Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rochester native decides on Michigan

The U.S. NTDP has announced that defenseman Jacob Trouba has committed to play collegiate hockey at the University of Michigan next season.

The 6-foot-2, 194-pound native of Rochester collected seven points (3g, 4a) while playing 31 USHL games for Team USA’s Under-17 squad in 2010-11. Trouba participated in this summer’s NHL Research, Orientation and Development Camp alongside several other top NHL draft-eligible prospects. He has been tabbed as one of the top USHL prospects for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

"I really liked the way he played in all three games I viewed; he's a very good size D man," Al Jensen of NHL Central Scouting told following the USHL Fall Classic. "He skates exceptionally well and likes to rush up ice with the puck and with good speed. He'll also join the rush himself, is very confident and has great agility. He's strong physically, can handle the puck and is always alert. He also did a good job with one-on-one rushes against ... he has great upside."

Trouba won’t have to go far to continue his hockey career as the Ann Arbor-based National Team Development Program is in close proximity to the University of Michigan campus.

LISTEN to Trouba’s recent interview on The Pipeline Show as he discusses his development and decision to play college hockey at Michigan.

Photo by Tom Sorensen

Muskegon's Pomarico chooses Army

Muskegon Lumberjacks
defenseman Christian Pomarico committed to play hockey for the United States Military Academy on Wednesday.

In doing so, the blueliner from Simsbury, Conn., not only secured the next step of his hockey career, but also fulfilled his childhood dream.

“Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to serve in the military,” Pomarico said. “Both of my grandfathers served and I’m very proud. This is very important to my family.”

Pomarico will move to West Point in fall 2012. He got an opportunity to impress Army assistant coach Trevor Large with his performance at the United States Hockey League Fall Classic last week. On Tuesday morning, he received a call and an offer from Army head coach Brian Riley.

“I had a good weekend,” Pomarico said. “They liked the way I played and I couldn’t be more grateful that they offered me a spot.”

Pomarico consulted his parents and Jacks head coach Kevin Patrick for advice before committing and admits that a weight has been lifted from his shoulders.

“It’s a big relief,” Pomarico said “I came into the season not entirely sure of what options I’d have. I had a lot of faith in Coach Patrick and the coaching staff here to get me where I wanted to be.”

The Jacks already have a connection to the academy, as former Jacks athletic trainer Jason Rule is in his first season in that same role at West Point.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hellebuyck glad he chose Jets, NA3HL

For the Metro Jets and Chris Hellebuyck, the second time was the charm.

The Jets drafted Hellebuyck in 2010, but the Commerce Township native elected to play midget hockey last season with the Lansing Capitals.

When the 2011 North American 3 Hockey League draft came around this past June, Hellebuyck was again drafted by the Jets and this time, he made the decision to make the jump to junior hockey.

“When I signed with Metro, I knew a little about the league and I had a chance to skate with (Jets head coach) Jason (Cirone) the season before, so I knew a little about him as well,” said the 19-year-old Hellebuyck. “I feel lucky to play for a coach who I will learn from, rather than just play for, and so far I've really enjoyed the hockey in this league.”

Playing on a forward line with Doug Andrews and Josh Beleski, the trio has accounted for almost a third of the team’s scoring this season. Hellebuyck has two goals and eight points through five games.

“I think that getting to play with players like Andrews and Beleski has helped a lot,” Hellebuyck said. “Andrews is always their picking up where I left off with the puck and Beleski always seems to be in position. I also think that getting that first goal and having a good first game was very important for me. It takes a lot of pressure off me as a player so I can continue to try and get better now.”

The Jets had actually hoped for two Hellebuycks to be playing in Waterford this season and signed goalie Connor Hellebuyck, Chris’s younger brother, to a tender last May. Connor earned a tryout with the expansion Odessa Jackalopes of the North American Hockey League and made the team.

Still, having the older Hellebuyck is a great situation for the Jets.

“My goal in hockey is to earn a college degree with it and I think that junior hockey is the best route,” Hellebuyck said. “I would really like to play with my brother in Texas if I were given that opportunity, too. This season, my biggest expectation for myself is to improve on what I know were my weak spots last year. I would also like to make sure that I can help my team on the offensive side of the ice as well as the defensive side.”

To keep improving, Hellebuyck looks to two Detroit Red Wings forwards for inspiration.

”I really enjoy watching Pavel Datsyuk play because he is always where he needs to be,” explained Hellebuyck. “It looks like he's not working hard, but he will always be in the right place. I also enjoy watching Darren Helm play because it is somewhat of the opposite. He works hard and creates his opportunities that way.”

If the first five games are any indication, Hellebuyck will be enjoying a multitude of opportunities this year with Metro.


Matt Stemkoski scored the game-tying goal and then the overtime game-winner as the Jets came from behind and topped the Flint Jr. Generals, 4-3, last Saturday night at Lakeland Arena.

The Jets, now 4-1-0-0, took a 2-1 lead into the third period on goals from Matt Stirling and Beleski before Luke McDiarmid and Edward Osowski gave Flint the lead with 1:06 to play.

With goalie Devin Williams on the bench for the extra skater, Stemkoski beat Flint goalie Dominic Orlando at 19:19 to send the game to the extra session where Stemkoski won it at 2:33.

Williams finished with 30 saves and has been in net for all four Jets' victories this year.

Mike McKinnon and Steve Klisz added two assists apiece for Metro.

The Jets host the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution (0-6-0-0) this weekend for a two-game series. Both games Friday and Saturday night at Lakeland start at 7:50 p.m.


The Jets released 17-year-old rookie defenseman Neal Krentz (Bloomfield Hills) prior to the game against Flint. Krentz had not seen any game action this season.


Vinnie Pietrangelo, Metro’s top draft pick in 2009, is entering his sophomore season at Finlandia University this fall on the Lions’ blueline.

Pietrangelo, a 20-year-old Traverse City native, tallied a goal and nine points in 47 games with the Jets during the 2009-2010 season. Last year with FU, he had two assists while playing in all 24 games.

Pietrangelo’s third cousin, Alex Pietrangelo, is starting his second season with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues. Vinnie’s father, Tony, is third cousins with Alex's uncle, Frank Pietrangelo, himself a former NHL goaltender with Pittsburgh and Hartford in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Photo by Andy Grossman/Detailed Images

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lomberg feels USHL, 'Jacks best fit

Ryan Lomberg
has a dream, and with every hockey phenom like him who chooses the United States Hockey League path to greatness, that dream becomes more of a reality.

“I believe that one day, the USHL and college hockey will be clear-cut better than the OHL (Ontario Hockey League), especially with Canadian players coming over,” the first-year Muskegon Lumberjack said. “I’m proud to be part of that movement.”

