Friday, August 31, 2012

Terry Kucharski - 1964-2012

Terry Kucharski, a fixture in the Michigan hockey scene for many years, passed away earlier this morning.

He was 48.

The Midwest Junior Hockey League family would like to request that you keep Terry, his family and friends in your prayers.

Kucharski was the founder and general manager of the Michigan Ice Dogs junior hjockey team and was a dedicated "hockey guy" for all levels of hockey.

Known as a person who truly believed in player development and a person who was passionate about developing local talent, Kucharski's presence will be greatly missed in Michigan hockey circles.

Details to follow when arrangements are made public.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Monfils acquired by Jets from Jr. Jacks

The Metro Jets continue to fine-tune their roster and made a trade Wednesday with the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks, acquiring 20-year-old forward Jeff Monfils for a fourth-round pick in the 2013 North American 3 Hockey League draft.

Monfils, a Macomb native, scored 17 goals (two on the power play) and 28 points in 46 games a year ago with Cleveland.

“We are going to have a young team this year and we were looking to add a veteran presence and leadership and think we found that in Jeff,” said Metro GM Butch Wolfe. “We saw him a lot last season and were impressed with what we saw. He plays bigger than he really is (5-foot-9, 180 pounds). We’re excited to see how he will fit in with the younger crop we have coming in.”

During the 2010-11 season, Monfils skated with the Missoula Maulers, Bozeman Icedogs and Billings Bulls of the Northern Pacific Hockey League.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jets, Toledo swap 19-year-old defenders

The Metro Jets have announced that they have acquired defenseman Derek Britton from the Toledo Cherokee in exchange for defenseman Zach Schlacht and a future player tender.

 “This is a trade that we feel will benefit both teams,” said Metro GM Butch Wolfe. “Derek brings some good size (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) to our team and Zach will get a chance to see increased playing time with Toledo.”

Britton (pictured), a 19-year-old from Sterling Heights, tallied six assists and 53 penalty minutes in 27 games in 2011-12 with the Cherokee.

Schlacht, a 19-year-old Allen Park native, played last season with older brother Jake and had two goals and 10 points with 63 penalty minutes for Metro.

No place like home for Hounds' Passino

Matt Passino should be pretty familiar with the Hartland Hounds’ coaching staff this season.

After all, he played for head coach Randy Montrose and assistants Gordie Meisel and Marty Passino (his father) last year at Howell High School and is well aware of what is expected once he steps on the ice and how he is to conduct himself off the ice.

Just 16, Passino had the opportunity to play Midget AAA hockey this season or venture to Ontario to play for the LaSalle Vipers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. In the end, he went where he was most comfortable and that was to the Hounds.

“When the chance came to play for this coaching staff, I decided that this would be the best place to win a championship,” said Passino, who transitioned from defense to forward last year. “Last season was my first season playing varsity and it was probably the best season for me in hockey. I think the transition from high school to juniors should be easy because Randy coached us as if we were in a junior environment.”

“Matt is like a sponge,” said Montrose. “He absorbs everything and never has any complaints. We asked him to move from defense to forward and he did it seamlessly. He may only be 16, but his maturity level is through the roof. He’ll be an exciting kid to watch develop this year for us.”

Passino, who said he models his game after Detroit Red Wings’ star forward Henrik Zetterberg because he “can forecheck hard and be an asset to the team like him,” obviously wants to bring the Veteran’s Memorial Cup to Hartland, but has other goals in mind as well.

“I just want to work hard to be faster and get better at putting the puck in the net – pretty much just become an all-around asset to the team,” Passino said. “My short-term goal is to get a harder shot and hit more and my long-term goal would to be an asset to the team on the power play and penalty kill.

“I think the team will do very well this season. We have a great group of guys on the team.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

McCrimmon named Holland bench boss

The Holland River Bandits have announced the hiring of Jason McCrimmon to the position of head coach.

After playing professional hockey the last five years and developing players the last two spring seasons while coaching AAA hockey in the Detroit area, McCrimmon decided that it was time to move on with his life and begin to coach.

“It was just time to move on from playing hockey professionally and the River Bandits provided that opportunity for me,” said McCrimmon. “This is the River Bandits’ inaugural season and we are looking to get our season off to a great start.”

"Jason is a person that we had great interest in,” added Holland general manager Deveri Del Core. “His reputation as a player development coach is well known in the Detroit area and his experience as both a player and coach will bring a wealth of knowledge to our players. We were very excited to get Jason in town to begin assembling our team.

"We are equally excited about Jason’s depth of knowledge in the game of hockey for such a young coach. With Jason having recently completed college and playing professional hockey, he has numerous connections throughout the hockey community. This network will give our players the opportunity to be seen, scouted and eventually move on to higher levels of hockey.”

Born and raised in Detroit, McCrimmon played youth hockey for the Detroit Rockies out of the Jack Adams Ice Arena. He then played Junior A hockey for Belle Tire Lightning of the Continental Elite Hockey League before going on to play NCAA Division III hockey at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. While there, McCrimmon was awarded ECAC East player of the week honors on one occasion, while majoring in business administration and minoring in sports marketing.

After college, McCrimmon played two years of professional hockey in Europe and was named captain of Hela–Kiekko in Finland. He also skated in the Central Hockey League and International Hockey League, ending his career last season after a stint with the Danbury Whalers of the Federal Hockey League.

McCrimmon began coaching and has found joy in knowing that this would be a great way to give back to a game that gave him so much, enabling him to pass on his knowledge to up-and-coming players. He owns his own hockey development school, Iceman Corporate Enterprises. This school focuses on giving underprivileged players in the inner city of Detroit the opportunity to play ice hockey.

