Saturday, August 27, 2005

Saginaw signs 2004 draft pick Priamo

The Saginaw Spirit have signed 17-year-old forward Tim Priamo to an OHL contract for this season.

Priamo is a native of Guelph, Ontario and was Saginaw’s 12th-round pick, 222nd overall, in the 2004 OHL Priority Selection.

“Tim is a strong, gritty forward,” said Spirit general manager and head coach Bob Mancini. “He’s a tireless worker who brings energy to the team and touch around the net.”

Priamo earned the Rookie of the Year honors for the Western Division of the Ontario Provincial Junior A League last year with 22 goals and 24 assists in 52 games for the Burlington Cougars.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Shawhan spurns Cleveland, joins LSSU

Former Soo Indians head coach and general manager Joe Shawhan, originally named the new coach of the Cleveland Barons a couple weeks back, has now officially been named an assistant coach at Lake Superior State University.

Shawhan said the Barons jumped the gun on his signing with them and that an assistant's job at LSSU, his alma mater, was what he really wanted ever since the Indians folded after last season.

"I want to say thank you to the NAHL and Sault Tribe for giving me a great opportunity, and to Cleveland for being so patient," said Shawhan, a Sault Ste. Marie native. "I thank all of the people who supported the Indians for the 10-year period. One of the most difficult scenarios in this process was leaving something that I helped build, but I'm thankful I will have the opportunity to bring that excitement to LSSU.

"The people who were with us in building that, all of the fans and the community, can be a part of the continued growth of Laker hockey. When I was with the Indians, walking through the stands from the lockerroom to the bench during home games, I became used to seeing those people and they became friends. I look forward to seeing those same people again. I hope they appreciate Laker hockey as much as they appreciated Indians hockey. We need their support."

The Indians placed more than 100 players into college hockey programs during the past decade. The most-notable was goaltender Ryan Miller, who went on to Michigan State and won the 2001 Hobey Baker Award. Several others have gone on to play at LSSU, including current Lakers Dominic Osman, Justin Gutwald and Marty Gurnoe.

Read the full release from LSSU here.

Alpena showcase to be broadcast on WATZ AM

The Alpena IceDiggers are partnering with WATZ AM 1450 for radio broadcasts of this weekend's pre-season showcase.

"We are excited to be working with WATZ," said Alpena head coach and general manager Ken Miller. "The station is a great fit for our team and we hope to build a long relationship. Play-by-play announcer John Pines is one of the best in the business and I look forward to working with him on a one on one basis this season."

WATZ is a local radio station owned and operated by Midwestern Broadcasting. Select games will be broadcast live on AM 1450 and can also be heard on Charter Communications Channel 13 in Alpena. Pines has spent the past nine seasons as the voice of the Alpena High Wildcats.

"I'm thrilled and am looking forward to bringing the play by play, coach's corner, contests, and IceDigger special events to our Alpena area listeners." added Pines.

Alpena plays the Motor City Chiefs tonight at 7 pm, tomorrow at 7 pm against the Toledo Cherokee and at 1 pm Sunday against the Grand Rapids Owls. Friday's and Saturday's radio pre-game show will begin at 7 pm.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Kvapil signs contract with Lightning

The Saginaw Spirit were counting on forward Marek Kvapil returning for his overage season in the OHL, but after signing yesterday with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the odds of the Czech native coming back to mid-Michigan are maybe 50-50 at best.

"Marek Kvapil had an excellent year in the OHL last season and we were pleased to land him in this year's draft," Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said. "He is a goal scorer, and from a depth perspective, we simply don't have enough pure goal scorers in the system. We are very pleased that he has chosen to start his professional career and we look forward to seeing him in Traverse City (for rookie camp next month).”

Kvapil was selected by Tampa Bay in the sixth round, 163rd overall, in last month's draft. He led Saginaw in scoring last year with 25 goals and 62 points in 53 games. He was the third leading scorer among OHL rookies and was named OHL Rookie of the Month twice in 2004-05. He also tied the OHL record for the fastest goal scored to begin a period after scoring four seconds into the third period against the Mississauga IceDogs last December.

