Thursday, January 31, 2013

Daavettila makes splash in Hartland debut

Add Gabe Daavettila to the list of Hartland Hounds’ players who came in knowing half the team and the coaching staff.

Daavettila, a 19-year-old Howell native, signed last week and made his debut on Saturday night with a four-point (goal, three assists) outing in a 9-1 win at home over the G L Lightning.

Not too shabby for his first game, eh?

“A couple weeks ago, Coach (Randy Montrose) called and asked if I wanted to come and play for the Hounds,” said Daavettila. “I said sure. It’s nice being able to play junior hockey so close to home. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t be playing if it wasn’t so close to home.”

During the 2010-11 school year, Daavettila captained the Howell High School varsity squad, coached by Montrose, that lost in the Division I regional final to Novi High School.

Daavettila hadn’t played hockey since then – until that fateful call from his old coach.

“I knew Montrose had moved from high school to the Hounds and I know most of the players on the team, but I don’t know much about the league,” said Daavettila. “I think it’s been going good so far.”

After just a handful of practices and one game under his belt, Daavettila said it’s easy to see why the Hounds are 37-0-1-0 this season going into this weekend’s rematch with the Lightning.

“No other team can match the talent we carry on our roster,” said Daavettila. “We seem to have all the right pieces in the right places. For me, it’s all about going out there and having fun.”

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jr. K-Wings get vet Polin from Port Huron

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have traded David Parrottino and future considerations to the Port Huron Fighting Falcons in exchange for forward Kody Polin.

Parrottino had just recently joined the Jr. K-Wings from the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. The 18-year-old only played three contests in a Kalamazoo sweater after the move. In each of those three games, he was held out of the points column and racked up four penalty minutes.

Polin, a 20-year-old, two-year veteran forward of the NAHL, adds more experience to the Jr. K-Wings' lineup and a knack for the back of the net. The Trenton native tallied 24 goals and 14 assists last season for 38 points, enough to leave him tied for second on the division champion Fighting Falcons.

Through the course of this season, Polin has 14 points (12 goals, two assists) in 38 games and has shown an element of toughness, having registered 85 penalty minutes.

Ironically enough, Polin played his last game with Port Huron against Kalamazoo, as the Jr. K-Wings defeated the Fighting Falcons 2-1 on Wednesday night.

The Jr. K-Wings anticipate Polin to make an immediate impact.

“We’re looking for Kody to help produce offense here in Kalamazoo," said Kalamazoo coach Marc Fakler. "He is a proven goal scorer in this league."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Las Vegas' Evans cashing in with Jets

Thomas Evans came all the way from Las Vegas to play for the Metro Jets.

Well, sort of.

A current Waterford native, Evans and his family moved nearly three years ago from the West Coast for a variety of reasons – one of which was, of course, hockey.

“In the beginning, I didn't actually know a lot about the Jets, but I did know about the league and that it was going to be a good place to help me improve and eventually get to where I want to go,” said Evans, who turns 18 in March. “My mom is originally from Port Huron and she wanted to move back and my parents wanted me to go to school here. I also came to have a better chance with hockey.”

Last year, Evans manned the blue line for Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and made it all the way to the Division I state high school semi-finals, where Brighton moved on after a double-overtime victory.

Playing at a high level with OLSM made Evans realize the potential he had to play junior hockey.

“After last year, my goal was to play junior hockey this year,” explained Evans, who has a goal of Division I college hockey in the future. “I tried out for the Jets and I liked the team and the coaches, it was close to where I live and all of those things made my choice easy. Coming from high school to juniors was a big step that was challenging, but I feel like it was the right choice and that it was good for me to make that step.”

Making the jump to the NA3HL, Evans hasn’t seen his role as a defenseman change much, only that the game is faster and his decision-making has to be quicker.

“First and foremost, my role is to not allow the other team to score and second, to move the puck up the ice as quick as possible to help our forwards get moving up the ice,” said Evans. “I think my strengths involve my skating ability, passing and seeing the ice.”

Heading into this weekend, Evans wants to see the Jets pick up a couple notches in the win column and eventually, go on a run leading into the league playoffs in March.

