Sunday, July 16, 2017

Appleton Leaves MSU to Sign with Winnipeg


Michigan State has lost its captain less than three months before the 2017-18 season begins.

Rising sophomore Mason Appleton recently signed an entry-level contact with the Winnipeg Jets, rather than return to East Lansing in the fall, according to USCHO.com. The Green Bay, Wisc. native was drafted by the Jets in the sixth round (168th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Appleton, 21, led the Spartans in scoring last season with 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points in 35 games, including seven power-play goals, as MSU went 7-24-2 overall and finished last in the Big Ten. In two seasons at State, the Tri-City (USHL) product tallied 17-36—53 points in 72 outings.

MSU begins its first campaign under new head coach and Spartan alumnus Danton Cole on Oct. 7 with an exhibition game against Toronto at Munn Ice Arena.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ferguson Moving on From Nanooks



The University of Alaska Fairbanks is searching for a new hockey coach.

Longtime head coach and former Nanook defenseman Dallas Ferguson, who had helmed his alma mater's flagship program since 2008, has resigned to take the same position with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.

After beginning his coaching career as an assistant with the North American Hockey League's Fairbanks Ice Dogs in 2002, Ferguson served as an assistant coach with the Nanooks from 2004 to 2008 before being elevated to head coach. He was named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Coach of the Year in his first campaign, and the following year led UAF to its first-ever berth in the NCAA Division I Hockey Tournament, an at-large selection. The Nanooks fell to eventual national champion Boston College, 3-1, in the opening round of the 2010 NCAA Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass.

In 10 seasons guiding UAF, Ferguson, 44, finished with a career record of 139-151-42, according to USCHO.com. In five of those seasons, he led the Nanooks to 17 or more victories. UAF also won eight consecutive Governor's Cups against rival Alaska Anchorage in his time behind the bench, although three of those Cups were vacated due to self-reported NCAA violations by the university. The Nanooks finished sixth overall in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) last season, their fourth year in the league after the CCHA folded in 2013.

Ferguson was a four-year letterwinner on defense for the Nanooks from 1992 to 1996, when the UAF played its first four seasons in the CCHA. He tallied a career-high six goals and 31 assists for 37 points as a sophomore, according to hockeydb.com, and finished his career with 17-87—104 points and 64 penalty minutes in 138 career outings.

He was awarded the Shawn Chambers Top Defenseman Award three times, according to alaskananooks.com, was an alternate captain as a junior, and was voted the team captain as a senior. Ferguson, who hails from Wainwright, Alberta, graduated from UAF with a bachelor's degree in business administration, and also played five years of professional hockey.

At least three of Ferguson's former charges have advanced to the National Hockey League (NHL), including St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson, and 2010 Stanley Cup champion Jordan Hendry.

According to the UAF athletic website, Ferguson's last day with the Nanooks is Aug. 17. The Hitmen will open their 2017-18 WHL season on Sept. 22 at Kootenay, while UAF will begin its new campaign on Sept. 29 in Fairbanks with an exhibition game against Simon Fraser.

ADDENDUM: Longtime Nanook assistant coach and former Alabama-Huntsville player and assistant Lance West was named Alaska's new head coach on July 19.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

NCAA Alumni Change NHL Teams as Free Agency Period Begins




A number of former NCAA players changed NHL teams on Saturday, the first day of the NHL’s free-agent signing period.

The biggest coup was perhaps defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (Boston University) leaving the Washington Capitals to sign with the New York Rangers for four years at $6.65 million per year, according to NHL.com. Shattenkirk, who has also played with Colorado and St. Louis in his pro career, tallied 13 goals and 56 points this past season, and helped BU to the 2009 national title.

Shattenkirk wasn’t the only former Terrier on the move Saturday. Nick Bonino (BU), who just won his second consecutive Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, has joined the team that Pittsburgh beat in the final. Bonino, also a member of BU’s 2009 NCAA title team, signed with the Nashville Predators for four years and $16.4 million total. Chris Kunitz (Ferris State), a member of three championship teams in Pittsburgh, inked a one-year deal for $2 million with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Longtime NHL goaltender Ryan Miller (Michigan State) has moved from the Vancouver Canucks to the Anaheim Ducks, while netminder Brian Elliott (Wisconsin) went from the Calgary Flames to the Philadelphia Flyers, and Chad Johnson (Alaska Fairbanks) returned to the Buffalo Sabres after playing last season in Calgary. Miller won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award in 2001, while Elliott backstopped the Badgers to a national title in 2006.

Veteran NHL forward Patrick Sharp (Vermont) has rejoined the Chicago Blackhawks, with whom he won three Stanley Cups, after spending the past two seasons with the Dallas Stars. Tommy Wingels (Miami) went from the Ottawa Senators to the Blackhawks, while Brian Boyle (Boston College) will play for the New Jersey Devils after spending last season with Tampa Bay and Toronto. Former Devils forward Mike Cammalleri (Michigan) joined Los Angeles from New Jersey, while Beau Bennett (Denver) left New Jersey to sign with the St. Louis Blues.

