Friday, April 29, 2005

Indians downed by Tornado, 4-1

The final season of the Soo Indians will not have a happy ending after their 4-1 loss to the Texas Tornado on Friday afternoon.

With the loss, the Soo is relegated to the consolation game of the Gold Cup to play Bismarck, 3-0 losers to Fargo-Moorhead in Friday's late game.

Jason Kearney stopped 31 shots and Drew Satterley scored the lone Indians' goal.

Billy Skwarczewski (Macomb Township), Derek Danowski (Warren), Jordan Mowbray and Karl Sellan all tallied for Texas. Goalie Ben Bishop, a Maine recruit, stopped 20 shots to help advance Texas to the Gold Cup championship game.

The Indians' last game will be Saturday afternoon with the championship game slated for that night.

Kearney named NAHL MVP

Taormina honored as Rookie of the Year

Soo Indians goalie Jason Kearney was named the North American Hockey League's Most Valuable Player Thursday night at the Banquet of Champions in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Kearney’s play sparked a turnaround in the fortunes of the Indians after he was acquired from the Texarkana Bandits in November. The Indians stumbled out of the gate with a 2-7-1 mark, but brought it to 7-9-2 thanks to a good performance at the NAHL Showcase against the EJHL.

Kearney, a native of Gibsonia, Penn., posted a 24-8-3 record with a league-leading six shutouts. His 1.82 goals against average led the NAHL and his .922 save percentage trailed only the .923 mark of Bozeman’s Matt Cleveland, who also played 13 fewer games.

Texarkana defenseman Matt Taormina (Washington Township) was named NAHL Rookie of the Year. The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder stepped right into the Bandits lineup and became an impact player for the club.

Taormina was second in scoring among all NAHL defensemen this season and fifth in team scoring with 14 goals and 30 assists for 44 points. He was the only rookie to get an All-Star selection, being named to the second All-Star Team, and he was also selected to the NAHL All-Rookie team.

Texarkana head coach Jon Cooper won top coach honors. Cooper is a former HoneyBaked midget major AAA, Metro Jets Jr. B, Capital Centre Pride (NAHL) and Lansing Catholic Central High coach.

Soo forward R. G. Flath won the NAHL Community Service Award. A four-year member of the Indians, Flath has demonstrated outstanding leadership and citizenship as part of a Soo club that has long been more than just a hockey team, but also a community service organization. On a team that as a whole accumulated over 1,200 hours of community service this season -- an average of over 50 hours per player -- Flath, from Park City, Utah, contributed twice as many hours as the average. The list of his activities is extensive as he participated in four United Way/Soo Indians Benefit Spaghetti Dinners, worked at Sault Hockey Association Tournaments, the United Way Chili Cook-offs, the Halloween Community Hunted Houses, Valentine’s Day activities with local long-term care patients, as well as countless others.

Typical of the Soo captain’s involvement was his work in the Indians March Reading Month activities. Flath single-handedly organized the entire club -- all the members of the Indians organization visited eight elementary schools and over 30 classrooms to emphasize to the children in the community the importance of reading. As part of the program, each classroom was entered into a drawing to win a pizza party and a skate with the team and Flath was responsible for working with local businesses to acquire the donations of the pizza, drinks and ice time. He also volunteered each Tuesday and Thursday mornings for the pre-school “Learn to Skate” program at Pullar Stadium in Sault Ste. Marie.

Tom O’Brien of the Youngstown Phantoms won the Academic Achievment Award. He carried a perfect 4.6 grade point average in all advanced college placement classes. He achieved a 1540 score on his SATs this year and has received an academic scholarship from Notre Dame University.

IceDiggers sign first Alpena player

The Alpena IceDiggers have signed defenseman Erik Peterson for this coming season.

See the story from the Alpena News here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Soo lambasted by Fargo-Moorhead, 8-2

After their impressive win yesterday over Bismarck, the Soo Indians suffered an 8-2 loss to the Fargo-Moorhead Jets on Wednesday afternoon.

