Friday, April 30, 2010

NTDP adds Sieloff to Under-17 Team

USA Hockey today announced that 13 players have been added to the 2010-11 roster for its National Team Development Program.

The group of 13, which includes eight forwards, four defensemen and one goaltender, will be part of the U.S. National Under-17 Team next year.

“We’re pleased to announce this next group of players that will surely benefit from being part of the National Team Development Program,” said Ryan Rezmierski, director of player personnel for the NTDP. “We’re very excited about the talent level of this group. Our scouting staff, especially Peter Ward, Eric Silverman, Mike Kesler and Louis Pacella, has done an outstanding job evaluating these players and helping bring them into the mix.”

The eight forwards added for next season include Cameron Darcy (South Boston, Mass.), Thomas Di Pauli (Woodridge, Ill.), Ryan Hartman (West Dundee, Ill.), Stefan Matteau (Chicago, Ill.), Quentin Shore (Denver, Colo.), Brendan Silk (Melrose, Mass.), Henrik Samuelsson (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Frankie Vatrano (E. Longmeadow, Mass.).

The four defensemen joining Team USA in 2010-11 include Connor Carrick (Oak Lawn, Ill.), Dakota Mermis (Alton, Ill.), Patrick Sieloff (Ann Arbor) and Brady Skjei (Lakeville, Minn.).

Jared Rutledge (Skokie, Ill.) is the goaltender signed on for next season.

The latest additions join Seth Jones (Plano, Texas), Nicolas Kerdiles (Irvine, Calif.), Niklas Olsson (Escondido, Calif.) and Jacob Trouba (Rochester), who were already announced as part of next year’s team.

Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Motor City had 'special group' this year

The season-long journey has come to an end for the Motor City Metal Jackets.

A team that won just 11 games the previous year earned their way to the NAHL Robertson Cup playoffs this season and had relative success, sweeping the Marquette Rangers in the opening round. The team's post-season drive came to a stop however, as the Traverse City North Stars defeated the Jackets in Game 3 of the North Division finals (pictured above) and secured a series sweep with a 5-3 final score.

“I thought our team worked hard in Game 3, but we didn't seem to get any bounces to go our way," Motor City coach David Cole said. "A disallowed goal and one that was a judgment call could have been a factor.

“When it is all said and done, my guys can hold their heads high. This has been a very special group and I can truly say that I have enjoyed this group the most in my coaching career. It has been a great experience seeing them evolve as a team and this group will ultimately have a positive long-term effect on our organization.”

The team has definitely set the table for the future by establishing an incredible work ethic and a never-say-die attitude. Their demeanor on and off the ice has helped increase the visibility of exciting junior hockey within the Downriver community and beyond.

“I am extremely proud of our kids and what they accomplished," said Metal Jackets assistant coach Jason Cirone. "They have all set the tone for future Metal Jacket teams and they should be very proud if how close-knit of a group they are.”

With committed ownership, strong management and experienced coaches, the Metal Jackets are poised for success in the coming seasons.

“The initial goal was to make the playoffs and be competitive - reaching the division finals was a great accomplishment,” said Cole. “It leaves the core group of returning players hungry for greater accomplishments. It is tough to believe our first season has come to an end, but we've already started planning the 2010-11 season at our new home in Trenton.”

With an ever-growing fan base, the Metal Jackets are already excited to provide fast-paced hockey again at Kennedy Recreation Center next winter. With an outstanding turnaround this past year, the team looks to build upon what they have learned and stride head-first into a new season ready for another successful run.

Photo by John Castine/HockeyWeekly.com

Metal Jackets announce tryout camps

The Motor City Metal Jackets have announced their next round of tryouts for prospective players for the 2010-2011 season.

May 14-16
Kennedy Recreation Center
3101 West Rd.
Trenton, MI
Check-In/Registration
FRIDAY, May 14 @ 4:00-5:30pm

Pre-register at MetalJacketsHockey.com

Additional Locations
Denver, CO June 18-20
Los Angeles June 25-27
Philadelphia, PA July 9-11
Trenton, MI July 16-18
Tokyo, Japan July 23-25

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Seguin, Hackett named OHL All-Stars

The Ontario Hockey League today announced the All-Star teams for the 2009-10 OHL regular season.

The OHL All-Star Teams were selected by the OHL’s General Managers. Players were voted on by position and received five points for a first place vote, three for a second place vote, and one for a third.

2009-10 OHL All-Star Teams (voting points in brackets):

First Team:
Centre – Tyler Seguin, Plymouth Whalers (85)
Left Wing – Taylor Hall, Windsor Spitfires (93)
Right Wing – Bryan Cameron, Barrie Colts (67)
Defence – Jacob Muzzin, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (79)
Defence – Nick Crawford, Barrie Colts (63) - ex-Saginaw defenseman
Goaltender – Chris Carrozzi, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (59)
Coach – Dale Hunter, London Knights (47)

Second Team:
Centre – Nazem Kadri, London Knights (39)
Left Wing – Jeremy Morin, Kitchener Rangers (40) - ex-NTDP forward
Right Wing – Taylor Beck, Guelph Storm (41)
Defence – Cameron Gaunce, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (51)
Defence – Ryan Ellis, Windsor Spitfires (47)
Goaltender – Matt Hackett, Plymouth Whalers (48)
Coach – Dave Cameron, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (39)

Third Team:
Centre – Luke Pither, Barrie Colts (33)
Left Wing – Chris MacKinnon, Kitchener Rangers (19)
Right Wing – Greg Nemisz, Windsor Spitfires (28)
Defence – Alex Pietrangelo, Barrie Colts (23)
Defence – Shawn Lalonde, Belleville Bulls (21)
Goaltender – Patrick Killeen, Brampton Battalion (27)
Coach – Marty Williamson, Barrie Colts (36)

Kero named to NAHL All-Rookie Team

The North American Hockey League has announced its All-Rookie Team for the 2009-10 season, as selected by the league’s coaches and general managers.

NAHL All-Rookie Team
Forward
: Bryce Johnson, Topeka RoadRunners
Forward: Tanner Kero, Marquette Rangers
Forward: Shawn Pauly, Wenatchee Wild
Defenseman: Alex McLean, Wenatchee Wild
Defenseman: Sam Rendle, Bismarck Bobcats
Goaltender: Brandon Jaeger, Wenatchee Wild

Johnson, a 19-year-old St. Cloud State University (WCHA) recruit from Grimes, Iowa, tallied 19 goals for 54 points in 58 regular-season games to finish tied for 13th in league scoring.

A 17-year-old from Hancock, Kero, a Michigan Tech University (WCHA) recruit, notched 51 points on a league-leading 32 goals in 57 games.

Pauly, a 17-year-old Air Force Academy (Atlantic Hockey) recruit from Bellingham, Wash., struck for 17 goals and 36 points in 50 games for the regular-season champion Wild.

McLean, a 19-year-old from Duluth, Minn., who will also play his college hockey at Air Force, registered four goals and 20 points in 51 games. He was also a plus-19.

Rendle, a 19-year-old Bemidji State University (WCHA) recruit from Grand Rapids, Minn., tied for the league-lead in scoring among defensemen with 47 points on 10 goals and 37 assists in 57 games. He was also a plus-22.

Jaeger, a 19-year-old from Champlin, Minn., fashioned a 22-3-1 record in 29 appearances to compliment a NAHL-best goals-against average (1.83) and save percentage (.928).

NAHL players in their first year of Junior A hockey are considered rookies.

The Rookie of the Year, along with the Most Valuable Player, All-NAHL Team, Forward of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, Goaltender of the Year and the NAHL’s nominee for the USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year will be announced Robertson Cup Championship Tournament banquet on Monday, May 3, in Wenatchee, Wash.

The Academic Achievement Award, Community Service Award, Coach of the Year, General Manager of the Year and Organization of the Year will also be announced at the banquet.

Plymouth captain Jenks inks with Florida

Florida Panthers GM Randy Sexton announced today the club has agreed to an entry level contract with center AJ Jenks.

Jenks, 19, played in 52 games with the Plymouth Whalers this season, placing second on the team in goals (23), assists (40) and points (63), finishing behind the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting No. 1 prospect Tyler Seguin.

Jenks, who served as Plymouth’s team captain played in nine playoffs games this year with the Whalers, scoring four goals with eight assists.

