymouth for his overage season.

Plymouth defenseman Mike Letizia went in the fourth round to Richmond as did forward John Vigilante, a Dearborn native, in the fifth round and goalie Ryan Nie in the sixth round.

Saginaw Spirit captain Thomas Harrison and leading scorer Marek Kvapil were both selected in the first round by the Flint Generals.

Erie Otters captain and Berrien Springs native Brian Lee went in the third round to the Kansas City Outlaws.

Players that are 19 years of age or older who played in North America during the 2004-05 season are eligible for the draft.

The draft consisted of six rounds with each UHL team selecting in reverse order of their current winning percentage. Each UHL team is permitted to protect up to four of their six drafted players and place them on their final roster. In addition, each UHL team is allowed to protect two players for their team's playoff roster. These two selected players are exempt from the six games played requirement for players on the postseason roster.

There is no guarantee that any of the players taken will report to their respective teams, however.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Shouneyia commits to Michigan State

The Cleveland Barons of the North American Hockey League are proud to announce that defenseman Matt Shouneyia has committed to Michigan State University for the upcoming 2005-06 season.

Shouneyia, a 6-foot, 185-pound left defenseman, is a native of West Bloomfield. He currently has 30 pts (9G-21A) in 54 games, which ranks him in a tie for fifth place among defensemen in the NAHL.

Shouneyia, the Barons captain, is in his second season with the club. He started his career in the Compuware organization and from there he joined the Danville Wings in the USHL in 2003-04. Cleveland acquired Shouneyia in October of that year. Shouneyia is noted for his speed and a great passing skills, which earned him a place on the NAHL All-Star team this past February.

Matt will be the fourth Baron to wear the Green and White colors of Michigan State. He joins current Spartans Tommy Goebel and graduating senior captain Jim Slater and current teammate Kurt Kivisto, another 2005-2006 recruit.

"I congratulate Matt and his family for committing with MSU," said Barons head coach and general manager Tim Alexander. "Matt has the potential to be a top defenseman in the CCHA. I wish him all the best at Michigan State.”

Shouneyia becomes the fifth current Baron to commit to a CCHA school this year joining defenseman Steve Silver (Western Michigan), defenseman Nick Biondo (Ohio State University), forward Kurt Kivisto (Michigan State) and forward Jacob Cepis (Bowling Green).

John Shouneyia, Matt's older brother, played at Michigan from 1999-2003 and had a free-agent tryout with the Detroit Red Wings in 2003.

Saginaw goalie Weber goes pro

Former Buffalo draft pick signs first professional contract

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – The Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies of the ECHL, a proud affiliate of the New York Islanders, have announced that the club has signed rookie goaltender Jeff Weber to a contract for the remainder of the season. Weber is expected to be in uniform when the Bullies face-off with the Trenton Titans Friday at Sovereign Bank Arena.

Weber, 20, recently completed his final season of major junior hockey with both the Barrie Colts and Saginaw Spirit of the prestigious Ontario Hockey League. The Manotick, ON native finished with a record of 15-28-4 along with a 3.41 goals against average and a .906% save percentage in 48 games between Barrie and Saginaw.

A former eighth round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres from the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Weber led all OHL goaltenders with a 2.32 goals against average and a .925% save percentage in 2002-03 as a rookie with the Plymouth Whalers.

In a separate transaction, the Bullies have released goaltender Dave Marlin.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Indians swept by U.S. Under-18 squad

The Soo Indians dropped both games to the United States Under-18 Team last weekend and will finish in second place behind Team USA in the NAHL North standings.

Jason Kearney made 26 saves Saturday night, but lost 2-1 in a shootout. Ray Kaunisto scored the lone goal for the Indians (31-18-5).

Sunday, Ryan Ward scored for the Soo in the 3-1 loss. Kearney stopped 10 shots.

Team USA had pasted the Toledo IceDiggers 13-0 Friday night and earned a weekend sweep over their North Division rivals.

The Indians host the Youngstown Phantoms this weekend to close out the regular season. Game time Friday and Saturday night at Chi Mukwa Arena is 7 p.m.

Saginaw finishes season on high note

The Saginaw Spirit downed the Erie Otters, 5-1, in Erie Saturday night. The Spirit victory locked the team in 17th place in the OHL, the highest place the Spirit have finished in team history.