Lomberg, a Richmond Hill, Ont., native, was selected sixth overall by the Jacks in the 2011 United States Hockey League Entry Draft. But he was destined for Muskegon long before his name was called and long before he put together an extraordinary performance at the Jacks’ tryout camp in mid-June.

Stuffing the stat sheet is one thing, and Lomberg certainly did just that for Hill Academy last season to the tune of 99 points on 52 goals and 47 assists. His team took part in the Muskegon Winter Showcase at the L.C. Walker Arena in late February. The inaugural event brought in 10 premier AAA teams and featured six members of the Jacks’ current active roster.

“The showcase gave us the chance to recruit him really hard in our own building. We got to show him first-hand what we have to offer,” Lumberjacks head coach and general manager Kevin Patrick said. “You’ve got to be able to get players to your building so you can show them what you have to offer. His team coming and him being able to see first-hand what we’re doing in Muskegon helped him decide that it’s where he wanted to be.”

“It was a very impressive event,” Lomberg said. “It gave me a chance to see Muskegon in person, and it’s such a beautiful town. The arena is awesome. The facilities are great. The coaching staff and ownership were nice and welcoming to me. I knew I wanted to be a Lumberjack right there and then.”

Lomberg wasted no time making his presence known for Musky, leading the team with four points on a goal and three assists during the exhibition schedule. Perhaps most noticeably, Lomberg showed zero hesitation when teammate and fellow USHL rookie Nick Seeler was checked from behind in the waning minutes of a hard-fought game against Youngstown. Lomberg immediately came to Seeler’s aid.

“Chemistry is everything,” Lomberg said. “It’s not just about being close off the ice, either. It’s especially on the ice. If someone gets hit, you feel it. You immediately want to stick up for them. When they’re upset, you’re upset. Chemistry is one of the most important pieces for a championship team.”

Lomberg, who wore the 'C' for Hill Academy, as well as during his development with the Mississauga Reps youth hockey program, knows a thing or two about the power of chemistry. He was immediately impressed with the leadership of such returners as defenseman Carter Foguth.

“We all love Fogey, and he can command a room,” Lomberg said. “He knows when to say the right thing, and he always says it. I could see it immediately in just the first exhibition game.”

The Jacks are certainly deep and skilled and boast a wealth of leadership with 10 players who saw significant ice time during the 2010-11 campaign returning for the upcoming season.

“The guys are tough on each other, and having half of the team returning is great,” Lomberg said. “They do a nice job of physically helping us out, but they’re also telling us what to do and what to watch out for – on and off the ice.”

Lomberg has committed to play hockey at one of the most storied programs in all collegiate sports – the University of Maine.

He admits he’s still acclimating to Muskegon and the tempo and physicality of the premier juniors league in the nation. But the challenge only makes him work harder.

“Plain and simply, Muskegon was the best place for me to develop and hopefully I can reach the dream someday of playing in the NHL,” Lomberg said. “If you’re willing to work for it, they give you everything a player could need to be a premier player and stand out as a true freshman on the collegiate level and beyond.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

'Jacks help raise $2700 for WSAHA

The Muskegon Lumberjacks raised $2,700 to support the West Shore Amateur Hockey Association during their exhibition game against the Youngstown Phantoms on Saturday, Sept. 17 at the West Shore Community Ice Arena.

Along with the Lumberjacks, many West Shore volunteers helped raise funds through ticket sales, a silent auction and the classic intermission game Chuck-a-Puck.

“This was a terrific opportunity to showcase the USHL to our fans in the Ludington area,” said Lumberjacks president Tim Taylor. “More importantly, the event raised significant money for the West Shore Amateur Hockey Association.”

All proceeds from the event were donated to the West Shore Amateur Hockey Association and the youth programs they facilitate. Additional funds will be allocated among the youth hockey teams to help cover expenses for ice time.

“I wanted to present a professional element to the event, and see to the needs of each team and their staff and provide an enjoyable experience for the spectators,” said Charlie Weber, president of the WSAHA. “The game was exciting and I am pleased at the result of the first-year run at this. It will only get better.”

“I was pleased to see the organization of the event, the professionalism of the players, coaches, and staff of both Muskegon and Youngstown,” West Shore Community Ice Arena manager Mike Moore said. “I thought the teams made a great impression on the local community and I hope this helps facilitate both interest in hockey at our arena and for the Muskegon Lumberjacks.”

The Lumberjacks also participated in a 20-minute post-game skate with hockey fans and children. The players signed autograph cards and memorabilia.

“A special thank you to Charlie Weber, West Shore Community Ice Arena, and all of the volunteers that made the event possible,” Taylor said. “Furthermore, we thank those that attended and supported the event.”

Friday, September 23, 2011

Port Huron begins North play Saturday

The Port Huron Fighting Falcons will begin play in the NAHL’s newly realigned North Division this weekend, as they play road games against the Michigan Warriors and the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings.

This year, the North Division will be made up of the Fighting Falcons and four other teams: the Warriors, Traverse City North Stars, Jr. K-Wings and the Jamestown (NY) Ironmen.

The Fighting Falcons are looking to build off of their success at last week’s NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn., where they skated to a 3-0-1 record, and left in a three-way tie atop the North Division.

Port Huron’s success was one of the biggest stories of the showcase, where each NAHL team played four regular-season games. Three of Port Huron’s four games took place against teams that won their division last season. A shootout loss to the reigning Robertson Cup champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs last Saturday kept the Fighting Falcons from a perfect record.

The Fighting Falcons will travel to Flint Saturday to take on the Michigan Warriors, with a Sunday matchup set in Kalamazoo against the Jr. K-Wings. The Warriors, who fell to the Ice Dogs in last year’s Robertson Cup finals, also left Blaine with a 3-0-1 record. Last season, the Warriors were the only team to lose twice to Port Huron.

The expansion Jr. K-Wings won two of their four showcase games. Forward Chad McDonald led the Jr. K-Wings with eight points in four games, with six coming in a five-goal effort in Kalamazoo’s 8-2 victory over the Dawson Creek Rage last Friday. McDonald was named the NAHL’s third star of the week for his efforts.

Rookies Kody Polin and Easton Powers tallied five points apiece at the showcase to lead the Fighting Falcons. Polin put up four goals in a 7-3 win over the New Mexico Mustangs last Friday, while Powers dished out four assists and netted one goal in last week’s action.

Fighting Falcons goalies Pete Megariotis and Max Milosek were strong in net last week, each starting two games, stopping over 90 percent of the shots they faced and earning goals against averages of less than 2.