The Wolverine Lake native won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship in Saskatchewan, recording five points (3-2-5) in seven games.

Jenks was drafted by Florida with their fourth choice (100th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Photo by Walt Dmoch

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Seguin named OHL's best player

The Ontario Hockey League announced that Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin has been named the recipient of the Red Tilson Trophy as the league’s Most Outstanding Player during the regular season.

Seguin beat out fellow finalists Taylor Hall of Windsor and Nazem Kadri of London in voting conducted by OHL media and broadcasters.

“It’s not about just being a player, it’s also about being a total person,” OHL commissioner David Branch (pictured above) said about Seguin. “Tyler’s clearly a champion, both on and of the ice.”

Seguin is the top-rated North American prospect listed by the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Bureau for the upcoming 2010 NHL Entry Draft, held June 25-26 in Los Angeles.

Seguin, 18, scored 48 goals with 58 assists 106 points in 63 games and shared the OHL’s scoring title with Hall. In Seguin’s 63 games played, he contributed directly to over 46 percent of the Whalers offense.

“Tyler’s off-ice work has been exceptional this season,” said Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci. “He’s a very mature player and mature person and that’s a credit to his parents (Jackie and Paul Seguin). He’s always willing to help out anyone on the team or anyone that’s part of the franchise. In terms of his conditioning, he’s one of the most committed players I’ve ever seen. He strives to be the best player he can possibly be and not just in games.

“It all started from the first time we practiced at the start of the year. He worked extremely hard in practice. (In games) he was committed to scoring goals, or beating an opponent one-on-one, or improving his defensive play. One of the best things I can say is that Tyler is a hockey player – he’s not just a player who happens to play hockey. He’s an ultimate professional.”

Seguin was named the Whalers' Regular Season Most Valuable Player and Regular Season Leading Scorer and was named Smartest Player, Best Playmaker, second best Stickhandler, and second (tie) Most Dangerous in the Goal Area in the OHL’s Western Conference Coaches Poll.

“I’m very proud and humble to be accepting this award today,” said Seguin. “It’s a very exciting day for me and my family.”

Seguin was named the OHL Player of the Month for both December and January. He also was named Canadian Hockey League Player of the Week and OHL Player of the Week for the period of January 18-24 and OHL Player of the Week for the period of October 5-11.

Seguin participated in a number of all-star competitions for the Canadian Hockey League during the season. He played for the OHL All-Stars in November against Russia in the Canada/Russia Subway Super Series. He was captain for Team Orr in the 2010 Home Hardware CHL-NHL Top Prospects Game in Windsor in January and also represented the Western Conference in the OHL All-Star game in Kingston in February.

Besides the CHL events, Seguin represented Canada while leading the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in scoring with four goals and six assists in four games to capture a gold medal in August. He also attended Canada's World Junior selection camp for the World Junior Championships in December.

In two seasons with Plymouth, Seguin has scored 69 goals with 104 assists for 173 points in 124 games and is 18th on the Whalers all-time scoring list.

Seguin is the third player in franchise history to win the Red Tilson Trophy, joining Pat Peake (1992-93) and David Legwand (1997-98).

The Red Tilson Trophy is voted by sports writers and broadcasters in the OHL. The award is in honor of Albert “Red” Tilson, who was killed in action in Europe during World War II. Tilson was the OHA scoring champion for the 1942-43 season after scoring 19 goals and 38 assists for 57 points in 22 games with the Oshawa Generals.

In voting, players received five points for a first-place selection, three points for a second-place selection and one point for a third-place selection.

Last season, Cody Hodgson of Brampton received 161 points in the voting process ahead of John Tavares of London, who received 115 points as runner-up.

Seguin will be formally presented with the Red Tilson Trophy, along with the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the co-winner of the league's Top Scorer, at the 2009-10 OHL Awards Ceremony set for Wednesday June 9 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He will also be the OHL’s nominee for Most Outstanding Player at the Canadian Hockey Leauge Annual Awards.

Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

McAuliffe cleans up at EMHA awards

Joe McAuliffe of the Flint Jr. Generals was the big winner last weekend at the Eastern Michigan Hockey Association awards ceremony.

McAuliffe recieved the "Gale Cronk Award" as junior player of the year, was one of six $1000 Bob Landall Academic Scholarship honorees and also won the EMHA Academic Award for overall academic excellence (3.7 grade-point average at Goodrich High School) for the fifth time.

McAuliffe, a 17-year-old (turns 18 July 6) forward from Goodrich, put up eight goals, including three game-winners, and 14 points in 45 games last season for Flint.

"Joe is one of those hard-working players that never gives up," said Flint GM Kelly Cronk.

Photo - Flint head scout Doug Bailey, McAuliffe and GM Kelly Cronk

Robertson Cup schedule announced

In their first-ever trip to the Robertson Cup, the Traverse City North Stars will kick off the tournament against a pair of teams who dueled in last year’s Cup finals.

The Stars open the NAHL’s championship tournament on Tuesday, May 4 against host Wenatchee, then take on three-time defending Robertson Cup champion St. Louis the following afternoon. The league announced yesterday the five-team round-robin schedule, which will yield this year’s two finalists for the championship game on Sunday, May 9.

Wenatchee was the top team in the NAHL during the regular season. The Wild finished 45-10-3, while St. Louis was 44-11-3, but Wenatchee breezed through its two playoff series with 3-0 sweeps. The Bandits, on the other hand, went to a decisive fifth game in the first round against Texas and the South Division finals against Topeka.

The North Stars will square off against Bismarck on Thursday, May 6 before closing out the round-robin portion of the tourney on the next day against Fairbanks. All Robertson Cup games are available live via webcast on the b2 Network. Links to the webcast can be found at the team’s website.

There will be a coffee-and-cake send-off for the team on Sunday, May 2 at Centre ICE arena. The team practices at 10 a.m., followed by refreshments, photos and autographs, and NAHL North Division Playoff Champion t-shirts. The team bus is slated to depart Centre ICE at noon.

The Robertson Cup champion represents the NAHL’s playoff champion and USA Hockey’s Tier II Junior A national champion. The oldest junior hockey trophy in the United States, the Robertson Cup is named in honor of Chuck Robertson, a pioneer of junior hockey in the NAHL and youth hockey in the state of Michigan. Robertson was the owner of the Paddock Pools Saints when they won a record seven straight NAHL championships from 1976-83. For more information on the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament, visit RobertsonCup.com.

2010 ROBERTSON CUP SCHEDULE

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

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

OHL Priority Selection goes Saturday

Courtesy Michigan Hockey

The Ontario Hockey League draft is slated for Saturday and many Michigan players are being looked at as future stars in the league.

The only glitch is the choice these players will have to make: stay out of major juniors and keep their NCAA eligibility, or play in the OHL.

One such player is forward Brady Vail, a Northville native who just turned 16 years old on March 11 and played Tier I Junior A hockey in the United States Hockey League with the Waterloo Black Hawks this season.

As of now, Vail is on the fence about which route to take to further his career.

“For the most part, I’ve always wanted to play college hockey,” said the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Vail, who moved to Michigan two years ago to play for the Compuware organization. “But as far as the OHL is concerned, never say never.”

Vail was born in North Carolina and then lived in Florida before the move to Michigan. Last summer, he traveled out to Waterloo to get some experience playing with Junior A players at an open tryout, but wound up making the Black Hawks.

Vail wasn’t the only player on the Waterloo roster to start the season as a 15-year-old as he was joined by New Jersey-born defenseman Nick Ebert. Both are considered first-round material for the OHL draft, should they totally commit to the league and both are the only 1994 birthdates in the USHL.

Ebert is a player Red Line Junior, an independent scouting website that identifies players eligible for the OHL draft, says “has all the tools to be a superstar and at worst, he’s safe and smart.”

Playing in the USHL was difficult at first for Vail, but those struggles dissipated as the season went on. He said he’s been improving his assets – hands, shot and vision – and his weakness – footwork.

“I think I fit in pretty well,” Vail said. “I think for my age, I got a lot of ice time. Once I made the team after tryouts, I realized that playing here would be the best option for me. It’s a great situation.”

Vail played for the Compuware ‘93s (a year ‘up’) and ‘94s his two years in Plymouth and said he’s been seeing the past year or so that hockey may eventually be something he can do for as long as he wants.