Saginaw opened scoring in the first period when forward Tommy Mannino connected with linemate Joe McCann. Matt Corrente also assisted on the goal. The Otters equalized at the thirteen-minute mark, when forward Andrew Shennan scored on the power play. The Otters outshot Saginaw 22-5 in the period.

Saginaw took the lead at the five minute mark of the second period, when hustle from forward Chris Ferguson created a scoring opportunity. Ferguson took the puck deep into Erie's zone, then flipped the puck in front of the net where Corrente put the puck in on the backhand. The Spirit opened the lead to 3-1 twelve minutes later when forward Michal Birner hit Mannino in stride on a breakaway.

The score remained 3-1 into the third period, when Birner set up another scoring opportunity. Birner fired the puck into Erie's zone, where Marek Kvapil put the puck on net. Linemate Tom Pyatt crashed the net and put in Kvapil's rebound for the Spirit's fourth goal. The Spirit opened the lead to 5-1 three minutes later on the power play, when Mannino tipped in a Birner shot. Pyatt also assisted.

Mannino's three point night helped him break the 50-point mark for the season. Birner's three assists pushed him over the 40-point mark in his first OHL season. Pyatt and Corrente had two-point nights. Spirit goalie Jeff Weber turned back 49 shots in the effort.

The Spirit finish the season 18-42-4-4 on the season, fourth in the OHL West Division and ninth in the Western Conference.

Whalers end regular season beating Knights

John Vigilante’s power play goal at 14:32 of the second period proved to be the game-winner as the Plymouth Whalers went on to defeat the London Knights 4-3 played Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 3,916 at the Compuware Sports Arena.

The victory was Plymouth’s first against the Canadian Hockey League’s best team. London is now 59-6-2-0. The Whalers finish the season with a 30-29-6-3 record good for 69 points and second place in OHL’s West Division.

Plymouth fell behind 2-1 in the first period when London’s Danny Fritsche scored two goals (17, 18) just 17 seconds apart. Plymouth countered when the game’s first star Tim Sestitio scored on a backhand shot that beat Kinights’ goaltender Adam Dennis just above the glove-hand side.

In the second period, Plymouth scored three times to take a 4-2 lead into the third. Jonas Fiedler scored his 19th goal of the season by taking a beautiful pass from Cory Tanaka and firing it into the back of the net. Vaclav Meidl’s (12th) persistency paid off by slapping at a rebound until it slid passed Dennis at 10:35 of the second. Vigilante (24th) ripped a slap shot from the left point that lit the lamp and gave the Whaler’s 4-2 lead after two periods of play.

London’s Jordan Foreman (11th) scored the lone third period goal, but it wasn’t enough to top Plymouth.

Plymouth starts the playoffs next Friday night in Owen Sound against the Attack. The game can be heard at 7:15 p.m. on WSDS 1480-AM. Game Two of the series is back at the Compuware Sports Arena next Saturday. Tickets are available for the Plymouth Whalers playoff games at the Compuware Sports Arena Box office. Tickets can be ordered by phone by calling (734) 453-8400. The CSA box office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday game days from 11:00 a.m. until the end of the second period.

Friday, March 18, 2005

IceDiggers closer to calling Alpena home

Alpena News

A few final details aside, it looks like Alpena may be the new home for the North American Hockey League IceDiggers franchise.

The team, currently based in Toledo, has rescheduled its final home game of the season to be played at Northern Lights Arena on Monday night.

“We’re looking at this like it’s Alpena’s team,” IceDigger coach and general manager Mike Mankowski said. “This is our last home game. We thought we might set the table for next season by introducing the possibility of season tickets plans and some early-bird specials. We want to continue to make our guys feel at home up there. We’re going to be returning 8-12 guys from this year’s squad and it’s a situation where we’d like to continue to let them get comfortable.”

Northern Lights Arena manager Norm Sommerfeld said the M-PAC board voted on Tuesday night to approve going after the Junior A program, believing it was a better fit for Alpena than the Junior B proposal NLA received.

“We selected a six-member panel to look over the contract and that’s where we’re at,” Sommerfeld said. “The committee seemed very positive. I think we have a good shot at doing this. We need to get approval from the Alpena Area Recreation Commission, but we’re putting together a contract.”