Troy Redmann started in goal and made 17 saves on 21 shots before Jason Kearney played the last 32:20 and allowed four more goals on 13 shots.

Matt Jones (power-play) and Ryan Ward scored the Soo goals.

In Wednesday's late game, Texas beat Bismarck, 4-1.

The Indians play Texas Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Indians open Gold Cup with win

The Soo Indians opened the NAHL Robertson Cup/Gold Cup Finals with a 3-1 win last night against the host Bismarck Bobcats.

Drew Satterley, recent Lake Superior State recruit Marty Gurnoe and Nik Sellers scored for the Soo, who got a 42-save outing from goaltender Jason Kearney.

Dusty Delisle scored Bismarck's goal and Matt Koenig stopped 30 shots for the Bobcats.

In the early game Tuesday, the Fargo-Moorhead Jets beat the defending champion Texas Tornado, 4-1.

The Indians play the Jets today at 4:30 p.m. and Bismarck plays Texas at 8:30 p.m.

North Stars sign three more players

The Traverse City North Stars have signed center Travis Paeth and defenseman Ryan Reid, both of whom were first-team all-state selections this season for Muskegon Mona Shores High School, and defenseman Rich Zobak of the Peoria Mustangs in the Jr. B Central States Hockey League.

Read the rest of the story from the Traverse City Record-Eagle here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Livonia native Naurato inks with U-M

Brandon Naurato will be one of the older freshman on the Michigan roster this fall, but as one of his future coaches notes, that's what the Wolverines need.

Nauarato, a Livonia native, signed with Michigan during the spring signing period and will start his college career this fall.

"Brandon Naurato has always been known for his scoring ability, and the reason we recruited Brandon to Michigan is because we feel he can bring some offense to our team," Michigan associate head coach Mel Pearson said. "He played for a strong program the last couple years in the Omaha Lancers, who have turned out a number of successful college players, and we expect Brandon to make an impact offensively on our team."

Of the nine incoming recruits, all are 1987 birthdates, with the exception of Tyler Swystun, a 17-year-old from Alberta. Naurato is the lone 20-year-old frosh.

"I think it is important that you have the right mix for your team," added Pearson. "You need the right chemistry and you need a little bit of everything in your recruiting class, and because this class is so large it was important that we have a couple experienced players. Brandon is an older player and should be more ready to contribute right away."

For the Lancers this season in the USHL, Naurato, a 6-foot, 185-pound forward, tallied 15 goals and 10 assists for 25 points and was plus-7 in 49 regular-season games. Naurato will join fellow Lancer and fall 2004 signee Tim Miller (Davisburg) on the Wolverines roster for the 2005-06 campaign.

Michigan will have four Lancer alumni on its roster next season as current defensemen Jason Dest (Fraser) and Tim Cook also played for the Lancers from 2001-2003.

USA takes Game 7, Indians advance

The U.S. Under-17 Team took Game 7 of its NAHL North Division series with the Soo Indians, 4-2 Sunday night, but it was a no-lose situation for the Indians.

Team USA won the series, but the Indians advance to the national tournament in Bismarck, N.D., by virtue of the U.S. team not being eligible to participate past the second round of the playoffs.

The game started nearly three hours late as the Indians had bus problems heading to Ann Arbor. Matt Jones and Jim Pentecost scored for the Soo.

Game story from the Soo Evening News here.

The Indians open the tournament against the host Bismarck Bobcats at 7:30 p.m. Central Time (8:30 p.m. Michigan time) on Tuesday. The other teams in the tournament are the defending champion and South Division champion Texas Tornado and West Division champion Fargo-Moorhead Jets.

In Game 6 last Saturday in Sault Ste. Marie, Brett Bennett stopped all 28 Soo shots he saw last night on the road as the U.S. Under-17 Team defeated the Indians, 2-0, to knot their NAHL North Division final at three games apiece.

Chris Atkinson (power-play) and Bill Sweatt (empty-net) scored for Team USA.

