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McLaughlin Receives Atlantic Hockey Association Individual Sportsmanship Award

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Former Canisius forward Dylan McLaughlin has been chosen as the recipient of the Atlantic Hockey Association’s Individual Sportsmanship Award as the league announced its major award winners for the 2018-19 regular season on Thursday.

The honor completes an already impressive awards haul for the Lancaster, N.Y., native as he becomes the first Canisius player to be recognized as the most gentlemanly player in the AHA. A three-time All-AHA selection, McLaughlin was named both the AHA Player of the Year and the league scoring champion last season on his way to being selected as a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

A native of Lancaster, N.Y., McLaughlin was one of the top players in the AHA this season, garnering All-AHA First Team accolades for the second consecutive season after ranking among the league leaders in both goals (17/2nd) and points (33/4th).

The high-scoring forward was particularly effective on the power play, placing fourth among all league players in both power-play goals (7) and power-play points (13). McLaughlin, who ranked among the league leaders with three game-winning goals, was also among the least-penalized players in the AHA as he was whistled for just one minor penalty in 28 league contests.

McLaughlin signed his first professional contract on March 13, agreeing to terms on a two-year deal with the Rockford IceHogs, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks.

(Janet Schultz photo)

Future Islanders: Otto Koivula

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By Warren Kozireski–

To say the transition for New York Islanders 2016 fourth round draft pick (120th overall) Otto Koivula to both a new country and his first season against professionals in North America has gone well is an understatement.

Add that he changed positions from left wing to center at the tender age of 20 and the level of impressiveness increases.

The 6’4” 225 lb. Nokia, Finland native leads the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in plus/minus at +16 (good for 8th among all AHL rookies), he stood second on the team in points with 41 (7th among AHL rookies) and he was third in goals as of March 19.

“The first ten games was pretty rough; I didn’t get that much ice time and I didn’t play that well, but after that it’s been great,” Koivula said in early March. “The first month I was getting used to new stuff.

As for the position change, Koivula has embraced the switch to center.

“First game was a little weird to be a center, but after that it’s been good. I like to be a centerman—more skating and being involved in the game more, so I love that. I want to be a two-way centerman. I like to play defense and offense and I want to do that in the future too.”

Koivula spent most of his later development years with the Ilves program and played for Team Finland at both the U-20 World Juniors in 2017 and 2018 and was excited to see some of his former teammates take the gold medal this past tournament.

“I didn’t watch that much, but I watched the final of course. It’s a big thing in Finland. It was a huge win for us.”

The knock on Koivula since even before he was drafted is on his skating. Some scouts had said that it would keep him out of the NHL, but he is proving them wrong so far in his first professional season.

“It’s been improving. We have a good skating coach back in Bridgeport—Bernie (Cassell) is a very good coach and we’re working on my skating almost every day before the actual practice.

“It’s getting better and I’m very happy about that. I just need a little more time to get it where I want. Month by month, but there is a lot of work left. That will be my summer, like it’s been my summer the past ten years.”

But this summer he will have proven to himself and the Islanders organization that he can compete at the next level. That may be worth an extra step.

Phantoms Sign Camillus, NY Native

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Phantoms Sign D Rob Michel to ATO
Michel Played Four Years at the University of Maine

Lehigh Valley, Pa. – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms, proud AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, have announced that they have signed defenseman Rob Michel to an AHL Amateur Try-Out for the remainder of the season.

Michel, 24, has just completed his four-year career at the University of Maine. Michel served as Maine’s captain for the 2018-19 season and played in all 36 games for the Black Bears. He finished the year ranked second on team with a +12 rating and second in penalty minutes with 55.
A native of Camillus, New York, Michel played 137 games during his career at the University of Maine. He totaled 17 goals, 36 assists, and 53 points during his four-years with the Black Bears. The defenseman is a right-handed shot and stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 194 lbs.
Prior to his college career, Michel played two seasons for the Ottawa Jr. Senators in the Central Canada Hockey League from 2013-15. He appeared in 117 games and registered 85 points on 24 goals and 61 assists and was named the CCHL Defenseman of the Year during the 2014-15 after leading all defenseman in points with 53.

NU’s Stenlund Named Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Year

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BUFFALO, N.Y. – Niagara freshman Ludwig Stenlund has been named the Atlantic Hockey Association Rookie of the Year at the conference’s annual tournament reception at the Buffalo Marriott HarborCenter. The university’s team as a whole was also honored with the AHA’s Team Sportsmanship Award.