Two of the IceDiggers’ three owners were able to visit Alpena for the game against the Sault Kewadin Indians on Sunday and it’s likely the third owner will be available to come up for Monday night’s game.

“We were very impressed with the hospitality,” Mankowski said. “We were impressed with how hockey-savvy the people are up there and we were impressed with the amount of support shown to the players, owners and staff.”

The game between the IceDiggers and Sault Kewadin Indians, which attracted 852 fans, set a new franchise attendance record for the IceDiggers.

“The facility was awesome,” Mankowski said. “From a coaches’ standpoint it would make recruiting life much easier. A facility that’s less than two years old and is state-of-the art will certainly make a great recruiting tool.”

In Monday’s home finale, which begins at 7 p.m., the IceDiggers (18-31-3) will face their long-time rivals the Youngstown Phantoms.

“The rivalry is very good,” Mankowski said. “Both of us were in the CEHL (Continental Elite Hockey League) and we both entered the NAHL last season. I think the rivalry will continue to be good.”

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Plymouth to face Owen Sound

Erie defeats Owen Sound, 4-2, on Wednesday night to clinch fifth spot in the Western Conference standings. The Plymouth Whalers will finish sixth and draw the No. 3 seed Owen Sound Attack in the first round of the playoffs.

Here are the Plymouth-Owen Sound playoff dates and times:

The series is best four-out-of seven:

Game 1 - Fri. Mar. 25 - Plymouth at Owen Sound, 7:30 pm.

Game 2 - Sat. Mar. 26 - Owen Sound at Plymouth, 7:30 pm.

Game 3 - Tues. Mar. 29 - Plymouth at Owen Sound, 7:30 pm.

Game 4 - Thur. Mar. 31 - Owen Sound at Plymouth, 7:30 pm.

* Game 5 - Sat. Apr. 2 - Plymouth at Owen Sound, 7:30 pm.

* Game 6 - Sun. Apr. 3 - Owen Sound at Plymouth, 6:00 pm.

* Game 7 - Tues. Apr. 5 - Plymouth at Owen Sound at 7:30 pm.

* if necessary.

The other Western Confrence playoff pairings are also set:

#1 London vs. # 8 Guelph

#2 Sault Ste. Marie vs. #7 Windsor

#4 Kitchener vs. #5 Erie

Monday, March 14, 2005

Lerg named February's best

The United States Hockey League, in conjunction with Goalies' World Magazine, announced that Omaha Lancers goaltender Jeff Lerg (Livonia) was named Itech-Goalies' World Magazine/ USHL Goaltender of the Month for February 2005.

The 5-foot-6 150-pound goaltender has been among league leaders in all goaltending statistics throughout the season. February of 2005 will mark the second time this season that Lerg has been named Goalie of the Month, he was awarded the honor in November of 2004.

Through 52 games played by the Lancers, Lerg has manned the station been between the pipes 45 times. In 45 games played, he has a league leading 31 victories including 5 in which were shut-outs.

Two seasons in the USHL has provided an environment for the 19-year-old to develop his skills on the ice and mature off the ice as well. He feels that the transition from high school to the USHL will definitely help him as he continues onto the NCAA Division 1 ranks. Jeff will be heading back to his home state of Michigan where he will play his college hockey for the Spartans of Michigan State University.

When asked how the USHL has helped prepare him for the next level of play, Lerg said, "Playing in the USHL for the last two years has definitely helped me as far as moving on into Division 1 hockey. Every team in this league has quality players and anyone can beat anyone on any given night, much like Division 1 hockey".

With the help of Lerg, the Lancers have clinched a spot in the play-offs and are battling for the Anderson Cup, which is awarded to the team with the best regular season record.

In the Goalies' World Magazine scoring system, Lerg accumulated 102.9 points to top the list that includes: Chicago's Shane Connelly (102.88), Cedar Rapids' Dan Tormey (102.27), Sioux City's Jimmy Spratt (101.89), and Lincoln's Steve Jakiel (101.68).

Saginaw to host 2007 All-Star Game

The Ontario Hockey League announced Saturday that the Saginaw Spirit will host the 2007 Bell OHL All-Star Classic.

