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Amerks Re-Sign Paetsch To One-Year AHL Contract

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(Rochester, NY) — Rochester Americans General Manager Randy Sexton announced today that the team has re-signed defenseman Nathan Paetsch to a one-year American Hockey League contract.

Paetsch returned for his third stint with the Amerks in 2017-18, posting nine assists and 16 penalty minutes in 22 games while serving as assistant captain. He also appeared in one playoff contest for Rochester during the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Prior to rejoining the Amerks last season, Paetsch spent five seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins. During his time in Grand Rapids, Paetsch helped the Griffins to five straight playoff appearances and two Calder Cup championships while also serving as team captain during the 2016-17 campaign.

A native of LeRoy, Sask., the 34-year-old Paetsch has appeared in 237 career games over parts of five seasons in the red, white and blue, recording 95 points on 21 goals and 74 assists. His best season as an Amerk came during the 2005-06 campaign when he posted career-highs in goals (11), assists (39) and points (50) to lead all Rochester defensemen and finish ninth among all AHL blueliners in scoring.

In his AHL career, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound veteran blueliner has amassed 254 points (50+204) in 630 career AHL games with Rochester, Syracuse and Grand Rapids while also adding 34 points (5+29) in 104 playoff contests. During the 2016-17 season with Grand Rapids, he became just the 18th player in AHL history to play in 100 or more Calder Cup Playoff games. Paetsch has also totaled 42 points (7+35) over 167 career NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Originally a second-round pick (58th overall) of the Washington Capitals in 2001, Paetsch was later acquired by the Buffalo Sabres in the seventh round (202nd overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Canucks Sign Richard Bachman To A Two-Year Deal

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Utica, N.Y. – Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning announced today that the club has signed goaltender Richard Bachman to a two-year, two-way contract.

Bachman, 30, posted a 13-13-5 record with a .902 save percentage and 2.98 GAA in 31 games played with Utica during the 2017-18 season. The 5’10”, 175-pound goaltender has played 92 career games with the Comets, posting a 43-36-13 record, a .903 save percentage and 2.80 GAA.

Bachman originally signed with Vancouver as a free agent on July 1, 2015. He was selected 120th overall by Dallas in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

NYSPHSAA Announces 17-18 Sportsmanship Promotion Banner Award Winners

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LATHAM, NY- The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) is proud to announce Columbia High School (Section 2), West Genesee High School (Section 3), Franklin High School (Section 5) and Islip High School (Section 11) as its winners of the2017-18 Sportsmanship Promotion program.

The award is presented to schools who have developed proactive approaches in keeping sportsmanship in the forefront with their students, coaches, spectators, and communities. A total of 231 schools submitted the Sportsmanship Promotion Survey to NYSPHSAA to be considered for the banner award. From that, 41 schools were chosen by their Sections as plaque winners. This year marks the 21th year that deserving schools have been recognized by the NYSPHSAA’s Sportsmanship Promotion program, all of which will be honored at the NYSPHSAA’s Central Committee Meeting Luncheon on July 24th in Lake Placid, NY.

ABOUT THE WINNING SCHOOLS:

Columbia High School – Section 2 (6th consecutive year)
On a daily basis, Columbia displays sportsmanship reminders with signage throughout the school to promote and encourage positive sportsmanship. All game supervisors, athletic trainers, and coaches are trained on how to handle unsportsmanlike behavior. Columbia also uses community service projects like their annual Teal Run, Adopt-A-Family, Adopt-A-Senior Citizen, and Winterfest programs to promote sportsmanship within their school.

“It is a great honor to receive this prestigious award for the 6th year in a row”, said Mike Leonard, Columbia Athletic Director. “Winning this award speaks to the high level of coaches, student-athletes, school and community we have. I am so proud of our coaches who take sportsmanship and leadership to the forefront of Athletics.”

