Friday, October 31, 2008

Ceccolini dedicated to daily improvement

His Metro Jets teammates jokingly call him “Dexter,” but once game time rolls around and it’s his turn in net, Nickolas Ceccolini can be called a competitor.

Ceccolini, with the aforementioned nickname due to his hometown just outside of Ann Arbor, started this season as the Jets’ No. 3 goaltender, but through hard work and dedication to improvement is now the backup to starter Colin Greeley (Howell).

After riding the bench the first five games of the season, Ceccolini got the call Sept. 21 in Peoria and made 47 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss.

“He never complained about not getting into the lineup,” Jets assistant coach Ryan Skop said. “I think Dexter's been a good team guy. Certainly, there's always room to work harder and I think he's a guy who's still learning how to work at this level. His practice habits have come a long way since the beginning of the season.

“He's a pretty big kid (6-foot-3, 180 pounds), and there isn't much to shoot at when you're looking. Almost always he does his job and makes the first save.”

Ceccolini, 18, earned his first win of the season on Oct. 4 with a 49-save outing in beating Flint, 6-3. Metro head coach Jamie Hayden thinks more wins can come the young goaltender’s way if he keeps tweaking each facet of his game.

“Its great to have two good goalies that have both played very well even the team has had a slow start, but it is good to create that type of competition between them to push each other to get better,” said Hayden. “Nick still has some things to work on to get his game and himself to the next level, but so long as he continues to put in the hard work there is no reason to think he can’t move on to either the NAHL or college within the next two years.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Machine goalie Rogers off to Notre Dame in '09

Motor City Machine goaltender Joe Rogers has committed to the University of Notre Dame for next season.

In eight appearances for the Machine this year, the 18-year-old from Marysville holds a 1-5-0 record to compliment a 3.81 goals-against average and an .838 save percentage.

“We couldn’t be happier for Joe,” said Machine head coach and general manager Matt Romaniski. “He comes from a great developmental background and has worked very hard for this deserving opportunity at Notre Dame.”

Prior to the NAHL, Rogers played Midget AAA in Michigan for Belle Tire and Little Caesars. He backstopped Belle Tire to a national championship in 2006, posting a 34-1-2 record.

“The biggest thing I’ve noticed since moving up to junior hockey has been the pace and intensity,” said Rogers. “I've never prepared harder in my life.”

Rogers, who started playing goal at age seven, has also had to overcome the disability of being born with one hand.

“I’ve never used my disability as an excuse,” he said. “I could’ve chosen another sport, but hockey was passion and the crease was where I was going to play.”

Rogers is the first player in Machine history to commit to a Division I program.

Photo by RJ Meyer/NAHL

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rangers heading into a Blizzard this weekend

The Marquette Rangers hit the road this weekend for a three-game set against the Alexandria Blizzard of the North American Hockey League's Central Division Thursday through Saturday.

Following a pair of home wins against Motor City and a Saturday loss at Alpena, head coach Kenny Miller says he’s still pleased with where things are going for his hockey club.

“We’ve been great at home,” Miller said. “Now it’s a chance for us to hit the road, spend some time together as a team, and hopefully figure out why we start so slowly on the road. I didn’t think our effort Saturday was what it needed to be at Alpena, but this is a new week and a new chance for us to go work out some of the bugs and hopefully gets some points out of Alexandria.

“One of the nice things from this past weekend was the chance to get some of our veterans scoring goals and gaining some confidence in their play. Tie that in with some of our newcomers who are really starting to play well and I’m confident we’ll improve every week and become the hockey team I think we can be.”

Three veterans led the Rangers last weekend in 6-3 and 6-4 wins over Motor City, including a hat trick from Josh Bussell (pictured) and two-goal nights from both Mike Thompson and Garrett Ladd. Defenseman Ryan McGrath notched a five-point weekend on a goal and four assists on his way to being named NAHL North Division Player of The Week.

Alexandria comes into the weekend tied for the lead in the Central with the North Iowa Outlaws and is coming off a 5-4 win over the Albert Lea Thunder last Friday.

The Blizzard’s leading scorer so far is Jerry Freismuth (Grosse Pointe Woods), who has scored 22 points in 13 games. Freismuth is also one point behind Topeka’s Jordan George for the overall league scoring lead.

For Marquette, it’s been more of a balanced attack up front with James Gallagher, Bussell and Chad Pietila leading the offense. Following his performance against Motor City, McGrath is the team’s highest scoring defenseman with seven points on the season.

Miller says this weekend will go well for his club if one thing can improve.

