Friday, October 28, 2011

MacKinnon finding chemistry with Jets

Mike MacKinnon
had an easy decision on his hands when the Metro Jets drafted him in the second round of the North American 3 Hockey League draft this past June.

One of MacKinnon’s close friends, Cameron Bazin, played for the Jets last season and passed along encouraging words about the team and the league.

Metro head coach Jason Cirone was also familiar to MacKinnon as he had coached MacKinnon in a fall league session back when MacKinnon played at Troy Athens High School.

“I knew my fair share about the NA3HL before this year just from hearing about it from friends and hearing about it from playing juniors in a different league,” said the 19-year-old MacKinnon. “I knew a lot about the Jets since they are the most local junior team from my house and I have always heard good things. Jason's a good coach and and he demands a lot of his players, which will only pay dividends in the long run.

“I'm just going to keep working hard and hopefully some opportunities open up for me.”

Last year, MacKinnon played for the Yellowstone Quake in the Northern Pacific Hockey League and while he said he enjoyed the experience, it’s good to be home this year.

“Being away from home last year was nice, but so far, I like living at home better,” explained MacKinnon. “That’s one of the reasons I chose to play here because it’s pretty close to my house and I can still live my everyday personal life away from hockey.”

Entering this weekend, MacKinnon is third in team scoring with nine goals and 22 points in a dozen games playing mostly on a line with Steve Klisz and Matt Stemkoski.

“My line has been really good to this point,” said MacKinnon. “We focus on puck possession and we feel like we wear opposing defenses down. We know where each other is out there and it’s fun playing with those guys.”

More than piling up points, though, is MacKinnon’s team-first expectations.

”Personally, I want to continue working hard and helping my team win a lot of games,” MacKinnon said. “Ultimately, I think we can win our division and go to nationals.”


In their lone game last weekend, the Jets were blanked by the Flint Jr. Generals, 6-0, Saturday night at home.

“There were no positives in Saturday’s game,” said Metro captain Tommy Kilgore. “We were out-hustled and out-played in every aspect.”

This weekend, the Jets head to Cleveland for a two-game set with the Jr. Lumberjacks Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

”We are going to go into Cleveland ready to go full force,” added Kilgore. “We worked hard this week in practice and we will be well-prepared for them.”


Goalie Devin Williams, signed by the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters last week, dressed for his second game of the year in Erie Wednesday night in a backup role. Williams is expected back for the series this weekend in Cleveland.


The Oakland University ACHA Division I team has five former Jets on the roster.

Defensemen Mike Corder and Jacob DeSano and forwards Art Dore, David Merkle and Adam Novack play for the Golden Grizzlies this season.

Corder (2009-10) and Novack (2008-09) are both former Jets captains.

Jr. K-Wings get Hervey from USHL

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have announced the trade of forward Chad McDonald to the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers for Austin Hervey.

A forward from Brighton, Hervey started his junior career with the US NTDP in 2009-10. During that season, he played in eleven games. Hervey won back-to-back state championships in high school with Novi Catholic Central High School.

From there, he moved to the Lincoln Stars where he played in 44 games, registering four goals and three assists.

Hervey started this season with the Buccaneers. He played five games for the Bucs, scoring once.

Hervey will join the Jr. K-Wings for their three-game set against the Jamestown Ironmen this weekend. He is set to wear number 28 for Kalamazoo.

“Hervey brings additional junior experience to our team,” said Kalamazoo coach Marc Fakler. “He will be a physical power forward and be a presence in our lineup. He has a strong work ethic, a heavy shot and his size and strength will be an asset to our team.”

Hervey is committed to play at Western Michigan University next season.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

OHL's Otters sign Metro goalie Williams

Metro Jets goaltender Devin Williams has signed an Ontario Hockey League contract with the Erie Otters and was on the bench Friday night in Erie backing up starting goalie Tyson Teichmann.

Williams, who turns 16 next Sunday, will re-join the Jets Saturday night at Lakeland Arena against the Flint Jr. Generals, but will be eligible to be recalled by the Otters for up to 10 games this season.

Erie drafted Williams, a Saginaw native, in the fifth round (95th overall) of this past May’s OHL draft out of the Motor City Metal Jackets U-16 organization.