Jason Kearney made 35 saves for the Soo.

Game 6 recap is here.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Caledonia native commits to Robert Morris

The soon-to-be Alpena IceDiggers are proud to announce that veteran Jeremy Barber has committed to play for Robert Morris University beginning this fall.

Barber, a 20-year-old defenseman from Caledonia, appeared in 52 games this season and recorded three goals, eight assists and 54 penalty minutes. During the 2003-04 season, Barber led all IceDiggers defensemen in scoring with four goals and 11 assists in 29 games after being acquired from the Soo Indians through a mid-season trade.

"We are very excited and proud of Jeremy," said IceDiggers GM and head coach Mike Mankowski. "He is a dynamic skater and has worked extremely hard the last twelve months for this opportunity.

"Robert Morris is not only getting a great defenseman, but also a great young man."

Robert Morris University is located in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh, and is a member of College Hockey America conference. The Colonials just finished their first season as a NCAA Division I varsity program by recording a 4-14-2 record in the CHA and 8-21-4 record overall.

Friday, April 22, 2005

NAHL names All-Star and All-Rookie Teams

Players with Michigan ties among the award winners

The North American Hockey League today announced its First and Second All-Star Teams and the All-Rookie Team for the 2004-05 season.

Goalie Jason Kearney of the Soo Indians was named to the First Team after posting a 1.82 goals-against average, which led the NAHL, and a .922 save percentage that ranked second. He is a nominee for the USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year as well.

Texarkana Bandits' blueliner Matt Taormina, from Washington Township, tied for second in scoring among all defensemen with 44 points and led the league in shorthanded goals with five. He was named to the Second Team and All-Rookie Team.

Shelby Township native Rob Rassey tied for second in the league with 43 assists, was fifth in league scoring and led the Youngstown Phantoms with 72 points.

Soo forward Ray Kaunisto was second on his hometown team in scoring with 20 goals and 20 assists and made the All-Rookie Team.

Individual NAHL award winners (Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Community Service Award and Academic Achievement Award) will be announced on Thursday, April 28, at the Banquet of Champions during the NAHL Robertson Cup/USA Hockey Gold Cup Championships in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Indians up 3-2 after OT win Thursday

Ray Kaunisto's second goal of the game, 3:49 into overtime, gave the Soo Indians a 5-4 win and a 3-2 lead in their North Division final with the U.S. Under-17 Team in Ann Arbor last night.

Nik Sellers had tied the game with eight seconds left in the third period after Joe Beaudry made it 4-3 at 17:49 of the third period with his second goal of the game.

Troy Redmann made 29 saves in net for the win while at the other end, Brett Bennett stopped 36 for Team USA.

Zac MacVoy (incoming Michigan recruit), Blake Geoffrion, Trent Palm and Rhett Rakhshani scored for the Under-17 Team.

Game 6 is tomorrow night in Sault Ste. Marie. If Game 7 is needed, it will be Sunday night back at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Alpena gets NAHL team for this fall

It's official - the Toledo IceDiggers are moving to Alpena.

In a press conference held at the Northern Lights Arena last Saturday night, Mike Mankowski, head coach and general manager of the IceDiggers, the team's owners, and Norm Sommerfeld, manager of Northern Lights Arena, made the announcement that the North American Hockey League unanimously approved moving the team to Alpena and an agreement has been signed with the rink.

The team will be re-named the Alpena IceDiggers.

"It's been a long three to four weeks working out the final details," Mankowski said. "Obviously, this is an exciting time for us and the Alpena community. We're excited to go to a community where we're wanted and appreciated. Norm has done a tremendous amount of work to get this done and our owners have done a tremendous amount of work to get this done. The Northern Lights Arena and the IceDiggers see this as a great opportunity - a win-win situation."

The IceDiggers are signed to a one-year contract with two one-year options.

"First off, we're glad it's over," Sommerfeld said. "There have been a lot of revisions to make it happen. There hasn't been any one sticking point, but we've been going back and forth. This is huge for us economically and for the community. This is going to bring $70-80,000 in revenue to the rink. There are a lot of expenses, but the revenue outweighs the expenses."

