By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Nov. 3, 2015
We are in full swing finally as we stretch into the first full week of November thanks to the opening of NCAA Division III play last weekend. With that, the fifth edition of the IceRays Alumni Report, Vol. II becomes the first full recap of IceRays alumni in action. Though not all contributed on the weekend, we’ll scan all 50+ players and include the database’s largest section.
It may have taken 10 games, but left winger Ryan Garbutt (’09-’10) recorded his first point with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday evening against the Minnesota Wild in their 5-4 defeat. Down 4-2 in the second period, the Winnipeg, Manitoba, native poke-checked the puck in his own defensive zone, leading to another Winnipeg native, Jonathan Toews, who collected the puck along the wing and rifled his second goal of the night. He added a second goal just last night in Chicago’s 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings, and again it was Garbutt to Toews to open the game in the first period. It’s been a slow start for Garbutt, who has two assists in 11 games with the red and black, but if he keeps combining with the captain, then points may start to ratchet up.
Play in the American Hockey League (AHL) is still in the early stages, but if the performance of goaltender Pheonix Copley (’10-’11) continues at his current pace, he’s going to make it difficult for the St. Louis Blues organization to keep him penned up. On Sunday evening, the 23-year-old earned his second-straight shutout, this time a 2-0 victory against the Manitoba Moose. The new Winnipeg Jets affiliates put up 26 shots on Copley, who turned away every chance faced. He now has 49 shots saved over his last two games and moved his goals-against average to 2.34 on the season. It is worth noting that all three games thus far have come from Allstate Arena, so outlooks could shift has he returns to the Lone Star State this weekend for a two-game set against the San Antonio Rampage.
Despite the return of Jason LaBarbera to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, goaltender Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) made consecutive starts last Wednesday and Friday against the St. John’s IceCaps, helping to earn a 5-1 win in game one and dropping 3-2 in game two. Wednesday’s victory saw the lone goal come on the power play as the game’s first tally, but the second-year man stopped 17 of 18 total shots on the evening. On Friday, a third period goal set back the Phantoms during Stolarz’s 23-for-26 save effort. He stays over .500 with a 3-2-0 record and an impeccable 1.82 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage in five games.
Even though the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL were outshot 48-15 by the Idaho Steelheads, the Anaheim Ducks affiliate put up a 4-1 win on Friday evening on the road. Defenseman Phil Pietroniro (’11-’13) helped to snare the solidifying goal in the second period with a direct pass to Charles Sarault for the eventual game-winning goal. Through six games, Pietroniro is settling in well with the Grizzlies, recording two assists with a -1 rating and nine penalty minutes.
Remember that tough weekend the University of Denver had lined up against top-10 teams on Halloween weekend? Well, the results for the Pioneers didn’t go as expected in Beantown with a 4-3 loss on Friday night to now third-ranked Boston College and a 5-4 overtime loss to now 11th-ranked Boston University. The Pioneers slid down in the USCHO.com rankings from fifth to ninth and even further in the USAToday rankings: 12th. Despite the drop, forward Emil Romig (’12-’13) helped to push back in the third period of Saturday’s loss with an assist on the team’s third goal of the evening. The junior now has two goals and one assist through six games.
The power play was effective on Saturday night for Ohio State University as the Buckeyes claimed their first win of the season: a 5-1 victory over Mercyhurst University. While two alumni players were quiet on the Lakers’ side, forward Matt Weis (’11-’12) very much wasn’t in the team’s win, helping on both power play goals. The first came as the game’s opener in the first period, and Weis found Nick Schilkey to put the Buckeyes up early, and the second helped to put the game further out of reach for Mercyhurst within the first five minutes of the third period. This one Weis capitalized on coming from Anthony Greco for his third of the season. With the monkey off their backs, Ohio State can move forward after an off-weekend this week, and Weis can keep building with three goals and an assist through seven games.
30 players fill out the alumni database for NCAA Division III players, and while not all teams began their 2015-16 campaigns many of them took to the ice on Halloween weekend to start anew. The trio at Plymouth State University only played one game on the weekend, but in their 5-3 win over Becker College, forward Ian McGilvrey (’12-’13) turned on the gas with two goals in a high-powered third period in helping to take over the contest. His first of the night came on the power play with 5:54 left in the game to initially give the Panthers a 3-2 lead, and less than three minutes later, the Nebraskan grabbed his second as Plymouth State moved to a 5-2 lead. The junior is one of four players with two points on Saturday night and the only player with two goals. Last season, McGilvrey finished with nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points.
After a strong freshman season with Concordia College, forward Jon Grebosky (’11-’13) began his second year with a powerful start, picking up two points in his opening weekend. In a return to the Schwan Super Rink, the site of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) Showcase, the Oakdale, Penn., native scored the first goal of the year for the Cobbers in the first period on the power play in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Bethel College. He also tallied a primary assist in the second period on the game-winning goal by Charlie Aus. Grebosky is one of three players to earn multi-point weekends and shares second on the team in points. In his first year, the 22-year-old recorded 13 goals and seven assists for 20 points in 26 games.
There is no other way to say it: Neumann University dominated in their opening weekend. In their first two non-conference games of the year, the Knights picked up a 12-1 win on Friday against Daniel Webster and a 3-1 win Saturday against Salve Regina. In the carnage on Friday, defenseman Casey Rogers (’10-’11) picked up an assist in an already runaway first period. It was on the sixth and final goal of the period for Neumann, and it gave Mike Davis his third of four points on the night. Last season was a great improvement for Rogers in his sophomore year, picking up a goal and 12 assists for 13 points in 23 games with the 12th-ranked Knights.
Six games into his tenure with the Bloomington Thunder of the United States Hockey League (USHL), forward Jake Durflinger (’13-’14) finally picked up his first point on Saturday night as part of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Dubuque Fighting Saints. The Thunder had to come back from an early 3-0 deficit in the first period, and the 18-year-old’s primary assist helped to tie the game on the power play in the third period with 7:07 left. The Fighting Saints eventually scored with 2:33 left in overtime, but the second-year forward now has an assist to go along with his two goals earned with the Sioux City Musketeers prior to his trade.
There is a strong possibility that we could hear the name Nico Sturm (’13-’14) quite often as we round through the USHL each week. He’s proving that last year’s numbers with the Austin Bruins were true to form, and two more assists will help back up his performance despite being swept by the Waterloo Black Hawks on Thursday and Friday. Sturm’s help on the second period opening faceoff led to the Tri-City Storm earn their second goal on Thursday before allowing three-straight including overtime, and he also added a secondary assist with 37 seconds left of Friday’s 4-1 loss to knock out the shut out. Sturm now has three goals and four assists for seven points through 11 games. In the same weekend set, another former skater made a presence despite his small splash with the IceRays: forward Ronnie Hein (’13-’14). Hein enters his second season with the Black Hawks and has already motored to two goals and six assists for eight points through 10 games, including a goal on Thursday and an assist on Friday. These two skaters could be the focal points for IceRays alumni in the USHL.
The first 15 games for Chad Pietroniro (’11-’12) were spent riding the pine, so to speak, but in his first appearance on Saturday night, he not only kept clean of the penalty box but also contributed to Baie-Comeau Drakkar’s scoreline despite a 7-4 loss at home to Shawinigan Cataractes. His helper came in the third period during a three-straight goal spread for Drakkar to draw within one, however two late goals by Shawinigan put the game away. Last season, Pietroniro made the leap from the USHL after 19 games with the Madison Capitals and 127 penalty minutes to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), where he put up 64 penalty minutes in 19 games with only one assist. It’s his third stint in major junior hockey with only two seasons to go for eligibility.
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.