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Hicksville’s Hutchinson An Impact Defenseman For Sacred Heart

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By Warren Kozireski —

Sacred Heart sophomore defenseman Conner Hutchinson stood tied for 12th in the nation among blueliners in assists with nine and tied for 16th in points heading into the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Hicksville native is the third in the family to play competitive hockey at high level with sister Cailey playing at the University of Maine and then pro hockey with the Connecticut Whale and brother Nick spending four years at Canisius and now dons a Utica Devils jersey in the American Hockey League.

With those two forwards, how did Connor gravitate toward defense?

“Being the youngest I think they literally kind of shoved me on defense when we were playing when we were younger, so I ended up being a defenseman,” Hutchinson said in mid-November. “Mini-sticks, driveway—they always had me play “D”.”

The 5’10”, 170 offensive, defenseman originally committed to and played at the University of Vermont before leaving six games in and heading to Tri-City of the USHL before settling in at Sacred Heart.

“I committed when I was really young when coach (Kevin) Sneddon was there and this new coaching staff didn’t mesh well. I enjoyed my time there, but it was for the best and I think it all worked out in the end because I think Sacred Heart is a much better fit for me.

“If I could go back, I would have waited (to commit). When you’re young the dream is to go professional, but that’s so rare these days. When you’re so young you don’t even know what would fit best for you for college or even lifestyle wise, so I think in retrospect I would have waited a little longer, but it all worked out.”

“It’s (Sacred Heart) is really close to home and with the new rink and everything coming, I just felt it was a good opportunity for me and felt I had a good chance to play right away and just made sense to me. It’s an hour and fifteen minutes door-to-door from my house, so my parents can come every game and it’s a great school too, so it just all worked out.”

Hutchinson played with the Long Island Gulls organization until he was 12 years old and then the Royals and went to South Kent at 14. After four years with the Select Academy at South Kent in Connecticut, Hutchinson headed to Penticton in the BCHL and would have gone back after the brief Vermont stint if not for covid jeopardizing the season, so it was the USHL and Tri-Cities.

He is certainly having an impact in turning around recent fortunes with the Pioneers standing first on the squad in assists with nine and tied for second in points with ten.

“I think we’re playing really well; freshmen came in and are playing well and the older guys that have been here for a long time are really good players.”

But as for who is the best player in his family?

“It’s gotta be me; as the youngest you learn from your two older siblings so I think I took everything from them and learned from them growing up. My brother and I are still playing, so we need to find out who is the best at the end of our careers.”

(Photo By Sacred Heart Hockey)

Taylor To Lead Team USA at World University Games

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Hobart College Hockey Head Coach Mark Taylor was recently named the head coach for the USA World University Men’s hockey team for the FISU Winter World University Games held Jan. 11-21, 2023 in Lake Placid, New York.
 
This year for the first time, the United States International University Student Federation plans to field a competitive men’s team comprised of the top Division III players from across the country. Taylor will be joined on his staff by some of the top minds from across the country. Matt Loen from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will serve as associate head coach. Former Lawrence University Head Coach Mike Szkodzinski and Middlebury Assistant Coach Jack Ceglarski will serve as assistant coaches. Former Middlebury Head Coach Bill Beaney is the team’s general manager.
 
“I feel honored for the opportunity and really embrace the responsibility to try and field the best team for the best performance by the United States team in this tournament,” Taylor said. “This is a great opportunity for the Division III players to have this type of experience.”
 
Taylor’s first job will be putting together a roster that will compete against many of the best university players in the world while showcasing the high level of play at Division III. The next task will be getting the group to gel quickly. With the tournament taking place in the midst of the season, there will not be time for a “training camp,” so players will have just a few practices onsite prior to the tournament opener on Jan. 11.
 