“I’d like to see us get stronger in our own end and cut down on some of the mistakes we’ve been making in our half of the ice,” he added. “Offensively, we’re fine. We’re getting good production from our forwards and that will also improve once we shore-up things in our end.”

Photo by RJ Meyer/NAHL

Saturday, October 25, 2008

North Stars win team-best eighth straight Friday

It’s becoming difficult to slow down the Traverse City North Stars these days, and the Alpena IceDiggers got a front-row seat for the latest TC triumph, a 3-0 shutout victory on Friday at Centre ICE arena.

The win is a franchise-record eighth straight for the Stars, who got 22 saves from goalie C.J. Motte in the second home shutout of the season.

“You can’t win without good goaltending and we’re getting that from both our guys right now,” said Traverse City head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “C.J. made big saves tonight when we needed him to and I think it’s safe to say the kid’s a goalie.”

Once again, the North Stars (11-2-0) got across-the-board production, and scored a goal in each of Friday’s three periods. Eric O’Hearn got the hosts on the board first, banging home a power-play marker 5:11 into the affair. Kyle Bonis and Marc Thompson drew assists on the play. Bonis broke off a highlight-reel shorthanded lamplighter at 13:49 of the middle stanza, turning a defender inside-out before five-holing the puck for a 2-0 lead. Phil Wendecker set up the danglefest.

In the third, Garrett Thompson streaked betwixt a pair of defenders to corral a chip-ahead from Mike Schenfeld and put the game away with an even-strength backhander.

“We’ve been trying to achieve more of a consistency,” Palumbo added. “And while it wasn’t a flashy win, it was more of a complete team victory. There were some stretches where we weren’t as sharp, but I’d say it’s as solid an all-around win as we’ve had (this year).”

Motte won his sixth straight start, and dropped his goals-against average to 2.00, raising his save percentage to .926. In front of Motte, the Stars’ penalty kill was once again insurmountable, rebuffing all six of Alpena’s man-up spurts. Traverse City now leads the NAHL in penalty kill efficiency at 90.70%.

“Our team defense just continues to get better,” Palumbo added. “It isn’t exactly where we want it to be, but those guys are a big part of why we’ve been able to win a few games. Look at the teams that succeed at any level of the game: St. Louis in our league, the (Red) Wings in the NHL – they get good defense and good goaltending, an they win hockey games.”

The Stars have the rest of the weekend off and will wrap up their nine-game homestand next weekend against perennial NAHL North powerhouse Mahoning Valley.

Cunningham added to Spirit radio booth

The Saginaw Spirit announced yesterday the addition of OHL veteran broadcaster Leigh Cunningham to its full-time staff. He will serve as the team’s director of broadcasting and communications and will join color commentator Dennis Desrosiers in the radio booth as the play-by-play broadcaster.

Cunningham, with nearly 10 years of experience broadcasting in the league, is scheduled to broadcast the team’s game tonight against the Niagara IceDogs. The road game broadcast airs on FM Talk and Sports 100.5, starting at 6:30 p.m. with a 7:00 p.m. puck drop.

“Our organization has been successful for many reasons and one of them is because we have great people working for us,” stated Spirit president and partner Craig Goslin. “With the addition of Leigh Cunningham to our full-time staff, we add a level of professionalism and integrity to our program. We are excited to have Leigh join us and are looking forward to his play-by-play call of the game alongside our color commentator Dennis Desrosiers.”

Cunningham brings extensive OHL broadcasting experience to the Spirit, having called major junior hockey games since 1998, including three OHL finals, four OHL conference championships, and an OHL All-Star game. The Sarnia, Ont., native also co-hosted the 2005 Memorial Cup post-game special for Rogers Television.

Prior to coming to the Spirit Cunningham did play-by-play broadcasting for the Sarnia Sting (2007-08), the Windsor Spitfires (2006-07) and the London Knights (2002-06). He also served as the director of broadcasting and media relations for the North Bay Centennials (2000-02), prior to their move to Saginaw in 2002. While with the Centennials he directed and executed the radio broadcasts, created and distributed the team’s media releases and prepared the Centennials statistics.

“Leigh’s extensive and exceptional OHL experience will educate and entertain our fans greatly," added Goslin. "With Leigh and Dennis in the broadcast booth, we feel that we have one of the best radio teams in the entire 62-team Canadian Hockey League.”

Friday, October 24, 2008

Plymouth plays home-and-home with Spits

Although young ghosts and goblins can find treats on Saturday when the Plymouth Whalers (5-5-1-0) host the Windsor Spitfires at 7:05 p.m. at Compuware Arena, the Whalers hope to turn a trick or two against the top-ranked Spitfires (12-1-0-0).