Working with and training players from Mites on up to college-level in all aspects of proper skating techniques, off-ice training and nutrition, McCrimmon has also trained with players such as Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks), James Wisniewski (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Fedor Fedorov (Kontinental Hockey League). McCrimmon knows that having worked with these players in the past will aid the River Bandits players with their development to achieve higher levels of hockey.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Biggings finds time to smile in Hartland

Max Biggings had never played for Randy Montrose before, but he will get his chance this season with the Hartland Hounds.

A Hartland native, Biggings played for Hartland High School and last season, saw action in 28 games for the North American 3 Hockey League’s Metro Jets, based just east on M-59 in Waterford.

Biggings, who turned 20 earlier this month, will be utilized as a forward instead of a defenseman for Montrose this season, a move Montrose feels will be a huge benefit to the Hounds.

“Max is a big kid (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) and I think if we put him on a wing, he can really do some damage,” Montrose said. “The good thing about that, too, is that if we ever get into injury trouble, I can slot Max back on ‘D’ and he probably won’t miss a beat.”

“Well it's going to be different playing up front,” added Biggings. “But I'm a quick learner and I trust coach Randy and his coaching abilities.

“When I heard about the new team with Randy being the coach, I knew it was a great opportunity as I have always wanted to play for him. The expectations are always high and we expect to compete for the (Midwest Junior Hockey League) title.”

Biggings said with the Jets, he was able to adjust to the speed of the junior level and will use that knowledge this coming season in Hartland.

“This year, I’m looking for redemption at Hartland Arena and want to end on a positive note before moving on to play college hockey,” said Biggings, a Division 2 All-State honorable mention his senior year at Hartland. “The last time I played at the arena, I lost to my travel coach, who is now at Lakeland.”

For being such a big player with noticeable size, Biggings always seems to have a smile on his face and that was never more evident than during the Hounds’ tryout camp the first weekend in August.

According to Biggings, the grin has its’ time and place.

“I believe we already have great team chemistry and have a solid locker room,” said Biggings. “The smile will disappear when I hit the ice during the season, but off the ice, the smile will return.”

And if the Hounds win, even more reason to smile.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Kilgore brings leadership to Hounds

High school homecoming events don’t usually happen until October, but for Tommy Kilgore, his homecoming is now.

A 20-year-old Pinckney native, Kilgore has chosen to play his final season of junior hockey with the Hartland Hounds.

He skated the past two years with the Metro Jets of the North American 3 Hockey League in Waterford, serving as team captain during the 2011-12 season and earning a mid-season call-up to the North American Hockey League’s Port Huron Fighting Falcons the season prior.

Needless to say, Hounds’ coach Randy Montrose is more than elated with Kilgore electing to play in Hartland, just a stone’s throw from Pinckney, where Kilgore played high school hockey.

“I know Tommy had several options on where to play next season, but he made the decision to play here and we couldn’t be happier,” said Montrose. “He’s played in the NAHL and he’s been a captain in the NA3, so we’re banking on him being a leader for us this season. I think he’ll wear a letter for sure.”

Kilgore said that the intrigue of staying near his home base was a big reason why he picked the Hounds.

“The Hounds are close to home and I think that I would play more in this league and put up better numbers this year,” said Kilgore. “I think the experience I have gained in the past two years will help me this year to put up very good numbers and feel more comfortable playing in games.”

Giving credit where credit is due, Kilgore praised Jets’ coach Jason Cirone for his guidance the past two years.

 “Jason taught me more In the past two years than I have ever learned before,” explained Kilgore. “He helped me become a tougher, smarter player on the ice and how to perform in certain situations and I plan on using that this year.”

Kilgore added that he wants to use this year as a spring-board to more competitive hockey down the road, but that he is a team player first and foremost.

"I expect to put up points and help the team somehow every night,” Kilgore said. “I think we can gear up for a championship run and have a successful season.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hounds' Bodziak down, but not out

The season hasn’t started yet for the Hartland Hounds, yet the team is already down one key player.

Hartland native Zak Bodziak, a forward who committed to the team earlier this summer, will miss at least the first half of the season while he continues to recover from a separated shoulder suffered last year playing for Davenport University (pictured).

 “I just want to take my time and let this thing heal properly,” said Bodziak. “I’m not ready to hang up the skates yet.”

During a national tournament game last spring against California University of Pennsylvania, Bodziak had the puck behind the net and got hit by an opposing player.

“I got buried, just crushed,” said Bodziak. “It might have been a late hit, but whatever. I had X-rays a couple weeks ago at the University of Michigan and all the doctor really said was to stay away from heavy lifting. This isn’t something I can’t get through and I’m glad I made the decision to take my time with it.”

Hartland coach Randy Montrose said he will keep Bodziak on the active roster and Bodziak said he will be around the team as much as he can.

“I’m going to take some classes at Lansing Community College and work, but I’ll make it out to some games and maybe do some no-contact skating at practices,” Bodziak said. “My hope is that I can come back around Christmas and help give the team a push. The team seems like it’s really coming together and however I can contribute, that’s what I’ll do.

“Like I said, I’m not ready to be done with hockey and if this is a situation where I can put more focus on school and work, then I’ll take it. It’s really a win-win situation.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hartland's Krystyniak has winning mantra

The Hartland Hounds are a team with numerous local connections on the ice and forward P.J. Krystyniak is one that should bring a strong offensive impact to the team this season.

An 18-year-old Howell native who played for Hounds’ coach Randy Montrose the past two seasons at Howell High School, Krystyniak had his pick of teams for the upcoming season and was very comfortable in choosing to stay local.

