Wednesday, January 31, 2007

When was last time the Plymouth Whalers had four members of the team in the All-Star Game? It was Jan. 24, 2001, when (left to right) Stephen Weiss, Damian Surma, Rob Zepp and Chad Wiseman helped the OHL All-Stars to a 5-2 victory over the Western Hockey League All-Stars in Guelph.

Surma, Weiss and Wiseman all scored in the game and Zepp stopped 10 of 11 shots in 30 minutes of work.

Current Whalers Daniel Ryder, Steve Ward, Evan Brophey and James Neal play in tonight's OHL All-Star Game in Saginaw.

Photo by Matt Mackinder

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ward, Ryder added to West All-Stars

The Ontario Hockey League today announced additions to the Western Conference roster for the All-Star Classic.

Plymouth Whalers’ defenseman Steve Ward and forward Daniel Ryder have been added to the roster along with Sarnia Sting defenceman Mark Katic and Windsor Spitfires’ forward Joshua Bailey.

Ward was added to replace Patrick McNeill of the Saginaw Spirit and Ryder was named to replace Bobby Ryan of the Owen Sound Attack.

Ward, a 20-year-old native of Scarborough, Ont., has 11 goals and 21 assists and has a plus/minus rating of plus-10 in 47 games this season.

Ryder, a 20-year-old native of Bonavista , Newfoundland , has 28 goals and 69 points in 37 games.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Indians, Cain finally come home

One might figure that Kevin Cain will welcome the feel of home ice when he steps behind the Soo Indians' bench on Wednesday night at Big Bear Arena.

Since Cain took over as head coach of the Indians earlier this month, the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League team has been logging the highway miles. In nine games with Cain in command, the Indians have played seven on the road.

Cain should have another reason to feel good about being on home ice when the Indians play host to the Blind River Beavers on Wednesday at 7:00. In the two games the Indians have played at home under Cain's watch, they have a 2-0 record. Overall, the Indians are 5-4 under Cain.

But Blind River presents a huge challenge to the Indians, with just two points standing between the two teams within the hotly-contested NOJHL.

"That's a well-coached team that can score a lot of goals," Cain said of the Beavers. "They have players who the (Lake Superior State University) Lakers are looking at."

The Indians enter play this week in second place with 46 points. Blind River is in fourth place but with 44 points, is just four points out of first.

The Indians dropped a pair of games on the road last weekend despite scoring 10 goals. They lost 8-5 to Abitibi and 6-5 to North Bay.


Ontario Hockey League

Fri. Jan. 26
at Plymouth 4, Ottawa 1
at Saginaw 5, Oshawa 4

Sat. Jan. 27
at Plymouth 6, Sault Ste. Marie 0
at Saginaw 5, Windsor 4

Sun. Jan. 28
Plymouth 6 at Toronto 3
at Windsor 9, Saginaw 5

North American Hockey League

Fri. Jan. 26
at Marquette 5, Alpena 3
at Traverse City 3, U.S. Under-17 Team 2 (SO)

Sat. Jan. 27
at Alpena 3, Marquette 1
at Traverse City 4, U.S. Under-17 Team 1

Sun. Jan. 28
at Alpena 6, U.S. Under-17 Team 1

Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League

Sat. Jan. 27
at Abitibi 8, Soo 5

Sun. Jan. 28
at North Bay 6, Soo 5

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Spirit announce OHL All-Star Classic honorees

The Saginaw Spirit announced the honorary general manger and honorary captains for the 2007 OHL All-Star Classic.

Spirit operations consultant Wren Blair was named the honorary general manager for the event and Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and former NHLer Pat Stapleton were named as honorary captains.

Blair was instrumental in assisting Spirit owner Dick Garber in bringing the Spirit franchise to Saginaw in 2002. He founded the Saginaw Gears franchise in 1972 and managed them to two Turner Cup Championships. Blair also has the distinction of signing hockey legend Bobby Orr to his first NHL contract.

Holland will represent the OHL Eastern Conference at the All-Star Classic. He spent time in the NHL as a goalie before joining the Red Wings organization as a scout in 1983. He became the team's GM in 1997. The Wings have finished with over 100 points in all but one season and have yet to miss a playoff appearance under Holland's leadership.

Stapleton will represent the OHL Western Conference. Stapleton played for the Spirit franchise back when it was known as the St. Catharines Teepees. He began his NHL career in 1961 and saw action with the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. Stapleton helped Canada seize victory in the 1972 Summit Series against the USSR.

The 2007 OHL All-Star Classic will be held in Saginaw this week, January 30 and 31.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Spirit and Colbert accept Oshawa challenge

Saginaw Spirit coach-GM Bob Mancini called into Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” Thursday night. Mancini joined Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report, in accepting a challenge from the Mayor of Oshawa – if the Spirit lose the game against the Oshawa Generals this Friday, then Colbert will wear a Generals jersey on his show. If the Spirit win, then Oshawa will honor Colbert with a “Stephen Colbert Day.”

The Spirit were featured on the Tuesday, January 16 episode of the Report. During the segment, Colbert talked about a personal attack on him by the Oshawa Generals when they tossed teddy bears on the ice during a Generals game. Colbert has expressed on his show his concerns on the threat bears pose. Oshawa’s mayor countered with the above challenge.

Colbert took an interest in the Spirit last summer when he discovered the Saginaw Spirit “Name the Mini-Mascot” Contest. Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle debuted in September at the September 30 Spirit home game.

Broadcast coverage huge for OHL All-Star Game

The Ontario Hockey League today announced that the 2007 OHL All-Star Classic in Saginaw will have the most extensive broadcast coverage in the history of the event. The game will be televised live in Ontario on Rogers Sportsnet on Wednesday, January 31, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. The Rogers Sportsnet Ontario feed will be picked up by the local Saginaw CBS affiliate, WNEM TV5 and will be broadcast on the network’s local content provider MY5 throughout the Mid-Michigan area.