Corporate partners of the Whalers will be passing out treats to ghosts and goblins of all ages on Saturday. Plymouth plays in Windsor on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Whalers last scheduled game at venerable Windsor Arena. The Spitfires are scheduled to move into the new Windsor Family Credit Union Arena in December, with the first game set for December 11 against Belleville.

The weekend series represents a bit of a role reversal between Plymouth and Windsor. The Whalers – with 10 division titles, two OHL titles and a run of 17 straight years in the playoffs, the best current active streak of any OHL team - have dominated the overall series with Windsor, posting a 90-53-8-1 edge since the two teams started play in 1990. Plymouth has also gone 43-30-3 at Windsor Arena.

Since winning the OHL championship in 2007, the Whalers have gone younger and come into this weekend with a two-game winning streak. Carolina prospect and captain Chris Terry (9-3-12) leads Plymouth in scoring, while Ryan Hayes (5-3-8), Vern Cooper (3-5-8) and another Carolina pick, Michal Jordan (2-6-8, +9), have eight points apiece. Three other Whalers – Joe Gaynor (3-4-7, +7), Kaine Geldart (2-5-7) and Tyler Seguin (0-7-7) - have seven points each. Whalers goaltenders Jeremy Smith and Matt Hackett have both had success against the Spitfires.

Windsor has been on the rise since former National Hockey League players Warren Rychel and Bob Boughner, along with Windsor businessman Peter Dobrich, purchased the team in 2006. Windsor comes into the weekend as the top team in the Canadian Hockey League Mosaik Mastercard rankings and currently leads the OHL with 52 goals scored through 13 games.

Second-year player and top-prospect Ryan Ellis (8-14-22) leads all OHL defensemen in scoring and is second in the OHL to Oshawa’s John Tavares. Forward Taylor Hall (7-12-19) and Toronto draft pick Dale Mitchell (7-8-15) are fourth and ninth, respectively, in the OHL in scoring.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bigger things coming for Jets' Nault

Brandon Nault had been in and out of the Metro Jets’ lineup all season, but last Saturday night, he officially arrived.

And in a huge way.

Nault put a first-period hat trick on the board against Grand Rapids. Impressive? Yes. But consider he scored at even strength, shorthanded and on the power play and it’s obvious the 18-year-old from Madison Heights is valuable on the ice whatever the situation.

His three goals doubled his season scoring output as well. Last year,

“He works hard in practice and we put him on the first unit of the power play to be the big body in front of the net,” Jets head coach Jamie Hayden said. “He’s actually got real decent hands for a guy his size (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) and his skating needs work to go to the next level, but (assistant coach) Ryan (Skop) put him out there on the first unit with (captain) Adam (Novack) and Mick (Kolbasowski) to add the size dimension. That’s what we’ve been expecting of him, but I definitely didn’t expect him to score a hat trick.”

Nault missed a handful of games in late-September battling an illness that kept him from hockey-related activities. He’s now 100 percent and, it appears, then some.

“For him to get a hat trick, and in the first period, was a bonus for us,” added Hayden. “That got us going in the right direction right off the bat.”

If that consistency can keep going for Nault in the near future, it’s not out of the question for more notches in the “win” column for Metro to be attributed to Nault.

Rangers players wait tables for charity

The Marquette Rangers will take the ice tonight dressed in pink jerseys and socks to help raise awareness and money for the Cancer Center at Marquette General Health Systems.

The team got an early start to the fundraiser at the Marquette Big Boy restaurant on Monday, taking the role of “celebrity servers” for three hours.

“This was a blast,” said Rangers forward Josh Bussell. “It was great to get out in the community and promote this game. I don’t know if I’d want to wait tables for a living, but for one night we all had a really good time.”

Bussell was one of 12 players who gave their time for the event.

For three hours, the players seated customers and waited tables with the Big Boy staff with all tips the players earned going directly to the Cancer Center.

In all, the team raised around $350 to kick off a campaign that reached $20,000 in 2007.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NAHL's Michigan players on NHL draft list

Several North American Hockey League players were recognized on the NHL Central Scouting Bureau's "Players to Watch" list for 2009 draft-eligibles released on Oct. 20.

The preliminary listing is comprised of players who have been identified by NHL Central Scouting using the following criteria: A Rating: A must-see player who is predicted to be a potential first- or second-round draft selection in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft; B Rating: A player to note if a scout is in the area, a potential selection in the third-to-fifth round; C Rating: A player that Central Scouting is tracking, a potential late-round selection in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.

