Monday, May 31, 2010

Metal Jackets announce AAA affiliate

The Motor City Metal Jackets have announced their affiliation with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, a AAA organization based out of Troy.

Grizzlies' club president Terry Bishop, Metal Jackets owner Kenji Yamada and all related organization personnel have worked hard to building a successful affiliate program within the Metro Detroit area and look forward to great mutual success this 2010-11 season and beyond.

Bishop offered the following statement:

I am pleased to officially announce the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies formal affiliation with the Motor City Metal Jackets of the NAHL. The Grizzlies will be the only youth program in the Detroit area to have official ties with a Jr team. With this partnership with the Metal Jackets we are also expanding into AAA hockey at the Bantam Major, Midget Minor and Midget Major levels.

The new teams will be called the Motor City Metal Jacket Grizzlies and will compete in the NAPHL. The AAA organization will be run by the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies Director of Hockey Terry Christensen.

The expansion into AAA and the affiliation with the NAHL will give a growth path for our boys that no other organization in youth hockey can give. The three new AAA teams will skate out of the Troy Sports Center, which will be a major plus for our A/AA teams. We plan on several joint "skill" sessions monthly where our A/AA and AAA teams will share ice and coaching staffs.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Alpena franchise sold, heading south

The North American Hockey League has announced that its Board of Governors has approved the transfer of ownership of the Alpena IceDiggers membership and its relocation to Corpus Christi, Tex., for the 2010-11 season.

The team will play its home games out of the 7,400-seat American Bank Center in Corpus Christi.

“Not only is Corpus Christi an ideal fit for our league, geographically, but it’s also home to a first-class facility and passionate hockey fans,” said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “What’s more, it’s backed by a local ownership group and management team that are committed to both the players’ and community’s success.”

Pat Dunn, who boasts varied experiences in hockey both as a player and in the front office, is excited that hockey will remain in Corpus Christi.

“We couldn’t be happier to be a part of the North American Hockey League and everything it has to offer its fans, players and respective communities,” said Dunn. “Corpus Christi is a great hockey town and we’re excited to showcase some of the best young players in the world as they work their way to the collegiate and professional ranks.”

Corpus Christi is the fourth NAHL team to call Texas home, joining the yet-to-be named Amarillo club, which was introduced to the league last week, the Texas Tornado and Wichita Falls Wildcats.

“The addition of Amarillo and now Corpus Christi bolsters our already strong presence in the South and creates even more exciting rivalries for our fans and our players,” said Frankenfeld. “All four of these markets are supported by tremendous ownership groups that are committed to seeing hockey flourish in the Lone Star State.”

The IceDiggers, who were owned by Stephen Marks of the Alpena IceDiggers Corporation, played five seasons in Alpena after relocating from Toledo, Ohio, after the 2004-05 season.

In Alpena, the IceDiggers qualified for the playoffs three times - their best season came in 2006-07 when they fashioned a 37-20-5 record, good for 79 points and a second-place finish in the NAHL’s North Division - and moved over 30 players onto NCAA programs.

Four NAHL teams draft for the future

The North American Hockey League conducted its annual draft yesterday and all four Michigan-based teams took part.

1st round, 11th overall – Joey Sanchez, F, Chicago Mission
2nd round, 34th overall – Marc Biggs, F, Dallas Stars
2nd round, 36th overall – Robbie Hall, D, Chicago Mission
4th round, 81st overall – Alex Rosado, F, Alliance
4th round, 82nd overall – Cody Bisbing, F, P.F. Chang’s
5th round, 102nd overall – Greg Johnson, D, Dallas Stars
6th round, 118th overall – Joey Parizek, F, Ohio Blue Jackets
7th round, 131st overall – Tyler Lovejoy, D, Pittsburgh Hornets
8th round, 144th overall – Tyler Perpich, F, Novi High School
9th round, 156th overall – Daniel Swink, F, Lansing Capitals
10th round, 166th overall – Alex Grupe, D, Pikes Peak Miners
11th round, 175th overall – Forest Mudgett, F, Alliance
12th round, 184th overall – Scott Relf, D, P.F. Chang’s
13th round, 190th overall – Jonathan Drago, G, Ohio Blue Jackets

1st round, 21st overall – Joey Suleskey, D, Rochester High School
4th round, 90th overall – Ian Miller, F, Compuware
5th round, 108th overall – Nolan Valleau, D, Novi High School
6th round, 123rd overall – A.J. White, F, Compuware
7th round, 136th overall – Joseph Ferriss, F, Novi High School
8th round, 148th overall – Ryan Trenz, D, St. Louis Jr. Blues
9th round, 159th overall – Patrick Gregory, F, St. Louis Jr. Blues
10th round, 169th overall – Travis Carto, F, Davison High School
11th round, 178th overall – Robert Mantha, F, Little Caesars

1st round, 14th overall – Brennan Knoblock, G, Pickering Panthers
3rd round, 61st overall – Michael Marconi, F, Philadelphia Jr. Flyers
5th round, 104th overall – Colt Smelstor, D, Green Mountain Glades
6th round, 120th overall – Aaron Scheppelman, D, Victory Honda
7th round, 133rd overall – Conor Clancy, F, P.F. Chang’s
8th round, 146th overall – Colin Greeley, G, Victory Honda
9th round, 157th overall – Ross Kovacs, D, Russell Stover
10th round, 167th overall – Michael Lant II, D, Dallas Stars
11th round, 176th overall – Joey Ballmer, G, Kalamazoo Eagles

1st round, 20th overall – Ken Babinski, F, Midland High School
2nd round, 45th overall – Tyler Marble, G, Traverse City North Stars
3rd round, 67th overall – Zachary Dorer, D, Lansing Capitals
4th round, 89th overall – Eric Fragoso, F, Detroit Catholic Central
5th round, 107th overall – Drew Mayer, F, Honeybaked
6th round, 122nd overall – Matt Zaremba, F, Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks
7th round, 135th overall – Robert Wiener, D, Lansing Capitals

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jets gearing up for CSHL Draft Saturday

Lately, the annual Central States Hockey League Draft has been hit or miss for the Metro Jets.

In the 2007 draft, the team had nine draft picks make the team the following year, but then in 2008, just three were on the opening night roster.

Last year, 10 players made the cut, including starting goaltender Ian Mercer and forward Jon Wickersham, with the latter being named one of the team’s captains early last season.

When the 2010 draft takes place this Saturday in suburban Chicago, Jets officials are banking on finding players that can step right in next fall and make an impact at Lakeland Arena.

“Like last year, we are out to find guys that are primed and ready for the junior level,” stated Jets GM Butch Wolfe. “We saw several of these types of players at our pre-draft camp two weeks ago and I hope some of those players are still available when we pick. We think if we can get the right pieces in place that we should have a successful season.”

This will also be the first Metro draft for new coach Jeff Bond, who was hired earlier this spring.

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). The Jets share regional space with the Flint Jr. Generals and Michigan Mountain Cats (new to the CSHL next season after acquiring the Motor City Chiefs franchise) and even a little with the Toledo Cherokee.

“It all comes down to us doing our homework and knowing what players are out there and willing to come play for us,” added Wolfe. “I believe our head scout, Tim Ross, has done a tremendous job for us and after this weekend, we’ll have more work to do in filling out our roster.

“It’s a challenge, for sure, but it’s one we can definitely handle. We’re optimistic we’ll get some solid hockey players in the draft.”

Mercer photo by Andy Grossman

Seguin, Hayes win CHL awards

The Canadian Hockey League announced Saturday ten national award winners for the 2009-10 season including two players from the Plymouth Whalers in forwards Tyler Seguin and Ryan Hayes.

Winners were presented with their awards at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium on Saturday afternoon, as part of the 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup festivities.

Seguin was named the Jack Link's Top Prospect of the Year. He is the number one ranked player for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft as determined by NHL Central Scouting. He finished the OHL regular season tied for first overall in league scoring with 106 points including 48 goals and 58 assists in 63 games for the Whalers, with a plus-minus rating of plus-17 and 54 penalty minutes.

An 18-year-old from Brampton, Ont., he recorded 29 multi-point games and tallied five hat-tricks, captained Team Orr at the 2010 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and was named the OHL's Most Outstanding Player.

Hayes followed up winning the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy as the OHL's Humanitarian of the Year by being named the Home Hardward Humanitarian of the Year for the CHL. He led the Whalers organization in his third OHL season with 54 official community appearances representing participation in nearly a quarter of the team’s total community events. This season Hayes took on a leadership role for the Whalers in the “Friends of Jaclyn” program that supports the non-profit charitable organization that improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors. He also showed extensive participation with Special Olympics Michigan at their annual hockey tournament cheering on the participants, passing out the medals, and staying afterwards to pose for pictures and sign autographs.

Seguin and Hayes are the first Whalers to win a Canadian Hockey League Award since James Wisniewski was named the CHL's Defenseman of the Year in 2003-04.

Other Whalers who have won CHL awards include David Legwand (1997-98) and Bryan Berard (1994-95), who both won the CHL Rookie of the Year Award, while Berard also was named Best Defenseman in 1995-96. Pete DeBoer was named CHL's Coach of the Year in 1999-00, while Rob Zepp was named the CHL's Scholastic Player of the Year in 1998-99. Pat Peake captured the franchise's first CHL award when he was named the CHL's Player of the Year in 1992-93.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Saginaw's Pasquale inks with Thrashers

The Atlanta Thrashers have signed goaltender Edward Pasquale, the team’s fourth round selection (117th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the team announced yesterday.