“He’s extremely athletic and very dedicated,” Otters general manager Sherry Bassin said. “We think this signing will solidify our goaltending for the future.”

According to Metro head coach Jason Cirone, also a scout for Erie, seeing Williams sign to play at a higher level “is what we’re here to do.”

“I’m happy for the kid,” said Cirone. “To play in the OHL is a lifelong dream, but he knows that this isn’t the end of the road. (Jets goalie coach) Randy (Wilson) has done a great job with Devin and really hasn’t had to adjust anything – just a few tweaks here and there. Devin has reached this point in his career all on his own and that’s a credit to him. He’s also one of the most mature kids on our team and I think that shows he was raised the right way and put on the right path.”

This year with the Jets, Williams is 6-2-0 with a 3.34 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lumberjacks tweak goalie corps

With their home opener a day away, the Muskegon Lumberjacks added what could be an important piece to their 2011-12 puzzle.

The Jacks acquired three-year USHL veteran goaltender John Keeney from the Omaha Lancers in a trade. Muskegon sent its third-round selection in the 2013 USHL Entry Draft to Omaha, along with a player to be named later.

Keeney, 18, is one of the most experienced netminders in the league, with 45 games under his belt in parts of three seasons. He made his debut during the 2009-10 season and suited up in 30 contests for the Lancers last year.

The 6-foot-1, 187-pounder from Twin Peaks, Calif., made the most of the increased playing time last season, going 15-9-3 with a 2.23 goals-against average – fifth-best in the USHL – and a .918 save percentage that ranked eighth.

“John has put up excellent numbers during his time in the league,” Lumberjacks head coach-GM Kevin Patrick said. “He is one of the more veteran goalies in the USHL.”

Thus far this season, Keeney has played in two games, stopping 54 of 58 shots while posting a 1-1-0 record. He will join returner Paul Berrafato in Muskegon’s goaltending stable, as rookie Blake Voth was released in a corresponding transaction.

“We are constantly evaluating our needs to put our team in the best position possible,” Patrick said. “We felt we needed to solidify the goalie position in order to be successful.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Williams: Jets today, OHL tomorrow

Devin Williams has taken the reins as the Metro Jets’ No. 1 goaltender and has been in net for six of the team’s eight wins this year.

He’s handled the responsibility of being the last line of defense with remarkable maturity and has his eyes on signing an Ontario Hockey League contract in the coming days with the Erie Otters.

All of this after a busy summer that saw the Saginaw native represent the gold medal-winning United States at the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in Ann Arbor, emerge as a candidate for the U.S. National Team Development Program and stand out as the top goalie at the USA Hockey Select-16 Festival in Rochester, N.Y.

Not too bad for a player that won’t turn 16 until Oct. 30.

“Devin came here to play minutes and see traffic in front of the net,” said Metro head coach Jason Cirone. “He’s been a major component of our success so far and I think a lot of that falls on (Jets goalie coach) Randy Wilson. Devin has been as good or better than I expected most nights.”

The Otters drafted Williams in the fifth round of the OHL draft this past May on the recommendation of Cirone, also a scout with Erie. Once he signs with the Otters, he’ll still play for the Jets, but will be eligible to be called up to the OHL at any time. Williams figures to be in the OHL on a full-time basis next season.

Like most Americans, deciding between Major Junior hockey and the NCAA was an issue Williams dealt with, but he believes he’s made the right choice to play in the OHL.

“I grew up watching the Saginaw Spirit and my dream was to one day play in the OHL,” said the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Williams. “I’ve always felt the OHL atmosphere was what I wanted and I think it will be a good fit. I’m adjusting to the junior level here and I think playing against older guys is a challenge, but it’s a challenge I want. There is pressure, but to me, it’s fun pressure. The team has been great in front of me and it’s been a team effort all year long.”

Williams even garnered attention from Red Line Report, an independent scouting newsletter, back at the Select 16 Festival where he had a .945 save percentage and miniscule 1.33 goals against average.

“Very solid mentally and gives up nothing in 1-on-1 showdowns with shooters,” the report read. “Always makes puck carrier make the first move. Excellent rebound control. Follows the puck well through traffic and anticipates developing plays very well.”