“We had a fun camp (Aug. 3-4) and the guys really bonded and got to know each other,” said Krystyniak. “We should have a good team. It’s basically the same fan base I’ve played for the last couple years and to play again for Randy will be pretty exciting, too.

“Randy is so well-connected in the hockey world that we all know that if we work hard, he’ll do what he can to move us up.”

Krystyniak admitted that off the ice, he can be a quiet person, but on the ice, where he transitioned from defense to forward just two years ago, he’s far from quiet.

“Most the time, I go out have fun and do my job,” Krystyniak said. “I can bring an understanding of the coaching staff and help other players to buy into what systems we plan on running. There has been an overall sense of excitement in the locker room lately.”

“He’s just 18, but P.J. has already started to emerge as a leader on this team,” Montrose said. “He knows how to win and that type of mentality will rub off on the rest of the players.”

Even though he wasn’t a member of the two Howell teams that went to the state championship game in 2009 and 2010, Krystyniak practiced with the team everyday and said he “felt as if I was part of the team.”

 Krystyniak also went to the state finals in 2007 with the Pee Wee AA Kensington Valley Rebels, a team that also featured current Hounds’ forward Jared Vincek.

Knowing what it takes to get notches in the win column is one aspect Krystyniak hopes he can contribute this year with the Hounds.

“My expectations are the same as most guys on the team,” said Krystyniak. “We all want to play well enough to move to the next level and as it is on most teams, the team goal is to win everything possible.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Metro d-man Baker off to Robert Morris

John Baker came home to Waterford last season to play his final season of junior eligibility and he parlayed a terrific season with the Metro Jets into a college hockey deal with the Robert Morris University ACHA Division I gold team in Chicago.

Baker said he had several other options to play collegiately next season, but the opportunity to play in Chicago and for RMU coach Tom Adrahtas was too much to pass on.

“I was in contact with their coordinator and coach throughout the past three seasons,” said Baker. “I also talked with Davenport, Lindenwood, Kent State and Curry College, but Robert Morris just felt like it was the best place for me.”

Robert Morris was once a private college, but became a university in 2009. The school hosted the ACHA national tournament in 2010 and Adrahtas has coached at the NCAA level and in the United States Hockey League.

On the ice, Baker is hoping to be a top-four defenseman for Robert Morris, while in the classroom, he will be majoring in business.

Reflecting on the 2011-12 season where he led all Jets’ defenders with five goals and 22 points playing alongside Adam Reid much of the year, Baker said he’s not sure he’d be in the position he is right now if he hadn’t decided to play in Waterford.

“I feel like the division we were in really helped my compete level every night,” said Baker. “In our division, we had to come to play every night and it was anybody’s game. I think playing for coach (Jason) Cirone was the best choice I made during my junior hockey career. He is a great coach and gave me a chance to put up a lot of minutes every game and really develop even more even though it was my last year of junior. Even though I wish I could have played at a higher level, I had fun and loved competing every night as a Jet and for coach Cirone.”

On a team scale, Baker saw the Jets take the proverbial step up into a legitimate contender in the North American 3 Hockey League.

“I feel like we definitely turned some heads last season as an organization because of the team we had and the coaching,” Baker said. “Nobody could really look down on our team last season. We were a tough top team in the league and definitely took a big stride in the right direction, much thanks to Jason. We had a lot of talent and we were tough. I feel like you could call us a hard-nosed, blue-collar team, finished our hits and really just wore teams down by the third period in many of our games.”

Now off to the Windy City this week to get settled, Baker is focused on the future.

”I am set on taking my collegiate hockey to the next level,” said Baker. “I would really enjoy playing professional over in Europe after a few years of school. I love hockey and really want to make something out of the past 18 years of playing.

“I believe if I want it bad enough, it might be the road less traveled, but I think I have the heart to take my game to the next level.”

Ross brings skill, bloodlines to Cohos

As an avid fisherman on the waters of Northern Michigan, Thomas Ross has pulled in his share of big fish over the years.

However, it was the Traverse City Cohos who reeled in a trophy catch this week, signing Ross to light the lamp and bait the hook for teammates in the Midwest Junior Hockey League’s inaugural campaign. The Livonia Stevenson High School product says he’s found a comfort zone with the Cohos and the environs.

“Obviously, it’s very nice up there – I’ve always loved Traverse City,” said Ross, who graduated in the spring and plans to attend Northwestern Michigan College in the fall. “I have family there and we’ve spent a lot of time fishing on that side of the state. I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to play the sport I love in a place like TC.”

Cohos head coach-GM Scott Gardiner is equally excited to bring Ross into the fold.

“He’s skilled and speedy and very creative with the puck,” he lauded. “Thomas will be a huge asset to us on special teams, as well as his regular shift as one of the top forwards.”

Ross, who says he derives equal pleasure from scoring goals and assisting on them, says he’s eager to get to work.

“The hope is to be competitive right away, to get as many wins and go as far as we can,” he offered.

The 5-foot-8, 160-pound center tallied 11 goals and assisted on 20 others in 25 contests last season for Stevenson.

But magic with the puck is in the Ross’ DNA.

His father, Tom Ross, is the NCAA’s second all-time scoring leader after racking up 138 tallies and 186 assists from 1973-76 at Michigan State University. After re-writing practically the entire Spartans’ record book, the elder Ross then went on to score 123 goals and set up 178 others over three seasons with Kalamazoo of the International Hockey League.

For some, the long shadow cast by such a storied career might be a burden. Thomas, however, is not among them.

