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Flyers, Phantoms Sign Sawyer Boulton


Rookie Tough-Guy with NHL Bloodline Added to Organization

Lehigh Valley, PA – The Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms announced they signed forward Sawyer Boulton to a two-year AHL contract through the 2025-26 season, according to General Manager Daniel Brière.
Boulton, 19, played 40 games for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League in 2023-24 and appeared in 16 games throughout the postseason en route to lifting the J. Ross Robertson Cup as league champions and earning a spot in the Memorial Cup. Prior to signing with London this past October, the tough-guy forward started the season as a member of the Rochester Jr. Americans in the North American Hockey League where he registered five points (3-2=5) in 10 games.
The six-foot, 210-pound native of Buffalo, NY, grew up surrounded by the game of hockey as the son of longtime former NHLer Eric Boulton (2000-2016) and older brother of Knights’ teammate Ryder Boulton.
“(My father is) a big inspiration for me,” said Sawyer following his first on-ice practice at Flyers Development Camp in Vorhees, NJ on Tuesday. “Starting hockey and continuing hockey, it was always my dad—former NHL player, former tough-guy. I always find motivation and inspiration through him. The rest of my family has been a good support system getting me here all the way.”
After receiving the invitation to camp from the Flyers and later signing his first professional contract, Boulton added, “It’s a big honor. I always wanted to get to this level and I’m glad it’s Philly that gave me the opportunity to be here. I’m very excited to play for this organization. This style of hockey, this group—it’s exciting.”
(Photo provided by Phantoms)

Buffalo Sabres Day Two


(Pictured above is Adam Kieber)

By Warren Kozireski —

The second day of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft in Las Vegas began with Buffalo trading one of their two second round selections to the Washington Capitals for 6’3”, 200 lb. left wing Beck Malenstyn.

The former WHL product spent the entire season in the NHL in 2023-24 for the first time since turning pro and scored six goals with 15 assists over 81 games.

“He’s big (6’3”), led their team in hits, penalty killer as well, character guy…and we’ve been looking at ways…to be harder to play against and he’s certainly something who brings that every night and it was a big need that we saw coming into this offseason,” Sabres General Manager Kevyn Adams said.

The Sabres opened their draft selections taking 6’5”, 214 lb. right shot defenseman Adam Kleber with the 42nd overall pick. Heading for the University of Minnesota-Duluth this fall, Kleber spent the last two seasons with Lincoln in the USHL registering 26 points over 56 games.

“I think I’m really good defensive defenseman and I’m just trying to become more of a complete player,” Kleber said. “At Duluth they breed a lot of defensemen and they’re very good at developing those guys and I think Coach (Scott) Sandelin has a really tight structure and they make sure guys don’t cheat the defensive side. Hopefully, I can have the role of defending the other team’s top players.”

“Obviously a big kid, skates well, I think has a good brain for the game; the character of this kid is just as much a part of the story as anything else…forced his way onto the US team at the World Junior A Challenge, was the youngest d-man on that team and started as the seventh d-man and, by the end of the tournament was their best player,” Sabres Assistant General Manager Jerry Forton said.

In the third round, U.S. National Team Development Program forward Brody Ziemer was taken 71st overall. The 5’11”, 196 lb. right wing combined for 35 goals and 59 assists in 88 games and added 12 points in seven games at the U-18’s. He is headed to play for the University of Minnesota this fall.

(Brody Ziemer)

“This is kind of a dream growing up as a kid and for it to become real is super-special for me and my family,” Ziemer said. “I’d say my hockey sense (is a strength); I’m still trying to become a better skater and my hockey sense allows me to play a little bit faster than I really am.”

The Sabres had two fourth round selections at 108th and 123rd overall and took USHL defenseman Luke Osburn and QMJHL Drummondville right shot defenseman Simon-Pier Brunet.

Osburn stands 6’0” and 172 lbs. and is committed to the University of Wisconsin in 2026. The Michigan native racked up eight goals and 23 points over 60 games last season with Youngstown.

(Luke Osburn)

When I was younger, I was a lot smaller, so I had to figure out ways to be a little slipperier and then I grew a little bit,” Osburn said. “I’m going to go back to Youngstown and finish my senior year of high school…and figure it out from there.”

