Saturday, May 30, 2009

Plymouth, Saginaw players off to summer camps

The Plymouth Whalers and Saginaw Spirit have announced that four of their players have been invited to attend summer development camps held by Hockey Canada.

Saginaw defenseman T.J. Brodie has been invited to attend the Team Canada Development Camp in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to be held from August 5-10.

Plymouth goalie Matt Hackett (pictured) and Saginaw netminder Edward Pasquale have been chosen to participate in the Team Canada Program of Excellence goaltending camp to be held from June 11-14 in Calgary.

Both camps above serve as the preliminary method of evaluation used in determining the roster for Canada’s National Junior Team that will be participating in the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Whalers rookie Tyler Seguin has been named to Canada's National Men's Summer U-18 Team Selection Camp roster. Forty of Canada’s top under-18 players will gather in Calgary from August 1-4 for the camp, hoping to earn one of 22 roster spots and help Canada defend its summer gold at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia on August 11-15.

Photo by Walt Dmoch

Friday, May 29, 2009

Whalers captain Terry inks with Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes announced Friday that the team has agreed to terms with forward Chris Terry on a three-year, entry-level contract.

The deal will pay Terry $60,000 at the minor-league level and $500,000 at the NHL level during the first year, and $65,000 per year in the minors and $550,000 per year at the NHL level during the second and third years of the contract. Terry will also receive a $225,000 signing bonus as a part of the contract.

“Chris had an excellent junior career with Plymouth where he posted impressive offensive numbers,” said Carolina assistant GM Jason Karmanos. “He has shown that he can be a leader on and off the ice and we look forward to him beginning his professional career.”

Terry, 20, finished 2008-09 as the Ontario Hockey League’s second-leading scorer with 94 points (39 goals, 55 assists) while playing in 53 of 68 games as the captain of the Whalers. He was awarded the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy as the OHL’s Humanitarian of the Year for his devotion to the Whalers’ Community Relations efforts and he was the inaugural recipient of the Mickey Renaud Captain’s Trophy, given by the OHL to the captain that best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice.

The Brampton, Ont., native totaled 114 goals and 175 assists (289 points) in 253 regular-season contests in his four seasons with the Whalers. Terry (5-10, 190) competed in two OHL All-Star Classics, was named the Kal Tire OHL Player of the Month two times and helped lead the Whalers to the OHL championship in 2007.

The Hurricanes drafted Terry in the fifth round, 132nd overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Photo courtesy Walt Dmoch

Noesen the latest to sign with Plymouth

The Plymouth Whalers announced the signing yesterday of 16-year-old center Stefan Noesen, who was selected by the Whalers in the fourth round (64th overall) of the 2009 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection back on May 2.

“I feel ready to play,” Noesen said. “I feel like I can contribute to the team. I’m excited to sign and become a member of the Whalers.”

Noesen, originally from Texas, but who now lives in Northville, scored 24 goals with 24 assists for 48 points and 57 penalty minutes in 53 games last season for the national champion Compuware U-16s.

“We’ve always put a premium on finding character players with skill,” said Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci. “Stefan fits that mold. He played on a championship team last year. I skated with his team in practices last year and love his potential. If Stefan continues to work hard and improve his conditioning, he has a chance to become an excellent player. It’s exciting to work with a player with his combination of skill, size and grit.”

Noesen and his family moved to Northville after being attracted to the Compuware youth program.

“About four or five years ago, I played for the Dallas Ice Jets and we faced Compuware in the semi-finals of the Nationals,” Noesen said. “We beat them, 8-3. I knew couple of guys on that (Compuware) team and they talked to (head coach) Derek Szajner about me playing for them. A couple of years later, I came up, tried out for the team and made it.”

The Whalers have a long history of drafting or signing local players from the Compuware youth program, going all the way to the team’s first-ever selection in 1990, Pat Peake, the Whalers all-time leading scorer with 319 points in 162 games between 1990-93. Other players include James Wisniewski (now with the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks), David Legwand (Nashville), Chad LaRose (Carolina), John Vigilante, Nate Kiser, Jared Newman, Damian Surma, Kevin Holdridge and current Whaler Austin Levi. Now, Noesen joins the fold.

Noesen (pronounced NAY-sen) is expected to report Plymouth’s training camp in late August.

Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jets' draft deemed a resounding success

The Metro Jets went into last Saturday’s Central States Hockey League Draft in Chicago looking to select a core of players to join their returning group to hopefully put a few more notches in the win column this fall.

According to Jets assistant coach Ryan Skop, mission accomplished.

“I couldn't be happier with the way things worked out for us,” said Skop. “We were able to do some things to ensure that we would get our top-rated guys and it worked out perfectly. We feel we've been able to draft players who can come in and help immediately. We were able to draft a good mix of size, speed and talent along with a good mix of younger (1992-born) guys and older (’89- and ’90-born) guys. Our goal heading into the draft was to get the most out of every pick, and no doubt, we did that.

“We have to continue to work. We have to continue to recruit free agents and continue to work the guys we took this weekend and make sure they're wearing a Jets jersey come September. Overall, we had a successful weekend, but we cannot rest on that.”

In all, the Jets selected 19 players with all but two coming from the state of Michigan. Five picks came from the Summit Plastics Midget AA team based out of Fraser.

Metro general manager Butch Wolfe said he sees the draft as a way to restock the cupboard and get Metro moving up the CSHL standings.

“I’m very happy with the way this draft panned out for us,” Wolfe said. “We feel we got some quality players that can definitely come in and make a big impact right from Day 1. We haven’t had a lot of success in recent memory, but hopefully, this draft and the guys coming back can help us to turn the corner, so to speak.”

Overall, Metro took nine defensemen, nine forwards and one goalie.

(in alphabetical order, comments from assistant coach Ryan Skop)

Dalton Blenc, F, Summit Plastics Midget AA: Tall lanky guy who’s not overly physical, but a guy who has a knack for putting the puck in the net and can play in all situations.

Jonathan Elliott, F, Brother Rice HS: A big-body forward who knows how to use his frame to score. May have the highest ceiling among all forwards drafted.

Dave Johnson, D, Lake Orion HS: Will have North American Hockey League opportunities. Plays bigger than his size, a la Detroit’s Brad Stuart.

Christopher Kienzle, F, Metro (N.J.) Fighting Moose Jr. C: Metro’s Eastern U.S. scout Chris Werstine says Kienzle is a good character player. A 20-year-old with three years of junior experience under his belt.

Norm MacRitchie, F, Victory Honda U-18: Played for Jets during 2007-2008 season. Has a great skill set and should be able to score. Once he hones his already-good skill set, should get plenty of looks from the NAHL very quickly.

Dylan Mantay, D, Summit Plastics Midget AA: Small, but agile defenseman who makes a very good first pass. A very fast skater who doesn’t get beat very often.

Ian Mercer, G, Honeybaked U-16: Is a bona fide No. 1 goalie at CSHL level. Not very big, but very quick and seems to make everything look easy.

Anthony Morocco, F, Summit Plastics Midget AA: A finisher and another good size guy. Wins his battles on the wall and in the corners. Not the quickest guy getting up and down the ice, but can score goals.

Andrew Parus, F, Summit Plastics AA: Big, strong power forward with decent speed, great hands and a knack for scoring.

Jesse Peterson, F, Troy Sting U-16: Very young, but has incredible hands, a knack for the net and great vision. Will contribute right away.