The Fighting Falcons will travel to Traverse City next Wednesday to take on the North Stars, who went 12-0 against the Fighting Falcons last season. The North Stars, like the Fighting Falcons and the Warriors, left the NAHL Showcase without a loss in regulation. These teams faced off in a pre-season matchup September 8. Port Huron won that game, 5-2.

Port Huron’s home opener will take place Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. at McMorran Arena against Jamestown. Port Huron native Jack Campbell, who was selected by the Dallas Stars with the 11th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, will be on hand to drop the ceremonial first puck and sign autographs.

If the team is able to continue their unbeaten streak, it is possible for them to match last season’s six wins before they even play in front of their home crowd. Port Huron’s next win will give them nine points, half of what they earned in 58 games in their inaugural season.

Saginaw trades Morgan's rights north

The Saginaw Spirit have traded the rights to Alex Morgan, the 173rd overall pick in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection, to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in exchange for a fifth round pick in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Westland native Brown an OHL captain

The Kingston Frontenacs have announced that they have named overage forward Tyler Brown team captain for the 2011-12 OHL season.

“I took the opportunity and allowed the kids to voice their opinion and mark down who they would like as captain and assistants,” said Kingston head coach Todd Gill. “I looked over their answers and agreed with their choices.”

Brown, a Westland native and former Plymouth Whaler, joined the Frontenacs at the trade deadline in January when he came over from the London Knights.

“Brown is a quiet leader,” added Gill. “He leads by example and doesn’t just speak to be heard. He speaks to be meaningful.”

Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Klisz showing offense early for Metro

When Steve Klisz scored the overtime game-winner to send the Metro Jets past the Flint Jr. Generals in both team’s season opener two weeks ago, he said after the game that the goal was “definitely one of the biggest goals I’ve ever scored.”

Not too shabby for a player the Jets drafted in June in the 20th round with the 317th overall pick in the North American 3 Hockey League Entry Draft.

“We drafted Klisz on the recommendation of (former Metro assistant coach) Sean Clark,” said Jets head coach Jason Cirone. “So far, he’s been one of our most skilled players and is a kid that can bring the pace of the game to his level. That’s not something you teach and it also shows that he doesn’t panic.”

After he found out Metro selected him, Klisz (pronounced KLISH) started doing his research.

“When I was drafted, I honestly didn't know much about the Jets or the league, but after going to some (summer open) skates and talking to Coach Cirone, I realized that playing for the Jets would be the best for me,” explained Klisz, an 18-year-old forward from Livonia. “I like the team and I’m very glad I made this decision.”

Scoring his clutch goal against Flint only solidified Klisz’s decision to play for the Jets. Like he mentioned, it was one of a handful of what he considers to be memorable goals. He added three more this past weekend against the Queen City Steam and now leads Metro in scoring with nine points.

“Last year for Livonia Churchill High School, we played Orchard Lake St. Mary's in the state quarterfinals and I scored two big goals,” remembered Klisz. “Another time was in Bantams when I scored the game-winning goal at Joe Louis Arena to win the Little Caesar’s championship.”

Klisz, like most players at this level, has very high, yet reasonable expectations of himself.

”I want to play great defense, score 30 goals and have 30 assists and be a great team player,” said Klisz, who grew up looking up to NHL stars Steve Yzerman, Pavel Datsyuk and Mats Sundin. “One person I look up to is my dad. I wouldn't be playing hockey today if it wasn't for him.”

“He’s a very big part of our power play,” said Cirone of Klisz. “He’s so calm, cool and collected with the puck and we need a guy like that on the power play. We’ve scored a power-play goal in every game so far and Klisz is a big part of that.”

Klisz also has a hockey future mapped out past this year.

”I would like to play in the North American Hockey League next year and I think that would be a big achievement for me,” Klisz said. “Then after that, I would like to play college hockey. Ohio State has always been a dream ever since I was a little kid and that would be a blessing if I played for the Buckeyes.”

Keep scoring big goals and Klisz may have his pick of where to play in the future.


The Jets reeled off two wins on the road against the Steam last weekend, completing their first sweep in Cincinnati in more than five years.

The Jets, now 3-1-0-0 on the young season, won both games by a 5-3 count with goalie Devin Williams earning both wins.

"The funny thing that happened this weekend is that everyone played well," Cirone said. "I rolled four lines Saturday night, but then we had a couple injuries and I played three lines plus one and eight defensemen Sunday. We played extremely well for five periods this weekend, with the exception being the third period Sunday."

Saturday night, Klisz scored twice with an assist, Mike McKinnon had a goal and two assists, Matt Stemkoski a goal and a helper and Doug Andrews the other goal.

Williams finished with 24 saves.

Sunday afternoon, Klisz, Andrews, Stemkoski and McKinnon scored again with Branden Morganroth tallying as well. Andrews has scored in all four games thus far for the Jets.

"The guys worked hard all week and I think our practice Thursday was our best of the year," said Cirone. "It was upbeat, up-tempo and there was a lot of teaching and a lot of learning going on."

Matt Stirling chipped in with a pair of assists and Williams stopped 27 shots in goal.

The Jets return home to Lakeland Arena this Saturday night for their lone game this week, a 7:50 p.m. start against Flint.

Cirone said to prepare for Flint, a team that the Jets played on opening night and took a 8-7 win in overtime, not much should change this week in practice.

"We just have to keep continuing what we're doing," Cirone said. "Flint's a very good team and if we don't keep ourselves grounded from winning these two games in Queen City, Flint will fix that real quick."


Metro captain Tommy Kilgore turned 19 last Sunday … Forward Travis Hargett was back in the lineup for the Queen City series after suffering an upper-body in the season opener against Flint on Sept. 9 … Williams is tied with Granite City goalie Matt Grove for most wins in the NA3HL this year (3).


Steve Oleksy
, a defenseman who played for the Jets during the 2004-2005 season, has agreed to terms with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads on a contract for this season.

The 25-year-old Oleksy is returning for his third season with the Steelheads. He originally signed with the team in January 2010 and going to the Kelly Cup finals. He returned last season and solidified himself as one of the team’s top blueliners with 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) and a team-high 134 penalty minutes for the Steelheads before being loaned to the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.

“Steve is a guy who got an opportunity last season and really took advantage of it,” Idaho coach Hardy Sauter said. “You want the kinds of players that will step up like Steve has. He got good experience with us and in the AHL last season, so we’re really happy to have him back.”

During his time in the AHL, Oleksy skated in 17 games, picking up four assists and 39 penalty minutes. He also appeared in three playoff games with Lake Erie.