"We couldn't be happier for Marek," said Spirit general manager and head coach Bob Mancini. "He is very deserving of the opportunity to sign and go to Tampa Bay's training camp to start his pro career. We would welcome Marek back to the Spirit this season, but it is up to the Lightning to decide how to proceed on his development."

Prior to joining Saginaw, Kvapil played three seasons with the Slavia Praha organization in the Czech Republic, appearing in 11 games in the country’s top league in 2003-04. He also helped the Czech Republic capture a bronze medal at the 2005 World Junior Championships, recording two goals and five points in seven games. The 20-year-old native was the Spirit's 1st pick, 11th overall, in the 2004 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

In other Spirit news, defenseman Steven Whitely has earned an invitation to the Tampa Bay rookie camp.

"This is a great opportunity for Steven," Mancini said. "I have no doubt in my mind that if the NHL had had a full draft, as they did in previous years, that Steven would have been drafted."

Whitely, an 18-year-old native of Petrolia, Ontario, was acquired in a trade with the Toronto St. Michael's Majors in January.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Alpena readies for pre-season showcase

The Alpena IceDiggers are hosting a pre-season showcase this weekend, August 26-28, at Northern Lights Arena.

The showcase features five teams including the Traverse City North Stars and Central States Hockey League (Junior B) members Toledo Cherokee, Grand Rapids Jr. Owls and Motor City Chiefs. The IceDiggers, Cherokee, Chiefs and Owls will each play three games over the course of the weekend, while the North Stars will play in two.

Friday - 4:00pm-7:00pm, Traverse City v. Grand Rapids
Friday - 7:00pm-10:00pm, Alpena v. Motor City

Saturday - 9:00am-12:00pm, Toledo v. Traverse City
Saturday - 4:00pm-7:00pm, Motor City v. Grand Rapids
Saturday - 7:00pm-10:00pm, Alpena v. Toledo

Sunday - 10:00am-1:00pm, Toledo v. Motor City
Sunday - 1:00pm-4:00pm, Alpena v. Grand Rapids

"We are looking forward to this big weekend of hockey action," said Alpena head coach and general manager Ken Miller. "It will be our first look at the team in a game situation. The teams we have coming in from the CSHL are very competitive teams at the Junior B level and it should be great hockey for the fans of Alpena."

Fans are encouraged to come and follow the action. Admission is $3 per person or $15.00 for a weekend pass good for all seven games. For ticket information please contact the Northern Lights Arena at (989) 356-1878. These will be the only pre-season games the IceDiggers will play before regular season action begins the second weekend in September.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Armstrong strikes gold with Team Canada

Second-year Plymouth Whalers forward John Armstrong and Team Canada defeated the Czech Republic, 5-3, on Sunday for the gold medal in the Under-18 Junior World Cup in the Czech Republic.

Contacted at his home in Unionville, Ontario, on Monday, Armstrong called the tournament win "one of the biggest thrills of his hockey career."

"We won because we worked harder than the other teams," Armstrong said.

Armstrong scored twice in the tournament as he tallied in the first game and in the championship game.

Armstrong played much of the tournament on a checking line with Peterborough's Jordan Staal and Brady Calla of the WHL's Everett Silvertips.

"We were the biggest line (physically) in the tournament," Armstrong said. "Our job was to get the puck in deep and try to keep it there."

Armstrong was Plymouth's first-round pick in the 2004 OHL Priority Selection, going 13th overall.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Sestito earns free agent tryout with Oilers

Outgoing Plymouth Whalers co-captain Tim Sestito will attend the Edmonton Oilers' rookie training camp next month on a tryout basis as a free agent invite.

Never drafted by an NHL team, Sestito, a native of Rome, N.Y., posted career-highs last season in Plymouth with 14 goals and 32 points in his fourth and final OHL campaign. He signed an amateur tryout contract with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL after the OHL season and scored in his first professional game.

"Going into camp, I want to make a great impression early and often," said Sestito, who turns 21 on Aug. 28. "I feel like I am in the best shape of my life this summer and I am hoping it pays off in Edmonton. I have to be an agitator on the ice, getting my nose dirty and playing hard, as well as being responsible in my own end."

Rookie camp starts Sept. 5 and lasts one week. If Sestito gets an invite to Edmonton's main camp, that starts Sept. 15.

