Monday, February 28, 2005

Indians complete sweep of Cleveland

The Soo Indians swept the Cleveland Barons in northern Michigan last weekend and maintained their top spot in the NAHL's North Division with a 29-14-4 overall record.

Friday night, the Indians broke a 1-1 tie with third-period goals by Matt Jones and Matt Buckley and escaped with a 3-1 win. Joe Beaudry scored in the first period and Jason Kearney made 23 saves for the win.

Ray Kaunisto and Jones (empty-net) scored and Kearney earned his league-leading sixth shutout Saturday night as the Soo blanked Cleveland, 2-0. Kearney needed to make only 12 saves in the win.

"I am very proud of the way our players reacted to last weekends loss to Cleveland." said Indians coach Joe Shawhan. "Jason was solid in the net and our entire defensive effort from the D-corp to the forwards were outstanding."

The Indians still hold a slim three point lead on the U.S. Under-18 National Team, who also won, defeating Youngstown 3-1. The USNTDP has four games in hand.

The Indians will host the Youngstown Phantoms this Friday and Saturday as they head into the final nine games of the regular season.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Plymouth dumps Saginaw, 3-1

Mike Looby scored with with 1:32 left in regulation to snap a 1-1 tie and lead the Plymouth Whalers past the Saginaw Spirit, 3-1, Wednesday night before 3,443 at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw.

The Plymouth victory – combined with Sault Ste. Marie’s 4-1 loss to Sarnia Wednesday night – moves the Whalers to within one point of Sault Ste. Marie in the tight OHL West Division race. Sault Ste. Marie leads the division with a record of 25-24-8-1.

Mike Knight and Dan Collins (empty-net) also scored for Plymouth. Daniel Borges scored the lone Saginaw goal, a power-play marker on Saginaw's first shot of the first period.

Plymouth (25-24-5-3) outshot Saginaw, 43-16, but ran into hot goaltending from Spirit overage goalie Jeff Weber, a former Whaler, who made 39 saves. Plymouth goalie Ryan Nie stopped 15 shots for the win.

Rookie goalie Ryan Daniels played 3:02 in the second period for Saginaw and stopped both shots he faced.

The Whalers host Windsor on Friday night while the Spirit hosts Kitchener Saturday night.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Whalers hit busy stretch

The Ontario Hockey League League’s Plymouth Whalers face a busy stretch of the season when they play four games over five days this week. The Whalers enter the week tied for second place in the OHL West with the Windsor Spitfires with a record of 24-24-5-2, good for 56 points and three points behind the first place Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (25-23-8-1). Windsor is 22-24-6-6.

Here is a closer look at the Whalers’ week:

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 23 – PLYMOUTH (24-24-5-3) at SAGINAW (17-35-2-4), 7:30 pm at the Saginaw Dow Event Center (7:15 pm, WSDS 1480-AM). Plymouth holds a 5-1-0-1 record over Saginaw this season. The Whalers and Spirit are on the opposite ends of the
Western Conference playoff spectrum, with Plymouth continuing to chase Sault Ste. Marie and Windsor for first place in the OHL West (and then second spot in the Western Conference seeding) and Saginaw eight points behind Guelph for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.
WHO’S HOT FOR PLYMOUTH: Whalers’ leading scorer John Mitchell (23 goals with 42 assists for 65 points in 51 games) has torched the Spirit for 7 goals and 10 assists for 17 points in six games. Mitchell’s linemate, John Vigilante (19-34-53), has 5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points in 7 games against Saginaw, while Dan Collins (21-17-38) has 4 goals and 7 assists for 11 points in 7 games against the Spirit. Whalers are getting a lift from rookie Cory Tanaka (6-9-15), who scored in both Plymouth games last weekend and has goals in three of his last four games. Plymouth goaltender Ryan Nie (50 games, 2.57 goals against average, .915 save percentage) has played well this season against Saginaw. In 7 games against the Spirit, Nie has a 1.83 GAA and .941 save percentage.
WHO’S HOT FOR SAGINAW: Rookie Marek Kvapil (23-42-65) was the game’s first star in Saginaw’s only victory against Plymouth when he scored a goal with two assists in a 5-4 decision Feb. 13 in Saginaw. Defenseman Patrick McNeill (7-25-32) is Saginaw’s leading scorer against Plymouth this season with 2 goals and 6 assists for 8 points in 7 games. Tom Pyatt (15-25-40) and Jesse Gimblett (14-13-27) lead Saginaw against the Whalers with three goals each.