“I’ve been told for a while now that I can make hockey a career if I want,” Vail said. “But there are a lot of other ‘94s out there that have the same skill level as I do, so we’ll just see what happens from here on out.”

Other 1994 birthdates that will be considered for the OHL draft, with comments from Red Line Junior:

Riley Barber, C, Compuware: At 5-foot-10, he is the most skilled forward in metro-Detroit. Can finish, scores big goals and is good playmaker. Not big now, but has growth potential. His dad played pro.

Brett D’Andrea, C, Belle Tire: Not there yet, but could be a good player in the long haul.

Troy Donnay, D, Belle Tire: Older brother, Cody, was a Peterborough pick (in 2008), but never reported and is in Marquette (NAHL) now. Troy is already 6-foot-6, has a long reach, good mobility and a mean streak.

Josh Henke, C, Belle Tire: Has been a big scorer all along and may have peaked.

Brandon Hope, G, Honeybaked U18: Quick, athletic and a good skater, he
has some longterm upside.

Max Iafrate, D, Belle Tire: Just like his father, Al – go, go, go all the time.
Takes a lot of chances but is tremendous skater with big upside.

Kerby Rychel, LW/LC, Belle Tire: Son of former NHLer Warren Rychel struggled with injuries this season but competes and has goal-scoring touch.

Patrick Sieloff, D, Compuware: Good all-round game. Plays a safe, smart game and could develop into shutdown defender.

Jacob Trouba, D, Compuware: Powerful skater with good size and likes to hit. Has signed with the U.S. NTDP.

Grant Webermin, D, Honeybaked: Not a sexy pick, but a solid defensive defenseman.

Mitch Wedding, D, Honeybaked: Has worked on his conditioning and has good skill. Is willing to get down and dirty.

Connor Wood, C, Honeybaked: Small in size, but a goal scorer with great hands.

Others to watch: Garrett Cockerill, D, Compuware; Sheldon Dries, C, Honeybaked; Alex Kile, RW, Honeybaked; Jordan Masters, RW, Little Caesar’s; Nick Schilkey, C, Honeybaked; Mark Yanis, D, Belle Tire.

The top U.S. forward is Cristoval (Boo) Nieves of the Syracuse Jr. Nationals. Nieves “has tremendous acceleration, makes slick moves at top speed and can turn on a dime,” said Red Line Junior.

The consensus top overall pick in the entire draft at this point is winger Matia Marcantuoni of the Toronto Marlies, a player Red Line Junior said is “a dominating power winger with skill.”

2010 OHL Priority Selection
Saturday, May 1 - 9:00 a.m.
Follow online at: http://www.ontariohockeyleague.com/
Eligible birthdates: Jan. 1, 1991 - Dec. 31, 1994
First overall pick: Sarnia Sting
Plymouth/Saginaw: Whalers pick 15th; Spirit 13th

Ladd, Higby up for top NAHL award

The North American Hockey League has announced its final four nominees - one per division - for the 2010 Junior Player of the Year Award, which is presented annually by USA Hockey to the outstanding American-born player in junior hockey.

Out of the four players, listed by division below, one will be chosen by the NAHL’s Junior Player of the Year Selection Committee as the league’s final nominee, which will be announced at the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament banquet on Monday, May 3, and submitted to USA Hockey’s blue-ribbon coaches and administrators for consideration, along with candidates from every other USA Hockey-sanctioned junior league.

Central Division
Jason Fabian, Forward, Bismarck Bobcats
In his second season with the Bobcats, Fabian finished ninth overall in league scoring with 58 points (24 goals) in 57 games for the Central Division regular-season champions. The 20-year-old from Roseau, Minn., has committed to the Air Force Academy (Atlantic Hockey) for next season.

North Division
Garrett Ladd, Forward, Marquette Rangers - pictured
In his third year with Marquette, Ladd finished fifth overall in league scoring with 63 points on 23 goals in 55 games. The 20-year-old from Fenton has committed to Bemidji State University (WCHA) for next season.

South Division
Erik Higby, Forward, Topeka RoadRunners
A 20-year-old from Shellby Township, Higby, in his second NAHL season, won the league’s regular-season scoring title with 80 points on 27 goals for the South Division regular-season champions. He has committed to Northern Michigan University (CCHA) for next year.

West Division
Brandon Jaeger, Goaltender, Wenatchee Wild
In 29 appearances with the NAHL regular-season champion Wild, Jaeger, a 19-year-old from Champlin, Minn., fashioned a 22-3-1 record to compliment a league-leading goals-against average (1.83) and save percentage (.928).

Monday, April 26, 2010

TC's White, Thompson honored by NAHL

The Traverse City North Stars are busy chasing the ultimate team prize – the NAHL’s Robertson Cup – but have picked up some individual accolades along the way.

Defenseman Travis White was Traverse City’s lone representative on the All-North Division squad, while winger Garrett Thompson was among eight league finalists for USA Hockey’s annual Junior Player of the Year award.

White, who has spent the past two seasons with Traverse City after winning the Robertson Cup with St. Louis in 2008, scored a goal and assisted on 15 others in 45 games this season. His +23 plus-minus rating was ninth among defensemen and 14th among all NAHL skaters. White has a pair of assists and is +7 through six postseason contests.

The Stars’ captain has amassed six goals and 36 assists in 149 career regular season NAHL outings and was an All-North pick in 2008-09 as well. He was joined on the All-North team by former TC blue-liner Mike Schenfeld and a trio of Marquette forwards – Tanner Kero, Andrew Kolb and Garrett Ladd. Rangers goalie Kevin Kissaw was the all-division backstop.

Thompson, who recently committed to Ferris State, led the North Stars with 24 goals and helped stage 26 others. He was fourth in the league at +30 during the regular season and has eight points with a team-best five goals so far in the playoffs.

Thompson and seven other NAHL players – two from each division, including Ladd – will be pared to a group of four finalists before the league’s top player is selected. The league’s final nominee will then be submitted to USA Hockey’s blue-ribbon coaches and administrators for consideration, along with candidates from every other USA Hockey-sanctioned junior league.

White, Thompson, and the rest of the North Stars will be heading to Wenatchee, Wash., for the Robertson Cup next week after first- and second-round playoff sweeps of Janesville and Motor City. The five-team event’s schedule has not yet been finalized as one divisional final series has yet to yield a fifth finalist: St. Louis-Topeka. The decisive fifth game in that series is slated for tonight.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Traverse City advances to Robertson Cup

The Traverse City North Stars made history on Friday night at the Kennedy Recreation Center in Trenton, knocking off the Motor City Metal Jackets by a 5-3 margin to sweep the best-of-five NAHL North Division Finals and advance to the Robertson Cup for the first time in the team's five-year run.

Tim Opie and Doug Clifford had a goal and an assist each and Drew Strandberg made 27 saves to spark the North Stars in their series finale, and sending them to Wenatchee, Wash., for a shot at the Tier II national championship.

“It was a pretty good team win – we got goals from a lot of different places and very good goaltending again,” said Traverse City head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “We’re absolutely very happy to be on our way to the Robertson Cup. We’re going to enjoy it. It’s a huge victory, but at the same time, like I reminded the guys after (Friday’s game), we don’t want this to be our biggest win. We don’t want to be happy just to go out there. We want to go out there and try to win some more games.”

Chris Salomone got things started for the visitors on Friday, sticking a backhander past Metal Jackets goalie Phil Graveline with 7:08 left in the first period. Just over a minute later, Opie snapped off a precision wrister from the left face-off circle to make it 2-0. Strandberg kept the advantage intact heading into the first intermission with a pair of point-blank saves in the waning seconds of the period.

Clifford opened the second period with a power play goal 4:34 in, taking a drop pass at the blue line, skating in on Graveline, and fitting the puck just under the crossbar for a three-goal bulge.

Motor City got on the scoreboard a little more than two minutes later, but Kyle Jean intercepted a pass deep in the Jackets’ zone, drew Graveline from the crease, and found the back of the net with a forehanded wrist shot. A power play goal for the hosts cut the deficit to 4-2 with 2:19 left in the middle frame, but Garrett Thompson issued a response a scant 32 seconds later to restore the cushion.

Motor City offered a last-gasp marker with 5:20 to play in the game, but Strandberg and the Stars defensive unit applied the clamps down the stretch to seal the conquest.

