By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Jan. 12, 2016
The 15th edition of the IceRays Alumni Report, Vol. II presents a very robust weekend for former players in all levels with scoring in five of the seven levels represented through professional, collegiate and junior hockey with three more collegiate players earning their first points of the season and, in some instances, first career points, as well as league honors coming for one of our four professional players in a young career. It’s a lot to unpack, but thanks to all of NCAA Division I & III hockey rejoining regular season play, our scope broadens back to a wide lens.
The Chicago Blackhawks have been on a tear as of late, pulling away with their seventh-straight win on Sunday night to continue their run toward the top of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Central Division. In the midst of the turn upward, the adjustment for winger Ryan Garbutt (’09-’10) has continued into the second half of the season. In Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche, the Canadian pushed an open puck toward the net to help winger Brandon Mashinter to his second of the year. The assist is Garbutt’s first point since November 25, snapping an 18-game point drought in his shuffle to the back of the depth chart. He now has five points in 38 games this season.
The other team in Chicago, the Wolves of the American Hockey League (AHL), has had the opposite issue. The team has lost four of their last six games including both last weekend against the Texas Stars, meaning that goaltender Pheonix Copley (’10-’11) was saddled with his third-straight loss. The Wolves overpowered the Stars throughout the game with shots and pressure, but the Alaskan had trouble halting the opponents, stopping 22 of 26 shots and conceding his second game with four goals or more this season. The three-game spell marks just the third time in his professional career that he’s come up on the losing end and second this season.
An alumnus is officially an All-Star. Goaltender Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) was named to the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic in Syracuse, N.Y. last Thursday for the first time in his career. The 21-year-old will join teammate Nick Cousins on the Atlantic Division team for the skills competition on January 31 and the revamped all-star game on February 1 that mirrors the new NHL format. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms, despite the individual accolades, have also lost four of six games including all three last weekend, two of which Stolarz was in net. He halted only seven of 11 shots in 15:54 minutes of Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, a game which both teams combined for all seven goals in the first 16 minutes, as well as 18 of 20 shots in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Binghamton Senators. The games increase his winless drought to five games, and at this juncture, Stolarz now owns a 12-9-3 record with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.
Mercyhurst University rounded into their second weekend of NCAA Division I play following the winter holiday and found better luck against an ailing Niagara University squad in a home-and-home series, sweeping the Purple Eagles in back-to-back games. The Saturday bout set in motion another collegiate first for another player: freshman forward Tommaso Bucci (’12-’13). The New York native earned his first collegiate goal in the first period to tie the game and start a three-unanswered run for the Lakers in pursuit of the win. Though he’s been in and out of the lineup, Bucci has earned 12 games on the ice and has two points.
Last weekend pit two of the cellar teams in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) against each other to try to crawl closer to the top half of the standings, and the weekend for the University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Alabama Huntsville ended up splitting down the middle. One of those two teams is missing their IceRays alum, but the other had an assist come from their former NAHL player. Frank Misuraca (’11-’12) aided in the game’s first goal on Saturday night to put the Chargers up before the eventual 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Nanooks for his second point in four games. The Michigan native now owns five points in 22 games during his senior season.
Another assist for forward Emil Romig (’12-’13) puts him back on the board and on track toward matching his career-high point totals. The University of Denver took command over the University of Nebraska-Omaha to sweep the top-ten team and jockey back toward the top-ten, and in Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Mavericks the junior assisted on the game’s second goal back in the first period, combining with former Wichita Falls Wildcats forward Colin Staub to find former Fairbanks Ice Dogs forward Gave Levin. The NAHL connection gave Romig his fifth point in 17 games this season.
Western New England has had a difficult 2015-16 season, missing out on wins in their first 11 games, however the next one paid off for the Golden Bears with their first win of the season in a 5-1 victory over Framingham State on home ice. In a rare Tuesday game, former forward Matthieu Audet (’13-’14) earned his first goal of the season as the fourth in the five-goal game for his squad, and the tally is also his first point in 14 games this season. His sophomore campaign has seen a setback in production following a five-point year in 14 games last season, but getting the first helps to work back to production.
That Saturday night, the Golden Bears hosted the SUNY Potsdam Bears but to a much different result: a 5-2 loss to Potsdam. The road side Bears placed three of their five tallies on special teams, and forward Tommy Telesca (’12-’13) was the only player to earn a shorthanded goal to go with two other power play goals by the team. With an assist later in the game on even strength, the junior earned his first multi-point game of the season and now has his first collegiate shorthanded goal. Since joining Potsdam a few games into the season, the Selden, N.Y., native has been red hot, recording all six points over his last six games and pushing his numbers closer to his career-highs.