FRIDAY, FEB. 25 – WINDSOR (22-24-6-6) at PLYMOUTH, 7:30 pm at the Compuware Sports Arena (7:30 pm, Comcast-Plymouth, Channel 25). Spitfires and Whalers play in the seventh of eight games during the regular season with Windsor holding a 5-1-0-0 edge. Plymouth won the last game played with Windsor in a 6-3 victory Feb. 12 at the Compuware Sports Arena. Windsor has good firepower with John Scott Dickson (28-36-64), David Lomas (32-29-61), Cal O’Reilly (18-43-61, team leading five goals against Plymouth), Steve Downie (16-44-60) and Ryan Garlock (29-30-59). In each Windsor victory against Plymouth this season, one of the Spitfire goaltenders – either Kyle Knechtel (3.43, .899) or Brad Topping (3.68, .892) – has been a star.

SATURDAY, FEB. 26 – LONDON (50-5-2-0) at PLYMOUTH, 7:30 pm at the Compuware Sports Arena (7:25 pm; tape-delayed by the Schoolcraft College Sports Network). The top team in the Canadian Hockey League plays before sellout crowds wherever they go around the OHL. Plymouth lost in overtime, 5-4, in London Oct. 1 and 4-2 in London Nov. 26. Knights lead the OHL with 248 goals scored with only 108 against. There’s tons of firepower with OHL leading scorer and Anaheim-draft Corey Perry (39-63-102), Buffalo-draft Dylan Hunter (28-58-86, second in OHL scoring), Edmonton-draft Rob Schremp (33-42-75, fifth in OHL scoring) and Chicago-draft Dave Bolland (31-38-69, eighth in OHL scoring). Veteran defenseman Danny Syvret (19-38-57) leads the OHL with a +56 rating.

SUNDAY, FEB. 27 – PLYMOUTH at ERIE (26-20-6-5), 6:00 pm at Erie’s Tullio Arena (5:45 pm, WSDS 1480-AM). Whalers have enjoyed excellent success in Erie over the years. Like Plymouth, Erie is a younger-based team looked to be on the upswing over the next
couple of seasons. Veteran Geoff Platt (39-30-69) is tied with Perry and Owen Sound’s Brad Richardson for the OHL lead in goals. Young veterans Ryan O’Marra (21-32-53) and Michael Blunden (20-18-38) are quality players worth watching.

Tickets are available for all Plymouth games by calling the Compuware Sports Arena box office Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm at (734) 453-8400. The CSA box office opens on Saturday game days at 11:00 am.

Trenton native commits to WMU

Omaha Lancers defenseman Kevin O'Connor (Trenton) is the latest Lancer to commit to a Division I school for this fall as the 20-year-old has given the nod to Western Michigan University of the CCHA.

“It's great to see the strides that Kevin has made in his two seasons with the Lancers, both on and off the ice," Omaha head coach Mike Hastings said. "I expect Kevin to be an impact player for the Broncos right away."

In 39 games this season, O'Connor has 21 points (5g, 16a). He is the 12th Lancer to commit to college hockey for next year.

Other Omaha players with Michigan college ties:
Goaltender Jeff Lerg (Livonia) - Michigan State University
Forward Jeff LoVecchio - Western Michigan University
Forward Tim Miller (Davisburg) - University of Michigan
Forward Brandon Naurato (Livonia) - University of Michigan
Defenseman Ryan Turek (Northville) - Michigan State University

Monday, February 21, 2005

Indians still atop NAHL North

Even though they were swept by the Cleveland Barons last weekend in Cleveland, the Soo Indians maintained their first-place position in the NAHL's North Division.

Friday night, Ray Kaunisto scored the Soo's lone goal in a 2-1 loss that was decided in a shootout. Jason Kearney made 27 saves for the Indians (27-14-4).

Saturday night, R.G. Flath scored twice and Matt Jones added a single, but the Barons took a 4-3 victory.