Traverse City won a sixth consecutive postseason contest on Friday in claiming a second straight postseason sweep, and outscored their first- and second-round foes by a combined 27-6.

“It’s a group of guys who are really playing well right now,” Palumbo explained. “They’re playing a team game, and really seem to love each other. They wanted something and they’ve been able to achieve part of that so far. We’ve enjoyed it, and it should be a pretty awesome experience for the guys.”

The five-team Robertson Cup tournament gets underway at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee on May 4. After a four-day round-robin, the top two teams will play for the Cup on May 9.

“We don’t know who we’ll play or when we’ll play yet, some of that should come together by Sunday,” Palumbo said. “We’ll have some film to watch.”

Photo by John L. Russell/Great Lakes Images

Marquette Rangers sale made official

The Marquette Rangers of the North American Hockey League have announced the team has been sold and will relocate within Michigan for the 2010-11 season.

"Since the introduction of the Marquette Rangers to the central Upper Peninsula back in 2006, we have kept our promise in terms of bringing entertaining hockey to Marquette, providing local U.P. kids the opportunity to play closer to home, and moving players onto college rosters", said Rangers president David Saint-Onge. "Unfortunately, we could not successfully combat the negative effects of the economy and that is very unfortunate given the success of our organization."

This season, the Rangers won their first North Division regular-season title in the team's four-year history. The organization also moved over 30 of its players onto NCAA and professional hockey during its time in the NAHL, including forward Jake Hauswirth, who signed with the NHL's 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," Mark Frankenfeld, NAHL commissioner, said of Saint-Onge. "He's brought a lot to our league over the years and we can't thank him and the entire Rangers' ownership group enough for helping make the NAHL the best junior league in North America."

Pending business matters associated with the sale and relocation of the team dictate that details of the team's new ownership and home will be announced in the coming weeks.

"We are committed to helping the new ownership group and the NAHL with a smooth transition," said Saint-Onge. "We understand this is a surprise to many, especially our players and recruits, but we will do all we can to ensure the team remains successful."

The team's try-out schedule has been modified to reflect the re-location. As such, the first try out date has been scheduled for May 14 at the Flint Iceland Arena.

The open try-out scheduled for Suburban Ice in Farmington Hills May 21-23 will remain, while the two try-outs scheduled for Marquette in July have been cancelled.

New information on the team will be posted on the NAHL website as it becomes available.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Team USA wins World Under-18 title

Jack Campbell made 33 saves as the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team captured its second consecutive gold medal at the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation World Men's Under-18 Championship after downing Sweden, 3-1, here tonight at Minsk Arena in Belarus.

Team USA closed out tournament play with a 6-0-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record while outscoring its opponents, 33-7.

"This has been one of the neatest experiences I've had as a coach and one of the better groups I've ever had the chance to work with," said Kurt Kleinendorst, head coach of Team USA. "I had heard so many things about [USA Hockey's National Team Development Program] prior, with regard to how special it was and how good this group was to work with. I think winning the gold medal is just the perfect ending to a great season."

The U.S. got the start it wanted when Luke Moffatt deflected Derek Forbort's shot past netminder Johan Gustafsson just 2:10 into the game. Campbell stopped all nine first-period shots he faced, many of which came on a five-minute power play for Sweden.

Team USA kept the pressure on when Nick Shore dug the puck out of the corner and fed Austin Czarnik, who then slid the puck to a charging Justin Faulk, who flipped it over Gustafsson at the 7:31 mark of the middle frame. Rocco Grimaldi made it 3-0 when he redirected Adam Clendening's wrist shot just inside the left post at 13:47 of the second period.

Despite a goal from Ludvig Rensfeldt at 6:54 of the third period, Team USA held off the relentless Swedish attack. Campbell stopped eight shots in the final frame to shut the door.

NOTES: Campbell received the directorate award as the tournament's best goaltender and was also named Team USA's Player of the Game today. Campbell finishes his Under-18 career with a 0.80 goals-against average and .966 save percentage, to go along with five shutouts in 10 games played. He had not allowed a goal in 274:12 minutes of action until Sweden's goal at 6:54 of the third period ... Campbell and Clendening received tournament media all-star honors and, along with Jon Merrill, were named Team USA's best three players ... Campbell and Jason Zucker became the first two American men at any level to capture three IIHF gold medals after winning the top prize at the 2009 World Men's Under-18 Championship, the 2010 World Junior Championship and the 2010 World Under-18 Championship ... Clendening (3-7--10), Shore (3-7--10) and Grimaldi (2-8--10) tied for the U.S. lead with 10 points each ... The U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team became the first U.S. National Team to earn a gold medal in a former Soviet Socialist State at any level ... The U.S. has earned an unprecedented seven consecutive medals at the IIHF World Men's Under-18 Championship, which includes four gold (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010), two silver (2004, 2007) and one bronze (2008). Team USA also captured the gold medal in 2002. Team USA's eight overall medals are tied with Russia for the most ever at the IIHF World Men's Under-18 Championship ... The United States owns the title in each of the IIHF amateur championships with gold medals at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship and 2010 IIHF World Men's Under-18 Championship. Additionally, the U.S. is the defending champion at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and World Junior A Challenge, giving it four international titles at the Under-20 level.

Rangers sold, on the way to Flint?

The Marquette Rangers have been entertaining hockey fans at Lakeview Arena for four seasons now, and Thursday, the team held a press conference to discuss its plans for the future.

"The Rangers team has been sold to a new North American Hockey League member, based in Michigan," explained Rangers GM David Saint-Onge.

More from ConnectMidMichigan.com HERE.

*** UPDATE ***

The Flint Journal is reporting that the Rangers, not the Alpena IceDiggers, will be the new team in town next fall.

Former Jets goalie a USHL prospect

Former Metro Jets goaltender Colin Greeley has been invited to the USHL Prospect Combine at the Arctic Ice Arena in Orland Park, Ill.

This weekend, players with 1992 and 1993 birth years will be on display in front of coaches, general managers, and scouts from around the USHL.

Greeley, a 17-year-old from Howell, played for the Jets during the 2008-2009 season and posted a team-best four victories between the pipes and was also eighth among CSHL goalies with 698 saves.

For more information on the USHL Prospect Combine, click here.

Photo by Matt Mackinder

Marquette dominates All-North Team

The North American Hockey League has announced its All-Central, -North, -South and -West Division Teams for the 2009-10 season, as selected by the league’s coaches and general managers.

All-North Division Team
Forward: Tanner Kero, Marquette Rangers
Forward: Andrew Kolb, Marquette Rangers
Forward: Garrett Ladd, Marquette Rangers
Defenseman: Mike Schenfeld, Janesville Jets (formerly of Traverse City)
Defenseman: Travis White, Traverse City North Stars
Goaltender: Kevin Kissaw, Marquette Rangers

North Stars hope to close out Jackets

If there’s a decisive fifth game in the NAHL North Division Finals between the Traverse City North Stars and Motor City Metal Jackets, it’ll be played next Monday at Centre ICE arena.

But the Stars hope it won’t come to that. With two chances to lay claim to the best-of-five finals, and with two victories already in the coffers, Traverse City can book its first-ever trip to the Robertson Cup Finals with a triumph in either contest this weekend in Motown. The first chance comes on Friday evening at Taylor’s Kennedy Ice Arena in the third game of the set.

“We have an opportunity, but we haven’t won anything yet,” Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo pointed out. “Until you get that third win, there’s really nothing ahead but the next shift. Nobody over here is taking anything for granted.”

The North Stars protected their home ice advantage last weekend, sweeping a pair of contests at Centre ICE with a 4-1 triumph on Friday and a 5-1 win the following night. Palumbo says the Jackets will be eager to do the same this time around.

“They’ve played well against us at home,” said Palumbo, whose Stars have dropped four of seven contests in metropolitan Detroit during the regular season. “They’re playing at a different arena now in Trenton, but it’ll be their home ice, their fans, their energy. We have to be ready to win that first shift, win that first period, and do all those little things it takes to be successful this time of year.”

John Scorcia (four goals) and Steve Brancheau (four points) continue to lead the Jackets offense, while all-star selection RJ Kleiman has scored thrice in his five postseason outings. Philip Graveline and Jason Torf split the series in TC last weekend.