The regular CHL broadcast tandem of Peter Loubardias and Sam Cosentino will provide play-by-play and colour commentary while Rob Faulds will host the game on the Sportsnet and CBS broadcasts. The Ontario Hockey League, the Canadian Hockey League and Rogers Sportsnet are continuing their long standing partnership to bring exciting major junior hockey to fans across Canada . Rogers Sportsnet’s schedule of games annually includes regional and national regular season broadcasts as well as special events, playoffs and the MasterCard Memorial Cup.

A full broadcast of the 2007 OHL All Star Classic will also be carried on the Internet through OHL Livestream in partnership with the INSINC network. Fans wishing to watch on-line can do so through

The FAN radio network will have an audio broadcast of the 2007 All Star Classic available on the Internet. Veteran CHL announcer Mel Raskin will be doing the play-by-play for the FAN. The FAN broadcast will be accessible through either or

The All Star Classic will also be broadcast locally in the Saginaw area on WMJO 97.3 JOE FM, the home of Saginaw Spirit hockey. Greg Brady, part of the morning show team of Jamie and Brady in the morning on Sports Radio 1130 WDFN The Fan, Detroit will be doing play-by-play of the game. Brady will be joined by colour commentator Terry Doyle of CHEX TV and TV Cogeco ( Peterborough ). Doyle is also the host of OHL News Radio Edition, a weekly syndicated feature heard on numerous radio stations across Ontario .

There will also be a special All Star skills competition and three-on-three game on Tuesday January 30, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for the both events can be purchased at the Saginaw Spirit box office or by calling (989) 497-7747. Tickets start as low as $15 for either the skills competition or the All Star Classic. All fans who purchase a ticket will also receive a special commemorative OHL All-Star souvenir program.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Alpena drops Traverse City Wednesday

The Traverse City North Stars expended much energy in coming back from an early 4-0 deficit on Wednesday at Northern Lights Arena.

So much so that when Zach Hitch levied his second rapid-fire marker early in the third period, the visiting Stars lacked the resources to get over the proverbial hump down the stretch, falling 7-4 to Alpena.

After the IceDiggers had raced to a 4-0 first period lead a mere 12:36 into the contest, Traverse City forged a mini-rally, cutting the deficit to 4-2 at the 3:26 mark of the second stanza on goals from Nick Von Bokern and Mike Glaesmer. Matt Hughes and Joe Greener assisted on Von Bokern’s power-play effort just 2:55 into the period, while Von Bokern and Kory Kaunisto set up Glaesmer’s goal.

Alpena got a goal midway through the second, but the Stars opened the third with a pair of Hitch goals to make it a 5-4 affair with 14-plus minutes to play. That was when the IceDiggers pulled the plug on the visitors’ comeback.

Todd Rudasill scored twice and added an assist, Nolan Craner earned three assists, Zach Barron and Eric Roman each had a pair of assists and Ricardo Yesue, Drew Pierson, Taylor Doorlag, Justin Stadler and Carl Nielsen added single goals.

Mike Jarboe took the win in net with 25 saves, while Martin Iberer and Stefan Shively combined for 38 stops in the TC net.

Traverse City (13-24-5) plays host to the Team USA Under-17 squad this weekend at Centre ICE arena, with Friday and Saturday games facing off at 7 p.m. The IceDiggers (27-10-2) head to Marquette Friday night and host the same Rangers Saturday night.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Alpena to play four games in five days

The Alpena IceDiggers (26-10-2) get ready for what will be their most grueling week of the season as they get ready to play four games in five days.

The IceDiggers open the week tomorrow night at Northern Lights Arena versus the Traverse City North Stars (13-25-5). Faceoff will be at 7:00 p.m.

On Friday, Alpena will travel north to invade Lakeview Arena and start a weekend home-and-home series with the Marquette Rangers (15-20-4). The two teams will travel back to Alpena for a Saturday night contest at 7:00 p.m. at Northern Lights Arena.

The Team USA Under-17 squad (14-20-3) will be in Alpena on Sunday for a matinee tilt with the puck dropping at 3:00 p.m.

The IceDiggers know how important this week will be as the first-place Mahoning Valley Phantoms have the weekend off. Alpena is currently nine points back in the standings, and with four games in hand, Alpena has a chance to close the gap in the standings.

"We need to be at our best all week in order to gain ground on them," Alpena head coach Kenny Miller said. "It is important for us to take these games one at a time. The positive thing about playing four games in five days is three of those games are here in Alpena and we will have our fans behind us."

Erik Peterson was named the North Division player of the week prior to the mini break the IceDiggers enjoyed last week.

"Erik has been playing really well the last two months and it has been noticed," added Miller. "He is starting to get even more recognition by college coaches."

Alpena forward Todd Rudasill continues to lead the NAHL scoring with 62 points in 38 games.

IceDiggers to serve meals at Culver's tonight

The Alpena IceDiggers and Culver's are joining forces for one special evening as several IceDiggers will be at the restaurant tonight serving meals and signing autographs.

The event will be held from 5:00-8:00 p.m. The newly opened restaurant is located at 1061 West M 32 in Alpena.

Goaltender Shawn Hunwick, forwards Kerry Bence, Mike DeGrazia, Marco Ruggeri, Taylor Doorlag and defensemen Chris Hendrickson, Carl Nielsen and newcomer Paul Kashmanian will all be in attendance.

Patrons in attendance will have opportunities to win free tickets to future IceDigger games as well as free meals from Culver's.

"This is a great opportunity for the fans to meet their favorite player and even win game tickets or a meal at Culver's," Alpena VP/GM Bob Krafft said. "We appreciate Culver's for their support and giving us this opportunity for greater interaction with our fans. The boys are truly looking forward to signing autographs and serving meals."