Troy Redmann started in net and made 15 saves through 47:02. Kearney took over and stopped all eight shots he saw in 12:58.

Ending their road trip, the Indians pitched a 5-0 shutout against the Toledo IceDiggers on Sunday. Drew Satterley scored twice and Matt Buckley, Marty Gurnoe and Nik Sellers added goals. Kearney made just 17 saves for the goose egg.

Cleveland travels up to Sault Ste. Marie this weekend for games Friday and Saturday. Game time both nights is 7:00 p.m.

Saginaw loses trio over weekend

The OHL playoffs may now just be a pipe dream for the Saginaw Spirit.

Needing wins badly, the Spirit (17-35-2-4) dropped all three of their games last weekend.

Friday night in Saginaw, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds posted a 3-0 win over the Spirit. Jeff Weber made 36 saves in the loss.

"We couldn't overcome their pressure early on," Saginaw head coach and general manager Bob Mancini said. "A couple of deflection goals put us behind and we didn't play with passion to overcome that lead."

The Barrie Colts then took a 7-2 win Saturday night in Barrie. Marek Kvapil and captain Thomas Harrison scored for Saginaw.

Weber had 21 saves in two periods. Aaron Rock had four saves in the final period of play.

Sunday up in Sudbury, the hometown Wolves defeated Saginaw, 6-2. Patrick McNeill and Michal Birner got on the board for the Spirit. Weber turned back 30 shots in the game.

Saginaw is now eight points behind the Guelph Storm for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with ten games left.

The Spirit host the Plymouth Whalers Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.

Whalers fall out of first place

The Plymouth Whalers fell out of a three-way tie for first place in the OHL's West Division with a win and a loss last weekend.

Friday night in Guelph, Cory Tanaka and co-captain Tim Sestito each had a goal and an assist to lead the Whalers to a 3-1 win over the Storm. John Vigilante also scored and Ryan Nie made 17 saves.

Saturday night at home, Brody Todd scored three goals as the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defeated the Whalers 6-2 to move atop the division.

The Greyhounds took first with the win and the Windsor Spitfires losing 6-2 to the Peterborough Petes.

The Greyhounds, Whalers and Spitfires were all tied for first heading into action Saturday.

Mike Looby and Tanaka scored for Plymouth (24-24-5-3). Nie stopped 17 shots before being pulled after the fifth goal for Justin Garay, who finished with four saves.

Plymouth plays in Saginaw Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Rassey commits to Crusaders

Rob Rassey, captain of the Youngstown Phantoms, has verbally committed to Holy Cross and the Atlantic Hockey hockey team in Worcester, Mass., for the 2005-2006 season.

Rassey, a 20-year-old Shelby Township native, is in his second year with the NAHL's Phantoms and leads the team with 53 points (21 goals, 32 assists) in 42 games.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Soo Indians alumni making news

At the present time there are 33 former Soo Indians playing NCAA Division I college hockey. Below are some who have made news recently.

Former Indians netminder and NAHL All-League First Team goaltender Cam Ellsworth continued his phenomenal play as he backstopped the Michigan Tech Huskies to a three point weekend against Minnesota State. The victories moved the Huskies out of the WCHA basement for the first time all season. Ellsworth, a senior, lost the starting job heading into the season, but earned it back in December. Since that time, he has beaten top-ranked Denver in Denver, swept the University of Minnesota in St. Paul and Minnesota-Duluth in Duluth. Ellsworth has been selected WCHA Defensive Player of the week in three of the last four weekends and earned the honor again this week after allowing just three goals in a 1-1 tie and a 4-2 win. Since Jan. 1, Ellsworth has stopped 344 of 363 shots for a .948 save percentage and has a 2.11 goals-against average. He is currently third in the WCHA with a .919 save percentage.

Dearborn's Stavros Paskaris, now at Wayne State, is tied for the team scoring lead (with Canton native Jason Bloomingburg) with 25 points.

Charlie Cook, a senior defenseman for the first place Cornell Big Red, is fifth in team scoring with five goals and ten assists for fifteen points. Cook calls Port Huron home.