“I don’t feel like there’s a ton of extra pressure on me because my father had a great hockey career,” he explained. “I really enjoyed having him as a coach over the years and he’s a great hockey resource. I know when I talk to him about something, he’s already experienced it and help me work through it. The success he achieved just gives me something to aspire to.”

Given the Ross hockey pedigree, it isn’t surprising to hear Thomas recall that his first time on skates came at the tender age of four.

“We grew up in a hockey family,” he said. “My father, brother, uncle, cousins all played hockey, so they got me on skates pretty early on, but I loved it right away.”

Ross acknowledges that making the transition from high school to juniors can be challenging, but takes a philosophical approach to his hockey journey.

“Obviously, you want to have as much success as you can right away, you want to contribute to a lot of wins right away and we’re all excited to take that next step in the sport,” Ross said. “But as far as individual goals, there really isn’t a number of goals or anything like that to aim for.

“It’s important to have the best hockey experience I can, on and off the ice.”

Ruterbusch aiming for consistency

Jordan Ruterbusch has just one goal for himself this season with the Hartland Hounds.


No certain number of points or anything like that.

The 18-year-old Hartland native just wants to a dependable forward for Hounds’ coach Randy Montrose.

“That’s how I’ve always played,” said Ruterbusch. “I’m not much of a goal-scorer, but I like to be a playmaker. I’ll take care of the defensive zone first and then hopefully that carries over to the offensive zone.”

A 2012 Hartland High School graduate, Ruterbusch had a handful of playing options for this year after playing for the Hartland hockey team. Ultimately, he picked staying in his hometown.

“My coach from last year, Rick Gadwa, said the Midwest Junior Hockey League was going to be a good league and that he thought it would be a good opportunity for me,” Ruterbusch said. “Then when I first met Randy, he talked about how big he was into moving guys up to higher levels and that really appealed to me. I see this league as another door and another chance to play competitive hockey.”

 Ironically enough, Gadwa played the 2003-04 season for the Brighton-based Michigan Stars – a team Montrose ran as general manager – of the defunct Continental Elite Hockey League and also skated for Montrose and current Traverse City Cohos’ coach Scott Gardiner at Hartland High previous to the CEHL.

“What I like most about Jordan is his character and his competitiveness,” Montrose said. “He’s a kid that will make a lot of noise and will definitely be a spark plug for us this season. When he’s on the ice, you’ll know it.”

And while Ruterbusch sees the Hounds having a strong regular season that he hopes will carry over to the Veteran’s Memorial Cup playoffs, it’s the mood right now that makes Ruterbusch ooze with confidence before the first puck has even dropped.

“Most of the guys on this team have either played against or with each other and I think we’ve looked good in our informal skates and at camp,” said Ruterbusch. “I think chemistry is important and especially for right now, it’s a good thing that everyone is getting along and bonding.

“It should be a good season for us and I hope these next couple weeks just fly by.”

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lightning signs seven for '12-13 season

The Great Lakes Lightning has announced seven player signings for the upcoming 2012-13 season after the team’s mini-camp this past weekend at Great Lakes Sports City in Fraser.

Zach Boes, Rochester, Mt. Clemens Wolves U16
Jacob Bradley, Armada, Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U16
Andrew Defauw, Orion, Detroit Falcons U16
Mikey Edwards, Warren, Atlanta Jr. Knights (EJHL)
Ben Katan, Harper Woods, Michigan Mountain Cats (NA3HL)
Jeff Monfils, Washington, Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks (NA3HL)
Andrew Shalawylo, Clinton Township, Metro Jets (NA3HL)

“I think it’s important to have local flavor on our team,” said Lightning coach-GM Mike Janish. “Not only does it give local kids the opportunity to stay close to home, but it lets their family and friends be able to come see them play on a regular basis.”

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Henrikson ready to start Hounds' year

It wasn’t a tough decision at all for Jacob Henrikson to play for the Hartland Hounds this season.

After all, the 19-year-old Howell native and tough forward had already played for Hounds’ coach Randy Montrose at Howell High School and helped the Highlanders to the state finals in 2009 and 2010. Now, Henrikson wants to see some of the Howell magic duplicated in the Midwest Junior Hockey League.

“To come and play in Hartland, it really came up by Randy talking to me seeing if I wanted to play,” Henrikson said. “Of course, I said ‘yes.’”

“Jake is one of those kids that makes plays happen,” said Montrose. “He’s a horse and it’s hard to take him off the ice because things tend to happen when he’s out there. He’s got good hands for a big man (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) and can really fire the puck. Jake will play in all situations and is one of those players as a coach that you want out there in the final minute of a close game. He’ll also bring an element of leadership to our team.”

In the 2010 state semifinals against Traverse City West, Henrikson’s goal (pictured above) gave Howell a 2-0 lead and helped the Highlanders advance to the state championship game.

 “That was certainly a highlight of my career,” said Henrikson. “Making it to state finals and playing in front of 6,500 people was plain awesome.”

Last season, Henrikson ventured across the border and played for the Leamington Flyers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League where he put up seven goals and 13 points in 38 games.

With a year of junior experience under his belt, Henrikson wants his final season of junior eligibility to be his best.

”I think playing for Randy will make it easier on helping teach the new guys the systems we run,” Henrikson said. “My personal goal is to play well enough to where I can hopefully go to a college of my choice and play hockey. On a team level, I think we can take first place and win a national championship.

“This team has a lot of confidence right now.”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Former Jet, Falcon to play at Adrian

Count Mike Moroso as the latest Metro Jets’ alum to advance to college hockey.