Sestito was originally Plymouth's third-round pick, 44th overall, in the 2001 OHL Priority Selection. Last year was his overage year in Plymouth and he had the chance to play with younger brother, Tom, on the Whalers.

"This fall is definitely going to be a new and different experience," the 6-foot, 195-pound Sestito added. "I was very comfortable and enjoyed every minute of being in Plymouth. It's a little sad leaving friends, family (Tom) and my billets, but on the other hand, it is exciting to try something new and see how far I can take my hockey career.

"One thing I know for sure is I will be looking up the game stats after every weekend to see how Plymouth made out as well as checking the message boards to get the perspective of the fans that were there."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

IceDiggers set to open training camp

Alpena head coach-GM Ken Miller is ready for training camp

The Alpena IceDiggers are set to begin their inaugural NAHL season in Michigan.

On August 13, the 28-man training camp roster will report to Northern Lights Arena to begin the task of preparing for the 2005-2006 season.

"We’re excited as we head into camp this season knowing what a talented team we expect to have," said IceDiggers head coach Ken Miller. "We take training camp very seriously because it is a key ingredient in developing our players."

With 10 players returning from last year’s roster, the IceDiggers have a solid core of players to blend with a group of talented and young newcomers.

"We have to focus on becoming a better hockey team, playing our style of game and developing our players," said Miller. "I am excited about the group of kids we have recruited for this season."

The first IceDigger practice will be Monday, August 15 at 3:00pm at Northern Lights Arena in Alpena. Regular practices for the week will continue each weekday from 3:00 to 3:50 and practices this season will be open to the public.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Former Chiefs forward off to NAHL

Former Motor City Chiefs standout forward Tyler Romasco has signed with the Bismarck Bobcats of the NAHL.

The Bobcats, who finished fifth in the West Division a year ago, struggled offensively last year and will look to Romasco, among others, to help their offensive output this season.

Romasco is coming off his second season in the CSHL scoring 55 points or more and has the praise of those that saw him perform on a regular basis.

"Tyler brings the same enthusiasm to Bismarck as he did playing for the Chiefs," Motor City general manager Gerry Lullove said. "He is now on his way to achieving his goals playing Junior A and college hockey."

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Shawhan surfaces in Cleveland

The Cleveland Jr. Barons named former Soo Indians head coach Joe Shawhan as their new head coach and general manager yesterday. As per team policy, terms of the contract will not be disclosed.

Shawhan, a Sault Ste. Marie native, was the only head coach in the Indians' 10-year existence. Shawhan's teams achieved a winning season and qualified for playoffs in each of those ten seasons and won two NAHL titles and qualified three different times for the USA Hockey National Championship.

Shawhan attended and played at Lake Superior State University under Frank Anzalone and Jeff Jackson. He was the head coach for Team USA at the prestigious Viking Cup 2004 hockey tournament.

The Indians folded at the end of the 2004-2005 season after a third-place finish at the Gold Cup tournament in Bismarck, N.D.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Armstrong makes Canadian Under-18 team

Plymouth Whalers' second-year forward John Armstrong, the team's first-round pick in 2004, has made Canada's Under-18 team that will play in the Junior World Cup Aug. 9-14 in the Czech Republic.

Armstrong is one of six OHL players on the Canadian roster.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

IceDiggers set roster for training camp

Alpena forward Ricardo Yesue

The Alpena IceDiggers completed their main camp Tuesday and in the process whittled down their campers to a final 28-man training camp roster.

Ten players return from last season's Toledo team - goalie Justin Marriott, forwards Nolan Craner, Steve Culbertson, Ross Enmark, Jake Hovick, Brandon Moran, Sam Yearsley and Ricardo Yesue and defensemen Jeff Miller and Adam Snead. Also making the roster are Alpena natives Erik Peterson and C.J. MacKenzie.

"We are happy with the 28 guys we are bringing in for training camp" said IceDiggers coach and general manager Ken Miller. "(Assistant coach) Kelly (Miller) and I feel we have a good core of veterans as well as young guys willing to work hard and make this a successful season here in Alpena."

Of the 28 players returning, not all will make the team's opening day roster. The team will trim one player on Aug. 13 and cut two more by Sept. 1.