Stenlund is the first Purple Eagle to win Atlantic Hockey’s top freshman honor, and the fourth to be named a conference Rookie of the Year. Cook and Reaney shared the award in 2006 and Chris Moran following suit in 2007 while Niagara was a member of College Hockey America.

After being selected to the league’s All-Rookie Team on March 13, Stenlund was named best in his class following a record-setting season. With five points (2 G, 3 A) against Air Force in the quarterfinal round, Stenlund became the highest scoring freshman in program history, surpassing the goals (20) total set by Ted Cook and the points (40) total jointly set by Cook and Les Reaney in 2005-06.

Stenlund made an immediate impact with the Purple Eagles, scoring twice – including the overtime game-winner – against AIC on opening night. He proceeded to go on a tear in the month of November (3 G, 5 A) and earned an AHA Rookie of the Week Award, NCAA Third Star of the Week, and the AHA Rookie of the Month for his eight-point performance. The Swedish rookie’s November included six points (3 G, 3 A) in the Battle of the Bridge against Canisius, with a two-goal, two-assist night capping off the weekend in a thrilling, 9-6 victory over the Golden Griffins on November 17.
 
In January, Stenlund went on a scoring spree that was unprecedented at Niagara. Beginning with a two-point (1 G, 1 A) night against Holy Cross on January 11, the freshman scored at least once in eight consecutive games. He tied the program record of five straight games with a goal on February 1, then surpassed Ryan Murphy’s seven-year-old mark the following day in Springfield against the Yellow Jackets. When his streak came to a close, Stenlund had amassed nine goals and five assists in just eight games. For his efforts, Stenlund was named the AHA’s January Rookie of the Month for the second time, and also became the second freshman in program history to earn Hockey Commissioners’ Association Rookie of the Month honors.
 
Stenlund’s February saw him score eight times in nine games while adding four assists for a 12-point month. Those tallies included four power play goals and a shorthanded strike, and Atlantic Hockey recognized him as the conference’s Rookie of the Week on February 5 and named him February’s Player of the Month on March 5.
 
Stenlund finished the regular season leading the nation’s freshmen with 19 goals, nine power play goals, 34 points and three shorthanded goals. Following the team’s first-round takedown of Canisius, he now has 20 goals and 16 assists in 37 games, including 10 power play goals (most among all Division I skaters).
 
The sixth-seeded Purple Eagles meet No. 5 RIT on Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinal round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs. The game marks Niagara’s return to the conference final four since the 2012-13 season.
 

Youngstown, NY Native Cecconi Signs With Stars

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Cecconi Signs Professional Contract with NHL’s Dallas Stars

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — University of Michigan ice hockey senior defenseman Joseph Cecconi has signed an entry-level contract with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, the club announced today (Tuesday, March 19). Cecconi will report to the Texas Stars, Dallas’ AHL affiliate in Cedar Park, Texas.

“I am extremely excited to sign my first NHL contract with the Dallas Stars,” said Cecconi. “I cannot wait to get to Texas and get started on my next journey. I want to give a special thank you to the coaching staff, my teammates over the past four years, and the Children of Yost for an amazing four years at Michigan.”

Cecconi, Michigan’s captain, was selected by the Stars in the fifth round (133rd overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft. He decided to return for his senior season last summer. He appeared in all 36 contests this season, recording 20 points (three goals, 17 assists). He ranked second on the team in assists and second in blocked shots (66) while also seeing significant time on the team’s power-play and penalty-kill units throughout the season.

Cecconi finished his Michigan career with 62 points (nine goals and 53 assists). The Youngstown, New York, native was a part of teams that won one Big Ten Tournament title and made two NCAA Tournament appearances. He helped lead Michigan to a 2018 Frozen Four appearance after a breakout junior season in which he set career highs in points (27), goals (five) and assists (22).

Internationally, Cecconi earned a gold medal as a member of Team USA’s World Junior Championship squad in 2017.

Cecconi becomes the 11th Wolverine to join the Stars organization and joins former teammate and Michigan captain Tony Calderone, who signed a two-way entry level contract with Dallas last spring (2018).