“The Ontario Hockey League is elated to take this opportunity to award the Saginaw Spirit with this special event,” said OHL commissioner David Branch. “The mid-Michigan community has passionately supported the Spirit and the Ontario Hockey League since the team’s arrival in 2002 and we look forward to shining the spotlight of the entire league on the city of Saginaw and the Dow Event Centre in 2007.”

Forty of the league’s brightest stars will face-off in an Eastern Conference versus Western Conference showdown format.

“We are thrilled that the OHL Board of Governors awarded the Bell OHL All-Star Classic to the City of Saginaw,” said Spirit owner and OHL governor Richard Garber. “This is a great opportunity to thank the fans in our community for their support of the franchise and to bring the entire Ontario Hockey League to Saginaw in 2007 for this special event.”

Spirit managing partner Craig Goslin echoed Garber’s comments.

“The entire Saginaw Spirit organization is committed to hosting this first class event,” Goslin said. “The Bell OHL All-Star Classic is one of the of the most prestigious sporting events to be hosted by our community. I know our town has what it takes to showcase Saginaw to the rest of the hockey world. This helps cement Saginaw’s image as a “Cool City”, as designated by Governor Jennifer Granholm.”

The OHL All-Star Game was first played in 1977 in Sudbury when the Emms Division defeated the Leyden Division 6-5 in overtime. The Emms vs. Leyden format continued for nine seasons through 1985 following which the game was replaced by the OHL/QMJHL All-Star Challenge Series. The East-West format was re-introduced for the 2004 OHL All-Star Classic in Peterborough in 2004 and the Owen Sound Attack hosted the most recent game this past February.

The Belleville Bulls will host the 2006 Bell OHL All-Star Cup next February.

Saginaw plays to Spirited tie with Hounds

The Saginaw Spirit notched a come-from behind tie in Saturday's 3-3 game with divison-leading Sault Ste. Marie before a sellout crowd at the Dow Event Center.

The season home finale also marked the team's Fan Appreciation Day and live jersey auction to benefit the Spirit Charitable Foundation.

Spirit head coach and general manager Bob Mancini said the team demonstrated a "no-quit" attitude in the game.

"It's important to finish hard," Mancini said. "It was a good effort tonight. We cut our openings and played smart defense along the blue line. A lot of our younger players got to play more tonight, and demonstrated the promise and potential for next year."

Tommy Mannino, Joe McCann and Matt Corrente scored for the Spirit with Corrente's game-tying goal coming at 14:30 of the third period.

Saginaw goaltender Jeff Weber turned back 28 shots in the effort. The tie takes Saginaw's record to 17-41-4-4 on the season and the Spirit finish the season with a pair of road games Friday and Saturday in Guelph and Erie, respectively.

Soo falls to 2nd spot in NAHL North

The Soo Indians dropped to second place in the NAHL's North Division after losing both games at home last weekend to the then-second place U.S. National Under-18 Team.

Team USA is now four points up on the Indians (30-17-4) with two games in hand.

Friday night, Jim Pentecost scored the lone Indians' goal and Jason Kearney made 15 saves in the 4-1 loss.

Saturday night, R.G. Flath and Pentecost scored, but fell by a 3-2 mark. Troy Redmann stopped 19 shots in net for the Soo.

There was no information readily available from Sunday's game in Toledo.

The Indians travel to Ann Arbor for a rare three-game series this Friday, Saturday and Sunday against the same Under-18 squad.

Whalers clinch 2nd place in West Division

The Plymouth Whalers clinched second place in the OHL's West Division yesterday with a 2-0 shutout over the first-place Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at the Compuware Sports Arena.

Mike Looby and John Vigilante scored for Plymouth (29-28-6-3), while goalie Ryan Nie stopped all 26 shots for his thid shutout of the season.

There is still a question as to who Plymouth will meet in the playoffs. Owen Sound is a distinct possibility, but the Whalers could also catch the Erie Otters for fifth in the Western Conference race.

If that's the case, Plymouth could meet the Kitchener Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.

The Whalers beat Erie, 3-1, on the road Friday night behind short-handed goals from Dan Collins and John Mitchell and a power-play tally from Tim Sestito (also his 100th career point). Goalie Justin Garay, from nearby Monaca, Penn., made 25 saves in front of more than 35 friends and family.

