Monday, July 17, 2006

Stanley Cup to visit Detroit, CSA tonight

Compuware Chairman and CEO Peter Karmanos, owner of the Carolina Hurricanes and Plymouth Whalers, will bring the Stanley Cup to the Detroit area starting tonight.

The Stanley Cup will alternate between Compuware Headquarters in Detroit, the Compuware Sports Arena in Plymouth and then back to Detroit at The Children’s Center, Karmanos Cancer Institute and Compuware Headquarters next Monday and Tuesday.

“I’m proud to bring the Stanley Cup back to my hometown,” explained Karmanos. “In the time it’s here, I’m going to ensure that Compuware employees and customers have an opportunity to enjoy the trophy, while offering local charities, the public and the media a chance to see the Cup.”

The Stanley Cup will be available for viewing at the Compuware Sports Arena in Plymouth from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Monday, July 17.

Here is the schedule for viewing at the Compuware Sports Arena:

7:00-8:00 p.m. Special Viewing and Photographs for Whalers Season Ticket Holders, Billets, Corporate Sponsors and CSA Employees only.

8:00-10:00 p.m. Viewing and Photographs for Compuware Youth Hockey Teams, Whalers Hockey School Participants, Learn to Skate Program Participants, CSA Customers, Whalers Game Night Ushers, Concessions Associates, Whalers Group Leaders and Friends of Compuware Sports Arena.

Plymouth Whalers President, General Manager and Head Coach Mike Vellucci was part of the very first Compuware Youth team over 30 years ago.

“It is really neat to know that Mr. Karmanos has been a generous builder of hockey in Detroit and the United States for over thirty years,” Vellucci said. “The fact that he wants to give Detroit-area fans a chance to share in the celebration of the Stanley Cup is gratifying to our entire organization.

“In addition, we want to provide our Season Ticket Holders, Corporate Sponsors and Compuware Sports Arena employees a special opportunity to see the Cup and take a keep-sake photograph. Finally, we would like friends of the program to stop by between 8:00-10:00 p.m. Monday night to celebrate with us.”

Karmanos and Compuware have a more than 30-year history of hockey sponsorship, starting at the Youth level in the Detroit area, going to the Ontario Hockey League with Windsor Compuware Spitfires and Plymouth Whalers and then moving on to the National Hockey League in 1994 when Karmanos purchased the Hartford Whalers. The Whalers moved to (North) Carolina in 1997.

Compuware Youth teams and the Whalers have helped produce National Hockey League players Chad LaRose, Justin Williams, James Wisniewski, Pat LaFontaine, Mike Modano, Eric Lindros, Jason Bacashihua, Bryan Berard and Robert Esche, among many others.

Agenda for Stanley Cup Visit

Monday, July 17:
11:00 a.m.: The Stanley Cup arrives at the Compuware atrium for Compuware employee and media event.

Noon – 6:30 p.m: The Stanley Cup is taken to the Compuware cafeteria for employee photos.

7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.: The Stanley Cup relocates to the Compuware Sports Arena in Plymouth.

7:00-8:00 p.m. Special Viewing and Photographs for Whalers Season Ticket Holders, Billets, Corporate Sponsors and CSA Employees only.

8:00-10:00 p.m. Viewing and Photographs for Compuware Youth Hockey Teams, Whalers Hockey School Participants, Learn to Skate Program Participants, CSA Customers, Whalers Game Night Ushers, Concessions Associates, Whalers Group Leaders and Friends of Compuware Sports Arena.

Tuesday, July 18:
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Danialle Karmanos, Founder and Executive Director of Danialle Karmanos’ Work It Out, brings the Stanley Cup to the Children’s Center.

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.: The Stanley Cup visits Karmanos Cancer Institute.

4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.: The Stanley Cup returns to the Compuware atrium for public viewing.

7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.: The Stanley Cup relocates to the Hard Rock CafĂ© in the Compuware building.

Karmanos photo courtesy Carolina Hurricanes

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Clarkston native Velasquez off to RMU

The Green Bay Gamblers have announced that forward J.C. Velasquez has committed to Robert Morris University for this fall.