Pasquale, 19, appeared in 51 games last season with the Saginaw Spirit, posting a 27-17-5 record with one shutout, a 3.17 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. He was tied for fourth in the OHL in save percentage and shared sixth in wins. The 6-2, 220-pound goaltender also posted a 2-3-1 record with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage in six post-season games.

The Toronto native has posted a 75-48-13 record with two shutouts, a 3.11 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage in 142 career OHL games with Belleville and Saginaw from 2006-2010. Pasquale has added a 6-8-1 record with a 3.22 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in 16 OHL playoff games, all with Saginaw.

Muskegon forward-heavy at USHL Draft

The Muskegon Lumberjacks used 11 of their 15 picks in yesterday's USHL Entry Draft to draft forwards.

Of the remaining four, three were defensemen and one was a goalie.

Four of the players drafted were Michigan natives, while the rest are from all over North America.

Muskegon's top pick (sixth overall), left wing Casey Thrush from Team Maryland, has a chance to get drafted next month at the NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles. He's already committed to the University of New Hampshire for 2011.

The complete list can be found HERE.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

USHL Entry Draft - Michigan ties

1st Round
2nd overall, Youngstown - John Fritsche, F, Alpena IceDiggers
4th overall, Chicago - Joel Benson, LD, Alpena IceDiggers (Marquette)
13th overall, Fargo - Tanner Kero, C, Marquette Rangers (Hancock)
14th overall, Omaha - Reid Sturos, F, Brighton High (South Lyon)

2nd Round
21st overall, Muskegon - Matt DeBlouw, C, Little Caesars (Chesterfield)
26th overall, Sioux Falls - Jordan Oesterle, LD, Belle Tire (Dearborn Heights)
28th overall, Fargo - Dan McNamara, LW, Chicago Young Americans (Caledonia)

3rd Round
38th overall, Tri-City - Brad Schierhorn, LW, Belle Tire
39th overall, Lincoln - Austin Hervey, LW, Detroit Catholic Central (Brighton)
40th overall, Tri-City - Dominic Panetta, LW, Bismarck Bobcats (Baldwin)

4th Round
60th overall, Chicago - Zach Saar, C, Little Caesars

5th Round
64th overall, Indiana - Dan Cesarz, C/LW, Honeybaked (Redford)
70th overall, Indiana - Ryan Obuchowski, LD, Detroit Catholic Central
71st overall, Sioux Falls - Alex Wiese, LD, Honeybaked (White Lake)
73rd overall, Fargo - Dajon Mingo, C, Wenatchee Wild (Canton)

6th Round
81st overall, Muskegon - Doug Lindensmith, LW, La Ronge Ice Wolves (Sterling Heights)
86th overall, Sioux Falls - Tyler Vanscourt, RD, Marquette Rangers
89th overall, Omaha - Ken Babinski, F, Midland High (Midland)

7th Round
91st overall, Lincoln - Lucas Hafner, G, Marquette Rangers
93rd overall, Des Moines - Dan Milan, LD, Orchard Lake St. Mary's (White Lake)
104th overall, Omaha - Chris Waterstreet, C/LW, Detroit Catholic Central (Northville)

8th Round
107th overall, Youngstown - Nilan Nagy, RD, Traverse City North Stars
116th overall, Sioux Falls - Doug Clifford, C, Traverse City North Stars (Woodhaven)

9th Round
127th overall, Dubuque - Chris Sitler, LW, Belle Tire (Canton)
134th overall, Omaha - Joe Ballmer, G, Kalamazoo

10th Round
145th overall, Indiana - Kevin Killian, LD, Orchard Lake St. Mary's (Orchard Lake)

12th Round
171st overall, Muskegon - Jon Farkas, C, Compuware (Brighton)

15th Round
211th overall, Lincoln - Brad Wilhelm, F, Detroit Catholic Central (Plymouth)
215th overall, Sioux City - Kevin Gibson, LW, Marquette Rangers (Grosse Pointe)
218th overall, Tri-City - Davey Middleton, F, Detroit Catholic Central (Novi)
220th overall, Indiana - Drew Mayer, RW, Honeybaked (Troy)
221st overall, Sioux Falls - Jason Torf, G, Motor City Metal Jackets
225th overall, Green Bay - Josef Pontasch, LW, Belle Tire

16th Round
231st overall, Muskegon - Mike Moran, F, Victory Honda
235th overall, Indiana - Max Milosek, G, Victory Honda
236th overall, Sioux Falls - Charles Hernstrom, RD, Honeybaked (Romeo)

17th Round
247th overall, Dubuque - Mike Monfredo, LD, Motor City Metal Jackets

18th Round
269th overall, Omaha - Mike Ferrantino, C, Compuware (Plymouth)

19th Round
276th overall, Muskegon - Jonathan Miller, RW, Compuware (Trenton)
282nd overall, Cedar Rapids - Tanner Pond, F, Orchard Lake St. Mary's
285th overall, Green Bay - Connor Schmidt, RD, Little Caesars (Flat Rock)

20th Round
299th overall, Cedar Rapids - Will Badner, F, Cadillac
302nd overall, Green Bay - Christian Lampasso, C, Honeybaked

21st Round
310th overall, Muskegon - Alexx Privitera, RD, U.S. NTDP Under-17

Metro camp yields 'nice surprises'

The Metro Jets held their annual pre-CSHL Draft camp last weekend at Lakeland Arena and team brass came away impressed with the results.

Over the two-day camp, the players scrimmaged to show off their abilities to the staff.

New head coach Jeff Bond was not in attendance as he was in Pennsylvania helping select the U.S. National Women's Inline team that will compete in Europe this summer.

"We had over 30 players come to camp," Jets GM Butch Wolfe said. "That's not a bad number at all, considering there were NAHL camps taking place at the same time.

"There were players from out of state and others from out of the area. We had some nice surprises for the number of players we had. We now have a few more kids to add to our draft list for sure."

The annual CSHL Draft is Saturday, May 29, in Chicago.

At the draft, CSHL teams select players in reverse order of their finish during the regular season.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Muskegon selects six in Futures Draft

The Muskegon Lumberjacks added more depth to their talent pool on Tuesday at the USHL Futures Draft.

The Futures Draft is a draft of younger players (1994 birthdates) who may not be quite ready to play at the USHL level. Teams retain the players’ rights for three years.

The Lumberjacks drafted six players on Tuesday: Garret Cockerill, Joseph Cox, Joshua Henke, Grant Besse, Michael McNicholas and Christopher Leibinger.

Muskegon had the second pick overall and took Cockerill, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound defenseman from Brighton. Cockerill played for Compuware Midget Minor last season.

In the second round, Muskegon drafted Cox out of Chelsea. Cox is a 5-foot-10, 158-pound forward. He played for Compuware Midget Minor in 2009-2010 along with Cockerill.

For the third round, the Lumberjacks picked Henke from Trenton. Henke, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound center, spent last season playing for Belle Tire Midget Minor.

Muskegon’s fourth round pick was Besse, one of two players drafted by the 'Jacks from out of Michigan. Besse is a native of Plymouth, Minn. The 5-foot-10, 150-pound forward played for Benidle St. Margaret High School last season.

In the fifth round, Muskegon drafted McNicholas, from El Segundo, Calif. McNicholas is a 5-foot-9, 150-pound center from the Los Angeles Selects Midget Minor.

The Jacks final pick at the Futures Draft was Leibinger, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound defenseman who played last season for Saginaw Heritage High School.

USHL Futures Draft - Michigan ties

1st Round
1st overall, Dubuque - Riley Barber, RW, Compuware (Livonia)
2nd overall, Muskegon - Garret Cockerill, RD, Compuware (Brighton)

2nd Round
18th overall, Sioux City - Ryan Lowney, LD, Compuware (Plymouth)
22nd overall, Green Bay - Sheldon Dries, C, Honeybaked (Macomb)
29th overall, Muskegon - Joe Cox, RW, Compuware (Chelsea)

3rd Round
32nd overall, Muskegon - Josh Henke, C, Belle Tire (Trenton)
33rd overall, Sioux Falls - Andrew Copp, C, Compuware (Ann Arbor)
35th overall, Chicago - Mitch Wedding, RD, Honeybaked (Ortonville)
39th overall, Green Bay - Nick Schilkey, C, Honeybaked (Smiths Creek)

4th Round
46th overall, Cedar Rapids - Charlie Green, F, Detroit Catholic Central
53rd overall, Fargo - Ben Johnson, C, Calumet High (Calumet)
55th overall, Des Moines - Connor Wood, C, Honeybaked (Bloomfield Hills)

5th Round
68th overall, Fargo - Drew Best, RW, Victory Honda (Plymouth)
69th overall, Green Bay - Alex Kile, LW, Honeybaked (Troy)
70th overall, Tri-City - Trevor Boyd, F, Mona Shores High (Muskegon)
73rd overall, Chicago - Nolan Gluchowski, RD, Detroit Catholic Central

6th Round
81st overall, Tri-City - Drew Dorantes, RW, Compuware (Waterford)
83rd overall, Fargo - Wayland Williams, LD, Compuware (Canton)
86th overall, Omaha - Jimmy Howe, G, Little Caesars (Northville)
89th overall, Muskegon - Chris Leibinger, F, Heritage High (Saginaw)

'Jacks take five in USHL expansion draft

The Muskegon Lumberjacks selected five players in yesterday's USHL expansion draft and three of the players are Michigan natives.