Justin Cross, a junior forward at Niagara, is fifth in team scoring with seven goals and eight assists. He scored two in last Sunday's 3-1 win at Wayne State and was named the CHA's Offensive Player of the Week.

Junior defenseman Jamie Milam (Lake Orion) is sixth in scoring for Northern Michigan University. The former NAHL Rookie of the year has totaled seven goals and nine assists for 16 points.

Freshman goaltender Bill Zaniboni, a former NAHL First Team All-League Player, has a 2.79 goals against average and a .916 save percentage in eight games with Northern Michigan.

Ferris State freshman defenseman Jim Jorgensen (Sault Ste. Marie) has totaled two goals and four assists in 27 games for the Bulldogs while freshman teammate and Stanwood native Derek McIntyre has played in sixteen games for the Bulldogs and has a 3.13 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage.

Lake Superior senior captain Bo Cheeseman was recently featured on a CCHA hockey show for his involvement with community youth.

Senior forward Adam Nightingale, and brother Jared, a junior defenseman, are alternate captains for the Michigan State Spartans. Both Cheboygan natives were All-League players with the Indians.

Former Indians goaltender and NAHL MVP Ryan Miller (East Lansing) currently leads the American Hockey League in wins with 29. The AHL All-Star has a 2.09 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage with the Rochester Americans.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Whalers and Spirit have busy weekend

The Plymouth Whalers and Saginaw Spirit split their two games with each other over the weekend while Plymouth won Saturday night and the Spirit lost in other action.

Friday night in Plymouth, John Vigilante’s goal at 19:12 of the second period proved to be the game-winner as the Whalers defeated the Spirit, 5-1.

Saginaw opened up the scoring in the first period when Joe McCann scored on a wrap-around shot at 2:29. The Spirit led 1-0 after one period of play.

Plymouth came back with the equalizer at 4:47 of the second period when co-captain John Mitchell scored. Vigilante scored in the final minute of the second period and the Whalers led 2-1 after two periods. In the third period, Plymouth pulled away with goals from Dan Collins, Vaclav Meidl, and rookie defenseman Zack Shepley’s first-ever OHL goal came at the 14-minute mark.

"Shep played 28 minutes tonight," Plymouth head coach and general manager Mike Vellucci said. "We've been relying on him a lot lately and it was great for him to get his first goal."

Plymouth’s Ryan Nie turned away 25 of the 26 shots he faced and Saginaw’s Jeff Weber had 34 saves in the loss.

Sunday afternoon in Saginaw, Jesse Gimblett scored at 13:07 of the third period and the Spirit held on for a 5-4 win over Plymouth. It was only the second time in Saginaw's three-year existence they have beaten the Whalers in regulation.

Marek Kvapil, Michal Birner, Chase Crowder and Tom Pyatt scored the other Saginaw goals, while defenseman Patrick McNeill chipped in with three assists. Plymouth got two goals and two assists from Mitchell and singles from Vigilante and Jonas Fiedler. Plymouth defenseman Mike Knight added four assists.

After Pyatt's goal early in the third period, Vellucci pulled starting goaltender Justin Garay (20 shots, 16 saves) for Nie, who stopped seven of the eight shots he faced and took the loss. Weber stopped 26 of 30 Plymouth shots.

"No matter what the score was, we never stopped working," Saginaw head coach and general manager Bob Mancini said. "We battled hard and realized that when we keep doing things right, we always have a chance to win."

In their non-Plymouth action, Saginaw fell, 3-1, to the top-ranked London Knights on Saturday night. Kvapil scored the Spirit's lone goal and Weber stopped 29 shots.

"Half of their team is an all-star team," Weber said. "So we were a little intimidated at first. It was hard to realize that London makes mistakes, too. But once we got past that, we knew we could challenge those guys."

"London is the top team right now," said Spirit captain Thomas Harrison. "But we can't give them too much respect in our game. We fell down 3-0 in the first, but we battled back and went right at them."

The Spirit are now only four points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The defending OHL champion Guelph Storm currently have the eighth seed.

Saturday night in Plymouth, the Whalers ended their 0-5 skid against Windsor this season with a convincing 6-3 win. James Neal scored twice and Vigilante added three assists. Nie made 30 saves while Steve Ward, Cory Tanaka and co-captain Tim Sestito also scored.