Franklin High School – Section 5 (1st time)
Franklin won the 2018 Section Five Sportsmanship Award and are first-time winners of the NYSPHSAA Sportsmanship Promotion Banner. As part of the Rochester City Athletic Conference, Franklin upholds a tradition of allowing student-athletes to rectify an unsportsmanlike decision after appropriate consequences have been administered. They believe teaching sportsmanship is a learning process.
“Sportsmanship promotion has been at the center of our focus as an athletic program and we have implemented the simple premise where we treat others how we would like to be treated”, said David Boundy, Franklin Athletic Director. “Franklin’s sportsmanship promotion focuses more on creating a well-rounded student-athlete who is equipped with the moral fiber and ethics to be successful not only in athletics, but in life as well.”

Islip High School – Section 11 (1st time)
Unsportsmanlike behavior is addressed in the preseason and postseason at Islip. Students-athletes are expected to be school ambassadors and leaders. Some of the ways they promote positive sportsmanship include greeting opposing teams as they enter their school, honoring the visiting team’s senior players on senior night and thanking the officials after each game. They constantly strive to use the educational frameworks for athletics to minimize the potential risk of unsportsmanlike behaviors before they are exhibited.

“Being recognized for this award is a reflection of our community and the importance we take to ensure a respectful environment for all”, said John V. Sparacio, Islip Athletic Director.

West Genesee High School – Section 3 (2nd consecutive year)
The topic of sportsmanship is discussed during school’s preseason parent meeting and is part of both the athletic department and coach’s handbook. Prior to all games at West Genesee, a sportsmanship announcement is made to the teams and fans. Teams also engage in various fundraisers to promote sportsmanship such as the More Than a Game Foundation, American Heart Association, Friendship Cup Scholarship, and Upstate Cancer Center.

“The Sportsmanship Banner award reinforces the overall drive behind the Athletic Department here at West Genesee,” said Mike Burns, West Genesee Athletic Director. “We try to instill hard work, dedication, sportsmanship, fair play and giving back to the community within our student-athletes and when setting up their team goals. We want our student-athletes to take ownership of their actions and to represent our community in a positive manner.”

“We would like to congratulate all the banner award winners and all the schools that work hard to promote sportsmanship in our Association,” said Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director. “To have over 200 schools submit surveys to be considered for a banner this school year shows how important sportsmanship is throughout New York State.”

Previous Sportsmanship Promotion Banner Award Winners:
2017 – Columbia High School (Section 2)
West Genesee High School (Section 3)
2016 – Byram Hills High School (Section 1)
Columbia High School (Section 2)
Cooperstown High School (Section 3)
2015 – Columbia High School (Section 2)
2014 – Columbia High School (Section 2)
Carthage High School (Section 3)
2013 – Columbia High School (Section 2)

Canucks Sign Reid Boucher To One-Year Deal

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Utica, N.Y. – Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning announced today that the club has signed forward Reid Boucher to a one-year, two-way deal.

Boucher, 24, split the 2017-18 season between Vancouver and Utica, recording five points (3-2-5) in 20 games played with the Canucks. He led the Comets in scoring with 46 points through 45 games played (25-21-46) adding 35 penalty minutes. In 132 career NHL games with New Jersey, Nashville and Vancouver, the Lansing, Michigan native has tallied 20 goals, 22 assists (20-22-42) and 18 penalty minutes.

The 5’10”, 195-pound forward was named Comets MVP this past season and received AHL Player of the Month honors in January after leading all players with 14 points (9-5-14) through 11 games. Boucher also participated in the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic.

Boucher was acquired by the Canucks from waivers on January 4, 2017. He was selected 99th overall by New Jersey in the 2011 NHL Draft.

Devils Ink Ryan Schmelzer to AHL Contract

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BINGHAMTON, NY – The Binghamton Devils announced that the club has signed forward Ryan Schmelzer to a one-year, American Hockey League contract. The announcement came today from Binghamton’s General Manager, Tom Fitzgerald.

Schmelzer, 24, racked up 106 points (40 goals, 66 assists) and a plus/minus rating of +46 in four seasons at Canisius College. The 6-foot-2, 183-pound forward was named the American Hockey Association’s Best Defensive Forward, to the Second All-Conference Team, and captured the Regular Season Championship in 2016-17. This past season, Schmelzer was named to the Third All-Conference Team and served as the team’s captain.