Muskegon picked first in the expansion draft and Dubuque, the other expansion team, picked second. In all, there were seven rounds. Muskegon passed on picking players the final two rounds.

Each USHL team was permitted to protect eight players.

Muskegon's picks:

Brendan Woods, F, Chicago Steel
Nick Czinder, F, Youngstown Phantoms (West Bloomfield)
Kevin Albers, D, Green Bay Gamblers (Lake Orion)
John Parker, F, Indiana Ice
D.J. Vandercook, Des Moines Buccaneers (Farmington Hills)

More info from the Muskegon Chronicle.

The USHL Futures Draft will be held today where each team will select six players with 1994 birthdates. The USHL Entry Draft goes tomorrow.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Whalers complete rookie orientation

In the Plymouth Whalers annual rookie camp, Adam Nanji and Michael Ferrantino each scored two goals each for the Blues in a 5-2 win during Saturday's scrimmage.

However, the Whites came back to beat the Blues, 4-2, in the final scrimmage held Sunday morning at Compuware Arena to complete the Whalers annual rookie orientation.

SATURDAY - SCORING SUMMARY (two 30-minute halves):

Blues 5, Whites 2

Whites - Chris Albertini (Garrett Meurs, Joe Cox) 0:17
Blues - Adam Nanji (Brandon Pantaleo) 7:54
Blues - Michael Ferrantino (unassisted) 14:26
Blues - Max Iafrate (Tom Wilson, Michael Ferrantino) 28:53

Blues - Adam Nanji (Stefan Noesen) 0:25
Whites - Sean Myers (Nick Malysa) 5:21
Blues - Michael Ferrantino (Josh DeCosta) 29:25 empty net

Goaltenders Karsten Pankhurst and Matt Mahalak stopped five shooters apiece.

SUNDAY - SCORING SUMMARY (two 25-minute halves):

Whites 4, Blues 2

Blues - Michael Ferrantino (Brandon Pantaleo, Matt Lanzillotti) 8:03
Whites - Calvin Higley (Sheldon Dries) 11:02
Whites - Austin Levi (unassisted) 23:21

Whites - Sheldon Dries (Calvin Higley, Gavin Shantz) 7:40
Whites - Joe Cox (unassisted) 14:57
Blues - Tom Wilson (Adam Nanji, Josh DeCosta) 23:35

Karsten Pankhurst pitched another shutout, stopping six shooters while Austin Levi rang his shot off the goal post. Matt Mahalak stopped four of six shots, with Jared Dennis and Stefan Noesen scoring.

Wilson photo courtesy Plymouth Whalers

Saturday, May 15, 2010

TC's Shkreli picks Lake Superior State

Traverse City North Stars Press Release

Nick Shkreli’s northern progression has officially reached the nation’s boundaries.

The Traverse City North Stars forward, who has skated his way from Wichita Falls, Tex., to Youngstown, Ohio, to Traverse City over the past three seasons, will continue his equatorial flight next year, heading to Sault. Ste. Marie to ply his trade for Lake Superior State University.

“It’s an awesome feeling to finally get there,” said Shkreli. “Really, it’s a big sigh of relief. I’m very excited about the opportunity and ready to go. I wish we were starting the season right away, to be honest.”

Shkreli, who came to the North Stars last summer after a season with the North Division rival Mahoning Valley Phantoms, was sidelined for the first month of the season with a broken wrist – suffered during a playoff series against Traverse City the season before. Upon his return, the Romeo product reeled off 42 points in 45 games, bagged 13 goals – including four game-winners – and was a +9 with a mere 22 penalty minutes. He earned a spot on the All-North team at the NAHL Top Prospects all-star event in January, and dished out five assists over ten playoff games.

“Really, the first 15 games or so after he came back, he probably was at 70 percent or so,” Traverse City head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo assessed. “But the last two-thirds of the season, once he really started to get healthy and get into his rhythm, he became a point-a-game guy and one of our top offensive options.”

Shkreli started heating up in December, cranking out 19 points in 17 games and finished the regular season with seven points in his final five. He had 11 multi-point games, including a pair of three-point outings.

“I was kind of timid and started kind of slow,” admitted Shkreli. “I had pretty major wrist surgery and knew there was a risk of injuring it again. But from January through March, I started getting progressively more comfortable and was able to contribute more.”

Shkreli will have plenty of company in the Soo, with Stars teammates Dan Radke and Kyle Jean heading to LSSU next year and Kelin Ainsworth and Tyler Marble committed to future enrollment.

“We’ll be competing for minutes, but we’re teammates first,” Shkreli pointed out. “The harder we work and push each other, the greater contribution we all make to the overall success of the team.”

That team-first approach is among the many reasons the Lakers tabbed Shkreli, according to Palumbo.

“Lake State was looking for a kid with the talent, but also with the work ethic to go with it, and that’s exactly what they got with Nick,” said Palumbo, who won a national title while captain at Lake Superior State in 1989 and another as an assistant coach in 1992. “He has all the qualities to be an impact player at the next level.”

Shkreli is one of eight players from the Stars 2009-10 roster to commit to an NCAA Division I school – about 1/3 of the roster. A ninth, David Chaney, joined the team at Western Michigan University before the season, ending his stint with the North Stars before it officially began. In all, nearly 40 current and former North Stars players have committed or played NCAA hockey in the team’s first five years. Two – Joe Greener and former LSSU defenseman Steven Oleksy – have gone on to the professional ranks.

“We didn’t have a lot of individual accolades this year as far as being All-North Division or All-NAHL or any of the postseason awards and stuff,” Palumbo said. “But we did put as many of our own kids into D-I programs as any team in the league. To me, that’s as telling as all the team successes we had on the ice this year. It says you have a high caliber of player in your program.”

For Shkreli, landing a D-I gig is as much a nod to his support system as his own on-ice abilities.

“Traverse City is about as nice a place to play junior hockey as I’ve seen,” Shkreli surmised. “The coaching staff, ownership and the fans are great. But I couldn’t have made it this far without my mom and dad and uncles – they helped me through some tough stretches. There are a lot of people who have supported me and I’m just very appreciative to all of them.”

Friday, May 14, 2010

Canton native Puskar chooses AIC

USHL Press Release

Waterloo Black Hawks forward Jon Puskar has committed to American International College and will attend the school beginning this fall.

Puskar, who turns 21 today, was acquired by the Black Hawks in a trade from the Lincoln Stars in early February. During 18 regular season games for Waterloo, the Canton native recorded 10 points (4g, 6a) and even of his 10 points were notched in power play situations.

Puskar's time with the Hawks was highlighted by a two-goal performance against his former team in Lincoln on March 9, during an improbable 8-6 comeback victory. In 44 total games during his lone USHL season, he compiled 21 points (11g, 10a), including two game-winning goals.

"I'm very excited for Jon," said Waterloo coach P.K. O'Handley. "We were thrilled to bring his experience to our roster late in the season, and from the time he arrived, he set a great example for our younger players with his hustle and work ethic."

Puskar played 76 games for the Alpena IceDiggers of the North American Hockey League from 2007-2009, registering 33 goals and 29 assists for 62 points.

Photo courtesy USHL Images

Thursday, May 13, 2010

North Stars had ups and downs in '09-10

It was a season of firsts, bests and uncharted territory in the Traverse City North Stars’ fifth North American Hockey League campaign.

The Stars not only won a playoff series for the first time, but also advanced through the North Division postseason fray, earned a spot in the NAHL’s Robertson Cup, and came within a whisker of a berth in championship game. While the club didn’t claim the ultimate prize in central Washington last week, the season can’t be considering anything other than an overwhelming success.

“Without a doubt,” Traverse City head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo asserted. “We had ups and downs during the season, especially in the injury department – right from the beginning of the year through the Robertson Cup tournament.

Kyle (Jean) and Nick (Shkreli) missed the first third of the season, Kyle was out sick for another month, Travis White missed a month and a half – and Drew (Strandberg) was out about that long over a few stretches. Then we lose Drew, Doug (Clifford) and Phil (Wendecker) at the Cup. Yet we still found a way to pull through a lot of that and have a lot of team successes. That’s a credit to the guys and the depth we had.”

Feast and famine

The North Stars bolted from the starting blocks to a 14-5-1 mark by Thanksgiving, stumbled through a 2-6-1 stretch until Christmas, then went on a 10-1-2 run from Dec. 28-Feb. 9. A 1-6-1 swoon in February – with six losses coming by a single goal apiece – set up a 6-2 stretch run and a No. 2 seed in the North Division playoffs.

That’s when the Stars caught fire, hacking their way through Janesville and Motor City with consecutive three-game sweeps. Traverse City outscored Janesville by a 13-1 combined margin before dispatching Motor City with a 14-5 goal differential.