Brunet stands 6’2”, 196 lb. and is more defensive minded with 14 points in 52 games and added six more during a long playoff run.

In the sixth round, the team selected local product Patrick Geary from Hamburg, NY. The 19-year-old was passed over at the draft last season, but had a solid freshman season at Michigan State with 13 points in 32 games playing a shutdown role at a solid 6’1”, 185 lb.

“Great story; another high-compete player…forced his way into the lineup at Michigan State last year,” Forton said. “We brought into our mini-combine…we ran him through the same tests as the NHL uses at the Combine and he would have tested out in the top three percentile of all athletes at the Combine and top-five of our NHL players.”

With their two seventh round selections, Buffalo took Russian 6’0”, 181 lb. right wing Vasily Zelenov 204th overall and 6’2”, 179 lb. Mississauga goaltender Ryerson Leenders 219th.

(Ryerson Leenders)

Zelenov has been playing in Austria over the last five years and cracked the professional Red Bull Hockey Juniors team, where he put up 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points in 40 games.

Leenders had a 24-17-4 record, a 3.12 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 46 games.

“It was a long wait I guess, but it was definitely worth it to be drafted to Buffalo,” Leenders said. “You always hope you go sooner, but definitely proud of myself and excited to be a part of Buffalo. Going to do everything I can to show Buffalo what I’m made of and do right for them.”

(Photos by Koz, NY Hockey OnLine)

NY Islanders Day Two


(Pictured above Xavier Veilleux)

By Warren Kozireski —

One day after adding Cole Eiserman to their stable of prospects in the first round, the New York Islanders added five more on day two of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft in Las Vegas.

The second day began with two second round selections.

They went defense and size in 6’6”, 220 lb. left shot Finnish defenseman Jesse Pulkkinen with the 54th overall selection.

“I’m so excited with this team; good city and fans,” Pulkkinen said. “I am an offensive defenseman.”

He registered a combined 40 points in 53 games with three different squads in Finland and added three points in the seven game U-20 World Juniors.

Their other second round selection—61st overall—was U.S. National Team Development Program and Boston University bound forward Kamil Bednarik, who joins his former and future teammate in first round selection Cole Eiserman. The 6’0”, 180 lb. center netted a combined 37 goals with 58 assists over 88 games and added six points at the U-18 Worlds.

(Kamil Bednarik)

“I’m a 200-foot player; I think I play really well at both ends of the ice…me being good defensively at the same time I can produce offensively as well, so I think that’s a good balance,” Bednarik said. “I lived in New Jersey for one year when I played for the New Jersey Rockets, so I kind of fell in love with that east coast area.”

The Islanders then chose goaltenders in back-to-back rounds in 21-year-old Russian Dmitri Gamzin in the fourth round and 6’6”, 212 lb. Swedish goaltender Marcus Gidlof in the fifth.

Gamzin played in both the VHL and the KHL with CSKA Moscow and had  a solid .922 save percentage and 2.42 goals against average in the higher-level league. In 26 games with J20 Nationell at Leksands, Gidlof registered a 2.22 goals against average and .923 save percentage during the regular season.

Their sixth round and final draft choice was Quebec native and 6’0’, 190 lb. defenseman Xavier Veilleux, who played last season with Muskegon in the USHL and is committed to Harvard in 2025. He had 32 points in 62 games last season.

“Nothing against the QMJHL, but I just wanted a longer path for my development,” Veilleux said about his decision to pursue junior hockey in the U.S. “They showed interest…I knew they were one of the teams that showed interest, but I’m super-happy.”

(Photos by Koz, NY Hockey OnLine)

NY Rangers Day Two


(Pictured above is Raoul Boilard)

By Warren Kozireski —

One day after selecting defenseman E.J. Emery late in the first round of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft in Las Vegas, the New York Rangers had only three additional picks on day two with the earliest in the fourth round.

QMJHL center Raoul Boilard was chosen 119th overall in the fourth round. The 6’1”, 189 lb. center played last season with Baie Comeau where he scored 22 goals with 62 points over 68 regular season games and added eight points in 17 postseason contests through the league championship round.