(Michigan Hockey Photo)

Chris Drury Named GM of 2019 US Men’s National Team

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VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 15: CHRIS DRURY - 2010 Winter Olympic Games. (Photo by Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF Images)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Chris Drury, currently in his third year as assistant general manager of the NHL’s New York Rangers and general manager of the Rangers’ AHL affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack, will serve as general manager of the 2019 U.S. Men’s National Team it was announced today by USA Hockey.Drury will be assisted by the U.S. Men’s National Team Advisory Group, led by John Vanbiesbrouck, assistant executive director of USA Hockey, and including NHL general managers David PoileDon WaddellRay SheroDale TallonStan BowmanJeff Gorton and Paul Fenton.“We’re really happy to have Chris serving as general manager of our team,” said Vanbiesbrouck. “He knows what it takes to succeed at the international level, and working with our men’s national team advisory group, which brings vast experience, success and passion to the table, we have a tremendous group in place to build our team.”“I’m honored to be asked and am excited about the challenge ahead,” said Drury, who is in his fourth season with the Rangers, including his first year as director of player development. “Our player pool continues to get deeper in the U.S. and I look forward to working with the men’s national team advisory group in putting together a roster that can compete for a gold medal.”Drury, who served as part of the management group for U.S. Men’s National Teams in both 2016 and 2017, was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015 after a 12-year NHL career that included a Stanley Cup championship with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.He competed in eight international events for Team USA during his playing career, including three Olympic Winter Games (2002-silver, 2006, 2010-silver), three IIHF Men’s World Championships (1997, 1998, 2004-bronze), one World Cup of Hockey (2004) and one IIHF World Junior Championship (1996).Additionally, Drury spent four seasons playing at Boston University (1994-98), where he helped lead the Terriers to the 1995 NCAA national championship. Drury captured college hockey’s ultimate individual honor his senior season as the recipient of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award and is also a two-time recipient of USA Hockey’s College Player of the Year Award (1997, 1998).The U.S. Men’s National Team will compete in the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship, May 10-26, in Kosice and Bratislava, Slovakia.NOTES: For complete coverage of the U.S. Men’s National Team, click here … The official online home of the 2019 IIHF Men’s World Championship is 2019.IIHFWorlds.com … USA Hockey expects to name the head coach and initial players part of the roster in the coming weeks … The U.S. has finished in the top four of the world championship in four of the last six years, with three bronze medals during that stretch, including last year … USA Hockey’s international council, chaired by Gavin Regan (Potsdam, N.Y.), has oversight responsibilities for all U.S. national teams.

Six New York State Teams Alive In College Playoffs

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By Warren Kozireski–

Approaching the third week in March, most college hockey teams have ended their seasons and coaches have already held their exit interviews with everyone on the roster. But for six New York State college teams, the dream of a national championship continues this weekend.

At the Division I level, Cornell and Clarkson both head to Lake Placid for the ECAC final four while RIT and Niagara do the same for the last two days of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs at HarborCenter in Buffalo.

Cornell is 19-9-4 after defeating Union in three games during their quarterfinal series. Nationally ranked tenth in the nation, the Big Red take ECAC Defensive Defenseman of the Year Matt Nuttle of Marilla plus New York Rangers prospect and the team’s third forward to earn First Team All-Conference honors in 32 years in sophomore Morgan Barron to a 4pm semi-final tilt with Brown.

The other semi-final pits the ninth ranked and 24-10-2 Golden Knights against Harvard. Clarkson is led by top-line forwards Nico Sturm (ECAC Hockey’s Best Defensive Forward and First Team All-Conference) and Haralds Egle with junior goaltender Jake Kielly’s sub 2.00 goals against average.

RIT survived a three-game quarterfinal victory at Sacred Heart to earn their way into the AHA final four where they will battle Niagara in the second semi-final game.

The Tigers, trying for their third conference championship in the past five year, are led by senior forwards Abbott Girduckis (Second Team pick) with Erik Brown and junior defenseman Adam Brubacher (both Third Team). They are 2-1-1 against the Purple Eagles this season with both wins coming on the road.

Niagara, winners of five of their last six games including a three-game first round playoff win over rival Canisius and a two-game sweep at Air Force in the quarterfinals, is led by Third Team All-Conference picks Noah Delmas on defense and Ludwig Stenlund up front. The latter led the nation’s freshman in scoring with 22 goals and 41 points in 39 games.

In Division III, 24-1-2 and second ranked nationally Geneseo won the SUNYAC regular season crown before overwhelming Manhattanville in the NCAA quarterfinals 8-2 last weekend. Led by the nation’s top two scorers in Andrew Romano and Conlan Keenan (Penfield) along with national shutout record setter Devin McDonald (12) in net, the Knights will battle Northeast Hockey Conference playoff champ Norwich in the first national semi-final Friday night at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

The other semifinal pits 21-7-2 and at-large bid recipient Hobart against top-ranked and undefeated host Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The Statesmen lost 2-1 to Norwich in the conference championship game—their only loss over the last 12 games—before defeating Plymouth State at home and Oswego State on the road in one-goal wins. Freshman goaltender Liam Lascelle took over the net late in the season for the Statesmen while top-liners Jonas Toupal and Zach Sternbach are among a balanced scoring attack that featured nine players with 15 or more points.

