By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Mar. 21, 2017
The 17th edition of the IceRays Alumni Report, Vol. III puts out all the punches for a professional and NCAA edition. Updates from around professional hockey, including one defenseman quietly going to work in the ECHL and another catching eyes in the AHL as well as a look into both NCAA Tournaments with three players at the NCAA Division I level to start that bracket this weekend and two more facing off in the NCAA Division III Semifinals.
A starring season continues for Pheonix Copley (’10-’11) despite being transplanted back to Chocolatetown at the NHL, and if anything there has been improvement over his first six games with the Hershey Bears. The North Pole, Alaska native has picked up five wins since re-joining his former team including two this weekend in a three-day span, stopping a combined 55 shots in a 4-3 overtime in on Friday and a 3-1 victory on Sunday. It’s also three-straight wins over the last two weeks, and his numbers are strong despite a small sample size, sitting at 5-1-0 with a 1.91 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage. On the year, Copley boasts a 20-7-3 record with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in 31 games.
Eyes continue to settle on the bodacious-bearded Colton Saucerman (’10-’11), who made his second AHL appearance over the weekend, this time with the Springfield Thunderbirds. The Defenseman played on Sunday afternoon against the Albany Devils in a 3-0 shutout victory and even factored in with a positive presence during one goal. His first AHL appearance came with the Hersey Bears at the end of December, but now he’s back with the Manchester Monarchs in the ECHL and owns three assists through five games with his brand new team. On the season, Saucerman owns two goals and 24 assists for 26 points through 47 games.
It’s been a while since the last check back with Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL, but after his drop down from Philadelphia the young goaltender has fallen off his early success until now. The 23-year-old picked up his third-straight two-goal game on Saturday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a close 3-2 victory, stopping 37 shots in the process. It’s his third-straight win since the beginning of March, and spring seems to help the New Jersey native blossom at the end of the season. He’s now splitting time with Alex Lyon, who’s filled-in impressively during the NHL call-up, but still owns a 15-7-0 record with a 2.96 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage through 23 AHL games.
The strong run for defenseman Phil Pietroniro (’11-’13) of the Utah Grizzlies pressed on last week as part of a three-game stretch against the Colorado Eagles, picking up a pair of points to close the weekend and factoring in on half of the team’s goals in those games. An assist helped the Grizzlies get on the board in a 4-1 loss on Saturday as well as for the first time in a 5-3 loss yesterday. Since March 3, the Canadian has assists in five of his last seven games, turning in a +3 rating through those contests. With the weekend, Pietroniro now has career-highs in all major scoring categories, recording three goals and 15 assists for 18 points with two power play goals through 60 games.
Speaking previously of players moving up, a new professional defenseman has quietly found a home in ECHL play over the course of this season. Frank Misuraca (’10-’11), after finishing his collegiate career at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, has settled in to “AA” hockey now with the Cincinnati Cyclones, the ECHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators. The Clinton Township, Mich. product began the season in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) before earning the call to Cincinnati, where he made his ECHL debut on October 28. Following a 13-game stint with the Toledo Walleye, the 25-year-old is back with the Cyclones to most likely finish out the season. Through 40 games this season, Misuraca owns two goals and two assists for four points with 19 penalty minutes and a -4 rating.
Three alumni players will battle with their respective programs in the NCAA Division I Tournament starting this weekend for their claim at a national championship. Ohio State University makes their first trip to the NCAA Tournament but is given the task of taking down National Collegiate Hockey Conference Champion and second-ranked University of Minnesota Duluth if they want to advance to the quarterfinal round, meaning that forwards Ronnie Hein (’13-’14) and Matt Weis (’11-’12) have a tall task ahead of them starting on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CDT. Top-ranked University of Denver earned the top overall seed in the bracket, taking on Michigan Tech on Saturday afternoon at 12:00 p.m. CDT and marking the final chance for forward Emil Romig (’12-’13) to earn a NCAA title following a career season. Finally, Cornell University is pitted against UMass Lowell in the opening round, and the winner of that game will play the winner of Minnesota and Notre Dame for the rights to the national semifinal round. Hayden Stewart (’12-’13) may not end up playing unless goaltender Mitch Gillam goes down during the week, but he’ll be part of the proceedings and vengeance of losing the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) Title starting on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. CDT.
Poetry would have pitted these two teams in the NCAA Division III Championship Game, but both Adrian College and Norwich University will go head-to-head in a semifinal game on Friday night at 5:30 p.m. CDT. Both teams have the lone remaining alums in national title contention: goaltender Dillon Kelley (’12-’13), who looks to help Adrian win their first NCAA Championship during his third season, and forward Dmitry Ermakov (’11-’12), who is looking for a title in his final collegiate season. Norwich comes in as the top-ranked team in the country, while Adrian has needed just one fewer game in the postseason. The winner plays Saturday against the winner of St. Norbert and Trinity (Conn.) at 6:00 p.m. CDT for the championship.
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 email@example.com or on Twitter at @CollinDSchuck.