"The win was huge," Vigilante said. "We knew our record going in against Windsor and it feels great to get a win, especially with the fight for first in the division."

Plymouth and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds remain tied for first in the OHL West with 54 points each. Both teams have played 54 games.

Plymouth travels to Guelph on Friday night before hosting Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Indians sweep IceDiggers

The Soo Indians swept the Toledo IceDiggers at home last weekend and are now in sole possession of first place in the NAHL's North Division.

In Friday night's 4-2 win, Tiger Marcotte, Glenn Ylitalo, Drew Satterley and Nik Sellers scored to pad Jason Kearney's 10-save outing.

Saturday, Troy Redmann stopped all 15 shots he saw to lead the Indians to a 3-0 shutout. Ray Kaunisto, Joey Bacon and Jim Pentecost scored the Soo's goals and each was assisted by Joe Beaudry.

This weekend, the Indians (26-13-3) are at Cleveland to face the Barons on Friday and Saturday and then visit Toledo on Sunday evening.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Bighorns ink Redford native for '05-06

The Helena Bighorns of the NAHL have signed Joseph Trotter from the Michigan Ice Dogs Junior B team to a tender sheet offer to play for the team in 2005-2006.

Trotter, a Redford native, is a solid 5-foot-9, 180-pound forward who has been a big contributor to the Ice Dogs team this season. In 37 games in the Central States Hockey League, Trotter has scored 17 goals to go along with 17 assists.

“Joe is an extremely skilled forward and should have no problem fitting in with the system we like to play.” Helena head coach Brent Agrusa said. "Trotter is a fierce competitor and his will to win and excel is what made our decision easy.”

Trotter will be attending the Bighorns summer camp in Chicago this summer.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Whalers play three-in-three this weekend

The Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers come into this upcoming weekend’s action with their fate squarely in their collective hands. Plymouth (21-22-5-3) is now tied with Sault Ste. Marie (21-23-7-1) for first place in the OHL’s West Division with 50 points, and the Whalers and Greyhounds are two points ahead of the Windsor Spitfires (18-22-6-6).

Plymouth hosts the Saginaw Spirit on Friday and the Windsor Spitfires on Saturday at the Compuware Sports Arena before playing Sunday afternoon in Saginaw. Sault Ste. Marie hosts Oshawa on Friday and Barrie on Saturday at the Sault Memorial Gardens. Windsor hosts Oshawa Thursday night at Windsor Arena, plays in Guelph on Friday and then in Plymouth on Saturday night.

Here a closer look at Plymouth’s action this weekend:

FRIDAY, FEB. 11 – SAGINAW (16-30-2-4) at PLYMOUTH (21-22-5-3), 7:30 pm, Compuware Sports Arena (7:30 pm, Comcast- Plymouth, Channel 25).
The Whalers have a 4-0-1 edge on Saginaw in five games this year and lead the all-time series 30-10-4-1. Saginaw has picked up the pace over the second half and is just six points behind Guelph for the final playoff spot in the OHL’s Western Conference.
WHO TO WATCH FOR SAGINAW: Although veteran goaltender and former Whaler Jeff Weber (35 games, 3.03 goals against, .916 save percentage) has better numbers than backup Aaron Rock (11, 4.35, .893), Rock has actually played better against the Whalers. The Spirit is led offensively by Marek Kvapil (21 goals, 30 assists for 51 points in 37 games), Tom Pyatt (14-24-38), Jesse Gimblett (13-13-26), St. Louis draft pick Michal Birner (9-19-28) and Farmington Hills native Tom Mannino (17-21-38).
WHO TO WATCH FOR PLYMOUTH: Veteran John Mitchell (46, 20-37-57, +13) enters the weekend moving up several all-time career charts. Mitchell is ninth on Plymouth’s all-time scoring list with 212 points, is currently sixth overall with 137 career assists and third overall with 241 career games. Barring injury or suspension, Mitchell and fellow veteran Jonas Fiedler (238 games) will break Eric Gooldy’s all-time career mark of 249 games played before the end of the regular season. Second-year players James Neal (50, 15-21-36) and Dan Collins (51, 19-16-35) give the Whalers another dynamic deminson when they are playing well. Goaltender Ryan Nie (45, 2.55, .917) shut out Saginaw, 5-0, two weeks ago at the Compuware Sports Arena for his second shutout of the season and remains among the top five in all OHL goaltending categories.