Velasquez, a 21-year-old native of Clarkston, appeared in 38 games last season, notching three goals and five assists.

Velasquez becomes the 13th Gambler off the 2005-06 squad to commit to a NCAA Division I institution. Others include forwards Sean Backman (Yale), Greg Beller (Yale), Kevin Deeth (Notre Dame), Tyler Lehrke (Bemidji State), Brian Roloff (Vermont), Steve Silva (Northeastern) and Sergio Somma (Ohio State), defensemen Justin Bruan, (UMASS-Amherst), Matt Case (Ferris State), Jeremy Dehner (UMASS-Lowell) and Eric Gryba (Boston University) and goaltender Eddie Neville (Bowling Green).

Monday, July 10, 2006

Marquette announces 19 players for the fall

Lead by five players with Upper Peninsula ties, the Marquette Rangers this morning announced the selection of 19 players for the upcoming season.

During this past weekend, over 60 players from around the country convened on the Berry Events Center on the campus of Northern Michigan University in hopes of earning a roster spot. After seven games, coaches Leigh Mendelson and Randy Enders made decisions on who will don the blue, grey and copper jerseys.

"We were very pleased with the skill and competitive nature of the camp as it progressed through the weekend," said Mendelson. "The talent depth made our decisions difficult, but we are pleased with what we have put together so far."

Two Keweenaw area players, defenseman Ross Rouleau and forward Jacob Hauswirth were selected for the squad. Rouleau was a standout Hancock High School player, while Hauswirth lead the Ojibwa Eagles Midget AAA team in goals last season. Three players from Marquette were also selected, including forwards Nick Kosinski (Cleveland Barons, NAHL) and Neeco Belanger (Chilliwack, British Columbia Hockey League) and defenseman Bret Larson (Mahoning Valley, NAHL). All three players were teammates on the Marquette Electricians Midget AAA and the Marquette Senior High School Redmen squads.

Other expected members of the team include former Providence College goaltender Stephen Ritter, defensemen Nick Condon (Minnesota Ice Hawks Junior B), Jason Cohen (Capital Center Pride Midget AAA), Andy Keough (Wayzata (Minn.) High School) and Todd Graham (Seguin, Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League) and forwards Luke Bennett (Bozeman Ice Dogs, NAHL), Michael Macari (Dearborn Crestwood High School), Nic Weight (Northland Pines (Wisc.) High School), Chad Johnson (Wisconsin Dells High School), Chris Smith (Surrey, BCHL), Raymond Gillies (Ohio Junior Bluejackets Midget AAA), Jake Saville (Helena, Bighorns, NAHL), Coles Holmes (University (Wisc.) High School), and Dustin Partacz (Neuqua Valley (Ill.) High School).

"Our full roster is not yet confirmed as we expect to carry 23 players during the season," Mendelson said. “We still have a number of decisions to make and some of the young men who came to Marquette this weekend remain in the hunt for spots on the team.

"We have a nice mix of speed and size, as well as a number of experienced players who we will lean on to make an immediate impact in the NAHL. We will be ready to play just about any style of hockey necessary, whether it's a power or finesse game. Our players and the entire Rangers' organization are excited to get training camp started so we can develop the winning combination necessary to compete in the NAHL."

The Rangers will open training camp on August 28, with the season set to begin on September 13 in Blaine, Minn. The home opener is September 23 at Lakeview Arena with the full schedule expected to be announced next week.

Indians release '06-07 home schedule

The Soo Indians have released the home portion of their NOJHL schedule. The Indians will open up the 24-game home portion of their schedule on September 15 and 16 against the North Bay Skyhawks and Abitibi Eskimos. The league will play a balanced schedule with the Indians playing each team eight times.

The home opener versus North Bay will be Soo Indians Alumni Night with all former Indian players gaining free admission.

"We would like to build up a loyal following and there is no better place to start than with the Soo Indians alumni," said Soo coach-GM Jim Capy. "The twin Soo's have many Indian alumni and we are hoping that they will support our program and help us grow."