Naturally, once the Plymouth State Panthers return to action, they immediately jump back into the report with two players earning points on Saturday night. After dropping the previous game, the Panthers put down Wentworth Institute of Technology with a 4-2 victory at home, and the result doesn’t illustrate how close the game became through the contest. Wentworth put the game within reach with one minute left in the third period, but forward Michael Economos (’12-’13) scored with ten seconds left on the power play in due part to the help of forward Ian McGilvrey (’12-’13) in the final stages. Economos shares the team lead in goals and points with seven goals and seven assists for 14 points while on pace to break his career-high set last season, and McGilvrey becomes the sixth Panther to reach double digits with ten points in 13 games.
Concordia College began their post-holiday schedule with a tour of Wisconsin teams on the road last weekend with mixed results, splitting between Wisconsin-Superior and Wisconsin-River Falls, winning 5-1 to the former and dropping 1-0 to the latter. No matter the setting, forward Jon Grebosky (’11-’13) continues to lead the Cobbers in his breakout season with another multi-point weekend. All three points came in Friday’s win, grabbing assists on the game’s first two goals (including the game-winner) while tallying the final goal of the game within the first two minutes of the second period. The sophomore leads Concordia in goals and points with six goals and seven assists for 13 points and his on pace to set another career-high in all major scoring categories.
Lawrence University took on a different Concordia team in Wisconsin last weekend and earned three of four points with a win and draw, and in the process one more player earned the first tally of the season. After 22 games over two seasons without a point, forward Luke McDiarmid (’12-’14) earned his first collegiate point and goal during their 2-2 draw, scoring the game’s opening goal just 1:20 into the game. The Alden, Mich., native had 66 penalty minutes through two seasons with the Vikings and hopes to keep the good times rolling against Aurora College this weekend.
The last time the name Casey Rogers (’10-’11) has been mentioned was quite some time ago, but in Neumann University’s second weekend back after the New Year the defenseman played a large role in Saturday’s 4-3 overtime road win over Fredonia State. The 24-year-old found Mike Davis with less than one minute gone by in the extra period to score the game-winner and seal a weekend sweep over the Blue Devils and the team’s fourth-straight win. The Knights are undefeated in 2016, and Rogers owns eight points in the 14 games played this season. He’s five points from his career-high point total with nine fewer games played from last season.
Thanks to a strong weekend, forward Johnny Roisum (’12-’13) has now equaled his career-high point total set last season in just two more games played. The University of St. Thomas played a home-in-home series against Saint Mary’s, splitting the games with a 4-3 road loss on Friday and 6-2 home win on Saturday, and the third-year man factored in both decisions with assists. The helper on Friday helped the Tommies tie the game in the third period before faltering in the final minutes of the contest while on Saturday both assists came on the power play: one in the first period and one on the game’s final goal. Roisum has been having a solid season, now owning four points over his last four games in his return from the holidays while helping contribute on the ice with a +6 rating, which is good for second on the team, and eight points through 14 games.
Four points in four games seems to be a common thread heading through last weekend. Defenseman Chris Taff (’11-’13) joined the four-in-four club over the weekend with assists in back-to-back games against Norwich University and SUNY Canton despite the team’s mixed results. In Friday’s 6-3 loss to Norwich, the sophomore helped draw Plattsburgh State back within two during the later stages of the third period and followed that up with an assist on the Cardinals’ fifth goal in the first period in their 8-2 thumping of SUNY Canton. All four points in his first four games of 2016 are assists, improving his total to eight with a goal for nine points through nine games. He’s keeping pace with his point-per-game effort from last season, now at 22 points in 24 games over two seasons.
Forward Jake Durflinger (’13-’14) earned his first two points of 2016 in one game last weekend as his second United States Hockey League (USHL) season continues to be fruitful with the Bloomington Thunder. During their 6-3 win over the Muskegon Lumberjacks on Saturday night, the 18-year-old was the direct helper in the game’s first goal in the opening period and the game-winner in the third period, both assists helping Logan Lambdin earn a hat trick and a four-point night. The Walnut Creek, Calif., native is now five points away from his USHL-high of 22 points in a season while playing under half of his games last year. He also has five points over his last six games.
It also only took one game for forward Nico Sturm (’13-’14) to earn two points but his came in a bit of a different fashion in the Tri-City Storm’s 6-3 win over the Waterloo Black Hawks on Friday night. The Austrian earned the team’s first goal and first on the power play in the opening frame then helped get the Storm back to scoring in the second period with an assist to go up 4-1 heading towards the third period en route to a third star honor for his efforts. Those two points are also his first of the 2016 calendar year, but his production has slowed since the start of December, recording three points in his last nine games after earning 15 points in 15 games between October 24 and December 6.
Read the IceRays Alumni Report every Tuesday on www.GoIceRays.com and hear the audio version on the IceRays Broadcast Network.
Collin Schuck is the Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations for the Corpus Christi IceRays. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @CollinDSchuck.