“Very excited; hugged my parents and my brother and there was a lot of joy there and really proud to be a Ranger,” Boilard said. That the Rangers traded up to select him “means a lot. That means they like me so that’s good. A good organization that likes me is a good sign.

“I’m an offensive center; I have some offensive tools. Good playmaker, good on faceoffs and…develop and be a two-way center.”

In the fifth round, New York chose 6’6”, 185 lb. left wing Nathan Aspinall, who played for Flint in the Ontario Hockey League last season. There he tallied 18 goals with 16 assists in 65 games using his frame as a net-front presence.

In the sixth round, Rico Gredig was the choice as a 19-year-old. The 6’1”, 179 lb. left wing has played mostly in Switzerland with Davos. He tallied 15 points in 17 games with the U20-Elite program, added four points in 28 games up with Davos HC and played with Team Swiss at the U-20 World Juniors.

(Photo by Koz, NY Hockey OnLine)

Josh Sciba Moves On to Coach Professionally with PWHL NY


SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – After eight years leading the Union College women’s ice hockey program, Josh Sciba has resigned his head coaching position to accept a spot on the coaching staff of PWHL New York, it was announced on Saturday afternoon.

The position reunites Sciba with new PWHL New York head coach and former Colgate University head coach Greg Fargo, under whom Sciba served as an assistant for four years in Hamilton from 2012-16 before making the move to Schenectady.

“I want to thank Josh for his dedication to our student-athletes over the last eight years and the work that he put into our women’s hockey program. The opportunity to coach at the professional level does not come around often, and so we wish Josh well in his new position,” said Director of Athletics Jim McLaughlin ’93. “We look forward to finding the next leader of our women’s hockey team and seeing the continued strides forward that this program will take in the future.”

“I want to thank my student-athletes, President David Harris, Jim McLaughlin, my coaching staff, and the entire Union College community for embracing my family and I over the last eight years,” said Sciba. “I’m so grateful for this experience and everything that I’ve learned throughout it. I wouldn’t be the coach that I am today without Union College. With the talented women in our locker room, a new facility, scholarships, and a very distinguished degree, I know the best years of Union women’s hockey are yet to come. Union College will always hold a special place in my heart.”

The winningest coach in Union women’s hockey history, Sciba and the program have taken steps forward in both wins and level of competitiveness over the last two seasons. The team won 11 games and earned its first-ever win over a nationally ranked team during the 2022-23 season, and the team’s 19 victories over the last two seasons are the most in a two-year span in the program’s Division I era. The last two seasons have also seen three new entries in both the team’s single-season goals and points record books, as well as three of the program’s nine hat tricks as a D-I program.

In addition, Sciba recruited and guided student-athletes to success off the ice as well. Union players merited 125 ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team selections over the last eight seasons as well as four College Sports Communicators Academic All-District honors, and two recent graduates (Meredith Killian ’24 and Allison Smith ’24) were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. The team also continued its long history of community engagement and support through multiple initiatives both in and out of the rink.

With the recent addition of athletic scholarships and a new hockey rink on the horizon for 2025, the future is bright for the Union women’s hockey program. A national search for the program’s next head coach will begin immediately.

(Photo by Union College Women’s Hockey Dept.)

Two Clarkson Recruits Now NHL Draft Picks


(Pictured above is Jonathan Morello)

By Warren Kozireski —

The coaching staff at Clarkson University, despite the departure of head coach Casey Jones to be the heir apparent in Cornell, is smiling today as two of  their Class of 2025 recruits were selected at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft held in Las Vegas.

Center Jonathan Morello was taken by Boston in the fifth round (154th overall) and soon-to-be 18-year-old defenseman Matt Lahey was a seventh-round selection (200th overall) by Toronto.

Morello had 25 goals and 32 assists in 50 games last year with St. Michael’s in the OJHL and added 21 points in 11 playoff games. The 6’1”, 168 lb. center plans to play one season at Dubuque in the USHL before heading to the North Country.

“I knew Boston was definitely a team that was looking at me,” Morello said. “I’m grateful that Boston made the choice on me, and I’m really excited to get started.

