By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Nov. 1, 2016
A new month and new additions to the scope of IceRays alumni as we get set with the second edition of the IceRays Alumni Report, Vol. III. After a weekend away, the report opens the month with the addition of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) hockey thanks to three alumni members taking to the ice north of the border. South of the border, NCAA Division III hockey opened the 2016-17 season last weekend, and already one player has gained recognition from his respective conference through two games.
Last season was a bit of and off-season for Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Garbutt (’09-’10), who only tallied 14 points between the Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks through 80 games. This season may look a little brighter for the 31-year-old now in his first full season with Anaheim. In the last 10 days, the Alberta native picked up his first goal of the season as well as his first assist, and it’s just nine games into the year. While his numbers have slowly declined over the last two seasons from his career-high 32 points in 2013-14, a full change of scene could be what’s needed to get back on track.
Though in the first month of the American Hockey League (AHL) season, both alumni goaltenders are off to quality starts with a small sample size to examine. It took a couple games for Pheonix Copley (’10-’11) to get the nod in net, but he hasn’t disappointed yet thus far, sporting a 1-1-0 record with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage through two games with the Chicago Wolves. It’s a compelling start to his third AHL season and could match that of netminder Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) from last season, who made his first AHL All-Star Classic with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. This year, the former draft pick is also having a strong start, putting up a 2-2-0 record with a 2.78 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage through four games. Stolarz has already been cemented as the Phantoms’ top guy in net, and if Copley can beat out Jordan Binnington for that role in Chicago with quality play, the two may have a chance to make a case for the mid-winter all-star event in Lehigh Valley.
After two Kelly Cup Championships with the Allen Americans, forward Chad Costello (’09-’10) still isn’t done in the ECHL and is hungry for more. Though just eight games this season, the Johnston, Iowa product already has 11 points and is tied for second in the league in points with two other players. Costello is the only player in each of the last two seasons to breach the 100-point plateau and was the first player since 2009-10 to break 100 points (Tyler Donati, 114; Justin Donati, 104; Ryan Kinasewich, 103). Expect another strong campaign this season as he goes for his third-straight scoring title and championship.
NCAA Division I programs have been on the run for the last couple weeks as the IceRays opened their home schedule, and early in their schedules some players are already emerging from the rest of the pack, two of them at Ohio State University. The 15th-ranked Buckeyes are off to a strong start, opening the first seven games without a loss, and forwards Ronnie Hein (’13-’14) and Matt Weis (’11-’12) have been a large part of their success. The two forwards had a big weekend against Niagara University, and Weis slipped ahead to 10 points on the season thanks to a six-point weekend en route to Big 10 First Star of the Week and a share of the national point lead for the week. Hein also picked up three points to extend his point streak to four games and season total to nine points. The two will be crucial building blocks for a young, rising Buckeyes squad this year.
Speaking of Niagara, forward Tanner Lomsnes (’14-’15) is settling in to his second season with the Purple Eagles, and despite falling 10-2 and 6-2 to Ohio State, the Canadian was able to grab a pair of assists including one each game. He now has points in four of his first seven games including his first goal of the year on October 18 against Mercyhurst and is well on his way to breaking his freshman point total of 11, building off his first year of collegiate play.
The 2016-17 season began for NCAA Division III programs, and though not all teams opened their schedules, some had big contributions from alumni players. Saint John’s University began the season with a pair of 5-2 wins at home against Gustavus Adolphus and St. Olaf, and forward Matt Colford (’14-’15) was a playmaker in both games. The Minnesota product cashed in with five assists between the two games including three on Sunday evening. That performance earned him his first Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Athlete of the Week. Colford earned 16 points through 26 games in his freshman season, and if his first weekend is any indication of the upcoming season, the Johnnies could have a prime player on their hands.
After only playing one game last season with the University of St. Thomas, goaltender Ben Myers (’12-’14) made his season debut last weekend against St. Mary’s University on opening night, and while being tested throughout the game helped the Tommies to a 3-3 tie. The Wauwatosa native halted 35 of 38 shots during the game including a perfect opening period and overtime frame. The 23-year-old comes into his sophomore campaign with a better start compared to his collegiate debut, allowing four goals on 21 shots in that game. A start on opening night could also mean a potential of getting the lion’s share of games this season.
New to the report is a focus on Canadian collegiate play, and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) hockey has three players all in action through the first month of their season. It’s no surprise that we’re already bringing back up defenseman Anthony Cortese (’14-’15) as a big contributor in his first seven games, earning five assists for Concordia University including assists in his first two games of the year and one in each of his two games last weekend against Lakehead University as part of back-to-back wins. Last season, the Pierrefonds, Que. product earned eight points through 27 games including six helpers and could easily eclipse that in the second month of the season.
In the same division, forward Drake Lindsay (’15-’16) of Nipissing University enters his first collegiate season and picked up his first game and start last week against Laurentian University during their 3-1 loss. Nipissing has already played eight games this season, so ice time and transitioning may be a bit more uphill for the former point-scoring leader for the IceRays though that will come as the season wears on. His former teammate and goaltender Graham Hunt (’15-’16) also comes into the fold with a revitalized University of Ottawa program entering their first year back in the CIS. Although there will be large growing pains, the Concord, Mass., native helped to earn the team’s first and only win so far on October 14 in a 7-2 win over RMC. He’s played six of the team’s first seven games and has felt the team’s struggles, sporting a 1-4-0 record with a 3.95 goals-against average and a .889 save percentage.
Not even one full month into his first season in the United States Hockey League (USHL), goaltender Dryden McKay (’15-’16) has secured the next step in his hockey career by earning a commitment to The College of Holy Cross, a NCAA Division I program in the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA). The Downer’s Grove, Ill., native secured his collegiate commitment last week and has flourished with his new team, the Madison Capitals. He’s played in all of the team’s first three games, grabbing wins in both starts while conceding only five goals and holding a .928 save percentage in the early going. He looks to be the top netminder in Wisconsin’s capital this season and remains the best IceRays goaltender in six seasons in goals-against average and 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.