For the North Stars, who have outscored their playoff opponents by a 22-3 margin, Garrett Thompson leads the charge with four goals and assists on three more. Doug Clifford is sixth among all NAHL skaters with six postseason assists, while Dan Radke (four goals) and Nick Shkreli (four assists) chipping in.

Statistically speaking, Drew Strandberg’s postseason numbers are otherworldly. He’s given up a trio of goals in 300 minutes – five full games – of action for a diminutive 0.60 goals-against average and .973 save percentage.

“We’ve tried to make it hard for teams to get a lot of shots on Drew,” Palumbo said. “But when he’s been called upon, he’s come up big.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lumberjacks hire assistant coach

The Muskegon Lumberjacks completed their coaching staff this week with the hiring of David Noel-Bernier.

Noel-Bernier will assist head coach Kevin Patrick as the Lumberjacks prepare to begin play in the United States Hockey League this fall.

More from the Muskegon Chronicle HERE.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Canton's Wolfe chooses Michigan State

MSU Press Release

Michigan State has announced that Greg Wolfe has signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Spartans. He will join fellow incoming freshmen Lee Reimer and Willie Yanakeff on the Spartan roster in the fall of 2010.

“We are excited that Greg has signed his letter and will be coming to East Lansing in the fall,” noted MSU head coach Rick Comley. “Greg is a skilled player, and has a nose for the net. He can play in every situation, making him a versatile addition. He, Lee and Willie will play a big part in filling out the needs on our roster for coming years. We think that they all will contribute positive things to our program. We currently have a young team, and are excited about adding promising young players to that mix for the coming seasons.”

This season, Wolfe, a Canton native, was involved in a trade deadline deal in the USHL that sent him from Chicago to Omaha. He helped the Lancers to a first-place finish in the West Division, and are still alive in the Clark Cup playoffs, currently facing off with the Fargo Force in the West Division finals, a best-of-seven series. In 18 games with Omaha, he has averaged better than a point per game (7g, 13a) and is a +18. In Chicago, he had a 17-15-32 scoring line in 39 games, with four power-play goals and three shorthanded strikes.

Reimer is also still playing hockey in the AJHL’s Doyle Cup playoffs. In the regular season, Reimer led the Canmore Eagles in scoring with a 33-44-77 scoring line in 59 games, ranking 10th in the league in points, eighth in goals, 10th in assists, 13th in points per game (1.13), sixth in power play goals (11), and fourth in shorthanded markers (4). Through six playoff games, he has one goal and seven assists.

Yanakeff, a Jerome native, had his 2009-10 season shortened by injury, and was also the subject of a mid-season USHL trade from Sioux City to the Waterloo Black Hawks. In his 10 games in Waterloo, he posted a 5-5-0 record and 3.41 goals-against average for the Blackhawks, who finished fourth in the East Division.


Photo courtesy USHL Images

Worlton named new Jr. Generals coach

The Flint Junior Generals have announced that Jeff Worlton has been named new head coach for next season.

Worlton brings junior and college level coaching experience and pro hockey playing experience to the Junior Generals. He was the first coach for the Tri City Ice Hawks in the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League and built that program to be a contender. Worlton was looking to advance to coach at the Junior A level and thinks the Flint program has what he is looking for.

Owners Gale and Kelly Cronk believe that Worlton has the qualities needed for coaching the level of play in the Central States Hockey League and the experience and dedication to develop players to play at the CSHL evel and beyond.

Worlton stated that he is excited to work for the Junior Generals program and has the same beliefs that Gale and Kelly have in sending players to the next level.

The Generals will have their first camp June 18-20 at Flint Iceland Arenas. Applications with times and cost will be on the Flint website.

Friday, April 16, 2010

'Canes sign Plymouth d-man Jordan

The Carolina Hurricanes today announced that the team has agreed to terms with defenseman Michal Jordan on a three-year, entry-level contract.

The deal will pay Jordan an average of $550,000 per season at the NHL level, $60,000 per season at the minor league level, and includes a signing bonus of $170,000. Jordan will report to the Albany River Rats of the American Hockey League, and join the team for its Calder Cup playoffs run.

Jordan, 19, completed his third season of North American major junior hockey in 2009-10, scoring 13 goals and earning 19 assists (32 points) in 41 regular season games with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. The Zlin, Czech Republic, native scored 11 power-play goals in 2009-10, to rank second among all OHL defensemen in that category.

Jordan (6-foot-1, 184 pounds) completes his junior career having scored 31 goals and earned 71 assists (102 points) in 160 regular season games with Windsor and Plymouth.

He has represented his native Czech Republic three times at the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-20 World Championship, most recently captaining the team in the 2010 tournament.

The Hurricanes drafted Jordan in the fourth round, 105th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images

Thursday, April 15, 2010

North Stars cautious to play Motor City

The Motor City Metal Jackets didn’t put up eye-popping regular-season numbers, but if there were any doubts about the fourth-seeded Jackets’ ability to generate offense, they were emphatically erased in a three-game sweep of North Division regular season champion Marquette in the divisional semifinals.

When the Traverse City North Stars host Motor City on Friday and Saturday to open the North Division Finals, they’ll be facing a team that is coming off an emotional deluge from a triple-overtime victory at Marquette to close out the series sweep last weekend.

“That series is a pretty serious statement,” cautioned Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “They come at you with a lot of energy, a lot of grit, and they have some pretty talented guys up front. Plus, they have a big, strong defensive corps. You add all that to the fact that we’ve only had mixed success against them this season, and we could be in for a very tough series.

"The fact that they come in as the team that finished the regular season as the fourth seed means absolutely nothing.”

Traverse City enjoyed a sweep of their own, outscoring Janesville by a 13-1 chasm in the semifinal round, and advancing to the division finals for the first time in the club’s five-year history. The winner of the Stars-Jackets series will earn a trip to the NAHL Robertson Cup Finals in Wenatchee, Wash. on May 4-9.

John Scorcia and RJ Kleiman both scored a trio of goals in the series against Marquette, with Kleiman potting the series-cincher 6:37 into the sixth period at Lakeview Arena last Thursday. Steve Brancheau and rugged blueliner Mike Monfredo each dished a trio of assists in the semis. Phil Graveline worked two of the three games versus the Rangers, with Jason Torf getting the nod in a 2-1 victory in Game Two.

Drew Strandberg claimed a pair of shutouts in the North Stars’ opening-round brooming of Janesville, closing out the Jets in a 2-0 triumph last Friday.

Three TC skaters have four points apiece so far in the postseason: Garrett Thompson, Eric McLintock and Doug Clifford. Centerman Dan Radke has three goals and Nick Shkreli three helpers.

“I don’t think anyone is expecting anything other than a tough, tight series,” Palumbo added. “We have to come out right away with energy and get a lead. We have to keep playing within that strict team concept, winning the little battles, playing our positions and making a play when the time comes.”

Friday’s series opener at Centre ICE is also ‘Face-off for Father Fred’ night. Fans who bring a non-perishable food item will receive $2 off an adult ticket or $1 off a student ticket. For each fan who pays full value for their ticket, the team will donate $2 per adult ticket and $1 per student ticket to the Father Fred Foundation’s food pantry.

"It’s an exciting and rewarding time,” said Stars majority owner Raj Wiener. “With our games this weekend scheduled at home, coach Palumbo and the team wanted to share a good thing with fans and community.”

Following Saturday’s Game Two clash at Centre ICE arena, the series shifts to metropolitan Detroit for a pair of contests next weekend. If a decisive Game Five is necessary, it will be played at Centre ICE on Monday, April 26 at 8 p.m.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hayes named OHL's top humanitarian

The Ontario Hockey League today announced that forward Ryan Hayes of the Plymouth Whalers is the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy Winner presented to the OHL’s Humanitarian of the Year for the 2009-10 season.

Hayes, a 20-year-old from Syracuse, N.Y., 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. Hayes follows Chris Terry as the second straight member of the Whalers to receive this award.

“I had a great role model last year working with Chris (Terry) in the community” said Hayes. “It really is a huge honour for me to win this award. It means a lot to be able to give back to the community as a hockey player. I remember when I was younger how much it meant to me to see older guys at appearances, and hopefully the kids we reach out to give back when they get older.”