Vinnie Pietrangelo, D, Traverse City West HS: Solid all-around defenseman expected to contribute in a big way. Does everything well and the type of player who makes everyone on the ice better. Was a co-captain at TC West last season.

Brad Rice, F, Romeo HS: A big, physical body. Will provide grit up front.

Jake Shelters, D, Hartland HS: Another pretty good all-around defender. Plays the game with an edge and adds nastiness on the back end.

Matt Tackett, F, Bloomfield Gamblers Midget AA: Has good offensive ability – nothing flashy, but he's a finisher who doesn't mind the physical side of the game and that's not even his forte. He's more of a guy who likes to lie in the weeds, find the soft spot on the ice and score goals.

Aaron Teal, D, Anchor Bay HS: Younger brother of Ryan. Big, strong, stay-at-home defenseman. Not flashy, but likes to mix it up and enjoys punishing the opposition around his own cage.

Ryan Teal, D, Anchor Bay HS: Older brother of Aaron. Big and strong like his brother and owns the front of his cage.

Steve Vandenberghe, D, De La Salle HS: Always makes a good first pass and though small, that doesn’t seem to matter. Despite his size, because of his speed, he’s tough to get a body on.

Jonathan Wickersham, D, Summit Plastics Midget AA: A very solid all-around defenseman. A big guy back there and has great offensive instincts that should be able to play in all situations.

Matt Zacharias, D, Dublin (Oh.) HS: Referred by a few scouts and Tier II coaches who all had good things to say about him. Should contribute right away.

Next up for the Jets is their open camp scheduled for June 16-17 at Lakeland Arena and main camp in July.

In other CSHL Draft news, the three other Michigan teams drafted local talent and other CSHL teams selected players with Michigan ties.

Flint Jr. Generals
Patrick Avery, Indianapolis Ice
Mike Barbosa, Belle Tire
Jeff Birk, Gaylord HS
Joe Camarata, Mt. Clemens Midget
Richard Cigile, Eugene (Ore.) Generals Jr. A
Will Dawson, Compuware Midget
Conner Dresser, Motor City Chiefs Jr. C
Hayden Haffey, Brother Rice HS
Davis Haug, Colorado Thunderbirds
Ted Keranen, Northville HS
Rob Kolander, S2 Hockey
Louie Lemak, Honeybaked Midget
Robert Lindsay, Trenton HS
Trevor Lloyd, Lakeland HS
Joe McAuliffe, Flint Icelanders Midget
Josh McKenzie, Soo Indians Midget
Shane Olson, Michigan Ice Dogs Jr. C
Josh Royston, Yellowstone (Wyo.) Quake Jr. A
Peter Ryan, Brother Rice HS
Nate Scurfield, Midland HS

Grand Rapids Jr. Owls
Matt Anthone, Colorado Outlaws
Emerson Auvenshine, Lansing Capitals
Ryan Brown, Lansing Capitals
Bob Butterfield, Big Rapids HS
Shayne Capone, Lansing Capitals
Robert Cathcart, Lansing Capitals
Bobby Chapman, Lansing Capitals
John Coffey, East Coast (N.C.) Eagles Jr. C
Nick D’Avolio, Chicago Flames
Brett Dziwulski, Grand Forks (N.D.) HS
Alex Gutierrez, Summit (Co.) HS
Sam Hadar, Lansing Capitals
Jimmie Morris, Soo Indians Midget
Radney Ritchie, Soo Indians Midget
Jordan Sabatino, Boca (Fla.) HS
Chris Sandermeyer, Portage Central HS
Zane Scofield, Phoenix (Wisc.) Midget
Josh Sellden, Team Michiana (Ind.)
Dan Swink, Lansing Capitals
Anthony Wolfe, Culver (Ind.) Academy

Motor City Chiefs
Nick Asaro, Summit Plastics Midget AA
Ethan Gurski, Belle Tire
George Holt, Rochester HS
Derek Kessler, Motor City Chiefs Jr. C
Cody Levins, Belle Tire
Cody Longuski, Belle Tire
Bob Palmer, Belle Tire
Corey Rickerman, Illinois Jr. C
Joe Smereck, Summit Plastics Midget AA
Matt Tabenski, Summit Plastics Midget AA
Matt Vanlacken, Summit Plastics Midget AA
Mike Walters, Michigan Jaguars Midget AA
Cole Workman, Howell HS

Non-Michigan team picks from Michigan
Mike Bakor, Lennon (Pittsburgh)
Adam Chapie, Lake Orion HS (Cleveland)
Paul Dines, Traverse City West HS (Toledo)
Chris Easton, Victory Honda (Toledo)
Michael Ericson, Summit Plastics Midget AA (Toledo)
Chris Gendron, Farmington Hills (Cleveland)
Justin Hoomaian, Belle Tire (Chicago)
Alex Jacobs, Little Caesars (Toledo)
Hunter Kelley, Traverse City Central HS (Toledo)
Jake Nickerson, Traverse City West HS (Toledo)
Craig Pierce, Compuware U-18 (Queen City)
Chris Rinaldi, Summit Plastics Midget AA (Toledo)
Louie Ronayne, Belle Tire (Chicago)
Kurt Schoenherr, Dearborn Brand (Toledo)
Mike Sisk, Little Caesars (Toledo)
Shane Totten, Traverse City West HS (Toledo)
Philip Webb, Little Caesars (Toledo)
Ryan Wysocki, Grandville HS (Toledo)
Matt Zaremba, Gaylord HS (Cleveland)

Ex-Ranger Hauswirth signs pro deal with Caps

Former Marquette Rangers forward Jake Hauswirth has signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals, forgoing his commitment to Michigan Tech in the process.

"I've been on Washington's radar since I participated in their development camp last summer," Hauswirth said to "The conversations really started to heat up last week and I was just so excited and relieved to sign the contract (Tuesday) morning."

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Hauswirth finished 21st in USHL scoring with 28 goals and 52 points with the Omaha Lancers and would have been a freshman at MTU this fall.

"That wasn't an easy phone call to make," Hauswirth added. "But Michigan Tech was extremely supportive and understanding of my decision and wished me only the best as my hockey career progresses."

Hauswirth, a 21-year-old Houghton native, started his junior career with the Rangers in 2006-2007. He was signed by the Capitals as an undrafted free agent.

Hauswirth will attend Washington's development camp from July 12-18 and will then be at the Capitals' main camp in late July. Hauswirth expects to play for Washington's AHL affiliate next season, the Hershey Bears.

Photo by Robert J. Meyer/USHL Images

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bloomfield Hills native named top junior player

USA Hockey announced Tuesday that Chicago Steel forward Andrew Miller has been named the recipient of the Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year Award – the seventh consecutive season and 13th time overall that a player from the USHL has captured the honor.

Miller, a Bloomfield Hils native bound for Yale University, led the USHL in scoring during the 2008-09 season recording 82 points (32g, 50a) in 58 games on his way to being named the B2 Networks USHL Player of the Year. He was also named the CCM USHL Forward of the Year and earned a spot on the All-USHL First Team. Miller is just the third USHL player in the past six seasons to reach the 80-point plateau. Playing his second USHL season, he doubled the point production of 41 points (14g, 37a) from his rookie campaign.

