By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Nov. 24, 2015
There were some big weekends for American Hockey League (AHL), United States Hockey League (USHL) and NCAA Division III players in the eighth edition of the IceRays Alumni Report, Vol. II. While NCAA Division I alumni were relatively quiet, the loudest contributions came in the top-tier of United States junior hockey including one who now rests in the top-15 in scoring.
Just 18 games into his season with the Chicago Blackhawks, left-winger Ryan Garbutt (’09-’10) earned his first goal of the season and third point overall. On Saturday night, captain Jonathan Toews found the 30-year-old waiting in the left circle for a rip into the net despite the team’s 6-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. All three points the fifth-year NHL player have recorded so far have come connecting with Toews. Production has been harder to come by this year following two 20-plus point seasons, but on a deep team Garbutt will find his production.
One goal was the difference for the Chicago Wolves in the AHL, and goaltender Pheonix Copley (’10-’11) on Saturday night during their 2-1 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins from Allstate Arena. Copley was beat two times by center Andreas Athanasiou on his three attempts in the game, and despite the Wolves grabbing one in the third there just wasn’t enough time to salvage a point. The 23-year-old stopped 14 of 16 shots and dropped his second-straight decision and his first regulation loss since October 16. The second-year man drops to 3-2-1 on the year but still holds a strong 2.49 goals-against average with a .904 save percentage.
For the second-straight week, goaltender Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) kept busy between the pipes for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in three-straight days away from home. On Friday, the Phantoms topped the Providence Bruins 4-1, and the 22-year-old turned away 29 of 30 shots with the only blemish coming in the first period. The following night, a short drive to Hartford didn’t provide a win as the Phantoms dropped 3-1 to the Wolf Pack. The night kicked off with two goals within the first four minutes for Hartford and one just 29 seconds into the game. Stolarz did stop 23 of 26 in his first regulation loss since the start of November. Sunday was a solid rebound for Lehigh Valley heading back to the Dunkin Donuts Center to claim a 5-2 win over the Bruins. This time, only two of 35 shots found their way through Stolarz for his second win in three nights. Even though he remains without a shutout, the second-year pro has yet to allow more than three goals in a night and still holds under a 2.00 goals-against average, holding fifth in the AHL as well as eighth in save percentage (.931).
After a weekend off for the University of Denver, the Pioneers went back to work against the University of Wisconsin, picking up three of four points in a tie and win on back-to-back nights. Forward Emil Romig (’12-’13) helped in Saturday’s 6-2 win helping out former Wichita Falls Wildcat Colin Staub earn his first collegiate goal as the game’s opening tally in the first period. Through 10 games, the Austrian already has four points, and at this rate he’s set to record career-highs in possibly a breakout season.
Oswego State has been clamoring to get back in the USCHO.com NCAA Division III rankings and toward the top of the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC), and coming off three-straight losses the Lakers picked up two-straight wins in a home-and-home series against Morrisville State. In Saturday’s 4-0 road win, forward Brandon Adams (’11-’12) picked up his first point of the season grabbing a late-game assist on Shawn Hulshof’s second goal of the night. The junior has had a slow start to his third season during the team’s first seven games coming off his second-straight year with double-digit points.
It took six games for UMass Dartmouth to earn their first win of the season and in thrilling fashion: a 3-2 victory over Salem State on Saturday night. Not only was it the team’s first win but also the first goal of the year for forward Brandon Berkley (’12-’13), who scored the game-winner in overtime to set the Corsairs on top. Thanks to his goal, the Scottsdale, Ariz., native has equaled his point total from his freshman season just six games into his sophomore campaign, earning one goal and three assists for four points. He’ll look to set a new career-high tonight against Babson and Saturday against Southern New Hampshire.
Saint John’s University also picked up their first wins of the season this weekend in a home-and-home sweep of Hamline University, and two former IceRays contributed to the victories. In Friday’s 2-1 win, forward Joe Chitwood (’13-’15) picked up his second assist on the game’s opening goal in the second period before the Johnnies scored with 30 seconds left in the game to win. In Sunday’s power play-filled game, forward Matt Colford (’14-’15) recorded two points: an assist on the third of three power play goals during a major penalty in the second period, and the game-winning goal with 3:17 left in the game to put the Johnnies up 4-3. Colford now has three points over his last four games, and both players have earned points in consecutive weekends.