Strandberg helped key the Stars’ playoff combustion, blanking the Jets twice and permitting just a single goal in the other three of his first five postseason starts.

How ’bout them apples?

The North Stars opened the Robertson Cup tourney in Wenatchee, Wash., by throwing a bucket of cold water on the opening –night festivities by knocking off the host Wild, 5-4. After a pair of losses and a 2-1 victory over eventual finalist Fairbanks, Traverse City lost out on the goal-differential tiebreaker for a spot in the Cup title tilt. Bismarck topped Fairbanks in the final, with the North Stars finishing third. Wenatchee and three-time defending champion St. Louis finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

“There was a lot of parity – five very good teams,” Palumbo said. “Any one of the five could have won it, and it just came down to a tiebreaker to see who would play (3-1) Bismarck.”

In all, TC went 8-2 in the postseason, winning its four home playoff contests by a combined score of 20-3.

Looking ahead

While regular season leading scorer Doug Clifford is eligible to return, the Stars’ next five top offensive producers in 2009-10 – Garrett Thompson, Dan Radke, Eric McLintock, Nick Shkreli and Andy Huff – are moving on. The club must also look to replace the considerable contributions of Kyle Jean, Chris Salomone, Phil Wendecker, Bo Jacobs and Sean Burke. Strandberg and backup Chris Paliafito are also done.

“That’s a lot of talent and a ton of experience going out the door,” Palumbo admitted. “But it’s not like the cupboards are bare by any means. And we think we have some pretty solid talent coming in with the tenders we’ve signed.”

North Stars captain Travis White will be back, anchoring a seasoned unit that could include Chris Heineman, Trevor Campbell, Nilan Nagy, Curtis Heinz and Mike Yanis. Up front, Clifford, Eric Rivard, Tim Opie, Alec Shields, Kelin Ainsworth, Ryan Amin and Taylor Burden retain eligibility. The club will have to address its goaltending needs in the NAHL Draft and summer tryout season.

A whopping 10 players make up this year’s tender class, with a trio of blue-liners – Chris Barile (Compuware U18), Dan Milan (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s HS) and Alex Wiese (Honeybaked U18) – and seven forwards: Dan Cesarz (Honeybaked U18), Cody Loyer (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s HS), Nick Paluch (Lansing U18), Alex Sandora (Honeybaked U18), Nate Scurfield (Flint CSHL), Mike Szmatula (Lansing U18) and Chris Waterstreet (Detroit Catholic Central HS).

Summer tryouts begin in East Lansing later this month before an open camp at Centre ICE in June. The team’s annual invite-only training camp, which will help pare the roster for 2010-11, is slated for July 23-25 in Traverse City.

“We have some scoring to replace and some pretty good candidates coming back and signed to tenders and we’ll be looking at even more over the summer,” Palumbo said. “It was a great season and a fantastic group of guys. It’s tough to turn the page on all we went through and accomplished together, but there isn’t a lot of down time with the camps and the draft coming up.”

May 21-23
: Open Tryout Camp, East Lansing
May 26: 2010 NAHL Draft
June 25-27: Open Tryout Camp, Traverse City
July 23-25: Training Camp (invite-only)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spirit sign free agent defenseman Young

The Saginaw Spirit announced the signing today of free agent Dalton Young, a 1993-born defenseman that played with the Belle Tire Major Midget team last season.

Young is scheduled to participate in the Spirit rookie camp, which will take place Saturday and Sunday in Saginaw.

“Dalton is a very skilled, smart player,” stated Spirit director of scouting Jim Paliafito. “He is an excellent skater who reminds me of Nick Lidstrom with the way he plays the game.”

Young spent two seasons in the Belle Tire system with the U18 and the U16 squads, posting a combined 13 goals and 26 assists for 39 points in 77 games in the past two seasons, six goals and 15 assists in the 2009-2010 season with the U18 Major Midgets.

The Marysville native will wear No. 77 for the Spirit.

Kleinendorst stepping down at NTDP

USA Hockey Press Release

Kurt Kleinendorst, one of two head coaches at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, will depart the NTDP at the end of May.

Kleinendorst agreed to fill the position last August on a one-year basis after the departure of John Hynes.

“Kurt has been a model of professionalism and a great example on and off the ice for all our young men who compete for USA Hockey,” said Scott Monaghan, director of operations for the NTDP. “It was a pleasure to see him win a World Championship in his final game with us and an honor to work with him.”

Kleinendorst spent one season at the NTDP, leading the U.S. National Under-18 Team to a 44-19-2 record during the 2009-10 campaign. Additionally, he guided the U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team to its second consecutive gold medal at the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation World Men’s Under-18 Championship in Minsk and Bobruisk, Belarus.

A national search for Kleinendorst’s replacement is underway.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Murovich, Crawford sign pro contracts

Saginaw Spirit alumni Tyler Murovich and Nick Crawford have signed professional contacts, with the AHL's Springfield Falcons and the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, respectively.

Murovich (top left) signed an American Hockey League contact with the Falcons, the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Pittsburgh native joined the Spirit as a free agent in the summer of 2007. He finished fourth in scoring with Saginaw last season with 24 goals and 28 assists for 52 points in 54 games. He also made his pro debut with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch in 2009-2010, averaging better than a point per game with two goals and four assists for six points in five games.

Crawford (top right) signed a three-year entry-level contact with the Sabres, the NHL club that drafted him 164th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The Caledon, Ont., native tallied 11 goals and 59 assists for 70 points in 68 games last season, including four goals and 17 assists in 19 games with the Spirit before being traded to the Barrie Colts in October. Crawford, who was selected by Saginaw 12th overall in the 2006 OHL Priority Selection, finished second in voting for the league's top defenseman.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

North Stars ousted at Robertson Cup

The Traverse City North Stars' hopes of gaining a berth in Sunday’s NAHL Robertson Cup title game dissipated on Saturday afternoon – with the Stars watching helplessly from the Town Toyota Center seats.

When Fairbanks knocked off Bismarck in Saturday’s afternoon contest – on the final day of round-robin action – it knocked idle Traverse City from contention. Fairbanks – the only team in the Robertson Cup that did not advance to the tournament by winning a pair of playoff series (Wenatchee was an automatic qualifier as the host team, putting West Division runner-up Fairbanks into the mix) – will face Bismarck in Sunday’s championship showdown.

“It’s certainly disappointing,” admitted TC head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo, whose team finished the postseason with a sterling 8-2 record and missed spot in the title tilt by virtue of the goal-differential tiebreaker. “It was a pretty quiet ride back to the hotel after the game. We know we had a great season, but it’s going to take some time to get beyond the realization that we came up just a little bit short of advancing.”

Bismarck, opting to play without four of its top players after locking up a title game berth on Friday evening, surrendered an unassisted shorthanded goal in the third period of Saturday’s loss to Fairbanks.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Traverse City still alive in Wenatchee

The final round-robin contest is in the books for the Traverse City North Stars.

Now the waiting game begins.

Following a 2-1 victory over the previously-unbeaten Fairbanks IceDogs on Friday afternoon at the Robertson Cup tournament in central Washington, the North Stars will spend their off-day Saturday rooting for a pair of former foes. If Wenatchee beats St. Louis and Bismarck tops Fairbanks in Saturday’s round-robin finales, the Wild, IceDogs, and North Stars would be tied at 2-2, and Traverse City would win the head-to-head tiebreaker.

“I just went out and bought three Wenatchee jerseys,” joked Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “And I’ll be wearing my Bismarck jersey tomorrow afternoon. We have to help root ’em on.

“In all seriousness, we got a good victory, because we gave ourselves a chance. I think it would have been pretty disappointing to if we had to go into the last day with no chance to play on.”

Traverse City captain Travis White drove home the only goal of the first two-thirds of the game, recording a power-play marker with 3:19 to play in the opening period. Kyle Jean made it 2-0 with an even-up marker 3:01 into the third.

The IceDogs pared the deficit to a single goal a little more than three minutes later, but Drew Strandberg and the North Stars defensive corps held off Fairbanks down the stretch. Strandberg returned to the lineup after missing Thursday’s outing against Bismarck with severe leg cramps, and stopped 22 of 23 shots en route to being named the game’s number one star.

“When you get a guy back who has played as well as Drew has in the playoffs, it can’t help but give you a lift,” Palumbo noted. “Definitely, it was big. We also won a lot of face-offs, a lot of the board battles, and killed off a two-minute 5-on-3 by blocking a ton of shots. It was a hard-fought, team effort. We had the young line of Alec Shields, Taylor Burden and Eric Rivard that didn’t necessarily get a bunch of minutes, but gave us good, quality minutes out there. That was big with (Doug) Clifford out of the lineup tonight.”

Kelin Ainsworth set up White’s first career postseason goal, while Dan Radke and Tim Opie assisted on Jean’s game-winner. The Traverse City penalty killing unit dispatched all four Fairbanks power plays.

“So we’ll spend Saturday at the rink, hoping we’ll get a shot at playing again,” Palumbo surmised. “And if we somehow get that chance, we have to be ready to go.”

Friday, May 07, 2010

Karmanos wins OHL service award

The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Plymouth Whalers’ owner Peter Karmanos, Jr. is the recipient of the Bill Long Award for Distinguished Service, presented in recognition and appreciation of outstanding contributions to the OHL.