Miller, 20, began the season on an eight-game point streak, registered a point in 15 of the first 16 games, and put together a season high nine-game point streak (9g, 9a) from December 5-January 3. He registered his first hat trick in the USHL this past New Year's Eve, scoring three goals at Waterloo. He twice tallied four points in a game (December 6 in a 4-1 win against Des Moines, and in the final game of the Steel's regular season on April 4, a 6-4 win vs. Indiana.

He recorded 27 multi-point games during the 2008-09 season and also tied for the USHL lead in shootout goals, scoring on four of his five attempts.

"It's an honor not only for Andrew Miller, but for the Chicago Steel and the entire USHL, to see the award for USA Hockey's best junior player go to Andrew," said USHL commissioner Skip Prince. "That 82-point performance was the result of a gifted player working hard every shift of every game – and nobody did it better."

The Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year Award is presented annually to the outstanding American-born player in junior hockey who played for a team based in the United States. The award is determined by a panel of junior hockey coaches and administrators.

Photo by Robert J. Meyer/USHL Images

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Whalers sign late '08 pick MacDonald

The Plymouth Whalers announced the signing today of 17-year-old defenseman Colin MacDonald, who was selected in the 14th round (270th overall) of the 2008 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

MacDonald, a London, Ont., native, played last season for the London Jr. Knights minor midgets and scored eight goals with 16 assists for 24 points in 76 games and also led the Knights with a +39 rating. He added two goals with four assists for six points and was +5 in nine playoff games for London.

“We’re always looking for quality players in the later rounds of the draft,” said Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci. “Rick Boyle (Plymouth’s scout from London) really liked Colin two years ago and suggested we take him.

“You’re always looking for diamonds in the rough and we’ve had success in selecting players late like Brett Bellemore (12th round, 2004), Andrew Fournier (11th round, 2003), Josh Bemis (14th round, 2006) and John Vigilante (11th round, 2001). Based on what we’ve seen so far, Colin has a chance to become a solid player in Plymouth.”

MacDonald is expected to complement a solid Plymouth defense next season which includes returning veterans Michal Jordan (a Carolina Hurricanes draft pick), Beau Schmitz (Howell), Austin Levi (Farmington Hills) and Bemis (Clarkston). In addition, Leo Jenner could return as an overage player and Jordon O’Neill and Jan Latal could return as well.

“I’m really excited about it,” MacDonald said about signing. “I think we’re going to have a great team and I’m looking forward to helping as much as I can. I play a stay-at-home, defensive game, while trying to make a good first pass. I want to make sure our end is good before I move up the ice.”

MacDonald credits his grandfather, Ralph Patterson, who works at the John Labatt Centre in London, for helping to get his OHL career started.

“He was the one who first introduced me a few years ago,” said MacDonald. “He loves his job and it’s always nice to see him at the rink. He does a great job. It really helped me understand what the OHL is all about – to see how the players get prepared before a game.”

While playing in Plymouth, MacDonald will be attending school at the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park.

Earlier this month, Vellucci signed center Garrett Meurs, Plymouth’s first-round selection (13th overall) from the 2009 OHL draft.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

All four Michigan teams gain at NAHL Draft

Alpena IceDiggers
Tom Hilbrich, D, Chicago Mission
Steven Obarzanek, F, Little Caesars
Chris Sandmeyer, D, Portage Central
John Scorcia, F, Belle Tire

Marquette Rangers
Brad Chapman, F, Marquette Electricians
Clark Christifoli, D, Ohio Jr. Blue Jackets
Carter Foguth, D, Fenton High School
Trevor Ladd, F, Fenton High School
Travis Lynch, F, Victory Honda
Blake Pietila, F, Compuware
Garrett Ross, F, Victory Honda
Matt Wahl, D, Cranbrook-Kingswood

Motor City Machine
Anthony Coles, F, Team Illinois
Brenden Komm, G, Northfield Mt. Herman
Thomas Condon, G, Boston Jr. Rangers
Preston Dekker, F, Green Mt. Glades
Brice Geoffrion, F, Culver Academy
Shane Halaas, F, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
Brady Lafrinere, F, Boston Jr. Rangers
Josh McCully, D, Blind River Beavers
Jonah Spurlin, F, Flint Powers
Randy Willis, G, Blind River Beavers
Paul Ziemke, F, Boston Jr. Rangers

Traverse City North Stars
Taylor Burden, F, Indiana Jr. Ice
Trevor Campbell, D, Lansing Capitals
Nilan Nagy, D, Pittsburgh Predators

Non-Michigan team picks from Michigan
Aaron Arm, D, Victory Honda (Kenai River)
Brandon Boelter, D, Saginaw (Albert Lea)
Nate Brown, D, S2 Hockey (Owatonna)
Nick Gatt, D, Catholic Central (Topeka)
Greg Leonardo, F, Cranbrook-Kingswood (Kenai River)
Chris Leone, D, Belle Tire (Wichita Falls)
Mac Olson, F, U of D Jesuit (Owatonna)
Robert Tadazak, G, Lapeer (Alexandria)
Tony Thomas, F, Catholic Central (Topeka)
Matthew Thompson, F, Belle Tire (Fairbanks)
Russ Whited, D, Soo Eagles (Kenai River)
Charles Williams, G, Honeybaked (Kenai River)
Mike Yanis, D, U of D Jesuit (Owatonna)

North Stars add trio to mix at NAHL Draft

Last year, the Traverse City North Stars spent all five of their draft picks on defensemen, re-stocking their age-depleted blue line.

On Wednesday, the Stars added proven scoring punch to their front line, tabbing Indiana Jr. Ice winger Taylor Burden with their first-round pick in the North American Hockey League's Entry Draft.

Burden, a 1992 birthdate, led the midget major Ice with 30 goals and 45 assists in 53 contests. The six-foot, 170-pounder also amassed 106 penalty minutes while notching 10 power play tallies and a pair of shorthanded efforts. He was also a draft choice of the USHL's Indiana Ice.

"Taylor's a skilled kid, and he can create offense," said TC head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. "At times, we struggled to find consistent goal-scoring last year and we think a kid like Taylor could really add some punch."

Palumbo snagged a pair of midget major defensemen in the fourth and fifth rounds - having dealt away his second- and third-round choices in separate transactions - grabbing Pittsburgh Predators blueliner Nilan Nagy and Lansing Capitals rearguard Trevor Campbell. Nagy is a 6-foot-1, 215-pounder, while the Mason native Campbell goes 5-foot-10, 190 pounds.

"There's always a chance we could lose a forward or a defenseman or two - veterans, tenders - to the USHL, you just never know. We're going to bring in all the best players we can and see where we end up," added Palumbo.

Palumbo and staff will get their first chance to look at tenders, draft picks, plus recently-acquired defender Rodney LaLonde (Kenai River) at the club's first summer camp, to be held June 6-8 at Centre ICE arena in Traverse City.

"With all that goes on in the off-season - the drafts, all the different camps and prospect events - it's hard to get every one of them together (for a single camp)," Palumbo explained. "It's an ongoing process, a moving target, and we'll see where the chips fall."

Zike selected with first overall pick: The North American Hockey League announced yesterday that its coaches and general managers have selected Chicago Fury U16 forward Derek Zike as the first overall pick in the 2009 NAHL Entry Draft.

Derek was seriously injured during a game at a tournament in Ann Arbor in January. Learn more about Derek at

"Derek has shown tremendous strength and courage over the last few months and we're honored to have him as our first overall selection in the draft," said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. "As a league, we're committed to his recovery and to the support of his family."