After playing for the Jets, Oleksy played for the NAHL’s Traverse City North Stars and then three seasons at Lake Superior State from 2006-2009.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Whalers swap goalies with Knights

The Plymouth Whalers have announced the trade of 17-year-old goaltender Jake Patterson to the London Knights in exchange for 17-year-old goaltender Darien Ekblad, plus three draft choices in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

Besides Ekblad, Plymouth receives London’s third-round choice in the 2012 OHL draft, plus a couple of their own draft choices moved in previous trades – the Whalers' fifth- and eighth-round selections in 2012.

“We feel we owe it to Jake to give him a chance to play in the OHL,” said Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci. “He’ll get a good opportunity in London.”

London is looking for another goaltender to work with incumbent Michael Houser and Patterson may be the answer.

Patterson was originally selected by the Whalers in the seventh round (135th overall) of the 2010 OHL draft. He played twice against London in the preseason and played well, stopping 73 of 79 shots for a .924 save percentage in a 4-2 loss to the Knights on Sept. 9 (final goal into an empty net) and a 3-3 tie the next evening.

Ekblad – 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds - was originally selected by London in the ninth round (179th overall) of the 2010 OHL draft. He’s currently playing for the Leamington Flyers of the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League.

Ekblad is the brother of Aaron Ekblad, the first overall pick in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection who is playing for the Barrie Colts.

Meanwhile, the Whalers will continue in goal with New Jersey prospect Scott Wedgewood and Matt Mahalak (Carolina).

Patterson photo courtesy Plymouth Whalers

Friday, September 16, 2011

Andrews off to fast start with Jets

Doug Andrews is a player that Metro Jets’ head coach Jason Cirone said “is going to be a heck of a player for us this year.”

And after a six-point weekend to open the North American 3 Hockey League season last Friday and Saturday, who's to argue?

Andrews, who signed with the Jets late in the summer as a free agent, said he knew what he was getting into by joining the Jets.

“When I signed with the Jets, I had some knowledge of the league and I also knew some of the players that were in it,” said Andrews, a 19-year-old Macomb, Mich., native. “One of my coaches from last year, Andy Oleksy, informed me more about the team and thought this would be a good fit for me. When I signed, I actually didn't know much about Coach Cirone, but I know that he expects a lot out of his players. I'm glad I am playing for him this year. I’m going to work hard and focus on becoming an all-around better hockey player.”

Last season, Andrews was part of the Troy Sting Midget AA team (pictured) that won the state championship. The Sting was coached by Fred Costello, a former head coach of the Jets.

Once last season ended, however, Andrews was already looking ahead to making the jump to junior hockey.

“I really tried to prepare myself all summer for the upcoming season by off-ice conditioning and also working on my shot,” the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Andrews said. “This has helped me get off to a good start this season. I don’t really feel any pressure from what Coach Cirone said, I just go out and give 100 percent every shift.”

Growing up, Andrews idolized NHL stars Steve Yzerman and Peter Forsberg. He said both “always played with class and heart.” He tries to model his game after those two and hopes to one day climb the hockey ladder to higher levels.

“I would like to progress next year to the NAHL or a college team,” boasted Andrews. “I intend to do this by continuing my work ethic.”

Or just by simply continuing to be one heck of a player.


Mike Moroso, who played for the Jets last season, led the Port Huron Fighting Falcons over the Traverse City North Stars, 5-2, with a two-goal effort in a preseason NAHL game at Ferris State University on Sept. 8.

"(Moroso) basically made our team out of camp and the reason he did is because he put pucks in the net," Port Huron head coach Bill Warren said to the (Port Huron) Times-Herald. "Did I expect him to score two goals? No. But does he have that ability? Yes."

Last year with the Jets, the 20-year-old from Macomb, Mich., was third in team scoring with 20 goals and 16 assists for 36 points in 43 games. He also led the team and was second in the NA3HL with four shorthanded goals.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Muskegon to play five exhibition games

Before the Muskegon Lumberjacks’ second quest for the Clark Cup gets under way, the United States Hockey League club will cut its teeth on five exhibition games, culminating with three contests at the USHL Fall Classic.

The Jacks’ first exhibition game will take place at Western Michigan University at 7 p.m. Friday against the Indiana Ice. Admission is free.

The Jacks will turn around to host another Eastern Conference rival, the Youngstown Phantoms, at West Shore Community Ice Arena on Saturday. The game will be a fundraiser for the West Shore Amateur Hockey Association. Tickets can be purchased at either Port City Candy in Manistee or Gordy’s Skate Shop in Ludington. Port City Candy is open every day but Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and can be reached at (231) 887-4333. Gordy’s Skate Shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The shop’s phone number is (231) 845-9100. Fans may also call the Lumberjacks’ office at (231) 724-JACK (5225) for more information.

The Jacks’ exhibition slate will wrap up with three games in the USHL Fall Classic in Sioux City, Iowa. Muskegon’s first game during the highly-scouted four-day extravaganza will be against the Chicago Steel at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 22. The Jacks’ second game will be against the Dubuque Fighting Saints at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23 and they will wrap up the preseason against Green Bay at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24. The Jacks’ second and third games at the Fall Classic will be broadcast at

“The Fall Classic is something our guys are very excited for, and three games in four days is a great opportunity to gauge the shape you’re in,” Lumberjacks head coach and general manager Kevin Patrick said. “It’s been a great camp so far. I know our guys are eager to get out there and compete.”

The Jacks begin their regular season with four games away from the L.C. Walker Arena before opening the home schedule against the Dubuque Fighting Saints on Saturday, Oct. 22.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Canton's Obuchowski chooses Yale

The Indiana Ice announced that defenseman Ryan Obuchowski has committed to play college hockey with Yale University starting in the fall of 2012.

The 19-year-old from Canton was a solid blueliner for the Ice during their mid-season resurgence in the 2010-2011 campaign. Obuchowski posted a +9 plus-minus rating and earned all of his 13 points (5G, 8A) between early December and early April, including goals in three consecutive games in late March.

He first came to the Ice after being selected 70th overall in the 2010 USHL Entry Draft.

Obuchowski will be joining a collegiate program that is very familiar to his new head coach with the Ice, Kyle Wallack. Prior to joining the Ice, Wallack spent three seasons on the bench as the associate head coach for the Bulldogs.

"I'm extremely happy for Ryan," Wallack said. "He exemplifies everything you look for in a student, a person and a hockey player. His hockey ability will fit right into Yale's style of play."

Photo courtesy Whiteshark Photography

Muskegon's DeBlouw has faith

By Christopher Heimerman
Lumberjacks staff

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1.

