Thursday, April 30, 2009

Marquette's Partacz makes D-III choice

Former Marquette Rangers forward Dustin Partacz has committed to play college hockey next season at Concordia University in Mequon, Wis.

The Falcons are a member of the NCAA Division III Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association and are coached by former University of North Dakota forward and Hobey Baker Award winner Tony Hrkac.

“It’s been a great experience,” Patracz said of the recruiting process. “I have grown from it as a person and I’m excited to finally find a school where I can play hockey, hit the books and move on to the next chapter of my life. I really enjoyed my time in Marquette and I’m grateful to the organization for three great years.”

Partacz hopes to major in Radiology while at Concordia.

The Naperville, Ill., native played three seasons in Marquette and was a member of the original roster when the team was formed in 2006. He concluded his junior career second on the all-time list for games played as a Ranger with 162, while adding 18 goals and 23 assists during his career.

Rangers head coach Kenny Miller said that although Partacz’s numbers may not turn too many heads, he’s grateful to have had him and his leadership in the lineup during this past season.

“Dustin is the ultimate team player,” said Miller. “Every coach should consider themself lucky if they are able to coach a player like Dustin once in their career. Our entire organization is happy for him and his family. He’s very deserving of this opportunity. Dustin is a first-class kid and I enjoyed coaching him very much this past season and he’ll do well at Concordia and as a young man in society.”

Partacz becomes the seventh player from the 2008-09 Rangers roster to commit to play college hockey.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Metro staff pleased with weekend's camp

The Metro Jets started their efforts of putting this past season behind them with a two-day pre-CSHL draft camp last weekend at Lakeland Arena.

More than 30 players came to the camp with hopes of impressing the Jets' brass enough to make the team next fall and help Metro improve on their seven-win season of 2008-2009.

"I was pretty happy this weekend," Jets assistant coach Ryan Skop said. "We had a turnout of just about what we expected. We had a real good mix of veterans and prospects on each squad and it was fun to watch how well they worked together."

The camp consisted of up-tempo scrimmages and goalie changes on the fly. If nothing else, the camp provided optimism to a team that searched to find that last season.

"Certainly, we still have plenty of work to do," said Skop. "However, after this weekend, I'm confident we're headed in the right direction. After getting a chance to see our top prospects on the ice together, I'm really excited to get to the draft (May 23-24) and get to main camp (in mid-July)."

"The consensus was that the camp was successful," added Metro GM Butch Wolfe. "In my opinion, it did what it was supposed to do. It gave us a look at players we are considering taking in the draft in a bit more of a competitive environment."

Still, the camp did have one minor negative and that was players that had committed to coming to camp decided not to. In Skop's mind, that's not even an issue and he actually put a spin on it to be a positive in the long run.

"Anytime you hold any sort of camp or tryout, you're going to have letdowns and you're going to have some surprises," added Skop. "It's safe to say the surprises far outweigh the letdowns from the weekend. There were two or three guys who were further down our radar, or not on it at all, that jumped up and made a name for themselves. That's what we wanted."

"For now, though, it's back to the rinks and phones to continue talking to and recruiting players."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Greeley to play for CSHL at Toronto tourney

Goaltender Colin Greeley, who led the Metro Jets in wins last season, has been named to a team of Central States Hockey League All-Stars that will play at the Toronto Prospects Tournament this summer.

Greeley, a 16-year-old native of Howell, went 4-18-0 last year with a 6.56 goals-against average and a .839 save percentage.

Cleveland goalie Gregg Gruehl will be Greeley's counterpart at the tournament.

The rest of the roster is HERE.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Terry wins OHL's Snyder Humanitarian Award

The Ontario Hockey League today announced that forward Chris Terry of the Plymouth Whalers is the recipient of the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy as the OHL’s Humanitarian of the Year for the 2008-09 season.

Terry, a 20-year-old from Brampton, Ontario, has consistently been a leader for the Whalers franchise at events in the Plymouth community and surrounding area throughout his career. This season, the fourth-year veteran and team captain averaged more than two official player appearances per week, always demonstrating a positive attitude and serving as a role model for many young fans.

“I love going out to schools to read and interact with the kids” said Terry. “I never felt obligated to do it, I just really enjoyed seeing their excitement when we would arrive, it was always a lot of fun” added Terry. “It has been exciting to see our fan base in Plymouth grow by reaching the community in the years I have been here and I have a lot of great memories, I always enjoyed what we did.”