Monday, January 22, 2007


Ontario Hockey League

Fri. Jan. 19
at Sault Ste. Marie 5, Plymouth 2
Saginaw 6 at Sudbury 5

Sat. Jan. 20
at Plymouth 5, Sarnia 1
at Barrie 4, Saginaw 3

Sun. Jan. 21
at Owen Sound 3, Saginaw 2

North American Hockey League

Fri. Jan. 19
at Mahoning Valley 6, Traverse City 1
Marquette 4 at U.S. Under-17 Team 3

Sat. Jan. 20
at Mahoning Valley 9, Traverse City 5
at U.S. Under-17 Team 2, Marquette 1 (SO)

Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League

Weds. Jan. 17
at Sudbury 3, Soo 1

Fri. Jan. 19
at Soo Indians 3, Soo Thunderbirds 0

Sun. Jan. 21
at Soo 6, Manitoulin 5 (OT)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pilmore signs tender to join Alpena in fall

The Alpena IceDiggers announced today they have signed forward Tyler Pilmore for the 2007-2008 season. The Sylvania, Ohio native is currently in his second season playing with the Toledo Cherokee of the Central States Hockey League.

Pilmore, 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, has scored 15 goals and added 29 assists for 44 points in 33 games so far this season. The right winger suited up for one IceDigger game this season in a 6-2 win over Marquette in early January.

"Tyler is the kind of player we look for when we go out and recruit," Alpena head coach Kenny Miller said. "He is solid two-way player that can score and he is a great student in the classroom. He and his family take his studies very serious. He will be a great addition to our club."

Pilmore is coached by former NHLer Iain Duncan.

"Iain has great things to say about Tyler," added Miller. "He is a hard-working kid with a great work ethic and that's what we want here in Alpena."

Friday, January 19, 2007

All-Star rosters announced for Saginaw game

The Ontario Hockey League announced Wednesday the rosters of players who will compete in the 2007 OHL All-Star Classic on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw.

The Western Conference roster was selected by the management team of Mike Futa of the Owen Sound Attack and Mike Vellucci of the Plymouth Whalers. The Eastern Conference roster was selected by the management team of Stan Butler of the Brampton Battalion and Dave Brown of the Mississauga IceDogs.

The teams will be coached by Dale Hunter of the London Knights and Marty Williamson of the Barrie Colts.

The rosters include eight players who won the gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships earlier this month including Steve Downie, Kitchener Rangers, Sam Gagner, London Knights, James Neal, Plymouth Whalers, Ryan Parent, Guelph Storm who along with Ryan O’Marra and Tom Pyatt of the Saginaw Spirit will represent the Western Conference.

Bryan Little, Barrie Colts, and Marc Staal of the Sudbury Wolves will represent the Eastern Conference.

Americans Patrick Kane, London Knights and Trevor Lewis, Owen Sound Attack also played in the World Junior Championship earlier this month in Sweden and will be representing the Western Conference in the All-Star Classic.

Along with forwards O’Marra and Pyatt, defenceman Patrick McNeill will also be representing the Saginaw Spirit on home ice. McNeill will be attending his third OHL All-Star Classic, following appearances in Owen Sound in 2005 and Belleville last year.

“The players who were named today to represent the Ontario Hockey League in our All-Star Game demonstrate the high level of talent that we have playing in our league,” said David Branch, Commissioner of the OHL. “The player selection process for this event is always difficult as there are so many gifted and deserving players in the Ontario Hockey League. Being chosen to play in the All-Star Classic speaks volumes about the skill level of the 40 young men who have been selected today, to represent their respective conferences. We are very proud to have such talented players in our league and to be represented by these fine young men. We are also looking forward to hosting the All-Star Game in the city of Saginaw. The support that the entire Mid-Michigan region has shown for the OHL and the Spirit is nothing short of outstanding and we are very proud to bring this showcase event to the hockey fans of this community.”

Tickets for the 2007 OHL All-Star Classic can be purchased at the Dow Event Center Box Office or at the Saginaw Spirit Business Office. You can also call 989-497-7747 to reserve your seat for the OHL All-Star Classic.

The 2007 OHL All-Star Classic is supported by OHL partners Subway, Yamaha and Reebok.


James Neal (Ply)
Evan Brophey (Ply)
Steve Downie (Kit)
Patrick Kane (Ldn)
Sam Gagner (Ldn)
Bobby Ryan (OS)
Tom Pyatt (Sag)
Steven Stamkos (Sar)
Ryan O’Marra (Sag)
Zack Torquato (Er)
Trevor Lewis (OS)
Mickey Renaud (Wsr)

Ryan Parent (Gue)
Bobby Sanguinetti (OS)
Ryan Wilson (Sar)
Drew Doughty (Gue)
Patrick McNeill (Sag)
Josh Godfrey (SSM)

John Murray (Kit)
Thomas McCollum (Gue)


Tyler Donati (Belv)
Bryan Little (Bar)
Chris Stewart (Kgn)
Nick Foligno (Sby)
John Tavares (Osh)
Stefan Legein (Miss)
Hunter Tremblay (Bar)
Bobby Hughes (Kgn)
Brett MacLean (Osh)
Jamie McGinn (Ott)
Matt Caria (Tor)
Logan Couture (Ott)

Marc Staal (Sby)
Jonathan D’Aversa (Sby)
Michael Del Zotto (Osh)
Derek Joslin (Ott)
John de Gray (Bram)
Matt Pelech (Belv)

Andrew Perugini (Bar)
Trevor Cann (Pbo)

Monday, January 15, 2007


Ontario Hockey League

Fri. Jan. 12
Plymouth 7 at Saginaw 2

Sat. Jan. 13
at Plymouth 7, Windsor 2
Saginaw 4 at Sarnia 3

Mon. Jan. 15
at Plymouth 6, Saginaw 3

North American Hockey League

Fri. Jan. 12
Traverse City 4 at U.S. Under 18 Team 3 (OT)
U.S. Under-17 Team 2 at Marquette 1 (OT)

Sat. Jan. 13
at U.S. Under-18 Team 7, Traverse City 3
at Marquette 4, U.S. Under-17 Team 1
at Alpena 5, Mahoning Valley 4

Sun. Jan. 14
at Alpena 5, Mahoning Valley 4

Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League

Wed. Jan. 10
Soo Indians 5 at Soo Thunderbirds 2

Fri. Jan. 12
North Bay 5 at Soo 2

Sat. Jan. 13
Soo 4 at Abitibi 3

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Alpena hosts Mahoning Valley for two

This weekend, the Alpena IceDiggers play host to the Mahoning Valley Phantoms in what the IceDiggers players and coaching staff are calling the biggest two-game series of the season to date.