Devils Sign Union’s Walker To Amateur Tryout

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DEVILS INK RYAN WALKER TO AMATEUR TRYOUT

Walker spent the past four seasons at Union College

BINGHAMTON – The Binghamton Devils announced today that the club has signed forward Ryan Walker to an amateur tryout. The announcement came from Binghamton’s general manager, Tom Fitzgerald.

Walker, 21, played the past four seasons at Union College where he totaled 68 points (32 goals, 36 assists) in 142 games played. Walker finished 21st in all-time games played for the Dutchmen. Prior to his collegiate career, the New Jersey native recorded 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 60 games with the United States Hockey League’s Sioux City Musketeers.

The Devils return home next Friday against Springfield and Saturday against Rochester. Friday, the Devils have a special guest appearance from WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry. Fans can get a special VIP meet-and-greet package to hang out with the former World Heavyweight Champion. Then, Saturday is Superhero Night where fans can get a special Superhero Pack that comes with a FREE Devils Superhero Cape. Also, it’s the final FREE postgame skate with the players. Call or text “TICKETS” to 607-722-7367. 

Crunch Weekly Report

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Presented by Penske Truck Rental

LAST WEEK

Wed., March 13 – Crunch at Laval – W, 4-2
Fri., March 15 – Crunch vs. Hartford – W, 3-2
Sat., March 16 – Crunch vs. Binghamton – W, 4-1

THIS WEEK

Tue., March 19 – Crunch at Charlotte – 7 p.m.
Wed., March 20 – Crunch at Charlotte – 7 p.m.
Sat., March 23 – Crunch vs. Utica – 7 p.m.
Sun., March 14 – Crunch at Bridgeport – 5 p.m.

CRUNCH REACH 40 WINS FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR

The Crunch swept a three-game week and extended their points streak to seven games (6-0-1-0) to open up a season-high three-point lead in the North Division. The Crunch (40-17-4-2) also reached 40 wins for the second straight season; it’s the seventh time in franchise history and the 63 games needed to hit 40 wins are the fewest in franchise history.

Syracuse opened the week Wednesday in Laval with a 4-2 win over the Rocket, the Crunch’s fourth win in five games head-to-head. The Crunch collected two home wins to wrap up the week, fending off a late comeback bid by the Hartford Wolf Pack in a 3-2 win and then thumping Binghamton, 4-1, Saturday night to end the season series 9-1-0-0 against the Devils.

The Crunch have their sights set on the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy—awarded to the team with the best record in the AHL. No Syracuse-based AHL team has ever finished the regular season with the best record, but the Crunch enter the week three points behind the Charlotte Checkers with a two-game set in Charlotte to open the week.

TOP PERFORMERS

Andy Andreoff extended his scoring streak to a season and career-high seven games with four points (2g, 2a) in three games last week. Skating on a line with rookies Ross Colton and Taylor Raddysh, the veteran had an assist Wednesday in Laval, scored a goal Friday against Hartford then recorded his 12th multi-point game of the season (1g, 1a) in Saturday’s win over Binghamton.

In his first season with the organization, Andreoff has established new career-highs in points (48), goals (24) and power-play goals (9), while his 24 assists have matched a career-high. His 48 points ranks fourth on the team, while his 24 goals rank third on the Crunch and are tied for 17th in the AHL.


Carter Verhaeghe snapped a three-game scoring drought with his 21st multi-point performance of the season Saturday against the Devils. He set up the game’s first goal with a power-play assist—his 20th—then scored a highlight-reel goal on a partial breakaway later in the game.

With 69 points, the 23-year-old has established a new single-season record for most points during the Lightning affiliation, now in its seventh season. That also ranks tied for 10th in a single season in franchise history; the Crunch record is 79 points, set by Lonny Bohonos in 1994-95 and matched by Bill Bowler in 2000-01.

He paces the Crunch with 21 multi-point outings in 63 games; Verhaeghe entered the season with 22 career multi-point games in 135 AHL contests.


Goaltender Eddie Pasquale won both of his starts last week to extend his personal winning streak to four games, his second such streak of the season. In his first full season with the organization, Pasquale has matched his career-high with 23 wins, which he set in 2011-12 with the St. John’s IceCaps; he finished 23-12-1 in 38 games that season and is 23-10-5 in 38 games this season. He also collected his third assist of the season, establishing a new career high.