Terry spent a great deal of time visiting schools and reading to kids. He was active in the Whalers Learn to Skate and Learn to Play programs and always heavily involved and enthusiastic in events with season ticket holders and their families. He is always the first to sign up for events and to volunteer his time on days off. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month this past October, Terry was the first Whaler to volunteer to dye his hair pink which led to the entire team participating. Together they helped raise money for the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.

Terry’s professional conduct, leadership, and willingness to give back to the community certainly made impressions with his teammates who have learned from his actions, including Ryan Hayes. “Terry just takes over at these appearances and does all the work and I just follow his lead” said Hayes. “I need to give him credit; he just makes it look easy.”

“You can tell he genuinely cares when he is out in the community,” says Natalie Shaver of the Whalers. “He wants to have a positive affect on everyone and takes the extra step to ensure everyone is included. People request him because of the relationships he builds with the kids."

Last season, Terry developed a special relationship with one of his young fans, Bobby Suvoy, a 16-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with ALS which is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He spent time visiting with Bobby and checking in with the family for updates on his health even when the team was on the road. When Bobby’s health took a turn for the worse, Terry visited the Suvoy home early in the morning following a team road-trip where they arrived in Plymouth around 5:00 am. Terry was able to spend a few hours with Bobby and sign a jersey in front of Suvoy’s relatives that had travelled from across the country to be there. When Bobby Suvoy passed away on May 6, 2008, many people thanked Terry for the positive influence and contributions he made towards Bobby’s life.

The Suvoy’s have said that Terry is “so selfless and caring to take time out of his exciting and busy schedule to stay in touch with our sick child. Chris remains a true friend even today.”

On the ice, Terry finished second in league scoring with 94 points including 39 goals and 55 assists in 53 games. He was named a Western Conference All-Star and the Kal Tire OHL Player of the Month for both December and February. Terry is a Carolina Hurricanes draft pick, selected in the fifth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Each year the OHL awards a player that has demonstrated outstanding qualities as a positive role model in the community with the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy. The Ontario Hockey League Board of Governors announced in 2004 that the OHL Humanitarian of the Year award would be renamed in recognition of the former Owen Sound Platers captain, who was twice named his team's humanitarian of the year in recognition of his tremendous efforts in supporting community activities.

Terry is the first member of the Plymouth Whalers hockey club to receive the Humanitarian of the Year Award. Andrew Gibbons received the award in 2006-07 with the Belleville Bulls, with the award presented to Peter Stevens of the Kingston Frontenacs last season.

Photo by Walt Dmoch/Plymouth Whalers

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Whalers announce annual award winners

The Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers finished the 2008-09 season Monday night with an awards banquet held at CJ’s Brewing Company at Compuware Arena.

The following players received awards:

REGULAR SEASON MOST VALUABLE PLAYER, LEADING SCORER, ACADEMIC PLAYER and HUMANITARIAN of the YEAR: Captain Chris Terry, who led the Whalers with 39 goals and 55 assists for 94 points and was +25 during the regular season. Terry is third overall in franchise career scoring with 114 goals and 175 assists for 289 points in 253 games. Selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the fifth round (132nd overall) in the 2007 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Terry must be signed by the Hurricanes by this summer’s NHL Entry Draft. Terry has been a leader in the Whalers’ community relations efforts over the past three seasons and is Plymouth’s nominee for the OHL’s Dan Snyder Award as Humanitarian of the Year.

ROOKIE of the YEAR: Center Tyler Seguin, who scored 21 goals with 46 assists for 67 points and was +14 in 61 games.

DEFENSEMAN of the YEAR: Defenseman Michal Jordan, who scored 12 goals with 30 assists for 42 points and was a team-leading +28 in 58 games. Jordan – a fourth-round pick (105th overall) of the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft – played for the Czech Republic in the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Championship.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER of the YEAR and PLAYOFF MVP: Goaltender Matt Hackett, who won the lead goaltender’s position with the Whalers in November and posted a career-best 3.04 goals-against average, .913 save percentage, two shutouts and a 34-13-3-0 record in 55 games for the Whalers this season. Hackett continued his fine work through the playoffs, posting a 3.01 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 11 playoff appearances. Hackett is rated by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau as top prospect among all North American goaltenders for this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

UNSUNG HERO of the YEAR: Center Matt Caria, who came to the Whalers in December in a trade with Sault Ste. Marie and scored 34 goals with 58 assists for 92 points, which tied him for fourth in league scoring, and was +14 in 67 games this season. Currently a free agent, Caria is playing for a professional contract next season.