”It is always disappointing to not have the record that we would like, but we have had some close games and we could easily have a better record,” Evans said. “I believe that we are all maintaining a positive attitude because it's not over yet. The veteran players all know we can still do it and they all help out the younger guys by being positive even when it's tough for them as well.

“We still want to win and I am sure that is how everybody else on the team feels as well. There is still a lot of hockey to be played this season and we will continue to improve one day at a time.”


Last weekend, the Jets suffered a two-game sweep at home to the Michigan Mountain Cats.

Metro (12-18-1-0) hosts the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks this Saturday night at 8 p.m. and then the Toledo Cherokee on Sunday for a 2:50 p.m. start.

After this weekend, the Jets are not home again until March 2.


Jets’ forward Ryan Chapie suffered a broken collarbone on Sunday and is out for the season. Defenseman Derek Britton (shoulder) may be back before the end of the season and forward Mike Gambino (hand) is still 2-3 weeks away from returning.


Former Jets’ coaches Jon Cooper and John Burkart are now with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

Cooper, who led the Jets to the 2002 Silver Cup Junior B national title, is the head coach of the Syracuse Crunch, the Lightning’s AHL affiliate. After leaving Metro, Cooper won national championships in the NAHL with the St. Louis Bandits and in the USHL with the Green Bay Gamblers.

Burkart, an assistant to Cooper on the 2002 team, scouts for Tampa Bay.

Both Cooper and Burkart attended the second annual USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game this past week in Muskegon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hounds add Howell goaltender Michalik

If a winning pedigree has anything to do with the Hartland Hounds’ success this year, newly-signed goaltender Christian Michalik can certainly add to that list.

An 18-year-old Howell native who won a Division I high school state championship last season at Brighton High School, Michalik saw action this season in the North American 3 Hockey League with the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks and Minnesota Flying Aces.

Being able to now come home and play juniors is the perfect situation for Michalik.

“I had some family trouble that needed to be taken care of and I just felt that I was better off playing hockey with the Hounds while still living at home,” said Michalik. “I know that (Hartland coach) Randy (Montrose) is a great coach and I know he had great success at Howell and so far this year, the team has had tremendous success. I don’t know much about the MWJHL, but I know that the competition from what I have seen has been great. There is a lot of speed, skill and physicality.”

Playing on a state championship team last season and earning the victory in the title-clinching game against Grosse Pointe North in front of a packed Compuware Arena in Plymouth gave Michalik all the confidence he needed to make the jump to junior hockey.

“I think the strongest part of my game is my confidence and calm demeanor on the ice,” Michalik said. “I play very relaxed and confident and the players on the ice can feed off it and know that I will be there to stop the puck and they can go out and just play their game.

“Last season's run with Brighton prepared me for juniors because I realized that when me or my team's backs are up against the wall that I can raise my game to the next level to help win games for my team to accomplish a goal we had set out for since the beginning of the season.”

And while Michalik will push Andrew Brownlee and Myles Grix for time between the pipes, all he wants to do is help contribute on and off the ice.

“My personal expectations for this year are to continue to improve my game and get better numbers so I can get looks from North American Hockey League scouts as well as NCAA Division III scouts,” explained Michalik. “I also want to help the team accomplish our goal of winning a national championship and hopefully come April, we're the last team standing in Vegas.”

Thursday, January 17, 2013

D'Angelo working to improve for Jets

Devon D’Angelo just wanted a chance to play hockey and the Metro Jets have given him that opportunity.

This time last year, the 19-year-old West Bloomfield native may not have thought junior hockey was a possibility after injuring his knee early in his senior year at Walled Lake Northern High School.

Then again, hard work (and modern medicine) pays off.

“Once I was almost fully healed, I told myself I did not want to hang up the skates after high school, so I made my way to the Jets’ organization,” said D’Angelo. “And here I am.”

D’Angelo has a goal and five assists in 27 games with Metro and admittedly, wants to boost those numbers as the North American 3 Hockey League season starts to enter the stretch run.