Moroso, who played for the Jets during the 2010-11 season, will play ACHA Division I hockey this coming season at Adrian College, a team that boasts several former North American 3 Hockey League players.

“I really just weighed my options and decided that Adrian was a good fit for me and not too far from home,” said Moroso, a 20-year-old forward from Macomb. “I contacted (Adrian coach Dan) Phelps and he pursued me from there. I know that Adrian is a school with high standards in academics and sports.”

Moroso said he will major in physical science at Adrian and that he’s “expecting to have to work for what I get hockey- and academics-wise.”

During the 2011-12 season, Moroso finished second in scoring for the North American Hockey League’s Port Huron Fighting Falcons and also represented Port Huron at the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in February.

“Last season with Port Huron was very successful, but also slightly disappointing,” explained Moroso. “We made it to the Robertson Cup, but didn't achieve our goal of winning it all.”

Moroso recorded 14 goals and 38 points last season coming off a 20-goal season with Metro two years back. He wound up third in team scoring with 36 points in 43 games for the Jets and also led the team and was second in the NA3HL with four shorthanded goals.

”The thing that stands out from the season I had with the Jets was what I learned from coach (Jason) Cirone and just the experience of junior hockey,” Moroso said.

Other former NA3HL/CSHL players who played for Adrian last year include Ryan Bachman (Dubuque), Matt Zaremba (Cleveland), Shamus Finnerty (Quad City/Pittsburgh), Jeffrey Blackwell (Queen City), Jack Goodell (Toledo), Tristan Musser (Dubuque), Alex Dobrzeniecki (Queen City), Justen Mitchell (Michigan), Spencer Jordan (Toledo), Louie Ronayne (Chicago), Kevin Sunde (Dubuque) and Brandon Boelter (Toledo).

Photo by Andy Grossman/Detailed Images

Flint tabs Howard to lead Jr. Generals

The Flint Jr. Generals have announced that Steve Howard has accepted the head coaching job for the upcoming season.

Howard, a Burton native, grew up playing hockey in the EMHA in Flint and since his days as an Icelander, he has been around the world playing hockey, including seven professional seasons as a defenseman. He was the player-assistant coach for the Columbus Cottonmouths (SPHL) in 2006-07 and helped guide them to the Presidents Cup that season.

Howard retired from playing hockey at the age of 30 and spent the next four years training and advancing elite players with Minnesota’s Advancement Program in Minneapolis.

He recently moved back to his hometown with his fiancé, Jamie, to start his own hockey specific training company, STRIDA Hockey Inc.

Also the Michigan scout for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL, Howard knows player advancement is important plus putting a good team on the ice to continue the winning tradition.

All ingredients in place for Tennyson

Building a team is like baking a cake.

That is one of those great sports metaphors.

However, “building a team is like making a soup” probably best describes Tennyson Chevrolet’s coaching staff that is handling its approach to the preseason more like a Food Network competition, putting all of the ingredients together and adding the spices for a hearty result.

Full story here: All ingredients in place for Tennyson Chevrolet

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vincek a mix of skill, grit for Hartland

If the Hartland Hounds were ever known as the Hartland Horses, Jared Vincek would be the poster child for the franchise.

Vincek, who Hartland coach and general manager Randy Montrose has said “will be a horse for us this year,” actually didn’t take too kindly to the game of hockey as a young boy growing up in South Lyon, but nowadays, he can’t picture himself doing anything but playing hockey.

“I learned to skate when I was five and I hated it,” said the 18-year-old Vincek. “So I took a year off and did other things, but then I came back and decided to give it another shot and here we are. I’m happy I gave it another shot.”

Choosing to play for the Hounds this season was something Vincek took time to decide, but eventually realized getting the chance to play 15 minutes from home and still be able to attend college was his best choice.

“To be honest with you, playing for coach Montrose was also a huge attraction to me playing in Hartland,” Vincek said. “He has a heck of a track record for moving guys on and I trust that if I go out and give him 110 percent that he’ll return the favor and give 110 percent back to me.”

Drafted in the first round of the 2012 North American 3 Hockey League draft by the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks, Vincek also went to North American Hockey League camps this summer of the Texas Tornado, Michigan Warriors and Amarillo Bulls and also attended main camp of the United States Hockey League’s Indiana Ice back in the summer of 2010.

“I didn’t make any of those teams, but at each of those camps, I received great feedback that really helped boost my confidence level coming back home to play high school hockey,” said Vincek. “When I got that letter in the mail from Indiana inviting me to camp, I was ecstatic. I always figured I’d start out in the NAHL, but realizing that USHL teams were noticing me was a wake-up call. The hard work is paying off.”

Last year with South Lyon, Vincek captained the Lions and recorded 40 points, notching his 40th point on a pretty goal the last game of the season. In 2010-11, Vincek said “we didn’t have a great year,” but that a major highlight was beating then-No. 3 Livonia Stevenson 3-0 on the road with Vincek netting two goals for South Lyon.

Off the ice, South Lyon worked with a special-needs hockey team, the MORC Stars. Vincek said he loved every minute of that experience. “When I was able, I attended their practices and assisted the players with anything from dressing, lacing skates, working with them on their skating and stickhandling,” said Vincek. “The varsity team also hosted a scrimmage against the Stars and it was quite rewarding to watch their accomplishments and see the joy. It was a very powerful event for our team.”

This season with Hartland, Vincek said fans can expect “a little bit of everything” from his play on the ice.

