By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Feb. 23, 2016
A lot has transpired in the month of February both for the IceRays and those formerly adorning Corpus Christi uniforms. With the hustle and bustle, we’ve strayed away from progress of our elder IceRays, so we bring back the IceRays Alumni Report with the 18th edition of the second volume and focus on the more recent achievements and actions of players dating back to mid-February in our audio-only edition, especially in professional and collegiate play.
Let’s start our run in the American Hockey League (AHL) where two goaltenders return to their affiliated teams after stints in the National Hockey League (NHL) waiting for their top-tier debuts. Chicago Wolves goaltender Pheonix Copley (’10-’11) dropped back down last week prior to a multi-game weekend at home, and he earned three different results in three games: an overtime loss, regulation loss, and win. The 24-year-old stopped down over 30 shots in each contest no matter the result, going 1-1-1 with a 2.58 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. Those were his first three games of February, so his monthly totals are off to a good start with one more weekend remaining in the short month. Through 28 games, Copley is 12-12-2 with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.
Netminder Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) also came back down to the AHL following his extended seat in Philadelphia and rejoined his Lehigh Valley Phantoms two weeks ago prior to Valentine’s Day weekend. Like Copley, the 22-year-old had varying results but is continuing back to Earth after his stellar start to the season. In the four games since February 13 (including three-straight last weekend against Springfield and Bridgeport), the Edison, N.J., native went 2-1-1 with a 3.45 goals-against average and .903 save percentage, allowing three or more goals in three of four games while also lasting only 23:57 minutes in his return on February 13 against Utica. On the season, Stolarz is now 17-11-4 with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage through 33 games.
February has been kind to defenseman Phil Pietroniro (’11-’13) in his return to the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL. After sustaining an injury keeping him out of the lineup, the rookie joined the team to start February and has seen one of his most productive months, grabbing three assists including two over his last four games. That ties him for the most points in a month with his three-point November campaign containing two goals and one assist. Pietroniro owns nine points through 38 games and is fifth among active defensemen in points.
The month of love was spread to NCAA Division I players as well, though some teams try to find ways to get wins. At Clarkson University, defenseman Perry D’Arrisso (’11-’13) has continued his career season with the Golden Knights, and a three-point month has raised his production even higher. He has three points through six games including two more goals on February 5 and 13 through a tough East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) schedule, and all three points came in a four-game span. He now has equaled his game total from last season while quadrupling his production, earning five goals and three assists for eight points and setting new career-highs in all three categories with two regulation games remaining this weekend before the ECAC Tournament.
For the first time this season, a Division I alum captured weekly honors from his respective conference. The National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) named defenseman Grant Hutton (’12-’14) Defenseman of the Week on February 15 for his strong performance against Bowling Green over Valentine’s Day Weekend. The freshman dished out two assists in the University of Miami Ohio’s 4-1 win over 19th-ranked Bowling Green, which marks his first multi-point game of his career. He becomes the second RedHawk to earn weekly honors and improves to five assists so far through 29 games.
Valentine’s Day Weekend was especially popular in earning points in the northern part of New York, where forward Tanner Lomsnes (’14-’15) of Niagara University directly aided in the double-draw weekend against Mercyhurst University. In game one, his assist helped tie the game to where the result would rest at 2-2, then following that up with another the next night but on the game’s opening goal in that 2-2 draw. Including the previous weekend, the Red Deer, Alb., native had a three-game assist streak going before last week, and he’s now over the ten-point threshold with four goals and seven assists. The Purple Eagles have two more games left this weekend against Air Force.
Don’t look now, but Northeastern University has become one of the hottest teams in all of Division I hockey, winning four-straight and 11 of their last 13 games starting with their sweep of 13th-ranked St. Lawrence on January 8 and 9. And with the wins comes points, something defenseman Colton Saucerman (’10-’11) has been on the hunt for since the outset of his senior season. Over the month of February, the Colorado Springs native has five points in seven games including his only multi-point game on February 12 in a 5-0 blanking of UMass that includes his second goal of the season. He’s up to 11 points with two games remaining and looks to break his freshman point total against the University of Maine before starting out the Hockey East Tournament.
It may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but goaltender Hayden Stewart (’12-’13) played in his second game this season, giving reprieve for likely All-American candidate Mitch Gillam on February 13 against Yale at Lynah Rink. Cornell University didn’t have as much success that night, falling 4-2 to the Bulldogs with three early goals ultimately sinking the Big Red. Stewart came in after the third goal allowed on 21 shots through 22:44 minutes. The sophomore played the rest of the game and saved 19 of 20 shots to close out the game. He still has yet to record a decision but could be preparing for time in his junior and senior seasons to make a strong case for the top goaltending spot.
Nobody has had as strong stretch as forward Matt Weis (’11-’12) at Ohio State University, only playing four games but having an unreal stretch. In that span, the sophomore has six points including three goals and three assists as well as a multi-point game in back-to-back weekends. Despite team’s 1-3 spread, the Madison, N.J., product helped the Buckeyes to an overtime loss against Minnesota by scoring with one second left in regulation in a three-goal third period on February 12, assisted on the only goal scored against Penn State last Friday, and racked up two goals including the game-tying goal in a 7-4 win the next night. The impressive stretch eclipses his previous career-high goal total and moves him into a share for the most points in a season and within one of his most assists. This all comes with six games remaining in the regular season before the Big Ten Tournament in mid-March.
Saint John’s University is in the midst of a hefty unbeaten streak, going 7-0-2 over their last nine games while making a hard push for momentum heading into the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Tournament this coming weekend. During their impressive run, they moved to 10-4-2 in conference play and seeded themselves third in the two-round tournament while rebounding from their 5-9-2 start. Contributions came throughout the lineup, but forward Matt Colford (’14-’15) has been consistently strong and is on a five-game point streak starting on January 30 to finish out the season with three goals and three assists in that span. His spurt moves him to a share of third place on the team with six goals and 10 assists for 16 points while owning a second-best +8 rating heading into their one-game playoff against St. Thomas University.
Two members of Plymouth State University have been able to get on the board over the past two weeks as the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) approaches within the next few weeks. Forwards Michael Economos (’12-’13) and Ian McGilvrey (’12-’13) remain leaders among the team in points as they have throughout the entire season, and each helped their campaigns over February. Economos comes into his final game of the season on a two-game goal streak while tallying four points over the team’s five games schedule this month, while McGilvrey has hit a recent surge with three points over his last three games and five in the month with two multi-point games in the process. In fact, his charge started earlier with four multi-point games over five games crossing into the month, and because of that both he and Economos share second place in points with 20. The Panthers take on Westfield State tonight to close out the regular season.
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.