Saturday's game starts at 7 p.m. On Sunday, the battle begins at 3 p.m.

The IceDiggers are currently seven points behind the Phantoms and are 0-5-1 in six games against the visiting club.

"We have not had the success against them like other teams in our division," Alpena head coach Kenny Miller said. "The upside to that is we still have them on the schedule 10 times. We need to play our game and play with confidence from start to finish this weekend."

The IceDiggers (24-10-2) are coming off a 6-2 drubbing of the Marquette Rangers on Wednesday night at Northern Lights Arena. The Phantoms (28-10-1) last played when they defeated Alpena on home ice last Saturday by a score of 4-2.

Both games can be heard live on the Internet here. Phantoms' broadcaster Ron Rinaldi will have all the action this weekend.


Five IceDiggers are in the top 20 in the NAHL scoring race. Todd Rudasill leads the league with 58 points, Drew Pierson has 44 points, Nolan Craner has 43 points and Erik Peterson and linemate Justin Stadler each have 35 points...The IceDiggers have the league's best power play with a percentage of 22.61% and has scored a league-high 64 goals with the man advantage. Mahoning Valley and Traverse City are tied for second with 52 power-play goals apiece...Goaltenders Shawn Hunwick and Mike Jarboe are ranked ninth and 11th, respectively, in the league in the goaltending department. Hunwick sports a 2.83 goals-against average with a .907 save percentage while Jarboe currently has a 2.97 GAA with a .909 SV %...Defenseman Carl Nielsen has arrived in Alpena from the Columbus Jr. Blue Jackets of the Central States Hockey League. "Fans will like the way this kid plays he is physical and plays with a bit of an edge," stated Miller. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right shot had 14 goals to go along with his 22 assists for 36 points in 29 games with the Jackets...Forward Paul Kashmanian (6-foot, 180)comes to the IceDiggers from the Cleveland Team Development Program of the America East Hockey League. "Paul comes highly recommended from his former coach, Ian Fredicks, and he will give us another scoring threat," said Miller. The Buffalo native spent the 2005-2006 season with the Buffalo Saints AAA program. In 34 games, Kashmanian scored 19 goals and assisted on 37 others for a total of 56 points...Nielsen and Kashmanian replace Logan Toohey and Jonathan Juliano, both of whom are no longer with the hockey club.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fure hired as assistant in Marquette

Former Marquette Senior High School icer and Marquette Electricians assistant coach Adrian Fure has been hired to serve as an assistant coach with the Marquette Rangers.

Fure, 30, fills the vacancy left by new head coach Randy Enders, who replaced Leigh Mendelson on Dec. 29.

Fure enjoyed a successful junior and NCAA playing career. As a defenseman with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League for two seasons (1995-97), he served as team captain and was selected to play in the 1996-97 USHL All-Star game. With the Buccaneers, he turned in 18 goals and 53 assists for 71 points in 85 games.

His NCAA career was spent as a four-year player for Michigan Tech University. Fure served as assistant captain his sophomore and junior years before becoming team captain as a senior. Fure’s NCAA accolades include being voted MTU’s best defenseman, as well as making the Western Collegiate Hockey Association All-Academic Team three seasons.

With the Huskies, he went 6-27-33 offensively in 122 games from 1997-2001. He also picked up 37 penalties for 77 minutes.

A Marquette native and 1994 MSHS grad, Fure also participated in football and tennis as a prep. He was a member of the National Honor Society.

New Whalers' defenseman Steven Whitely

Rangers host NTDP this weekend

The Marquette Rangers take on the U.S. National Development Team tonight and Saturday at Lakeview Arena, vying for third place in the North American Hockey League’s North Division.

It’s expected to be an exciting environment as fans watch Marquette’s own hometown players face-off when Justin Florek (USA) comes head-to-head with friends and Rangers Neeco Belanger, James Gallagher, Nick Kosinski and Brett Larson.

This series will shuffle the NAHL’s standings since Traverse City is currently only one point ahead of the Rangers. Since recent roster changes, the Rangers have won three of their last five games played, one ending Mahoning Valley’s (currently first in the league) 19-game unbeaten streak. During the Rangers' sweep last weekend against Traverse City, Brodie Zuk recorded five points, Chris Smith four and Luke Bennett three. Rookie goaltender Matthew Brooker also noted his first career junior win.

According to defenseman Jake Hauswirth, “We’ve been playing well and had a great practice yesterday. We’re looking forward to being home with our fans and feel we have a good chance of moving ahead of Traverse City in the standings this weekend. We’re improving on our weaknesses and ready to be seen as a true threat to our opponents.”

The Rangers and U.S. National Development Team have paired off in four games now with two wins, one loss and a tie.

“The guys are excited to be back in Lakeview," Marquette head coach Randy Enders said. "It’s our first weekend home since break and everyone is looking forward to being in front of our own fans and putting on a good show. We need to make Lakeview a difficult place to come and play. If we come out and work hard like we’re capable of, fans get into it and the arena becomes a great environment for us to play in. This weekend is an opportunity for us to come out, play hard and show our fans the type of team we’re developing into."

The addition late this week of Beau Christian adds depth to the Rangers’ goaltending. Christian is a 1988 birth year from Moorhead, Minn., and comes from the NAHL’s Central Division-leading Fargo-Moorhead Jets.

“Christian will be a good addition and asset to us because he’s a young, hungry goalie with good athletic ability and potential," said Enders.

Zuk took over as Marquette’s point leader this past week with 33 points and was named the NAHL’s Sherwood Player of the Week. Kosinski has amassed 31 points while Belanger has 25.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hello Ryder, Goodbye Armstrong!

The newest Plymouth Whaler, Daniel Ryder
(Photo by Walt Dmoch)

The traded John Armstrong
(Photo by Walt Dmoch)

IceDiggers beat Marquette Wednesday

Story courtesy of the Alpena News

Penalties were the downfall of the Marquette Rangers Wednesday night.

