Monday, August 30, 2010

Two more North Stars off to college

Forwards Eric McLintock and Chris Salomone shared an oversized corner stall in the Traverse City North Stars’ locker room during the team’s magical run to the Robertson Cup last season.

The tandem hopes to bring some of that same successful synergy to NCAA ice as teammates – and roommates – at Wisconsin-River Falls of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.

“It wasn’t really by choice that we got put together in the same stall,” mocked Salomone. “To tell you the truth, he’s kind of disgusting.”

The Homer Glen, Ill., product, who spent the past two seasons with the North Stars after starring for the midget major Chicago Young Americans, signed on with River Falls early in the off-season and helped convince McLintock that he’d be a good fit with the Falcons program as well.

“I knew Sal was going there and I got a call from their coach,” explained McLintock, a Traverse City native and Grand Traverse Hockey Association alum. “I went on a visit and really liked the campus. Now we’re up here getting settled in and we’re both very excited about the school year and the season.”

McLintock, who finished his three-year run with the North Stars fourth on the club’s all-time scoring list and first in career penalty minutes, wasn’t even sure that he was going to play NCAA hockey following the 2009-10 season.

“I was on a softball team with coach (Anthony) Palumbo and coach (Chad) Fournier, and they encouraged me, and eventually convinced me that I wanted to pursue the opportunity to play college hockey,” he said. “I’m glad they did.”

Palumbo says River Falls is getting a pair of freshmen ready to make immediate contributions.

“Eric’s a guy who got plenty of Division I consideration during the year. Given his skill set, I’d project him to be a top player in Division III. Sal’s also a solid two-way player, who really came on and helped key our run last year. These guys are going to make an impact and get to play for a great program at a great school.”

Salomone levied five goals and assisted on 17 others during his 54-appearance 2009-10 regular season and added a pair of goals and an assist in 10 playoff appearances. As a rookie in 2008-09, he poured in eight goals on just 45 shots. Salomone says that this next rung on the hockey hierarchy is certain to bring new challenges.

“It’s going to be a step faster in pace,” he explained. “The guys are bigger and stronger. It’s not as long a schedule as we had in juniors, but you get to focus on school a bit more as well.”

While McLintock made his way to many a penalty box over the course of his junior career in the pursuit of separating would-be combatants from their teeth, he plans to begin learning how to repair them in River Falls’ pre-dentistry program.

“It’s like having the best of both worlds,” McLintock offered. “You know school comes first, but you get to do it while playing college hockey. Anyone who has gotten to this level has a lot of people who helped them get there. For me, I had a lot of great coaches over the year, but definitely my parents. They know how much I love hockey and I’m grateful for all the support they’ve given me over the years.”

Salomone echoed those sentiments.

“When you reach a goal you’ve been striving for, there are lots of people you want to thank,” he said. “I’d thank coach Palumbo, coach Chad, and coach (Mike) Matteucci, the whole organization. And my parents who have driven or flown me all around the country and world to play – I can’t thank them enough.”

Photos by John L. Russell/Great Lakes Images

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