Since Jan. 18, the 28-year-old has posted an 11-2-1 record with a 1.74 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage. He has a league-high four shutouts in that span.

UPCOMING: CHARLOTTE, UTICA, BRIDGEPORT

Week 25 opens with a showdown between the teams with the best two records in the AHL as Syracuse visits Charlotte Tuesday and Wednesday. They are the final two games of the season series; two of the Crunch’s six regulation home losses are against the Checkers, but they both came in October during the Crunch’s 2-5-0-0 start. Charlotte leads Syracuse by three points for the top overall record in the AHL. Neither team has ever finished first overall in the regular season.

The Crunch’s lone home game is Saturday against the slumping Utica Comets, who have dropped out of a playoff position with seven straight losses (0-6-1-0). The Crunch lead the Galaxy Cup series with five wins in nine games.

Syracuse has a quick turnaround with a Sunday finale in Bridgeport against the Sound Tigers. They are one of five teams, including the Crunch, with at least 80 points this season. The Crunch defeated the Sound Tigers, 3-1, in their only previous meeting Jan. 4 in Syracuse.

WEEK 24 RESULTS

Wednesday, March 13 | Game 61 at Laval | W, 4-2
Syracuse 1 1 2 – 4 Shots: 8-5-8-21 PP: 1/3
Laval 1 0 1 – 2 Shots: 9-7-16-32 PP: 1/5
1st Period-Foote 8 (Andreoff), 14:28. 2nd Period-Raddysh 16 (Colton, Stephens), 18:37 (PP). 3rd Period-Dumont 10 (Unassisted), 1:14. Barré-Boulet 29 (Pasquale), 19:14 (EN). . . . Pasquale 22-10-5 (32 shots-30 saves). A-4,354

Friday, March 15 | Game 62 vs. Hartford | W, 3-2
Hartford 0 0 2 – 2 Shots: 7-7-12-26 PP: 1/7
Syracuse 1 1 1 – 3 Shots: 9-13-2-24 PP: 0/3
1st Period-Volkov 14 (Dumont, Conacher), 1:07. 2nd Period-Andreoff 23 (Raddysh, Colton), 19:27. 3rd Period-Stephens 10 (Katchouk, Brassart), 1:56. . . . Pasquale 23-10-5 (26 shots-24 saves). A-5,371

Saturday, March 16 | Game 63 vs. Binghamton | W, 4-1
Binghamton 0 1 0 – 1 Shots: 6-6-6-18 PP: 1/5
Syracuse 1 2 1 – 4 Shots: 3-11-9-23 PP: 1/3
1st Period-Andreoff 24 (Barré-Boulet, Verhaeghe), 4:02 (PP). 2nd Period-Volkov 15 (Dumont, Tammela), 1:59. Verhaeghe 28 (Stephens, Labrie), 11:42. 3rd Period-Volkov 16 (Andreoff, Thomas), 19:02 (EN). . . . Ouellette 3-0-1 (18 shots-17 saves). A-6,033

Category Average/Total AHL Rank (Prev)
Power Play 21.2% (57-for-569) 5th (6th)
Penalty Kill 84.8% (256-for-302) 4th (4th)
Goals For 3.54 GFA (223) 3rd (3rd)
Goals Against 2.46 GAA (155) 1st (1st)
Shots For 28.38 SF/G (1788) 23rd (22nd)
Shots Against 28.54 SA/G (1798) 11th (11th)
Penalty Minutes 13.92 PIM/G (877) 6th (8th)
Category Leader
Points 69 Verhaeghe
Goals 29 Barré-Boulet
Assists 41 Verhaeghe
PIM 125 Andreoff
Plus/Minus +25 Masin
Wins 23 Pasquale
GAA 2.26 Ingram
Save % 0.922 Ingram

Amerks Weekly Report

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**This Week’s Storylines**

VIEW NEAR THE TOP

The Amerks sit just three points behind the Syracuse Crunch for the AHL’s North Division lead after dropping both ends of a two-game set to the league-leading Charlotte Checkers this past weekend. The Amerks were held to just a single goal in each contest with Rasmus Asplund provided the scoring in Friday’s 4-1 loss before Kevin Porter found the back of the net in Saturday’s rematch. Coming into the week, Rochester currently sits five points ahead of third-place Toronto and have a 11-point lead on Belleville, who sit four points ahead of Cleveland for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. The Amerks have collected 37 out of a possible 54 points in their last 27 games. Among all AHL teams, only the Charlotte Checkers (41) and Syracuse Crunch (40) have more wins than the Amerks (39), who are third overall in the AHL with a .648 points percentage.