Focused on helping the Jets get their name back on the map after a few dreary seasons the past couple years, Williams said he actually had other options over the season as to where to play this season.

“I skated with Jason all summer and he told me that I’d be a good fit with Metro and it would prepare me to go up to Erie,” explained Williams. “Jason always has the player’s interests before his own. I love him. He’s just a great coach.”


Metro split its series in Pittsburgh last weekend, losing Saturday night before winning Sunday afternoon.

Saturday night, Doug Andrews tallied the lone goal in a 4-1 loss, while Williams finished with 36 saves.

Sunday afternoon, a wild game had the Jets up 3-0 heading into the third period and holding on for a 7-4 win.

Mike MacKinnon and Steve Klisz scored twice and Josh Beleski, Matt Stemkoski and newcomer John Baker added singles.

“It’s good morale for the team to get a split on the road,” said Cirone.

Dillon Kelley made 32 saves in goal for the victory.

The Jets (8-3-0-0) play just one game this week, a home contest Saturday night at 7:50 p.m. at Lakeland Arena taking on Flint.

“It seems like we play Flint every week,” Cirone said. “Do we prepare for them any differently than we would any other team? No. Do I think we’re developing a rivalry with them? I do. I think we have similar teams and that always makes for some good hockey games.”


Defenseman Will Shier was sent back to the Jets from the NAHL’s Port Huron Fighting Falcons and played both games last weekend in Pittsburgh.

Cirone thinks Shier will be back in the NAHL before too long.

“He’s had a taste and I believe he wants more,” said Cirone. “You know, it’s like a yummy steak. You have a great steak and want another one. Will knows he can play at the NAHL level.”

Baker, a 20-year-old from Waterford, was also added to the roster and saw time at forward and defense in Pittsburgh. He was a Jets’ draft pick back in June and started this season with the Leamington Flyers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.

“He’ll bring grit and versatility,” Cirone said. “He’s an older guy and he’ll also being experience and leadership.”


Last Friday night in Southern Professional Hockey League exhibition play, two former Jets players dropped the gloves as Colin Ronayne (Knoxville Ice Bears) and Morgan James (Columbus Cottonmouths) went toe-to-toe with one another.

Ronayne skated with the Jets in 2005-2006, while James captained the Jets last year.

What’s ironic is the two are Commerce Township neighbors and close friends.

Photo/Andy Grossman/Detailed Images

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Off-ice officials vital to Port Huron

All hockey fans understand the importance of referees and linesmen to any game, even those who boo them from the moment they step on the ice to the game’s final buzzer.

What most don’t understand, though, is that there is another group of officials with a task that is just as important to the integrity of the game, the off-ice officials.

The Port Huron Fighting Falcons’ off-ice officials are responsible for tracking stats for each player on the ice, including goals, assists, plus/minus, shots and penalty minutes. Some off-ice officials work just a few feet from the ice as goal judges and penalty box attendants, while others sit high above the action tracking statistics.

A goal scored does not become official until the referee gives the goal signal, and the goal judge lights the red lamp. One of those goal judges, Brad Amey, has volunteered as an off-ice official for nearly 30 years, since the early 1980s when the Port Huron Flags called McMorran Arena home.

The referee then sends his or her opinion of who scored the goal in to a pair of off-ice officials who run the scoreboard and communicate with the rest of the crew upstairs. Betty Vargo and Jim Wedge have been that pair of off-ice officials since long before the North American Hockey League had a team in the Blue Water Area.

Upstairs, stat keepers like Mike Reily take note of first and second assists, and the official scorer gives the information to PA announcer Jim McGuigan to read to the crowd. Scorer John Baunoch has been an off-ice official since the Port Huron Border Cats competed in the United Hockey League.

Vic Frandsen, who also started volunteering as an off-ice official with the Border Cats, then enters the data into a special software program that updates all stats to the internet so that fans at home can follow the game in real-time.

During intermission each goal undergoes a video review to ensure that the correct players are credited for goals and assists each period.

The Fighting Falcons have a new supervisor of off-ice officials this season, as Gary Temple takes over for Dan McVety, who has also worked with Port Huron hockey teams dating back to the Border Cats.

