Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Former Whaler Merlini re-signs with Icehawks

The Port Huron Icehawks of the International Hockey League announced Tuesday that they have added rookie defenseman Derek Merlini to the training camp roster for the 2008-09 season.

Merlini (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) joined the Icehawks in January of the 2007-08 season and finished the campaign with five points (two goals, three assists) and a plus-5 rating in 43 regular-season games. He also had one assist in eight playoff games.

The defenseman came to the Icehawks from the University of Windsor where he played parts of two seasons. He also spent five seasons in the OHL with the Erie Otters and Plymouth Whalers (2006).

“Merlini is a big player who towers above his opponents,” Port Huron coach-GM Stan Drulia said. “He is a capable defenseman and could be a big part of our defense if he uses his size in a physical way.”

The 23-year-old native of Clinton Township still qualifies for rookie status in the International Hockey League because he has played in less than 60 professional games.

Merlini joins two other ex-Whalers on the Icehawks this year as forward Kris Vernarsky (1998-2002) and goalie Larry Sterling (2000-2001) signed over the summer.

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