C-Rated players with Michigan connections from the NAHL include Traverse City forward and Lake Superior State University recruit Kyle Jean and Alpena defenseman Alex Kuqali.

Twenty players from the U.S. National Team Development Program’s Under-18 Team were recognized, among them seven A Players: forwards Ryan Bourque, Chris Brown, Jeremy Morin, Kyle Palmieri and Drew Shore, defenseman William Wrenn and goaltender Brandon Maxwell.

B Players include forwards Jerry D’Amigo, John Henrion, Kevin Lynch, Chris McCarthy, Kenny Ryan and David Valek, defensemen Tyler Amburgey, John Ramage and Brendan Rempel and goaltender Adam Murray.

C Players listed from the NTDP are forward A.J. Treais and defensemen Sam Calabrese and Richie Crowley.

NHL Central Scouting will release its midseason rankings of 2009 draft-eligibles in January, followed by its final rankings in April.

The 2009 NHL Entry Draft will be held on June 20-21 in Montreal.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Marquette seeing pink this Thursday

Marquette Rangers fans will see two unique things when the team takes the ice Thursday night at Lakeview Arena.

First, the team will be wearing pink jerseys that will be auctioned off following the game to benefit the Cancer Center at Marquette General Health Systems.

Secondly, and most important for head coach Kenny Miller, fans will get to see the team play at home.

After 10 games, the Rangers (3-5-2) have only one home game under their belt - a 4-3 win against North Division-leading Traverse City on September 26.

“It’ll be good to play in front of the home crowd,” Miller said. “As much as this is a great event for the community, we still need to come out and play the way we’re capable of playing and get some points out of these games and keep things moving forward.

“It’s a great event and we’re happy to do what we are doing for the Cancer Center, and even though we’re wearing the pink jerseys, it’s still an important game for our guys and they realize they still need to get things done out on the ice. Once the puck drops and we get settled in, things will be good”

Following last weekend, the Rangers find themselves two points behind Alpena for fourth place and two points ahead of this week’s first opponent, the Motor City Machine.

Marquette will play at Alpena Saturday night following the two games with the Machine Thursday and Friday.

The Machine played last year in the NAHL Central Division as the Southern Minnesota Express before moving to suburban Detroit during the summer.

Motor City (3-9-0) is led in scoring by Jared Williams (4g 3a, 7pts) and Reed Rushing (2g 4a, 6pts) The Rangers continue to be led by James Gallagher and Chad Pietila, who enter the weekend with 11 points apiece. Josh Bussell is third in scoring with eight points.

The game Thursday is at 7:00 p.m. instead of the usual 7:30 p.m. to allow for the post-game jersey auction. Marquette General will be selling “Paint the Rink Pink” T-shirts at the game to help supplement the fundraiser, which raised nearly $20,000 last season.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wiechec more than points for Jets

Take a look at the scoring leaders for the Metro Jets and you have to scroll down a tad to find Steve Wiechec's name.

Granted, the 18-year-old second-year Troy native only has two goals and three points in nine games, but his game is more than getting on the scoresheet.

"Steve will probably never be a big-time scorer," Metro GM Butch Wolfe said. "But he plays the game right and does all the little things. He blocks shots, finishes his checks, things like that. Every team should have a Steve Wiechec on their team."

Wiechec (pronounced WEE-check) scored his first goal on Sept. 14 against Cleveland and then made his second count as it proved to be the game-winner on Sept. 27 against Motor City in the Jets' first win of the season. His 33 penalty minutes are also among the top 15 in the Central States Hockey League.

"He's a quiet kid off the ice," Wolfe added. "But when we need a big play or someone to just make something happen to try and turn the tide of a game, Wiechec will be out there."

Case in point. In the 2007 Midget A state championship game, Wiechec scored the first goal of the game (the eventual game-winner) as the Troy Sting beat the Canton Crush, 5-0.

He was then drafted by the Jets that May and put up 10 points in 45 games last season.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Whalers' McGillis traded to hometown Wolves

The Plymouth Whalers have traded overage left wing Cory McGillis to the Sudbury Wolves in exchange for a third-round draft choice in 2010.

McGillis, just acquired by the Whalers September 30 from Barrie, scored one goal in three games for the Whalers.

McGillis’ trade leaves Plymouth with just one overager in right wing Patrick Lee.

McGillis is from Coniston, Ont., not far from Sudbury, so he receives an opportunity to play for his hometown team.