LABATT BLUE COLLAR PLAYER of the YEAR: Veteran center Joe Gaynor, who enjoyed career highs with 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points and was +7 in 68 games this season. Gaynor is one of the best defensive forwards in the OHL and could return to the Whalers next season as an overage player.

LEADING SCORER IN THE PLAYOFFS (tie): Terry, who scored seven goals with nine assists for 16 points and Seguin, who tallied five goals with 11 assists for 16 points.

WHALER BOOSTER CLUB AWARDS: Barb Mohrlock Award as Fan Favorite – Terry; Player of the Month for March - Caria; Academic Player of the Month - Tyler J. Brown; Grinder of the Year - Gaynor.

WHALER OFF-ICE OFFICIALS: Alice Iafrate Award – Brett Bellemore. Certificates and cash awards to Caria and Scott Fletcher.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Plymouth's Hackett top NHL goalie prospect

The National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Bureau has named Plymouth Whalers goaltender Matt Hackett as the top prospect among North American goaltenders for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, held June 26-27 in Montreal.

Hackett moved up the Central Scouting list from not being listed in the preliminary rankings to eighth in the mid-term rankings to No. 1 in Central Scouting final list released Tuesday.

"A huge improvement over last year," Central Scouting's Al Jensen, the group's goalie specialist, told "Great potential, got very good size (6-2, 170), very poised. His angles, his net positioning are very good. He's a very smart goaltender with excellent net coverage."

Hackett, who posted a 3.04 goals-against average, .913 save percentage, two shutouts and a 34-13-3-0 record in 55 games for the Whalers this season, started 2008-09 as a backup to Jeremy Smith. But when Plymouth struggled at the start of the season, Hackett won the lead goaltender’s position in November and was effective all year. Hackett continued his fine work through the playoffs, posting a 3.01 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 11 playoff appearances.

Hackett was named ADT Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Week twice this season – for the weeks ending January 10 and March 31. In addition, Hackett started 29 consecutive regular season games from January 9-March 15 and continued with 11 straight playoff starts from March 21-April 11.

“You look at Matt, and he’s a pure goaltender,” said Whalers goaltending coach Stan Matwijiw. “He’s the type of goaltender that NHL teams are looking for. He’s big in stature and takes up a lot of net. He’s very fundamentally sound. The work that I’ve done with him is tweaking a thing here and there. He’s already had good instruction, with his uncle (former NHL goaltender Jeff Hackett) already a goaltending coach in the NHL (for Colorado).”

“He’s taken the ball and run it with,” said Plymouth general manager and head coach Mike Vellucci earlier this year. “He’s improved his reflexes and his rebound control is very good. One of the things I like about Matt is the fact that the players play really well for him. He’s a likeable guy, and our guys play great and want to play in front of him. They help him, they block shots and they clear the pucks away from in front of the net.”

While London’s John Tavares has been rated first or second in the Central Scouting’s rating all season long, Hackett has come a long way during his time with the Whalers. Hackett, acquired by the Whalers from Windsor on November 13, 2007, was Windsor’s third-string goaltender at the time he came to Plymouth.

Plymouth defenseman Beau Schmitz was also listed by Central Scouting at 195th overall.

VELLUCCI FINISHES THIRD IN MATT LEYDEN TROPHY VOTING: Although Vellucci didn’t start the season behind the Whalers bench, he still finished third in the voting for the Matt Leyden Trophy as the Ontario Hockey League’s Coach of the Year. Vellucci, who took over for Greg Stefan on November 10, finished third in the voting, behind Windsor’s Bob Boughner and Belleville’s George Burnett.

Boughner, who won the Matt Leyden Trophy for the second consecutive year, finished in the voting with 58 points, Burnett with 38 and Vellucci with 34.

Vellucci won the Matt Leyden Award in 2007.

Photo by Walt Dmoch/Plymouth Whalers

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trio of Spirit players ranked for NHL Draft

The National Hockey League's Central Scouting Bureau released its final rankings of the top prospects for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft Tuesday and three Saginaw Spirit players made the cut.

Spirit goalie Edward Pasquale (pictured) was ranked the third North American goalie entering the draft, while forward Jordan Szwarz was ranked 68th and defenseman Cody Sol was ranked 192nd amongst North American skaters.

