BY: COLLIN SCHUCK
The end of the calendar year is at hand, and the IceRays are at the midway mark of their season. So while they begin their second half campaign, let’s review the first half of the year for former players in the 11th edition of the IceRays Alumni Report.
The National Hockey League is approaching the halfway point of their 2014-15 season, and already the new campaign has been full of peaks and valleys for former Central Hockey League forward Ryan Garbutt (’09-’10). Following his best season with the Dallas Stars, the 29-year-old has gone through a rough stretch over the last month and a half. Multiple suspensions and injury has kept him off the ice for a number of games already, but the forward has tallied six goals and six assists. Two of his goals came as game-winners, and one was short handed.
In their first full professional seasons, both Pheonix Copley (’10-’11) and Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) have made the most of their time with their respective American Hockey League clubs. After facing off against one another to start the NHL preseason, Copley joined the Hershey Bears and Stolarz the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. They haven’t played one another since that initial meeting, but both have placed strong numbers. Copley is 5-3-1 through 9 appearances with a 2.08 goals against average and a .918 save percentage, and Stolarz is 5-5-1 in his first 13 games, earning a 2.32 goals against average and a .932 save percentage. While Copley doesn’t qualify for league rankings, Stolarz ranks 3rd in the AHL in save percentage and 15th in GAA.
The highest level of NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey has seen a few surprises from former IceRays during the 2014-15 season thus far, with the entire pack led by freshman forward Matt Weis (’11-’12) of Ohio State University. The former Green Bay Gambler started the season with a three-assist effort against Providence on October 10 and added one other multi-point game to his first season in the Big-10. That other multi-point game on November 14 against Bowling Green resulted in his first collegiate goal. He has one goal and seven assists for eight points through his first 13 games.
Right behind him is defenseman Colton Saucerman (’10-’11) of Northeastern University. Though he didn’t come out of the gates blazing, the junior has charged forward as the season went on. After his first two points of the season on November 14 against the University of New Hampshire, the former Lincoln Star has added five points over his last seven games, including four points over his last three-straight games. Saucerman owns four goals and three assists for seven points in his first 12 games.
Another defenseman has been displaying a sense of finding the net in his junior season. Frank Misuraca (’11-’12) of the University of Alabama Huntsville has spread his six points out over the course of his 20 games with some earlier points helping stem the tide through a 0-7-1 start. His four goals rank second on the team while his overall point total places him seventh. He also shares the lead amongst IceRays NCAA Division I alumni in goals with Saucerman.
A few other former players have made impacts at the NCAA Division I level. Forward Perry D’Arrisso (’11-’13) earned his only assist of the season in 13 games with Clarkson University on October 25 against Bowling Green State University, defenseman Kyle Froese (’13-’14) of the University of Alaska Fairbanks grabbed two assists in a three-game span about a month later on November 28 and December 5, defenseman Mychal Monteith (’10-’12) has appeared in five games this season with Mercyhurst University, forward Emil Romig (’12-’13) claimed his goal and assist on November 7 against Western Michigan, and goaltender Hayden Stewart (’12-’13) has started his freshman season at Cornell University with a 1-3-0 record through five games but sports a strong 1.97 goals against average and a .930 save percentage.
A trio of players have seen time at the ACHA Division I level over the course of this season, and both defenseman Payden Mielke (’11-’12) and Luc Neitenbach (’10-’11) have both been team point leaders for their respective Colorado teams. The University of Colorado has seen a strong output from Neitenbach following his transfer from Worcester State College, earning four goals and seven assists over his first 19 games this season. He’s one of five players to skate every game, which has certainly helped him to third in assists and tied for fourth in points. Mielke ranks second on the team in plus-minus at a plus-eight while earning two goals and seven assists for nine points. During his season, he’s played very clean, sitting tied for first in least penalty minutes on the team at just two.
In previous editions, a lot of time in NCAA Division III recaps has been spent at Plymouth State College, but with three skaters factoring into contests close to every weekend it’s hard to look away. Former teammates Mike Economos (’12-’13) and Ian McGilvrey (’12-’13) are working well with one another to claim the lead in points amongst all NCAA Division III alumni. Economos has five goals and six assists thus far and McGilvrey owns four goals and seven assists. They’re tied for second on the team in points, Economos also ranks second in goals, and McGilvrey sits in third in assists. The sophomore tandem has played in all ten games this season for the Panthers. Defenseman Tommy Dowell (’10-’11) aids in the blue line effort for the Panthers while tacking on one goal and two assists in nine games.