Following his collegiate career, the East Amherst, New York native had seven points (two goals, five assists) in seven regular-season games with the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder. In 17 playoff games, Schmelzer helped lead the Thunder to the Eastern Conference Final with 17 points (nine goals, 8 assists).

Comets Sign Forward Cam Darcy To A One-Year Extension

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Utica, N.Y. – Utica Comets General Manager Ryan Johnson announced today that the club has signed forward Cam Darcy to a one-year extension.

Darcy, 24, skated in 46 games with the Comets last season registering a career-high 24 points (6-18-24) after signing a PTO on October 5 and an AHL contract on November 30. In addition, he tallied three points (1-2-3) in five playoff games.

The South Boston, Mass. native has appeared in 136 AHL games between the Comets and Syracuse Crunch, totaling 43 points (13-30-43).

Happy Father’s Day

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Happy Father’s Day from the staff of NY Hockey OnLine.

Beauts and Babstock Agree

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Beauts announced the team has agreed to terms with forward Kelly Babstock.

A two-time NWHL All-Star, Babstock (5’7”, 8/4/1992) joins the Beauts after totaling 50 points (23+27) in 49 regular-season games during the last three seasons with the Connecticut Whale, adding four goals in five career Isobel Cup Playoff games.

“I am excited to have this opportunity to play for the Buffalo Beauts in such a great city,” Babstock said. “Next season is going to be a great one and I am excited to contribute to this organization. The fan base has always been passionate, and I am excited to play in front of a great crowd.”

The Mississauga, Ontario native tied for the Whale’s team lead during the 2017-18 season with four goals in 14 games and ranked second among all Connecticut skaters with nine points, also leading all NWHL skaters with 71 shots on goal.

Before making her professional debut in 2015-16, Babstock recorded 203 points (95+108) in 147 career games at Quinnipiac University (ECAC), finishing her collegiate career as the Bobcats’ single-game and career leader in every offensive category. Her 59-point freshman season earned her the 2011 ECAC Player of the Year and ECAC Rookie of the Year awards. Following her final season at Quinnipiac in 2013-14, Babstock was unanimously selected as the school’s Female Athlete of the Year, bolstering a senior-year resume that already included AHCA All-American and ECAC Hockey First-Team honors.

(NWHL Photo)

Sabres Sign Luukkonen To Three-Year, Entry-Level Contract

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The Buffalo Sabres today announced the team has signed goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Luukkonen (6’4″, 198 lbs., 3/9/1999) spent the bulk of the season playing professionally for Leki (Mestis) of Finland’s second division. In 24 games for Leki in 2017-18, he posted an 11-11-2 record and finished seventh in the league with a .909 save percentage. The Espoo, Finland native also represented his country at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo.

Buffalo’s second-round pick (54th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Luukkonen was rated the No. 1 European goaltender by NHL Central Scouting in 2017. During his 2016-17 campaign, Luukkonen backstopped HPK (Finland Jr.) to a championship with the league’s best goals-against average in both the regular season (1.78) and the postseason (2.01).

Florentine Returns To Hobart Hockey

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Hobart College Head Hockey Coach Mark Taylor recently announced that Tom Fiorentino ’14 (Northwood School/New Hartford, N.Y.) has been hired as the Statesmen’s assistant coach for the 2018-19 season.

Fiorentino replaces Mark Phalon who accepted a position on the Alaska Anchorage hockey staff. “Mark joins a long list of former Hobart hockey assistants who have moved up in the ranks of college hockey after their time at Hobart,” said Taylor. “It’s our belief that program success brings individual success and opportunity. His move up to a Division I program is proof of that. Mark put a lot of heart into the program here during his time and I have no doubt he will be rooting for us as we will be for him.”