“I’ve been working with the crew about six years,” said Temple, whose family hosts Fighting Falcons forward Logan Lemirande for the second year. “I started out as a substitute, got a position as a full-timer and became the new supervisor when Dan stepped down to be able to follow his son’s hockey team.

“It’s a great group of guys, and we have a good time working together.”

Andy Bennet, Jim Eagle, Derek Steele, Al O’Dell and Jim Wilson are all off-ice officials that have worked over 20 games per year for the last several seasons of Port Huron hockey. Rodney Jarvis joined the crew full-time this season.

These off-ice officials, as well as their substitutes, have brought the same professional approach to the Fighting Falcons as they offered when they worked for professional teams in the past. Though the Fighting Falcons compete at a different level than past professional teams, the crew approaches their work as they always have. They know that accurate statistics are of utmost importance to junior-level players and college scouts.

Many scouts rely on statistics to decide what players to put on their radar, and what teams to see in person.

When the Fighting Falcons traveled to Jametown, N.Y., for a weekend series with the Ironmen earlier this month, no data about shots on net was provided. Based on statistics that only counted goals against, Port Huron goalie Max Milosek’s save percentage dropped 26 points. Before the problem was fixed, scouts viewing Milosek’s stats may not have looked at his game-by-game numbers to see that there was a problem and moved on to another player.

“What I’m really looking forward to with this league and team is seeing these players develop and move on to college,” said Temple. “It’s very rewarding to know that as a group we can provide accurate information to the scouts and help make that happen.”

Most off-ice officials have full-time jobs during the day, and volunteer their time during game nights to help the games run smoothly. As work schedules change, substitute officials are often needed to help fill all necessary positions.

Temple and the Fighting Falcons are looking for hockey enthusiasts to volunteer for substitute off-ice official positions. Substitutes would be asked to work a handful of games throughout the season as needed, and are given a pair of tickets to each game they work for their friends or families.

If you are interested in volunteering to become an off-ice official, call the Fighting Falcons at (810) 966-3800, or send an email to Mike Reed in the office at

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lumberjacks announce new charity

The Muskegon Lumberjacks announced today the creation of the Muskegon Lumberjacks Charitable Foundation, the team’s new nonprofit arm committed to enriching the West Michigan community through an association with hockey and the Lumberjacks.

Lumberjacks owner Josh Mervis has long demonstrated a commitment to community engagement with a proven track record of running a successful charitable organization in connection with his previous team, the Danville (Ill.) Wings.

“I believe in social responsibility,” Mervis said. “I believe it is our duty to give back to our community, to the game of hockey, and to the children of West Michigan. It’s the way we’ve always operated with all of our businesses and it’s how we will continue to operate.”

The Lumberjacks Charitable Foundation will begin its work by contributing to Muskegon-area youth hockey organizations and sponsoring the Lumberjacks Reading Caravan. In its first year, the Caravan will sponsor and participate in programs designed to assist more than 5,000 Muskegon area students to achieve reading goals.

Program participants will be given the opportunity to earn free game tickets and other prizes. The Lumberjacks will also continue to support other nonprofit organizations in the community through donations, partnerships and player appearances.

The foundation will be supported through philanthropic partnerships with corporations, as well as fundraising events and silent auctions. All proceeds from in-game promotions like Chuck-a-Puck, pull tabs, Club Keno and jersey auctions will also benefit the foundation.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Plymouth deals OA Mahalak to Sarnia

The Plymouth Whalers have announced the trade of overage left wing RJ Mahalak to the Sarnia Sting in exchange for a sixth round draft choice in the 2012 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

The draft choice originally belonged to the London Knights.

The deal allows the Whalers to get down to the three overages (or 1991 birthdays). OHL teams are allowed to play just three overage players. With Jamie Devane returning to Plymouth from Toronto of the American Hockey League earlier this week and making his Whalers debut Thursday in Windsor, the Plymouth overages are now Devane, center Andy Bathgate and defenseman Beau Schmitz.

Mahalak, a Monroe native, was originally selected by Plymouth in the fourth round (80th overall) of the 2007 OHL draft. In 207 regular season games with the Whalers, Mahalak scored 20 goals with 34 assists for 54 points and 253 penalty minutes with a +14 rating.