SATURDAY, FEB. 12 – WINDSOR (18-22-6-6) at PLYMOUTH, 7:30 pm, Compuware Sports Arena (7:30 pm via the internet
on; telecast by Schoolcraft College Sports Network).

The Spitfires come into this game having won all five games against Plymouth this so far this season in the eight-game regular season series.
WHO TO WATCH FOR WINDSOR: Three keys for Windsor’s success against Plymouth this season has been the play of goaltenders Kyle Knechtel (29, 3.56, .897) and Brad Topping (30, 3.67, .893) – a Windsor goaltender has been a star in every Spitfire victory against Plymouth so far this season. Another key has been the play of second-year centerman Cal O’Reilly (52, 17-41-58), who has scored a goal in every game this season against Plymouth. Spitfires boast firepower with the likes of David Lomas (28 goals), Ryan Garlock (26), John-Scott Dickson (21) and Steve Downie (16).

SUNDAY, FEB. 13 – PLYMOUTH at SAGINAW, 2:00 pm, Dow Event Center (1:45 pm, WSDS 1480-AM).

Kvapil repeats as OHL Rookie of the Month

Saginaw Spirit forward Marek Kvapil has earned the OHL Rookie of the Month honor for the month of January. Kvapil earned the honor in November as well.

The 20-year-old native of Prague, Czech Republic, scored seven goals and 15 points in 10 games to help the Spirit to a 6-6-1-0 record in January.

Kvapil earned points in eight of 10 games last month, including a goal and two assists against the Sarnia Sting on Jan. 15 and his first OHL hat trick against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Jan. 29. Kvapil is second among OHL freshmen with 51 points in 37 games.

The Spirit drafted Kvapil in the 2004 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

'Save The Indians'

The Soo Indians have begun their "Save the Indians" campaign.

The team's ten-year ownership by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians will terminate at the conclusion of this season. The Tribe has agreed to allow the team to continue in Sault Ste. Marie if an ownership structure and funding can be put together outside of Tribal responsibility.

A season ticket campaign is underway. Indians head coach and GM Joe Shawhan said at least 1,000 season tickets will need to be sold in order for the team to continue past the current season.

"The team will fold if we cannot put things together," said Shawhan. "At this time the Tribe has no intention of paying the monthly dormant franchise fees which range in upwards of $1,000 per month. In addition, it is not the league's intention to let the dormant status be a tool used by franchises to sell. It is the intent of the dormant status to give teams a break who are going to re-join the league. "

Shawhan has been granted until early March to put the financing together.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Spirit fans to attempt world record

Saginaw Spirit fans will attempt to set a Guinness Book of World Records mark at the Spirit-London Knights game Feb. 12. Spirit fans in attendance will have a chance to break the record for "Greatest number of people to pop balloons at one time."

According to Guinness, the current mark of 2477 is held by a group from Wu Kai Sai Youth Village, Hong Kong, who set the record on a football pitch in 2004.

"Fans have to blow up the balloons themselves and pop them without an external object, like a pin or keys," said Spirit assistant game day operations director Kerri Dhyse. "There are a few other rules which we'll explain to fans on a card they'll get before the game."

Volunteers will pass around a log for the poppers to sign in order to verify the record. The record won't be verified for several months by Guinness.

Soo upends NAHL North rivals

The Soo Indians won both games over the weekend in decisive fashion over the Cleveland Barons and Toledo IceDiggers.

Friday night, Drew Satterley scored twice as the Indians took a 6-2 victory over the Barons. Ray Kaunisto, Tiger Marcotte, Matt Jones and Kellen Chamblee also scored to back Troy Redmann's 28-save performance.

Jason Kearney made 21 saves and pitched the shutout Saturday night as the Soo trampled Toledo for a 5-0 win.

Jones scored twice and Jim Pentecost, Tommi Maata and Kaunisto added singles for the Indians (24-13-3).