TAYLOR NEARING ELITE COMPANY…AGAIN

By way of last Wednesday’s 5-0 victory over the Utica Comets, Rochester picked up its 39th win of the season to surpass last season’s win total (37) by two victories in 14 fewer games. Second-year head coach Chris Taylor is also approaching his first 40-win campaign as head coach, and by doing so, will become the first Amerks bench boss to lead his team to 40 or more wins in a season since Benoit Groulx(44) during the 2009-10 campaign. Early this season, Taylor reached the 30-win mark for the second straight year, becoming the first Amerks head coach to lead his team to 30 or more wins in each of his first two seasons behind the bench since Hall of Famer Randy Cunneyworth, the all-time winningest coach in franchise history. 

RACE TO 20

After failing to produce a 20-goal scorer last season for just the second time in franchise history, the Amerks could potentially have five or more by the season’s end. Zach Redmond, Victor Olofsson and C.J. Smith all completed the feat earlier this season while both Taylor Leier and Wayne Simpson each have scored 19. Danny O’Regan, who reached the 40-point mark for the second time in his career on Saturday, has 18 coming into the week. The last time the Amerks had five 20-goal scorers in the same season was in 2000-01, which also included current Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. The Amerks are one of just five AHL teams this season (Hartford, Springfield, Syracuse and Utica) to have three different players with 20 or more goals.

OLOFSSON LEADING THE WAY

With his team-leading 14th multi-point (1+1) effort this past Wednesday against Utica, forward Victor Olofsson continues tolead the club in goals (24) and points (53) while his 29 assists are tied for the team lead in 61 games this season. Olofsson is just one of just four Rochester skaters to surpass the 40-point mark. A year after pacing the SHL with 27 goals, Olofsson became the first Amerk to reach the 50-point mark since Cole Schneider during the 2016-17 campaign with his second of two goals in Binghamton earlier this month. Olofsson, who earned CCM/AHL Player of the Month honors for October, is also tied for 21st in the AHL in power-play assists (15) while ranking 20th among the league’s top point-getters in overall scoring. His eight game-winning goals, two of which have come in his last nine games, are second-most in the AHL behind only teammate Zach Redmond.

RED-HOT REDS

With 19 points (5+14) over his last 16 games, which includes six multi-point efforts during that span, Redmond has scored a career-high 21 goals through 52 games, including 10 on the power-play, good enough for 11th in the league in that category. Redmond, who is currently averaging just under a point-per-game and had an AHL-best nine-game point streak to end the month of October, ranks second among all AHL defensemen with 49 points while his 21 goals and 186 shots are the most by an AHL blueliner this season. In addition to nearing the first 50-point season of his career, his nine game-winning goals are tops in the AHL.

CAREER-YEAR FOR C.J.

C.J. Smith has been piling up the points on an absolute torrid pace. With three more points (1+2) last week, which included his 22nd goal of the season, the second-year pro has amassed a whopping 34 points (16+18) over his last 30 games dating back to Dec. 5, having been held scoreless just seven times over that span. He also posted a season-long nine-game point streak in that time. Smith reached the 50-point plateau for the first time in his career and he has already established career-highs in both goals (22) and points (51) while setting a personal-best 29 assists.

A WEDGE-WALL BETWEEN THE PIPES

Scott Wedgewood,who has won seven of his last 10 and 15 of his last 22 games, owns a career-best 25-12-2 record in 41 games this season with the Amerks. In addition to his 25 wins, which are four off the league lead coming into the week, the sixth-netminder has a personal-high five shutouts, tying him for second-most in the AHL. Wedgewood, who previously won a season-long five straight to close out the month of October, has allowed one goal-against or less in eight of his last 15 starts, stopping 370 of 394 shots he faced. Over that span, he’s earned an 8-6-1 record with a 1.81 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. He also ranks fourth in saves (1,046), tied for 10th with a 2.51 goals-against average and 13th with a .914 save percentage coming into the second to last week of March.

ROAD WARRIORS

At 19-8-3-1, Rochester has the third-best road record in the AHL and have the second-most regulation wins away from home with 19 behind only Charlotte. The Amerks also have the fewest regulation road losses in the AHL this season with eight, having collected at least one point in 23 of their 31 contests away from The Blue Cross Arena. Coming into the week, the Amerks have won 13 of their last 21 road contests and five of the last seven.

PLAYOFF PICTURE

Coming into this week, Rochester’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot for the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs is 10. Of the remaining 12 games, seven are outside the Flower City, while six will be played as part of two different stretches of three games in three nights. Rochester will play 11 contests against North Division opponents, which includes three more against Syracuse and two with Binghamton.  