As the Alpena IceDiggers scored five power play goals, converting on 50 percent of its chances with the extra skater, as the IceDiggers cruised to a 6-2 win over the Rangers at Northern Lights Arena.

Drew Pierson led Alpena with two goals, both coming in the first five minutes, as Alpena established control of the game early to snap a two-game losing streak and end the Rangers' two-game winning streak.

The first of Pierson's goals, two minutes into the game, came with the man-advantage and started the story of the night - Marquette's inability to kill penalties.

Eric Roman followed with a power play goal a minute later and Alpena was on its way to redeeming itself from last weekend's two losses to North Division leader Mahoning Valley.

"We talked about it in pregame that they are the most penalized team in the league," said Alpena coach Kenny Miller. "We knew if we stayed disciplined and patient that the power play would give us a chance and would be a key point to winning the game."

Miller's strategy proved to be prophetic as Marquette rang up 43 minutes in the box, giving Alpena a number of chances that it capitalized on.

Pierson put Alpena ahead 3-0 with an unassisted goal at the 5:26 mark of the opening period - the only Alpena goal that came at even strength. Justin Stadler added Alpena's fourth goal late in the first period, Nolan Craner found the back of the net midway through the second period and Marco Ruggeri buried the puck past Marquette goalie Matt Brooker four minutes before the second intermission - with all coming while Marquette was trying to burn off penalties.

"Obviously you can't put a team like that on the power play," said Marquette coach Randy Enders. "We put them on the power play twice in the first five minutes. Obviously it was a penalty-filled game. We have to learn to stay out of the box; Alpena's a good team. You can't spot them three goals."

Miller said the fast start was a good way for his team to get back on track, and at the same time extinguish the confidence of Marquette, which swept two games from Traverse City last weekend.

"If we don't start with the two power play goals maybe they get the momentum," said Miller. "They were coming off two wins and we were coming off two losses. It was important for us to get those goals right off the bat. I thought we controlled much of the play after that."

Brodie Zuk and Nick Kosinski scored Marquette's goals. Zuk's score cut Alpena's lead to 3-1 with nine minutes left in the first period. Kosinski's goal was of the short-handed variety and was sandwiched between Alpena's two second-period scores. It was an otherwise stellar outing by Alpena goalie Shawn Hunwick, who made 33 saves and was awarded one of the stars of the game. Brooker, who was able to shut down the IceDiggers later in the game, made 38 saves.

Enders, who recently took over as Marquette's coach, still feels his team is on the right track.

"Our guys dropped a game tonight, but they still stuck together," he said. "We lose momentum if we go away from our game plan. We've made good strides. You'll have down nights. We just have to rebound."

The IceDiggers will continue their four game home stand with a pair of very important games this weekend versus the first place Mahoning Valley Phantoms. Saturday's game is set for 7:00PM and Sunday's matinee contest will begin at 3:00PM.


The IceDiggers returned forward Tyler Pilmore to the Central States Hockey League's Toledo Cherokee after last night's game. Pilmore was on recall for one game only. However, Miller was impressed with next seasons recruit. "I thought Tyler played really well, to be able to step in after one practice and play as well as he did says a lot about the type of player he is." Pilmore has signed a tender to play in Alpena next season.

Miller announced the team has acquired Carl Nielsen from the Columbus Junior Blue Jackets of the CSHL. The Lorain, Ohio native will be with the IceDiggers for the remainder of the season. "Carl is a big kid who not only will give us a physical presence on the back end, but he also has the ability to put points on the board," said Miller. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound defensemen scored 14 goals while adding 22 assists for a total of 36 points in 29 games for the Jackets.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Plymouth trades Armstrong for Ryder

The Plymouth Whalers announced today the acquisition of 19-year-old center Daniel Ryder from the Peterborough Petes in exchange for 18-year-old center-right wing John Armstrong.

Plymouth also traded 2007 third-round and sixth-round draft choices and a second-round draft choice in 2008 to Peterborough to complete the deal.

“Dan is a proven goal scorer in our league and last season’s playoff MVP,” Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci said. “We’re excited to have him in our lineup. We’re sad to see John leave, because he is a good player and an excellent person who will be missed by everyone. But you have to give up quality to get quality.”

Ryder – who turns 20 Friday – is in his fourth season for Peterborough and has scored 111 goals with 164 assists for 275 points and 149 penalty minutes in 225 career games with the Petes. Ryder helped Peterborough win the OHL championship last season, scoring 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points in 19 playoffs games. Ryder was awarded the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award (pictured) as last season’s Most Valuable Player in the OHL Playoffs.

In all, Ryder has scored 24 goals with 19 assists for 43 points and 32 PIM’s in 33 playoffs game in his career with Peterborough. Ryder was selected in the first round (14th overall) by Peterborough in 2003 and was a third-round pick (74th) overall of the Calgary Flames in the 2005 National Hockey League Entry Draft and signed with the Flames last December.

Armstrong was selected by the Whalers in the first round (13th overall) in 2004 and has scored 28 goals with 49 assists for 77 points in 151 regular season games for Plymouth. Armstrong was selected in the third round (87th overall) by Calgary in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

Photo courtesy Ontario Hockey League

Spirit send Fletcher to Mississauga

Saginaw Spirit defenseman Scott Fletcher and a seventh round pick in 2007 have been traded to the Mississauga Ice Dogs for a fourth round pick in 2008 and a sixth round pick in 2007.

Fletcher was drafted by the Spirit in the second round (22nd overall) of the 2004 OHL Priority Selection. The Haslett native played 118 games with the Spirit, notching one goal, three assists and 294 penalty minutes. He went to the NHL Anaheim Ducks' work-out camp last summer.

Fletcher spent the first half of the 2006-07 season with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm and tallied two goals, two assists and 56 penalty minutes in 14 games with the Storm, also the new home of former Saginaw forward/defenseman Tom Mannino.

“This is an unfortunate deal for us," Tri-City head coach Bliss Littler said. "Scott was on loan from Saginaw and while you are hoping he’ll be here all year, the terms said they could move him prior to Jan. 10. Scott did a nice job for us in the time he played here.”

