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Niagara U. Men’s Hockey Names Captain

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Delmas Named Captain For 2019-20 Season

NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. – Niagara University hockey head coach Jason Lammers announced on that senior defenseman Noah Delmas has been named the team’s captain for the upcoming 2019-20 season.

“We are confident in Noah Delmas because has set the expectations of our team high as we continue to grow men through hockey,” said Lammers. “Noah embodies our mission as a person, student and player. His own personal growth has been impressive and now he has the honor to lead others by putting ‘we’ ahead of ‘me.’”

Delmas, who served as one of three alternate captains in 2018-19, is coming off a stellar junior season that saw him compete in each of the team’s 41 games. He finished fourth among all defensemen in the nation in terms of both goals (15) and points (40) while pacing the Purple Eagles with 25 assists. Over the course of the year, Delmas earned two Atlantic Hockey Player of the Week awards and was tabbed as the AHA Player of the Month for November. At season’s end, his play earned him a spot on the All-Conference Third Team.

“I am deeply honoured and filled with great pride to be chosen to lead this team of amazing players,” Delmas said. “I am committed to doing what I can on and off the ice in order to make sure we have a successful year.”

Delmas will be the 28th skater to wear the “C” for the Purple Eagles since the team reached varsity status is 1996-97. The Schomberg, Ont., native will also be the 14th defenseman to earn the designation of captain, and the first since Keegan Harper (’18) did so for both his junior and senior seasons.

“Noah is a passionate hockey player who supports his teammates and keeps them accountable,” Lammers added. “He will be a tremendous asset to our team moving forward as the next captain of the Niagara University Purple Eagles.”

Lammers noted that alternate captains will be announced prior to the start of the season.

RIT Men’s Hockey Award Winners

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ROCHESTER, NY – The RIT men’s hockey program announced its award winners at its annual end of the year banquet to close out the 2018-19 season from the Gene Polisseni Center on Saturday, April 20. Erik Brown (Keene, Ontario/Kemptville 73’s) won three team awards, while Abbott Girduckis (Belleville, Ontario/Wellington Dukes) and Adam Brubacher (Elmira, Ontario/Powell River Kings) each received two awards.

Brown won the Greg Moss Hard Hat Award and Dan and Laurie Barrows Award. He also was co-winner of the Louis Spiotti Coaches Award. Brown, a 2018 All-Atlantic Hockey first team selection and 2019 third team pick, led RIT with 18 goals this season and added 11 assists for 29 points. On. Jan. 11, Brown became the 11th player in RIT’s Division I history to reach 100 points in his career in a win over American International. He also tallied a hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Colgate on Oct. 20. He was also a 2018-19 Senior CLASS Award Second Team All-American.

Brown, who set a Division I team single-season mark with 29 goals last year, finished his four-year career with 70 goals, which is RIT’s Division I school record. He is seventh in RIT’s Division I era with 115 career points on 70 goals and 45 assists in 148 games. Brown finished second all-time in the Division I era with 26 power-play goals and 11 game-winning markers.

Girduckis shared the Louis Spiotti Coaches Award with Brown and was named the Art Thomas Award winner for outstanding leadership. Girduckis, a 2019 All-Atlantic Hockey second team selection, led RIT in scoring in 2018-19 with career-best totals of 11 goals, 25 assists and 36 points in 38 games. Girduckis recorded 10 multiple-point games in 2018-19, including a career-best four assists in a 6-1 win over Colgate at Blue Cross Arena as part of RIT’s Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend on Oct. 20. In four seasons, Girduckis recorded 93 career points on 30 goals and 63 assists in 146 games, while taking just 20 minutes in penalties.

Brubacher earned the Tim Cordick Award as RIT’s top defenseman and won the Green B. Williams Award for Academic Excellence. Brubacher, the 2017 AHA Rookie of the Year, recorded a career-best total of 31 points on seven goals and 24 assists, while appearing in all 38 games this season. He recorded eight multiple-point games, including three different three-point outings. Brubacher is now fourth all-time among all RIT defenseman in career scoring at the Division I level with 78 points on 22 goals and 56 assists in 112 games. He also excels in the classroom with a 4.0 grade-point average as a business marketing major.