Regals/Jr. Sabres Alum Rutherford Making Impact at Dartmouth

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By Warren Kozireski—

The Buffalo Regals and Jr. Sabres have sent dozens of players on to play various levels college hockey.  Dartmouth sophomore Collin Rutherford (Tonawanda) is one of them.

Rutherford got off to a slow start offensively this season after his six goal, eight assist freshman campaign. But he was getting his points when it mattered most, with all but one coming against conference opponents.

Rutherford played midget-minor hockey with the Regals before two full seasons in the Jr. Sabres organization followed by two more with as USHL Clark Cup champions with Tri-City and one year later helping Des Moines earn a playoff berth for the first time in a decade before heading to Dartmouth.

Hockey is in his family blood as well as his father played at Buffalo State.

“I started off (this season) pretty well, had a couple of points at the beginning and there’s been a switch in lines so it’s nice to get some chemistry with Matt Baker and Alex Jasiek. We’re jelling pretty well. We’re a smaller line, so we like to use our speed to our advantage.

“I’m trying to play to my strengths a little more, trying to get some more confidence.”

When he first made the decision to head to the USHL from the Jr. Sabres, he first was in Cedar Rapids where he was in the line-up sporadically.

“(In) Cedar Rapids I played one game out of eight, so they traded me to Tri-City and I got in the line-up a little more and tried to make a name for myself.”

A U-18 state championship with the Jr. Sabres, a USHL league championship and helping Dartmouth to the ECAC quarterfinals last season as a freshman.

The Harvard men’s hockey team dueled familiar Ivy League foe, Dartmouth, last weekend for a spot in the ECAC’s annual mid-March pilgrimage to Lake Placid, NY.

Harvard followed its 3-1 victory on Friday with an emotional 4-3 OT clincher on Saturday, knocking out Dartmouth (13-17-4, 10-9-3) in the 13th meeting in the past four campaigns with its Hanover, NH counterpart.

(Dartmouth photo)

RPI’s Owen Savory Named To All-Rookie Team

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TROY, N.Y. – ECAC Hockey has announced its 2018-19 All-Rookie Team and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) student-athlete Owen Savory has been selected. The goaltender is also a finalist for Rookie of the Year, which will be announced at the championship banquet this weekend.

A freshman goaltender out of Cambridge, Ont., Savory played in 25 games this season, including 23 as a starter. He posted a 5-15-3 overall record, with a 2.46 goals against average and a .926 save percentage. Stopping 739 shots in 1438:00 minutes, he had one shutout – a 43-save performance against then-No. 18 Union College in the Mayor’s Cup on January 29.

Savory made 16 appearances in ECAC Hockey play, starting 15. He went 3-10-2 with a 2.56 goals against average and a .920 save percentage, stopping 459 shots in 937:50 minutes. For the year, the former St. Catharines Falcons standout made 30 or more saves 13 times and 40-plus four times.

Ranking 10th nationally in save percentage, Savory is second among rookie netminders. He sixth among freshmen in goals against average, including first in ECAC Hockey.

The ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week on February 4, Savory led the nation in saves, stopping 111 of the 113 shots he faced in three starts. Posting a 1-0-2 record, with a 0.63 goals against average and a .982 save percentage, he opened the week by shutting out Union at the Times Union Center. He then notched 28 stops in 3-1 victory over Colgate on Friday, before turning away another 40 in a 1-1 tie against No. 13 Cornell on Saturday.

Savory earned Rookie of the Week on January 21, turning away 31 of the 33 shots he faced, including all 10 in the first period, to help the Engineers to a 5-2 victory at UConn. He then stopped 10 of 11 in the second and 10 of 11 in the third to help secure the win. RPI was a perfect 3 for 3 on the penalty kill, with Savory registering five saves.

Rensselaer went 10-23-3 overall this season, including a 7-13-2 mark in ECAC Hockey play.

Beauts Fall In OT To Whitecaps In Isobel Cup Final

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (March 17, 2019) – The Buffalo Beauts fell to the Minnesota Whitecaps in the 2019 Isobel Cup Final in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday afternoon in Minnesota. Buffalo was defeated 2-1 in overtime by the top seed in the NWHL Isobel Cup playoffs, coming up short in the championship game for the second year in a row.

The Beauts made their fourth consecutive Isobel Cup appearance on Sunday afternoon, which no other NWHL team has done. For Minnesota, it won its first Isobel Cup Championship in the team’s inaugural season.

Nicole Hensley got the start in goal for the Beauts after it was announced that Shannon Szabados would not dress for the game due to a lower-body injury.