"We will look over our roster prior to September 1 and make the necessary moves to help our club," said Miller. "We will keep the hardest working 25 players."

Bold denotes returning player

G Justin Marriott
G Mitch Rybicki
G Phil Greer
D Brad Benson
D Josh Brown
D Chris Lanciano
D Ben Kitzmiller
D Kory O'Brien
D Tim Okicki
D Eric Roman
D Adam Snead
F Zach Barron
F Nolan Craner
F Steve Culbertson

F Taylor Doorlag
F Ross Enmark
F Jake Hovick

F C.J. MacKenzie
F Jeff Miller
F Brandon Moran
F Erik Peterson
F Drew Pierson
F Todd Rudasill
F Justin Stadler
F Matt Suggs
F Andrew Wilcox
F Sam Yearsley
F Ricardo Yesue

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Saginaw acquires Combs from Rangers

The Saginaw Spirit acquired forward Jack Combs from the Kitchener Rangers yesterday in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2006 OHL Priority Selection.

The 17-year-old native of St. Louis was the Rangers' second round pick in 2004 and had one goal and five assists, as an underager, in 59 games with the Rangers last season.

"Jack has been a point-getter and goal scorer throughout his developmental hockey career," Saginaw general manager and head coach Bob Mancini said. "We look forward to him bringing his skills to the Saginaw Spirit."

Combs is expected to join the Spirit for training camp in late August.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

North Stars finalize 25-man roster

Record-Eagle staff writer

TRAVERSE CITY - The formation of the team was announced in early November.

Jerseys for the Traverse City entry into the North American Hockey League (NAHL) were unveiled in early May.

Now the Junior A hockey team has 25 players to fill out those uniforms.

The North Stars made it official on Monday, sending its 25-man roster into the NAHL league office in preparation for the team's inaugural 2005-06 season.

"We're pretty happy with what we have," said Traverse City coach and general manager Scott Gardiner. "We have a good mix.

"We have a good mix of youth and experience and different types of role players and skill players."

The initial roster includes seven players with direct ties to the area.

Four of those played high school hockey in the area: winger Jake Erway (TC Central), defenseman Nathan Peterson (Cadillac), center Scott Ponstein (Grand Traverse Bay) and winger Joe St. John (Gaylord).

Also making the initial roster were three defensemen from the now-defunct Traverse City Enforcers of the Continental Elite Hockey League: Steve Hackman, Anthony Sarno and Tony Swarthout.

The first group of North Stars reports back to Traverse City on Aug. 20. That is also the first practice at Centre ICE.

"We start to work right away," Gardiner said.

Traverse City plays its first exhibition games Aug. 26-27 in Alpena and opens the regular season on Sept. 16 at Cleveland.

The complete schedule for the first season of the North Stars will be released later this week. The NAHL schedule, which features the annual Showcase in Blaine, Minn., on Oct. 19-22, is slated to come to a vote on Wednesday.

Gardiner said there will inevitably be some fluctuation to the 25-player roster released on Monday.

"With a first-year club, we'll be making some changes as we go on," he said. "We have no returning players, so we'll need to analyze where we're strong at, where we're weak at and adjust accordingly."

To view the North Stars full 25-man roster, click here.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Plymouth swings deal with Mississauga

Former Whalers forward Jeff McFarland on his way to Mississauga.

The Plymouth Whalers swung a deal with the Mississauga IceDogs today, landing defenseman Scott Madden from Mississauga for right wing Jeff McFarland.

Both players are 17 and were both selected in the 2004 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection – Madden in the fourth round (77th overall) by Mississauga and McFarland in the third round (61st overall) by the Whalers.

Madden is the younger brother of New Jersey Devils' forward John Madden, who played for the University of Michigan from 1993-97 before moving on to New Jersey, where he won the Selke Trophy in 2001 as the NHL's top defensive forward.

Scott Madden – 6-feet and 185 pounds - played for the Lindsay Muskies of the Ontario Provincial Jr.A League last season, scoring five goals with six assists for 11 points with 35 penalty minutes in 36 games.

McFarland played briefly for the Whalers last year and was scoreless in two games. He spent the bulk of his time last season with the St. Thomas Stars of the Western Jr. B League, scoring eight goals and five assists for 13 points and 78 penalty minutes in 41 games.