This season Hayes took on a leadership role for the Whalers in the “Friends of Jaclyn” program which supports the non-profit charitable organization that improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors. The Whalers were paired up with seven-year-old Johnny Muller and his five-year-old brother, Aidan. Johnny has had a brain tumor since the age of two. Hayes took over the project by explaining to the rest of the players what the program was and the importance of helping out.

“Our whole team was involved in the program” said Hayes. “The boys always put a smile on our faces even after losses. They are a great family and the boys are just like little brothers to me.”

After learning of the boys’ interest in becoming hockey players, Hayes organized a private post-game skate and stayed on the ice for nearly two hours providing individual lessons. He has been a constant role-model and friend to both Johnny and Aidan and keeps close contact with the Muller’s to learn the latest news about Johnny’s condition and provide the necessary support. He even drove an hour and a half on an off-day to the boys’ school to take part in a “show and tell” class presentation.

“Ryan not only made Johnny and Aidan feel welcome every weekend, before and after the games, but he went above and beyond to show my boys how much they meant to him” said Krissy Muller. “The boys had never skated before and it was a very scary idea for Johnny considering his tumor sits on the area of his brain that controls balance. Ryan talked him into coming out on the ice with him and made it a night Johnny would later call the best day of his life.”

Serving as an Assistant and Captain throughout the season, Hayes took on a leadership role off the ice in a variety of team initiatives including regular “March is Reading Month” appearances at area schools stressing the importance of education to the students, and the Whalers’ annual “Pink Out” for Breast Cancer Awareness that again featured the entire hockey club dye their hair pink to promote the cause. 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.

“Just having a Plymouth Whaler at the event was enough for our athletes” said Special Olympics Michigan Development Manager Ashley Diersch. “Ryan’s involvement and the true connection he seemed to have with everyone made it one of the best experiences they have had.”

Hayes’ commitment to the community was also evident during the summer when the Whalers’ Learn to Skate Program was almost cancelled due to a lack of instructors. Hayes informed the Whalers front office that he would be willing to teach the classes and promptly moved back to Plymouth for the entire summer to help out.

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

Hayes will officially be presented with the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy at the OHL Awards Ceremony June 9 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He will also be the OHL’s nominee for Humanitarian of the Year at the Annual CHL Awards.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Motor City-Traverse City schedule is out

The North American Hockey League has announced the schedule of the four best-of-five divisional finals series of the 2010 Robertson Cup Playoffs.

NORTH DIVISION
Motor City Metal Jackets vs. Traverse City North Stars

Game 1: Friday, April 16 @ Traverse City, 7 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, April 7 @ Traverse City, 7 p.m.
Game 3: Friday, April 23 @ Motor City, 7 p.m.
Game 4: Saturday, April 24 @ Motor City, 7 p.m.*
Game 5: Monday, April 26 @ Traverse City, 8 p.m.*

*If Necessary

TC's Thompson commits to Ferris State

It was a mild surprise when Garrett Thompson skated his way onto the Traverse City North Stars’ roster as a high schooler back in the summer of 2007.

But it was no surprise at all this week when the rangy winger signed with Ferris State University – except maybe to Thompson himself.

“They had been talking with me for a month or so and we had scheduled a visit to campus,” said Thompson, who grew up in Davison, but moved to Traverse City with his family in 2007. “But the visit was on the other side of a three-week recruiting blackout period. I was just sitting at home, trying to get some homework in before class, and saw that (Ferris) head coach Bob Daniels had called. I figured he was just following up and keeping in touch, but he said they didn’t want to have to wait until after the three-week blackout and offered me a spot.”

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Thompson has appeared in 121 regular season games over three seasons with the Stars, scoring 40 goals and assisting on 40 others. He’s fifth on the team’s all-time scoring list and one of just five players in the history of the club to register 40 career goals, and five players ever with a 50-point season.

Thompson reached his productive zenith in 2009-10, leading Traverse City with 24 goals, finishing tied for fourth in the NAHL with a plus-30 plus-minus rating and reaching the scoresheet in 37 of his 57 outings. He became a veritable metronome of consistency in the second half, with points in 25 of 32 games that included his first career hat trick on Jan. 9 in a 7-2 win over Alpena.

“Three years ago, we took Garrett as a pretty young kid,” said Traverse City head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “We had him on the radar, but kind of thought of him more as a year away, but we really liked his size and potential. He made the roster, has worked very hard in his time with us and is really coming into his own.”

Palumbo says Thompson has the rare blend of smarts, mass, and raw ability to go with a dedication to team and the sport itself.

“He has a great work ethic, and a good understanding of the game,” he continued. “He has a sense of what it takes to help his team be successful – whether that’s scoring a goal, playing defense, getting the puck to the right spot, or whatever it needs to be.”

The timing of the offer may have taken Thompson aback, it also came in the midst of the North Stars’ current playoff run, which naturally tempered his jubilation a bit.

“Of course, there’s the huge relief and the excitement, but we had to play a pair of games down at Janesville, so that kind of tugs you in the other direction,” he explained. “I didn’t exactly want to go into the locker room in the middle of playoff time going ‘hey guys – guess what happened!’ So there were a lot of different emotions going on.”

Thompson, Plaumbo and the rest of the North Stars resume their pursuit of the Robertson Cup on Friday, as Traverse City is set to host Motor City in the opening game of the best-of-five NAHL North Division Finals. The Stars will also host Game Two on Saturday night at Centre ICE arena, before the series shifts to suburban Detroit the following weekend.

Photo by John L. Russell/Great Lakes Images

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bond hired as new Metro head coach

The Metro Jets are proud to announce the hiring of Jeff Bond as the team's new head coach.

Bond, 51, takes over for Jamie Hayden, who was the Jets' head coach the past five seasons. Hayden will remain with the team as associate coach.

Peter Flynn has been hired as a new assistant coach and replaces Ryan Skop, who left the Jets at the end of this past season to pursue other coaching opportunities.

"The Metro Jets are altering our course a bit in 2010-2011," said Metro GM Butch Wolfe. "I believe Jeff Bond has the knowledge and the assets to get this organization back on the winning side of things. He will be ably assisted by Jamie and Pete, both of whom have a great deal of hockey knowledge. I believe we have a great team assembled here.”

No stranger to the Central States Hockey League, Bond was the head coach of the Motor City Chiefs the past two years (and an assistant coach in 2007-2008), while Flynn was an assistant coach with the Chiefs.

Bond, who played collegiate hockey at Western Michigan University during the 1978-1979 season, has nearly 30 years of coaching experience with the majority of it coming at the AAA youth level in Michigan with Compuware, Little Caesars and the Michigan Nationals. He has also been an assistant coach in the Michigan high school ranks with Howell and Brother Rice, as well as a coach with the Michigan Development Hockey League.

In the scouting realm, Bond has been a scout for the Traverse City North Stars of the North American Hockey League and also for Lindenwood University in the St. Louis area.

Bond and his wife, Laurie, reside in Northville and have two children, Ryan, 23, a forward/defenseman who played for Traverse City and Lindenwood before joining the All American Hockey League’s Battle Creek Revolution this season, and Angie, 21, who is attending Central Michigan University.

"I'm certainly excited to be a part of the Jets' organization," said Bond. "The franchise has a storied history, but has hit a rough patch in recent years. My goal is to get this team back to its winning ways this season and I'm hopeful we can do that starting with finding some impact players in the league draft next month."

The Jets will hold a pre-CSHL draft camp May 15-16 at Lakeland Arena. More details, including times and costs, can be found at the Jets website.

The CSHL draft is scheduled for Saturday, May 29 in Chicago.

North Stars to host Jackets this weekend

The first two games of the NAHL North Division Finals has been set, while the remaining three contests of the best-of-five second round series will be announced on Monday.

Traverse City will host Motor City on Friday and Saturday to open the series. Both games are slated for 7:00 p.m. face-offs at Centre ICE arena. Games three and four would be held at Yack Arena in suburban Detroit, with a decisive fifth meeting back at Centre ICE if necessary.

Friday is Face-Off for Father Fred night, with fans encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for the Father Fred Foundation Food Pantry. For each food item, fans can get $2 off an adult admission and $1 off a student ticket. Fans can also pay full value and the team will donate $2/$1 each to the Foundation.