Team USA will play in Pool B against Great Britain, South Korea, Slovakia, Kazakhstan and Hungary with the top two teams in the pool advancing to the medal round.  Canada, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Japan, Latvia and Sweeden will play in Pool A. Pool B games will be played at Clarkson University’s Cheel Arena. The Pool A games will be played at SUNY Canton’s Roo House. The playoff rounds will take at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid.
 
The team USA Roster will be announced in early December.
 
The 2021-22 New England Hockey Conference Coach of the Year, Taylor is in his 23rd year in charge of the Statesmen. He has compiled a 357-172-54 overall record. He is just the fourth man to lead the Statesmen and has more wins than all his predecessors combined. Taylor is responsible for all eight of Hobart’s 20-win seasons. He has been named the conference coach of the year seven times. Taylor has mentored 61 all-conference selections and 23 all-rookie team picks. Eight Statesmen have been named conference player of the year and six have been named rookie of the year under his leadership. All 16 of Hobart’s All-Americans have come during Taylor’s tenure.
 
This year, Taylor has Hobart off to an 8-0-0 start and ranked No. 1 in the country. It is just the second time in program history that the Statesmen are unblemished through the first eight games of the season. The Statesmen will go for their ninth straight win on Friday, Dec. 2, when they welcome Castleton to The Cooler.

(Hobart Hockey Photo)

Thank-you Howell Motors Ford

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NY Hockey OnLine would like to thank “Howell Motors Ford” for once again sponsoring us. This is the 8th season Howell Motors has been seen on our site. Our Ford F-150 is the official vehicle of NY Hockey OnLine.

Once again, “Thank-you” to Howell Motors Ford for the continued support of NY Hockey OnLine.

To contact Howell Motors Ford please go to: howellmotors.com or click on their ad found on the NY Hockey OnLine web page.

For Basinski And The UB ACHA Women’s Hockey Team, All Are Focused On One Goal

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Coach Phil Basinski preparing UB for game

BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

Roster size of a hockey team can sometimes make or break a team’s season. For the University of Buffalo women’s hockey coach, Phil Basinski, he feels that size will be a determining factor in the success of this year’s team.

“We’ve got a larger than normal roster this year,” said Basinski of the ACHA UB women’s hockey team. “Our roster size can vary from year to year depending on much interest we have from the players.

“In the past we had as few as 12 or 13 players on the team. This year we have 20. We’re working on building from that piece of the team.”

For Basinski, recruiting for the UB squad can be a bit difficult. As a contract coach he’s not allowed to have anything that says UB hockey on it (like business cards, etc.), which can make recruiting a little more challenging.

“We rely on our players to do recruiting and whomever they can come up with,” added Basinski, who is assisted with the team by his son, Edward.

What are the strength’s of this season’s UB women’s hockey team?

“We have a real strong defense,” answered Basinski. “We have a fantastic starting goaltender, who is a senior and we will be losing her next year.

“We have an underclassman goalie and we’re looking to see if we can sign another goalie for the future.

“And we have some really strong forwards on our team. But we really don’t have the depth up front that we would like so that we could make a really strong run this year to the Nationals.”

Now in his third season with UB and working with a team that had to be rebuilt, Basinski explained why he took the job.

“I have a passion for coaching,” explained Basinski. “Especially women’s hockey.

“My daughter played hockey for a number of years for different teams and organizations. And all throughout it there seemed to be a disconnect between the coaches and the girls.

“They didn’t seem to understand that it was about the girls having fun. It just seemed to me that the girls never caught the passion for the game being fun.

“So I want it to be a great experience here at UB. They can learn the game, play the game, they can have fun with their friends without it being a crazy, over the top commitment.

“They come when they can (for practice or games). They play the best that they can. If they have a class, they don’t have to worry about missing it.

“This is a club team. Our priorities are about the student achieving their academic goals.

“Hockey is the icing on the cake for them.”

Basinski also has an interesting philosophy when it comes to coaching hockey.

“The goal I’ve had for every kid I’ve ever coached is to be playing hockey when they get to be my age” commented the UB coach.  “If that happens then I think I’ve done my job.

