By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Feb. 14, 2017
Love is in the air, but at least away from rinks, where bad blood is always set to boil. It was also a quiet week for alumni skaters in the 13th edition of the IceRays Alumni Report, Vol. III, seeing a downturn in production numbers across the board. However, those with points gained them at a crucial time, whether it be for redemption, to kick start a scoring run, to help their team to the post-season, or just first time in a career, showcasing a variety of needs at the halfway point of the month.
The road to improvement continues in San Diego for forward Ryan Garbutt (’09-’10) as his production with the Gulls slowly improves. A three-game stretch last week saw the former professional alum score a pair of empty net goals, first last Tuesday in their 4-2 win over Bakersfield followed by another in Friday’s 4-1 win in Ontario. In whatever fashion he gets them, Garbutt will take those goals, and now he’s evened his goal and assist output to four aside, giving him eight points on the year in 23 games since coming from Anaheim. His last two AHL seasons resulted in 30-plus point performances, and though that may not be as feasible he could work toward that production by year’s end.
The first two-point week of February stretched across for defenseman Colton Saucerman (’10-’11) in the ECHL while his South Carolina Stingrays wrestle in the South Division. The Colorado native garnered points in two of four games last week, assisting on the opening goal in Thursday’s 5-4 win over the Reading Royals and helping the game-winner in Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Orlando Solar Bears. After finishing January on a four-game point streak, Saucerman continues to trickle points across, now owning two goals and six assists through 15 games, and his call-up to the Hershey Bears earlier in the year is paying dividends for his progression.
There’s still plenty of time left to grab points before the end of the NCAA Division I regular season, but pressure still mounts, especially in the final year of a career. Forward Emil Romig (’12-’13) has had difficulty reaching production levels of previous seasons, but this year has gotten better, especially with last weekend’s two-point performance. The senior earned an assist on the opening goal of Friday’s 2-1 win over Colorado College and also helped on the final goal of the University of Denver’s 5-1 victory. He reached his sophomore total of points with two goals and five assists, and he has six more games to tack on our points, which would match his collegiate best set last season.
A little rest and recuperation for forward Matt Weis (’12-’13) at Ohio State University seems to be just what the doctor ordered to turn his season right back around and gain more momentum. In a battle of top-15 teams last weekend, the 21-year-old put up a two-point night in Friday’s 5-4 win over the University of Minnesota, scoring the game’s opening goal and assisting on the eventual game-winner while earning a power play assist in the second period of Saturday’s 6-5 loss. The multi-point night was his sixth this season, and he’s officially earned a three-game point streak while also grabbing nine points over his last eight games since returning from injury. The uptick moves him to eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points through 21 games this season, sitting now tied for second in assists and fifth in points.
Despite being in a limited role over the last few seasons, forward Luke McDiarmid (’12-’14) had the best weekend of his collegiate career for Lawrence University coming in his third season on the roster. In Friday’s 4-3 loss to Northland College, the 23-year-old scored his first goal of the season and second of his career for the opening goal by the Vikings and assisted the following night in the third period of their 6-5 overtime win. It’s the first assist of his career, and he now has set a career-high in points through just two games. He owns three points through 36 career games for the Vikings with just two games remaining this season.
Another alum also split a type of point across a two-game weekend set, this time in the United States Hockey League (USHL). Forward Jake Durflinger (’13-’14) tacked on two more points with the Bloomington Thunder last weekend while they attempt to make a playoff push. In Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Youngstown Phantoms, the Denver commit assisted on the game’s opening goal coming just 27 seconds into the contest while scoring the team’s lone goal of Saturday’s 5-1 loss. The Thunder are running into a thick of trouble in the latter end of the season, dropping nine of their last ten games, but Durflinger continues to piece together a solid season, putting up seven goals and 12 assists for 19 points through 33 games. He’s on pace to settle around last year’s career USHL-high 29 points with still plenty of time remaining in the season.
On the back end, goaltender Dryden McKay (’15-’16) is also doing everything he can to push the Madison Capitols into the playoff hunt with three-straight wins last week. All together, the 19-year-old held Cedar Rapids and Dubuque to a combined six goals through three games while stopping 85 of 91 shots (.934) as the Capitols pushed to 15 points back of fourth place with 19 games remaining. It may be too little, too late to catch the Muskegon Lumberjacks, but McKay’s performance is helping in the stretch run, moving him to a 16-10-2 record with a 2.53 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage, sitting tied for 4th in the USHL in save percentage and 15th in goals-against average.
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.