Freshman Will Calverley (Scarborough, Ontario/Chilliwack Chiefs) was honored as the Craig Lauzon Award winner as RIT’s Rookie of the Year. Calverley led all RIT first-year players in scoring with 16 points on seven goals and nine assists, while appearing in 37 games.

The Dr. Albert J. Simone Distinguished Service Award is given annually to a member of the RIT hockey community who makes a positive impact on the program. This year, the award went to Rocky Perrotta. Perrotta has served as public address announcer for the Tigers since RIT moved to Division I in 2005.

RIT, the 2010, 2015, and 2016 Atlantic Hockey Champions, finished the 2018-19 season with 17 wins and advanced to the Atlantic Hockey Tournament Semifinals.

Barre-Boulet Wins AHL’s Outstanding Rookie Award

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The American Hockey League announced that Syracuse Crunch forward Alex Barre-Boulet has been voted the winner of the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding rookie for the 2018-19 season.

The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 31 cities.

Barre-Boulet scored the game-winning goal in his pro debut on Oct. 6 and went on to be the top-scoring rookie in the AHL during the regular season with 68 points in 74 games for the Crunch, also good for sixth in the league’s overall scoring race. He earned a share of the Willie Marshall Award as the league co-leader with 34 goals, and also tied for first with 17 power-play goals and shared first among rookies with six game-winners. Barre-Boulet had a 12-game scoring streak from Nov. 11 to Dec. 12 that matched the longest in the league in 2018-19, one of six stretches he had of recording a point in at least four games in a row.

A 21-year-old native of Montmagny, Que., Barre-Boulet signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Mar. 1, 2018, following a junior career in which he was selected as the Canadian Hockey League’s Player of the Year and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s MVP in 2017-18. Barre-Boulet spent four seasons in the QMJHL with Drummondville and Blainville-Boisbriand, totaling 140 goals and 197 assists for 337 points in 263 games.

This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1947, honors the late Dudley (Red) Garrett, a promising young player who lost his life during World War II while serving in the Royal Canadian Navy. Garrett split his only pro season, 1942-43, between the AHL’s Providence Reds and the NHL’s New York Rangers.

Previous winners of the Garrett Award include Terry Sawchuk (1949), Jim Anderson (1955), Bill Sweeney (1958), Roger Crozier (1964), Gerry Desjardins (1968), Rick Middleton (1974), Darryl Sutter (1980), Pelle Lindbergh (1981), Steve Thomas (1985), Ron Hextall (1986), Brett Hull (1987), Felix Potvin (1992), Corey Hirsch (1993), Darcy Tucker (1996), Daniel Briere (1998), Darren Haydar (2003), Rene Bourque (2005), Nathan Gerbe (2009), Tyler Ennis (2010), Cory Conacher (2012), Tyler Toffoli (2013), Matt Murray (2015), Mikko Rantanen (2016), Frank Vatrano (2016), Daniel O’Regan (2017) and Mason Appleton (2018).

Amerks Weekly Report

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SERIES SHIFTS TO TORONTO THIS WEEK

The Amerks look to stave off elimination as the best-of-five series shifts north of the border on Wednesday, April 24 for Game 3 of the North Division Semifinals at Coca-Cola Coliseum. Opening puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV. MSG Network will also carry Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment’s live broadcast of the matchup in Toronto with coverage available in both the Rochester and Buffalo markets.

Below is the full first-round schedule for the best-of-five North Division Semifinals between the second-place Amerks and third-place Marlies.

Game 1 | Friday, April 19 – Toronto at Rochester | 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena |TOR leads 1-0

Game 2 | Sunday, April 21 – Toronto at Rochester | 3:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena |TOR leads 2-0

Game 3 | Wednesday, April 24 – Rochester at Toronto | 7:00 p.m. at Coca-Cola Coliseum

*Game 4 | Friday, April 26 – Rochester at Toronto | 7:00 p.m. at Coca-Cola Coliseum

*Game 5 | Sunday, April 28 – Toronto at Rochester | 5:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena

*if necessary

15 Years Between Visits Proves To Be Rewarding

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ – Fifteen years.

That is how much time had passed since Rick Hopkins had been in the Williamsville School District’s Board of Education Room. Girls high school ice hockey was the topic for both visits, but with 180 degree change in reasoning for being there.