“Plus, we let each player play up to the skill level they are capable of playing. There are some players on this team that are better than others on the team.

“We explain this to each player before each game.”

Does Basinski see a difference between coaching a women’s team versus coaching a men’s team?

“There are huge differences in my opinion,” responded Basinski.  “Women are more about the community and men are more about the winning.

“You can be a lot harder on guys when it comes to discipline. You can give them an earful on the bench or at the next practice.

“Women don’t seem to respond to that in the same way. You have to do a little more explaining as to what your expectations of them are.

“You don’t call them out in front of their teammates. Instead you pull them aside and have a word with them.”

What is the ultimate goal of this year’s UB Women’s Hockey Team?

“At our first meeting this year I asked that question,” concluded Basinski. “And to a player all the seniors said to go to the Nationals.

“Very simply that is our goal.”

(Photo’s by Janet Schultz Photography, NY Hockey OnLine)

Potsdam’s Merrill Named NEWHL Player of the Week

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POTSDAM, N.Y.—SUNY Potsdam senior Kaylee Merrill (Wasilla, Alaska/Anchorage North Stars) has been named the Northeast Women’s Hockey League’s Player of the Week. It’s the second time she’s earned the honor during her career.
 
Merrill stayed red hot last weekend, amassing seven points in a two-game sweep of King’s College. In Potsdam’s 9-0 win on Friday night, Potsdam’s captain had two goals and two assists. Merrill added two more goals, including the game-winner, and an assist in the Bears’ 3-0 win over the Monarchs on Saturday afternoon.
 
In seven games, Merrill now has 10 goals and three assists for 13 points. She ranks second in the nation in goals-per-game with 1.43 and sixth in the nation with 1.86 points-per-game. Merrill’s frantic pace also has her rapidly climbing the Bears’ NCAA-era record book. The forward now has 50 points on 39 goals and 11 assists. She currently ranks 10th on the program’s scoring list and third on its goals list.

Hockey Day In Lockport Coming This Saturday

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The annual Hockey Day In Lockport will be coming to Cornerstone Arena on Saturday, Nov. 26.

USHL Defenseman of the Week: Gavin McCarthy

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Defenseman of the Week
Gavin McCarthy | Muskegon Lumberjacks | Clarence Center, New York
NCAA Commitment: Boston University
Birth Year: 2005

  • 2 goals, 2 assists, +1, 4 shots
  • Notched both primary assists on Muskegon’s pair of power play goals in their 3-2 shootout win vs. Dubuque, then recorded his first career multi-goal game with two tallies in the Lumberjacks’ 5-4 loss to the Fighting Saints on Saturday
  • Through 15 games, McCarthy is tied for the team lead in points with 14 on two goals and 12 assists. He is tied for second in scoring among all USHL defensemen
  • (Muskegon Lumberjacks Photo)

Penfield’s Humphrey Helping To Turn Around Sacred Heart University Hockey

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By Warren Kozireski —

Sacred Heart University’s men’s hockey team finished under .500 in each of the last two seasons, but freshman and Penfield native Blake Humphrey has helped the Pioneers get off to a quick start in 2022-23.

Tied for second in goals and points through the first 12 games, Humphrey was doing most of his offensive damage during five-on-five play.

“Obviously I’ve been given a good opportunity to play a bunch and playing with good players helps out, so putting the puck ion the net a few times so, yeah…off to a good start,” Humphrey said in early November.

“Having the coaches believe in you and getting a real opportunity right away and I’m thankful for that.”

The 5’9”, 161 lb. forward originally committed to RIT and then Providence College before landing in Connecticut at Sacred Heart.

“I committed to RIT at a really young age; the idea of committing was cool, but at the end of the day realized that I had a ton of development left to do, so I decommitted and committed to Providence for a little while, but things weren’t going to work out there right away.

“So, I wanted to go to an organization that really believed in my abilities and I’m thankful that I picked a good spot.”

