By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Mar. 28, 2017
Collegiate play is coming to a swift close with the NCAA Division III Champions crowned and the NCAA Division I Frozen Four looming as we hit the 18th edition of the IceRays Alumni Report, Vol. III. An alum finished his career with that NCAA Division III Championship, and another former collegiate alum signed in the ECHL and made his debut last weekend.
For the first time in over one month, Hershey Bears goaltender Pheonix Copley (’10-’11) allowed more than three goals in a game but still had a solid weekend in a three-game week. The 25-year-old allowed four goals in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the St. John’s Ice Caps, which breaks a 10-game streak without four goals or more allowed and is only the sixth time this season that has happened in 25 games. His other two appearances were just one goal nights against Binghamton and St. John’s on either side of that four-goal game, marking a 95-save weekend out of 101 shots. Copley owns a 22-8-3 record with a 2.21 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage while sitting seventh in the AHL in goals-against average and fourth in save percentage.
Speaking of strong weeks, a three-win output helps pad the numbers for goaltender Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and though they may not have boosted more than his record, the three-start week is a big boost to playing time and the potential goaltending heading towards the end of the season. A rare Tuesday and Wednesday night set in St. John’s led to two wins followed by one more against Bridgeport on Sunday evening, and now the Edison, N.J. native is on a five-game win streak, which is his longest of the season. Through 26 AHL games, Stolarz has posted a 18-7-0 record with a 2.95 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
Another member of the IceRays alumni core has made the jump to a professional franchise. Last week, forward Perry D’Arrisso (’11-’13) signed an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO) with the Elmira Jackals, marking the fifth player actively in the ECHL and eighth in North American professional hockey this season. After a four-year collegiate career at Clarkson University, the 25-year-old made his professional debut on Friday night against the Manchester Monarchs. He played all three games last weekend with one fight and a -1 rating. Through his collegiate career, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound rookie earned 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points and served as an alternate captain his senior season.
In that same series, defenseman Colton Saucerman (’10-’11) earned a multi-point weekend in the three-game series as a member of the Monarchs. The Colorado Springs, Colo. product assisted in Friday’s 6-2 loss to the Jackals but followed that up with his third goal of the season in Saturday’s 7-3 victory. Once again, the tally came on the power play, marking his third career power play goal out of his four total goals through two seasons. The goal was his first in exactly one month and pushes his point total to five in nine games with his new club. Saucerman hosts three goals and 25 assists for 28 points with 61 penalty minutes and a -6 rating through 51 games.
Speaking previously of players moving up, a new professional defenseman has quietly found a home in ECHL play over the course of this season. Frank Misuraca (’10-’11), after finishing his collegiate career at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, has settled in to “AA” hockey now with the Cincinnati Cyclones, the ECHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators. The Clinton Township, Mich. product began the season in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) before earning the call to Cincinnati, where he made his ECHL debut on October 28. Following a 13-game stint with the Toledo Walleye, the 25-year-old is back with the Cyclones to most likely finish out the season. Through 40 games this season, Misuraca owns two goals and two assists for four points with 19 penalty minutes and a -4 rating.
The NCAA Division I Frozen Four is set for this weekend, pitting three of the top four overall seeds in the bracket against each other at United Center in Chicago. One of those teams, the University of Denver, earned their ticket by taking down Michigan Tech 5-2 on Saturday followed by a 6-3 victory on Sunday over Big 10 Champion Penn State University for the Ohio bracket. Former North American Hockey League (NAHL) players were all over the scoresheet on Saturday including forward Emil Romig (’12-’13) who scored what became the game-winner in the final six minutes of the first period to put the Pioneers up 3-0 at that point. After a week off, the Pioneers will play 12th-ranked Notre Dame on Thursday, April 6 for a chance to head to the finals that Saturday.
Two other alumni teams bowed out of the tournament in the opening round, starting with a heavy loss for Cornell University against UMass Lowell, falling 5-0 in New Hampshire. Goaltender Hayden Stewart (’12-’13) never had a shot to play in the game despite five goals allowed on 21 shots by Mitch Gillam, and without a fight back in the game the Big Red slipped out of the tournament and closed their season on a sour note. It was another difficult season for Stewart sitting behind Gillam, only playing in two games over this season. After an 11-game year his freshman season, the Rockford, Ill. native has only been given four appearances in net, so with the net becoming vacant next season, there’s a chance that Stewart could win the starting job and rush his way into the net for a final collegiate season.
The other team, Ohio State University, dropped their opening round game against the University of Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 in overtime on Friday in North Dakota. The Buckeyes charged back in the third period to the tune of two goals to force overtime but slipped at 11:58 of the extra period. Another solid program season ended for the program with both Matt Weis (’11-’12) and Ronnie Hein (’12-’13) closing the book on their years with both having solid production. Weis came one point from his career-high set last season but set a new career-high assist total playing two fewer games in his junior season, sitting at nine goals and 22 assists for 31 points in 32 games, and his total sets him to now 85 points through three seasons. Hein ended his freshman season early due to injury, only playing in 16 contests but was productive when on the ice, tabulating five goals and six assists for 11 points through 16 games, which puts him at 22 points if he played the entire season.
For the second time in program history, Norwich University took home the NCAA Division III Championship with two big wins over the weekend in the final legs of the bracket starting on Friday night with a 5-4 win over Adrian College and a 4-1 victory on Saturday against Trinity College to finish the job. That gives forward Dmitry Ermakov (’11-’12) the send off he could hope for to close his collegiate career. Though he only earned five games this season, a national championship ring will look good on the mantle in the final chapter of his playing career. The Columbia, Md. native started his collegiate career with the Cadets earning his best year, setting marks in all categories with three goals and five assists for eight points through 18 games, but from there his time on the ice slipped further away. During his four-year career, the 24-year-old recorded seven goals and eight assists for 15 points through 43 games.
The United States Hockey League (USHL) alums have been relatively quiet over the last few weeks, but last weekend noise was created in Bloomington thanks to a multi-point night from forward Jake Durflinger (’13-’14). The University of Denver commit posted one goal and one assist in a 3-1 win over Team USA, scoring the third-unanswered goal and assisting on the eventual game-winner back in the first period. It’s his third multi-point game of the season and first since January 6 in a two-goal effort against Dubuque. While he hasn’t been overtly loud, the Walnut Creek, Calif. native has four goals over his last nine games, tabbing goals in every other game, meaning he could be due for another this weekend. Durflinger owns 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points through 46 games this season with the Thunder.
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.