During his rookie season in the United States Hockey League, Matt DeBlouw rode a veritable roller coaster of emotion because of an unfortunate injury, but was sustained by faith.

Entering his sophomore campaign, the Muskegon Lumberjacks’ electrifying forward has a much more serene outlook.

“I’m in a relaxed state right now,” DeBlouw says, “now that I’ve got a year under my belt.”

And what a year it was.

DeBlouw missed the bulk of the 2010-11 regular season with a lacerated spleen, an injury he suffered while delivering a clean, bone-rattling body check during the third game of the Jacks’ season Oct. 9 against Team USA in Ann Arbor. About six months later, the Chesterfield native broke out with a team-high eight points (3 goals, 5 assists) and +6 plus/minus rating over six games during the Jacks’ inspired Clark Cup playoff run.

“The most important thing coming back is trying to click with your teammates again,” says DeBlouw, a product of Belle Tire Youth Hockey whom the Jacks selected in the second round of the 2010 USHL Entry Draft. “It showed during the playoffs. It took time, but we all started clicking again. It felt so great after being frustrated when I tried to click again after I came back from the injury. I hadn’t skated with my teammates for three months.”

‘I surrender’

DeBlouw missed those three months after only getting to cut his teeth on two full USHL games before his tough-luck injury. But he refused to let his confidence wane, thanks to his relentless support system and, perhaps most importantly, his unshakable faith. He was hospitalized for six days, during which his family and girlfriend, Holly, kept him constant company.

“They were there every day, and I couldn’t have done it without them,” DeBlouw says. “My family’s always been there for me.”

DeBlouw admits that he needed to “surrender,” and trust that God would help him overcome the injury.

“Faith helped me push through and has gotten me to where I am,” DeBlouw says. “I could’ve been depressed and down in the dumps. I just reminded myself, ‘I know I can’t play tomorrow or the next day, but I know God will help me get back in a couple months.’ I just had to surrender and have faith.”

Coach provides consolation

At the forefront of his support was Jacks head coach Kevin Patrick. When a doctor told DeBlouw he might not play hockey again last season, Patrick told his player to keep his spirits high.

“He just told me to take it day by day, to eat right, stay healthy and stay safe,” DeBlouw says.

When DeBlouw was cleared to return for the Jan. 14 game against Youngstown, he showed no effects of missing time in terms of his intensity. While his stride wasn’t quite as powerful as it was coming out of training camp, he fearlessly played his way and the Jacks’ way – fast and physical.

“That’s all because of Coach Patrick and playing on a fast and physical team,” DeBlouw said. “He told me it was a freak accident and that I need to keep playing the way that I play. If I didn’t, there was no sense being out there.”

DeBlouw admits feeling frustrated that his effort wasn’t consistently translating in the points column. Before breaking out at the most important time – the postseason – he registered six points on two goals and four assists in the final 30 games of the regular season.

“Coach Patrick just kept telling me to take it day by day,” DeBlouw says. “Suddenly, in the playoffs we clicked. (Matt) Berry, (Ryan) Misiak and I started clicking. And (Travis) Belohrad and I started clicking toward the end. It felt great that coach used me to help other lines get going. We needed a whole team effort and that’s exactly what we delivered.”

That was then, this is now

DeBlouw can’t wait for Friday night, the first exhibition game against the Indiana Ice at Western Michigan University. But he’s certainly made exceptional use of his summer leading up to the preamble to the 2011-12 USHL season.

While not enjoying a couple of trips to Mackinaw City, he’s been bulking up –thanks to the rigorous program put together by Jacks assistant coach and certified strength trainer Dave Noel-Bernier. DeBlouw is boasting another 10 pounds and now checks in at 6 feet tall and 175 pounds. Given his postseason explosion and dedication during the offseason, he’ll undoubtedly be a must-see player this season.

But the first thing you notice when you bump into him isn’t the new bulk. It’s his infectious, ear-to-ear smile.

“I just feel at peace coming into this season,” DeBlouw says. “Our team is gelling so well. We’ve got vets who know what they’re doing, and the incoming group is a great one. They’re working hard and fitting in. I’m excited for the newcomers to look to me for help, and I’m ready to have some fun this season.”

- Christopher Heimerman is the broadcaster and communications director for the Muskegon Lumberjacks. He can be reached here.

Photo by Dave Reginek

North Stars start new season tonight

The exhibition season is in the rear-view mirror and the Traverse City North Stars are steaming toward the regular season opener on Wednesday on the opening day of the four-round North American Hockey League Showcase in suburban Minneapolis.

The Stars, coming off a franchise-first 40-win season, kick off the Showcase against perennial powerhouse Texas, which posted a 35-15-8 mark in 2010-11 and are already qualified for the Robertson Cup finals as host of the season-ending event.

Traverse City head coach Chad Fournier says his club will have to be prepared for a jump in the level of intensity.

“Now they count,” offered Fournier, who will make his official head coaching debut on Wednesday. “We don’t get to dress 22 guys anymore, the pace will be much quicker than it has been (in the preseason). We’ll also have to compete harder. We worked hard in the exhibition games, but when we got to the Port Huron game, we got thoroughly outworked and it showed in the final score.”

The Stars will take on Odessa in Thursday action, a team that crafted a 32-19-7 record last season playing as the Owatonna (Minn.) Express, and follow that with a clash against Aberdeen on Friday. Former North Division foe Springfield (Ill.) will provide the opposition in Saturday morning’s Showcase-capper.

“You go into the Showcase hoping to win all four (games),” Fournier said. “But they are four good opponents. Texas has been very successful program over the years and Springfield closed out last year as hot as any team in the NAHL. Aberdeen also started playing well in the latter stages (of 2010-11) and Odessa is coming off a playoff berth as well. We play some quality teams, we’re always looking to improve every time out, and hopefully we’ll be better on Saturday than we are on Wednesday.”

Before departing for the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Fournier and Co. inked defenseman Dean Burggrabe, who played for the Compuware midget major program last year. The Marquette native will help bolster a young blue-line corps.

“We’ll put our best 20 (players) out there and go after it,” Fournier added. “We’re still learning about each other and the new voice, the new system – but the playoff push begins Wednesday. We’re ready to get going.”


: NAHL Showcase

WHERE: Schwan Super Rink – Blaine, Minn.

WHO: All 28 NAHL teams

WATCH IT: Click the FastHockey link at

WEDNESDAY: vs. Texas, 9 p.m. ET

THURSDAY: vs. Odessa, 3:30 p.m. ET

FRIDAY: vs. Aberdeen, 11:30 a.m. ET

SATURDAY: vs. Springfield, 10:30 a.m. ET

Friday, September 09, 2011

Jets open NA3HL season tonight

Let bygones be bygones, says Metro Jets head coach Jason Cirone.