“I’m not afraid to get my nose bloody,” exclaimed Vincek. “I’ll backcheck, forecheck, block shots, score goals, whatever. I can be that role player that blocks shots if the score is 7-1 or 2-1. I haven’t really set any goals for myself yet, but I’m sure I’ll do that pretty soon.

“I think our team can be a contender once we gel and get that certain chemistry. I think we can win the league and then go to nationals. This is a season I can see us going for it all, so let’s do it.”

Worlton leaves Jr. Generals for NAHL gig

The Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League held a press conference on Tuesday releasing the logo that celebrates the 15th anniversary of ice hockey in the Coastal Bend.

Also, former professional hockey player and collegiate hockey coach Jeff Worlton, the bench boss for the Flint Jr. Generals of the North American 3 Hockey League, was officially named the team's new assistant coach.

“Jeff was a no-brainer for this organization,” said Corpus Christi head coach Justin Quenneville on the addition of Worlton.

In his pro days, the Rochester, Minn., native played several years in the ECHL, CHL and UHL. In the 2000-01 season, Worlton notched 15 goals and 52 assists in 67 games for the Simcoe Wolves of the WSHL.

“He has the experience and is well respected in the hockey world.” Quenneville added. “He represents everything I believe in through his work ethic, loyalty and passion for the sport. We are excited to have him on board and I look forward to begin working with him.”

Worlton led the Jr. Generals to the best regular season record in the 3HL last season at 35-10-3. He also helped 11 players from the 2011-12 team advance to other junior or collegiate hockey opportunities.

Marshall named Hounds' new assistant

The Hartland Hounds announced Tuesday that they have added Brandon Marshall as an assistant coach.

“It is with great pride that I welcome Brandon to our coaching staff,” said Hartland general manager and head coach Randy Montrose. “I have had the sincere pleasure of knowing Brandon for many years both on and off the ice and I believe he will be a tremendous asset to the players and the coaching staff.”

Marshall, a Howell native, played junior hockey in the North American Hockey League from with the Alpena IceDiggers and Corpus Christi IceRays. Most recently, he played ACHA hockey for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

Montrose also coached Marshall at Howell High School from 2006-09 and as a captain, led the Highlanders to the 2009 Michigan state finals.

New 'Jack Garland chooses Penn State

The Muskegon Lumberjacks have announced that incoming forward Conor Garland has committed to play for Penn State University in 2015-16.

Garland was drafted in May by the Lumberjacks in the third round of the United States Hockey League Futures Draft.

The Scituate, Mass., native spent the 2011-12 season with the Boston Jr. Bruins of the Tier III Empire Junior Hockey League. He scored 94 points, which included 42 goals to lead the Bruins. He also finished the season third in league scoring. Garland was playing against much older players last year, some as much as five years his senior.

Penn State begins play this fall as a Division I varsity program for the first time since 1946. They will join the Big Ten in 2013-14 when the conference adds the sport.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hounds get stronger up front with Miglia

And the Hartland Hounds continue to get stronger up front.

Cam Miglia should play in the Hounds’ top six forwards this season after a solid year in 2011-12 with the Detroit Falcons 18U team (pictured), finishing third in the North American Prospects Hockey League standings.

He’ll look to be equally as successful this year in the Midwest Junior Hockey League.

It was actually two years ago while a senior at Brighton High School that Miglia was first noticed by Hartland coach Randy Montrose, who was then at the helm of rival Howell High School.

“Coach Montrose saw me play in high school and thought I would be a good fit for the Hounds being so close to home,” said the 19-year-old Brighton native. “It’s a new league and I don’t know much about it, but Randy is a great coach and that’s why I decided to play here.”

Miglia, like many of the Hartland players, had numerous options for this coming season and was even taken third overall in the North American 3 Hockey League draft by the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution in June.

When the opportunity to play for the Hounds arose, Miglia didn’t think twice.

“What really made me want to play here is Montrose,” beamed Miglia, who stands 5-foot-10 and tips the scales at 170 pounds. “He really develops his players and moves them to the next level; he is a great coach. It’s also close to home, so I can get some schooling taken care of as well.”

“I am excited to see what Cam can do in this league,” said Montrose. “He’s a kid that I have seen play a great deal and a kid that can do some great things with the puck. Cam is one of those players that make everyone around him better.”

Miglia feels the strongest part of his game is having a nose for the net and putting the puck in the net.

 “I like to think I’m a skilled guy with the puck, but being offensive isn’t the only part of the game,” Miglia said. “I like to battle down low and help get the puck out, too.”

Being part of what is shaping up to be a very promising team in Hartland, Miglia is keeping his goals simple for the season that gets underway in one month’s time.

 “This season, I would like to win the league go on to nationals and win that for coach Montrose,” Miglia said. “From a personal perspective, I would like to be a team player and help the team as much as possible in whatever role coach Montrose gives me.

 “I’m looking forward to getting the season started.”


Monday, August 13, 2012

Port Huron names training camp roster

The NAHL North Division champion Port Huron Fighting Falcons will be opening their 2012 training camp August 20 with 16 forwards, nine defenseman and three goalies fighting for 25 spots.

The Falcons will be returning seven forwards, including leading scorers Ian Miller and Kody Polin, while Alex Archibald and Ryan Nick will anchor the defense with Max Milosek back in goal.

The Falcons will be bringing in four new forwards Matt Uvodich, Zach Lindsay, Zach Badalalmenti and Port Huron resident Dillon Pfeifer and one defenseman, Jon Kopacka, who has played previously in the NAHL.

The additional Falcon players come from nine different leagues across the world with four players from the HPHL, two players from each of the NAPHL, Tier 1 Elite, SJHL and Michigan high school, along with one player from each of the NA3HL, EJHL, WSHL and the Swedish Jr. Hockey League.