Next up for Plymouth is a road game in Sarnia Friday night and their regular season home finale Saturday night against London. The OHL playoffs begin March 24.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Spartans get Brighton native for this fall

The Cleveland Barons of the North American Hockey League are proud to announce that center Kurt Kivisto has committed to Michigan State University for the 2005-06 season.

Kivisto, a 5-foot-7, 175-pound left-handed center, is a native of Brighton. Currently, he has 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points in his second year with the Barons. Before joining the Barons, Kivisto attended Brighton High School where he started as a team manager in freshman year. With his hard work and dedication, by his senior year (2002-2003) he made the state of Michigan’s hockey “Dream Team." Kivisto is noted for his work ethic and steady two-way play on the ice, which makes him a valuable asset on the power play and penalty kill.

Barons head coach and general manager Tim Alexander had this to say: “I congratulate Kurt and his family on this occasion. He has had to work for everything in his hockey career, he came to Cleveland, earned his ice time, which has now led him to the next level at Michigan State. I wish him all the best at MSU.”

Kivisto has become the fourth Barons to commit to a CCHA school. He joins Steve Silver (Western Michigan), Nick Biondo (Ohio State), and Jacob Cepis (Bowling Green).

Whalers tripped up in Windsor, 5-2

It looked more like two teams gearing up for a playoff showdown than simply playing out the stretch.

The Windsor Spitfires and Plymouth Whalers showed there's still plenty of fire left in their rivalry in Windsor's 5-2 win Thursday at Windsor Arena.

Read the rest of the game recap in today's Windsor Star here.

Former Soo standout named top CHA rookie

Wayne State freshman and former Soo Indians forward Stavros Paskaris (2002-2004) was named College Hockey America's rookie of the year at the CHA tournament banquet last night in Grand Rapids, Minn.

Paskaris, 20, was the top-scoring newcomer in the CHA with 20 points on six goals and 14 assists in 20 games, Paskaris finished tied-for-eighth among all players in scoring. He tied-for-third in league assists (14) and tied-for-eighth in league power-play points (9). His four conference power-play goals was tied-for-fifth.

Overall, Paskaris led WSU in scoring with 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) in all 34 games.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Livonia native nets USHL honors

Lincoln Stars forward Erik Condra (Livonia), earned top honors for Offensive Player of the Week by posting seven points in four USHL games last week. He also had a +6 plus/minus rating. Condra is now tied for second in scoring on the Stars with 53 points. In the four games last week, Condra tallied four goals and three assists while helping the Stars clinch a playoff spot in the West Division.

Spirit downed by Greyhounds, 7-2

The Saginaw Spirit went through the motions Wednesday night with a 7-2 loss on the road to the West Division-leading Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

Rookie goalie Ryan Daniels made 37 saves and Tom Pyatt recorded a goal and an assist. Jesse Gimblett tallied the other goal for the Spirit (17-41-3-4), who played with just 16 skaters due to team-imposed suspensions (see below).

Saginaw returns home for the last time this season to face the Greyhounds at 7:00 p.m. Saturday on Fan Appreciation Day.

Spirit Discipline Six Players
The Saginaw Spirit hockey club is disciplining six players for violating team policy. Patrick Asselin, Chase Crowder, Jesse Gimblett, captain Thomas Harrison and Steven Whitely will each serve two-game suspensions between now and the end of the season. Scott Fletcher will serve a four-game suspension.

Spirit head coach and general manager Bob Mancini says he's disappointed with the players.

"It's a violation of the team's rules and the trust of these players' teammates," Mancini said. "Team rules are in place for a reason and there are consequences for violations.”

The suspensions began with last night's game.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Whalers tie, win, lose

The Plymouth Whalers got a notch in each column of their record last weekend as they tied Sudbury, beat Sarnia and lost in Sault Ste. Marie.

The loss against the Greyhounds was huge, as Sault Ste. Marie is now six points up on Plymouth for first place in the West Division.

Against the Wolves at home Friday night, rookie Cory Tanaka scored with the extra attacker at 19:37 of the third period to knot the game at 1-all. Ryan Hastings had given Sudbury a 1-0 lead just 62 seconds earlier.

Plymouth goalie Ryan Nie turned aside 27 shots.