After taking over the Jets last year just before the start of the season, Cirone guided the Jets to a 15-29-1 record in the North American 3 Hockey League. Not a bad year, all things considered, and then to move a half-dozen players up the hockey ladder this offseason made last season seem worth it.

That was then, though, and with the Jets’ season opener slated for Friday night at 7:50 Lakeland Arena against the Flint Jr. Generals, Cirone feels more prepared for this year.

“On paper, I like my team, but it’s always easier to like your team on paper,” said Cirone. “I think we have a different team than last year where we were a meat and potatoes-type team who liked to dump and chase. This year, we’re going to be a little more skilled and will hopefully control the play a little more than last year. Last year at this time, this really wasn’t my team, but now, this is my team.”

New captain Tommy Kilgore, who tallied 12 goals in 40 games a season ago for the Jets, has noticed the difference in the two seasons as well.

“We’re a lot closer-knit team and I think everyone is more committed than this time last year,” said Kilgore, a 19-year-old native of Pinckney. “Guys aren’t just showing up whenever. Everyone is coming to the rink on time and ready to play hockey. We had probably twice as any guys at our camps this summer and five times the talent. (Cirone) recruited so many guys and I know it had to be hard for him to make some of the cuts. Last year, we were still trying to get guys at this point.”

“We’ll have a lot of depth this year and again, that’s by design and that’s from the hard work of a lot of people this summer,” Cirone said. “Last year at this time, we were basically begging other teams for scraps. That’s nothing against the kids we had last season, but my team last year, we worked our tails off and I’ll never take that away from them. What made us win as many games as we did was the fact we were family.”

Returning skaters along with Kilgore include forwards Travis Hargett (Clarkston), Matt Stemkoski (Novi) and Matt Stirling (Dexter) and defensemen Ian Costello (Lansing), Jake Schlacht (Allen Park), Andrew Shalawylo (Clinton Township) and Will Shier (Sterling Heights).

Stemkoski, Stirling, Schlacht and Shier will serve as alternate captains – two will be home captains and two will wear the ‘A’ for away games.

“All five of our letters are kids that are coming back and that’s not taking anything away from the new kids we have because some of those kids are good leaders, but I told the kids at a meeting this week that you don’t need to have a letter on your jersey to be a leader,” said Cirone. “The way I see it, we have 26 players on the team, 26 leaders.”

Kilgore said being named captain is something that wasn’t expected, but is a challenge he’s ready to tackle.

“It’ll be different for sure,” said Kilgore. “Last year, I really wasn’t a talkative guy. I pretty much came to the rink, played my game and that was it. This year, I’ll have to get the team through any tough times we might have, get guys to step up, things like that. It’ll be more pressure, but I think I can handle it.”

“The reason why we made him captain, and it was unanimous, is that last year, he probably took more crap from me, persevered through it and didn’t take it personally,” explained Cirone. “He worked at it, got himself a call-up (to the NAHL’s Port Huron Fighting Falcons in January) and even though he didn’t get another (NAHL) chance this year, he’s come back here and shown the leadership qualities and abilities he showed last year. It was actually a pretty easy decision to show loyalty to a kid that has shown loyalty to me.”

New to the team this year are goalies Dillon Kelley (Petoskey), Devin Williams (Saginaw), a 2011 draft pick of the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, and Ethan Loo (Raleigh, N.C.), and forwards Tim Wlodkowski (Katy, Tex.), Chris Hellebuyck (a Commerce Township native whose younger brother, Connor, was tendered by the Jets to play goal this year, but wound up cracking the roster of the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes), Mike McKinnon (Troy), Steve Klisz (Livonia), Cameron Bruff (Flushing), Branden Morganroth (Highland), Josh Beleski (Southgate) and Doug Andrews (Macomb). Oxford native and forward Tim Perks also made the team, but will miss the season recovering from a torn ACL.

Though two of the three goalies will be young (Williams is only 16 and Kelley just turned 17 last week), Cirone isn’t worried one bit.

“We have three guys who can step up and carry the load for us and play the most important position in hockey,” said Cirone. “Goalies have short memories, or at least they’ll learn to have short memories working with (assistant coach and goalie coach) Randy (Wilson), and that’s one of the reasons we brought him in on a full-time basis. I don’t know much about playing goal and I’m not going to start trying, so that’s why Randy’s here.”

Adam Reid (Georgetown, Tex.), Max Biggings (Hartland), Niels Oleson (the Jets’ first-ever Sweden native), Neal Krentz (Bloomfield Hills), Zach Schlacht (Jake’s younger brother) and Chad Frost (Clarkston) make up the new crop of defensemen.

“I think we’re going to be strong on the back end and I also think we’ll have a lot of talent up front,” Kilgore said. “Our goalie situation should be really good again and having Randy back is definitely a plus. Losing some of the guys from last year will be tough to replace, but I think a lot of the new guys coming in and some of the returning guys will be able to pick up the slack. We have the talent and we have the skill and I think if we all play the systems coach Cirone wants us to play, we should have no problem winning games.”

Dave Hague steps in as a new assistant coach. Sean Clark, an assistant last season, took a job with the central scouting office of the United States Hockey League. Jamie Hayden, a former head coach of the Jets, remains with the team in a special coaching capacity.

“I have said this since day one when I walked through the door here – we don’t just take good hockey players, we also want quality people,” Cirone said. “I don’t care how good you are. If you’re not a decent person, you don’t play here. The same goes for the coaching and scouting. I like to think I’ve surrounded myself with good people and as a team, that’s what we need to do for the players, too.

“I don’t think a lot should surprise me this year. I tell the kids all the time that the day you stop learning is the day you stop playing the game and it works that way as coaches, too.”

Wins and losses have their share of meaning when it comes to gauging team success, but according to Cirone, the NA3HL is more than numbers in columns.

“We call ourselves a development league and the kids all get a chance to play here,” said Cirone. “I told one kid this week that I treat everybody fair, but different, and as soon as they figure out what that means, we’ll be fine. The goal is always the same and that’s to move kids up. If we go 25-5 inour first 30 games and then 2-18 over our last 20, that’s a good season for me. That means other teams noticed our kids and now they’re gone. Was I disappointed in our record last year? Not one bit, but we did win more games last year than in the two previous years combined.

“Getting to the playoffs and winning a championship is always a goal, but overall, the main goal of Metro Jets hockey is to move kids to the next level.”


The Jets host Flint on Friday night and then the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks on Saturday night.

Both games face-off at 7:50 p.m.