Mahalak joins a Sarnia team that now has four overages - center and ex-Whaler Taylor Carnevale, defenseman Daniel Broussard, goaltender Brandon Maxwell and now Mahalak.

OHL teams have to cut down to three overage players by the Jan. 9 final trade deadline.

Photo/Walt Dmoch

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jets' Shier, Hall called up to Port Huron

The Metro Jets of the North American 3 Hockey League have sent two more players up to the North American Hockey League as defensemen Will Shier and Scott Hall have been called up to the Port Huron Fighting Falcons.

Forward Mike Moroso, who played for the Jets last season, currently plays for Port Huron, while rookie Jets goalie Dillon Kelley dressed as a backup for Port Huron two weekends ago. Metro captain Tommy Kilgore played three games for Port Huron last season as well.

“Selfishly, I would like it if both Will and Scott came back to us,” said Metro head coach Jason Cirone. “I don’t see it happening, though. We’re in the business of winning hockey games and moving players to the next level. Our players are getting the exposure and taking advantage of their opportunities.”

Shier played for Port Huron this week in a win against the Traverse City North Stars on Wednesday and a loss against the Michigan Warriors Thursday.

One of the Jets’ returning players and an alternate captain this year, Shier, a 19-year-old Sterling Heights native, had three assists in nine games this year. He joined the Jets last season at the midway point and tallied four assists in 21 games. Shier went to Port Huron’s camp last summer and nearly made the team. Now, he may be in the NAHL for good.

“Will has been our best defenseman by far and has earned this,” Cirone said. “He’s turned his game around from where he was last year and has carried the load for us defensively. He’s played a lot of hockey this year.”

Hall, who was sent down to the Jets last weekend from Port Huron to see some playing time, also played this week on his NAHL recall. He was a Division 2 Second Team All-State selection in 2010 while playing for Muskegon Catholic Central High School.

Hall recorded two assists in Metro’s loss in Flint Sunday afternoon.

“Scott played really good last weekend and showed steady composure and solid play without the puck,” said Cirone. “He’s a big kid (6-foot-6, 235 pounds) and plays a simple game.”

The Jets (7-2-0-0) play two games in Pittsburgh this weekend before returning home next Saturday to host Flint at 7:50 p.m. at Lakeland Arena.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Saad returned to Saginaw from Hawks

Saginaw Spirit forward Brandon Saad has been returned to the Spirit from the Chicago Blackhawks, the Spirit announced Wednesday evening.

Saad played the entire preseason and earned a spot on the opening day roster with the Blackhawks after signing an entry level contract with the club the day before the start of the NHL season. Saad, taken in the second round (43rd overall) by the Blackhawks in June, played in Chicago’s first two regular season games registering three shots on goal.

“The Saginaw Spirit are very proud of Brandon and the progress he made during training camp and the preseason with the Chicago Blackhawks," said Spirit president Craig Goslin. "It is the goal of the Saginaw Spirit to develop its talent to play at the NHL level. We are extremely excited to have Brandon back with the Saginaw Spirit this season."

Last season with the Spirit, Saad scored 27 goals and recorded 28 assists in the regular season.

Photo - CHL Images

Devane back, Whalers now with four OAs

The Plymouth Whalers announced Tuesday the return of 20-year-old center-left wing Jamie Devane to the Whalers from Toronto of the American Hockey League.

Devane - selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third round (68th overall) of the 2009 National Hockey League Entry Draft - started this season with the AHL Toronto Marlies, but he has not played in a regular season game.

Devane was originally selected by the Whalers in the seventh round (130th overall) of the 2007 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection. He enjoyed his best season last year for the Whalers, scoring 18 goals with 20 assists for 38 points and 131 penalty minutes in 63 games.

In all, Devane has 29 goals with 40 assists for 69 points and 307 PIMs in 178 games for Plymouth.

The Whalers now have four overagers in Devane, captain Beau Schmitz and forwards RJ Mahalak and Andy Bathgate. Only three can play in a game.

Devane is expected to report to Plymouth in time for this weekend's games. Plymouth plays in Windsor on Thursday and will host Niagara on Friday and Sarnia on Saturday at Compuware Arena. Both games start at 7:05 p.m.