Saturday night against the lowly Sting, Michael Haley scored at 19:40 of the third period to send the game into overtime for Sarnia. But Plymouth rookie James Neal stripped Sarnia defenseman Erik Schwanz, a North Lakeport native, and scored the game-winner on goalie Ryan Munce at 2:18 of OT for the 4-3 win.

Jonas Fiedler scored twice and Mike Letizia also scored for the Whalers. Rookie goalie Justin Garay made 26 saves.

Sunday, Nie made seven saves on 11 shots before being replaced by Garay, who finished with 17 saves on 19 shots. The lone Plymouth goal was scored by Dan Collins midway through the third period.

The Whalers (27-27-6-3) are in Windsor Thursday night and in Erie Friday night before a 2:00 p.m. matinee at home Sunday against the Greyhounds.

Spirit eliminated from OHL post-season

Saginaw dropped all three games over the weekend and in doing so were eliminated from the OHL post-season for the third consecutive year.

The Spirit went into London Friday night and came out suffering a 12-0 defeat, their worst in the three years in Saginaw, to the top team in the OHL. Goalie Jeff Weber did make 35 saves in the lone bright spot for Saginaw (17-40-3-4).

Then Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd, Sudbury escaped with a 3-2 win as Saginaw rookie goalie Ryan Daniels stopped 29 shots in his home debut.

"I had a lot of confidence in the players," Daniels said. "It was nice playing in front of so many fans. They're noise gives us guys energy on the ice."

Tom Mannino and Tom Pyatt scored for the Spirit.

Sunday against Windsor, the visiting Spitfires took a 3-2 win that mathematically eliminated Saginaw from the playoffs.

"No one gave up today. We played with a lot of effort and pride," Spirit head coach and general manager Bob Mancini said. "We're going to battle hard in the remaining games. Everyone on this young team is still learning."

Jesse Gimblett and Marek Kvapil scored for Saginaw and Weber had 25 saves.

Third-year forward Daniel Borges said he and his teammates knew what was on the line for the game.

"We competed longer and later than ever before," Borges said of the playoff run. "This year's loss is next year's gain."

The Spirit return to action Wednesday night in Sault Ste. Marie against the division-leading Greyhounds. The Hounds travel to Saginaw Saturday for the Spirit home finale.

Indians split with Phantoms

The Soo Indians (30-15-4) continute to lead the NAHL's North Division by four points over the U.S. National Team after a split last weekend with the Youngstown Phantoms at home last weekend.

Friday night, five different players - Ricky Akkerman, R.G. Flath, Matt Jones, Jim Pentecost and Drew Satterley - scored for the Soo and Jason Kearney made 29 saves in the 5-2 win.

The next night, Ray Kaunisto gave the Indians a 1-0 lead early in the second period, but Youngstown rattled off four unanswered goals to take a 4-1 win. Kearney finished with 21 saves.

Team USA visits the Soo Friday and Saturday night for games at 7:00 p.m. The Indians then play at Toledo Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Future Traverse City forward reluctant to move

Leaving parents, who are deaf, will be tough for Howell's Madden

BY JEFF ARNOLD Ann Arbor News Sports Reporter

HOWELL - Surrounded by chaos, Sandy Madden sits in silence. After years of watching hockey, she's aware of what's going on around her. A lifetime of being deaf keeps her from hearing it.

She feels the wooden bleachers shiver underneath her when one of her son's Howell High School teammates is driven into the boards. Even through she can't hear a referee's shrieking whistle, Sandy, who has been unable to hear since the age of 3, expresses her displeasure with an emotional moan.

At one end of Howell's cavernous ice rink, Sandy's husband, Bob - also deaf since the age of 3 - stands behind a glass partition with a hand-held camcorder pressed against his eye. He can't believe how far his son, 17-year-old Jon Madden - a junior forward - has come since the days when he'd form two pieces of masking tape into an "X" and press it onto kitchen cabinets.

Read the rest of the story from the Ann Arbor News here.

Bighorns ink Rauch for '05-06

The Helena Bighorns of the NAHL signed three players to tender sheets on Monday and one was defenseman Philip Rauch, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound native of Lambertville, Michigan.