Kenny Agostino (Yale) who helped the Bulldogs to the 2013 NCAA championship, led the American Hockey League in scoring this past season with the Chicago Wolves, St. Louis’ AHL affiliate. He signed a one-year contract with the Boston Bruins. Matt Taormina (Providence), who led all AHL defenseman during the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs with 20 points for Syracuse, has left Tampa Bay for the Montreal Canadiens.

A full list of free-agent signings is listed here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Former ECAC Players Sign with NHL Teams


A pair of former Eastern College Athletic Conference hockey players inked NHL contracts this week, one of them a heralded rookie and the other a young veteran.

Union College forward Spencer Foo signed as a free agent with the Calgary Flames after spending the last three seasons in Schenectady. According to the Flames website, the contract will be finalized and made official on July 1. Foo, 23, tallied career highs of 26 goals and 36 assists for 62 points in 38 games this past year, while leading the Dutchmen to both the ECAC regular-season crown and their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2014.

The Edmonton native tied with teammate Mike Vecchione for the ECAC scoring lead, with 44 points in 25 conference games, and likewise was a fellow Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist. In 113 career outings at Union, Foo registered 49-63—112 points.

Former Princeton University netminder Mike Condon re-upped with the Ottawa Senators after spending most of last season in Canada’s capital. According to NHL.com, the deal is for $7.2 million for three years. The Holliston, Mass. native, who began last season with Pittsburgh before being traded to Ottawa in November, finished 19-14-6 in 40 games with the Senators. He also recorded a 2.50 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage to go with a career-high five shutouts.

In 96 career NHL games with Montreal, Pittsburgh and Ottawa, Condon, 27, has fashioned a 40-39-12 record with six shutouts. He went 18-22-8 with three shutouts in 53 NCAA appearances at Princeton from 2009 and 2013.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Kariya Named to Hockey Hall of Fame


Former University of Maine star and Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Paul Kariya was announced Monday as part of the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2017. The induction ceremony will be held in November.

The Vancouver native burst on the college hockey scene in 1992-93, when paced Maine with 25 goals and 75 assists for 100 points in 39 games, while also leading the Black Bears to their first-ever NCAA title. He also became the first freshman to ever claim the Hobey Baker Award, and was drafted fourth overall that summer by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

After recording eight goals and 24 points in just 12 games the following season with Maine, Kariya then joined the Canadian National Team. He competed in the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, where he won a silver medal, one year after earning gold at the World Junior Championship, and several months before winning gold at the World Championship. He then embarked upon a 15-season NHL career that saw him tally 402-587989 points in 989 regular-season outings with Anaheim, Colorado, Nashville and St. Louis, before he retired in 2010.

A two-time 100-point scorer and a seven-time 30-goal scorer, according to hockeydb.com, Kariya also added 16-2339 points in 46 Stanley Cup playoff contests, and helped Anaheim to within one victory of the Stanley Cup in 2003. He also won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in both 1996 and 1997, earned World Championship silver in 1996, and claimed Olympic gold in 2002.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Over 60 NCAA-Related Players Taken in 2017 NHL Draft


Two current NCAA players were drafted in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, while a host of incoming collegiate freshmen also heard their names called this weekend at the United Center.

St. Cloud State center Ryan Poehling was drafted 25th overall by the Montreal Canadiens, while goaltender Jake Oettinger of Boston University went to the Dallas Stars with the very next selection. Poehling tallied seven goals and 13 points in 35 games for the Huskies last season, while Oettinger went 21-11-3 with a 2.11 goals-against average in 35 appearances with the Terriers, who had a total of seven players drafted.

Cale Makar, who is slated to suit up on defense for the University of Massachusetts this fall, was the highest-rated college-related player to be drafted over weekend, as he went fourth overall to the Colorado Avalanche. Finnish forward Eeli Tolvanen, who went 30th overall to the Nashville Predators, had been committed to Boston College, but was recently reported to have been rejected by BC's admissions office.

Rensselaer blueliner William Reilly of Rensselaer was the final player drafted this year, as he was chosen 217th and last overall by the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. A full list of college-related players taken by NHL teams on Friday and Saturday can be found here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Former NCAA Players Chosen in Expansion Draft


Several former NCAA players changed teams Wednesday in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, to help stock the new Vegas Golden Knights franchise:

Jon Merill           New Jersey  (Michigan)
Connor Brickley      Florida     (Vermont)
Jason Garrison       Tampa Bay   (Minnesota-Duluth)
Erik Haula           Minnesota   (Minnesota)
Trevor van Riemsdyk* Chicago     (New Hampshire)
Nate Schmidt         Washington  (Minnesota)

* van Riemsdyk was subsequently traded to Carolina on Thursday

The Golden Knights will also have 13 selections in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, which gets underway tonight in Chicago (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and continues all day Saturday (10 a.m. ET, NHL Network). It marks the second time in four years that the NHL Entry Draft and the NCAA Frozen Four will be held in the same city in the same year, the last coming in 2014 in Philadelphia.