“The coaching change was a bit of a shock, but I know the coach coming in is definitely really excited and came from the AHL as well and getting that experience is something that I’m looking forward too.

“I’m a two-way centerman mixed with a bit of a power forward. I use speed a lot in my game—speed is probably the biggest attribute in my game—and that’s something that I use whether I’m carrying the puck…or I’m on the back-check.”

Lahey, the top-rated defenseman in the draft from the BCHL, stands 6’5”, 2023 lbs. and played last season with Nanaimo Clippers where the physical defenseman recorded 19 points in 54 games as more of a disruptor on the blueline.

(Photo by Koz, NY Hockey OnLine)

Sabres Take Finn Helenius With First Round Selection


By Warren Kozireski —

After trading down three spots for an extra second round draft pick courtesy of San Jose, the Buffalo Sabres selected 5’11”, 189 lb. forward Konsta Helenius with the 14th overall selection in the first round of the 20204 NHL Entry Draft in Las Vegas.

In addition to his regular season with Jurkurit, Helenius played with both Finland U-18 and U-18 teams for a combined 94 game season. He is described as skilled and quick with a high compete level. The right-handed shot scored five power-play goals, won 50.2 percent of his face-offs, and averaged 16:57 of ice time in 51 games for Jukurit in Liiga, Finland’s top professional men’s league.

“It was a long season; I think I played really well.” Helenius said moments after being selected. “I think it was good for me to play against men because I like to play hard. I’m not the biggest guy, but I think I’m a very strong guy and it was good for me.

“I have older brothers and we fight when I was a kid, so that probably is one reason why I like to battle hard.

Helenius is known as responsible defensively and credits former NHLer and his coach Oli Jokinen.

“Biggest reason was my coach before every game that you need defense first and then you get the puck and you can do whatever you want. It was hard for me because I like to do a lot of things with the puck…but it was good for me too.”

“I know Oli well from we were teammates…and he spoke (to our staff) really, really highly of Konsta; his belief in him and the path he’s on,” Buffalo General Manager Kevyn Adams said.

“So much due diligence goes into these players before you make your pick and everything came back: high character, well liked by teammates, coaches love him, work ethic so all the stuff that we look for. So it’s an exciting player to add into our organization.

“This isn’t a fully developed player for sure, but you don’t play in the men’s league in Finland at 16 or whatever he was for the last year and a half without being able to handle yourself.

“I like the fact that, to me, he is a true center. We believe 100% that he’s a center and will be in the National Hockey League.”

(Photo by Koz, NY Hockey OnLine)

Islanders Nab Eiserman With First Round Selection


By Warren Kozireski —

One year after using their first three selections on forwards and not having a first-round pick since 2019, the New York Islanders took U.S. National Team Development Program and future Boston University Terrier Cole Eiserman 20th overall at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft in Las Vegas.

Eiserman is a 6’0”, 195 lb. left wing who broke Montreal Canadian Cole Caufield’s record of 126 goals with the National Program. This past season he netted 49 goals in 49 games and added 27 assists. He won’t turn 18 years old until late August.

“I think Cole Eiserman is the best goal-scorer of this draft; it’s an elite quality,” said Craig Button, TSN resident director of scouting, NHL analyst and former NHL general manager told The Hockey News.

“I had no idea (who was going to select him) going into the day and that made it exciting, and it was super-cool when I heard my name called,” Eiserman said after his election.

“I’m definitely a shooter who loves to score goals; I definitely bring a positive attitude and a competitive side. As time goes on, definitely going to become more physical to use my body a lot.

“I definitely see the game different than a lot of people and, whether you like it or not, it’s something that I’m going to bring.”

When asked about his next best hockey trait, Eiserman said at the NHL Draft Combine in May: “probably my playmaking. I think it’s a pretty underrated thing that I get to show because my teammates want me to shoot the puck all the time.

“You see a guy like (Auston) Matthews who scores a lot of goals, but now is being looked at as a Selke guy…and that’s the guy I’m trying to be like in the NHL one day.”

Eiserman is the latest hockey playing family member with older brothers William (UMass-Lowell & Bentley), Chris (goaltender for SUNY Fredonia 2013-15), Shane (U. New Hampshire and ECHL) along with some older cousins.