Highland native Moran dealt to Windsor

The Windsor Spitfires today announced that they have acquired defenseman Patrick Moran (Highland) as well as seventh- and ninth-round picks from the Guelph Storm in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection for sixth-, seventh-, eighth- and ninth-round picks in 2009.

“Patrick will bring a defensive presence with experience in the OHL to our lineup," Windsor general manager Warren Rychel said. "Hewill also add grit and toughness to our back end."

Moran will be in the Spitfires lineup for tomorrow’s game against the Ottawa 67’s.

Photo by Paul Surette/

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

North Stars sweep Team USA at home

The Traverse City North Stars have won five straight games after their two-game sweep of the U.S. National Under-17 Team last weekand at home.

The goaltending tandem of CJ Motte and Brandon Stephenson each tallied a win with Motte's coming on Friday night and Stephenson (pictured) getting the shutout Saturday.

Traverse City's 8-2-0 start marks the club's best start, but the team has never had a losing record after 10 games in club history. TC was 5-2-3 last year through 10 outings, 5-4-1 in 2006-07 and 4-4-2 in its inaugural season of 2005-06.

The North Stars continue their month-long homestand this weekend, playing host to the Motor City Machine in a Friday-Saturday series. The Machine (3-6-0) moved to metro Detroit this season from Southern Minnesota and will be making their first-ever Centre ICE appearance.

Photo by BJ Stephenson/Kidz Play Photography

Saginaw to also play PINK OUT game

The Saginaw Spirit are proud to partner with National City Bank and the St. Mary's of Michigan Seton Cancer Institute for the second annual 'PINK OUT,' a game being played in support of breast cancer awareness.

The 'PINK OUT' game will take place on Saturday when the Spirit take on the Niagara IceDogs at 7:11 p.m. at TheDow Event Center in Saginaw.

Breast cancer survivors from the mid-Michigan region will be participating in a ceremonial puck drop starting off the night's activities. The first 5,000 fans will receive a free pink rally towel, courtesy of National City Bank and the St. Mary's of Michigan Seton Cancer Institute.

The Spirit team will hit the ice wearing a limited edition pink Spirit jersey, which will be auctioned off in a silent auction taking place during the game to raise funds in support of breast cancer awareness.

There will also be post-game Skate with the Players event where the jerseys worn by Adam Comrie, T.J. Brodie and Nick Crawford during the 'PINK OUT' will be auctioned off live.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Grosse Pointe Woods native has 'come full circle'

By Brian McDonough/

Jerry Freismuth has always set high expectations for himself and his teammates and this year is no exception.

After helping the Alexandria Blizzard to its first Robertson Cup Championship Tournament appearance a year ago, the third-year forward wants nothing more than another crack at an NAHL title.

“We definitely want to get back really bad, because we thought we underachieved there last year,” said Freismuth, whose team was winless at the tournament, which was hosted and won by St. Louis. “It was a great experience and we wish we could have done better, but that’s over with.

“Now that the season has started, we have our eyes focused on getting back and we really want it more this year, because we know what it’s like to face adversity and we to get back there and take it.”

And Freismuth is leading the charge early on, sitting atop the NAHL’s scoring chart three weeks into the season. The reigning Central Division Player of the Week has three goals to go along with 12 assists in eight games for the Central Division-leading Blizzard.

“We’re off to good start, the team’s playing with confidence and I’ve had some good players around me helping me out, so I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates,” said Freismuth, who did his offensive damage last weekend on a line with Garrett Grimstad and Joe Knoepke.

After his final year of midgets with Little Caesars in Detroit, Freismuth, who calls Grosse Pointe Woods home, ventured out to Minnesota where he began his junior career with the Minnesota Junior League’s Minnesota Ice Hawks.

Halfway into that 2006-07 season, he was summoned to Alexandria where he put away four goals for 23 points in team’s final 34 games. He more than doubled that point total last year and finished at a plus-32.

“My first year I was lucky enough to play with some good players - some older players - so they really helped turn me into the player I am now. They helped me out coming into the league, and gave me some more confidence and that’s huge for younger guys,” said Freismuth. “Now I’m the older guy helping out the younger guys, so it’s kind of come full circle.”

Freismuth, who turns 20 on Oct. 28, stayed in Minnesota for the first part of the summer before returning home to Michigan in July to spend time with friends and family. Wherever he was, off-season conditioning was a priority for the 5-foot-10, 170-pounder.

“We have a really good training program in the summer and I did that every day,” he said. “I worked out as hard as I could every day, skated as much as I could, dryland, all that good stuff.”