On this particular recent night, the Girls Ice Hockey Team was being honored for their accomplishments for the 2018-19 season. It was a different story 15 years earlier.

“Fifteen years ago I had a meeting with Dr. Rusin and I talked with him about what we had to do girls varsity ice hockey on the ice,” said Hopkins, head coach of the Williamsville Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Team. “It took five more years before it became a reality and the first puck dropped.

“I was in this same room 15 years ago, but I didn’t do any speaking that night. Tonight I’m here to talk and to talk about a team that brought it together at the right time and won the Section VI title as well as the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association tournament for girl’s ice hockey.

“Not only are these girl’s champions on the ice but they are champions off of it as well. Plus, it takes a community to build a championship team. And we have that here in Williamsville.”

This was a hockey team that overcame huge odds. This Williamsville Girl’s Ice Hockey team won five elimination playoff games in a period of six days.

Add to that the fact that Williamsville won the NYS championship in overtime on Jenna Cavalieri’s goal just three minutes and 12 seconds into OT. That gave Williamsville a 5-4 win over Section III champion, Skaneateles.  All of this in front of at hometown crowd at Buffalo’s HarborCenter.

On this night in front of the Williamsville Board of Education and parents, one person was missing.

“Dr. Rusin would have been very proud of this team’s accomplishments,” added Hopkins, the only head coach the Williamsville Girls’ Varsity Ice Hockey Team has ever had. “Without his vision we wouldn’t be here talking about this championship team.”

Interestingly, the captain of that first Williamsville Girls Varsity Ice Hockey team was Shauna Clair, who is now an assistant coach with the same team under Hopkins.

What is even more interesting is that six of the players on this year’s Williamsville team were not even born when the idea for a girls’ high school hockey team was discussed for the first time.

Maybe it was Elisabeth Sidorski who summed everything up the best. A captain on the team, this was Sidorski’s sixth season of play for Williamsville, having played her first season as a seventh grader.

“Our team consisted of girls from three high schools and two middle schools this year,” said Sidorski. “I think it’s incredible how a team like ours came together and played the way we did this year.

“Having lost several seniors off of our team from last year, many thought we wouldn’t do that well this year. But we decided to write our own story this year.

“Before we stepped on the ice to start our Section VI game against FLOP, Coach Hopkins brought us together in a circle and had us hold hands. It was a little awkward at first, but it soon became obvious what Coach Hopkins intentions were.

“A circle is unbreakable and just like that circle, so is this team. We share such a powerful family bond that nobody can break down and our connection would never falter.

“From that moment on we were destined to beat the defending State Champions and win not only for ourselves, but for our coaches as well.

“Everyone played their part in our team’s success. Coach Hopkins has never doubted our abilities the entire year.

“Nothing made me happier than to watch Coach Hopkins face light up as he watched the team win the State Championship. At that moment I was more satisfied winning it for him than I was for myself.

“We did something that we can be proud of the rest of our lives. Nobody can ever take it away from us.”

Earth Day 2019

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We all have to do our part to save the earth. Happy Earth Day from the staff of NY Hockey OnLine.