“Flint usually has a pretty physical team, but we didn’t have too many problems with them last year,” explained Kilgore. “Cleveland is more of a team that doesn’t hit and is usually one of the faster teams we play. With the way things are looking right now, I don’t think we should have too many problems this weekend, but we’ll see.”

Cirone said he doesn’t want to look past any one game this year.

“Our division (with Flint, Cleveland and the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins) will be one of the toughest in the league,” stated Cirone. “It’s so cliché, but we’ll take it one game at a time. Hopefully, we have a team here that will make other teams worry about us rather than us worrying about them.”

Metro hits the road to play the Queen City Steam in suburban Cincinnati next weekend.

Stirling photo by Andy Grossman/Detailed Images

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Florida native Lopez signs in Saginaw

The Saginaw Spirit have announced the signing of defenseman Ramon Lopez to an Ontario Hockey League contract.

Lopez was selected by the Spirit in the fifth round (96th overall) of the 2011 OHL Priority Selection.

This past season, the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native skated with the Toronto Titans Minor Midget program where he was a teammate of Jimmy Lodge, the Spirit’s third round pick this year. Lopez appeared in 30 games, recording 14 goals and 16 assists.

A forward last season, Lopez has been moved back to the blueline by the Spirit and is now listed as a defenseman on the Saginaw roster.

Warriors readying for '11-12 campaign

The Michigan Warriors start their 2011-12 hockey season this weekend as they play host to Adrian College at Flint’s Iceland Arena on Saturday with a 2 p.m. face-off.

For the exhibition game, season ticket holders will be given a voucher for admission to enter the game, while fans that have not purchased season tickets can purchase adult tickets to the game for $3 each or two for $5. Children 12 and under and children wearing hockey jerseys will be admitted to the game free. There will be no parking charge for the game.

The NAHL North Division playoff champion Warriors will then travel to take on Adrian in the second game of a home-and-home series on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Warriors head to Blaine for Combat Hockey/NAHL Showcase

Next week, the Warriors head to Blaine, Minn., for the 2011 Combat Hockey/NAHL Showcase where they will face Chicago, Corpus Christi, Austin and Dawson Creek.

Warriors Home Opening Weekend

The Warriors' home opener is Friday, Sept 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Perani Arena against the former Motor City team now relocated to Jamestown, N.Y. The Warriors will also face I-69 rival Port Huron the following night at 7 p.m. to wrap-up their first home weekend series.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Kalamazoo names Leone team captain

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings head into their opening weekend of play by selecting its team captains.

Leading the team and wearing the ‘C’ on his sweater will be Chris Leone. Leone, a two-year veteran of the NAHL has spent the last two seasons with the Wichita Falls Wildcats. Leone has 102 games of NAHL experience, tied for the most with Andrew Graves for the most on the roster.

After playing 51 games with the Coulee Region Chill last season, Chris Hughes has been named one of two full-time alternate captains for the Jr. K-Wings. Hughes, a natural scorer, was Michigan’s Mr. Hockey in 2010.

Joining Hughes as a full-time alternate captain is Graves. Graves has spent the last two seasons with the Motor City Metal Jackets. Last season, he was third on the team in scoring with 44 points (26 goals, 18 assists).

Along with the two full-time alternate captains, there will be one home and one away alternate captain for each game. The home game alternate captain will be Taylor Burden. Burden, a 19-year-old forward, spent time with the Traverse City North Stars after being their 12th overall draft selection in 2009.

Acting as the away game alternate captain will be Christian George. A rookie in the NAHL, George most recently played for the Chicago Fury 18U AAA Midget Major program.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Muskegon's Schulze decides on Badgers

It is safe to assume that Muskegon Lumberjacks defenseman Kevin Schulze had a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

On Saturday, the White Bear Lake, Minn., native made his verbal commitment to play college hockey at the University of Wisconsin beginning in fall 2012.

“It feels great,” Schulze said. “It’s a load off my shoulders to know where I’m going to college. I’ve always loved watching Wisconsin hockey, and when I visited Madison, I loved everything about my visit.”

It was not an easy decision for the 5-foot-9, 155-pound blueliner, who weighed the Badgers’ program against that of another powerhouse – the University of Maine.

“I must have talked with my mom and dad for an hour and a half the night before,” Schulze said. “In the end, I just followed my heart.”

Jacks head coach and general manager Kevin Patrick spent five years behind the Badgers’ bench as an assistant to head coach Mike Eaves. In Patrick’s first year at Wisconsin, he and Eaves directed the Badgers to a national title in 2006.

Eaves got his first opportunity to watch Schulze in person during the Jacks’ tryout camp in mid-June.

“Tryout camp definitely played a factor in it,” Patrick said. “Coach Eaves was here specifically to watch Kevin, and for him to be able to see Kevin’s game with his own eyes played a big factor. It’s a great opportunity for Kevin. I have the highest respect for Coach Eaves and his ability to develop players.”

Schulze echoes the same admiration for Eaves.

“He’s done it all – played in the NHL, coached in the NHL and on the college level – so it’s great to have that information,” Schulze said.

During his rookie season in the United States Hockey League, Schulze will heavily rely on Patrick to have him up to speed on Wisconsin hockey long before his arrival in Madison.

“While I was making my decision, I talked with Coach Patrick a lot,” Schulze said. “I’ll rely on him a lot for information on not just the coaches, but everything about the program.”

Schulze has enormous upside, and Patrick is proud that the Jacks will be able to help him develop for not just the college game, but also an outstanding professional career beyond that both on and off the ice.

The Jacks’ 24-man training camp roster now boasts 15 commitments to Division I universities.

“We’re very proud of our commitments. That’s the business we’re in – helping our players reach their full potential,” Patrick said. “They’ve got to stay focused on the task at hand. What they do now here in Muskegon will determine their success in the future.”

Spirit back on Next Media this year

The Saginaw Spirit, in conjunction with Next Media of Saginaw, have agreed on a new contract that will see the broadcaster continue to be the play-by-play provider for the OHL team.

All 68 Spirit games will be carried live on WSGW 100.5 FM Talk and Sports, along with the Spirit radio show which can be heard every other Monday from 6 pm until 7 pm beginning on September 19.

The play-by-play broadcast team of Leigh Cunningham and Dennis Desrosiers will also return to the airwaves for a fourth season culminating with the Spirit’s opening game of the franchise’s tenth anniversary season on September 23 at the John Labatt Center in London.

Next Media of Saginaw general manager Shannone Dunlap had this to say about the contract extension: “I’m excited to be a part of the excitement of our local OHL franchise, the Saginaw Spirit, with an extension of our broadcast partnership for the 2011-2012 hockey season. You can hear the coach’s show every other Monday and every game’s professional play by play announcing by Leigh and Dennis on your radio at 100.5 FM or on our stream at and on your wireless devices - just download the application.”