The NAHL Entry Draft also kicked off the online auction of hockey memorabilia and more through eBay in which all proceeds will benefit the Derek Zike Special Needs Trust. The 10-day auction will end on Saturday, May 30.

: D Lucas DuBay, Iowa HS
2006: F Mike Dahlinger, Chatham WJHL
2007: D Tyler Stephens, Blind River NOJHL
2008: D Mitch Kriz, Elliot Lake GMHL
2009: F Taylor Burden, Indiana Jr. Ice U18

Rangers take elite eight in NAHL Draft

The Marquette Rangers chose eight players in Wednesday’s North American Hockey League Entry Draft.

The team picked five forwards and three defensemen for evaluation at the team's final camp in July at Northern Michigan University.

“We’re excited about the quality of player we were able to draft,” said second-year head coach Kenny Miller. “The crop of forwards we were able to select could be difference makers for our team at the NAHL level, while the defensemen have a nice mixture of size and skill.

“These players will make our final camp very competitive, although no one is guaranteed a spot until after our final camp in July."

Taken by the Rangers in the 2009 NAHL Draft:

-Garrett Ross, forward, Victory Honda U-18 (Ferris State commitment)

-Blake Pietila, forward, Compuware U-16 (brother of former Ranger Chad Pietila)

-Carter Foguth, defenseman, Fenton HS

-Matt Wahl, defenseman, Cranbrook-Kingswood HS

-Clark Christifoli, defenseman, Ohio Jr. Blue Jackets (Ohio State commitment)

-Travis Lynch, forward, Victory Honda

-Brad Chapman, forward, Marquette Electricians (affiliate player last year)

-Trevor Ladd, forward, Fenton HS (brother of current Ranger Garrett Ladd)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Former Jet Kenney gets D-III shot at UWSP

Nick Kenney, a forward who led the Metro Jets in scoring during the 2006-2007 season, has committed to attend the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point starting this fall.

Kenney, a 21-year-old native of Wixom, played the last two years with the Mahoning Valley Phantoms of the North American Hockey League. This past season, he was twice named North Division Player of the Week. On the season, he tallied 19 goals and 16 assists for 35 points for the North Division champions and added three goals and five points in the playoffs.

"When we had Nick with us, I knew he was definitely capable of moving up the hockey ladder," Jets GM Butch Wolfe said. "He is a very mature young man who I know will make an impact in college on the ice and off the ice."

Drafted by Metro in the 2006 Central States Hockey League Draft out of Walled Lake Western High School, Kenney scored 31 goals among 66 points in '06-07, good for sixth overall in the CSHL.

NAHL Entry Draft goes down this afternoon

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

North Stars set for NAHL Entry Draft

The off-season has officially begun, with the United States Hockey League’s draft last week, the North American Hockey League holding its own pick party on Wednesday and numerous tenders, trades and collegiate influences across the board.

“It’s a little bit like trying to hit a moving target,” Traverse City North Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo explained. “You’ve got guys weighing their options, be they college or different leagues, and our job is to wade through some of that and put together the best roster to compete for a Robertson Cup.”

Palumbo got things started this week, acquiring Kenai River defenseman Rodney LaLonde for a second-round pick, sending a third-rounder to St. Louis to complete last summer’s deal that brought in all-star blue-liner Travis White, and handing out his final two tenders to Honeybaked midget major stars Will Kessel and Andrew Huff.

LaLonde, a Utica native and 1992 birth-year defender, played in 30 games for Kenai last season, recording an assist and 47 penalty minutes. Huff led Honeybaked with 23 goals over 45 games in 2008-09, while Kessel – who has compiled 113 points in 105 career midget contests over three years – had 11 goals and 17 assists last year, including a team-best five game-winners.

“Both the Honeybaked tenders were taken in the USHL Draft and they’re studs,” Palumbo said. “We’re hoping we can get them in here.”

Current North Stars C.J. Motte and Dean Pawlaczyk were also selected in the USHL entry draft, while college interests still mitigate the direction of several other players from TC’s 2008-09 roster.

“Some of that we really have no control over,” Palumbo explained. “We have three picks in the draft and we’ll be looking for high-end kids that can make an immediate impact with us. All those moving parts don’t necessarily change how we approach it. We have some real momentum here and we’re looking for players who can help us take that next step.”

Unlike most leagues, the NAHL will not release traditional round-by-round draft results on its site, but will post the names of the players who were selected in alphabetical order some time after the conclusion of the event.

The draft kicks off at 2 p.m. eastern.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Skilled Camara commits to the Spirit

The Saginaw Spirit has announced the signing of first-round pick Anthony Camara, who was selected 14th overall in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection.

The 1993-born Toronto native spent the 2008-09 season with the Mississauga Senators, notching 31 goals and 25 assists in 31 regular-season games.

“Being at the rookie camp this past weekend to see the city and meet my teammates was great,” stated Camara. “I also enjoyed meeting all of the passionate fans at (last Saturday's) awards ceremony.”

“Probably the best way to describe Anthony is that he is a bigger Jordan Szwarz,” stated Spirit head coach Todd Watson following the May 2 draft. “He is a big competitor that hits, works, and plays hard. He also has the skill to put up big numbers. We are very excited to have Anthony join our team.”

From the OHL Scouting Report: Camara is an up and down, hard nosed winger who plays a very effective game. His strength is his highly competitive physical play and he shows the potential to be more productive offensively then your typical physical winger. He keeps his game pretty honest and competes on a consistent basis. He isn’t flashy, but his play does play a big role in the success of his hockey club. He has the look of a player that you need to be successful.

Whalers' first-rounder Meurs signs on dotted line

The Plymouth Whalers have announced the signing of 16-year-old center Garrett Meurs, who was selected in the first round (13th overall) of the 2009 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection on May 2.

Meurs, from Ripley, Ont., is a skilled centerman who scored 52 goals with 43 assists for 95 points in 67 games last season for the Huron-Perth Lakers and showed his skill during the Whalers rookie orientation camp this past Saturday and Sunday.

“This is great,” Meurs said. “Plymouth seems like such a great place. I’ve met all the coaches, trainers and everyone else. I’m looking forward to having a good year.”

"I thought Garrett played well this weekend,” Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci said. “He showed the skill and tenacity our scouts talked about when they watched him last year. He’s also a mature young man and that’s a credit to his parents (Jack and Tracy). Garrett should fit in well with our program.”

“He’s the kind of kid who can take everything on his shoulders in a pressure situation,” Huron-Perth coach Kevin Meriam told the Lucknow (Ont.) Sentinel. “And it’s something he’ll bring to the OHL with him.”

Meanwhile, Vellucci remains in conversation with other Plymouth draft picks and may be announcing more signings over the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saginaw doles out awards, co-MVPs named

The Saginaw Spirit wrapped up the 2008-2009 season with its annual awards ceremony Saturday night.

The players and their families joined Spirit fans and sponsors in remembering the successes of the past season and to welcome the newest prospects to the Spirit organization.

In addition, the team made the announcement that Anthony Camara, Saginaw’s first-round pick in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection, will be signing with the team for next season.

Several Spirit players received awards for their efforts last season. Spirit veteran Jack Combs took home the Fan Favorite Award, while forward Mitch Fillman earned the Rookie of the Year Award, Cody Sol netted the Most Improved Player award and defenseman T.J. Brodie was awarded the Top Defenseman.