The NAHL playoffs are in full swing and although the IceDiggers aren't in the postseason things aren't going to slow down for long.

"April and May are big recruiting months," Mankowski said. "In June and July are open tryouts."

The IceDiggers will be holding their invitational camp in Alpena July 31-Aug. 2. Rookies will report on Aug. 14 and veterans on Aug. 21. Mankowski said the IceDiggers are holding open camps in Toledo and Philadelphia and there are plans to hold an open camp in Alpena in late July.

Goalie Phil Greer, center Andrew Wilcox and left wing Darin Holland have all signed with Alpena for this coming fall.

Wilcox and Holland were teammates this past season with the Rochester (Minn.) Century High team while Greer tended goal for for Kimball Union (Mass.) Academy in the New England Prep League where he played 897 minutes posting a 3.01 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.

Kvapil named to OHL All-Rookie Team

Saginaw Spirit forward Marek Kvapil is the first runner-up for the OHL Rookie of the Year honors, earning a spot on the league's All-Rookie squad for 2004-05.

Kvapil was the OHL Rookie of the Month in November and January. He had 25 goals and 37 assists in just 53 games with the Spirit and also represented Saginaw during the World Junior Tournament on the Czech Republic squad and earned a bronze medal.

The 20-year-old native of Prague was the Spirit's selection in the 2004 Canadian Hockey League European Draft.

Sudbury Wolves forward Benoit Pouliot won Rookie of the Year honors.

2004-05 OHL All-Rookie Teams

First Team
Centre - Justin Azevedo, Kitchener (59)
Left Wing - Benoit Pouliot, Sudbury (93)
Right Wing - Marek Kvapil, Saginaw (78)
Defence - Michael Vernace, Brampton (67)
Defence - Andrej Sekera, Owen Sound (43)
Goal - Daren Machesney, Brampton (67)

Second Team
Centre - Jordan Staal, Peterborough (55)
Left Wing - Mike Duco, Kitchener (33)
Right Wing - Matt D'Agostini, Guelph (51)
Defence - Bob Sanguinetti, Owen Sound (40)
Defence - Ben Shutron, Kingston (37)
Goal - Kyle Gajewski, Sault Ste. Marie (53)

Voting points in brackets

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Martinez, Zatkoff commit to Miami-Ohio

Miami University signed two Michigan natives to play for the RedHawks, announced last week.

Defenseman Alec Martinez (Rochester) and goaltender Jeff Zatkoff (Chesterfield) will call Oxford, Ohio, home this fall. Miami also signed five student-athletes in the fall.

Alec Martinez
D 6-1 190 7/26/87
Rochester, Mich.
Cedar Rapids Roughriders - United States Hockey League
2004-05 Statistics: 58 games 10-11-22, +16, 30 PIMS.
Coach Enrico Blasi's Comments: "Alec is a tremendous skater and is extremely efficient offensively while also providing a strong presence in the defensive zone."

Jeff Zatkoff
G 6-2 150 6/9/87
Chesterfield, Mich.
Sioux City Musketeers - United States Hockey League
Statistics: 24 games 2.55 GAA, .914 save percentage.
Coach's Comments: "Jeff is a great young goaltender with a lot of upside. He plays his size well and is very athletic."

RedHawks press release here.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Indians rally to tie series with USA

Down 2-0 in their NAHL North Division series with the U.S. Under-17 Team, the Soo Indians scored back-to-back wins last weekend on home ice to knot the series at 2-all.

Friday night, Matt Buckley's goal 1:45 into the third period stood as the game-winner and made Troy Redmann's 27 saves hold up in the 3-2 win. Ricky Akkerman and Marty Gurnoe also scored for the Soo.

Saturday, Redmann pitched a 21-save shutout as the Indians got three goals in the third period for a 3-0 victory. Buckley, Ray Kaunisto and Joe Beaudry tallied for the Indians.