"It is an honor to be recognized with the prestigious Bill Long award,” said Karmanos. “I have had the privilege to be an owner in the OHL for the past 26 years, having just finished our 20th year with an American franchise. I've always done this because for me it is fun to be involved with the No. 1 development league in the world and I take pride in seeing the players develop both on and off the ice.”

Karmanos, a native of Detroit, becomes the first American to win the award, initiated in 1989 to commemorate the efforts and contributions of Bill Long during his days in the OHL, spanning over three decades as a coach and manager of the Niagara Falls Flyers, Ottawa 67’s and London Knights.

“I have enjoyed the relationships I have built, not only with the players that have come through our team, but throughout the league as well as other recipients who have won this award in the past,” Karmanos added. “Hockey is a great game and I wanted to give back to it on as many different levels as I could."

Karmanos has demonstrated a passion and expertise for hockey since the late 1970’s when he founded the Compuware Youth Hockey program which remains as one of the elite programs in North America.

He joined the OHL with the purchase of the Windsor Spitfires organization in 1984. After a slow start, Windsor improved every season under Karmanos, culminating in an OHL championship in 1988 with the league-best record of 50-14-2. The Compuware Spitfires came within a game of winning the Memorial Cup in 1988, losing the final game to the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Karmanos sold the Spitfires to local ownership in 1988 and was awarded an expansion franchise for Detroit on December 11, 1989. The Detroit Compuware Ambassadors became the first OHL team based in the United States. The team, now known as the Whalers, has made the playoffs in every season except their expansion year of 1990-91. The team has won 10 divisional titles, two OHL regular season championships, and has reached the OHL championship finals five times, winning the J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions in 1995 (pictured) and 2007.

“I cannot say enough about what Mr. Karmanos has meant for the growth of hockey at all levels,” OHL commissioner David Branch said. “He’s brought in and developed so many great people and has had a great influence in our league and other leagues. He provided us for the very first time as a league a team in the United States, which has been so beneficial for us and helped us grow the Ontario Hockey League.”

The Whalers have enjoyed uncommon stability under Karmanos’ watch. In Plymouth’s 20-year history, the team has had just five general managers and eight head coaches. The Whalers have had over 90 players selected in the National Hockey League Entry Draft, with Bryan Berard taken first overall by Ottawa in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.

Karmanos’ success with two OHL franchises led him to purchase the National Hockey League’s Hartford Whalers in 1994, moving the team to Raleigh, N.C., in 1997. Right in the middle of purchasing the Hartford Whalers, Karmanos built Compuware Arena in Plymouth Township in 1996. Compuware Arena is a year-round multi-purpose facility that is home for the Whalers and other local hockey organizations.

In December 1997, Karmanos was chosen as one of four recipients of the National Hockey League’s Lester Patrick Award. Originating in 1966, the award is given annually to individuals who are recognized for "outstanding service to hockey in the United States."

Photo courtesy Plymouth Whalers

North Stars fall again at Robertson Cup

The Traverse City North Stars retain a mathematical chance of advancing to Sunday’s Robertson Cup title game, but their championship aspirations were dealt a serious blow on Thursday in Wenatchee, Wash., as the Stars dropped a 6-1 decision to the Bismarck Bobcats on the third day of round-robin action at the Town Toyota Center.

Bismarck raced to a 3-0 lead after the first period, and scored the first two goals of the second stanza – both on the power play – before Doug Clifford put Traverse City on the scoreboard 4:11 ahead of the second intermission. Kyle Jean delivered a picture-perfect pass to Clifford, who one-timed it past Bobcats goalkeep Ryan Faragher.

The Cats bagged the only goal of the third frame.

Chris Paliafito started in place of injured Drew Strandberg, making 24 saves.

Bismarck went 3-for-6 on the power play, while TC did not convert in six tries.

The North Stars will close out their Robertson Cup round-robin slate on Friday against Fairbanks in the afternoon game. Face-off is scheduled for 2:35 p.m. PT/5:35 p.m. ET.

Brittain inks entry-level deal with Ducks

Anaheim Ducks Press Release

The Anaheim Ducks announced today that they have signed left wing Josh Brittain to a three-year entry-level contract.

Per club policy, no terms of the deal were disclosed.

Brittain, 20, split his fourth Ontario Hockey League season with Barrie and Plymouth in 2009-10, collecting 15-17-32 points with 130 penalty minutes in 68 games. Brittain also appeared in nine OHL playoff games with Plymouth, scoring a goal with five PIMs.

Brittain, who was a member of the OHL All-Stars at the 2009 Canada-Russia Subway Super Series in Windsor, Ont., began the season with Barrie before being acquired by Plymouth on Oct. 23.

The 6-foot-5, 217-pound winger had a season-high four-game point streak (1-3-4) from Nov. 12-20 and set season highs in points on Oct. 10 vs. Erie (1-2-3) and goals on Dec. 29 at Sarnia (2).

Originally selected by Anaheim in the third round (71st overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Brittain played for both Kingston and Barrie in 2008-09, setting career highs in goals (32) and points (52). He recorded a pair of hat tricks in 2008-09, including Oct. 8 vs. Ottawa and Feb. 12 vs. Owen Sound, tying a career high.

Brittain spent his first two OHL seasons with Kingston, finishing fourth in team scoring (28-23-51) in 2007-08 and third in goal scoring in 2006-07 (5-12-17).

A native of Milton, Ont., Brittain has appeared in 258 career OHL games, registering 80-72-152 points with 370 PIMs.

Prior to being drafted by Anaheim, he won the gold medal with Team Canada at the 2008 Under-18 IIHF World Championships in Russia with fellow Ducks prospects Brandon McMillan and Nicolas Deschamps.

Photo courtesy Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Traverse City dropped by Bandits

The Traverse City North Stars led Wednesday’s contest against St. Louis for exactly 1:02.

For the rest of the NAHL Robertson Cup second-day affair, the Bandits and zebras were in control.

The three-time defending Robertson Cup champions were afforded a whopping 11 power play opportunities and converted four times in a 4-1 victory over the North Stars at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Wash.

“We weren’t ready to play,” admitted Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “We were flat after a big win and St. Louis came out fired up after a big loss. It was a major letdown. They played well and we didn’t.”

Kelin Ainsworth provided Traverse City with its short-lived advantage, registering the only even-strength goal of the afternoon 11:25 into the first period. Tim Opie and Doug Clifford assisted.

From there, St. Louis racking up the next four goals – including a rejoinder to Ainsworth’s marker a little more than a minute later. The Bandits opened (1:04 in) and closed (2:08 to go) the second period with man-advantage scores and asserted an insurance marker with 4:50 remaining in the game to secure the victory.

“I think you can say our backs are against the wall at this point,” Palumbo said. “You probably have to have wins in three of the four round-robin games to get to (the championship game) Sunday.”

The North Stars will look to rebound on Thursday, when they face Bismarck on the third day of Robertson Cup round-robin action. The Bobcats clobbered St. Louis on Tuesday by an 8-5 margin and had their off-day on Wednesday.

“They’re rested, they beat the team that just beat us, and they’re possibly the most dangerous team in the tournament,” Palumbo said. “If we don’t come out with the same jump we had on Wednesday, it’ll be pretty tough to get it done.”

Once again, Chris Paliafito relieved Drew Strandberg in net for the North Stars, working the final period after Strandberg succumbed to a nagging leg issue. The tandem combined for 35 saves as the Bandits outshot TC by a 39-21 chasm.

The Stars and Bobcats will face-off in Wednesday’s evening game, closing out the third day of the five-day round-robin with a 7:05 p.m. PT/10:05 p.m. ET showdown. Traverse City will close out their go-round on Friday against Fairbanks, seeking one of the two Robertson Cup final berths. The title contest in set for Sunday.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

North Stars win Cup opener over Wild

The Traverse City North Stars played the role of discourteous houseguest on Tuesday at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, handing the host Wild a 5-4 setback in the teams’ Robertson Cup opener.

Chris Heineman issued the decisive affront with just 34 seconds remaining in the third period, tattooing a one-time slapshot into the top corner of the net to give Traverse City a victory in its first-ever Robertson Cup outing.

“Our guys played with a lot of heart tonight,” said Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “They played hard, and played within that team framework. It was a lot like some of the tough North Division games we play a lot of – that just kind of becomes part of your team.”

The North Stars, who have won all seven of their postseason contests this year, had to fend off eight Wenatchee power plays, including a pair of two-man advantage situations. The TC power play generated a trio of goals in six attempts.

“The penalty kill did a very nice job,” Palumbo added. “And to get some timely goals with the man advantage was huge, too.”

There were some tense moments around the 14:25 mark of the second period when Traverse City goalie Drew Strandberg was forced to leave the game with an apparent lower leg issue, but it turned out to be a case of severe muscle cramps and Chris Paliafito ably assumed the reins.

“Chris came in and did a great job,” Palumbo said. “They guys knew he had it. It’s a great luxury for us to have somebody like him able to step right in and not miss a beat.”

The North Stars carried much of the play in the first period, but were felled by a fluky bounce off the endboards that put them at a 1-0 disadvantage 4:08 into the contest. Andy Huff delivered an equalizer just 1:25 later, but once again the host Wild responded in kind less than three minutes after that.

