By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Nov. 29, 2016
This was a big week for the IceRays organization after a second junior player earned his first game in the National Hockey League. While that is a large focus in the 4th edition of the IceRays Alumni Report, Vol. III, we catch up on some action in the last couple weeks including more former players making waves at the professional level and others throughout collegiate hockey.
Sunday night will be a night Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) will never forget for the rest of his hockey career. The 22-year-old goaltender made his NHL debut with the Philadelphia Flyers from Wells Fargo Center and reached multiple milestones throughout the game. Stolarz becomes just the second player in junior franchise history to make it to the NHL and third in the 19-year organizational history including professional. He’s also the first goaltender in IceRays history to start a game in the NHL. In the process, Stolarz also is now the first goaltender in 99 years of NHL history to hail from New Jersey. He stopped 29 shots on 32 attempts to help the Flyers to a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames. He was named third star of the game and became the first Flyers goaltender since Rob Zepp in 2014 to win his NHL debut. There is still plenty of time for the young goaltender to follow up his opening performance in the weeks to come but will likely return to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms following his recall. Stolarz earned a 23-22-4 record with a 2.84 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage with three shutouts through 50 games with the IceRays in 2011-12. He holds the IceRays junior franchise record for wins by a goaltender for a single-season and shares the lead for career goaltender wins while sitting second in save percentage.
The other goaltender to make it to the NHL, Pheonix Copley (’10-’11) is on the hunt to earn another recall with the St. Louis Blues after an impressive start to the 2016-17 season. While only playing in six games through the early going with the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League (AHL), the 24-year-old is putting up numbers in line with his career-best set two years ago, earning a 2-3-1 record with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. He earned his first shutout of the season on November 19 in a 5-0 blanking of the Iowa Wild and only has two games with three or more goals allowed thus far. The North Pole, Alaska product made his NHL debut on Feb. 23, 2016 in a 5-1 loss, stopping five of six shots for the Blues.
Points continue to mount up for right-winger Chad Costello (’09-’10), who has now gotten on a hot run with the Allen Americans. The 30-year-old now has points in nine-straight games, racking up four goals and nine assists for 13 points in that span with three multi-point games and his first multi-goal game of the season on November 11 against Utah. He’s one of five players to play all 19 games for the Americans this season and one of two with at least 20 points on the year. The Iowan sits tied for third in scoring in the ECHL with 25 points and alone in third with 19 assists. He’ll be in the scoring race one again this season, just three points off the top pace.
Speaking of the ECHL, former fan favorite defenseman Travis Howe (’14-’15) has fought his way right to the Utah Grizzlies this season after spending all of last season in the Federal Hockey League (FHL) and Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), and in eight games has left a mark of a different kind. While he sits second on the Grizzlies with 41 penalty minutes, the Falmouth, Mass., native scored his first ECHL goal back on November 5 against the Wichita Thunder as part of a 5-3 road win, and his goal proved to be the eventual game-winner at 17:21 of the second period. The 22-year-old joins defenseman Phil Pietroniro (’11-’13) on the Grizzlies blue line.
The momentum continues for forward Nico Sturm (’13-’14) in his first season with Clarkson University in NCAA Division I play. One of the newest Golden Knights has been on a tear as of late, recording seven points over his last six games including owning a six-game point streak from November 4 through 19 as well as his first collegiate goal on November 11 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). During that weekend, the German earned three points en route to ECAC Rookie of the Week Honors, his first weekly honor of the season. Now through 16 games, Sturm has three goals and nine assists for 12 points and sits fourth on the team in scoring.
Any way to get points is a good way, and Matthew Weis (’11-’12) continues to live to that thought process, especially in his recent run. Despite not playing in Ohio State’s last game against RPI on November 19, the junior has three-straight games with points, racking up five assists in that span including a three assist game on November 11 during a 7-4 win over the University of Connecticut. Weis now has points in four of his last five games and sits third on the team in scoring (16 points) along with second in assists (11).
Two players are on the rise at Saint John’s University in NCAA Division III action with one of these two newer to the program and another a veteran. Matt Colford (’14-’15) has picked up play as of late over the last couple weeks, amassing four points in his last four games along with two goals. He has points in seven of his first ten games and has ballooned his point total to 12 for the season, reaching a share of the team lead while holding sole possession of first in assists (8). On the back end, goaltender Andrew Lindgren (’14-’15) joins two former teammates on the Johnnies roster this season and is starting his collegiate career off strong. Already five games into his season, the Minnesota product is splitting time with teammate Tyler Nelson but owns a 2-2-0 record with a 2.64 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage. He’s held opponents to two or fewer goals in three of five appearances including his last two games to close out November.
Senior defenseman John Roisum (’12-’13) is looking more like a forward than a defenseman with his recent production for St. Thomas University over his last two weeks. The Minnesotan has five points over his last four games including three goals, two of which came in their 5-2 win over Gustavus Adolphus including the lone goal of the first period. Already through just nine games, Roisum is on pace to shatter his career points record, holding three goals and four assists for seven points, which is just six back of his career high set last season. The production could slow, but he’ll enjoy the ride while he has it.
North of the border, Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) has been gaining strong contributions from two former players from the last two seasons. At Concordia University, defenseman Anthony Cortese (’14-’15) has become an assist machine over the last few weeks, racking up six assists through his last six games including a two assist night on November 11 against Brock University and a three assist game in a win over RMC on Saturday night. Through 15 games, the Pierrefonds, Que., native leads the team in assists with all 12 points coming as helpers. That shatters his collegiate high in assists (6) and points (8) set last season. At the University of Ottawa, goaltender Graham Hunt (’15-’16) is seeing the fruits of his labor paying off after a long opening stretch with a revitalized program. He continues to be consistent, recording three-goal games in each of his last four starts while keeping opponents to three goals or less in all six games in November. In the process, he picked up four more wins and now has a 5-6-0 record with a 3.00 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage through 12 appearances.
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.