Game 5 is Thursday night at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube with Game 6 Saturday in Sault Ste. Marie. If a deciding seventh game is needed, it will go Sunday in Ann Arbor.

Friday, April 15, 2005

North Stars sign first three players

The Traverse City North Stars, who will play in the NAHL this fall, announced their first three player signings Tuesday. Centers Patrick Nagorsen and Ryan Bond and winger Tommy Higgins will join the North Stars for their inaugural season.

Read the story from the Traverse City Record-Eagle here.

Indians in 2-0 hole to Team USA

The U.S. Under-17 Team and goalie Brett Bennett pitched a 2-0 shutout over the Soo Indians last night in Ann Arbor to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven NAHL North Division final.

Chris Summers (Ypsilanti) and Patrick Kane scored for Team USA.

Jason Kearney made 27 saves in the Soo net. Bennett finished with 16 saves.

Games 3 and 4 go Saturday and Sunday in Sault Ste. Marie.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Michigan natives take USHL honors

Omaha goaltender Jeff Lerg, who set a new USHL record for wins in a single season by a goaltender while helping the Lancers to a share of the regular season championship and the Anderson Cup, was honored as the USHL Player of the Year and USHL Goaltender of the Year.

Lerg, from Livonia, also earned All-USHL First Team honors, named to the 2005 Prospects / All-Star Game and led the league in wins (36) and a goals-against average (2.16). He was named Itech/Goalies World Goalie of the Month twice (Nov. '04, Feb. '05) and Player of the Week on Sept. 29, 2004.

In his rookie season, Lerg was named to the All-USHL Second Team and the USHL All-Rookie Team.

The 2004-05 CCM Forward of the Year Award was earned by the league-leading scorer in Dan Riedel of the Lincoln Stars. Riedel, a Rochester Hills native, also earned a spot on the 2004-05 All-USHL First Team and tallied 30 goals and 51 assists for 81 points. He was selected as the Player of the Week (Feb. 14) and named to the 2005 Prospects/All-Star Game.

Jackson native and Sioux City Musketeers' defenseman Steven Kampfer was also named to the USHL All-Rookie Team.

Indians drop Game 1 to Team USA

The Soo Indians are in a 1-0 hole after losing 5-4 in Game 1 of their NAHL North Division finals to the U.S. Under-17 Team last night in Ann Arbor.

Game 2 is tonight in Ann Arbor.

Jim Pentecost scored twice and Joey Bacon and R.G. Flath netted the others for the Indians. Jason Kearney started and suffered the loss in net, but did make 14 saves on 18 shots in the first two periods. Troy Redmann played the other 18:54 and stopped 10 of 11 shots.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Spirit and Whalers represented at Under-18's

The Saginaw Spirit and Plymouth Whalers will be well represented at the 2005 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship. Spirit defenseman Patrick McNeill and forward Tom Pyatt have both earned spots on Team Canada. Plymouth forwards Dan Collins (United States) and James Neal (Canada) were also named to their respective teams.

“This is a great honor for Patrick and Tom and recognition for their hard work and talent,” Saginaw head coach and general manager Bob Mancini said. “The Spirit wish them and their teammates well.”

McNeill says he’s looking forward to the chance to bring home some hardware.

“We won gold last summer,” McNeill said. “So it’s a great chance to repeat. Personally, I look forward to getting back on the ice. It’s a great chance to play with very talented players and test yourself against the best players of your age in the world.”

“We’re very happy for Dan and James,” said Plymouth head coach and GM Mike Vellucci. “Both are deserving of this honor. They’ve worked very hard over their two seasons here and are considered among the top players in their age group. It’s a thrill for anyone to represent their country in international competition. I’m sure playing in this tournament will be a boost in their development as players and citizens.”

UPDATE: McNeill fell awkwardly during practice today and dislocated his shoulder and will be unable to participate.

