BY: COLLIN SCHUCK
After the first few weeks of strong play out of the gates, teams have begun to come back down to earth heading through the fourth edition of the IceRays Alumni Report. In the 56 games played by alumni teams, the combined record over the last week is 23-25-6-2, sorted by wins, losses, ties, and overtime losses. However, a few young stars are continuing to earn strong numbers in the early going of the 2014-15 season, with one gaining league recognition.
In both games from former netminders now in the American Hockey League, teams came up short. Since starting the season with a sparking 3-0-0 record and two shutouts, Phoenix Copley (’10-’11) of the Hershey Bears has dropped consecutive games, falling most recently 3-2 to the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday. Copley was able to turn aside 26 of 29 shots against in the contest. Copley now owns a 3-2-0 record with a 1.97 goals against average that ranks ninth in the AHL and a .920 save percentage.
Just east of him, Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) is still on the hunt for his first win behind a depleted Lehigh Valley Phantoms lineup, losing 4-3 to the Worcester Sharks last Wednesday. The 2012 2nd Round Draft Pick stopped 31 shots out of the 35 he faced on the evening, with one goal allowed coming on a shorthanded play. Despite his 0-3-0 record, Stolarz still owns a respectable 3.05 goals against average and a .909 save percentage.
Another weekend, another point for defenseman Payden Mielke (’11-’12) of Colorado State University, gaining a helper in the Rams’ 5-3 victory over defenseman Luc Neitenbach (’10-’11) and the University of Colorado on Thursday. In the team’s lone game, Mielke earned a primary assist on the go-ahead goal toward the end of the second period before the Buffaloes evened the score, 2-2. The Loveland native has one goal and seven assists through his first 13 games this season with a plus-eight, which ranks second on the team behind forward Erik Waring, who has a plus-nine. Neitenbach did not record a point on the night, so he remains at one goal and five assists through his first 12 games of the year and is second in penalty minutes on the team at 25.
Goals have become a specialty at the University of Alabama-Huntsville for defenseman Frank Misuraca (’11-’12), who tacked on another in Friday’s 4-2 win over Air Force. Misuraca scored the eventual game-tying goal past former Janesville Jets and Johnstown Tomahawks netminder Chris Truehl at 10:52 of the second period. The Michigan native now leads all skaters with three goals through his first ten games of the season and ranks tied for second in points at four.
The University of Denver had a big weekend from one of its sophomore skaters: forward Emil Romig (’12-’13). It took eight games, but the Austria native finally came away with his first two points, both coming in Friday’s 5-4 victory over Western Michigan. His first point was a primary assist in the go-ahead goal late in the second period, but after the Mustangs tied the game late into the final period, Romig knocked in the game-winning goal with 1:52 remaining to seal the win. The Pioneers would drop their game the next night, 6-3.
Though it didn’t happen on a Thursday, it was a twofer weekend for two former players at Division III Wentworth Institute of Technology in the team’s 3-2 win over Johnson & Wales University on Saturday. Forward Kevin Crowe (’10-’11) slapped on two more goals, one of which coming on the power play that resulted in the game-winning goal. Forward Jake Diamond (’10-’11) was productive on the back end in his first game this season, tallying two assists on the night, the first on Crowe’s game-opening goal at 5:04 of the first period. Crowe was awarded first star of the night, and Diamond earned third star recognition. Crowe now leads the team with three goals and four points. On the other side of the ice, forward Josh Obregon (’10-’12) was kept off the score sheet for Johnson & Wales.
Speaking of Thursdays, another trio of former IceRays battled in the snowy north with only one coming away with points. Forward Jon Grebosky (’11-’13) followed up his three-point opening weekend with a two-goal effort in Concordia-Moorhead’s 4-3 loss to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls at home. Both goals came in the second period, with the latter resulting in the game-tying goal heading into the second intermission. He now has five points through his first four games after being blanked in Sunday’s 2-1 win over the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Defensemen Andrew Paras (’12-’13) and Caleb O’Brien (’12-’14) were both kept off the score line in their opening weekend games.
The “Three Musketeers” of Plymouth State College combined for a total of six points in their two games last week for the Panthers. In Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to Nichols College, defenseman Tommy Dowell (’10-’11) got the game started with a power play goal in the first period assisted by forward Mike Economos (’12-’13) to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Forward Ian McGilvrey (’12-’13) added his lone tally of the night in the second period to jump ahead 3-0. After a six-goal surge by Nichols, Economos made it a trio of goals for former IceRays, tallying the final goal of the night. Two days later, McGilvrey struck again just before the midway mark of the third period to score the game-winning goal, in which Economos earned another assist. With his three-point weekend, Economos moves into a share of first place in points at four and is tied with McGilvrey for the team lead in goals at two.
Two other Division III sides will be starting their seasons off this coming weekend that contain IceRays alumni. Forward Derrek Schartz (’10-’11) of Tufts University will start their 2014-15 campaign at home this Saturday and Sunday against Wesleyan and Trinity. The Jumbos will look to start their season better than last season’s finish, going 4-19-1 last year. Their NESCAC counterpart Colby College will also start their 2014-15 season at home against Williams and Middlebury, with defenseman Jonathan Sdao (’10-’11), brother of Binghamton Senators defenseman Michael Sdao, kicking off his junior year.
One rung above in the United States Hockey League, forward Jake Durflinger (’13-’14) of Sioux City grabbed two more assists in his lone game last weekend. After Friday’s game against the Lincoln Stars was postponed due to ice issues, the Musketeers traveled back home to claim a 4-3 overtime victory against defenseman Chad Pietroniro (’11-’12) and the Madison Capitols. Both assists for Durflinger were primary assists on power play goals, the first coming to open the game at 1:31 of the first period and the second at 11:32 of the third period. The Walnut Creek, Calif. native now sits fifth on the team in points with two goals and seven assists and a plus-seven. Pietroniro was held to his season total of two assists over his squad’s two games.
After his brother was traded to another squad, it was defenseman Phil Pietroniro (’11-’13) who now changed sides in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League moving to the Victoriaville Tigers on Wednesday with a 2015 second-round pick belonging to Acadie-Bathurst for goaltender Brandon Whitney. That set the stage for his debut with his fourth team in three seasons last weekend, and it was a quality effort with a power play assist in the first period of the team’s wins against Sherbrooke and Val-d’Or. He now has 16 points through 23 games.
And in the somewhat distant but farther north British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League, forward Beau Walker (’12-’13) was awarded Rookie of the Month for the month of October, proving his worth for East Washington University. He has completely dominated in his first ten games this season, putting up nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points. He has recorded points in all but seven of the Eagles’ 28 points this season, including three points over his last two games. He leads the team in every major category and leads the BCIHL in assists and points.
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.