“They taught me to be more of a person and a man than a hockey player and they’re a lot older than me, so they went through life, and they went through good times and bad times and in between and taught me everything that I need to know and how to deal with adversity. And work—they didn’t have as much skill as I do, so they made it from working and that’s what they tell me to do.”

The Islanders are scheduled to make five more selections in rounds two-seven on Saturday with two of those second rounders.

(Photo by Koz, NY Hockey OnLine)

NY Rangers Tap Emery With 30th Overall Selection


By Warren Kozireski —

For the second consecutive year, the New York Rangers dipped into the U.S. National Team Development Program for a defenseman at the draft when they selected E.J. Emery late in the first round at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft in Las Vegas. They selected Drew Fortescue in the third round in 2023.

The 6’4”, 183 lb. blueliner, headed to the University of North Dakota this fall, is known as a defensive defenseman as he failed to register a goal this season, but the Rangers scouting staff believes the offensive side may evolve with time.

“EJ is a very talented young man; he’s raw, very athletic and just starting to come into his own,” Rangers Director of Player Personnel and Amateur Scouting John Lilley said. “He has a lot of work to do getting a little bit stronger, but the foundation is there, excellent skater and his defensive game we found as a staff was one of the best in the entire draft—he ends plays and to me an elite defender.”

Emery combined for 22 assists over the split USNTDP schedule, but also registered six assists over only seven games at the U-18 World’s. He grew up in Surrey, British Columbia, but has dual citizen due to his parents, so he was able to come south to play.

“It’s a pretty exciting moment and I  don’t know who was more excited, me or my mom,” Emery said post selection.

“I would say (my assets) are my skating ability and how well I play defense. I would say that I’m really good at being a lockdown guy, someone who can lock down plays and get the puck up the ice and make plays.

“I model after K’Andre Miller, so I not complaining about wearing this jersey.

And Emery is ready for the next step in his development heading up to North Dakota.

“The coaches and the fans and obviously the team made me feel at home and I know they’re going to look out for me. It’s the best stop for me.”

(Photos by Koz, NY Hockey OnLine)

Potential Sabres 2024 Draft Targets


By Warren Kozireski —

The Buffalo Sabres as of this writing hold the 11th overall selection in the first round of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft to be held in Las Vegas June 28-29.

Whether they pick a forward of a defenseman could be dictated by what happens with the ten selections prior, but two name slotted by Central Scouting around that mark are USA National Team development Program product Cole Eiserman or Calgary (WHL) defenseman Carter Yakemchuk.

Eiserman is a 6’0”, 195 lb. left wing who broke Montreal Canadian Cole Caufield’s record of 126 goals. This past season he netted 49 goals in 49 games and added 27 assists. He won’t turn 18 years old until late August. He decommitted from the University of Minnesota and will play for Boston University.

“I think Cole Eiserman is the best goal-scorer of this draft; it’s an elite quality,” said Craig Button, TSN resident director of scouting, NHL analyst and former NHL general manager told The Hockey News.

When asked about his next best hockey trait, Eiserman said at the NHL Draft Combine “probably my playmaking. I think it’s a pretty underrated thing that I get to show because my teammates want me to shoot the puck all the time.

“You see a guy like (Auston) Matthews who scores a lot of goals, but now is being looked at as a Selke guy…and that’s the guy I’m trying to be like in the NHL one day.”

Eiserman is the latest hockey playing family member with older brothers William (UMass-Lowell & Bentley), Chris (goaltender for SUNY Fredonia 2013-15), Shane (U. New Hampshire and ECHL) along with some older cousins.

“They taught me to be more of a person and a man than a hockey player and they’re a lot older than me, so they went through life, and they went through good times and bad times and in between and taught me everything that I need to know and how to deal with adversity. And work—they didn’t have as much skill as I do, so they made it from working and that’s what they tell me to do.”

If Buffalo chooses to go defense in the first round, Yakemchuk is slotted at 11th among North American skaters by Central Scouting. The 6’3”, 202 lb. right shot led all WHL defenseman in scoring with 30 goals and 41 assists over 66 games for a mediocre Calgary team that missed the playoffs.