Traverse City recorded the first of three consecutive power play markers with 6:46 remaining in the first period when Garrett Thompson delivered his sixth goal in seven games. Eric McLintock gave the Stars their first lead of the game a mere 58 seconds into the middle frame, but the Wild responded late in the period to send the game into the final stanza deadlocked at 3-all.

Dan Radke put the visitors back on top near the mid-point of the third with his fifth playoff lamplighter, and it seemed the affair was destined to go to an overtime session after the Wild scored on a face-off with 2:23 left. However, Heineman took a pass from Stars captain Travis White and blasted the puck from the point over the shoulder of All-NAHL goalkeeper Brand Jaeger.

“First, it was huge win on the draw from Sal,” said Palumbo, referring to Stars centerman Chris Salomone. “And we were able to get it over to Heiney, who absolutely crushed it. He’s a veteran, a leader, and gives us that kind of dimension back there, and we were able to take advantage of that.”

The North Stars were outshot by a 39-27 margin against the league’s Organization of the Year, had to contend with nearly 3,000 rabid Wenatchee fans, and play under the bright lights of the NAHL’s flagship event. Palumbo says it was a fantastic all-round atmosphere.

“It was awesome – and a great honor to get to play against Wenatchee in the opening game like that. I think it’s an experience our boys will remember forever.

“Unfortunately, despite getting a nice win, it really doesn’t mean nearly as much if we aren’t successful on Wednesday against St. Louis. We have the afternoon game, so there really isn’t any time to spend a lot of energy celebrating. It’s just one game, and you have to win five games if you want to win this thing. We still have work to do.”

Doug Clifford led the TC setup brigade with a pair of assists, while six others had one apiece: Heineman, McLintock, Huff, Thompson, Nick Shkreli and Tim Opie.

The Stars will face three-time defending Robertson Cup champion St. Louis on Wednesday at 2:05 p.m. PT/5:05 p.m. ET. The Bandits dropped their tourney opener to Bismarck by an 8-5 count. Wenatchee will face West Division foe Fairbanks in Tuesday’s Cup nightcap.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Michigan Warriors the newest NAHL team

The North American Hockey League has announced that its Board of Governors has approved the transfer of membership and relocation of the Marquette Rangers to Flint for the 2010-11 season.

The team will change its name to the Michigan Warriors and will play its home games out of the 4,000-seat Perani Arena and Event Center in Flint.

"Flint has been a potential NAHL market for many years, and we're very fortunate to match a hockey-hungry community and a first-class facility with an ownership group committed to the success of our league," said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld.

The Michigan Warriors organization is owned by Asist Entertainment, LLC. The group is led by Flint native Bob Bryant, Pat McEachern of Rochester Hills and former NHL defenseman and veteran coach Moe Mantha of Ann Arbor.

"We're bringing together successful track records in business, community, and professional and junior hockey ventures to create a successful team that will be a source of great pride for fans in Flint and across Mid-Michigan," Bryant said. "With the infusion of youth and limitless potential of NAHL players, hockey fans in and around Flint can see the stars of tomorrow develop right in front of them as they work to realize their dreams of playing in college and the pros."

Bryant has been an active member and proponent of the Flint community and a staunch advocate of Flint hockey for decades. He owns Flint-based farming operation Bryant Sod Farms Inc. and B&B Sod & Lawn Sprinklers Inc., a landscape contracting company also based in Flint.

McEachern owns and operates an automotive services and products company that operates across Canada and the United States.

A new style of hockey for Mid-Michigan

"We're bringing a new style of hockey to Flint," McEachern said. "The NAHL features young stars-in-the-making working to showcase and develop their skills for college coaches and NHL scouts. We joined the league in selecting Flint as the team's new home because of the Mid-Michigan region's passion for hockey and the hard-working, family values that the people of this area share with the NAHL and its players."

Mantha will serve as general manager and head coach of the Michigan Warriors.

"Moe is here to create an exciting brand of hockey while helping a talented group of Michigan Warriors players continue developing their abilities as they work to advance to the next level," McEachern said. "He has been part of the game at all levels for a long time and will use that experience to help our players realize their potential right before the eyes of our fans."

Mantha patrolled the blue line as a defenseman for five teams over 12 NHL seasons and was the assistant captain of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team. He has coached and managed at the junior and professional levels for 15 years, including coaching the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and is active in the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association.

Hometown connection, stars of tomorrow

Fourteen of the 17 players from the organization's 2009-2010 roster have hometowns within an hour's drive of the team's new home in Flint. Seven players in the Detroit Red Wings system developed their skills in the NAHL, including Jimmy Howard, Brian Rafalski, Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves, as well as Brett Lebda, Doug Janik and Jordan Pearce.

Under the team's previous owner, David Saint-Onge, the Marquette Rangers won their first North Division regular-season title in the team's four-year history this past season.

The organization has graduated more than 20 of its players on to NCAA and professional hockey, including forward Jake Hauswirth, who signed with the Washington Capitals last year.

"David's enthusiasm for the NAHL and the Marquette community, along with his commitment to the success of every one of his players, will be sorely missed," Frankenfeld said of Saint-Onge. "He's brought a lot to our league over the years and we can't thank him enough for helping make the NAHL the best junior league in North America."

Returning and prospective Michigan Warriors players will participate in the first Michigan Warriors tryout date Saturday, May 14 at Flint Iceland Arena. Another previously scheduled open tryout will be held May 21 to 23 at Suburban Ice in Farmington Hills. The two tryouts previously scheduled for Marquette in July have been cancelled.

Passionate product in a newly improved facility

Perani Arena, which opened in 1969, has a long and storied history of hosting professional hockey. It also has housed a professional basketball team and an arena football team.

"As the facility is restored to a first-class venue, Michigan Warriors hockey at Perani will offer something the entire family can enjoy together and that the community can take pride in," Bryant said. "A passionate, exciting product on the ice in a newly improved facility means we're creating an excellent entertainment value for families and hockey purists alike."

Under Firland Management, which assumed operations at Perani Arena earlier this year, the facility already has seen initial improvements, including enhanced lighting, as investments in the fan experience. Additional upgrades are planned.

"Over the past 40 years, Perani Arena has been home to some of Mid-Michigan's most exciting hockey moments," said Firland Management CEO Jim Cain, who oversees operations at the facility. "The addition of the Warriors to this venue is another important step toward our goal of providing this community the arena experience it expects and deserves."

A commitment to community

Corporate citizenship in and around Flint and across Mid-Michigan is a priority for the Michigan Warriors organization. Players and owners will be frequent participants and supporters in community events and initiatives. Fans will be given many opportunities to join the team in supporting area causes through attendance at Michigan Warriors games and other events.

The team values feedback from the hockey fans of the region and will make it possible for fans to interact with the Michigan Warriors through Facebook and Twitter. Fans will be able to connect with the Michigan Warriors in the coming days by searching "Michigan Warriors Hockey" on Facebook or by visiting

TC gearing up for 'fun environment'

In one corner, the host team – leading the league in attendance, sporting the best regular season record in the league and boasting the North American Hockey League’s Goalie of the Year and Organization of the Year accolades.

In the other, the Traverse City North Stars.

While it may not necessarily be a spot-on David-vs.-Goliath scenario, Tuesday’s opening contest of the five-team Robertson Cup championships at the 4,500-seat Town Toyota Center in central Washington will test the North Stars’ mettle right out of the chute.

“It’s going to be an absolutely fun environment,” said Traverse City head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “It’ll be a sellout or close to it, they’ll be in front of their own fans, and we’ll have to be ready to weather an early storm. They’re going to come out with a lot of adrenaline. I think we’re looking forward to a great challenge.”

The Wild are in their second season in the NAHL, and advanced to the Robertson Cup final last year before bowing out to three-time champion St. Louis in an overtime thriller. This season, they powered through the 58-game slate with an NAHL-best 45-10-3 mark, and even spoiled Traverse City’s home opener back on Sept. 28 with a 3-2 victory. The North Stars came back to score a 4-1 win the following night, but it came at the tail end of Wenatchee’s two-week, nine-game road swing.

“I think we caught them pretty tired and we were in our own building,” Palumbo assessed. “And they’ve added some quality players since then as well. So it’ll be interesting to see what we can do against them in their arena and that environment.”

Two of the Wild’s biggest pickups were forwards Ryan Timar and Dajon Mingo, who combined for 45 points in 47 games since being acquired from Alpena and Kenai River, respectively. Jeff Jubinville was Wenatchee’s top regular season scorer with 27 goals and 27 assists, while Timar has scored six goals in as many postseason outings. Kyle Brodie was the club’s top defensive marksman with 13 goals and 25 assists in 50 games.

In net, Brandon Jaeger took home the NAHL Sherbrook Goalie of the Year award at the league banquet in Wenatchee on Monday after compiling a 22-3-1 regular season record, 1.83 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. He has won all five of his playoff starts.

“They have a ton of weapons and some depth as well,” Palumbo said. “You look up and down their roster and see a real collection of talent.”