Soo Indians 2006-07 Home Schedule
15 vs North Bay Skyhawks
16 vs Abitibi Eskimos
23 vs Sudbury Jr. Wolves
24 vs Blind River Beavers
30 vs Abitibi Eskimos
6 vs Sudbury Jr. Wolves
13 vs Abitibi Eskimos
14 vs Manitoulin Islanders
21 vs Manitoulin Islanders
22 vs Soo Thunderbirds
3 vs Sudbury Jr. Wolves
4 vs Soo Thunderbirds
24 vs Abitibi Eskimos
13 vs Blind River Beavers
15 vs North Bay Skyhawks
16 vs Sudbury Jr. Wolves
19 vs Soo Thunderbirds
21 vs Manitoulin Islanders
31 vs Blind River Beavers
9 vs Blind River Beavers
10 vs North Bay Skyhawks
25 vs Soo Thunderbirds
9 vs North Bay Skyhawks
10 vs Manitoulin Islanders
All home games will have a 7:00 p.m. start time.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Marquette's final camp now underway

The final tryout camp of the Marquette Rangers is underway today at the Berry Events Center and runs through Sunday. The camp is comprised of approximately 60 players from around the country and is sure to hold viewer's attention with speed, skill and aggressiveness.

In the end, only 23 players will don the inaugural Rangers’ jersey.

Tenders, draft selections, invitees and open camp returnees will convene for the first time this morning. Through a series of games, practices and off-ice evaluations, a majority of the final team will be selected.

One player spectators should watch is defenseman Mike Cenisio, a player returning from the Marquette tryout camp. Cenisio is a native of Finland who started playing hockey when he was eight years old. He played in Finland for two years and Belgium for one before coming to the United States. Living in Pennsylvania, Cenisio has played for the Philadelphia Little Flyers and was league playoff MVP last spring while being ranked fourth in the league among defensemen scoring.

"I've played and trained all my summers with guys who play D-1 (college hockey), so I'm familiar with the high speed I expect to see at camp this weekend," said Cenisio. "I'm excited to play and have a good feeling about it and especially excited about Marquette. I like the fact that it's a small town and friendly, which helps my mom be at ease a bit more."

"Mike Cenisio is intriguing because he has versatility to play both defense and forward," Rangers' head coach Leigh Mendelson said. "He is a good skater with strong puck skills."

Invitee forward, 17-year-old John Grossi from Springfield, Penn., started his hockey career 13 years ago. Grossi is an NAHL veteran, having played for the Billings Bulls last season and like Cenisio, also played for the Philadelphia Little Flyers. He's excited about Marquette based on his research of the area and Marquette’s hockey reputation.

"I am excited to be part of a first-year team," said Grossi. "I want to come out, make the team and contribute to a winning season. I love making fans happy because I really love the game. When fans love the team, it makes you fight harder to keep them happy.

"I love hockey and I'll do anything to play. I'm so excited about the Rangers."

"Grossi is a young player with an offensive upside," added Mendelson. "His skating and skill will allow him to be very competitive in earning a roster spot."

A player close to the hearts of hockey fans in the Marquette area is Neeco Belanger, who started playing hockey at age five in Marquette. Last season, Belanger played in the British Columbia Hockey League for the Chilliwack Chiefs. Prior to that, he played for the Marquette Electricians midget major team, Marquette Senior High School and American Legion bantam teams. Belanger is a highly-respected player among teammates and coaches. He was voted MVP of the MSHS team and while playing for the Electricians, he was the team's Rookie of the Year.

"I have experience at the junior level and that gives me advantage over many others," said Belanger. "I want to stay here to play hockey because it has always been my dream to play in front of my home crowd."

"Neeco Belanger brings valuable junior experience and a fantastic work ethic," Mendelson said. "His value to the team will be measured both on and off the ice."

There will be two cuts over the four-day camp, ensuring close screening and observation by scouts and coaches. Newly-named assistant coach Randy Enders, will join Mendelson this weekend for the evaluation process.