Fiorentino was a four-year member of the Hobart hockey team. He served as a captain in his senior season. Fiorentino earned a spot on the ECAC West All-Academic Team three years in a row. He was presented with Hobart hockey’s Holden Award for sportsmanship, character and leadership. Following his Statesmen hockey career, he played with Les Phenix de Reims of the 1st Division of the professional hockey league in France. Fiorentino led his team in goals and ranked in the top 20 in the league in points. Following two seasons in France, he spent two season in the Southern Professional Hockey League, playing for the Evansville Thunderbolts, the Pensacola Ice Flyers and the Fayetteville Marksmen.

“Tom embodies one of our program mottos of competing with full effort and complete character,” said Taylor. “He has been committed to pursuing a career in coaching. I’ve seen his level of commitment and his love of hockey firsthand for four years and saw it follow through the next few years. I know his loyalty to the Statesmen hockey program and to Hobart College. He will help build on the success of our program. Tom is a quality citizen and person from a quality family that I am proud to have represent myself, our program and the Colleges.”

The Hobart hockey team finished the 2017-18 season with an 18-6-5 overall record and a 12-3-3 mark in its inaugural season in the NEHC. The Statesmen won their fourth straight conference tournament title and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the fourth year in a row.

Former Union Player Christiansen Named Head Coach & GM of Manchester Monarchs

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USHL Director of Player Development & Recruitment returns to coaching
The Manchester Monarchs, a member of the ECHL, announced today that Doug Christiansen has been named the team’s new head coach and general manager.

“We are extremely excited to welcome someone with Doug’s experience and accomplishments to the Monarchs,” said Brian Cheek, CEO of the Monarchs. “Doug is familiar with our system and played for our team, and we’re looking forward to continuing the winning tradition we’ve become accustomed to here in Manchester.”

Christiansen, 40, heads behind the bench for the Monarchs after spending the last four years as the USHL Director of Player Development & Recruitment. He was responsible for managing the League’s player recruitment efforts with communications targeted at players, parents, and family advisors.

Christiansen was also instrumental in expanding and growing the highly-successful USHL Development Series, which included the USHL Combines along with the Buffalo and Pacific Showcases, which featured partnerships with the Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Kings, respectively. 121 2002 birth-year players that were selected in the 2018 USHL Draft or were named to Team USA attended a USHL Development Series event, an increase from 89 from the 2017 USHL Draft. In each of the last three seasons, the USHL Development Series has featured a first round USHL Draft pick or tender, and a future member of Team USA. Alumni of the USHL Development series include Paul Cotter (Lincoln Stars), Jake Kucharski (Des Moines Buccaneers) and Braden Costello (Des Moines Buccaneers), who all participated in the 2018 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, Alex Turcotte (Team USA) and 2018 Tri-City Storm tender Ruben Rafkin.

“I have really enjoyed the four years I’ve had in the USHL. I’ve learned a tremendous amount and the highlight was meeting and helping hockey families from all over the world,” Christiansen said. “I am extremely proud of the growth of the league and believe the USHL is an outstanding path for players. I am sure the league will continue to grow and produce elite college and NHL talent. It is an exciting time for the USHL.”

It’s a bittersweet moment for our league,” said USHL President & Commissioner Tom Garrity. “We are excited about Doug’s new opportunity but sad he will be leaving our league, as over the past 4 years Doug’s efforts have been instrumental in growing the league’s exposure as the top Tier 1 junior hockey league in the United States, along with developing lasting relationships with players and their families. We wish him nothing but success.”

It is a return to coaching for Christiansen, who joined the USHL after spending seven years as the Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations for three teams in the Elite Ice Hockey League, the top professional league in the United Kingdom. He was twice named EIHL Coach of the Year, once each with the Belfast Giants (2011-12) and Edinburgh Capitals (2009-10). Under Christiansen, the Belfast Giants won a league championship in 2012 and a conference title in 2013. In addition to coaching in league play, Christiansen coached on the international stage, serving as the Head Coach of the Great Britain National Team in 2013 where he was responsible for team selection, strategy development, and game management. Great Britain attained their highest world ranking since 1989 when they climbed to #20 in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) rankings.