Captain Chris Chappell was recognized with the Top Scorer Award for his 76 points and was also the recipient of the Wren Blair Leadership Award as well. Chappell also shared MVP honors with goalie Edward Pasquale.

Like Chappell, forward Tyler Murovich (pictured) had a big night with being recognized with the Community Service Award, the Heart and Soul Award and the team’s OHL University Academic Award. Other academic award winners included forward Jordan Szwarz with the OHL High School Academic Award, Sol with the Nouvel Catholic Central High School Academic Award and forward Joe Pleckaitis with the Northwood University Academic Award.

The ceremony was held in conjunction with the team’s rookie camp, which was conducted at the Bay County Civic Arena Saturday and Sunday. Saginaw’s top prospects participated in off-ice exercises before hitting the ice in two rookie camp scrimmages.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Machine sold to group from Japan

The North American Hockey League announced Friday that its Board of Governors has approved the transfer of membership of the Motor City Machine.

Headed by Japanese businessman Kenji Yamada, the new ownership group’s ventures include the training and development of hockey players in Japan. Among the Machine’s new owners is Yuji Iwamoto, head coach of Japan’s U20 National Team.

“Detroit is an important part of our geographical footprint and we’re excited to have a committed group positioned in that market with a strong hockey background and a track record of player development,” said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld.

The manager and team development advisor for Japan’s U20 National Team, Yamada is the founder of the 13 Leaves Ice Hockey School in Tokyo. He has also led multiple projects as a specialist in organizational effectiveness and organizational development for the past 10 years.

Iwamoto played 20 years in Japan’s top league with the Snow Brand team before serving as head coach of that club for three years.

“It’s a dream come true to be a part of the NAHL, a league we truly respect and admire for its level of play and its commitment to developing and advancing its student-athletes,” said Yamada. “It’s a great honor to be a part of the hockey community in Wyandotte-Detroit area, where so many people are knowledgeable and passionate about the sport.”

On the ice, the Machine will be under the guidance of head coach David Cole. No stranger to the NAHL, the Stratford, Ont., native served as head coach and general manager of the Bozeman Ice Dogs from 1996-99, leading the team to a USA Hockey Junior A National Championship appearance in 1998.

Cole, whose coaching resume extends nearly three decades in the junior ranks, has helped develop and place over 100 athletes in the collegiate and professional hockey ranks.

“I’m excited and proud to be a part of Mr. Yamada’s and Mr. Iwamoto’s vision for the Motor City Machine,” said Cole. “I look forward to rejoining the NAHL; it’s been exciting observing the league's growth and success the last few years.”

Entering its second NAHL season, the team will continue to play its home games out of Yack Arena in Wyandotte.

The Machine also announced the dates and locations of its three tryout camps: May 29-31 (Troy Sports Center); July 31-August 2 (Niagara University, Dwyer Arena, Niagara Falls, N.Y.); and August 7-9 (ESL Sports Centre, Rochester, N.Y.).

The Machine’s former owners, BAM, LLC, purchased the team two years ago as the Southern Minnesota Express before moving it to Michigan.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jets gearing up for CSHL Draft next weekend

Just two players from the 2008 Central States Hockey League Draft played the duration of the year with the Metro Jets, but if all goes as planned next weekend in Chicago at the 2009 draft, Metro could see more talent making an impact next fall at Lakeland Arena.

Jets assistant coach Ryan Skop said the draft is pretty much the finishing touch on the recruiting season.

"It's so important to do your homework before the draft," Skop said. "This isn't like pro sports where when you're drafted, that's where you go, no questions asked. In our league, guys might be headed off to school, going to a different league or even staying in midgets another year. It's just as important, if not more, to evealuate a player's intentions than it is his ability."

The draft goes 20 total rounds with the first eight rounds being devoted to each team picking from their local region (75 miles from home rink).

It's finding the local talent that Skop believes will help the Jets in the long run.

"Last year, just (Justin) Vinson and (Will) Saley played all year with us; we need to be better than that with our picks," added Skop. "The best teams in the league are getting a half-dozen or so draft picks on their squad. That being said, I'm very comfortable with the work we've done so far. I think we're light years ahead of where we were at this point in the game last year. (Scout) Tim Ross has done a great job getting out there watching guys and talking to guys."

With holes needing to be filled at every position, the draft should serve its purpose to find fresh, new talent.

"We aren't necessarily looking for the best or most talented players," said Skop. "We're looking for guys with the right attitude who can come in and fit our system and style. We're looking for guys who are hungry to advance. We're looking for character."

Still, a couple challenges lie ahead with one being the aforementioned regional battle for talent. Neither Skop nor the rest of the Jets brass is in a panic, though.

"We share a lot of draft space with Motor City and Flint and even a little with Toledo," noted Skop. "It makes it a little more difficult to lock down our local guys, but that's OK. It just means we need to be better than those guys.

"I like that challenge."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

USHL Entry Draft sees Demartino go No. 1

Yesterday saw a plethora of Michigan talent get selected in the USHL Futures Draft.

Today, even more Michigan-based talent saw their USHL options open up with the league's Entry Draft.

Little Caesars forward Justin Demartino, a Ferris State recruit, went to Tri-City with the first-overall pick and U.S. NTDP goalie Will Yanakeff, a Michigan State recruit, was taken two picks later by Sioux City.

All players drafted are eligible to play in the USHL next season.

1st Round
1st overall, Justin Demartino, F, Tri-City (Little Caesars)
3rd overall, Will Yanakeff, G, Sioux City (U.S. NTDP)
6th overall, Michael Voran, F, Sioux Falls (Livonia)
9th overall, Tyler Amburgey, D, Waterloo (U.S. NTDP)

2nd Round
15th overall, Ryan Misiak, F, Sioux Falls (Motor City Machine)
17th overall, Garrett Ross, F, Cedar Rapids (Victory Honda)
19th overall, CJ Motte, G, Sioux Falls (Traverse City North Stars)
22nd overall, DJ Vandercook, F, Des Moines (Farmington Hills)
25th overall, Evan Kovacs, F, Cedar Rapids (Grosse Pointe North HS)

3rd Round
31st overall, Dean Pawlaczyk, F, Youngstown (Traverse City North Stars)

4th Round
43rd overall, Alex Guptill, F, Waterloo (Michigan recruit)
45th overall, Steven West, D, Lincoln (Milford)
47th overall, Steve Hensley, D, Omaha (Detroit Catholic Central)
49th overall, Jake Chelios, F, Chicago (Little Caesars)

5th Round
63rd overall, Brent Tate, F, Lincoln (Little Caesars)
65th overall, Travis Lynch, F, Green Bay (Victory Honda)

6th Round
68th overall, Joe Kalisz, F, Sioux City (Victory Honda)
73rd overall, Matt Wahl, D, Omaha (Cranbrook-Kingswood)
77th overall, Matt Stewart, D, Cedar Rapids (Little Caesars)

7th Round
84th overall, James McNulty, F, Sioux Falls (Victory Honda)

9th Round
106th overall, Charles Williams, G, Des Moines (Honeybaked)

12th Round
146th overall, Ryan Rashid, F, Sioux City (Farmington Hills)
148th overall, Andy Huff, F, Youngstown (Honeybaked)
152nd overall, Mike Yanis, D, Sioux Falls (U of D Jesuit)

13th Round
159th overall, Dan Dekeyser, D, Sioux City (Algonac)
169th overall, Kyle Jean, F, Green Bay (Traverse City North Stars)

15th Round
189th overall, Aaron Schleppelman, D, Fargo (S2)

16th Round
197th overall, Dalton Young, D, Des Moines (Belle Tire)
208th overall, Chris Leone, D, Green Bay (Belle Tire)

17th Round
212th overall, Sam Calabrese, D, Chicago (U.S. NTDP)
218th overall, Matt Green, G, Lincoln (Little Caesars)

18th Round
229th overall, Eric Rohrkemper, G, Omaha (Grosse Pointe North HS)
232nd overall, Adam Phillips, D, Indiana (Soo Eagles)

19th Round
243rd overall, Tony Thomas, F, Waterloo (Novi Catholic Central)

Whalers host rookie orientation at Compuware

The Plymouth Whalers will host their annual rookie orientation camp on Saturday and Sunday at Compuware Arena.