Photo - Walt Dmoch/Plymouth Whalers

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Whalers trade Restoule to Sudbury

The Plymouth Whalers have announced the trade of 18-year-old left wing Adam Restoule to the Sudbury Wolves for a future fifth-round pick in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

Restoule was originally selected by Plymouth in the 11th round (213th overall) in the 2009 OHL draft.

In 34 career games with Plymouth, Restoule scored one goal and had 36 penalty minutes.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Stemkoski making noise for Jets

Matt Stemkoski quietly came to the Metro Jets in a trade last season from the Toledo Cherokee, but is making noise this year as Metro’s leading scorer after a 10-point outburst last weekend against the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution.

The North American 3 Hockey League subsequently recognized the 18-year-old Novi native with its Combat Hockey 1st Star honors for last week.

“Matt’s a kid that came in last year and struggled a bit,” said Jets’ head coach Jason Cirone. “He had moved from forward to defense and then back. This year, he’s comfortable at center and has really elevated his game. Instead of waiting for plays to happen, he’s going out and making things happen. He’s creating his own openings.”

Last season in 27 games after the trade, Stemkoski posted eight goals and 11 points. This season, he’s light years ahead of that pace with eight goals and 11 assists in just seven games playing on a line with Mike McKinnon and Steve Klisz. That line has accounted for 22 of Metro’s 44 goals so far.

Cirone knew Stemkoski was capable of that type of offensive production last year after having scouted Stemkoski during his later youth hockey years. The only problem was that Toledo coach Scott Syring also knew that Stemkoski had the potential to be a breakout player.

“Stemkoski was a kid I wanted to try and get from day one when I walked through the doors here,” Cirone said. “I called Scott a few times to inquire about Matt and each time, Scott said he wasn’t available. Then one day, Scott called me back and said he was available, so we jumped on it.”

And while the stats have been a big reason why the Jets are 6-1-0-0 early in the season, Cirone said Stemkoski’s makeup is more than numbers.

“He’s a very committed hockey player and his goal is to go play college hockey,” said Cirone. “He’s a good kid and he’s a leader in our locker room, which is why he’s one of our alternate captains this year. I think he realizes what it is going to take to get to the next levels of hockey.”


The Jets outscored Battle Creek, 19-5, last Friday and Saturday night at Lakeland Arena.

In the first game of the series, Stemkoski scored once and added three assists in a 10-4 win.

McKinnon (two goals, assist), Klisz (goal, two assists), Matt Stirling (goal, two assists), Travis Hargett (three assists) and Jake Schlacht (three assists) all had three-point games.

“It was good seeing Stirling come out of his early-season funk,” said Cirone. “I also thought Hargett had a great weekend.”

Chris Hellebuyck added two goals and Tim Wlodkowski, Zach Schlacht and captain Tommy Kilgore scored one apiece.

Dillon Kelley made 15 saves for the win between the pipes.

Saturday night in a 9-1 victory, Stemkoski notched two goals and four assists and McKinnon chipped in with a pair of goals and three assists. Klisz added a goal and three assists.

Hargett and Doug Andrews each had a goal and an assist, while Jake Schlacht and Branden Morganroth scored once.

In net, Devin Williams earned the victory with a 22-save outing.

“We’ll take the two wins, but it was a difficult weekend to implement our systems by playing a lot on special teams,” said Cirone. “Battle Creek is struggling, but they’re rebuilding and (Jr. Revolution coach) Richard Keyes is doing it the right way. I rolled four lines and all four lines got significant ice. All in all, I think it was a positive weekend.”

The Jets play on the road in Toledo this Saturday night and then at Flint on Sunday afternoon.

“This won’t be an easy weekend,” Cirone added. “Toledo and Flint are two tough teams and they’ll both be ready.”


Second-year defenseman Ian Costello (Lansing) was released late last week by the Jets and in doing so, Cirone didn’t mince words in explaining the reason for doing so.

“He quit,” said Cirone. “He came in and quit. I understand why, but do I condone it? No. Am I disappointed? Yes. We went out of our way last season to help this kid out and then this happens.”

Costello was held without a point in four games this season.

Kelley was also returned by the NAHL’s Port Huron Fighting Falcons after serving as the team’s backup last Saturday night.