Spirit president Craig Goslin explains that this agreement further expands upon the relationship between the team and the region.

“The Saginaw Spirit is truly a Great Lakes Bay Region community project and Next Media continues to demonstrate their commitment to our region with their continued support of Spirit hockey," said Goslin. "As we celebrate our tenth year, we are honored to be in a position to be able to extend our current partnership with Next Media on all 68 regular season games and the playoffs. We are grateful for the relationship that we have with all five of Next Media's radio stations. Next Media's strong ratings and professionalism allows us to get the word out to the entire region on upcoming games and all the happenings of the Spirit, both on and off the ice."

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Whalers deal d-man Iafrate to Rangers

The Plymouth Whalers have announced the trade of 17-year-old defenseman Max Iafrate to the Kitchener Rangers in exchange for third-round draft choices in the 2015 and 2016 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selections.

Plymouth and Kitchener will also exchange first-round picks in the 2012 and 2013 Canadian Hockey League Import Drafts.

Iafrate was selected by the Whalers in the first round (15th overall) in the 2010 OHL draft. Iafrate played all of last season in Plymouth, scoring five goals with two assists for seven points and 74 penalty minutes in 62 games.

Plymouth also announced the tryout of free-agent left wing Trent Samuels-Thomas.

Samuels-Thomas, 18 years old and from Hartford, Ct., played last season with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he scored two goals with five assists for seven points and 25 PIMs in 36 games.

Samuels-Thomas also played with Waterloo of the United States Hockey League in 2009-10 and spent 2008-09 with Victory Honda of the Midwest Elite Hockey League, where he scored four goals with four assists for eight points in 31 games.

Samuels-Thomas was contacted Friday and is in transit to Plymouth. He is expected to make his Whalers debut tonight in Plymouth’s preseason game against Windsor at the Farmington Hills Ice Arena.

Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Vienneau leaves Muskegon for OHL

The Sudbury Wolves have announced that goaltender Joel Vienneau has reported to the team's tryout camp being held at the Sudbury Arena.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound goaltender from Hearst, Ont., made the difficult decision this week to choose the option of playing for the Wolves and earning an OHL education scholarship over returning to the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL and the prospect of an NCAA scholarship.

Vienneau backstopped the Lumberjacks to their first-ever playoff series win and posted a .910 save percentage in two playoff rounds last season. He played 39 regular season games for the expansion USHL team and recorded 15 wins and a .889 save percentage.

"I am really pleased to be here in Sudbury and competing for a goaltending position with the Wolves," said Vienneau. "Sudbury has a very good team and a good organization and I’m excited about the prospects of playing here this season."

The Wolves acquired Vienneau's rights last season from the Guelph Storm as part of the Dan Maggio trade which saw the Wolves receive two second round picks, a fifth round pick and the rights to Vienneau, who was originally selected in the seventh round of the 2008 OHL Priority Selection by Guelph.

"Joel was a goaltender that we were very high on in his draft year," said Wolves' GM Blaine Smith. "We are pleased that he has made the decision to report to Sudbury and provide us with another excellent goaltender and depth at our goaltending position. He is a big goaltender that uses his size and challenges shooters. Joel has a positive attitude and excellent character.”

Vienneau's decision to leave the USHL for the OHL was a difficult one, but he’s glad that he did.

"The OHL is a better league and NHL scouts watch every OHL game," said Vienneau. "At this point of my hockey career, my goal is to play hockey as long as I can, attend college and graduate from university down the road. I believe that the OHL is the best fit for me at this point of my career. I look forward to the challenge of earning a job with the Wolves and concluding my junior career in Sudbury."

Muskegon Chronicle (Aug. 30): Muskegon Lumberjacks cut ties with goaltender Joel Vienneau

Friday, September 02, 2011

Warriors start camp, add coach Hamre

The Michigan Warriors have announced that John Hamre will join the organization as an assistant coach and Dr. Matt Sardelli will return as team physician.

Hamre (HAM-ree) will also take over some of the operational duties with the team for the upcoming season. The Roseville, Minn., native is a veteran coach, having coached at the NCAA Division I, international and professional levels, and has worked with USA Hockey at many developmental camps and coaching clinics. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota’s College of Education.

“We are proud and fortunate to be able to bring a man with John’s winning history and experience on board," said Warriors owner Pat McEachern.

Sardelli, who is affiliated with both Hurley Medical Center and McLaren Regional Medical Center, has previous experience that includes holding the same position with the Minnesota Wild of the NHL.

The Warriors officially start training camp for the 2011-12 season today, after a brief practice and introductory meeting last night.

All Warriors training camp ice-related activities will be held at Flint’s Iceland Arena located at 1106 S. Elms Road, culminating with the team’s annual exhibition game against Adrian College at Iceland on Saturday, Sept 10 with a 2 p.m. face-off. The team’s practice schedule is listed below.

All practices are open to the public with no admission charge.

Saturday, Sept. 3 - 10:30 a.m.-12 noon
Tuesday, Sept. 6 - 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 7 - 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 8 - 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 9 - 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Fighting Falcons ready for pre-season

Blue Water Area fans will get their first chance to see the Port Huron Fighting Falcons in game action this Saturday, when they will play an intra-squad scrimmage at 7 p.m. at McMorran Arena.

All Fighting Falcons healthy enough to play will be in action at the scrimmage, which is free to the public.

The Fighting Falcons have held on-ice practices for the last two weeks, but Saturday’s scrimmage will be their first real game action together. Players have been going through a grueling training camp since mid-August.

Players and coaches alike look forward to the scrimmage, and to a change of pace from their normal practice routine.

“At this point in training camp I think it’s time to see this team put together what we’ve been working on the past few weeks,” said head coach Bill Warren. “There are some situations that are tough to practice for, and that’s what makes this scrimmage and our other pre-season games so important. Now is the time to work out the kinks in our game so we can make them an afterthought once the regular season starts.”

The team will play their first true pre-season game this Thursday, when they travel to Ferris State University to take on the Traverse City North Stars. The Fighting Falcons will host Oakland University Saturday, September 10 in their last pre-season game. That game, originally scheduled for 7 p.m., has been moved up to 2 p.m. at McMorran Arena.

Following their pre-season matchups, the Fighting Falcons will travel to Blaine, Minn., to take part in the Combat Hockey/NAHL Showcase September 14-17. Each NAHL team will play four regular season games in Blaine, but few will have a tougher week than the Fighting Falcons, who will take on three 2010-11 division winners.