“On a personal level, I am very disappointed in my game,” D’Angelo said. “I’m in quite a slump this season and am not very happy about it. I have a lot more potential to show the team and coaches. Coach (Jason) Cirone has helped me significantly this year with my game. There's a few things I need to change myself to move up and start producing more points, though. I feel that I bring the team positive energy, talent and many forms of communication.

”As a team, I feel like we've come a long way. We all stay on each other and are very close. From the locker room to the ice, we're always staying positive. I still feel like we have a lot to work on over the rest of the season.”

From a personal standpoint, D’Angelo said that from where he first started playing hockey to where he wants to go, it’s definitely been an exciting journey.

“I had a stick in my hand at three years old and was on my way to the ice around four,” explained D’Angelo. “My dad brought me into the game as he was a very talented hockey player himself. My future goal is to play ACHA Division I club hockey. I have been looking at Oakland University and a few others. I plan on trying out OU's camps, as well as some NAHL camps this summer to see where I'm at. On and off the ice, I want to become a stronger player, physically and mentally.”

With the Jets, finishing the season on a high note is the priority for D’Angelo.

“My outlook the rest of the way is that we step it up and start winning some games,” D’Angelo said. “If we finish strong here, we can make the playoffs and raise a cup in the future. We need to start this in practice as we have a team full of talent that can dominate a majority of the teams in the division.”


Aside from adding goaltender Riley Corbin on loan from the Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers, the Jets also released goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (now with the Whalers on a full-time basis) and traded forward Jeff Monfils and defenseman Chad Frost.

Monfils, a 20-year-old Washington native acquired last summer from Cleveland, was sent back to the Jr. Lumberjacks at the end of last week for 18-year-old defenseman Brad Hepler, a Chelsea native.

Frost, a 19-year-old Clarkston native in his second season with the Jets, was then traded to the Quad City Jr. Flames earlier this week where he will join Aksel Campbell, another ex-Jets’ defenseman who was acquired by Quad City two weeks ago.


Anthony Cacciatore, who manned the blue line for the Jets during the 2000-01 season, is now ling and working in Chicago and owns and operates his own business – Chef of Chicago – where he works as a private and personal chef.

After his time in Waterford, Cacciatore, now 31, played two years at Robert Morris College and left early to play two years in the United Hockey League with the Muskegon Fury and Port Huron Beacons.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Augustyn happy with role on Hounds

Scott Augustyn knew exactly what he was getting into when he decided to play for the Hartland Hounds this season.

When the team started to shake out into a Howell High School reunion, complete with the coaching staff, Augustyn couldn’t sign with the Hounds fast enough.

“Coach (Randy) Montrose has been my coach for the past three years and he is a great coach,” said the 18-year-old Augustyn. “When I found out he was creating a junior team, I was committed.”

A steady defenseman, Augustyn said his years at Howell High readied him for the junior hockey style of game.

“Howell prepared me for this year because we ran the same systems that we run this year,” Augustyn said. “My role on the team this year is to be a solid defenseman and rack up some points. Playing with a group of guys such as the Hounds can really boost your confidence because everyone is there to move on and help one another.”

And even after the Hounds tasted defeat for the first time last Wednesday in an overtime loss against the Michigan Ice Dogs, Augustyn said that may not have been such a downer of a game.

“It's always hard to lose, especially since our record has been so good,” said Augustyn. “I think we needed to lose and we needed to see that we can be beat by a team. Now, we can better prepare for future opponents. I think a key component to our success lately has been buying into the systems that we have been taught.

 “If we work as a team and move the puck, I think we can win every game. We definitely have the talent.”

TRANSACTION: Hartland signed forward Collin Myers on Monday. The 19-year-old Myers is another Howell High School alumnus who is expected to be in the lineup Wednesday night against the Ice Dogs at the Wayne Community Center.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Schueneman commits to Western Michigan

The Michigan Warriors have announced that defenseman Corey Schueneman has verbally committed to continue his hockey career playing for head coach Andy Murray at Western Michigan University.

The Brighton native is in his first season playing for the Warriors.