Despite getting the late nod, Hensley took the ball and ran with it, turning in an impressive 28-save performance in a losing effort.

The Beauts and Whitecaps played evenly for the majority of the first period. Buffalo did a good job matching Minnesota’s speed and outshot the Whitecaps 8-5 in the opening frame.

There were not a lot of scoring chances in the first period despite the fast-paced, back-and-forth play. A few minutes after the Beauts killed-off a two-minute slashing penalty to Kelly BabstockEmily Pfalzer scored from the top of the faceoff circle to the left of Whitecaps goaltender Amanda Leveille to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead with three minutes to go in the period.Annika Zalewski and Blake Bolden picked up assists on Pfalzer’s third goal of the season.

Minnesota would answer Pfalzer’s goal less than 90 seconds later when Amy Menke came in all alone and beat Hensley short-side with a shot just over her glove to even the game 1-1 before the first intermission.

Much of the second period looked a lot like the first. Both sides continued to play at a quick pace but scoring chances were held to a minimum.

Buffalo killed off two more penalties in the middle frame, although one kill was only 30 seconds long after Minnesota’s Amanda Boulier was called for tripping. Buffalo failed to capitalize on its 30-second advantage after 4-on-4 play ended. The Beauts would get their first full power play of the afternoon with 3:15 to go in the period but failed to score on that advantage as well.

Hensley was unbeatable in goal in the second and third periods. After seeing just five shots in the first period, she stopped all 24 shots the Whitecaps put on net in the final 40 minutes of regulation.

One of Hensley’s biggest saves came with 8:15 to go in the second period when she stuck out her left pad to stop a backhand shot from Menke after the forward split the Buffalo defense and found a prime chance to give Minnesota the lead on a breakaway.

Hensley made a few more highlight-reel stops down the stretch in the third period as well. Babstock was called for tripping and would head to the penalty box with 3:41 to play in the third period, a costly time for the Beauts to go down a skater in a tied game.

Minnesota had one of its best chances to take the lead with 18 seconds left in the power play and two minutes left in regulation when Boulier ripped a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle, but Hensley stretched out and flashed the leather to make a big glove stop. The Beauts would kill off the rest of the penalty to Babstock and force ovetime.

Minnesota’s Lee Stecklein scored the game-winning goal just 49 seconds into the overtime period. Katie McGovern won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Stecklein, who took one step in and let a shot go from the point that got deflected and made its way through Hensley’s five hole and into the back of the net.

(NWHL Photo)

Jr. Sabres Alum Evancho Making College Hockey Impact With Army

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By Warren Kozireski–

The Buffalo Jr. Sabres have sent dozens of players on to play various levels college hockey. One of them was Army junior Zach Evancho (Derby).

Evancho, through the first 21 games of the season, was tied atop the Black Knights scoring chart with 18 points and was seeing probably too much ice time on both the power play and penalty kill.

 “He’s scored goals for us all year; little guy that plays big and can really shoot the puck and sees the ice really well,” Army head coach Brian Riley said.

At 5’8” and 165 lb. Evancho often gives up four to six inches and 20 pounds on some opponent forwards, but he often takes the hit to make a breakout pass or is feathering a pass tape to tape to an open teammate.

“I try to play as big as I can,” Evancho said. “I don’t want to rely so much on skill because with the guys we play against it’s hard too, so I try to lay a little grittier, a little harder just because people don’t expect it from someone who is five-eight on a really good day.

“It’s the reason I’ve gotten this far in hockey, so I take ride in it.”

Evancho started his junior hockey career with the Jr. Sabres, jumped to the USHL in Youngstown for two years and came back to the Jr. Sabres for two more, the second where he served as team captain.

“When I left the Jr. Sabres I thought it was a good opportunity to play against top competition and it was a great organization and they treated me well. But I wasn’t getting the playing time…so I went back home and it really helped my career a lot just getting to play a lot and being a top guy on a team.

“Both organizations helped me to get where I am, but Jr. Sabres let me develop my game more and get more offensively skilled.”

His older brother Gavin played club hockey at the University of Buffalo.

“He’s the reason I got into hockey. We had a rink every winter; being in Buffalo it’s kind of natural and we would go out and skate as soon as we got home from school and then get the skates off, get in the car and go to hockey. The whole neighborhood played. It’s really been in our blood for years.

“I think it has to be the second born. We just have that drive that we want to be better than our big brother. It’s definitely pushed me to want to push past what he does, not out of jealousy, but because I want to be able to tell him I was better than him I guess.”

(Photo by Janet Schultz)