Rauch has been a solid performer for the Toledo Cherokee (CSHL) this season. In 37 games, Rauch has piled up eight goals and 13 assists to go along with 78 penalty minutes, proving he is every bit of the player Bighorns head coach Brent Agrusa has come to know.

“Rauch is a rugged two-way defenseman, who does it at both ends of the ice,” claimed Agrusa. “He has a good knowledge of the defensive zone and is a good candidate to step in next year a fill a solid role.”

Agrusa attributes the signing of Rauch to Cherokee GM Mike Robertson.

“Mike was instrumental in recruiting current Bighorn and former Cherokee Larry Willard to our program,” says the Bighorns coach. “Larry is having a good season and Mike likes our program so he was very helpful in the signing process.”

Agrusa also attributes Rauch’s development to solid coaching from Toledo’s Chris Varga. Rauch is the second Cherokee to sign with the Bighorns in the last two years and the ninth player from the CSHL in that time span.

Helena president Mike Butters also had good things to say about Rauch.

“Philip is the only 1987-born defenseman in the top ten scoring of the CSHL," noted Butters. "He has a lot of raw tools and possesses plenty of upside. We all look forward to seeing him in Chicago this May.”

Rauch will get his first opportunity to impress the Bighorn brass at their summer prospect camp this May in Chicago. Players from all over the country will attend this prospect camp with hopes of joining Rauch in a Bighorns uniform in September.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Defenseman takes Case to Ferris State

Evan Case, a rookie defenseman with the NAHL's Youngstown Phantoms, has committed to Ferris State for this coming fall.

The 18-year-old Grosse Pointe Woods native played for the state champion Little Caesar's midget AAA team last season before jumping to the Phantoms.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Saginaw gets just one point over weekend

Fighting to make the OHL playoffs, the Saginaw Spirit may have done themselves in last weekend as they tied and lost after a loss Wednesday night to Plymouth.

Saturday night at home to the Kitchener Rangers, the Rangers scored with an extra attacker at 19:06 of the third period to gain the 2-2 tie. Jesse Gimblett and Matt Corrente scored for Saginaw and goaltender Jeff Weber made 35 saves.

"We're in a fragile state right now," Saginaw head coach and general manager Bob Mancini said. "But the players battled back from a 1-0 deficit. I think we played our best hockey tonight when we were down."

Sunday in Windsor, the hometown Spitfires took a 6-2 decision. Erik Lundmark and Gimblett scored for the Spirit. Weber turned back 17 shots. Rookie Ryan Daniels played the third period and made nine saves on ten shots.

The loss takes Saginaw's record to 17-37-3-4 on the season, nine points behind the eighth-seed Guelph Storm for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

Saginaw returns to action Friday night in London and home Saturday to face the Sudbury Wolves at 7:00 p.m. Detroit Red Wings national anthem singer Karen Newman will do the honors in Saginaw that evening.

Whalers fall behind 'Hounds in OHL West

After a 3-1 win Wednesday night in Saginaw, the Plymouth Whalers decimated the Windsor Spitfires Friday night before falling to the dominant London Knights Saturday and Erie Otters Sunday.

In Friday's home sellout, rookie Cory Tanaka scored twice and John Mitchell and John Vigilante each had a goal and two assists in the 7-2 win over the Spitfires. Jonas Fiedler, Gino Pisellini and Mike Looby also scored for the Whalers, who got a 26-save performance out of goalie Ryan Nie.

Saturday, the CHL-leading Knights put three on the board in the first period and never looked back in the 5-1 win, another sellout. Dan Collins ruined Adam Dennis' shutout bid with a power-play goal at 15:45 of the third period. Rookie Justin Garay, in net for the previous two losses at London, finished with 26 saves.

Then Sunday in Erie, Penn., Vigilante and Tanaka scored, but couldn't overcome the Otters and lost, 5-2. Nie was back in goal and made 20 saves. Erie’s victory is their first against Plymouth at the Tullio Arena since March 1, 1998. The Whalers had gone 16-0-3 during that time in Erie over 16 regular season games and three playoff games.

Plymouth is now three points back of the first-place Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL's West Division. The Whalers (26-26-5-3) host the Sudbury Wolves (Friday) and Sarnia Sting (Saturday) this weekend before venturing to Sault Ste. Marie Sunday night. Game time Friday and Saturday is 7:30 p.m.