Steel Sign Smithtown, NY Native To Tender

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CHICAGO STEEL SIGN RYAN UFKO TO TENDER. University of Massachusetts commit will join Steel for 2019-20 season.
The Chicago Steel announced Wednesday the signing of top prospect defenseman Ryan Ufko of the North Jersey Avalanche (U16) to a USHL tender agreement for the 2019-2020 season. Ufko, 15, is committed to the University of Massachusetts (Hockey East). 
Ufko is just the second-ever tender by the Chicago Steel after the team signed forward Robert Mastrosimone to a tender exactly two years ago on April 17, 2017. “We are extremely excited to welcome Ryan and his family to the Chicago Steel,” said Steel General Manager Ryan Hardy. “Our scouting department had Ryan pegged as the top-rated 2003-born, right shot defenseman in the United States based on our evaluation criteria.” The Smithtown, N.Y. native is currently in his first season playing for the North Jersey Avalanche.
The defenseman had 79 points (16-63-79) in 83 games this season while amassing a +81 rating. Ufko was part of the North Jersey Avalanche U16 team that advanced to the USA Hockey Nationals Quarter-Finals. “Ryan is a highly intelligent, puck-moving defenseman with impeccable character who will thrive in our development environment for the next few seasons,” said Hardy.
 “I am excited to continue my hockey career next season with the Chicago Steel,” said Ufko. “I chose to come to Chicago because of the program’s enhanced focus on player development and the way the coaching staff looks at every detail to help make each player better every day.” 
Now in its eighth year, the USHL tender process allows teams to sign up to two 2003 birth year players prior to the 2019 USHL Phase I Draft, which takes place next month. Ufko’s signing will take the place of Chicago’s first-round pick in the 2019 USHL Phase I Draft. If the Steel tender a second player, that signing would take the place of a second-round selection in the USHL
Phase I Draft. The final day for USHL teams to sign a tender is May 4 at 5 p.m. Tendered players are required to play in 55 percent of a Member Club’s games during the regular season, notwithstanding injury, illness or suspension. Ufko is the fourth tender signed this season, and second from the North Jersey Avalanche as fellow defenseman Dylan Gratton signed with the Muskegon Lumberjacks on April 9.

Thunder’s Henry Wins Community Service Award

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PRINCETON, N.J. – Adirondack’s James Henry has been selected as the recipient of the 2018-19 ECHL Community Service Award.

Each ECHL team was given the opportunity to nominate a player for their efforts supporting community and charitable causes during the 2018-19 season. The nominations were voted on by League Office personnel.

As a year-round resident of Glens Falls, New York, Henry is an integral part of the Thunder’s community outreach throughout the year. Last summer, he attended events at Saratoga Polo, delivered tickets to corporate sponsors including the Glens Falls Youth Center and sampled food at Taste of the North Country while representing and promoting the Thunder.

During the season, he was in four different schools as part of the team’s reading and Good Move programs, showcasing the benefits of healthy eating, daily physical activity and good sleep.

Each year, along with his wife Ashley, they select a community initiative to try to benefit to the best of their abilities. This season, from some of their past personal experiences, the Henry’s chose Mission 22, which aides in the prevention of veteran suicide. Through their ideas, which included a Mission 22-themed warmup jersey auction, the Thunder donated over $7,500 to Mission 22.

The other nominees for the 2018-19 ECHL Community Service Award were: Gary Steffes (Allen), Nathan Todd (Brampton), Justin Vaive (Cincinnati), Ben Masella (Florida), Jamie Schaafsma (Fort Wayne), Travis Howe (Greenville), Mitch Moroz (Idaho), Mathew Thompson (Indy), Eli Lichtenwald (Jacksonville), Jimmy Mullin (Kalamazoo), Rocco Carzo (Kansas City), Louie Rowe (Maine), Nic Pierog (Manchester), Todd Skirving (Newfoundland), Ty Reichenbach (Norfolk), Andrew D’Agostini (Reading), Patrick Megannety (South Carolina), Tyler Spezia (Toledo), Steven Kaunisto (Tulsa), Taylor Richart (Utah), Aaron Titcomb (Wheeling), Tyler Elbrecht (Wichita) and Connor Doherty (Worcester).

ECHL Community Service Award Winners
2018-19 James Henry, Adirondack Thunder
2017-18 Jeremy Beaudry, Wichita Thunder
2016-17 Mike Embach, Fort Wayne Komets
2015-16 Rob Florentino, Florida Everblades
2014-15 Cal Wild, Brampton Beast
2013-14 Dan Eves, Cincinnati Cyclones
2012-13 Andy Brandt, Gwinnett Gladiators
2011-12 Jason Fredricks, Ontario Reign
2010-11 Chris Frank, Elmira Jackals and Dustin Sproat, Cincinnati Cyclones

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Future Sabres: Will Borgen

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By Warren Kozireski–

Add Brendan Guhle to the list of young defensemen, three taken in the first round of the draft, the Buffalo Sabres have dealt away over the past six years that also included Tyler Myers, Brayden McNabb, Mark Pysyk and Nikita Zadorov. The difference between this year and the past is that the front office feels they have several other developing prospects on the blueline including Lawrence Pilut and Will Borgen.