Humphrey turns 21 years old in January, was the Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week Nov. 1 and stood top-ten in the nation among rookies in points per game. His first collegiate goal came at Holy Cross Oct. 14.

He bounced around quite a bit during his youth and junior hockey days playing with the Syracuse Nationals (2016-17), the Jr. Sabres (17-18), Rochester Monarchs (18-19), the NV River Rats and Lawrence Academy (19-20), the New Jersey Titans (20-21) and finally Sioux Falls in the USHL in 2021-22.

“Kind of the way youth hockey works, especially around here. Big commitments from my parents driving back and forth, but some good teams there. Lawrence was a New England prep school and was a really good spot with good coaches. We had a really good team there with nine Division I commits that are playing college hockey right now.

“Around nine or ten years old when we started driving to Syracuse from Rochester was a big commitment for my parents and myself included, so I had an idea then that Division I hockey was the goal.”

Humphrey has already found himself on the power play setting up just above the left faceoff circle for the one-timer.

“We’ve had some success—I was able to score on one the other week and I had a couple of assists from that place. If teams make it difficult to get the shot off, it opens up opportunities for others on the power play.”

One perk to setting in with Sacred Heart University is the brand-new rink, the $70 million Martire Family Arena, he and his teammates will inaugurate on Jan. 14 against Boston College.

50 Years Is A Significant Milestone!

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The year 1972 was significant as Title IX was adopted nationally, Cornell women’s hockey was founded, and the Ithaca Youth Bureau made gender equity a priority at its new rink at Cass Park; 2022 is a milestone for TGHA, the oldest girls hockey association in New York State.

The City of Ithaca, County of Tompkins and State of New York have recognized this milestone. The City and County have proclaimed November “Tompkins Girls Hockey Month” with resolutions signed by Mayor Laura Lewis and Legislature Chair Shawna Black, respectively. New York State Assembly Member Anna Kelles has presented a citation that commends TGHA for “providing a variety of opportunities for females in the areas of athletics and education, including ice skating instruction and ice times for hockey practices and games, all the while building a collaborative team environment that emphasizes opportunities to play over winning.”

(Thanks to Mary Grainger for this article)

Weissbach Making People Notice With Hot Start In Rochester

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By Warren Kozireski —

You can be forgiven if the only rookies you noticed last season in Rochester were American Hockey league All-Rookie Team selections Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka.

Quietly tied for seventh in scoring with 16 goals and 37 points on an Amerks team that advanced to the American Hockey League North Division final was rookie Linus Weissbach.

This season, the 5’9”, 177 lb. forward stood third on the squad through the first 11 games with 11 points and led the team with six goals.

“A bigger role, to start with and then it’s about taking advantage of the time you get on the ice and just all-around play that I can bring to the team,” Weissbach said.

“I try to take a step every year and obviously you want to get better all the time, so I think that’s been my focus. I do try to take the puck there (to the net) more maybe, but obviously that’s where most of the goals are scored and I want to try to get that more into my game, be more of a shooter and going there is going to help with that for sure.”

“Linus had a really good rookie year; the growth he showed in his game away from the puck—how hard he backchecked and how hard he hunted puck and forechecked,” Rochester head coach Seth Appert said.

“He’s doubled down on his work this offseason and so far, this fall. His daily habits are impeccable—he’s on the of first guys in the shooting room, his practices are excellent, he’s staying on the puck more…he’s cutting people’s hands up. Everybody has to be physically engaged…and Linus just cuts the guy’s hands up, take inside position and take the puck.

“He’s doing those things and when he has the puck, he’s very talented. He’s getting to harder areas and he’s getting rewarded.”

A seventh-round selection by Buffalo in 2017 in his second year of eligibility, Weissbach didn’t choose the same route that many players from Sweden follow—playing against men at home and then being largely evaluated by how they perform during international tournaments against their peers.

