By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Jan. 31, 2017
In most areas of the country, January continues cooling the air in preparation for the turn into spring, but on the ice the action is just heating up as teams start their march toward playoff pushes. In the 11th edition of the IceRays Alumni Report, Vol. III, those pushes have already begun for numerous teams, and with that come some budding point producers throughout professional and collegiate play as well as, in this week’s edition, weekly honors for one NCAA Division III goaltender.
The AHL All-Star Classic dominated headlines in the American Hockey League (AHL) last weekend, but leading up to the festivities, forward Ryan Garbutt (’09-’10) earned his first multi-point game with the San Diego Gulls on Wednesday evening as part of an 8-1 win over the Tucson Roadrunners in Arizona. The Winnipeg native recorded a pair of assists in the second period on the lone goals in that frame with the first resulting in the eventual game-winning goal. It’s been a slow pick-up this season for Garbutt, who was reassigned to San Diego earlier this season, and through 18 games this season he owns two goals and three assists for five points with a plus-three rating.
Over the last week, defenseman Colton Saucerman (’10-’11) has earned a point surge as part of a four-game week for the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL. He recorded points in all four games starting with an assist last Thursday in Greenville followed by four assists over three games against the Florida Everblades. Friday’s two-assist night was his third multi-point game of the season and second of the month to close out a strong January campaign. After eight points in the month, the Colorado Springs product owns one goal and 12 assists for 13 points through 27 games in his first full professional season. That ranks him just outside the top-10 on the team in scoring and tied for seventh in assists.
Emerging as a strong offensive feature this season is defenseman Grant Hutton (’12-’14) at Miami University of Ohio to the pleasure of the RedHawks in NCAA Division I action. The sophomore Indianan helped his side earn a split weekend against 10th-ranked Western Michigan with an assist despite Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Broncos but scored the opening goal in their 4-3 win on Saturday night. That’s his sixth goal this season, all of which are his first collegiate goals, and he now has nearly doubled his point total from one year ago in nine fewer games to nine points.
The last two weeks have been a breath of fresh air for Ohio State forward Matt Weis (’11-’12) after coming back from missing seven games in an eight-game span. The Madison, N.J. native has earned a healthy four-game point streak over his last two weeks starting against the former top-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions with an assist during their 3-3 tie on January 20 and the game-winning goal as part of a 6-3 win the following night. He continued the trend last weekend with the lone goal by the Buckeyes in Thursday’s 3-1 loss then an assist in their Super Saturday defeat by Wisconsin. He’s now one-game shy of his season-best five-game point streak set from October 21 to November 4, during which he earned four goals and five assists for nine points. Weis sits fifth on the team in scoring with seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points.
NCAA Division III reports have looked a lot different than in past seasons, and that’s in large part because players like Brandon Berkley (’12-’14) have really started to find their way navigating the waters, so to speak. UMass-Dartmouth has seen a scoring spark from their junior forward this season, and on Saturday night he tacked on two more goals, this time against Framingham State in a 7-1 road win. The former was the second insurance goal in the second period, and the latter was a power play tally to cap off the big night for the Corsairs. The Scottsdale, Ariz. native owns eight goals this season, which nearly doubles his career-high five goals in Corpus Christi during the 2012-13 season, and his nine points ties his collegiate-high set last season.
Plymouth State University turned their season right around during January, earning wins in six of eight games and points in seven of those contests, and they’ve won four-straight over the last two weeks with alumni contributions. Captain Michael Economos (’12-’13) took the opportunity two weeks ago to stash away three more points including two goals to take both games on January 19 and 21, and defenseman Tommy Dowell (’10-’11) followed that up with points in three-straight games including two goals starting on the 21st and carrying in through last weekend. It’s Dowell’s first three-game point streak of the season, and it propels him to a career-best 11 points during his senior season, surpassing his previous total set in each of his last two seasons. Economos still leads all alumni at Plymouth State with 11 goals and seven assists for 18 points through 19 contests.
Speaking of players finding their way, forward Nick Monfils (’12-’14) continues to improve in his sophomore season with Marian University. After going four games without points through January, the Wisconsinian not only started on Saturday against the Milwaukee School of Engineering but also tabbed his second multi-point game of the season, earning the game-winning goal and an assist on the game-opener during their 4-3 home win. January was pleasant to Monfils, in large, with six points in eight games to improve to seven goals and five assists for 12 points through 20 games this season.
The biggest NCAA Division III news came at St. Thomas University and goaltender Ben Myers (’12-’14), who was named Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Men’s Hockey Athlete of the Week. The first-year starter halted 51 of 53 shots last weekend during the Tommies’ sweep of Saint John’s University, which included his first-career shutout in a 24-save effort on Friday night and saving 10 of 11 penalty kill opportunities on the weekend. Myers has kept opponents to two goals or less in 10 of his 15 appearances this season and owns a 9-3-3 record with a 2.09 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.
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.