Most casual hockey fans won’t even notice Borgen—he plays such a quiet game in his own zone and doesn’t rack up the points in the offensive zone. Paired with Nashville acquisition Jack Dougherty for much of the season, the two have become the shutdown pair for Rochester head coach Chris Taylor.

And he shows up every day missing just one game in January. Just what every contending team needs is a steady stay-at-home defenseman.

The Moorhead, Minnesota native spent three years on the St. Cloud State University blueline where he tallied 41 points in 106 games. He also was named to the U-20 Team USA World Junior team in 2016 during his freshman year when he was also honored on the NCHC All-Rookie team. When he decided to leave college a year early, he was able to play eight games in the AHL late last season, which helped in his preparation for this year.

The fourth-round pick in 2015 (92nd overall) stands 6’2” and 187 lb. He started the season slowly from an offensive perspective with only five points over his first 49 games, but began to contribute from that point forward with nine points over his last 22. That also earned him a four-game NHL call-up to Buffalo so the coaching staff and brass could see where he is developmentally and whether he could be ready sometime next season.

“I was nervous, especially before the game but I think that’s expected,” Borgen said in the Sabres locker room after his March 27 NHL debut against Ottawa. “I had to wait a little, but once I got it (his first shift) out of the way it helped.

“I’m not trying to be a player that I’m not. Just tried to give it to the forwards and let them do the work.

“As soon as my coach (Rochester’s Chris Taylor) called me up and told me, I got really excited,” Borgen said to Inforum reporter Chris Murphy. “It was a pretty crazy moment. I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was out of the blue. To get told you’ll be up in the NHL, it’s a pretty awesome moment.”

(NHL.com photo)

Wilson Signs Contract Extension

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RIT men’s hockey Head Coach Wayne Wilson signs contract extension through 2024-25 season

ROCHESTER, NY – RIT Men’s Hockey Head Coach Wayne Wilson signed a contract extension through the 2024-25 season, announced by Lou Spiotti Jr., Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.
 

Wilson, who recently wrapped up his 20th season behind the bench at RIT in 2018-19, has an overall record of 366-254-67. He has led the Tigers to three Atlantic Hockey Championships and three NCAA Division I Tournament appearances, including an appearance in the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four.
 
Wilson is the only head coach to win both the Edward Jeremiah Award (2001 Division III National Coach of the Year) and the Spencer Penrose Award (2010 Division I National Coach of the Year).

“We are thrilled to be able to extend this offer to Wayne, whose contributions, success, track record and legacy has meant so much to our men’s hockey program and the university,” said Spiotti. “We believe in all of the things he has done, going back to Division III and a string of success that is unique to Division I hockey. We are looking forward to working with Wayne and his staff to bring RIT to the forefront at the national level.”

The Tigers have won at least 20 games in a season eight times under Wilson. In 2010, Wilson led the squad to a 28-12-1 record, while making its storied run to the Frozen Four. Since moving to Division I in 2005, RIT has a 194-122-44 record in Atlantic Hockey league play, with four regular season championships and three conference titles (2010, 2015, 2016).

In 2015, RIT knocked off the No. 1 team in the country for the first time, defeating Minnesota State in the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinal. Last season, RIT finished with 17 victories and advanced to the Atlantic Hockey Tournament Semifinals.
 

Under Wilson’s tutelage, the Tigers have not only excelled on the ice and in the classroom, but have become active members in the community, with several fundraising initiatives for organizations such as Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation for Breast Cancer Education and Awareness, “One Team One Fight”, and Testicular Cancer Foundation of Western New York among others.  
 
Wilson began his tenure as RIT’s head coach in 1999. Prior to RIT moving into Division I, he led the Tigers to three NCAA Division III Tournament appearances, including the national championship game in 2001.
 
“It’s been a great 20 years and I am excited to continue being a part of our program’s future,” said Wilson. “I’m thrilled with how the program has grown and evolved over the last 20 years. I am excited to try and lead our program to more NCAA appearances and another Frozen Four with a great staff in (associate head coach) Brian Hills and (assistant coach) Dave Insalaco. We are looking forward to the challenge.
 
I believe in the vision of our leadership team from (RIT President) Dr. Munson, (RIT Senior Vice President of Student Affairs) Dr. Sandy Johnson and Lou Spiotti. I am excited to be a part of RIT’s future growth.”