Freismuth is high on the potential of this year’s team. From the returning vets to the promising newcomers, he’s confident the Blizzard has the all the ingredients to make another charge at the Robertson Cup.

“I said this in the locker room, that out of my three years here, this is the most talented team I’ve been on, right up from our new, young guys to our older guys… very talented, very talented group of guys,” Freismuth said.

And Freismuth, a Division I hopeful, is counting on the team’s success to generate college interest for not just himself, but for his teammates as well.

“I have confidence in my coach (Brad Willner) that he’s going to work hard to move myself and other players (to college),” said Freismuth, who spoke with a few schools at last month’s NAHL Showcase Tournament. “I just look at it like the better we do as a team, the better opportunity we’ll have to go to a school that we want to go to.”

Photo by RJ Meyer/NAHL

Monday, October 13, 2008

Whalers skate for breast cancer Friday night

The primary colors of the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers are blue and green.

The primary colors found on a hockey player after a collision are black and blue.

The Whalers will be skating for an excellent cause of a different color on Friday at 7:05pm when they take on the Niagara IceDogs at Compuware Arena during the team’s first annual Pink Out! For Breast Cancer Awareness.

The event is first for the Whalers and something they hope to make an annual event during the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month as well as Hockey Fights Cancer Month.

“Our Pink Out! is a chance for our players, our sponsors and our fans to rally together to increase breast cancer awareness and raise funds in a way that is familiar and fun for us. We promise it will be pink. And, it will be memorable,” said Denise Ronayne, Whalers director of sales and marketing. “We are so grateful to all of our corporate partners who helped us make this event relevant in our community. And importantly, there’s a natural tie-in with the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, who will receive the proceeds.”

Plymouth owner Peter Karmanos, Jr., who is also the CEO and co-founder of the Compuware Corporation, established the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in 1995. Based in midtown Detroit, Karmanos is one of 41 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Caring for more than 6,000 new patients annually on a budget of $216 million, conducting more than 700 cancer-specific scientific investigation programs and clinical trials, the Karmanos Cancer Center is among the nation’s best cancer centers.

Several of the Whalers corporate sponsors are contributing to make the Pink Out! a special event:

Vanity Salon, located at 857 Penniman in Plymouth, will be dyeing Whaler players hair pink tomorrow from 5-8pm. Everyone is encouraged to attend the event. In addition, Vanity Salon will have stylists at the game creating fancy pink ribbon up-dos for a donation.

Woody's Bar-B-Q, located at 44741 Five Mile Road, will be donating 500 pink bandanas. You'll also see their Pink Pig Mascot at the event on October 17.

Bianco Tours will be bringing in the Eastern Michigan University Sports Marketing Group, who donated their time and effort to sell tickets for the event.

Vanessa's Flowers, located at 545 Ann Arbor Road, will be donating pink carnations.

The Whalers were recently affected by cancer with the passing of co-owner Thomas Thewes, who lost his battle with leukemia on September 28. In addition, Mary Beth Bloom, a land parent of Whalers' defenseman Leo Jenner and a breast cancer survivor, will drop a ceremonial faceoff at the start of the game.

“It would be an honor to represent all the women and men with breast cancer,” said Bloom.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Jets add young defenseman Schofield

The Metro Jets added defenseman Tyler Schofield to the active roster on Thursday.

Schofield, a 17-year-old Clio native, was playing with the Flint Icelanders midgets and made his season debut tonight.

"Tyler is a young defenseman that we feel can add depth and potentially play some big minutes for us," Metro GM Butch Wolfe said. "We hope we can help continue his development over the course of this season."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Spirit prospect a calming influence for Jets

A calm, cool under pressure goalie can do wonders for a team and Colin Greeley appears to be that player for the Metro Jets.

And oh yeah, he’s also the youngest player on the team having just turned 16 last month.

Greeley earned his first win of the season Sept. 27 against Motor City in a fight-filled game at home. On one of his saves, the red light went on behind him, but the goal was disallowed.

“My family and friends were at that game, so it was special to get the win in front of them,” said Greeley, a Howell native. “On that disallowed goal, it was funny, because I looked over at the bench and ‘Skopes’ (Metro assistant coach Ryan Skop) was motioning to the ref that it’s only a goal if it goes over the line.”

Last year, Greeley played for the Victory Honda minor midget team and was then drafted in the fourth round of the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection by the Saginaw Spirit. He went to camp this year with Saginaw, had a good showing, and plans on playing in Saginaw next year. That said, Greeley knows he has options, including the Jets.