The players come from six different states and two different countries:
21 - Michigan
2 - Pennsylvania
1 - Arizona
1 - New Jersey
1 - Texas
1 - Kansas
1 - Sweden
1 – Canada

Week one of camp with be at the Mount Clemens Ice Arena from 3-5 p.m. Monday through Friday before moving back to McMorran Arena for the second week starting on August 27 at 1 p.m. All practices are open to the public.

The following players will be attending this year's camp in hopes of making the team:

Pos First Name Last Name YOB Last Team

G Alex Blankenburg 94 Honeybaked U18 (HPHL)
G Max Milosek 93 Port Huron Fighting Falcons (NAHL)
G Scott Murray 93 Detroit Falcons (NAPHL)

D Alex Archibald 94 Port Huron Fighting Falcons (NAHL)
D Beau Browning 94 Osoyoos Coyotes (SJHL)
D Bobby Brown 93 St. Louis Jr. Blues (NA3HL)
D Chris Hansen 93 Wenatchee Wild U18 (NAPHL)
D Cole Pierce 93 Belle Tire U18 (Tier 1 Elite)
D Jon Kopacka 93 Compuware U18 (HPHL)
D Mark Evan Auk 95 University Liggett H.S.
D Ryan Murray 92 Port Huron Fighting Falcons (NAHL)
D Ryan Nick 93 Port Huron Fighting Falcons (NAHL)

F Bryan Yim 94 Honeybaked U18 (HPHL)
F Daniel Rehnstrom 93 Mjolby HC
F Dillon Pfeifer 94 Port Huron Northern H.S.
F Easton Powers 92 Port Huron Fighting Falcons (NAHL)
F Ian Miller 92 Port Huron Fighting Falcons (NAHL)
F Jake Goldberg 92 Port Huron Fighting Falcons (NAHL)
F Kody Polin 92 Port Huron Fighting Falcons (NAHL)
F Mathew Uvodich 92 New Mexico Renegades (WSHL)
F Mitch Maloney 94 Honeybaked U18 (HPHL)
F Nick Horne 93 Port Huron Fighting Falcons (NAHL)
F Nick Sierra 92 Port Huron Fighting Falcons (NAHL)
F Rick DeRosa 92 Port Huron Fighting Falcons (NAHL)
F Tom Kempinski 93 Princeton Posse (SJHL)
F Vito Aluia 94 Belle Tire U18 (Tier 1 Elite)
F Zach Badalalmenti 93 New England Huskies (EJHL)
F Zach Lindsay 92 Corpus Christi Ice Rays (NAHL)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chapman named Tennyson's first captain

Speedy forward Zach Chapman has been named Tennyson Chevrolet’s team captain for the 2012-13 season.

Chapman, who stands just 5-foot-4, was one of the big stories of the 2011-2012 Great Lakes Junior Hockey League season with the Motor City Chiefs.

"We are very pleased and honored to name Zach as our captain,” said Tennyson coach-GM Dan Vasquez. “Zach's work ethic, commitment to his team and dedication to the game was one of the most impressive things I have seen in my 30-plus years as a coach. I know that Zach will help make that type of dedication part of our everyday habits. Chapman started last season as a player that was supposed to not break the taxi squad and ended up being a player that we used in every situation and was invaluable to our everyday play.

"We have spent a lot of time over the summer talking about him taking this role and we think he will be a great captain.”

Friday, August 10, 2012

Whalers add scouts Debenham, Robert

The Plymouth Whalers have announced the hiring of Jim Debenham and Norm Robert to the team's scouting staff.

Debenham, in a sense, is coming home to Plymouth. He worked as the Whalers' director of scouting from 2002-09 before moving to Sarnia in the same position over the past three seasons.

Robert worked in Peterborough as a scout from 1996-2010 before moving to Sudbury as the Wolves’ scouting director for the past two seasons.

“We welcome Jim back,” said Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci. “He brings a lot of experience and he already knows what kind of player we want to play Whaler hockey. Norm has a ton of experience in the Toronto area. I look forward to getting to know him and work with him.”

Debenham and Robert worked for the Central Scouting Bureau before moving on to Ontario Hockey League.

Blum named to Saginaw coaching staff

The Saginaw Spirit have announced that the team has hired Jeff Blum to assume an assistant coaching position with the team.

With this appointment, the Spirit also confirm that George Daniel will not be returning for the 2012-13 season as an assistant coach.

Blum’s duties will primarily center on working with the Spirit’s defense corps and he will join fellow assistant John Kisil and head coach Greg Gilbert on the bench this season.

Following a career that spanned four years at the University of Illinois-Chicago where he captained his collegiate team, the Warren native spent parts of five seasons in the Colonial, International and United Hockey Leagues.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Traverse City adds Howell goalie Goulah

The Traverse City Cohos have signed a few players to score goals.

And now they’ve inked one to prevent them.

Bryce Goulah joined the fold this week and the former Howell High School goaltender says he’s looking forward to donning TC black, blue and silver.

“Junior hockey is a good stepping stone to the next levels,” said the 6-foot, 185-pound netkeep. “And I know coach (Scott) Gardiner and know he’s committed to moving kids on. My goal is to play at the NCAA Division I level, to get an education and hopefully further my playing career.”

Goulah went 9-1-1 during the 2011-12 regular season with the Highlanders, sporting a 1.76 goals-against average and .922 save percentage while leading the team to a district final before bowing out to eventual state champion Brighton.