Plymouth State and three of its four IceRays alumni had monster weekends in a 9-2 rolling of Framingham State on Thursday and a 3-2 victory over Fitchburg State on Saturday. Most of the damage was caused in Thursday’s win. Forward Mike Economos (’12-’13) had a career day, earning a hat-trick with two goals in the first period and one in the third period, and he was one of two players with hat-tricks on the evening with the other coming from Josh Woody, the eventual Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Player of the Week. Economos added one more goal on Saturday for a four-point weekend. Defenseman Caleb O’Brien (’12-’14) was also big for the Panthers with two points in each game: two assists on Thursday with one coming on Economos’ third goal as well as his first collegiate goal and another assist on Saturday. Another defenseman, Tommy Dowell (’10-’11), had a huge evening on Thursday, recording four assists for his first points of the season with one on Economos’ first goal of the night. The three players, along with Ian McGilvrey (’12-’13), all rank in the top-10 for scoring on Plymouth State with their big weekend.
Ever so slowly, forward Christian Elsborg (’11-’12) is starting to figure out the collegiate transition in his second season with the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and as part of a 2-1 win against the University of Wisconsin-River Falls on Saturday, the Swede earned his second assist in three games coming on the eventual game-winner in the third period. That assist makes two for the season, which sets a career-high dating back to his junior days in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) through three teams in two years. His six games also marks a career-high, and the 22-year-old will look to continue his recent string of success following the Thanksgiving break.
The University of St. Thomas found themselves in a split of their two-game weekend, however defenseman John Roisum (’12-’13) contributed in each game in game-tying goals. In Friday’s 5-2 win over Bethel College, the junior picked up his first assist of the year on the eventual game-tying goal on the power play during the opening period, and the next night Roisum found Willie Faust for the game-tying goal early in the third period before Bethel netted the game-winner a few minutes later in the Tommies’ 2-1 loss, which was also Bethel’s first win of the year. Through six games, Roisum now has one goal and two assists while halfway to his career-high of 12 games set his freshman season.
There was only one game this week for now second-ranked Plattsburgh State, and it was a big one: a showdown with 12th-ranked Potsdam State on Saturday in a SUNYAC battle of ranked teams. The Cardinals took control and claimed a 7-1 win at home against the Bears, and defenseman Chris Taff (’11-’12) found himself with a point during the course of the night. His secondary assist helped Dillan Fox net the team’s third goal in a four-goal first period to quell any surge Potsdam had ready. In four games, Taff is averaging just over a point per game with one goal and four assists.
We did warn that it would take some time for forward Jake Durflinger (’13-’14) to settle in with the Bloomington Thunder, and now that’s apparent with his second USHL team with points in now three of four games. The Thunder earned two of four points on the weekend, and the 18-year-old assisted on Friday’s eventual game-tying goal against the Chicago Steel in their 3-2 overtime win on the road as well on the opening goal of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Durflinger now has seven points with five coming in 12 games with the Thunder, and recently he has points in four of six games during November.
Ronnie Hein (’13-’14) is turning out to be one of the best point producers in the USHL during his sophomore campaign, and a five-point weekend will certainly do the trick to boost numbers. The Waterloo Black Hawks blanked the Des Moines Buccaneers 6-0 on Friday at home, and Hein earned an assist and a goal in a four-goal second period with the assist coming on the power play. The very next night, despite being edged by the Omaha Lancers 4-3, Hein managed to factor in to all three goals for the Black Hawks, picking up assists in the first and second periods, all as part of Liam Pecararo’s hat-trick. With five points, the Michigan native now has 15 points, which ranks 15th in the USHL and his 11 assists ties him for 7th in the league.
Even though he’s not leading the charge in the USHL or for the Tri-City Storm, forward Nico Sturm (’13-’14) finds production consistently with five points in six games in the month. In the second of three-straight games stretching across two weekends against the Sioux Falls Stampede, the German earned an assist in the first period and his sixth goal of the year in the second frame during their 5-4 win on Friday. In 17 games so far, Sturm has 12 points, which ranks fourth on the Storm in scoring, and he remains as one of five players to hit double-digit points.
Baie-Comeau Drakkar needed to find a way to win games, and last weekend the loss-ridden team won both games at home including a 4-0 shutout of the Halifax Mooseheads on Saturday night. Very rarely does the name Chad Pietroniro (’11-’12) become associated with scoring, but the center earned his second goal of the season in eight games as the final tally of the blanking. He’s one goal away from tying his junior career-high set last season with the Madison Capitals and two points from a career-high in points set that same season at five before rejoining the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
Despite being shut down in three games last week, the Moose Jaw Warriors find themselves near the top of the Western Hockey League (WHL), and center Landon Quinney (’14-’15) factored into the only goals last Tuesday and Friday. In Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Prince Albert Raiders, the 17-year-old notched the Warriors’ only goal during the second period, and as part of Friday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Kootenay Ice, Quinney found Noah Gregor for the game-tying goal with 2:03 left in the third period. That’s now six points for the Nevada native, who now has four points in November and ranks third among rookies on the roster.
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.