The two-day camp is a chance for perspective Whaler players and their parents to see Plymouth and the surrounding area and become acquainted with the Plymouth-Canton school system.

Various Plymouth draft choices from 2007, 2008 and 2009, along with a handful of free agents, will attend the camp.

The Whalers will be holding scrimmages from 5:00-6:15 p.m. on Saturday and from 9:00-10:30 a.m. on Sunday. The scrimmages are free to the public and rosters will be provided the day of the scrimmage.

The scrimmages will give fans the opportunity to see 2009 first round pick Garrett Meurs (pictured), fourth-rounder Stefan Noesen (Northville) and other new players.

In addition to the rookie orientation, the Whalers will also be holding their annual used equipment sale on Saturday from 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. at the rink.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

USHL Futures Draft has Michigan ties

Though the United States Hockey League doesn't have a team in Michigan, there is no shortage of players from the state in the league.

Today, the league held its annual Futures Draft, a five-round draft where 65 players born in 1993 were selected.

The entire draft had its share of Michigan connections, starting with seven of the 13 picks of the first round.

1st Round
1st overall, Matt Mahalak, G, Youngstown (Plymouth Whalers draft pick)
2nd overall, Cason Hohmann, F, Cedar Rapids (Compuware)
3rd overall, Jay Williams, G, Waterloo (Saginaw Spirit draft pick)
4th overall, Nick Malysa, D, Des Moines (Plymouth draft pick)
7th overall, Blake Pietila, D, Sioux Falls (Compuware)
12th overall, Peter Hand, D, Tri-City (Compuware, Plymouth draft pick)
13th overall, Scott Dornbrock, D, Omaha (Grosse Pointe North HS)

2nd Round
25th overall, Jacob Downing, D, Cedar Rapids (Detroit Catholic Central)

3rd Round
27th overall, Peter Dudek, G, Youngstown (Saginaw draft pick)
34th overall, Joe Fiala, D, Indiana (Saginaw draft pick)
36th overall, Dominick Shine, F, Lincoln (Compuware, Saginaw draft pick)
37th overall, Jimmy McDowell, D, Chicago (Little Caesars)
39th overall, Kenny Gillespie, F, Omaha (Plymouth draft pick)

4th Round
42nd overall, Cory Czarnik, F, Chicago (Belle Tire)
49th overall, Frank Schumacher, D, Lincoln (Victory Honda)
50th overall, Craig Duininck, D, Waterloo (Compuware)
52nd overall, Reid Boucher, F, Youngstown (Lansing Capitals)

5th Round
56th overall, Kacper Guzik, F, Lincoln (Little Caesars)
58th overall, Travis Walsh, D, Sioux City (Capital Centre Pride)
60th overall, Sean Kuraly, F, Indiana (Plymouth draft pick)

Saginaw mini-camp on tap for this weekend

The Great Lakes Bay Region will welcome the return of several Saginaw Spirit veterans and the team’s top ranked prospects for the annual mini-camp to be held this weekend at TheDow Event Center, Bay County Civic Arena and Four Points by Sheraton.

The players arrive Saturday to participate in a brief orientation and meet-and- greet before heading to TheDow for physicals and off-ice testing. The players hit the ice later that night for the first of two Blue/White scrimmages to take place at the Bay County Civic Arena from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The first night of camp wraps up with the Spirit awards ceremony held in TheDow Event Center Unity Hall at 7:30 p.m.

The awards ceremony is a special event for the players, season ticket holders, corporate clients and media to revisit the past season and recognize the team for its on-ice and off-ice contributions.

The mini-camp concludes Sunday with off-ice exercises and exit meetings.

The team will also participate in the second Blue/White scrimmage at Bay County from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spirit sign second-rounder Trocheck

The Saginaw Spirit have signed their 2009 second-round priority selection Vincent Trocheck.

The 1993-born center went 24th overall in the draft held May 2.

The Bingham Farms native played in the Little Caesars program last season, posting 17 goals and 14 assists in 36 games.

Saginaw head coach Todd Watson made getting Trocheck signed mandatory.

“We want to be aggressive as an organization both on and off the ice and getting players like Vince into the Spirit fold is a high priority,” stated Watson. "I feel that Vincent is a top-10 pick that could have very well gone in the first round of the draft. He sees the ice well, can score and provides a lot of ability up front. He is a highly skilled player that provides a major upgrade up the middle in the lineup.”

According to the Ontario Hockey League scouting eeport, Trocheck is a very smart, effective two-way center that was one of his team’s most effective forwards despite playing against older and stronger competition. He displays speed and quickness and reads the play exceptionally well. He always seems to be in the right place and he doesn’t seem to take any wasted strides when he is on the ice.

Trocheck has no problems staying with the play and having a positive influence on the game.

“I knew that coming to the OHL was what I wanted to do after visiting Saginaw and being exposed to it,” said Trocheck. “My parents support and Coach Watson’s confidence in me meant a great deal when it came time to make a decision. I look forward to contributing to this team in the upcoming season.”

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Boucher, Grimaldi to join U.S. NTDP

Twelve players are committed to join USA Hockey's National Team Development Program starting in the 2009-10 season.

The players, all from the 1993 birth-year, will compete as members of the U.S. National Under-17 Team.

"We are extremely proud to announce the first group of players to commit to the National Team Development Program for next season," said Ryan Rezmierski, director of player personnel at the NTDP. "We will continue evaluating the top talent in the 1993 birth year and look forward to filling out our roster for 2009-2010."

Seven forwards have accepted the invitation to play at the NTDP including Cole Bardreau (Fairport, N.Y./Rochester Alliance Midget Minor), Tyler Biggs (Loveland, Ohio/Toronto Jr. Canadiens), Reid Boucher (Grand Ledge, Mich./Lansing Capitals Midget Major), Travis Boyd (Hopkins, Minn./Hopkins H.S.), Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmor, Calif./Little Caesars Midget Major), Zac Larraza (Scottsdale, Ariz./P.F. Changs Midget Major) and J.T. Miller (Epalestine, Ohio/Pittsburgh Hornets Midget Major).

Five defensemen have also committed to suit up for Team USA next year including Barrett Kaib (Upper St. Clair, Pa./Culver Prep), Michael Paliotta (Westport, Conn./Choate Rosemary Hall), Alexx Privitera (Old Tappan, N.J./New Jersey Avalanche Midget Minor), Robbie Russo (Westmont, Ill./Chicago Mission Midget Major) and Matthew Van Voorhis (Edina, Minn./Edina H.S.).