“There is no doubt about Corey’s offensive contribution, but we are very proud of his development as an all-around defenseman, which will help his growth as he continues his career at Western Michigan University," said Warriors' head coach Moe Mantha. "I'm excited to see the continued development of these players and the Warriors' organization is extremely pleased for Corey. This is an excellent opportunity for him to continue his hockey career and education."

Schueneman, an offensive defenseman, leads the Warriors in defensemen scoring with five goals and nine assists for 14 points and a plus-3 rating.

Kalamazoo obtains Kohls from Kenai River

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have announced the completion of a trade that will send forward Mikhail Bushinski to the Kenai River Brown Bears in return for forward Lucas Kohls.

Bushinski is a 20-year-old native of Woodbury, Minn., who was the leading scorer for the Fresno Monsters when he came over to the Jr. K-Wings in late October. He is a two-year veteran of the NAHL and was fourth on the Fresno team in scoring last season (17 goals, 16 assists, 33 points).

Bushinski also showed great durability last season as he was the only member of Fresno that played in all 60 regular-season games.

In his time with Kalamazoo, Bushinski played in 20 games, but was never able to get it going offensively as he was only able to produce a goal and five assists.

Kohls, a 19-year-old native of Forest Lake, Minn., leaves the Brown Bears having been ranked second on the team in scoring. In 34 games with Kenai River, he had nine goals and 14 assists for a total of 23 points.

There is no word as to when the rookie will make his way to Kalamazoo from Alaska, but Kohls should be ready to play by next weekend at the latest.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Plymouth, Generals make swap of imports

The Plymouth Whalers announced today the acquisition of 19-year-old left wing Sebastian Uvira – along with the Kitchener Rangers’ fifth-round pick in the 2013 Ontario Hockey League draft – from the Oshawa Generals in exchange for 19-year-old defenseman Simon Karlsson.

Uvira - from Freiberg, Germany - was selected by Oshawa 46th overall in the 2011 Canadian Hockey League import draft. This season, Uvira has scored three goals with three assists for six points over 23 games. He has 16 goals and 12 assists for 28 points and is plus-4 in 81 career games with the Generals.

Karlsson was taken by Plymouth 90th overall in the 2012 import draft. In 34 games with the Whalers this season, Karlsson - from Malmo, Sweden - scored two goals with nine assists and was plus-1 in 34 games.

Uvira is expected to report to Plymouth today and will be in the lineup this weekend when the Whalers host Brampton on Friday and Erie on Saturday at Compuware Arena.

Photo/OHL Images

Whalers trade Bratina, acquire Trocheck

The Plymouth Whalers announced Thursday the acquisition of 19-year-old center Vince Trocheck from the Saginaw Spirit in exchange for 17-year-old center Zach Bratina, second- and third-round draft choices in 2015 and a third-round choice in 2016.

“We are very excited to be able to acquire Vince,” said Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci. “He is someone we’ve coveted since his minor midget draft year (Detroit Little Caesars). Vince and Ryan Hartman are coming here just having helped the United States win a gold medal in the World Junior Championship. I am looking forward to seeing Vince in the lineup this weekend.”

Trocheck – from Pittsburgh – leaves Saginaw as the second-leading scorer in franchise history with 94 goals and 146 for 240 points in 236 games. This season, Trocheck has 24 goals and 26 assists for 50 points and is +18 over 35 games. He’s one of the best face-off men in the Ontario Hockey League and was considered the face of the franchise as captain in Saginaw.

Trocheck was originally selected by Saginaw in the second round (24th overall) of the 2009 Ontario Hockey League draft. Later, Trocheck was taken by the Florida Panthers in the third round (64th overall) of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft and has been signed by the Panthers.

Trocheck and Hartman helped the United States win the gold medal in Ufa, Russia. Trocheck scored three goals with three assists for six points and was plus-5 in seven games. Hartman scored two goals and an assist in the tournament.

Bratina was taken by Plymouth in the first round (19th overall) of the 2012 OHL draft and scored four goals with four assists for eight points in 37 games.

Division rivals usually don’t make trades and Vellucci acknowledged Saginaw’s participation in the deal.