Fans can check out the competition at the Berry Events Center with games today at 1:00 and 5:30 p.m., Friday at 3:00 and 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:00, 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. The camp concludes with Sunday’s All Star Game at 9:00 a.m.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Enders named assistant for Marquette

The Marquette Rangers have named Randy Enders an assistant coach for the upcoming season.

Enders enjoyed a stellar junior and NCAA playing career. Enders was a defenseman with the Sioux City Musketeers for three seasons and his NCAA career included one season for the University of Alaska-Anchorage and three seasons with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. As team captain his senior year, Enders was named All-NCHA-Honorable Mention and was selected All-WICA-First Team. His team also voted him "Classiest Player," "Mr. Consistent" and "Hardest Worker." Stevens Point team won the NCHA regular season league championship Enders' sophomore year.

Enders began his coaching career as an instructor at the Musketeers Hockey School in Sioux City and served as head instructor at the Winners Edge Development camp in Spooner, Wisc.

In 2003, Enders accepted a teaching position with the Sheboygan (Wisconsin) School District and became the Red Raiders assistant coach in 2004 where he was responsible for defenseman skill development, designing and implementing practice programs and developing game strategies.

"I had the privilege of coaching Randy when he was a player (in Sioux City)," Rangers' head coach Leigh Mendelson said. "His work ethic, attention to detail along with practice and game preparation, is second to none. Randy’s accomplishments as a player and a coach are solid, but his greatest asset is his ability to teach our players how to best prepare to get the most out of their talent. The combination of being a teacher and hockey player is a unique combination and we expect him to help our players excel both on and off the ice."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Stapleton takes OHL job with Otters

Mike Stapleton is returning to his roots to further his coaching career.

Stapleton, who served as an assistant to head coach/GM Scott Gardiner with the Traverse City North Stars during the club’s inaugural 2005-06 season, has agreed to take over as associate coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie (Pa.) Otters. He will continue with the North Stars through the team’s August 4-6 invite-only training camp before heading to Erie.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity I got here in Traverse City,” said Stapleton, who played in the OHL en route to a 15-year NHL career. “From Steve (Fournier) and the ownership group to Scott (Gardiner) and the entire organization, it was a great place to coach. Now, I’m going to try to take that next step in coaching, and I’m looking forward to the challenges.”

The OHL is one of three leagues – along with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League -- under the umbrella of the Canadian Hockey League. It is classified as major junior hockey, and is generally regarded as the best junior hockey league on the planet. Players receive stipends for their services, but also sacrifice their amateur status. The Erie franchise has been around for over a decade, and was fifth in the OHL in attendance last season at around 4,500 per home date.

Sarnia (Ont.)-born Stapleton was a prolific scorer with the OHL's Cornwall Royals, amassing 104 goals and 258 points over three seasons and 182 games with the franchise.

“It’s a great opportunity for Mike, and we’re happy for him,” Gardiner said. “He played there, and now he can further his coaching career there. We’ll miss him as a coach and a friend, but we also support his decision and wish him nothing but the best in his new position.”

Fournier agreed.

“It’s been great having Mike with us from the beginning. He was an asset on and off the ice, and we would like nothing more than to see him succeed at the next level just as we hope for the same for our players that move on.”

A 15-year National Hockey League veteran, Stapleton played 697 NHL contests for seven different franchises (Chicago, Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Winnipeg/Phoenix, Atlanta, N.Y. Islanders and Vancouver), netting 71 goals and 182 points to go with 342 penalty minutes over that span. Stapleton also played in all or parts of four seasons in European pro leagues, and played 21 games for Team Canada in 1986-87.

Stapleton owned a cottage near Clam Lake before moving to Traverse City on a full-time basis two years ago. He says his wife Laura was instrumental in helping him make the decision to embark upon the transient journey that most coaches take.

“Laura said she and the kids (sons Luke and Nick) were willing to do it,” Stapleton explained. “Of course, we’ll always have ties to Traverse City. We’ve made some great friends here, and they’ll always be great friends no matter where we are.”