"These guys worked really hard to get to this point, and it's a great honor for both the players and the organization to have them ranked for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft," stated Spirit assistant coach and director of hockey administration Adam Mattson.

The 2009 NHL Entry Draft takes place in Montreal on June 26 and June 27.

Pasquale and forward Szwarz have also been invited to attend the NHL Scouting Combine taking place in Toronto from May 25-May 30. The two players will join approximately 100 other top prospects of the upcoming NHL Entry Draft for the combine and will be put through vigorous physical, medical and psychological tests that will help NHL teams rank the players in their draft boards.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Spirit prospect named NAHL's top rookie

The North American Hockey League announced today that Mahoning Valley Phantoms forward Brandon Saad has been named Rookie of the Year.

Saad, from Gibsonia, Pa., totaled 29 goals among 47 points in 47 regular-season games with the Phantoms. He was also a team-best plus-21.

“Brandon is the most well-rounded prospect I’ve coached, or even seen,” said Phantoms head coach Bob Mainhardt. “He pretty much can do it all. He’s very dominant physically, does a very good job defensively, wins battles, and, for a big man (6-foot-2, 195 pounds), has unbelievable agility.”

Saad, 16, was also a member of the U.S. National Under-17 Team that earned a bronze medal at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge held in Port Alberni, British Columbia, in December-January. He was named to the tournament’s all-star team after finishing tied for the team lead in scoring (four goals, five assists).

“He’s very mature for a young man,” Mainhardt added. “He’s really dealt with all the attention he’s gotten very well. He’s just a part of the team. He’s a funny, regular 16-year-old. He’s a little more mature, but you can see the kid in him sometimes. He just loves playing the game and he fits in well. His teammates love him.”

Saad, a three-time winner of the Sherwood/NAHL North Division Player of the Week Award, was also named to the NAHL All-Rookie Team.

“Because of his size and physical stature, we joke that we need to check his birth certificate because he’s so young,” said Mainhardt. “He’s the youngest player on our team, but he looks like one of the older guys and he carries himself that way, too.”

The Ontario Hockey League's Saginaw Spirit drafted Saad in the first round of last May's priority selection out of the Pittsburgh Hornets organization.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Jets seek new talent at pre-draft camp

Three weeks from now, the Metro Jets may get to see a glimpse of their future as 40 of their top-rated prospects will take part in a pre-CSHL Draft camp at Lakeland Arena.

For assistant coach Ryan Skop, it's something he and the rest of the coaching staff are definitely looking forward to.

"The pre-draft camp is something that's new to the Jets," Skop said. "Instead of doing a once a week 'drop-in skate' or something like that, we decided to make it more formal. What we're looking to do is get our top 40 prospects on the ice, together, prior to the draft."

Skop added that he hopes the players that come out can help the Jets improve on their seven-win season they suffered through this year.

"It's a camp designed more for the players than anything," said Skop. "We want to show them the quality players we have coming out and that we're trying to recruit to Metro. A lot of guys are apprehensive in coming to Metro because of our recent lack of success, but I'm hoping that if they can get on the ice together and see the talent that's there, they'll decide to see what we have to offer.

"On top of that, it allows guys who are going to North American Hockey League camps an opportunity to play a weekend of very competitive hockey and a chance to stay on the ice."

The camp will run April 25-26 for two hours each day with times to be determined shortly. Practice jerseys will be provided and cost is just $40 total for both days.

For more information, call Ryan Skop at (734) 771-3139.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Three Stars, one Ranger named All-North

The North American Hockey League announced today its All-North Division Team for the 2008-09 season, as selected by the league’s coaches and general managers.

Forward: Kyle Bonis, Traverse City North Stars
Forward: Chad Pietila, Marquette Rangers
Forward: Brandon Saad, Mahoning Valley Phantoms
Defenseman: Cullen Lundholm, Mahoning Valley Phantoms
Defenseman: Travis White, Traverse City North Stars
Goaltender: CJ Motte, Traverse City North Stars

The All-Central, All-West and All-South Teams are HERE.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

North Stars get tough Phantoms in first round

Back on March 13, the Traverse City North Stars turned a 2-2 second period tie at Mahoning Valley into a 9-2 loss, with the host Phantoms rattling off the final seven scores of the contest.

Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo and staff were rankled, to say the least.