11 months older than Eiserman, he is the rare combination of offense while registering over 100 penalty minutes this past season.

“Yakemchuk can manipulate opponents, make plays with perfect timing, and create looks for his teammates with the threat of his shot every now and then. Constant rush activations and weak side sprints from the offensive blue line kept him involved in the play, creating a higher volume and better quality of looks than most defencemen can access.” -EliteProspects 2024 NHL Draft Guide

“I think my offensive creativity; that’s something I take a lot of pride in my game (and) is one of my strengths,” Yakemchuk said at the NHL Draft Combine. “I always play with a little grit in my game and that’s something I did that lot this season. I need to be better positionally with my stick (on defense). Always was a d-man, but I like watching hockey the offensive side and how the forwards played.”

If Buffalo chooses to keep their first-round pick, there are certainly several high-end options that will be available to them.

The Sabres have eight picks in the 2024 Draft, including two picks in the fourth round (Erik Johnson trade to Philadelphia) and two in the seventh round (Kyle Okposo trade to Florida which could become a fifth-round pick if the Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup).

Happy Father’s Day


Happy Father’s Day to all the hockey dads out there and to all the dads who follow NY Hockey OnLine!

Kulich Named To American Hockey League’s Top Prospects Team For Second Straight Year


Forward made NHL debut with Sabres, led the Amerks in goals for second consecutive year and captained Czechia to a bronze medal at 2024 World Junior Championship last season

(Rochester, NY) – The American Hockey League announced today that Rochester Americans forward Jiri Kulich has been named to the AHL Top Prospects Team for the 2023-24 season.

Determined by the league’s hockey operations department in conjunction with AHL general managers as the AHL Top Prospects Team recognizes three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender projected to be the best future NHL players.

To qualify for the AHL Top Prospects Team, skaters must have been 22 years old or younger on the first day of the regular season and must have played at least 36 regular-season games in the AHL and no more than 30 regular-season games in the National Hockey League during 2023-24. Goaltenders must have been 23 or younger on opening night and have played at least 25 AHL games and no more than 20 NHL games during the regular season.

After being named to the inaugural Top Prospects Team last year, Kulich followed up with another standout season in 2023-24. Kulich, who turned 20 in April, scored a career-high 27 goals – including seven power-play goals, a shorthanded tally, five game-winners and two hat tricks – and finished third on the team with 45 points in 57 games while leading the Amerks back to the postseason for the second straight year.

Kulich, who represented Rochester at the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic, was the first Amerk to score 20 or more goals in back-to-back seasons since Cole Schneider and Justin Bailey both did so in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and also became the first Rochester player to lead the team in goals in consecutive seasons since AHL Hall of Famer Jody Gage in 1991-92 and 1992-93.

He also made his NHL debut for Buffalo on Nov. 25 at New Jersey and went on to captain Czechia to a bronze medal at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship. Kulkich finished tied for the tournament lead with 12 points (6+6) in seven games, including a pair of four-point outings and two game-winning goals to earn a selection to the tournament All-Star Team.

The native of Kadan, Czechia, was a first-round pick (28th overall) by the Sabres in the 2022 NHL Draft.

2023-24 AHL Top Prospects Team

Goaltender Yaroslav Askarov, Milwaukee Admirals

Defenseman Brandt Clarke, Ontario Reign 

Defenseman Simon Edvinsson, Grand Rapids Griffins

Forward Jiri Kulich, Rochester Americans

Forward Logan Stankoven, Texas Stars

Forward Shane Wright, Coachella Valley Firebirds

(Photos Provided by Rochester Americans Hockey Team)

Cornell Men’s Hockey’s Mike Schafer Announces Plan To Retire Following 2024-25 Season


Casey Jones ’90 to Succeed Him As Program’s 13th Head Coach

ITHACA, N.Y. — Mike Schafer ’86, a legendary name in college hockey as well as the face of the Big Red men’s program for more than three decades, has announced that he will retire as the Jay R. Bloom ’77 Head Coach of Cornell Men’s Ice Hockey following the 2024-25 season.

