By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Mar. 1, 2016
This was a proud week for the IceRays organization, and the 19th edition of the IceRays Alumni Report, Vol. II reflects that with the lead story: the first junior alum to earn ice time in the National Hockey League (NHL). Outside of that, NCAA Division I teams begin to complete their regulation season and Division III squads come into conference playoffs hopeful of earning berths into the big tournament, and that’s where we’ll keep a majority of our focus.
Goaltender Pheonix Copley (’10-’11) has done what no other junior alum has been able to do before him: earn playing time in the NHL. During his most recent recall to the St. Louis Blues following the injury to Brian Elliot, the North Pole, Alaska native was brought into Saturday afternoon’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators with 4:26 left in the second period of a 4-0 blowout. During his first 24:26 minutes of ice time, the 24-year-old make five saves on six shots in the eventual 5-0 loss. After Saturday’s game, he was sent back to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League (AHL) to make room for new acquisition Anders Nilsson from the Edmonton Oilers. Copley joins Central Hockey League (CHL) forward Ryan Garbutt (’09-’10) as the only two IceRays players in the organization’s 18-year history to play in the NHL.
NCAA Division I hockey begins its conference tournament schedule this coming weekend, and most teams jump into the fray for a shot at the NCAA Tournament. In the East Coast Athletic Conference, two alumni teams take the stage as Perry D’Arrisso (’11-’13) and the five-seed Clarkson Golden Knights take on the 12-seed Princeton Tigers as well as Hayden Stewart (’12-’13) and the eight-seed Cornell Big Red hosting the nine-seed Union Dutchmen. D’Arrisso comes into the three-game series one point shy of double-digit points in the midst of a career season, placing nine points through 30 games in his junior campaign. Stewart, on the other hand, has struggled to get ice time in net behind potential All-American Mitch Gillam, playing only two games compared to 11 his freshman season, but a hiccup in the tournament could slot him some crucial action.
The Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA) also steps into conference tournament play with their opening best-of-three round this weekend. The 11-team conference organizes their playoff a little differently, slotting the bottom six teams against each other this weekend, and the winner of those series will take on the top three in the AHA while the fourth and fifth seeds go at it to make an even eight-team bracket. This weekend, Niagara University attempts to pull themselves over Canisius College, and forward Tanner Lomsnes (’14-’15) will also try to factor in. In his first season, he owns 11 points and sits seventh on the team in scoring, and his Purple Eagles look to break a six-game winless drought this weekend.
After seven-straight wins, Northeastern University could have the momentum they need to make a run in the Hockey East Tournament starting this weekend. The Huskies have climbed the ladder to sixth place in the Hockey East and host the team they just swept to end the season at home: the Maine Black Bears. Defenseman Colton Saucerman (’10-’11) picked up a goal in that game to improve to 12 points through 33 games heading into the best-of-three home weekend. In his first three collegiate seasons, the senior has never made it past the opening round of the tournament with both appearances coming in each of his last two seasons, so he’s hoping his final season is the one to take him all the way.
Though the Big Ten Tournament still isn’t for two more weeks, it’s impossible to overlook the recent campaign by forward Matt Weis (’11-’12) at Ohio State University. In a two game weekend against Wisconsin, the sophomore picked up four assists with a three-point game on Saturday night in the Buckeyes’ 6-5 win, and that also extends his current streak to four games. In that span, he has two goals and six assists for eight points as well as points in eight of his last 11 games dating back to January 17. He has shot up the team statistics, now sitting third with nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points through 28 games, and the weekend gives him a new career-high in assists and points with five less games played. The Buckeyes still have two sets of games left before the playoffs, taking on Michigan and Michigan State.
NCAA Division III teams are in a flurry of conference tournament action, so we’ll recap by conference in alphabetical order starting with the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) West. Neumann University reached the end of their 2015-16 season just one win away from the conference title game, first taking down Nazareth College 2-1 then falling 3-0 to Hobart College in the ECAC West Semifinal. That completes the season for defenseman Casey Rogers (’10-’11), who closes his junior campaign with two goals and eight assists for ten points through 26 games, marking the second-straight season with ten points or more.
The Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Tournament resumes play tonight with the addition of one alumni team and the departure of another. UMass-Dartmouth saw their season come to a close on Saturday afternoon in a 4-2 loss to Westfield State at home. After finishing fourth in the MASCAC this season, a goal in the third period and empty netter completed their campaign after going 7-15-4 overall and 6-9-3 in conference play. That also marks the end of the junior campaign for Brandon Berkley (’12-’14), who made new career-highs in all categories, recording three goals and six assists for nine points through 26 games. Entering the fray after a first-round bye is Plymouth State University, the two-seed and favorites against the three-seed Fitchburg State Falcons. Four alumni players skate for the Panthers and hope to break into the NCAA Tournament this week: defenseman Tommy Dowell (’10-’11), MASCAC 2nd Team selection Michael Economos (’12-’13), and forwards Ian McGilvrey (’12-’13) and Caleb O’Brien (’12-’14).