(RIT Photo)

Happy Hockey Easter

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Happy Easter to all of our followers from Randy, Janet, Koz and Michael.

Five From NYS With NHL Draft Hopes

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ZEGRAS AMONG FIVE FROM NEW YORK WITH 2019 NHL DRAFT ASPIRATIONS

By Warren Kozireski–

Bedford, NY native Trevor Zegras expects his name to be called in the first round of the upcoming NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver June 21-22 and it may come within the first ten selections.

The center (6’0”, 169 lb.) and Boston University commit finished with 14 goals and 26 assists in 27 USHL games with the U.S. National Development Team (NDTP). He was ranked seventh in the Midterm Rankings, but rose to sixth among North American skaters in the final rankings released this week.

Among the New York natives or those with current or future New York ties to improve their midterm ranking the most are Clarkson commit Anthony Romano. The 5’10”, 182 lb. center netted 47 points in 60 games with Sioux Falls in the USHL and rose from 76th at midterm to 52nd in the final rankings.

Thornwood native and Boston University to-be freshman Domenic Fensmore also bettered his rank jumping from 89 at midterm to 68th. The small, puck-moving defenseman (5’6”, 151 lb.) registered 32 assists with six goals in 48 games as Zegras’ teammate with the NTDP.

And Cornell recruit Matthew Steinburg, a 6’0”, 182. lb. center, had the highest jump in the group leaping 46 spots from 179 at midterm to 133 after dominating offensively at St. Andrews College in Ontario, Canada with 33 goals and 42 assists in 56 games.

Elmira’s John Beecher, a 6’2”, 210 lb. center with the NTDP and headed to the University of Michigan, rose four positions to 49 in the final rankings. He had a solid 12 goal, 39-point campaign along with 80 penalty minutes in 56 games.

5’10”, 167 lb. NTDP defensemen Marshall Warren saw his ranking drop from 39 to 61. The Laurel Hollow, Long Island native and Harvard bound left shot finished with 31 points in 51 contests.

Boston University recruit and Clarence Center native Case McCarthy is slotted 77th after ranking 41st at midterm. The former Jr. Sabres blueliner stands 6’1”, 194 lbs. and had 25 points in 56 games.

Clarkson University commit Alexander Campbell, with Victoria in the BCHL, went from 42nd to 43rd after the left wing netted 67 points in 53 games. Future teammate Ethan Haider is ranked 16th among North American goaltenders after his campaign with Minnesota in the NAHL.

Future Colgate Red Raiders goaltender Carter Gylander, with Sherwood Park in the AJHL. The 6’4”, 165 lb. won 16 games with a 2.43 goals against average and .915 save percentage and is slotted 12th among North American netminders.

R.P.I. bound and 6’1”, 181 lb. center John Beaton rose 11 spots to 177 after finishing with 47 points in 56 games with Kemptville in the CCHL.

Cornell commit Jack Malone rose ten spots to 82nd as the right wing registered 59 points in 57 games with Youngstown in the USHL.

And Buffalo Jr. Sabres center Ty Glover fell from 203rd to 215 after he struggled a bit offensively in the second half of the season. the 6’2”, 194 lb. center had 19 goals and 42 points over 47 games in the OJHL this season. He is committed to Western Michigan University in 2020-21.

O’Brien Wins Dr. Rusin Memorial Award

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ—

Dan O’Brien is the 2019 Recipient of the Dr. James Rusin Memorial Award.

The Rusin Award is given in the memory of Dr. James Rusin, honoring dedication and commitment to Girls Varsity Ice Hockey in Western New York.

O’Brien is certainly worthy of the award, considering what he did to help establish a girl’s varsity ice hockey team in Niagara County.

“I was shocked when I was told I had won the award,” stated O’Brien, who is a Finance Manager for First Student, the bus company.  “I’m honored to have won the award.

“I had to think about all of the people that made this happen. It wasn’t just me. It was a team of people that helped get this girls hockey team in Niagara County.”

A hockey seed was planted 15 months ago. It was planted on Monday, Feb. 12.

That’s when a group of 12 parents and students representing a proposed Starpoint High School girls ice hockey team, made their presentation to the Starpoint Board of Education meeting held at the Starpoint Middle School.