Fletcher will join former Spirit defenseman Matt Corrente (2004-07) and former Spirit forward Jean-Michel Rizk (2002-05) in Mississauga.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cain named new coach of Soo Indians

The Soo Indians of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League have their replacement for former coach Jim Capy as the Indians have named Kevin Cain their new coach.

Cain takes over as the Indians' coach following last week's purge that resulted in the release of Capy as coach and general manager. Assistant coach Don Gagnon and assistant general manager/chief scout Jim Yardanoff were also let go along with Capy.

Cain had been serving as general manager/associate coach with the AAA midget Soo Indians, but he is no stranger to the NOJHL or to Capy. Cain was Capy's assistant coach with the Blind River Beavers the past two seasons. He also assisted Capy for two seasons before that with the Soo Thunderbirds. Cain admitted to "some initial jitters" in accepting the Indians' job after being offered it by team owner Charles Perdicaro.

"But after talking with and meeting with Charles, I knew right away we were on the same page," Cain said evenly. "We're both in this for the love of the game, to help the kids...and to have some fun."

With Perdicaro taking over general manager's duties, Cain will put his energy into coaching the Indians, a task that he says has him "excited and a bit nervous. This is a good opportunity to get back into the NOJHL and with a contending team."

The Indians are third in the NOJHL with an 18-9-2 record.

Perdicaro said that after deciding to part ways with Capy, several names were presented to him as candidates to take over as coach "and Kevin was at the top of the list...he came highly recommended as a person and a hockey guy."

Whalers deal for O'Connor, Whitely

The Plymouth Whalers announced the acquisition of 19-year-old right wing/center Sean O’Connor from the Erie Otters in exchange for 17-year-old defenseman Frank Grzeszczak.

O’Connor (pictured) grew up in Trenton and his family currently resides in Brownstown. O’Connor joins three other Plymouth players with local ties – goaltender Jeremy Smith (Brownstown), Ryan McGinnis (Fenton) and AJ Jenks (Wolverine Lake).

O’Connor was selected by Erie in the second round (24th overall) of the 2003 Ontario Hockey League Draft.

Now playing his fourth season in the league, O’Connor’s best season with Erie was last year when he scored 19 goals and 38 assists for 56 points and 81 PIM’s in 68 games. O’Connor missed most of the first half of this season with a shoulder injury, but has come back recently and has 8 goals with 17 assists for 25 points in 20 games.

O’Connor has scored 49 goals with 97 assists for 146 assists and 208 PIM’s in 223 games in Erie.
Grzeszczak (above) was selected by Plymouth in the 11th round (209th overall) of the 2005 OHL Draft. Playing in his first season this year with Plymouth, Grzeszczak has one goal with seven assists for eight points and 32 PIM’s.

In another deal, Plymouth acquired 19-year-old defenseman Steven Whitely from the Belleville Bulls for a future fifth round draft choice. Whitely was originally drafted by Toronto in the 14th round (274th overall) and has played for Toronto, Saginaw and Belleville in his career. A stay-at-home defenseman, Whitely had six assists in 35 games this year with Belleville.

O’Connor and Whitely are expected to be in the lineup for the Whalers this weekend. Plymouth (in first place in the OHL West with a record of 26-11-1-2) plays in Saginaw (third place, OHL West, 25-13-0-2) on Friday before returning home to host Windsor on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. at the Compuware Sports Arena.

O'Connor photo courtesy Erie Otters/Jim Cooper, Grzeszczak photo courtesy Walt Dmoch/Plymouth Whalers

IceDiggers host Rangers on Wednesday

The Alpena IceDiggers will host the Marquette Rangers in a mid-week game on Wednesday at Northern Lights Arena.

Alpena (23-10-2) is coming off two road losses at the hands of first-place Mahoning Valley, while the expansion Rangers (13-19-2) swept Traverse City on the road last weekend.

The IceDiggers trail the Phantoms by nine points with two games in hand. Marquette currently sits one point out of third place behind the North Stars. Alpena has a 19-point lead on the second place spot in the North Division standings.

Head coach Kenny Miller will be looking for a better all-around performance from his team this Wednesday night.

"We need to get back to playing the way we are capable of," Miller said. "Since the break, we have not been at our best and our record has shown that."

The IceDiggers are 1-2-1 since the holiday break.

Todd Rudasill, who recently committed to the Ohio State University, continues to lead the NAHL in scoring with 57 points in 35 games. Army recruit Drew Pierson leads the league in power-play goals with 12.


Despite the IceDiggers' misfortunes this past weekend, goalie Mike Jarboe was nominated for player of the week honors. Jarboe made 57 saves in Friday's 4-0 loss and backed that up Saturday with 44 saves. "Mike deserved a better fate he was outstanding in both nights," said Miller.

The IceDiggers have added forward Tyler Pilmore from the Toledo Cherokee of the Central States Hockey League for Wednesday night's game. Pilmore has committed to play for the IceDiggers during the 07-08 season. The Sylvania, Ohio native has 11 goals 27 assists for 38 points in 30 games so far this season for Toledo.

Forward Jonathan Juliano is no longer with the team...Defenseman Evan West did not skate yesterday due to an illness and will not play Wednesda...Veteran defenseman Korey O'Brien is still out with a knee injury.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Ontario Hockey League

Fri. Jan. 5
Plymouth 3 at London 0

Sat. Jan. 6
Saginaw 6 at Plymouth 2

Sun. Jan. 7
Plymouth 2 at Windsor 1
London 4 at Saginaw 2

North American Hockey League

Fri. Jan. 5
Marquette 7 at Traverse City 5
at Mahoning Valley 4, Alpena 0

Sat. Jan. 6
Marquette 5 at Traverse City 2
at Mahoning Valley 4, Alpena 2

Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League

Sat. Jan. 6
Soo 3 at Blind River 2 (SO)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Armada native involved in OHL trade

Rookie Windsor Spitfires' forward Thomas Battani, an Armada native, was traded this week to the Barrie Colts along with Windsor captain Mike Weber and a 2007 fifth-round pick for defenseman Blake Parlett and two second-round draft picks (2008, 2010).