This weekend, the second-place Indians host Toledo on Friday and Saturday. Both games start at 7:00 p.m.

Saginaw 1-2 over weekend, beat Attack

Sandwiched between losses to Windsor and Toronto, the Saginaw Spirit beat the Owen Sound Attack, 4-2, Saturday afternoon at home.

Tom Mannino (Farmington Hills), Michal Birner and captain Thomas Harrison scored for Saginaw and Jeff Weber made 39 saves for the Spirit (16-30-2-4) in their first-ever win over the Attack, one of the OHL's top teams all year.

"Everything in this game is won or lost on how you react to different situations," Saginaw head coach and general manager Bob Mancini said. "The guys didn't give up when the game was close."

"We came out tonight and battled hard for 60 minutes," Harrison said. "We showed we can play with anyone in this league if we bring our 'A' game."

Friday, Marek Kvapil scored Saginaw's lone goal in the 3-1 loss to the Majors. Then Sunday, Tom Pyatt scored Saginaw's goal as they fell 5-1 to Windsor.

Next up for the Spirit is a game with the OHL's best team, the London Knights, Saturday night at home. Saginaw also plays at Plymouth on Friday and hosts the Whalers Sunday afternoon.

Whalers blasted over the weekend

The Plymouth Whalers dropped two games last weekend, losing 5-2 in Kitchener on Friday night and 6-3 to a scrappy Toronto St. Michael's Majors team Saturday night at home.

Dan Collins scored his 19th goal of the season for Plymouth in the second period and rookie Tom Sestito scored his first-ever OHL goal in the third period in the Kitchener loss. Ryan Nie made 23 saves, but the Rangers scored four power-play goal and a short-handed tally.

Saturday, overagers Jonas Fiedler and Mike Knight and rookie John Armstrong scored. John Vigilante chipped in two assists. Nie started in net and made eight saves on 11 shots in the first period before Justin Garay took over at the start of the second period. Garay made 17 saves on 20 shots.

The loss drops Plymouth's record to 21-22-5-3 and puts them into a first place tie with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, who skated to 1-1 tie against against Mississauga on Saturday night. The Whalers host the Saginaw Spirit (Friday) and Windsor Spitfires (Saturday) this weekend before travelling to Saginaw for a 2:00 p.m. matinee Sunday. Game times Friday and Saturday are 7:30 p.m.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Axtell out, Ricci in for USHL classic

The United States Hockey League announced today that Rob Ricci, a forward for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders will replace Phillip Axtell, a RoughRiders teammate of Ricci's, in the USHL Prospects/All-Star Game next Tuesday in Grand Forks, N.D.

Axtell will not be able to participate in the game due to an injury. Axtell is in his first season in the USHL and has committed to play his college hockey at Michigan Tech University of the WCHA starting this fall.

Axtell played from 2002-2004 with the Marquette Electricians midget AAA team in the Midwest Elite Hockey League.

Spirit pick takes OPJHL rookie honors

Saginaw Spirit draft pick Tim Priamo has earned Rookie of the Year honors for the Western Division of the Ontario Provincial Junior A League. Priamo plays for the Burlington Cougars, where he has 22 goals and 22 assists in 45 games this season. He's teammates with Spirit prospect goaltender Chris Rowan.

Priamo was the Spirit's 12th-round pick in the 2004 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound left winger is a native of Guelph, Ontario.

Whalers play two this weekend

The Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers come into this weekend’s action in first place in the OHL West Division with a record of 21-20-5-3, three points ahead of the second place Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (20-23-6-1) with a game in hand.

Plymouth and Sault Ste. Marie both play two games this weekend. The Greyhounds will host Belleville tonight and Mississauga on Saturday night at the Sault Memorial Gardens.

Here’s a closer look at the Whalers’ two games this weekend:

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4 – PLYMOUTH (21-20-5-3) at KITCHENER (24-12-6-4), 7:30 pm, Kitchener Memorial Auditorium (7:15 pm, WSDS 1480-AM).

Although Kitchener holds a 2-1 edge over Plymouth in three previous games this season, the Whalers hold a 13-12-2 edge in regular season and playoff games since former Plymouth general manager and head coach Peter DeBoer and assistant Steve Spott left for Kitchener in 2001.