NAHL NORTH DIVISION FINALS
GAME 1: Friday, April 16 at Traverse City, 7:00 p.m.
GAME 2: Saturday, April 17 at Traverse City, 7:00 p.m.
GAME 3: at Motor City, TBA
GAME 4: at Motor City, TBA*
GAME 5: at Traverse City, TBA*
* If necessary

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Traverse City sweeps Jets, advances

The Traverse City North Stars were the NAHL’s third-highest scoring team during the regular season, but also flexed a concerted defensive prowess as well during a three-game sweep of Janesville in the NAHL North Division semifinals.

The Stars closed out the Jets on Friday at Janesville Ice Arena, riding the impenetrable padding of netsweep Drew Strandberg to a 2-0 triumph and second straight shutout of their division rivals. It was the first Robertson Cup playoff series won by the Stars in their five-season history.

“It wins us a series, but I don’t want this series to be the one that defines our season,” said Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “We’ll take a few hours to enjoy this one, but we’re right back to work tomorrow.”

Dan Radke delivered the first special teams goal for either team in the series, opening the scoring 5:55 into the contest with a power play marker. Garrett Thompson and Doug Clifford assisted. Neither team would crack the scoreboard again until Kelin Ainsworth levied an unassisted empty-netter with :49 to play.

Strandberg stopped all 27 shots he faced and permitted just a single goal in the three playoff meetings with Janesville.

“Drew would be the first to tell you that those first two games back in TC probably weren’t the toughest games for a goalie,” Palumbo said. “But tonight, in the smaller rink, with lots of quality chances – you have to have your goalie come up huge. And he did.”

Traverse City will move on to face Motor City in the best-of-five North Division finals, starting next Friday at Centre ICE arena. The fourth-seeded Metal Jackets swept through regular season division champion Marquette, claiming the series with a triple-overtime thriller on Thursday evening.

“Obviously, they (Motor City) took it to Marquette and they’ve given us trouble this year, too,” Palumbo added. “They just went out and swept the regular season division champs, so we know we’ll have our hands full.”

Times and dates for the NAHL North finals have not been set, but the Stars will enjoy home-ice advantage. The series will begin next weekend.

Friday, April 09, 2010

OHL announces All-Rookie Teams

First Team
Centre - Boone Jenner, Oshawa (younger brother of Plymouth defenseman Leo Jenner)
Wing - Matt Puempel, Peterborough
Wing - Gabriel Landeskog, Kitchener (Plymouth's 2009 import draft pick, later traded)
Defence - Ryan Murphy, Kitchener
Defence - Scott Harrington, London
Goalie - Michael Houser, London

Second Team
Centre - Ivan Telegin, Saginaw
Wing - Michael Curtis, Belleville
Wing - Austen Brassard, Belleville
Defence - Dougie Hamilton, Niagara
Defence - Geoffrey Schemitsch, Owen Sound
Goalie - Petr Mrazek, Ottawa

Whalers hand out awards Thursday night

The Plymouth Whalers concluded the 2009-10 season with their annual awards banquet held last night at CJ’s Brewing Company at Compuware Arena.

The following players received awards:

LEADING SCORER and MOST VALUABLE PLAYER, REGULAR SEASON: Center Tyler Seguin, who tied Windsor’s Taylor Hall for the Ontario Hockey League’s scoring title with 106 points.

LEADING SCORER and MOST VALUABLE PLAYER, PLAYOFFS: Center-left wing Phil McRae, who scored six goals with nine assists for 15 points in nine games.

BEST DEFENSEMAN: Leo Jenner (pictured above with head coach Mike Vellucci and associate coach Joe Stefan), who capped a five-year career in Plymouth with a career-best seven goals with 17 assists for 24 points and was a team-leading +22.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: Defenseman Austin Levi, who scored three goals with nine assists for 12 points while playing in 68 games.

UNSUNG HERO: Center AJ Jenks, who enjoyed his best offensive season with Plymouth, scoring 23 goals with 40 assists for 63 points in 52 games. Jenks was voted the Most Underrated Player in the OHL’s Western Conference Coaches Poll.

BLUE COLLAR, HARDEST WORKING PLAYER: Center Joe Gaynor, who capped a five-year career in Plymouth with his best offensive season – 13 goals with 23 assists for 36 points in 67 games. Gaynor holds the Whalers franchise mark with 276 career games played.

ROOKIE of the YEAR: Center-right wing Garrett Meurs, who scored 16 goals with 18 assists for 34 points in 62 games.

HUMANITARIAN: Right wing Ryan Hayes, one of the leaders in the Whalers’ community relations efforts. Hayes has been nominated for the Ontario Hockey League’s Dan Snyder Award for Humanitarian of the Year.

ACADEMIC PLAYERS OF THE YEAR: Defensemen Josh Bemis and Colin MacDonald.

ALICE IAFRATE AWARD (Off-Ice Officials Overage of the Year): Joe Gaynor.

WHALERS BOOSTER CLUB AWARDS:

BARBARA MOHRLOCK MEMORIAL AWARD as FAN FAVORITE: Tyler Seguin.

SCHOLASTIC PLAYER of the YEAR: Josh Bemis.

GRINDERS of the YEAR: Leo Jenner and Joe Gaynor.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Phil McRae.

NEXT UP FOR THE WHALERS: Seguin – the top North American Prospect available for this summer’s National Hockey League Entry Draft - will be participating in the NHL Draft Lottery next Tuesday at 8pm. The event can be seen live on VERSUS, The NHL Network and on NHL.com.

The Whalers will be participating in the annual Ontario Hockey League draft on Saturday, May 1.

Photo by Walt Dmoch/Plymouth Whalers

North Stars look to finish off Jets

If you’re lucky enough to still be playing hockey this time of year, each game becomes the biggest game of the season.

And if you’re five-year old franchise on the precipice of advancing to the NAHL North Division Finals of the first time in history, each shift becomes the most important shift in club lore.

Such is the case with the Traverse City North Stars, who own a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five North Division semifinals after 7-1 and 4-0 wins over the Jets last weekend at Centre ICE. With one more, win they’ll move on. But a pair of losses would send the series back to Centre ICE for a decisive fifth contest on Monday.

“It’s going to be a very different weekend, we know that,” said Traverse City head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “It’s their first-ever home playoff game, there’ll be a packed house, and a lot of emotion. We expect them to come out flying.”

The Jets will have to get their very capable offense going to stave off elimination this weekend. All-stars Rui Encarnacao (52 regular season points; team-high 27 goals) and Ross Mauermann (41 pts., 28 assists) have yet to record a point through the first two contests. Palumbo says they and the other Janesville skaters could go off at any time.

“They have some talented, hard-working guys,” he pointed out. “And that makes it that much more important that we focus on winning the first shift, then the first period on Friday. Then we’ll try to win the second period, and so on. We’ll see where that takes us. We can’t get caught up thinking about anything other than what our job every time we go over the boards.”

North Stars goalkeep Drew Strandberg has backstopped the club almost flawlessly through 120 minutes of action, permitting a single goal in Friday’s Robertson Cup playoff opener before penning a shutout the following evening. TC defenseman Chris Heineman may be available this weekend after absorbing a blow to the upper body last Friday.

If the Stars can wrest one of this weekend’s games, or on Monday back in Traverse City, they’ll face the winner of the Motor City-Marquette series the following weekend. The Metal Jackets lead the Rangers 2-0 in the other North semifinal, and Game 3 was in a second overtime late Thursday. A possible decisive Game 5 between the Stars and Jets would be played on April 12 at 7 p.m.

Metal Jackets sweep Rangers in 3OT

The Motor City Metal Jackets advanced to the North Division finals of the Robertson Cup playoffs last night as RJ Kleiman’s goal in the third overtime - his second of the game - lifted the Metal Jackets to at 4-3 victory and a 3-0 sweep over the North Division regular-season champion Marquette Rangers in their divisional semifinals series.

John Scorcia added a goal and assisted on Kleiman’s game-winner and Steve Brancheau recorded a pair of assists.

In goal, Phil Graveline stopped 47 shots.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Whalers sign '93 goaltender Mahalak

The Plymouth Whalers announced today the signing of 17-year-old goaltender Matt Mahalak.

Mahalak, a Monroe native and the younger brother of Whalers left wing RJ Mahalak, was selected by Plymouth in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2009 Ontario Hockey League draft.