Prior to embarking on his coaching and management career, Christiansen played professionally in the AHL, ECHL, UHL, and Serie A (Italy) from 2002-07, including a pair of stints with the Monarchs (2004-05 and 2006-07). He played NCAA Division I hockey at Union College and played his junior hockey with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers.

(USHL photo)

Beauts Add Three To 2018-19 Roster

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Beauts announced the team has agreed to terms with forwards Julianna Iafallo and Annika Zalewski and defenseman Savannah Harmon.

“These three players bring valuable leadership and a winning pedigree with them from the collegiate level,” General Manager Nik Fattey said. “It’s unique for us to be able to add captains from three of the four teams from last year’s NCAA Frozen Four. All three players have elite skill and are very hard workers, and we are excited about the impact they will have on our organization.”

Harmon (5’3”, 10/27/1995) captained Clarkson University (ECAC) to their second consecutive NCAA national championship during her senior season in 2017-18. She also served as co-captain in 2016-17 and scored the game-winning goal for Clarkson in the 2017 national championship game that season. Drafted by the Beauts with the No. 6 pick in the 2017 NWHL Draft, Harmon compiled 113 points (30+83) and a plus-131 rating in 160 career contests.

Among her many accolades while at Clarkson, the Downers Grove, Illinois native was named a 2017-18 First-Team All-American and ECAC Defenseman of the Year in 2017 and 2018. She also finished second in the NCAA in points by a defenseman each of the past two seasons and led the nation with a plus-54 rating in 2017-18.

Zalewski (5’10”, 1/3/1996) served as captain for Colgate University (ECAC) during each of the last two seasons and helped guide the team to the national championship game in 2017-18. The New Hartford, New York native and Nichols School graduate registered 85 points (39+46) in 132 career games for Colgate. She was drafted by the Beauts with the 14th overall pick in the 2017 NWHL Draft.

A native of Eden, New York and Nichols School graduate, Iafallo (5’8”, 3/30/1996) was a co-captain for Ohio State (WCHA) during her senior season in 2017-18 and established new career highs in every category, finishing with 27 points (12+15) and a plus-19 rating in 39 games. In 146 career games for the Buckeyes, she recorded 64 points (22+42) and a plus-15 rating.

Crunch Sign Forwards Bourke and Brassart To One-Year Deals

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Syracuse Crunch have signed forwards Troy Bourke and Brady Brassart to one-year AHL contracts, general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Bourke, 24, appeared in six games with the Crunch last season, earning one goal. He also skated in 22 contests with the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL, tallying 32 points (10g, 22a) and ranking third with a plus-11 rating.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound forward has 63 points (24g, 39a) in 212 career AHL games with Syracuse, the San Antonio Rampage and Lake Erie Monsters. Bourke has also played in 43 ECHL contests with Adirondack and the Fort Wayne Komets recording 15 goals and 28 assists.

Bourke, an Onoway, Alberta native, was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the third round, 72nd overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Brassart, 24, skated in nine games with the Utica Comets last season. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound center also appeared in 50 contests with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL ranking third in both goals (23) and assists (31). His plus-21 rating was also good for third on the team.

The Vernon, British Columbia native has played in 129 career AHL games with the Comets and Iowa Wild, collecting 29 points (13g, 16a). He has also skated in 143 career ECHL contests with the Steelheads and Quad City Mallards, tallying 114 points (43g, 71a).

Crunch Re-Sign Defenseman Daniel Walcott

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Daniel Walcott to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Walcott, 5-foot-11, 174 pounds, played in 62 games with the Syracuse Crunch last season, recording five goals and 16 points with a plus-5 rating. He also appeared in seven Calder Cup Playoff games in 2018 and recorded an assist.

A native of Ile Perrot, Quebec, Walcott has played in 180 career AHL games with the Crunch and Hartford Wolf Pack. He has amassed 11 goals and 44 points with four game-winning goals. Walcott has also skated in 20 Calder Cup Playoff games, all with Syracuse in the previous two seasons, recording five assists.

The Lightning acquired Walcott’s rights from the New York Rangers on June 1, 2015 in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2015.