BY: COLLIN SCHUCK
The new year has arrived, and many alumni are off to strong starts of the 2015 calendar. All levels of NCAA and ACHA ice hockey have returned to action and we press on through the professional and junior ranks as we reach the 12th edition of the IceRays Alumni Report.
Two points in three games isn’t a bad way to kick off 2015 for Dallas Stars forward Ryan Garbutt (’09-’10). Though technically one of those three games was on December 31, 2014, Garbutt has been very productive since the holiday break. In fact, before Sunday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, the left-winger had scored points in each of his last four games with two goals and two assists. The former CHL forward now has seven goals and seven assists for 14 points through 30 games this season.
Goaltender Pheonix Copley (’10-’11) continues to produce positive results for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) with a few more successful evenings in net. Following an overtime loss on December 27 to the Binghamton Senators, Copley has allowed only one goal in each of his last two games. He came in relief of the injured Phil Grubauer to stop six of seven shots to close out the Bears’ 2-0 loss on New Year’s Eve, and he turned away 25 of 26 shots four days later in Hershey’s 2-1 shootout win. Dating back to December 6, the Alaska native has recorded points in each decision, going 3-0-1 in five games. He now owns a 6-3-1 record with a 2.00 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.
On the flip side, Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) finished the 2014 calendar year with a bit of a slip, dropping a 6-2 decision to the Binghamton Senators on New Year’s Eve. Stolarz saved 16 of 21 shots in 32:32 played before being pulled for counterpart Rob Zepp. That now makes two-straight games in which Stolarz was relieved by the backup goaltender. His recent troubles drop him to 5-6-1 with a 2.63 GAA and a .924 save percentage. The New Jersey native has gone 0-1-1 with nine goals allowed in three games since his shutout on December 19.
NCAA Division I hockey is back in full swing following their winter recess, and though school remains closed defenseman Kyle Froese (’13-’14) of the University of Alaska Fairbanks continues to earn apples. In the opening weekend of 2015 against Ferris State, Froese earned an assist in each game. In Friday’s 2-1 win, the Michigan native earned a secondary assist on the game-winning goal with 5:32 left in the third period. His other assist came on the game’s opening goal as part of a 6-0 blanking on Saturday. Froese doubled his assist total this weekend to four with all points coming over his last seven games.
Speaking of helpers, defenseman Frank Misuraca (’11-’12) also earned a pair of assists at the University of Alabama Huntsville last Friday against the University of Alaska Anchorage. During the Chargers 3-2 victory, Misuraca factored into their second and third goal to aid the team to a 3-0 lead early in the second period before Alaska Anchorage answered with two goals. After a hot start finding the back of the net, Misuraca’s game has slowed a bit over the middle of the season, but he still ranks sixth on the team in points with four goals and four assists for eight points.
In what seemingly became a weekend of two’s, Ohio State forward Matt Weis (’11-’12) also added two points to begin the 2015 calendar year. In a 6-3 barnburner win overtop Mercyhurst University, Weis started with the lone assist on OSU’s third goal of the first period to help the lead to 3-0. Later on in the game, Weis tacked on his second goal of the season and first on the power play to stretch the lead. Through 15 games of his freshman season, Weis now has two goals and eight assists for ten points, and he is tied for the team lead in assists with Chad Niddery.
A big weekend kicked off 2015 for forward Brandon Adams (’11-’12) of SUNY Oswego, doubling his point total in just two games in the new year. In Friday’s 4-2 win over Tufts University, Adams knocked in the eventual game-winner in the second period to increase the Lakers lead. The following night against Nazareth College, the Illinois native assisted the game’s opening goal as well as added the final goal for the Lakers in their 5-2 win over the Golden Flyers. That increases his totals to three goals and three assists for six points through 12 games played. SUNY Oswego is now ranked fifth nationally in the most recent USCHO.com NCAA Division III Rankings.
While we’ve noted the successes of forward Kevin Crowe (’10-’11) at Wentworth Institute of Technology, a lot of non-statistical support has come from forward Jake Diamond (’10-’11). However, that doesn’t mean he will stay completely off the score line. In their first game back from winter recess, Diamond scored his side’s first goal of the night late in the first period as part of a 4-3 win over Wesleyan. It’s the first goal of the season for the Colorado native and moves his point total to three to pair with the two assists earned in his first game of the season on November 8 against Johnson & Wales.
The “Three Musketeers” are at it again, and this time defenseman Tommy Dowell (’10-‘11) and forwards Mike Economos (’12-‘13), and Ian McGilvrey (’12-‘13) all claimed one point last weekend for Plymouth State. All three players contributed for the Panthers during their 5-4 loss to Trinity College, with two tallying goals. Economos notched a power play goal directly from Dowell late in the first period to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. After allowing four goals over two periods, McGilvrey scored the final goal of the game to bring them within one. Economos (six goals, six assists) and McGilvrey (five goals, seven assists) share second on the team in points (12) with both Mike Freitag and Zach Sarig, while Dowell (one goal, three assists) has tallied four points through his 11 games thus far.
Johnson & Wales University entered the 2015 calendar year with a 2-0 win over SUNY Canton on Saturday, and forward Josh Obregon (’10-’12) helped his side by setting up the eventual game-winning goal to James Hyatt with 30 seconds remaining in the second period. That helper is his second of the season and brings him to five points on the year.
The United States Hockey League (USHL) returned to action at around the same time the NAHL picked up after the holiday break, and since that time off 17-year-old forward Jake Durflinger (’13-’14) has skated in three games with points in one. His Sioux City Musketeers held an early 3-0 advantage that eventually fell in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Omaha Lancers, but Durflinger was able to help out with a play to set up Robert Carpenter for their second goal at 2:13 of the first period. Durflinger has five goals and 12 assists for 17 points through 30 games played in his first USHL season.
And one more assist was also marked across for defenseman Phil Pietroniro (’11-’13) with the Victoriaville Tigers of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). The 20-year-old once again saw his old club, Gatineau Olympiques, in a much closer affair: 5-3 Tigers over Olympiques. In the third period, Pietroniro helped the exchange that led to the game-winning goal by Samuel Blais on the power play with four minutes left. The defenseman continues to push his career marks higher now with four goals and 23 assists for 27 points.
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.