While the points have been fruitful for New Hampshire skaters, two other players have also found success tallying goals. One of those is forward Jon Grebosky (’11-’13) at the University of Concordia-Moorhead, who ranks second on the team in goals at six while doing it all at even strength. He’s had three multi-point games, with two of those games coming as two-goal efforts. His hot start gained him a strong foothold in his freshman season with five points in his first three games of the season. He also leads all IceRays NCAA Division III alumni in goals.
The other is senior Kevin Crowe (’10-’11) at Wentworth Institute of Technology, whose five goals in 11 games has started his final collegiate season strong. Crowe ranked up four points over his first three games of the season, and though his production has slowed since the team’s three-win start, that impact has lasted thus far in the season. He also ranks second in points with Ben Iwanowski and leads all teammates in penalty minutes at 23. Junior forward Jake Diamond (’10-‘11) has also appeared in seven games this season, earning two assists with both coming in his first game on November 8 against Johnson & Wales University.
Speaking of Johnson & Wales, forward Josh Obregon owns three goals and one assist in his first 11 games this season. Also gaining points this year are SUNY Potsdam forward Tommy Telesca (’12-’13) with three goals and two assists, Brandon Adams (’11-’12) of SUNY Oswego with one goal and two assists including an appearance in the first ever Frozen Dome Classic at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., defenseman Chance Creger (’10-’11) of Northland College with two assists in just four games, Neumann University’s Casey Rogers (’10-’11) who also has two assists, and Michael Dery (’11-’12) of Worcester State with one point.
Goaltender Anton Olsson (’10-’11) of Lawrence University has only played three games this season but owns a 0-1-0 record with a 4.64 goals against average and a .886 save percentage. And though they may not have recorded points, Brandon Berkeley (’12-’14) of UMass-Dartmouth, Dmitry Ermakov (’11-’12) of Norwich University, and Caleb O’Brien (’12-’14) and Andrew Paras (’12-’13) of University of Wisconsin-River Falls have all appeared for their respective clubs looking for their first points of the season.
In the USHL, three former IceRays have had successes in their own rights for their own teams. Jake Durflinger (’13-’14) of the Sioux City Musketeers has found great success in his first USHL season, earning five goals and 11 assists for 16 points through 27 games. Durflinger is sixth in points and tied for fifth in assists for his new team while going through a eight-point in four-game stretch in the first four games on November. After being traded from the Des Moines Buccaneers to the Madison Capitols just two games into his season, Chad Pietroniro (’11-’12) has proven to his new team correct with three goals and two assists in his 17 games post-trade. His largest asset is his physical presence, though he ranks atop the USHL in penalty minutes at 118 while being the only player with 100+ penalty minutes. Jalen Schulz (’12-’13) of the Tri-City Storm has had an important season, committing to the NCAA Division I side University of Nebraska-Omaha. During his second season with the Storm, Schulz has two goals and four assists for six points. He’s three points away from his USHL-high in assists (7) and points (9).
With his final games looming in one of the world’s premier junior leagues, Phil Pietroniro (’11-’13) of the Victoriaville Tigers has, like his brother, changed teams once already and is looking for a strong finish to his junior career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Over his 39 games this season, Pietroniro has totaled four goals and 22 assists with 26 points with both Victoriaville and Gatineau. This season is the best in terms of point production and assists over his junior career, and he is just two goals away from his QMJHL career-high. In addition, his 26 points ranks fifth on the entire team and first among defensemen.
To round off the recap, we cannot forget freshman forward Beau Walker (’10-’12) at East Washington University of the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL), who has dominated the league. 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points mark his crusade through the BCIHL, ranking first in assists and goals in the entire league. He has recorded points in 12 of his 13 games already while missing an assist in only three games. His league awards include BCIHL Player of the Month in October with 14 points in the month, including four of his five games recording at least three points. Though his Eagles are stuck in last in the league, a turnaround in the second half of the year could prove more beneficial for the red hot Walker.
Read the IceRays Alumni Report every Tuesday on www.GoIceRays.com and hear the audio version during the second intermission of the opening game in every weekend series on the IceRays Broadcast Network.
Collin Schuck is the Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations for the Corpus Christi IceRays. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter at @CollinDSchuck.