Headed by O’Brien, a presentation was made during the open session of the meeting proposing to begin a girl’s varsity high school hockey team for the 2018-19 season.

“The girls that are interested in playing would become part of a team that would play in the Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation, which currently has seven teams,” said O’Brien that night. “Starpoint would become the eighth team.”

Following several months of phone calls and meetings, Starpoint, along with Niagara-Wheatfield High School, merged to form what is now known as the Niagara County Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Team.

It is the first Niagara County-based team to play in the WNYGVIHF. The other seven teams that make up the Section VI Girls Fed are located in Erie County.

O’Brien admits there were several anxious moments leading up to that first game for the Niagara County team.

“Even after we had gotten school boards on board and athletic directors on board, there was some questions regarding the financing of the teams,” said O’Brien who is married to Diane and they have two children, Nick and Natalie. “The budgets were looked at and budgets were tweaked a bit.

“A lot of phone calls were made and talk was going on between many of the parents. In the end we had a team on the ice.”

The Niagara County team went through a lot of adversity including having a winless season, not knowing until the day before the first practice began if they would have a team or not, among other things.

“Our coaching staff did a great job of organizing things and keeping the girls focused all season long,” added O’Brien. “We had a great group of parents and fans who followed us all season long.”

What is in the future for the Niagara County team?

“My understanding is that two more schools are going to join the Niagara County team,” concluded O’Brien. “Of course we will be there supporting the team.

“Whatever is needed I’ll be glad to help.”

Amerks Redmond Named AHL’s Top Defenseman

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REDMOND NAMED WINNER OF EDDIE SHORE AWARD AS AHL’S OUTSTANDING DEFENSEMAN

Veteran blueliner joins Steve Kraftcheck, Al Arbour as the only Amerks ever to receive the award


(Rochester, NY) – The American Hockey League announced today that Zach Redmond of the Rochester Americans is the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman for the 2018-19 season.

The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 31 cities.

Redmond finished the 2018-19 regular season with career-best totals of 21 goals (tops among all AHL defensemen) and 50 points, along with a plus-13 rating in just 58 games for the Americans, who finished with the fourth-best record in the AHL. He tied for the overall league lead with nine game-winning tallies and ranked first among blueliners with 10 power-play goals (tied) and 200 shots on goal. Redmond, who broke a 46-year-old franchise record for goals by a defenseman in a single season, was also voted a First Team AHL All-Star this season following a Second Team selection in 2017-18. He joins AHL Hall of FamerSteve Kraftcheck (1959) and Hockey Hall of Famer Al Arbour (1965) as the only Amerks ever to receive the Eddie Shore Award.

An eighth-year pro from Traverse City, Mich., Redmond has totaled 65 goals and 132 assists for 197 points in 314 career AHL games, as well as nine goals and 29 assists in 133 NHL contests with Buffalo, Montreal, Colorado and Winnipeg. Redmond, who has successfully resumed his career following a potentially life-threatening laceration to his femoral artery in 2013, was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008 and was acquired by Buffalo in a trade with Montreal on Oct. 4, 2017.

This award was first presented by the AHL in 1958-59 in honor of the late Eddie Shore, a member of both the Hockey Hall of Fame and the American Hockey League Hall of Fame who is widely regarded as one of hockey’s greatest defensemen. Shore won a total of seven Calder Cups in his career, including two as the general manager of the Buffalo Bisons and five as the longtime owner of the Springfield Indians. Previous recipients of the Eddie Shore Award include Steve Kraftcheck (1959), Bob McCord (1961, ’67), Al Arbour (1965), Jim Morrison (1966), Noel Price (1970, ’72, ’76), Brian Engblom (1977), Terry Murray (1978, ’79), Dave Farrish (1982), Brad Shaw (1987), Dave Fenyves (1988, ’89), Eric Weinrich (1990), Darren Rumble (1997), John Slaney (2001, ’02), Niklas Kronwall (2005), Johnny Boychuk (2009), Mark Barberio (2012), Justin Schultz (2013), T.J. Brennan (2014, ’16), Chris Wideman (2015), Matt Taormina (2017) and Sami Niku (2018).

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Sixteen clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway Wednesday.