“I just felt I was too young to sign a pro contract at the age of 17 which is the natural step in Sweden and I just saw too many players, even high draft picks, just not get the chance. I didn’t want to put myself in a spot where I wasn’t playing or getting loaned out and I figured I’m a guy who likes new experiences and creating new relationships.

“And after my first year in the USHL I decided to take the college route and it was easily the best decision I made. And I try to tell people back home that they would be dumb not to unless you’re Rasmus Dahlin or a first overall pick like that where you will play in the NHL right away.”

Winger Victor Olofsson was the last Buffalo seventh-round draft pick to play at least 100 career NHL games and before that it was forward Paul Gaustad in 2000. Weissbach is readying himself to be the next.

“You want to contribute any way you can. If it’s scoring goals or blocking shots or just going on the forecheck, everyone contributes to the team and, if I can do that here, hopefully someone takes notice and I can help up in Buffalo.

“You want to make you’re ready whenever the call comes and make sure you’re on top of your game so you can make a good impression.

“I usually tell myself I was actually a 14th rounder because I didn’t get picked my first year (of draft eligibility). It’s just a numbers game after the first couple of years…wherever I am I just want to be the best player I can be and take the next step; I think that’s what been driving me so far.”

PHF Announces Buffalo/CTW Games Postponed

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BOSTON, MA – (November 18, 2022) – The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) has announced that the regular season games scheduled for Saturday, November 19, and Sunday, November 20 between the Buffalo Beauts and the host Connecticut Whale have been postponed due to inclement weather conditions affecting travel. The league’s decision is made in support of prioritizing the safety of players, staff, and fans. The weekend series will be rescheduled for future dates to be determined.

(Photo by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)

Rachel Grampp Settles In As Buffalo State Women’s Hockey Coach

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2021 SABRES PROSPECTS

BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

November will always be a special month for Buffalo State College Women’s Hockey Coach, Rachel Grampp. It was just a year ago this month that Grampp was suddenly promoted to interim head women’s ice hockey coach at Buffalo State, just three games into their regular season of play.

Grampp, who had been serving as an assistant coach with the Bengals since 2019, didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. She remembers the moment very well.

“We talked to the players and told them to put their heads down and keep competing,” recalled the Williamsville, NY native. “That’s the mentality that I had.

“It was a lot more work. It turned out to be a lot of fun for all of us. We just tried to make the best of the situation.”

Today, a year later, the interim label has been removed and Grampp is the head coach of the Buffalo State squad. She had the opportunity to recruit and put her own mark on this team.

Grampp admits that she came into this season feeling better than she did a year ago when she took over the team without any prior warning.

“It definitely helps a little bit,” commented Grampp, who had previous coaching experience as an assistant with SUNY Canton in 2018-19 as well as serving as an intern coach for the U15 USA National Development Camp. “I definitely like seeing my own recruits out there and seeing how they are adapting to my system of play.

“I’m really just excited to see how we will look in a couple of years as we keep growing and keep building and keep putting the work in to make us better.”

Grampp is no stranger to girls/women’s hockey in the Western New York area. She played defense for the Williamsville Girls High School Hockey Team as well as the Buffalo Bisons before moving on to a four year hockey career at Elmira College.

(Action From An Earlier Buffalo State Women’s Hockey Game)

Does Grampp’s Buffalo State team’s style of play reflect the style that Grampp played during his playing career?

“I would love to see that, but I don’t think we’re there yet,” commented Grampp, who was the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC) Defensive Player of the Year with Elmira College. “We’re taking some of the simple things that I’ve learned as a player growing up and while I was also at Elmira and applying it.

“Honestly, it’s different when you can recruit players to play a certain style. But right now I have a group of players and we’re growing from the inside out.

“We’re creating a style that best fits us as a team versus creating a style that we’re not really fit to play.”

Unofficially, Grampp is the first player to come out of the Western New York Girls Ice Hockey Federation to become a head coach in hockey.

Grampp is considered by many to be a pioneer in girls/women’s hockey in Western New York.