“I don’t think they’d want me back,” laughed Greeley. “The goal here is to move players on. Right now, I want to play for Saginaw, but I’m keeping all my options open. The USHL (Futures) draft is coming up (Oct. 14) and I’ll have to see what happens there.”

In the present, however, the Jets have a capable goaltender that has taken the No. 1 role and run with it. Metro has five of six points in their last three games and a great deal of the credit goes to Greeley.

Combs back in Saginaw after pro camps

The Saginaw Spirit have announced the return of overage forward Jack Combs to the lineup.

Combs, a St. Louis native, was away at the respective rookie camps of the Colorado Avalanche and their minor league affiliates.

'It was a positive experience in camp," stated Combs. "I learned a lot and my goal is to bring that back to Saginaw in hopes of having another great year."

Combs is one of the highest scoring forwards to play for the Spirit in the team's seven-year history. Last season, he notched 42 goals and 58 assists for 100 points, setting a new single-season scoring record for the Spirit. Combs served as one of the team's leaders on and off the ice last season and his efforts were recognized when he was selected to represent the Spirit at the 2008 OHL All-Star Classic.

"We have a very hard-working team right now and I am excited to play with these guys," added Combs. "We have all molded and gelled really well and we are all looking forward to winning some games."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Jets, MRSN form broadcast agreement

The Metro Jets have announced an agreement with the Michigan Regional Sports Network (MRSN) to broadcast select home games online this season, starting with Saturday’s game against the Queen City Steam.

“The Michigan Regional Sports Network is expanding their scope to include hockey and when they contacted us, it was an easy decision,” Jets GM Butch Wolfe said. “We think this coverage can be nothing but great publicity for our team and the Central States Hockey League and we are very excited and looking forward to Saturday night.”

Metro Jets games to be broadcast by MRSN:

Sat. Oct. 11 vs. Queen City
Sat. Oct. 18 vs. Grand Rapids
Sun. Nov. 2 vs. Cleveland
Sun. Dec. 14 vs. Motor City
Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 vs. Flint
Sat. Jan. 31, 2009 vs. Flint

The MRSN, based in Flint since 2004, broadcasts the high school football game of the week, as well as college club hockey and high school basketball and baseball. Next spring, MRSN will be the exclusive home for the Michigan Admirals minor league football team.

"We were looking to branch out from broadcasting just football and junior hockey is the next step up," MRSN play-by-play broadcaster Bill Schnorenberg said. "We are happy to be involved with a quality program like the Metro Jets."

More information about MRSN can be found on their official website at

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Saginaw re-acquires Skellett from Otters

The Saginaw Spirit has completed a trade with the Erie Otters, picking up forward Jordan Skellett and a seventh round pick in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection in return for defenseman Chris Breen and a fifth round pick in 2009.

Additional terms of the trade were not disclosed.

“We are excited to get a player of Jordan’s caliber and look forward to his arrival in Saginaw," stated Spirit head coach Todd Watson. "We wish Chris the best of luck in Erie and we are happy for the opportunity he will get there. It’s always tough to move someone with the character and class like that found in Chris.”

Skellett is a 1989-born native of London, Ontario. The Niagara IceDogs, then located in Mississauga, drafted Skellet 17th overall in the 2005 OHL Priority Selection. He played a season and a half with the IceDogs before being traded to Saginaw along with Cody Bass in the 2006 blockbuster trade that saw Matt Corrente and Scott Fletcher go to Niagara. Immediately following the trade, Skellett was sent to Erie in return for Andrew Hotham.

Skellet has accumulated 33 goals and 44 assists during his career in the OHL.

From, more on the deal and more Spirit news:

Sources say this deal was originally agreed to between former Saginaw GM Don Edwards and Otters GM Sherry Bassin. Just as it came time to do the paperwork, Edwards is said to have changed his mind and pulled the plug. With Watson now in charge, the deal returned to the table and was quickly completed.

Meanwhile, the Spirit will give goaltender Zac Fryia a tryout. The Peterborough Petes third-string goaltender is behind Trevor Cann and Jason Missiaen on the depth chart. If the Spirit choose to keep Fryia, a deal will then be completed between Watson and Petes GM Jeff Twohey.

Edwards out as Saginaw general manager

Nothing official from the Saginaw Spirit (yet), but word on the street is that Spirit general manager Don Edwards has been relieved of his duties.

Head coach Todd Watson is now in charge of hockey operations. has more.

The Saginaw News also has the story.