The tournament takes place in in Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, from April 14-24.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Indians sweep away Phantoms in OT

The Youngstown Phantoms jumped out to a 3-0 lead Wednesday night over the Soo Indians, but it was the Indians who rallied and won, 4-3, in overtime on a goal by Jim Pentecost.

The Indians will now play the U.S. National Under-18 Team in the North Division finals. Team USA swept the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in their semi-final series.

Steven Kaunisto, R.G. Flath and Matt Jones scored the other Soo goals. Jones' tied the game at 3-all five minutes into the third period and then Pentecost won it 8:49 into the fourth period.

Jason Kearney earned the win in the Indians' net making 28 saves.

The Soo-USA series will begin this weekend in Ann Arbor.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Whalers hand out year-end awards

The Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers officially closed out the 2004-05 season with a season-ending awards banquet held April 5 at Ginopolis on the Ice Restaurant at the Compuware Sports Arena.

The following players received awards:

REGULAR SEASON MOST VALUABLE PLAYER – Goaltender Ryan Nie, who posted a 2.56 goals against average, 3 shutouts and a .914 save percentage in 57 games.

REGULAR SEASON SCORING LEADER - Center John Mitchell, who scored 25 goals with 50 assists for 75 points in 63 games. Mitchell is the franchise career leader with 258 regular season games played and is seventh on the Whalers all-time scoring list with 80 goals and 150 assists for 230 points.

BEST DEFENSEMAN - Mike Knight, who had 8 goals with 40 assists for 48 points in 64 games.

SCHOLAR ATHLETE – Veteran left wing-center Tim Sestito, who attended Schoolcraft Community College full-time this season while playing and maintained a GPA greater than 3.0.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – Left wing-center James Neal, who scored 18 goals with 26 assists for 44 points in 67 games.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER - Right wing Dan Collins, who scored 25 goals with 21 assists for 46 points in 68 games.

LABATT'S BLUE COLLAR PLAYER of THE YEAR – Rookie Cory Tanaka, who scored 10 goals with 11 assists for 21 points in 67 games.

ALICE IAFRATE AWARD (Overage Player of the Year) - Tim Sestito, who scored a career-high 14 goals with 18 assists for 32 points in 67 games.




MOVING UP: With the Whalers' season completed, Sestito, Mitchell, Jonas Fiedler and Knight are all making their pro debuts this spring. Sestito signed the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League and Mitchell with the St. John's Maple Leafs of the AHL. Both played last weekend with Sestito scoring a goal in two games, while Mitchell was scoreless in one game. Fiedler will make his professional debut this weekend with the Florida Everblades of the East Coast Hockey League, while Knight signed with the Greenville Grrrowl of the ECHL.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Indians up 2-0 on Phantoms

The Soo Indians won their first two games against the Youngstown Phantoms in their NAHL North Division semi-final series last weekend and can sweep the series with a win in Youngstown tomorrow night.

Friday night, Joe Beaudry had a goal and two assists and Ricky Akkerman, Jim Pentecost, Tommi Maata and Nik Sellers also scored in the 5-2 win in Sault Ste. Marie. Goalie Jason Kearney made just 17 saves.

Ray Kaunisto was the hero Saturday night as his goal 9:24 into overtime gave the Indians a 4-3 win. Tiger Marcotte, Sellers and Kellen Chamblee, whose short-handed goal at 13:39 of the second period tied the game, scored the others. Kearney stopped 36 shots for the victory.

Game 3 is Wednesday night at Youngstown.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Whalers swept by Owen Sound

The season ended last night for the Plymouth Whalers as the Owen Sound Attack swept the Whalers in a first-round playoff series, winning 7-2 in Game 4.

James Neal and Jonas Fiedler, in his last OHL game, scored for Plymouth and goalie Ryan Nie made 33 saves.

Owen Sound goalie Mike Brown needed to stop just 13 shots for the win.

Brad Richardson scored two goals and an assist and Bobby Ryan, Patrick Jarrett, Robin Big Snake, Jeff Kyrzakos and Stefan Ruzicka added goals for the Attack.

The Whalers were outscored 19-3 in the series.