Nicki Moore, the Meakem & Smith Director of Athletics & Physical Education, has also announced that Casey Jones ’90 – a former Big Red captain and assistant coach and current head coach at Clarkson University – will succeed Schafer as Cornell’s 13th men’s head coach. Jones will join the Big Red coaching staff this year as associate head coach before taking the reins next spring.

“I’ve had a 38-year coaching career in college hockey – 33 of them at Cornell,” Schafer, an assistant coach at Western Michigan from 1990-95 before returning to his alma mater. “It’s been a tremendous experience helping the players and teams over the years to reach their goals while helping create Big Red pride and building spirit through Cornell hockey. I feel now is the perfect time for me to begin the transition into retirement.

“I am grateful for all the amazing relationships I have with players, alumni, community members, and colleagues,” he said. “I am confident that the team will be in good hands with Director of Athletics Nicki Moore and Coach Jones when he takes over a year from now. I look forward to seeing the unmatched tradition of Cornell hockey continue throughout the years to come, but for now, I am focused on the work to be done this coming year.”

“Mike Schafer is a legend in the world of college hockey and is on a very short list of the most impactful people in the history of Cornell Athletics,” Moore said. “For nearly four decades as a player, captain, assistant, and ultimately head coach, Mike has poured his heart and total effort into the success of the program, and more importantly, into the individual student-athletes who have played for him and have flourished on and off the ice thanks to his mentorship. I am so grateful that he has agreed to continue coaching this year after considering retirement. I believe our approach will facilitate a smooth transition, and a seamless progression for the program as we extend and build upon Mike’s incredible legacy.”

During his 29 years behind the Big Red bench, Schafer has led the program to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the 2003 Frozen Four — its first appearance in the NCAA semifinals since 1980. The 2002-03 Big Red established a school record for wins (30), one more than the 1969-70 national championship squad (29-0-0), which remains the lone Division I men’s program to win a national title while finishing undefeated and untied.

Following the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, Schafer was named co-recipient of the Spencer Penrose Award, given to the nation’s top head coach, sharing the honor with the University of North Dakota’s Brad Berry. Cornell was 23-2-4 and ranked No. 1 in the nation when the season was halted in mid-March. Schafer has been named ECAC Hockey’s Coach of the Year five times (2002, 2003, 2005, 2018, 2020) and Ivy League Coach of the Year four times (2018, 2019, 2020, 2024) since the award was established in 2016.

Under Schafer, Cornell has claimed six Whitelaw Cups (ECAC Hockey tournament titles), surpassing the legendary Ned Harkness for most in Big Red history. He has also guided Cornell to six Cleary Cups as the conference’s regular-season champion, including three over the past seven years, and 13 Ivy League titles.

A defenseman during his playing days, Schafer was a four-year letterman and a two-year captain. He appeared in 107 games for Cornell, scoring 70 points (10 goals, 60 assists), and capped his collegiate career by leading the Big Red to an ECAC Hockey championship and No. 5 national ranking as a senior.

Schafer was named an honorable mention All-ECAC Hockey selection in 1985-86 and earned All-Ivy second-team honors for a second consecutive year. Schafer also served as president of the Red Key Athletic Honor Society and was the recipient of the ECAC Medallion for academic excellence and athletic prowess.

Schafer and his wife, Diane ’86, have two sons, Luke and John ’18, MBA ’22, and a daughter, Michelle.

“When Coach Schafer approached me this past spring about his desire to retire, his focus was to support the current student-athletes and to make sure he left the program in the best possible position,” Moore said. “I think in every way we are doing that. After agreeing to stay on as head coach for one more season, and with the understanding of my commitment that Mike’s successor would be a successful sitting Division 1 head coach with an uncommon passion for Cornell hockey, Mike and I worked together to develop an impressive list of candidates.

“Casey emerged as the right successor for this esteemed program,” Moore said. “This creative succession solution allows us to seamlessly compete to win in the present and plan for the future with our current and future student-athletes top of mind. To have a coach of Casey’s caliber be supportive of this approach, and to have a person with his character and with his deep ties to Cornell be fully enthusiastic about the unique opportunity our plan offers is extraordinary! I am so excited for Mike, for Casey, and for our student-athletes and staff.”