Both the U.S. National Under-18 and Under-17 Teams will begin play in the United States Hockey League in the 2009-10 season. The U.S. National Under-17 Team will also compete in three international competitions next year.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

North Stars announce summer camp dates

Let the summer camping season begin.

The next generation of Traverse City North Stars will begin to take shape with the North American Hockey League Draft on May 20, with further refinements to come at the team’s off-season camp schedule released on Tuesday.

The club, entering its fifth season of NAHL competition in 2009-10, will host open tryout camps at Traverse City’s Centre ICE arena June 6-8, and at Suburban Ice in East Lansing from June 25-27 in advance of the invite-only training camp back in TC in late July.

“Last year at this time, we were really working on re-tooling our defensive unit,” said North Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “This year we’re working with a bit more balance and depth, but we’re still looking for some impact players up front, and we have some holes to fill on defense and in net as well.”

In a sense, the Stars could be witting victims of their own success. Coming off a remarkable 34-17-7 campaign, playoff berth, and numerous postseason honors, several players are hearing the call of the USHL and NCAA. Palumbo says it’s a product of the organization’s overarching plan.

“Moving guys along to the next level has always been one of our top priorities,” he explained. “Yeah, you want to win, but we’re in the business of developing players for college hockey. We’ve been fortunate to put a great number of kids in schools over the years, and when you make that your number one goal, you’ll have good players and successful teams.”

The club has tendered five players – forwards Sean Keane (Honeybaked), Derek Bayagich (Honeybaked) and Alec Shields (Pittsburgh Predators), defenseman Matt Davis (Lake Forest Academy) and goalie Tyler Marble, who has already committed to Lake Superior State. These players, and those who will be selected in the May 20 draft, will battle it out for roster spots at the summer camps, with the final selections earning a TC sweater at training camp.

“We had a successful season and we have some good players coming back,” Palumbo surmised. “But these things are settled on the ice. We’re going to take the 24 or 25 guys into next season that we think can help us win an NAHL championship. We’re excited to get started on that process.”


Northern Tryout Camp: June 5-7
Centre ICE arena, Traverse City

Southern Tryout Camp: June 26-28
Suburban Ice, East Lansing

2009 Training Camp: Dates TBA
Centre ICE arena, Traverse City

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Terry named Renaud Captain's Trophy winner

The Ontario Hockey League announced Monday that Plymouth Whalers captain Chris Terry has been named the inaugural recipient of the Mickey Renaud Captain's Trophy.

Terry received the award at a press conference held at the Windsor Family Credit Union Centre.

The Mickey Renaud Captain's Trophy is awarded annually to the Ontario Hockey League member team captain that best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice as well as hard work, passion and dedication to the game of hockey and their community.

Terry also received the OHL's Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy as Humanitarian of the Year this season.

"There are a lot of other great captains and leaders in this league that are very deserving of this award," Terry said. "That's what makes this award a great honor and very special to me. Although this is an individual award, there's a lot of people I share this with. First, my teammates in Plymouth were great this year. I also share this award with (alternate captains) Joe Gaynor, Kaine Geldart, AJ Jenks and Michal Jordan. They were great captains in the locker room and they'll continue to be throughout their careers.

"I thank the Plymouth Whalers organization and in particular Mike Vellucci for giving me an opportunity at 16 to not only play in this league, but to have the opportunity to become a better person on and off the ice. Lastly, I'd like to thank my parents (John and Dianne) for their support, not only over the last four years in the OHL, but throughout my whole hockey career and instilling good leadership qualities.

"This award is a true honor to me because Mickey was a great player and a fierce competitor on the ice. Not only was he a good captain on the ice, but he was also a good captain within the city of Windsor. That's what makes this award special to me, to be the first recipient, and it's something I'll cherish the rest of my life."

A panel of OHL media members worked as a committee in examining the nominations of the 20 captains throughout the league this season.

"The spirit of this award is embodying what Mickey Renaud was all about - his presence, what he meant as a leader in the dressing room and in the community, and how he tried to live his life," said Ontario Hockey League commissioner David Branch. "It was interesting for me as a bystander to watch the process and see how quickly our committee came to a consensus on this year's winner. That's a tribute to Chris and what he means on and off the ice."

"I'm so proud of Chris," said Vellucci. "He's done so much for our community and our organization. I get a lot of credit for our turnaround (in 2008-09), but Chris had more to do with it than me. The captain is an extension of the coaching staff and when the change was made in coaching this season, Chris was remarkable. Not only did he make so many great plays on the ice, but he did so much off the ice as well - from curfew checks, to suggestions, to different things like leadership in the locker room. He was a leader in setting up school visits and hospital visits and all of those kinds of things. He's just a remarkable kid.

"When we talked about this award and the Humanitarian Award, his teammates wanted to speak up on his behalf. We did a video on him and all his teammates lined up to talk about what a great person Chris is."

"We are very pleased and honored that this award was created in Mickey's name," said Mark Renaud, Mickey's father. "Mickey was a quality person and we are grateful that so many of his attributes are captured in this award. We are also very pleased that Chris Terry is the first recipient since he is such a terrific hockey player and a very special person. He is certainly a fine leader and a great captain."

Terry will be formally presented with the Mickey Renaud Captain's Trophy and the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy at the OHL Awards Banquet on June 3.

Photo courtesy Dave Pickford/Windsor Spitfires

Monday, May 04, 2009

Whalers, Spirit both draft American-born

The Plymouth Whalers went distinctly American in their early selections of Saturday's Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, held online through the 20 OHL cities.

After selecting dynamic Huron-Perth Lakers center Garrett Meurs with their first round selection at 13th overall, Plymouth took four straight Americans through the fifth round - Monroe goaltender Matt Mahalak in the second round, Compuware Under-16 center Stefan Noesen (Northville) in the fourth round and Pittsburgh Hornets center Jonathon Miller and New Jersey Avalanche defenseman Nick Malysa in the fifth round.

According to Plymouth head coach-GM Mike Vellucci, the American content wasn't planned, but an acknowledgment of talent.

Plymouth Whalers Draft Picks – 2009 Priority Selection
1st round – Garrett Meurs, F, Huron-Perth Lakers
2nd round – Matt Mahalak, G, Culver Academy
4th round – Stefan Noesen, F, Compuware U-16
5th round – Jonathon Miller, F, Pittsburgh Hornets
5th round – Nick Malysa, D, New Jersey Avalanche
6th round – Calvin Higley, F, York Simcoe Express
7th round – Dylan MacDonald, D, London Knights
8th round – Conner Burton, F, Ohio Blue Jackets U-16
8th round – Kevin Tansey, D, Eastern Ontario Wild
9th round – Adam Nanji, F, Mississauga Senators
10th round – Peter Hand, D, Compuware U-16
11th round – Adam Restoule, F, Thunder Bay Kings
12th round – Kenny Gillespie, F, Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep
13th round – Christian Elsborg, F, Vaughan Kings
14th round – Chris Albertini, D, Toronto Jr. Canadiens
15th round – Sean Kuraly, F, Ohio Blue Jackets U-16


The Saginaw Spirit wrapped up the 2009 OHL Priority Selection and started out by picking winger Anthony Camara 14th overall and Vincent Trocheck 24th overall with their first two picks.