There’s still one leg to go in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Tournament, and two alumni teams have been eliminated with one remaining for the title. In a single quarterfinal game, Concordia College was upset 3-0 by Hamline University to face elimination and the conclusion to a stellar season for forward Jon Grebosky (’11-’13). The Oakdale, Penn., native finished the season leading the Cobbers in assists and points, earning 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points through 26 games, while also being one of just two players to break 20 points this season. He set new career-highs in assists and points and now has 45 points through two seasons at Concordia College.
The other alumni team, St. Thomas University, was saddled by a third alumni squad heading to the MIAC Championship: St. John’s University. The two- and three-seeds met in a semifinal matchup with a thrilling conclusion, a 2-1 edging in overtime for the three-seed. St. Thomas defenseman Johnny Roisum (’12-’13) scored the game’s first goal all the way in the first period, but a goal with 1:40 to go in regulation and 1:26 in overtime sank the Tommies. Both Roisum and goaltender Ben Myers (’12-’14) complete their respective seasons with Roisum earning a career-high three goals and 10 assists for 13 points with 15 penalty minutes and a +7 rating in his junior season, while Myers made his collegiate debut on January 15 in his lone appearance of the year. Their opposition, St. John’s University, will send three alumni players to the title game against top-seeded Augsburg College this Saturday: Joe Chitwood (’13-’15), Matt Colford (’14-’15) and Connor Kelly (’13-’15).
The Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) started with three alumni teams heading into their conference tournament and only have one left heading into the title game. Lawrence University began in the one-game NCHA Quarterfinals against 15th-ranked St. Scholastica and were dropped 6-2 by the Saints and halted from making a semifinals appearance after finishing third in the North Division and fifth overall this season. Thus, the end of the season is also on for Luke McDiarmid (’12-’14), who finishes his sophomore season with three goals and three assists for six points through 22 games, his best marks of his career.
11th-ranked Marian University also had a long road starting in the quarterfinals but was able to overstep Concordia Wisconsin 3-0 and take on top-ranked St. Norbert in the best-of-three semifinal round. The Sabres couldn’t find a way past the best team in NCAA Division III hockey, falling in back-to-back games and ending their regular season still with a chance to compete in the NCAA Tournament depending on their regional and national rankings at the end of conference tournament play, so there’s hope for forward Nick Monfils (’12-’14) in his freshman season to make the big dance.
One team definitely in the tournament no matter their result is Adrian College, who is ranked second in all of NCAA Division III hockey and in the NCHA Championship game against St. Norbert in a head-to-head bout of titans. Goaltender Dillon Kelley (’12-’13) is waiting to make his postseason debut this season but will most likely give way to Kevin Entmaa and Tyler Parks despite playing another four games this season with positive results.
The end of the season also came for Norwich University one game shy of hitting their conference title game in the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC). After taking down Castleton College 4-1 in their quarterfinal matchup, they ran into 7th-ranked Babson College in the semifinals and were blanked 5-0 in the process, missing out on the first NEHC Championship. Both Norwich and Babson had appeared in three-straight ECAC West Championships as opponents while the Cadets end their run of six-year run of being in their conference title game and will most likely miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Forward Dmitry Ermakov (’11-’12) completes his junior season, setting career-highs in all categories while recording three goals and two assists for five points through 14 games.
The final tournament, the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championship is slated for this Saturday night, and top-seeded Plattsburgh State will take on Geneseo State in a one-three matchup. Like the NCHA Tournament, three alumni teams began in the bracket with one unable to break through the quarterfinals and the second being halted in the semifinals. The SUNYAC Quarterfinals saw the fall of Potsdam State in a 4-1 decision against Geneseo State last Wednesday, and the Bears, along with forward Tommy Telesca (’12-’13), completed their 2015-16 season. After missing the first six games of the season, Telesca finished with four goals and four assists for eight points through his junior season with one remaining for eligibility.
Plattsburgh State and Oswego State squared off in the SUNYAC Semifinals after the Lakers blew out Brockport 8-0 in the previous round, and the semifinal came down to the wire for the Cardinals. After a goal the previous game, Lakers forward Brandon Adams (’11-’12) assisted David Ferreira in the second period to go up 2-1 before both sides tossed back and forth until the final goal at 10:09 of overtime by Michael Radisa. Adams also completed his junior season with two goals and eight assists for 10 points through 23 games while matching his point total from last season and earning three-straight years with double-digit points. Cardinals defensemen Ryan Chiasson (’12-’13) and Chris Taff (’12-’13) head to the title game on Saturday and hope to help third-ranked Plattsburgh earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
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.