“I want to thank the Saginaw Spirit organization for making this deal possible,” Vellucci said. “It’s not always easy to make a deal with a cross-town rival, but they are getting an exceptional person and player in Zach Bratina. We are going to miss him.”

Trocheck is expected to report today to Plymouth and will be in the lineup this weekend when the Whalers host Brampton on Friday and Erie on Saturday at Compuware Arena.

Photo/OHL Images

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Young goalie Nedeljkovic a hit in Jets' net

Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic may not play another game for the Metro Jets this season, but he sure made an impression in his time with the team during the past couple months.

A 16-year-old who played for the Belle Tire Minor Midget team last season, Nedeljkovic was drafted by the Plymouth Whalers in the sixth round of last April’s Ontario Hockey League draft and figured to be the Whalers’ third-string goaltender this season.

That’s how it started and that was expected, said Nedeljkovic. He just wanted to see some rubber. So calls were made.

“I knew that I wasn’t going to get a lot of playing time at the beginning of the season being the youngest goalie in Plymouth,” explained Nedeljkovic, a Parma, Ohio, native. “When the time did come where I was going to play my first game, (Plymouth) coach (Mike) Vellucci didn’t want to put me in net without being in game shape or having any kind of junior hockey experience, so for the first few months of the season, I would practice once a week with the Jets and play games for them whenever I could.”

The level of play in the NA3HL is also just what Nedeljkovic had in mind.

“The NA3HL was what I pictured junior hockey to be like – hard-hitting, guys playing physical and making creative plays,” Nedeljkovic said. “Guys were a lot bigger than AAA hockey, their shots were harder, the speed of the game was much faster and guys were always going hard non-stop. It was the kind of hockey that I wanted to play.”

Nedeljkovic went 5-3-0 with a 2.49 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in nine game with the Jets. He has also won six games with the Whalers, including both last weekend at home against the Owen Sound Attack and Guelph Storm, and is now the primary backup to Carolina Hurricanes’ prospect Matt Mahalak.

“My experience in playing with the Jets was very helpful when I was able to play with Plymouth,” added Nedeljkovic. “Having the feel of junior hockey and the quickness of the game really helped me to fine-tune the little things in my game. I took my time playing with the Jets as an opportunity to make myself better, to try and tweak little things and work on them as much as I could. I was able to get a feel for junior hockey while playing with the Jets and that gave me a lot of confidence when I was able to play with Plymouth.”

Going back and forth and sometimes practicing with both the Jets and Whalers on the same day was grueling at first, but gradually something Nedeljkovic grew accustomed to.

 “I practiced everyday with Plymouth and once a week, I would practice with the Jets after I did with Plymouth,” explained Nedeljkovic. “I was very happy to be playing hockey, though. I hadn’t played in a game since pre-season with the Whalers, so I knew that my first game back in the net wouldn’t be my best and it took a little time to shake the rust off and get used to playing game speed, but I was just looking forward to experiencing the thrill of stopping pucks and playing hockey.”

Nedeljkovic added that while his time in Waterford may have been short and sweet, the Jets’ organization certainly left a lasting impression on him.

“The first day I got to the rink and practiced with the team, I was very excited that I was given a chance to play some junior hockey for the Jets,” said Nedeljkovic. “When I first met (Metro coach) Jason (Cirone), I could tell that he was a great coach that wouldn’t take any nonsense from anybody. He wanted to get the most out of his players and would do his best at practice and at games to get 110 percent out of them. I was also looking forward to working with (assistant coach) Randy (Wilson) and hearing what advice he had to give me about my game that could help me fine-tune a few things and make me a better player.

“That’s one of the biggest things I liked about the Jets organization – when you were there, you were being pushed to be the best you can be.”


Last Friday, the Jets traded defenseman Aksel Campbell to the Quad City Jr. Flames and also released forward James Tuljus.

Campbell, from Lone Tree, Colo., was acquired from Three Rivers in October and the 18-year-old was held without a point in 17 games with the Jets.