“Honestly, I didn’t know that I was the first player to become a head coach in hockey, but it’s just me giving back to the hockey world that’s given so much to me,” said Grampp, who helped the Soaring Eagles of Elmira reach the NCAA Championships in each of her four seasons with them, including a pair of national runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2018. “This is where I want to be.

(Action From an Earlier Buffalo State Women’s Hockey Game)

“I wanted to be back in Buffalo. Home is a big part of who I am.

“Just to be back here, watching those high school games and recruiting some of those players and watch them develop over the next four years, it’s a lot of fun.”

Ironically, coaching hockey wasn’t really on Grampp’s radar screen until her final season of college play.

“I didn’t know that I was really interested in coaching until I was applying for grad school,” said Grampp, who completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a criminal justice minor. “I was talking with Rick Hopkins (her Williamsville Girls High School hockey coach) and he asked me if I was going to go into coaching.

“I told him no. Then I talked with a few of my other coaches and the next thing I knew I was an assistant coach at SUNY Canton with Dave LaBaff.

“He gave me full reign to anything I wanted to do. I was running drills. I was running systems.

“So was fortunate to have such a great mentor let me find my way and find what I liked and learn how to coach.

“Now it’s up to me to do something with that.”

(Photos By Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)

Abby Miller Continues To Step Up Her Game For Wilkes U.

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

Abby Miller, who plays defense for the Wilkes University Women’s hockey team, was no stranger to new Colonels head coach, Dave LaBaff, when he took over his new position.

“I had a chance to see her last year when I was coaching at (SUNY) Canton,” said LaBaff. “And I must say that she is really thriving this year, considering all the changes I’ve made in the team’s play.

“She’s really latched on to everything that the coaching staff has to say. It’s amazing what she can do out on the ice.

“And she does it all with poise, maintaining a good, steady type of play out there.”

Miller, a senior at Wilkes U, is in her fourth season of play for the Colonels. The Webster, NY native admits that in those four seasons of play she has really blossomed as a player.

“I’ve really grown as a person and player since coming here,” remarked Miller, who played for the Rochester Edge and Rochester Monarchs hockey teams before attending Wilkes U. “I really enjoy all my teammates on our team.

“This is an amazing team. All the players are supportive of each other. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.”

Why Wilkes U, located in Wilkes-Barre, PA?

“I had originally been recruited by them,” recalled Miller. “Then I went down and visited the campus and immediately fell in love with the scenery down there.

“I liked everything that they had to offer. They had everything I was looking for in a college.”

Miller describes herself as a “stay at home” type of defenseman.

“But since Coach LaBaff has come in, he has been pushing me to play more offensively” commented Miller, who was named to the 2nd Team All-MAC team in her sophomore season. “So I’ve started to get more involved with the play, the way he wants me to.

“I’m pretty happy with it.”

Miller is a psychology major at Wilkes U. She is minoring in sociology.

“I’m looking at going more into Industrial Psychology in management,” said Miller. “I’m looking at getting into things like marketing tactics and things like that.”

Did Miller find a big difference going from the style of play that the Rochester Edge and Monarchs play to that of college hockey?

“I think it comes down to commitment,” responded Miller, the daughter of James and Shannon Miller. “When you play travel hockey you have more flexibility with what you can do with the off-ice time.

“When you play college hockey you are expected to put in all the extra work to make you better as a player. If you don’t, you’re probably not going to play.

“The bottom line is you have to learn how to manage your time better.”

What advice does Miller have for young girls going up the ladder playing hockey?

“Enjoy the time you have playing hockey,” concluded Miller. “The time goes by so fast.

“These years I’ve had playing hockey have been the best years of my life. I’ve enjoyed it.”

(Photos by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)

Veterans Day 2022

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From the staff at NY Hockey OnLine, please have a safe and wonderful Veterans Day Holiday and Weekend. Thanks to all veterans, both past and present.