Both 1993-born players are scheduled to attend the team's rookie mini-camp later this month.

Camara played the 2008-09 season with the GTHL Mississauga Senators. The forward tallied 31 goals and 25 assists in 31 regular season games last year and hails from Toronto.

"Probably the best way to describe Anthony is that he is a bigger Jordan Szwarz," stated Spirit head coach Todd Watson. "He is a big competitor that hits, works, and plays hard. He also has the skill to put up big numbers. We are very excited to have Anthony join our team."

From the OHL Scouting Report: Camara is an up and down, hard nosed winger who plays a very effective game. His strength is his highly competitive physical play and he shows the potential to be more productive offensively then your typical physical winger. He keeps his game pretty honest and competes on a consistent basis. He isn't flashy, but his play does play a big role in the success of his hockey club. He has the look of a player that you need to be successful.

Trocheck is a native of Bingham Farms and played in the Little Caesars program last season, posting 17 goals and 14 assists in 36 games.

"I feel that Vincent is a top-10 pick," stated Watson. "He could have very well gone in the first round of the draft and we are thrilled to have him as a part of our organization. He sees the ice well, can score and provides a lot of ability up front."

From the OHL Scouting Report: Trocheck is a very smart, effective two-way center that was one of his team's most effective forwards despite playing against older and stronger competition. He displays speed and quickness and reads the play exceptionally well. He always seems to be in the right place and he doesn't seem to take any wasted strides when he is on the ice. Trocheck has no problems staying with the play and having a positive influence on the game.

The Spirit Draft War Room 'Roster'
Todd Watson, Director of Hockey Operations and Head Coach
Jim Paliafito, Director of Scouting
John Kisil, Associate Coach
Adam Mattson, Director of Hockey Administration and Assistant Coach
Randy Wilson, Goaltending Coach
Marc Cipparone, Scout
Frank Robinson, Scout

Saginaw Spirit Draft Picks - 2009 Priority Selection
1st round - Anthony Camara, F, Mississauga Senators
2nd round - Vincent Trocheck, F, Little Caesars
4th round - Alex Lepkowski, D, St. Francis High School
4th round - Jay Williams, G, TPH Thunder
4th round - Paxton Leroux, F, Peterborough Petes
7th round - Frank Schumacher, D, Victory Honda U-16
7th round - Mark Scheifele, F, Kitchener Rangers
9th round - Billy Ulrick, F, Quinte Red Devils
10th round - Dominick Shine, F, Compuware U-16
12th round - Keenan Hodgson, F, Mississauga Reps
12th round - Marc Bessey, D, Mississauga Senators
13th round - Carlton Richard, F, Kitchener Rangers
14th round - Joe Fiala, D, Verona High School
15th round - Peter Dudek, G, Buffalo Regals Select U-16

Friday, May 01, 2009

Paliafito and Patafie hired in Saginaw

The Saginaw Spirit has announce several key additions to its hockey operations staff with the hiring of James Paliafito in the position of director of scouting and Brian Patafie as the team’s athletic trainer and equipment manager.

The hirings represent a huge win for the organization as it continues to develop both its on-ice and off-ice product.

Paliafito brings nearly 30 years of sports business experience to the Spirit. Most recently, he served as the VP of player personnel for the USHL's Indiana Ice. While with the Ice, the Shelbyville, Ky., resident ran the team’s draft and conducted all player transactions. His efforts helped field the current Ice team that is currently competing in the USHL championship.

Prior to working with Indiana, Paliafito was a sports agent in the NFL for 20 years and represented several Heisman Trophy winners. His father was also a partner in a group that owned the Chicago Bulls in the late 1960s.

“I am very excited about joining the Spirit family and a great league,” stated Paliafito. “I look forward to the OHL draft and the opportunity to help build a championship team with head coach (Todd) Watson and the rest of the staff.”

"Jim's reputation throughout the world of junior hockey precedes him here in Saginaw,” stated Spirit president and partner Craig Goslin. “He has been a consistent champion as a major ingredient to the Indiana Ice in the USHL. He also has been regarded by many in the NHL as one of the top scouts in the amateur ranks. Jim is very familar with the Ontario-based draft-eligible talent, making him a great fit for the model that Todd Watson is building here in Saginaw."

Patafie is considered one of the premier and most respected trainers in the sport of hockey, having accumulated over 32 consecutive years of experience. He spent eight years with the OHL's Ottawa 67’s, including the last six seasons, and 15 years with the Calgary Flames organization. Patafie is also the author of the recently released book "ICE IT DOWN - A Look At Pro Hockey Through A Trainers Eyes!"

“My family and I are very excited about the opportunity that awaits us in Saginaw," Patafie said. "Coming into the Dow Events Center over the last six years as part of the Ottawa 67's staff, I have witnessed that it is an exciting and fun atmosphere for the fans, but it is a tough building for the visiting teams. (Former Ottawa head coach) Brian Kilrea used to say to us before the games in Saginaw, ‘We are already down a man, their fans are their extra man!’ We feel very blessed to be moving to Saginaw and joining such a fine organization.”

"Along with being a personal friend of mine for the past eight years, Brian Patafie is regarded by many as the premier athletic trainer/equipment manager in the entire business,” stated Goslin. “Brian's reputation of being a family man and a major support for the players that he works with are just a few of the reasons that we selected him to be a part of the Spirit organization. He has written a book and has been the focus on many positive stories that have been written about his life in the business of hockey.

"Brian's positive attitude and championship pedigree are elements that we welcome to the Saginaw Spirit."

Younger Mahalak, Jenner to be drafted

Saturday’s version of the annual OHL Priority Selection takes on a little more significance for Plymouth Whalers left wing RJ Mahalak than just adding a handful of new teammates for the upcoming season.

Mahalak’s brother, Matt, is one of the top-rated goaltenders in the draft and is considered by several pundits as a potential first round selection.

“It’s a different experience for him than it was for me,” said RJ of his brother’s approach to the OHL’s spring selection process.

RJ stayed at home in Michigan and played his preparatory midget hockey in the Belle Tire minor system, racking up a state and national championship in the year preceding his selection by the Whalers in the fourth round two springs ago in 2007.

Matt, however, decided to move to Indiana and play for Culver Military Academy as the next step in his hockey career.

“It’s a big opportunity for Matt,” said RJ. “I just wish him good luck. I don’t know if I’ll be playing against him or not. Right now, he has all his options open to him for next season.”

Listed as 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Matt “is long and lanky and moves well for a big goaltender” according to his older brother.

“He plays the puck very well,” noted RJ. Laughing, he added, “I think that’s from all the time he spent in the basement as a kid practicing his puck handling. He passed me up already, size-wise, and my parents think that’s pretty funny.”

Even though Matt may choose to spend next season, his senior year, at Culver, RJ thinks he’s ready to take the next step in his development.

“He’s ready to make a move up in competition,” said RJ. “He’s a level-headed, smart kid. He gets good grades in school. He can handle any of the challenges he’ll face.”

Look for another Whalers brother to be drafted early as defenseman Leo Jenner's youngest brother, Boone, is expected to be a first round draft pick.

The Whalers have the 13th overall selection at the 2009 OHL Priority Selection and complete coverage of all the Whalers draft picks can be found on Don't miss any of the OHL selections as the league's website will have the draft picks up-to-date as they occur.

By: Bob Miller
Special for