By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Nov. 10, 2015
Sadly, there was no hockey for the Coastal Bend in the opening weekend of November, but while the IceRays were off their predecessors kicked off the month with three players earning their first points of the 2015-16 season. In the sixth edition of the IceRays Alumni Report, Vol. II, a few players are already finding their stride and taking the reigns early in the year in all levels of post-North American Hockey League (NAHL) action.
There was a chance that goaltender Pheonix Copley (’10-’11) could have received the call to the National Hockey League (NHL) just before last weekend depending on the results of Bryan Elliot’s injury. However, that call never came and he made it to San Antonio last weekend, playing in Sunday’s weekend finale against the Rampage in the American Hockey League (AHL). The Chicago Wolves swept the weekend with 4-3 overtime wins in both games on Friday and Sunday, and Copley earned his third-straight win in the process. The North Pole, Alaska, native saved a season-high 28 shots on 31 chances and helped the road side come back in a three-goal output in the third period. Call-up or not, the second-year netminder is on the cusp of earning NHL time with his continued quality play. The Wolves are 7-1-0-1 to start the year and are atop the Central Division.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are having trouble getting started early in the season, dropping eight of their first 12 games. That can hurt record numbers for goaltenders, but Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) is still playing strong despite the organization’s struggles to earn wins. On Saturday, the Phantoms were just edged 2-1 by the Syracuse Crunch at the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena and beaten by two first period goals from AHL standout Jonathan Marchessault without an equal answer. The Edison, N.J., native also made a season-high number of saves, stopping 31 of 33 chances. While his record falls even at 3-3-0, Stolarz is fourth in the AHL in goals-against average (1.86) and 12th in save percentage (.925). It’s a stark turnaround from last season’s professional debut.
Though it’s still early in the NCAA Division I season, conference opponents are beginning their first rounds of games, and the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) opened intra-conference play last weekend. Clarkson University didn’t pick up a win in their two games, but junior defenseman Perry D’Arrisso (’11-’13) did record his first point of the season in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Union College. The Golden Knights trailed 4-0 late in the game before finally finding an answer from the Mississauga, Ont., native with 1:32 left in the contest. That’s D’Arrisso’s second-career goal and sixth-career point. Last season, he earned two assists through 28 games following his career-best one-goal, two-assist output his freshman season.
The Hockey East is notoriously one of the hardest conferences in college hockey, and Northeastern University knows this all too well. They’re in their second weekend of conference play, and they ran into a vengeful, 11th-ranked Boston University squad that took both games in the weekend set. The first game was close with Boston just edging out Northeastern 5-4 on Friday night, and in the process defenseman Colton Saucerman (’10-’11) helped to take a lead late in the second period with an assist on Eric Williams’ goal. The Terriers would come back in the third period, and the Huskies dropped to 1-7-1 to start the year. The senior now has three points in his first nine games.
UMass Dartmouth opened NCAA Division III play last week with two games over five days, and the results weren’t ideal: a 1-1 tie against Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) opponent Worcester State and a 7-1 rout by UMass Boston. In last Tuesday’s season-opener, the Corsairs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second period, and forward Brandon Berkley (’12-’13) chipped in with his first assist of the season to aid John Sartell’s first goal. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native returns following a two-goal, two-assist freshman campaign through 19 games last season.
Last weekend, one alumni player at Plymouth State University notched a point in the team’s opening game. In the team’s second game, it was time for another to grab a point. Forward Mike Economos (’12-’13), who comes into this season following a career-best 26-point performance in his sophomore season got on the board when finding Colby Lanceleve in the second period of Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Stonehill. The Panthers trailed 2-1 at that point and let through an empty net goal to seal their fate. Plymouth State is the most populated college roster for IceRays alumni with four players: Economos, defenseman Tommy Dowell (’10-’11), forward Ian McGilvrey (’12-’13), and now defenseman Caleb O’Brien (’12-’14), who joins the Panthers after one season at the University of Wisconsin River Falls.
This could very well be a breakout season for forward Jon Grebosky (’11-’13) at Concordia College, and the Cobbers’ weekend road sweep of Saint John’s University (Minn.) helped to continue his case. In Friday’s 3-1 win, the sophomore contributed on the power play with an assist on the eventual game-winning goal late in the first period. On Saturday, Grebosky opened the game with an even-strength goal within the first five minutes of the second period as part of a 3-2 win over the Johnnies. The Oakdale, Penn., native is averaging a point per game with two goals and two assists through their opening four games on the road. He leads the Cobbers in points and goals.
Before suffering their first loss of the year, Neumann University finished off a barnburner against Elmira College in a 7-6 overtime win on the road from Pine Valley. The star of the show was forward Mike Davis, who grabbed four goals including the game-winner, but defenseman Casey Rogers (’10-’11) not only helped on his second goal of the night but also helped put the Knights up 2-1 late in the first period with another assist, making it two on the night for the junior. Now in four games, Rogers has three assists and looks to be turning a corner in offensive production as long as his assist numbers continue to pump at a nearly 1:1 ratio with games played.
For the second-straight weekend, forward Jake Durflinger (’13-’14) has found himself on the scoresheet for the Bloomington Thunder in the United States Hockey League (USHL) despite the team’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders on Friday night. Just two minutes into the third period, the 18-year-old found Jake Slaker to knot the game up, 2-2, before either side tallied one more to send the game into the extra period. It’s been a slow start for Durflinger in his first eight games with the Thunder, but he’s now equaled his point total from Sioux City and moved to four points on the season between both clubs.
Forward Ronnie Hein (’13-’14) ended a three-game point streak on Saturday night but not before picking up one more assist the previous night against the Sioux Falls Stampede. The Waterloo Black Hawks continue their trail to the top of the USHL with a 4-1 win that night, and the second-year man factored in to the eventual game-winning goal just before the end of the first period when he found Marshall Moise in his first of two on the night. Hein now has nine points through 12 games in his second stint with the Black Hawks.
Speaking of hot streaks, forward Nico Sturm (’13-’14) is now on a six-game point-scoring streak with two more points over the weekend with the Tri-City Storm. An offensive surge in the third period of Friday’s 6-4 loss to the Lincoln Stars couldn’t get the road side ahead, but Sturm helped grab the fourth goal of the period on the power play with less than five minutes remaining. On Saturday, the Storm rebounded with a 4-1 win over Cedar Rapids, and the Austrian was there once again on the power play but this time to knock in his side’s first goal of the game in the first period. Over his six-game streak, Sturm has earned two goals and five assists to greatly increase his season production to fifth on the team.
Baie-Comeau Drakkar is still the worst team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with only seven points through 19 games and the only team still stuck in single digits. Last weekend didn’t help with a trio of losses, but in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Moncton Wildcats forward Chad Pietroniro (’11-’12) found his scoring stroke to record his first goal of the season and the only tally for Drakkar with the help of his brother, Matteo. After going through last season without a goal, the touch is a welcome addition for the 19-year-old, who aims to beat his career-high five points set two seasons ago. He has two points in four games so far.
Two former NAHL players fought on Saturday night in the Western Hockey League (WHL), and two recorded points for his respective side. Only one was a former IceRay: forward Landon Quinney (’14-’15), who picked up his third assist of the season as his Moose Jaw Warriors powered by the Saskatoon Blades, 7-4. The other player was Christian Hausinger, who played for the Odessa Jackalopes last season. Quinney now has 17 games under his belt with as many assists as fights.
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 email@example.com or on Twitter at @CollinDSchuck.