UPDATE: Spirit confirms move

The Saginaw Spirit hockey club announced today that a decision has been made to change the hockey operational model of the franchise. Through the changes and adjustments, Don Edwards has been relieved of his duties as general manager, effective immediately.

Head coach Todd Watson will assume the role of director of hockey operations in addition to his coaching duties, and will be responsible for all hockey operations. Assistant coach John Kisil and director of scouting Dan Halliburton will take on additional duties with the team as part of this new hockey managerial structure.

More HERE.

Monday, October 06, 2008

North Stars off to solid start, sweep Alpena

Slow out of the gates in recent years, the Traverse City North Stars are doing their best to buck that trend this season, jumping out to a 6-2 start thanks in part to a two-game sweep of the Alpena IceDiggers last weekend.

“Last season a slow start really hurt our ability to challenge for a playoff spot in March,” said North Stars head coach Anthony Palumbo. “So those wins are big; it keeps us in a good position in our (North) division, which is again proving to be as tough as they come.”

Kyle Bonis and Marc Thompson (game-winner) struck for the North Stars’ goals and netminder C.J. Motte turned aside 21 shots as Traverse City downed Alpena on Friday, 2-1.

The next night, Bonis’ overtime tally lifted the North Stars to a 5-4 triumph. Chris Salomone rang up two goals for TC and Nate Urbaniak chipped in with three assists. Between the pipes, Brandon Stephenson stopped 18 shots.

“It was a pretty solid effort all weekend,” Palumbo said. “We got to play every single skater on our roster, and I’ve yet to find a weak link - that’s a good sign.”

Bonis, 19, named the team’s captain last week, has returned in top form. The second-year forward from Lindsay, Ont., has found an early knack for coming up big in critical moments.

“Kyle just finds a way to score goals,” said Palumbo. “They're important, timely goals, usually. He's obviously got the talent, but he's also an intense leader and the guys pick up on that and sort of feed off that.”

The third-year Urbaniak, a 20-year-old from Perrysburg, Ohio, is also starting to find his groove offensively.

“He and Kyle form a really good one-two punch,” said Palumbo.

Only 16-year-old, Motte, from Port Huron, has risen to the occasion, delivering a clutch performance on Friday to pick up his third win of the young season.

“He was definitely a key in that win,” said Palumbo. “He’s proven he can play at this level and make a huge impact. We knew he was good coming in, but C.J. has been even better than we expected even sooner than we expected.”

Second-year forwards Kyle Jean, a Lake Superior State recruit, and Eric O’Hearn are also establishing themselves as versatile contributors.

“They’ve really stepped up this year and taken on big roles with our team,” said Palumbo. “They’re logging minutes on the penalty kill and the power play and they’re also providing us another line with an ability to create offense at any time.”

Pleased with the North Stars’ start - particularly his team’s balanced attack up and down the lineup – Palumbo’s focus now is tightening the screws defensively.

“Timely goals and timely saves - that’s the formula we’re winning with right now,” said the coach. “It’s still early in the season, but we like the determination and grit we’ve been playing with.

“I think the big thing is that everyone has contributed. It seems that every night someone has stepped up for us.”

With a 2-0 record at home this season, the North Stars have a chance to improve on that mark over the next month. The team’s next eight games are slated for Traverse City’s Center ICE arena commencing this weekend against the U.S. Under-17 Team.

“You always want to take advantage of your home games and I think this upcoming stretch could provide us with a great opportunity,” said Palumbo.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Saley a 'pleasant surprise' for Metro

Will Saley made the Metro Jets’ roster this year after being drafted by the team in May’s Central States Hockey League draft.

He was originally penciled in as a depth player, but has shown a willingness to work hard and improve. That work ethic has moved Saley, a 17-year-old Milford native, to the second line with linemates Mick Kolbasowski and captain Adam Novack (Rochester Hills) where he has been a consistent scoring threat and currently leads the Jets in goals with five through seven games.

“When we got Will, it was with the idea that he’d be a two-year project for us,” Metro head coach Jamie Hayden said. “He’s shown us he can be an impact player right now and he’s been a pleasant surprise thus far.”

“Will’s not the biggest kid in the world (5-foot-9, 165 pounds), but he’s quick and knows how to effectively use his speed,” Metro GM Butch Wolfe said. “If he continues to improve for the remainder of this year, he should attract several North American Hockey League teams for next season. But in the meantime, we’re elated to have him with us this year.”

Saley played last year at Milford High School. He’s also just one of three draft picks to make Metro’s opening game roster this season along with goaltender Andrew New and Justin Vinson (Livonia).