Mahalak played this season for the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League and posted a 4.24 goals-against average in 31 games. In 2008-09, Mahalak played for Culver Military Academy in Indiana where he carried a 4.0 grade point average.

“Matt is the top goaltender of his draft class,” said Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci. “He’s played well at every level and we expect that to continue next season in Plymouth. Matt is an extremely gifted student who will already be in college next season at just 17 years old. He received a lot of offers from Division I programs, but we're pleased that he decided the OHL could provide him the best level of competition while continuing his education.”

Red Line Report, an independent scouting service, has Mahalak rated 18th overall for the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

Plymouth has a history of developing goaltenders for the National Hockey League. This season, Whalers alums Justin Peters (2005-06) and Michal Neuvirth (2006-08) made their NHL debuts. Other Plymouth goaltenders moving on to the National Hockey League include Robert Esche (1995-98), Jason Bacashihua (2001-02), Fred Brathwaite (1992-93), Mike Minard (1995-96) and Derek Wilkinson (1990-92).

Final NHL draft rankings released

NHL Central Scouting released their final 2010 draft rankings yesterday and Plymouth Whalers forward Tyler Seguin topped the domestic skaters.

All Michigan juniors listed below:

Tyler Seguin, F, Plymouth Whalers, 1
Cam Fowler, D, Windsor Spitfires (Farmington Hills), 5
Austin Watson, F, Peterborough Petes (Ann Arbor), 14
Jon Merrill, D, U.S. NTDP (Brighton), 21 - '08 Plymouth draft pick
Ivan Telegin, F, Saginaw Spirit, 33
Brandon Archibald, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Port Huron), 64
Kevin Gravel, D, Sioux City Musketeers, formerly of the Marquette Rangers, (Kingsford), 70 - '08 Plymouth draft pick
Bryan Rust, F, U.S. NTDP (Bloomfield Hills), 80
Jared Knight, F, London Knights (Battle Creek), 82
Josh Shalla, F, Saginaw Spirit, 84
Michael Sgarbossa, F, Saginaw Spirit, 92
Austin Levi, D, Plymouth Whalers (Farmington Hills), 156
Myles McCauley, F, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, started season with Plymouth, (Sterling Heights), 160
Andy Huff, F, Traverse City North Stars, 168
Taylor Carnevale, F, Barrie Colts (formerly of Plymouth), 185
Michael Kantor, F, Saginaw Spirit, 192

Jack Campbell, G, U.S. NTDP (Port Huron), 2
Scott Wedgewood, G, Plymouth Whalers, 19
Will Yanakeff, G, Waterloo Black Hawks (Jerome), 20

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Trouba named to NTDP for '10-11 season

USA Hockey Press Release


Forwards Nicolas Kerdiles (Irvine, Calif.) and Nikolas Olsson (Escondido, Calif.) and defensemen Seth Jones (Plano, Texas) and Jacob Trouba (Rochester) have committed to join USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program starting in the 2010-11 season.

The players, all born in 1994, will compete as members of the U.S. National Under-17 Team.

“These four players provide a great foundation to continue to build on for next season’s U.S. National Under-17 Team,” said Ryan Rezmierski, director of player personnel for the NTDP. “They all possess exemplary characteristics, both on and off the ice, that make a national team successful.”

Kerdiles and Olsson both come from the LA Selects Midget Minor team. Kerdiles led the squad with 54 points, including a team-best 29 assists, in 37 games in the Tier I Elite Hockey League. Olsson finished third on the team with 28 points (19-9), despite playing in just 21 games this season.

Jones played for the Dallas Stars Midget Major team during the 2009-10 campaign. He recorded 18 points (5-13) in 42 games in Tier I Elite Hockey League action.

Trouba skated for the Compuware Midget Minor team. He finished third on the team and first among blueliners with 28 points (14-14) in 38 games in the Tier I Elite Hockey League.

NOTES: The U.S. National Under-17 Team will play in the United States Hockey League, as well as compete in three international competitions during the 2010-11 season … The U17 squad will be comprised of two goaltenders, 13 forwards and eight defensemen.

Photo by Aaron Bell

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Metal Jackets call Trenton new home

The Motor City Metal Jackets are proud to announce a partnership with the City of Trenton.

The city's Kennedy Recreation Center will be the new home of the Metal Jackets, beginning with the 2010 NAHL playoffs on April 8-9.

Team owner Kenji Yamada and Trenton mayor Gerald Brown came together recently (pictured) to officially sign the lease agreement and finalize this exciting mutual opportunity. The organization looks forward to working closely with Trenton's municipal employees as well as the great hockey-educated fanbase throughout the city.

The Metal Jackets thank Mayor Brown, the Trenton City Council and everyone involved in helping to make this possiblity a reality.

Gatt to play D-I at Alabama-Huntsville

The Topeka RoadRunners of the North American Hockey League have announced that defenseman Nickolas Gatt has committed to the University of Alabama-Huntsville for next season.

Gatt, from Farmington Hills, totaled two goals among 16 points in 54 regular season games for the South Division champion RoadRunners. He was also a plus-18.

“It didn't take Nickolas long to adjust to the speed of juniors,” said RoadRunners head coach Scott Langer. “He very quickly played himself into an every-night role. He’ll work hard to bring his game up to what UAH is expecting of him. He's proven that here."

Gatt, 19, is excited to begin his college career at Huntsville. He plans to major in Psychology and a foreign language in hopes of pursuing a career with the FBI.

"I chose UAH because I think it’s an up and coming program that showed great success by making it to the (NCAA) tournament this year,” he said. “I’m also thrilled about the competitive schedule it’ll have."

The fourth player from this year’s RoadRunners team to commit to a Division I program, Gatt is nothing but thankful for his opportunity in Topeka.

"The fans are great and the dedication is unbelievable,” said Gatt. “It went by faster than expected and I’m glad I chose to play here.

“The behind-the-scenes work by the coaching staff is unnoticed sometimes, but very helpful for moving me and my teammates to the next level. They do a great job with that.”

Sandmeyer commits to Michigan State

The Green Mountain Glades of the Eastern Junior Hockey League have announced that defenseman Chris Sandmeyer has committed to Michigan State University for next year.

Sandmeyer, a 19-year-old Portage native, came to the Glades this year after a stellar high school career at Portage Central High School. He was contemplating another year with the Glades when the opportunity with MSU came to the forefront.

"We are so happy for Chris and his family," Glades coach Chris Line said. "Chris was a valuable part of our team last year and will do a great job at the next level. It couldn't have happened to a better person or teammate."

Sandmeyer posted five goals and 20 points in 40 games this season.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Higby chooses Northern Michigan

Erik Higby
is coming home to play college hockey as the Shelby Township native has decided on Northern Michigan for next season.

NMU assistant coach Rob Facca was at Landon Arena in Topeka, Kan., for Friday night's playoff game, and the agreement was reached that will have Higby, currently with the NAHL's Topeka RoadRunners, suiting up for the Wildcats next fall.

"It feels great", Higby said Saturday morning. "I'll be able to see family and friends. It's exactly what I hoped for."

He will pursue a degree in sports management as his long-term goal is stay involved in hockey well after his playing days are done. Getting his college plans cemented also helped take a great weight off his shoulders.

"I'm relieved, really," Higby said. "It's taken a lot of stress off me."

Higby raised the bar in Topeka, setting a franchise record for total points in a season (80) which led the NAHL, and assists in a single season (53). Not one to get wrapped up in personal accolades, Higby remains focused on the goal of winning a championship.

"Getting college figured out was heavy on my mind," said Higby. "Now I can just concentrate on the rest of the season."

RoadRunners coach-GM Scott Langer is pleased with Erik's commitment.

"He's earned it, no question," said Langer. "I'm just surprised it didn't happen sooner. It's gratifying to see a player reach his goals with persistence and hard work. As an organization, we're all very proud of what Erik's done. He has proven himself to be a true RoadRunner."

Higby will be joining two former RoadRunners at NMU. Jared Brown (Lone Star Cavalry 2003-04, Santa Fe RoadRunners 2004-05) will be a senior next season and Reed Seckel (Topeka 2007-08) will join Higby as a freshman. Also on the Wildcat roster is Chad Pietila, who played midgets with Higby, and also played for the NAHL's Marquette Rangers.