“Dillon wasn’t playing for us Saturday and (Port Huron coach) Bill Warren called and said they needed a backup because one of their guys was suspended, so Dillon went and sat the bench for them,” explained Cirone. “It was by no means a promotion, but it was good for him to see a game at the NAHL level.”


Todd Knaus
, a forward who played 16 games for the Jets during the 2009-10 season, is starting his freshman year at Finlandia University, a Division III school in Hancock.

With the Lions, Knaus is reunited with Vinnie Pietrangelo, a former Jets’ teammate. Both are also Traverse City natives.

Knaus scored three goals with two assists during his stint in Waterford.

Photo - Andy Grossman/Detailed Images

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Saginaw's Oleksiak inks with Dallas

The Saginaw Spirit announced today that defenseman Jamie Oleksiak has come to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars.

The Toronto native was the Stars' first-round selection, taken 14th overall in the 2011 NHL draft in Minnesota.

Oleksiak is currently in his first Ontario Hockey League season where he has recorded one goal in five games played. Oleksiak spent the 2010-11 season attending Northeastern University in the NCAA ranks where he posted 4-9-13 numbers in 38 games.

Oleksiak was returned to the Spirit just prior to the team’s season opening game in London on September 23 after a successful stay at the Stars' camp where he participated in the Traverse City NHL Prospect Tournament.

The 6-foot-7, 240-pound rearguard is also being considered for a spot with the Canadian national junior team that will participate in the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship after being invited to the team’s development camp this past summer.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Fighting Falcons make roster moves

The Port Huron Fighting Falcons have made a pair of trades as they prepare for their trip to Jamestown, N.Y., for a weekend series with the Ironmen.

Defenseman Ryan Nick was acquired last week in a trade with the Traverse City North Stars that saw the Fighting Falcons give up a tender and a third-round pick in the 2012 NAHL Draft. The Plymouth native made an instant impact, earning three points on a goal and two assists in last Saturday’s 9-0 win over Jamestown at McMorran Arena.

Nick had appeared in three games with Traverse City, including the September 28 matchup between the North Stars and the Fighting Falcons. The 18-year-old did not register a point in the 5-2 Traverse City victory.

Forward Joseph Pizza will make his Fighting Falcons debut this weekend in Jamestown after coming over in a trade with the St. Louis Bandits. Pizza (pronounced PIE-zuh), 19, appeared in five games for the Bandits this year, but has not yet registered a point.

The Fighting Falcons parted with a tender and a fourth-round draft pick to bring in the Sylvania, Ohio native.

Nick and Pizza both come from the Midwest Elite Hockey League, with Nick having played for Detroit Victory Honda and Pizza for Detroit Honeybaked. Nine Fighting Falcons players have roots in the Midwest Elite Hockey League, including five players from Honeybaked.

Travis Hill, who appeared in three games with the Fighting Falcons at the NAHL Showcase in mid-September, has been traded to the Michigan Warriors in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. Hill tallied two goals, two assists and a plus/minus of minus-8 in 17 games in Port Huron last season.

In other roster news, Dillon Kelley, who was brought up from the Metro Jets to serve as backup goalie while Pete Megariotis served a one-game suspension, has returned to the Waterford-based NA3HL team.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Saad to start season with Blackhawks

The Saginaw Spirit announced today that forward Brandon Saad has come to terms on a three-year entry level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League.

The Gibsonia, Penn., native was the Blackhawks' second round selection in the 2011 NHL Draft, taken 43rd overall.

This past season with the Spirit, Saad recorded 27 goals and 28 assists for 55 points in 59 games in his first year in the Ontario Hockey League.

Among Saad’s highlights during Chicago’s rookie and main camps and preseason games was a game-winning goal against the Washington Capitals.

Saad may make his NHL regular season debut this Friday when the Blackhawks begin their season in Dallas against the Stars.

Saad is the lowest drafted player to secure a roster position with Chicago in his draft year since the 2003-04 season and the team had to have signed him by 5 p.m. EST in order for him to suit up on opening night. He still could be returned to the Spirit for the 2011-12 OHL season as he is not eligible to be sent to a minor league affiliate, but he can play up to nine games before the first year of his NHL contract comes into play.

Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images