Tuljus, an 18-year-old West Bloomfield native, was a 2012 draft pick of the Jets and saw action in nine games this season without recording a point.

The Jets also added Saleh, an 18-year-old Grosse Pointe Farms native and 2012 draft pick, and 18-year-old forward and Wixom native Kyle Shreve, who had started the season with Metro, prior to the series in Pittsburgh.

Saleh started this season with the Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League.


Defenseman John Baker, who led Jets’ defensemen in scoring a season ago, recently joined the Oakland University ACHA Division I team and will skate with former Metro teammate Tommy Kilgore.

Baker, a 21-year-old Waterford native, tallied five goals and 22 points in 36 games in 2011-12.

Other ex-Jets on OU’s squad include David Merkle (2009-10), Adam Novack (2007-09) and Art Dore (2007-08).

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Whalers deal Aleardi to Spits for Lorentz

The Plymouth Whalers on Monday announced the acquisition of 19-year-old left winger Zach Lorentz from the Windsor Spitfires in exchange for 20-year-old right wing Alex Aleardi.

Ontario Hockey League teams have until noon on Wednesday to cut down to three overage players (1992 birthdays) on their respective rosters. Monday’s transaction allows Plymouth to keep defensemen Colin MacDonald and Austin Levi and center Mitchell Heard as the team’s overage players.

Windsor has an overage slot available, so the deal was made for Aleardi, who was acquired by the Whalers on. Sept. 20, 2010, from Belleville for a pair second-round draft choices.

Aleardi scored 71 goals and 62 assists for 113 points in 164 career games with the Whalers.

 Lorentz is no stranger to the Western Conference.

 Originally selected in 12th round (223rd overall) by the Kitchener Rangers in the 2009 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, Lorentz played two seasons in Kitchener, enjoying his best overall season with the Rangers last year when he scored 19 goals and 14 assists for 33 points and was +11 in 66 games. He played against the Whalers in the Western Conference semi-finals last year.

In all, Lorentz has scored 31 goals with 28 assists for 59 points in 156 career games.

Lorentz scored against the Whalers on Dec. 31 in a 5-2 Plymouth victory at Windsor Family Credit Union Centre.

 Lorentz was traded to Peterborough last summer and moved to Windsor on Nov. 22 in a deal with defenseman Trevor Murphy in exchange for right wing Derek Schoenmakers and defenseman Brandon Devlin. Draft choices went both ways.

Lorentz is expected to report to Plymouth for practice on Tuesday and will be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Whalers play in Saginaw against the Spirit. He’ll make his Whalers’ home debut at Compuware Arena Friday against Brampton and Saturday against Erie.

The OHL’s final trade deadline is set for Thursday at noon.

Photo courtesy Tim Cornett/Windsor Spitfires

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Hounds' forward Savard finding niche

What’s not to like about the Hartland Hounds?

That was the question Brad Savard found he was asking himself when he was looking for a new team to skate for earlier this season.

One of the team’s newest forwards, the 18-year-old Milford native is finding his niche with the team and enjoying the ride as the Hounds enter Saturday night’s road game against the Michigan Ice Dogs with a perfect 32-0 record.

“I ended up playing for the Hounds because my original team, the Detroit Falcons, was not working out for me and I wanted to be on a team that would benefit me,” explained Savard. “I wanted to play for the Hounds because I had heard great things about the coaches, I knew some people on the team and it sounded like the team played a style of hockey I could apply myself to.

“I feel I've adjusted quite well. I love the style of play that this team uses.”

Last year, Savard played high school hockey for South Lyon High School and was teammates with current Hartland forward Jared Vincek.

“South Lyon helped prepare me for juniors through the amount of practice and time put into preparing myself physically and mentally,” Savard said. “This season is a much higher level than high school. It’s faster and more physical of a game.”

Savard also has his sights set on his future, including looking at a school the Hounds will play in an exhibition game on Jan. 19.

”My short-term goals in hockey are to try to make it to the USHL or on to a college team, more specifically, Eastern Michigan's college team,” said Savard. “The hard work never stops, so we’ll see.”

And what's not to like about a hard-working player looking to realize his dreams?