Kitchener comes into the game banged up, with captain Mike Richards (groin), Patrick Davis (Detroit) and Justin Azevedo - among others - missing last Sunday’s 3-3 tie with Ottawa. Rangers’ leading scorer and Detroit Red Wing draft Evan McGrath (18 goals with 41 assists for 59 points) along with veteran David Clarkson (23-13-36) have a history of playing well against Plymouth. Veteran Andre Benoit, the WHA's Detroit Gladiators first-round pick last summer, (19-35-54) leads all OHL defensemen in scoring. Kitchener is led in net by Atlanta Thrashers’ draft Dan Turple (33 games, 3.02 goals against, .903 save percentage), who beat Plymouth, 4-2, on Dec. 4 at the Compuware Sports Arena.

WHO’S HOT FOR PLYMOUTH: Plymouth veteran John Mitchell (20-35-55) was Plymouth’s leading scorer in January with 7 goals and 12 assists for 19 points – including an eight-point weekend last week over three games. Mitchell is currently 9th overall in franchise career scoring with 210 points. John Vigilante (16-27-43) was second in January with 5 goals and 11 assists for 16 points over 13 games. Young guns James Neal (15-21-36) and Dan Collins (18-16-34) are ranked 20th and 23rd overall by the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Bureau in the mid-term ranking for North American players. Defenseman Steve Ward (4-8-12) scored three goals last weekend and comes into this week playing his best hockey of the season. Goaltender Ryan Nie (2.44, .921 in 43 games) played in the OHL All-Star Classic Wednesday night and has a history of paying well in Kitchener.

SATURDAY, FEBURARY 5 – TORONTO ST. MICHAEL’S MAJORS (18-24-4-2) at PLYMOUTH, 7:30 pm, Compuware Sports Arena (7:30 pm,, tape delayed by Schoolcraft Sports Network television).

The Whalers and Majors play twice per season, with St. Mike’s defeating Plymouth, 2-1, Dec. 17 in Toronto. Majors come into the game playing their third game as in many nights.

Goaltender Justin Peters (2.82, .907 in 44 games) played well in Toronto’s win over Plymouth in December. Majors need Peters to play well as they are the lowest-scoring team in the OHL with 111 goals in 48 games. To try to inject offense in the Toronto lineup, Director of Hockey Operations and Head Coach Bud Stefanski acquired twins Justin and Tyler Donati from Oshawa at the OHL trading deadline and they have been moderately successful with 20 and 32 points respectively.

After Saturday’s game, the entire Whaler team will be signing autographs around the National Hockey League rink at the Compuware Sports Arena.

The Whalers are averaging 3,200 fans per game through 24 home dates. Plenty of tickets are available for Plymouth’s remaining ten home games this season by calling the Compuware Sports Arena box office at (734) 453-8400.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Spratt looking forward to Bowling Green

Sioux City Musketeers veteran goaltender Jimmy Spratt committed to Bowling Green State University last November and has been a rock in net for the Muskies this season.

Spratt, in his third season with the Musketeers, played in 34 games last year and was 19-6-5 with a 2.34 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage. This season, he has gone 16-8-3 with a 2.72 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.

After last year, Spratt was drafted in the seventh round by the Calgary Flames. But while an NHL contract is the obvious long-term goal for Spratt, the Chesterfield native is looking forward to playing for BGSU this fall.

“I am very excited for this opportunity," said Spratt. "Bowling Green is definitely a program on the rise. This year and next years recruiting classes are great and I am privileged to be in the company of some of these great athletes. Bowling Green is a place where I will be able to step in and play right away. I think that I am goalie that can move them from a mid-road CCHA team to a championship contending team.”

“Jimmy has a tremendous opportunity to be the number one goalie on a Division I team that is improving every year," said Sioux City head coach and general manager Dave Siciliano. "He will have a chance to lead them in becoming one of the top ten to fifteen schools in the nation. This is the responsibility and challenge that Jimmy has been looking for.”


Corey Elkins, West Bloomfield, Ohio State (2005-2006)
Steven Kampfer, Jackson, Michigan (2006-2007)
Tim Kennedy, Michigan State (2005-2006)