“This is a really exciting moment for myself and my family – returning to my alma mater, the place I met my wife, and where I spent the best four years of my life,” Jones said. “Mike is a great friend and someone I have unlimited respect for, and I’m excited to celebrate what he has helped build before accepting the challenge of leading Big Red hockey into the future.”

Jones’ Clarkson teams compiled a 234-185-56 record with two NCAA Tournament appearances and five top-three conference finishes. His 2018-19 team won the ECAC Hockey Tournament title, and he was named ECAC Hockey’s Tim Taylor Coach of the Year; his 2019-20 team was 23-8-3 and poised for another trip to the NCAA Tournament before COVID-19 cut the season short. Over a five-year period from 2017-22, Clarkson ranked among the top 16 teams nationally in the final Pairwise each year.

Eleven Clarkson players have been selected in the NHL Entry Draft during Jones’ tenure, with four players going on to have NHL careers, three (Josh Dunne, Sheldon Rempal, and Nico Sturm) who are currently on active rosters.

Jones was associate head coach under Schafer from 2008-11, before taking over as head coach of the Golden Knights. Jones spent 1991-93 as an assistant coach for the Big Red under head coach Brian McCutcheon ‘71, then was an assistant for two years at Clarkson before joining Ohio State as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator from 1995-2008.

Jones was a four-year letter winner for the Big Red with Schafer as one of the team’s assistant coaches and Doug Derraugh ’91 – the Everett Family Head Coach of Women’s Ice Hockey – was a teammate. Jones served as team captain during the 1989-90 season, leading his team to a 16-10-3 mark. Jones scored 112 points (30 goals, 82 assists) in 110 games in his career and won the team’s Bill Doran Sportsmanship Award in 1990.

Following his freshman campaign, Jones was selected by the Boston Bruins in the 10th round (203rd overall) of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft.

Jones and his wife, Kimberlee ’95, a Cornell graduate, have a daughter, Gabrielle, and a son, Bryan.

As both Schafer and Jones, along with the staff, are fully focused on coaching and supporting the 2024-25 team and recruiting, there will be no immediate public recognition of Schafer’s planned May 2025 retirement, or of Jones’ projected succession. At the appropriate times, both of these events will be celebrated with the Big Red Hockey community.

(Photo provided by Cornell University Athletics/Alumni Dept.)

Amerks Introduce New Head Coach


By Warren Kozireski —

The Rochester Americans introduced their 34th head coach Monday morning in former Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) General Manager and Head Coach Michael Leone (pronounced Lee-own-nee).

“I’m extremely grateful and humbled to be a part of the Buffalo Sabres organization as the next head coach of the Rochester Americans,” Leone said. “I want to thank Kevyn Adams and Jason Karmanos for giving me the opportunity to lead the organization and believing in me. I look forward to meeting everyone in the organization and helping our prospects continue to grow and develop on and off the ice.”

This marks Leone’s first head coaching stint in the American Hockey League. Before his two seasons with Green Bay, much like prior head coach Seth Appert, he had a three-year run as an assistant coach at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP), as well as brief stints at both the collegiate and professional levels.

Leone had a 66-41-10-7 record in his two seasons with Green Bay, leading the Gamblers to back-to-back 30-plus win seasons as well as consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in over a decade.

Leone played three years for the Western Michigan University before embarking on a four-year professional career in the ECHL split between the Kalamazoo Wings (2012-13) and Toledo Walleye (2014-17), along with one season overseas with Villard-de-Lans in France.

“Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to get it, but it happened and I’m very grateful and I’m excited,” Leone said, who was expecting his first child any day now. “A lot of mixed emotions but I’m really excited for this next journey of my coaching career.”

“I am thrilled to welcome Mike to our organization and look forward to working with him as we continue to build a foundation of success in Rochester,” Amerks General Manager Jason Karmanos said. “Throughout the interview process, Mike differentiated himself from other candidates with his development background, inherent feel for the game, and growth mindset. I am confident in Mike’s leadership and ability to guide our players both on and off the ice, while continuing a culture in which players are proud to wear the Amerks sweater.”

(Photo provided by USA Hockey)