“We’re hoping for big things from Bryce,” said Gardiner, who was an assistant coach at Howell a year ago. “I know what he can do, what he’s capable of and how we envision the next stage of his development. It’s a real boon for us to get him here.”

Goulah spent Tuesday in Traverse City, checking out the region, Centre ICE Arena and Traverse City Central High School– where the senior-to-be will attend classes beginning this fall.

“It’s a great area with great atmosphere,” Goulah explained. “With a new team in a new league that really looks like a solid model, I hope to be able to acclimate to the speed and physical demands and contribute to a lot of wins.”

Goulah is acquainted with at least one of his new teammates. He and current TC forward Alex Grizzel were classmates a year ago when Grizzel lived downstate during a midget major stint.

While his style is admittedly “very unorthodox,” Goulah says he prides himself on his ability to maintain posture while getting between puck and twine.

“I’d say it’s a little bit of a non-traditional, Tim Thomas-style of goaltending,” he offered. “But I can control my body, something even Thomas can struggle with. Hopefully, what has helped me be successful at other levels of the game can help me in Traverse City as well.”

Monday, August 06, 2012

Brownlee looks to fit in with Hounds

It’s often said that a successful hockey teams builds from the net out.

For the Hartland Hounds, that means starting with goaltender Andrew Brownlee.

An 18-year-old Howell native (he turns 19 later this month), Brownlee signed a tender agreement with the Hounds earlier this summer after jumping at the opportunity to play for a team so close to home.

“When the Hounds came about, I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to play close to home and still have the chance to possibly play some sort or college hockey and a chance at some sort of scholarship,” explained Brownlee, who saw brief time at the junior level last season with the Metro Jets of the North American 3 Hockey League. “I like the pace of play at the junior level because I feel more in the game when the pace of play is faster.”

Hartland head coach Randy Montrose is also someone Brownlee is familiar with having played under Montrose at Howell High School.

“I think we are here to get our best chance at moving on in the hockey world to the next level with the amount of connections Randy has,” explained Brownlee. “I expect Randy to be there as a coach this season and no one’s friend because he’s a very competitive guy and wants to do nothing but win.”

That certainly bodes well for Brownlee, who said he models his game after NHL Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy. “I love to battle when I step on the ice,” Brownlee said. “I need to get myself to compete in practice as much as I do in a game because practice is where you get better and try new things and maybe if I get a better in practice, my game could improve a little bit in games as well. This year, I want to have a better season than the last because I always want to improve in anything I do.”

That said, Brownlee knows hockey is a team game and wants nothing more than to be a contributing factor in any success the Hounds may have this year during the inaugural season of the Midwest Junior Hockey League.

“My expectations this year are to not only make the playoffs, but to also win the playoffs and represent our league at nationals,” said Brownlee. “I’d like to win nationals as well.”

Big goals from a competitive player can only mean big things for the Hounds this season.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Whalers trade for Soo defender Curcuruto

The Plymouth Whalers announced today the acquisition of 18-year-old defenseman Gianluca Curcuruto from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in exchange for 17-year-old left wing Mitchell Dempsey and 16-year center Dylan Mascarin.

“With three defensemen leaving from last year’s team, we were looking to add more experience to our defense,” said Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci. “Curcuruto is a young veteran who will help.”

Curcuruto was originally selected by Sault Ste. Marie in the first round (14th overall) of the 2010 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection. He played for Team Ontario at the 2011 World Under-17 Championships.

In two seasons with the Greyhounds, Curcuruto has scored four goals with 38 assists for 42 points and 62 penalty minutes in 119 games.

Curcuruto was selected in the seventh round (182nd overall) by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2012 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

Dempsey was originally selected by Plymouth in the first round (11th overall) in the 2011 OHL draft and scored a goal with four assists for five points in 34 games last season as a rookie. Mascarin was originally taken by Plymouth in the fifth round (93rd overall) in 2011.

Curcuruto is expected to report to Plymouth’s training camp in late August.

Photo/CHL Images

'Jacks running underwater marathon

While they prepare for the 2012-13 USHL regular season, the Muskegon Lumberjacks will donate their time and effort to help some of our country’s MVPs.

With the assistance of Mercy Athletic Performance, the Lumberjacks will take part in the first-ever HydroWorx Underwater Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 9. Funds raised by the event will go directly to the Eagle Fund, which helps wounded special forces soldiers get the treatment they need to properly rehabilitate.

Lumberjacks players, coaches and staff members will combine to complete a full 26.2-mile marathon on a HydroWorx underwater treadmill at the Mercy Campus in Muskegon. The runners will be linked via video to Hershey, Pa., where the majority of the charity event will be held.

The Jacks will be running in the second “heat” of the event at 1:30 p.m.

Fans looking to support the team can stop by the Mercy Campus at 1400 Mercy Drive. The Mercy Athletic Performance Center is the official training center of the Muskegon Lumberjacks.

Second-year Lumberjacks athletic trainer Josh Bennett first heard of this event earlier this summer at the National Athletic Trainers Association’s annual conference in St. Louis.

“Once I saw what it was all about, I needed to find a way to get our team involved,” Bennett said. “It just so happened that Mercy had a HydroWorx pool, so we were able to organize it.”

Bennett’s goal is to raise $2,500 for the Eagle Fund through online contributions. Fans can donate funds and monitor the team’s progress at

The marathon has the expressed goal of raising $100,000 toward getting wounded warriors back in action via pro sports-quality rehabilitation. The HydroWorx treadmill effectively removes about 80 percent of a person’s body weight through the natural buoyancy of water. Because of this, running on the apparatus is remarkably low-impact and comfortable. For more information on the event, visit