"Thomas Battani is in the early stages of his development and will evolve into a solid OHL player," said Windsor head coach Bob Boughner. "He represented the Windsor Spitfires well on and off the ice."

Battani, 17, had three goals and three assists in 30 games for the Spitfires this year after being selected in the second round of last May's draft.

North Stars host Rangers this weekend

From the Traverse City perspective:

When Marquette visited Traverse City for an Oct. 27-28 series at Centre ICE arena, the first-year Rangers were riding high, sitting within striking distance of the top of the North American Hockey League’s North Division, and swept a pair from the struggling North Stars.

Since then, life hasn’t been quite as rosy for the neophyte franchise, as the Rangers have dropped 14 of their last 17 since the sweep in TC, including a pair of losses at Centre ICE arena Dec. 1-2. Just before the calendar changed to 2007, Marquette released head coach Leigh Mendelson, retaining former assistant coach Randy Enders as interim front man. Enders will make his head coaching debut this weekend in Traverse City, as the Rangers and North Stars clash in a Friday-Saturday series at Centre ICE.

“Every first-year club is going to have growing pains, plain and simple,” said Stars head coach Scott Gardiner. “And it just so happens, the North Division is the deepest, toughest division in the NAHL.

“They have some very good talent, one of the best goalies in the league, and they’re a tough, physical bunch. No one around here is fooled into thinking this weekend is going to be some kind of a walk-over or anything like that. You can’t take a single night off in this division.”

The teams have split their six games so far this year, with Traverse City splitting with the Rangers at Lakefront Arena in early October and the teams taking turns sweeping the past two series south of the straits. Presently, Marquette (11-19-2) and the U.S. National Team Development Program are deadlocked for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division with 24 points each. Traverse City (12-18-5) is five points ahead of those teams, but Marquette has played three fewer games to date.

“It’s an important four points for a lot of reasons,” Gardiner explained. “We want to maintain our standing in the pecking order, and start to creep on (second place) Alpena. They (Marquette) are one of the teams we’re battling for eventual playoff position with.”

Nick Kosinski (10 goals, 19 assists), Brodie Zuk (12 G-15 A), and Neeco Belanger (11 G-12 A) lead the Rangers in scoring, but the tandem of Luke Bennett and Jake Hauswirth have done the most damage in the team’s six meetings with the North Stars. The duo has combined for five goals and seven assists in those contests.

On the other bench, Patrick Nagorsen and Aaron Pietlla lead the Stars with five points each in the six games versus Marquette, while Eriks Ozollapa registered a trio of goals in the Dec. 1-2 sweep of the Rangers.

Both the Friday and Saturday showdowns face-off at 7 p.m. at Centre ICE arena. The games can also be heard via live webcast at

From the Marquette perspective:

The Marquette Rangers travel to Traverse City to play the North Stars in a two game North American Hockey League series tonight and Saturday and the trip may be just what the first-year Rangers are in need of.

The last time the Rangers and North Stars met, the teams were tied for third in the North Division; now the Rangers are in competition for a play-off position. The Rangers and North Stars have paired off six times so far this season, with each team winning three times.

“There have been a number of players changes over the last few weeks, but our team is coming off a well-earned week of rest and we’re ready to compete for playoff positioning in the extremely tight Division. The team is excited about the second half of the season,” says Rangers head coach Randy Enders.

Traverse City is currently five points ahead of the Rangers in the standings, but the Rangers have three games in hand on the North Stars. The Rangers’ last two series, first against the U.S. National Development Team and the following weekend against Mahoning Valley, were weekend splits. The weekend split against Mahoning Valley just before Christmas ended the Phantoms 19-game unbeaten streak, showing fans the affects of recent roster changes and continued team chemistry.

Scott Gardiner, head coach of the North Stars previously said the Rangers are no pushover.

"They're going through some growing pains just like all new franchises do, but make no mistake - they have a good team. They sure came in and played well against us last month."

“Despite being the only expansion team in the league this year, we’ve done a good job competing,” said Enders. “Being in the thick of a playoff race with a ton of home games over the next three months is exciting for the players and fans.”

Nick Kosinski leads Marquette with 29 points, while Brodie Zuk has amassed 27 points. Neeco Belanger has 23 points.

Area fans can follow game action this weekend at

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Rudasill to become a Buckeye this fall

Alpena IceDiggers' assistant captain Todd Rudasill has committed to Ohio State University for the 2007-2008 season.

"I am extremely excited for Todd and his family," Alpena head coach Kenny Miller said. "It has been a dream of Todd's to play at Ohio State and now that has become a reality for him."

The Powell, Ohio native currently leads the NAHL in scoring with 57 points in 33 games this season.

"Todd has worked hard to earn this and I am happy to see it pay off for him," added Miller. "He will add a scoring threat to the Buckeyes for the next four years. Not only is Ohio State getting a great player, but they are also getting a great young man."

Rudasill becomes the second IceDigger to commit in as many days as veteran forward Drew Pierson announced his commitment to Army on Wednesday.

Alpena's Pierson commits to Army

The Alpena IceDiggers announced yesterday that second-year forward Drew Pierson has committed to attend Army for the 2007-2008 season.

"I am very happy for Drew and his family and he will represent our organization very well," said IceDiggers head coach Kenny Miller. "This young man has worked very hard on and off the ice and deserves the opportunity to play at a great place like West Point."

The 20-year-old Pleasant Prairie, Wisc., native is second on the team in scoring with 16 goals and 26 assists for 42 points in 33 games. The veteran forward is tops in the NAHL with 12 power-play goals. Pierson led Alpena in goals during his rookie season with 26.

Pierson adds to the list of former IceDiggers who are currently playing hockey at the Division I level - Bret Norris (Canisius), Bobby Phillips (Mercyhurst), Eric Giosa (Sacred Heart), Paul Scalici (Bentley), Archie Dessert (Connecticut) and Dan Peace (RPI).