The North Stars’ Robertson Cup run doesn’t get any easier, with three-time defending NAHL champion St. Louis lining up for Wednesday’s round-robin showdown. Bismarck (Thursday) and Fairbanks (Friday) round out TC’s docket. The two teams with the most points at the end of round-robin play will advance to Sunday’s Robertson Cup final.


North Stars vs. Wenatchee Wild (45-10-3): Tuesday, 9:35 ET
: 1-1
LAST MEETING: The Stars handed Wenatchee its first loss of the regular season back on Sept. 29, 2009 at Centre ICE arena, 4-1. Andy Huff had a goal and two assists, Doug Clifford had one of each, and Drew Strandberg made 31 saves.
TOP SCORER: Former Alpena IceDiggers standout Ryan Timar with six goals in six playoff games; All-NAHL forward Jeff Jubinville scored 27 regular season goals
IN NET: NAHL Sherbrook Goaltender of the Year Brandon Jaeger went 22-3-1 during the regular season with a 1.83 GAA and .928 save pct., and claimed all five of his playoff starts

North Stars vs. St. Louis Bandits (44-11-3): Wednesday, 5:05 ET
ALL-TIME SERIES: St. Louis, 8-2
SEASON SERIES: Teams did not meet
LAST MEETING: The Bandits overcame a pair of first-period Kyle Jean goals, including a five-goal outburst in the third period in an 8-5 win at the NAHL North Division Showcase in Youngstown, Oh., on Nov. 30, 2008
TOP SCORER: Daniel Olszewski levied 24 markers during the regular season, while Patrick Sheehan has nine playoff assists
IN NET: Tyler Bruggeman posted an impressive 21-4-1 mark during the regular season to go with a 1.82 GAA and .932 GAA and is 6-3 in the playoffs

North Stars vs. Bismarck Bobcats (39-11-8): Thursday, 10:05 ET
ALL-TIME SERIES: Traverse City, 3-1
SEASON SERIES: Traverse City, 1-0
LAST MEETING: Sean Burke scored once and assisted on another and Drew Strandberg stopped 27 shots in a 4-2 win at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn., on Sept. 19, 2009
TOP SCORER: Jason Fabian recorded 24 goals and 34 assists in 57 regular season games; Dominic Panetta is tops in the NAHL with 11 assists and 16 points in the postseason
IN NET: Ryan Faragher went 23-6-7 during the year (2.17 GAA/.921 SV%) and Jake Williams won four of the Bobcats’ six playoff outings

North Stars vs. Fairbanks IceDogs (32-22-4): Friday, 5:35 ET
SEASON SERIES: Teams did not meet
LAST MEETING: Kyle Bonis racked the game-winner at 18:03 of the second period to lift the Stars to a 4-2 win in front of an NAHL Showcase audience in suburban Minneapolis on Sept. 20, 2008. CJ Motte stopped 35 of 37 shots for Traverse City
TOP SCORER: Michael Juola was second in the league during the regular season with 22 goals and 55 assists. Matt Millis scored just six goals during 2009-10, but leads the IceDogs with four goals in six playoff games
IN NET: Mike Taffe was 20-6-1, and Joe Phillippi 7-6-2 during the year and 3-2 in the playoffs.

Higby NAHL's MVP, Kero top rookie

The North American Hockey League announced Monday night the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament banquet that Topeka RoadRunners forward Erik Higby has been named its Most Valuable Player for the 2009-10 season, as selected by the league’s coaches and general managers.

Higby was also selected as the NAHL’s nominee for the 2010 USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year Award, named Forward of the Year and to the All-NAHL Team.

Higby, a 20-year-old from Shelby Township, won the NAHL’s regular-season scoring title with 80 points on 27 goals. His plus-36 rating also led the NAHL.

“Erik is a special type of player,” said RoadRunners head coach Scott Langer. “His vision and abilities on the ice are tremendous, but what really sets him apart is the way he goes about his business. He's focused, determined, intelligent, and he quietly leads by example.”

Higby, who participated in January’s NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, has committed to Northern Michigan University for next season. His on-ice performance earned him NAHL South Division Player of the Week honors three times this season.

“Erik’s production on the scoresheet is what the casual fan first sees, but it’s his demeanor with his teammates and with the public that sets him apart,” Langer added.

Higby’s point total and 53 assists (second in the NAHL) also set team records for the RoadRunners, who won the league’s South Division regular-season title.

“For a player who led the league in scoring and rewrote pages of the organization’s record book, he's quite humble,” said Langer. “He does all these things and is a solid citizen off the ice. What more can a coach or an organization ask for?”

Also named to the All-NAHL Team were forwards Michael Juola of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Jeff Jubinville of the Wenatchee Wild, defenseman Derek Docken of the Albert Lea Thunder and Jake Parenteau of the Alaska Avalanche and Wenatchee goaltender Brandon Jaeger.

Other award winners recognized at the banquet here:

NAHL Defenseman of the Year
Derek Docken, Albert Lea Thunder
In 56 games with the Albert Lea Thunder this season, Docken totaled 24 points on five goals and was also a plus-23. The 19-year-old from Northfield, Minn., has also secured a scholarship to the University of Alaska-Anchorage of the WCHA.

NAHL Sherbrook Goaltender of the Year
Brandon Jaeger, Wenatchee Wild
A 19-year-old from Champlin, Minn., Jaeger fashioned a 22-3-1 record in 29 appearances to compliment a NAHL-best goals-against average of 1.83 and save percentage of .928 for the regular-season champion Wenatchee Wild.

NAHL Rookie of the Year
Tanner Kero, Marquette Rangers
In his first Junior A season, Kero led the NAHL with 32 goals while totaling 51 points in 57 games for the North Division regular-season champion Marquette Rangers. The 17-year-old from Hancock has also secured a scholarship to Michigan Tech University of the WCHA.

NAHL Coach of the Year
Dane Litke, Janesville Jets
In the team's inaugural season, Litke guided the Janesville Jets to a third-place finish in the NAHL's North Division with a 29-23-6 record. His team’s leading scorer also committed to a Division I school for next season.

NAHL General Manager of the Year
Scott Langer, Topeka RoadRunners
Langer was the architect behind the Topeka RoadRunners’ South Division regular-season title this season, guiding the team to a 44-9-5 record, good for 93 points. Under his watch, six RoadRunners players have committed to Division I schools to date, and he also orchestrated Topeka’s successful bid to host the 2011 Robertson Cup Championship Tournament.

NAHL Organization of the Year
Wenatchee Wild
In its second season, the Wild drew both a league-high average attendance of 3,417 and total attendance of 99,108. On the ice, it finished with best regular-season record in the NAHL, fashioning a 45-10-3 mark, good for 93 points. In addition, nine of its players have committed to Division I programs to date.

NAHL Academic Achievement Award
Robb Haider, Alaska Avalanche
Haider graduated Magna Cum Laude from South Anchorage High School, where he also was a member of the National Honor Society. The Anchorage native was honored each semester with the school's Academic Achievement Award and achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA.

NAHL Community Service Award
Mitch Torrel, Weantchee Wild
Torrel contributed over 96 hours of service in his local community, including leading the charge in a reading campaign with his team, which covered over 70 classrooms. The Air Force Academy recruit from Monticello, Minn., was also recognized in March for his heroics in alerting the local fire department and helping evacuate the residents from a burning senior living facility.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

North Stars off to Robertson Cup

The Traverse City North Stars packed their gear, posed for a few photos, ate some cake, loaded up the team bus, and headed south – bound for what they hope will ultimately be an NAHL Robertson Cup championship journey.

The Stars, who took a motorcoach to Chicago on Sunday in advance of their Monday flight to Seattle, got in a light morning skate ahead of a coffee-and-cake send-off party at Centre ICE arena before departing. They’ll face-off with each of the four other qualifying teams from around the league in the six-day tournament at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Wash., from May 4-9.

“It’s a fantastic experience for these guys,” said Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “One they’ll probably remember for the rest of their lives. It’s a great accomplishment, but we also can’t go out there just happy to be a part of it. We have to go out there to try to win the thing. This is what these guys have been working so hard for all year long. We have to have our best effort every night this week.”

The North Stars will start off against the West Division champion Wenatchee Wild on Tuesday. The hosts posted a league-best 45-10-3 record during the regular season, and are 6-0 through the first two rounds of the NAHL playoffs.

From there, Traverse City plays three-time defending Robertson Cup champion St. Louis on Wednesday, followed by games against Bismarck on Thursday and Fairbanks on Friday before Saturday’s off-day. The two teams that have accrued the most points through round-robin play will advance to the Robertson Cup title game on Sunday.


Catch all the games LIVE on the b2 Network webcast

Tuesday, May 4
Bismarck vs. St. Louis, 2:05 p.m. PT/5:05 p.m. ET
TRAVERSE CITY vs. Wenatchee, 6:35 p.m. PT/9:35 p.m. ET

Wednesday, May 5
TRAVERSE CITY vs. St. Louis, 2:05 p.m. PT/5:05 p.m. ET
Fairbanks vs. Wenatchee, 6:35 p.m. PT/9:35 p.m. ET

Thursday, May 6
Fairbanks vs. St. Louis, 2:05 p.m. PT/5:05 p.m. ET
TRAVERSE CITY vs. Bismarck, 7:05 p.m. PT/10:05 p.m. ET

Friday, May 7
Fairbanks vs. TRAVERSE CITY, 2:35 p.m. PT/5:35 p.m. ET
Bismarck vs. Wenatchee, 7:05 p.m. PT/10:05 ET

Saturday, May 8
Fairbanks vs. Bismarck, 2:35 p.m./5:35 p.m. ET
St. Louis vs. Wenatchee, 7:05 p.m. PT/10:05 p.m. ET

Sunday, May 9
Championship Game, 5:05 p.m. PT/8:05 p.m. ET

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Whalers tab Iafrate with first round pick

The Plymouth Whalers didn't have to go far for their first pick in Saturday's Ontario Hockey League draft.