Since that time, Traverse City has gone 6-0-1 – including a pair of subsequent victories at Mahoning – and will look to continue their elevated play well into the NAHL Playoffs. The North Stars will open their first postseason since 2006 on Friday at the same place where the club’s late-season resurgence kicked off: Mahoning Valley.

“We lost 9-2 and it wasn’t that close,” Palumbo recalled. “But since then, we’ve worked very hard to fix the things that put us in that position, and so far the results have been encouraging. Now we put it to the test with the season on the line.”

While TC actually won seven of the teams’ 13 meetings this season, Mahoning has the decided advantage in playoff experience. The Phantoms have advanced to the NAHL championship game in each of the past two seasons.

“It’s the playoffs, so the intensity is certainly up a notch,” continued Palumbo. “Over the course of a 58-game (regular season) schedule, you know you’ll probably drop a game here or there along the way. In the playoffs, there is no such room for error. They know that, and they’ve won some (playoff) series over the years. But we’re hoping we can match their energy. We’re very excited to go.”

The Phantoms, who led the NAHL North Division for most of the season, fell into second place on the final night of the regular season, with Team USA overtaking the two-time national runners-up for the top seed in the playoffs. Mahoning went 36-17-5, finishing a mere two points ahead of Traverse City for the final home-ice position.

“We never really focused on one team or the other,” Palumbo explained. “We knew that either way it fell, we were going to have to go up against one of the best teams in the league. We welcome the challenge no matter who we line up against.”

Stefan Salituro leads the Phantoms with 48 points, including a team-high 34 assists, while Brandon Saad (47 pts.) is the club’s top goal-scorer with 29. Jordy Trottier (46 pts.) and Nick Shkreli (44) are also among Mahoning’s top threats. Nick Kenney had seven goals in 13 outings against the North Stars this year. Goalie Jordan Tibbett is 5-3-1 versus TC, with a 2.08 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

“They have some real game-changers that we can’t lose track of,” Palumbo said. “But they also have a lot of depth. They are a pretty solid team, front-to-back.”

The North Stars’ top scorers – Kyle Bonis and Kyle Jean – have been at their best against Mahoning this year. Each has seven goals in 13 contests, with Bonis assisting on nine other tallies. Bonis set a team record this year with 30 lamplighters, and leads the NAHL with eight game-winners. C.J. Motte had the finest statistical season in team history for a netkeeper, going 22-9-2 with a 2.30 goals-against average and .918 save percentage to go with his three shutout efforts.

“I’ve watched game films of five Traverse City-Mahoning Valley games so far, and the team that works the hardest has won every one of ‘em,” Palumbo said. “I think we’re fairly close in terms of talent and depth, but we’ll have to outwork them if we want to advance.”

The series opens at the opulent Chevrolet Centre in downtown Youngstown on Friday, followed by a Sunday matinee. The best-of-five series shifts to Traverse City next Thursday and Friday (Apr. 9 and 10), with a decisive Game 5 slated for Easter Sunday in Mahoning should it become necessary.

The b2 Network will provide the video feed of the series, while free audio play-by-play can be heard at

NAHL North Division semifinals (Best-of-5)
Game 1: Friday, April 3 at Mahoning Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2: Sunday, April 5 at Mahoning Valley, 3 p.m.
Game 3: Thursday, April 9 at Traverse City, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4: Friday, April 10 at Traverse City, 7:05 p.m.*
Game 5: Sunday, April 12 at Mahoning Valley, 7 p.m.*

* = if necessary

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Marquette goalie Jarboe picks Wentworth

Marquette Rangers goaltender Mike Jarboe has committed to play his college hockey next season in Boston at Division III Wentworth Institute of Technology, a member of the East Coast Athletic Conference Northeast Division.

The Grosse Pointe native came to Marquette from Wichita Falls at the trade deadline in February. He played in four games for Marquette and compiled a total record of 10-13-5 on the season between the Rangers and the Wildcats.

“This is the end of a long road for Mike,” said Rangers head coach Kenny Miller, who also coached Jarboe while the two were in Alpena in 2006-07. “Here’s a guy who had paid his dues and is ready to go on to the next level and contribute to their program. Everyone in our organization is happy for Mike and his family and we’re confident he’ll represent us and the league very well.”

Jarboe made his rounds the NAHL before ending his junior career in Marquette. He had previous stops in Bozeman, St. Louis, Alpena and Wichita Falls and becomes the sixth Rangers player from this year's roster to make a college commitment.