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Alpena heads to Mahoning Valley

The Alpena IceDiggers will travel to Mahoning Valley this Friday and Saturday night to take on the first-place Phantoms. Both games start at 7:00 p.m. and can be viewed from your computer on the Phantoms website at

Currently, Alpena trails Mahoning Valley by five points with the IceDiggers having played two less games then the first-place club. Back in mid-December, the IceDiggers were defeated by the Phantoms by scores of 7-1 and 3-2 in Youngstown.

"As a team are looking forward to the weekend ahead," said Alpena head coach Kenny Miller. "We know in order to be successful in the North we are going to have to find a way to win in their building."

The IceDiggers are coming off a 5-4 New Year's Eve win over third-place Traverse City.

Erik Peterson and Justin Stadler were nominated for North Division player of the week honors...Todd Rudasill still leads the NAHL in scoring with 57 points in 33 games...Drew Pierson leads the league in power-play goals with 12...Veteran forward Kerry Bence leads Alpena in penalty minutes with 76...Co-captain Ricardo Yesue scored his second game-winning goal of the season in Sunday's win.

OA defender Maunu returns to Saginaw

Overage defenseman Mitch Maunu has returned to the Saginaw Spirit after much anticipation and public speculation.

Maunu began the 2006-07 season with the AHL Norfolk Admirals and the ECHL Toledo Storm.

“We are thrilled to have Mitch return to the Spirit and the Ontario Hockey League,” stated Spirit coach-GM Bob Mancini. “His competitive nature, experience and leadership will make a great impact on our team.”

The Spirit acquired Maunu this past summer as part of a trade with the Windsor Spitfires. Maunu was originally Windsor's first-round pick in the 2002 OHL Priority Selection.

Maunu spent four seasons with the Spitfires, notching 30 goals, 74 assists and 292 penalty minutes from 2002-06.

The Thunder Bay, Ontario native was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round, 120th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, but did not sign.

Maunu signed an AHL contract last August with the Norfolk Admirals and played nine games with the Admirals and 19 games with the ECHL's Toledo Storm, where he recorded five assists.

Indians cut ties with coaching staff

The Soo Indians of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League are undergoing a major facelift.

Charles Perdicaro, sole owner of the Indians, has announced the firing of coach/general manager Jim Capy, associate coach Don Gagnon and assistant general manager/chief scout Jim Yardanoff.

Perdicaro termed the firings "the result of major philosophical differences between Capy, his staff and me. This was not a hasty decision. We have a winning team and a competitive team, but I have been very unhappy in the manner in which the hockey department has been operating."

A resident of East Rockway, N.Y., Perdicaro said he will oversee the Indians' hockey department as general manager and also serve as interim head coach until a suitable replacement can be found.

The Indians enter play in the 2007 portion of the NOJHL season with a record of 17-9-2. With 36 points, the Indians are just a single point behind the Sudbury Kal Tire Junior Wolves and the Abitibi Eskimos, who share first place with 37 points apiece going into play this week.

Perdicaro is in his first season as owner of the Indians. He bought the team from the former owners of the Northern Michigan Black Bears last summer and renamed the franchise the Soo Indians.

The Indians return to NOJHL action from the holiday break on Saturday night when they travel to Blind River to play the Beavers. Perdicaro said he expects to be behind the bench for that game and name a new head coach by next week.

The Indians' owner also addressed his future in the NOJHL, saying, "I love this league...I'm here to stay. I've already made a lot of good friends in this league."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Spirit get Hotham and Bass, deal Corrente

The Saginaw Spirit added center Cody Bass and defenseman Andrew Hotham to the roster in a three-way trade with the Mississauga Ice Dogs and Erie Otters today.

Saginaw sent defenseman Matt Corrente and a sixth-round pick in May to the Ice Dogs for Bass (top left) and winger Jordan Skellett. Shortly thereafter, the Spirit traded Skellett, a 2009 third-round pick and a 2009 fifth-round pick to Erie for Hotham (top right) and a fourth round pick in 2009.

Corrente was Saginaw's first-round pick (second overall) in 2004 and was a first-round pick of the New Jersey Devils (30th overall) last summer.

Skellett was Mississauga's first-round pick in 2005 and Bass was the IceDogs' top pick in 2003.

“On behalf of the entire organization I would like to thank Matt and his family for their loyalty to the Saginaw Spirit,” stated Spirit coach-GM Bob Mancini. “Matt was an integral part of our team’s rise to respectability. At this time, I would also like to welcome Cody Bass and Andrew Hotham to our team. I am looking forward to their arrival in Saginaw.”

Both Bass and Hotham are expected to be with the Spirit for Saturday’s road game against the Plymouth Whalers.

Bass was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the fourth round (95th overall) in 2005. The native of Guelph, Ontario, was born on January 7, 1987. Bass scored five goals, 10 assists and added 37 penalty minutes in 21 games as captain of the Ice Dogs this season. He has 35 goals, 59 assists and 322 PIMs in his four season career. Bass was invited to the 2007 World Junior Team Canada Selection Camp.

Hotham will join the Spirit as the team’s third overager, born Aug. 29, 1986. The native of Barrie, Ontario played his rookie season with the Barrie Colts before being traded to the Erie Otters in 2004. This season, Hotham has notched nine goals, 16 assists and 60 PIM along with 19 goals, 66 assists and 342 PIMs in his four-season OHL career. He was named team captain of the Otters following the trade of center Ryan O’Marra to the Spirit earlier this season.

Hotham’s brother, Scott, played one game for the Spirit in 2002 before heading to the Mississauga Ice Dogs. Their father, Greg, played for the IHL's Saginaw Gears in the late 1970’s and spent seven seasons in the NHL.

Monday, January 01, 2007


Ontario Hockey League

Thurs. Dec. 28
at Plymouth 6, Windsor 1
at Saginaw 4, Sault Ste. Marie 1

Fri. Dec. 29
at Windsor 4, Saginaw 3

Sat. Dec. 30
Guelph 3 at Plymouth 2 (SO)
at Saginaw 4, Kitchener 1

Mon. Jan. 1
Plymouth 5 at Owen Sound 0

North American Hockey League

Sat. Dec. 30
at Traverse City 5, Alpena 4 (SO)

Sun. Dec. 31
at Alpena 5, Traverse City 4