In fact, they selected a Plymouth season ticket holder.

In the first round (15th overall), the Whalers stayed with their theme of picking local players in selecting Belle Tire U-16 defenseman Max Iafrate.

Iafrate – the son of former National Hockey League defenseman Al Iafrate – scored 15 goals with 14 assists for 29 points and 167 penalty minutes in 63 games last season.

Central Scouting had this assessment of Iafrate:

“Iafrate is a high risk-high reward defenseman who has a ton of physical tools and competes at a very high and consistent level. He has good size, which he uses to take the man and finish his checks, generally playing the game with and edge. Iafrate also has very good feet, displaying quickness and mobility. He also possesses a better then average stick, displaying the ability to move and handle the puck with some confidence while showing the potential to add and chip in some offensive contributions to his team’s game.”

Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci played with Al Iafrate with the Belleville Bulls in 1983-84. Al Iafrate’s mother, Alice, worked for the Whalers back in their days in Detroit as the Compuware Ambassadors and Jr. Red Wings.

Iafrate met the Whalers staff Saturday morning.

“My main goal this year was to get drafted into the first round in the Ontario Hockey League," he said. "I worked hard for this. It’s even better that I was taken by Plymouth. There’s some real history here with Mr. Karmanos, the fact that Mr. Vellucci played with my dad and my grandmother worked here.”

Iafrate gave a self-assessment of his game.

“I like to be an offensive defenseman," he said. "I like to hit. I like to rush the puck a lot. I’ll shoot it (the puck) from the point.

“Because of my grandmother, I have season tickets to Whalers games. I’ve watched them a lot."

Former Peterborough Petes GM Jeff Twohey gave this assessment of Iafrate:

“Max Iafrate’s going to be fun to watch,” Twohey said. “To me, he’s a clear comparison to PK Subban (now with the Montreal Canadiens). He’s dynamic with his skating ability and his ability to move up the ice. He’ll get the puck up the ice quickly, he’s a player with high skill and has very good quickness.”

Plymouth scouting director Don Harkins gives his assessment:

“Max is a big, strong kid who skates like an NHLer already. He shoots and passes the puck well. We think he’s got a lot of upside.”

Plymouth took 6-foot-3, 190 pound right wing Tom Wilson with their pick in the second round (27th overall). Wilson scored 41 goals with 38 assists for 79 points and 130 penalty minutes in 59 games for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens last season.

Central Scouting’s assessment:

“Wilson is a big, physical winger who displays a real scoring touch around the net and has the potential to develop into a power forward at the next level. He has legitimate size and a great stick. The strength of his game is his ability to finish and put the puck in the net. He might not be the prettiest, but he could be one of the more natural finishers in this age group. He displays a real ability to put the puck in the net, and he really takes advantage of his chances.”

“We needed to upgrade our toughness and size, “said Harkins. “Thomas is a complete power forward. He gets in deep and creates a lot of space for the other skilled players that he plays with on his line. We’re ecstatic to get Thomas where we got him."

Wilson was talked about on the Ontario Hockey League draft show this morning:

“Wilson’s a quality kid,” said scout Tim Cherry. “He has the ability to work down low and score goals. He has the heart and ability to impose his size on the opposition and can play either wing. He’s a big kid who brings character to the rink and comes from a good family. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him play center at some point. He’s well versed with good hockey sense and plays with skill.”

The Whalers had to wait until the fifth round (95th overall) for their next selection – right wing-center Ryan Hartman, who scored 25 goals with 19 assists for 44 points and 64 PIMs in 38 games last year for Chicago Mission.

Hartman is 5-feet-9 and 170 pounds from West Dundee, Ill.

Central Scouting’s assessment:

“Hartman is a skilled, two-way forward that has shown steady improvement since the start of the season. He has played both on the wing and down the middle but his skill set and style of play seem to have him suited to play down the middle at the next level. When he is playing center he just seems to play with a little more confidence, while being more involved on a consistent basis. He has a very good stick, displaying a ton of composure and patience when he has possession of the puck. He carries the puck and generally plays the game at a high speed.”

“We thought he was the best forward at the US National 40-man camp,” said Harkins. “We think he’s going to get bigger, much like (2009 draft pick) Sean Kuraly did this year (he grew four inches this year). We think that Ryan has a ton of upside and can be a real pro prospect down the road.”

Harkins gave qualified opinions on the rest of Plymouth’s selections:

Sixth round (115) – Ryan Ivey, defenseman, TPH Thunder in Atlanta, (3-6-9 in 20 games):

“He continues to grow and is up to 6-feet-1. We think he has a lot of upside. The TPH program doesn’t get a lot of exposure, but it is high-end AAA hockey and we like his upside. We look forward to him coming to play for our midget team next year.”

Seventh round (135) – Jake Patterson, goaltender, Sault Ste. Marie North Stars (2.78 goals against and three shutouts on a team that went 27-3-3-1):

“We’re excited with our two goaltenders next year in Scott Wedgewood and Matt Mahalak. Patterson’s a potential goaltender of the future. Our Sault Ste. Marie scout – Mike Oliverio – likes him a lot.”

Eighth round (155) – Brodie Tutton, right wing, Clarington Toros:

“At this point in the draft, we went looking for a goal scorer and he was the best player available for us. He played on the same line as Garrett Hooey (taken in the second round by Sarnia).”

Eighth round (159) – John Stevens, right wing, Team Comcast-National in Philadelphia, who scored 11 goals and 18 assists for 29 points with 29 PIM’s in 34 games. He is the son of former Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Stevens.

“John’s a character kid and a good centerman who wins face offs and distributes the puck well. He’s a good, two-way centerman.”

Ninth round (175) – Mark Yanis, defenseman, Belle Tire U16’s, who played with Iafrate and scored six goals with 16 assists for 22 points and 212 PIMs in 64 games.

“There was some speculation that Mark was going to go the U.S. college route. Even so, we thought we’d take a chance on a local kid who we think is a high-end player.”

10th round (190) – Jared Dennis, center, Windsor midgets, who scored eight goals with 11 assists for 19 points and eight PIMs in 30 games.

“He’s very talented and tough. One of our scouts said he’ll make training camp interesting. You always like those types of guys.”

"A lot of skill and he just has to learn to step up,” said Kitchener Rangers head scout Mike Sadler. “He can skate, he can dominate at times and he understands the game well. He has the skills to be great if he wants to be."

10th round (195) – Joe Cox, right wing, Detroit Compuware U-16’s, who scored 30 goals with 30 assists for 60 points in 71 games.

“We felt he was the heart-and-soul of that Compuware team last year. In big games, he really stepped up. We always look for the type of kids who show character and leadership at this point in the draft.”

11th round (215) – Gavin Shantz, defenseman, Mississauga Rebels – a team that won the OHL Cup in March.

“Gavin had a coming out party at the GTHL All-Star game and we really liked him then. He’s a big, rangy left-shot defenseman that continues to get better and better. We like his potential.”

12th round (235) – Ryan Lowney, defenseman, Detroit Compuware U-16’s, who scored four goals with 19 assists for 23 points and 22 PIM’s in 38 games.

“Ryan’s one of the best pure skaters in the draft. He’s extremely intelligent. He reminds me of (2007 Plymouth draft pick and current Michigan State defenseman) Torey Krug. He’s a smaller defenseman, but Ryan has great hockey sense and a tremendous skater.”

13th round (255) – Brandon Pantaleo, left wing, Markham Waxers, who scored 35 goals with 51 assists for 86 points and 28 PIM’s in 67 games.

“He played with a young man by the name of Brandon Cox and put up some big numbers. We expect him to do the same in Plymouth.”

14th round (275) – Sheldon Dries, center, Detroit Honeybaked U-16s, who scored 28 goals with 12 assists for 40 points and 50 PIMs in 36 games.

“They say that some players happen to play hockey, but others are hockey players. Sheldon is a hockey player. I’ve known him for a number of years. He competes, block shots and does all the little things. He has great hockey sense and we love his compete level.”

15th round (295) – Matteo Condotta, left wing, who played for the Mississauga Senators.

“It’s just an opportunity for a kid.”

Harkins summarized the Whalers 2010 draft.

“We like guys who compete and we took some guys with skill and toughness,” he said. “Hartman and Ivey are part of the 1995 draft class because they’re late 94’s, so we like that kind of potential. We took a goaltender for the future in Patterson. We took some chance on some other guys, but on draft day, everyone likes their draft. That’s how we feel."

Plymouth fans will have a chance to see many of the new Whalers during the team’s annual rookie orientation, being held May 15-16 at Compuware Arena.

Iafrate photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images