Monday, July 16, 2018

Largen Takes Over Hometown Nanooks


My latest USCHO feature story, on new Alaska (Fairbanks) head coach and Nanook alumnus Erik Largen, is now online here. Fairbanks native Largen, a former UAF goaltender and assistant coach, is the ninth head coach in modern Nanook Hockey history.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Former Hockey East Players Highlighted




Two former Hockey East players recently re-signed with their respective NHL teams, while another will have his jersey number retired next season.

Former NCAA forward Devin Shore (Maine) and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (UMass Lowell) have resigned with the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets, respectively, while Paul Kariya (Maine) will have his number retired by the Anaheim Ducks next season.

Shore played at Maine from 2012 to 2015, where he tallied 34 goals and 70 assists for 104 points for the Black Bears. A native of Ajax, Ont., he was a second-round draft choice of Dallas in 2012, and has compiled 24-41—65 points in all while playing the last two full NHL seasons for the Stars.

Hellebuyck, from Commerce, Mich., played at UML for two years (2013, 2014), and fashioned a 38-12-2 record with a 1.60 goals-against average, .946 save percentage and 12 shutouts in 53 outings. He also backstopped the River Hawks to two NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Frozen Four berth in 2013, and two Hockey East tournament titles. A finalist for the Vezina Trophy this past season as the NHL's best goaltender after fashioning a 44-11-9 record, he has gone 83-41-14 (2.55, .917) in 149 career appearances over the past three NHL campaigns.

Kariya, from Vancouver, became the first freshman to win the Hobey Baker Memorial award as the NCAA's best player in 1992-93 when he tallied 25-75--100 points and also helped Maine to its first-ever national title that year. After skating for the Canadian National Team in the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, he turned pro and went on to record 402-587—989 points in 989 NHL regular-season contests with Anaheim, Colorado, Nashville and St. Louis over 15 seasons before retiring in 2010.

A five-time 30-goal scorer with the Ducks, including a pair of 100-point seasons, Kariya added 16-23—39 points in 46 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, and helped the Ducks to within one win of the Stanley Cup in 2003. A two-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last year.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Ferguson Back in NCAA with Denver


Former University of Alaska (Fairbanks) defenseman, assistant coach, and head coach Dallas Ferguson is returning to the college game as an assistant coach with the University of Denver.
He spent last season as head coach of the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, compiling a 24-37-record.

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 UAF from 2004 to 2008 before being elevated to the rank of 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 overseeing the Nanook hockey program, 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. 

Ferguson was a four-year letterwinner on defense for the Nanooks from 1992 to 1996, as UAF played its first four campaigns 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 collegiate outings.

At DU, Ferguson will join former Nanook forward and head coach Tavis MacMillan, whom Ferguson assisted from 2004 to 2007 at UAF. The Pioneers, 2017 NCAA champions, won the NCHC playoff crown last year, but fell to Ohio State in the NCAA Midwest Regional final in Allentown, Pa.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Former Collegians on the Move in NHL Free Agency


A number of former college players changed NHL teams over the last week, both before and after the league's annual free agent frenzy got underway.

Prior to the beginning of the free agency period on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Penguins dealt forward Connor Sheary (Massachusetts) and Matt Hunwick (Michigan) to the Buffalo Sabres for a conditional 2019 draft choice. Pittsburgh later signed defenseman Jack Johnson (Michigan) of the Columbus Blue Jackets to a five-year contract. Jimmy Hayes (Boston College) and John Muse (Boston College), who both helped BC to its 2010 NCAA title, joined the Penguins from the New Jersey Devils and Reading (ECHL), respectively.

Power forward and 30-goal scorer James van Riemsdyk (New Hampshire) returned to the Philadelphia Flyers after six seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the latter club pulling perhaps the biggest coup in free agency this summer by signing New York Islanders captain and All-Star forward John Tavares.

Paul Stastny (Denver) has jumped from the Winnipeg Jets to the Vegas Golden Knights. Tage Thompson (Connecticut) went from the St. Louis Blues to the Buffalo Sabres as part of a four-player trade, while Tyler Bozak (Denver) has re-upped with the Blues for three years. Jay Beagle (Alaska Anchorage), who helped the Washington Capitals win their first-ever Stanley Cup this spring, has left Washington after decade to join the Vancouver Canucks, while Nic Dowd (St. Cloud State) has signed with the Caps after spending last season with the Canucks.

Brian Gibbons (Boston College), a two-time NCAA champion with the Eagles, parlayed his most successful NHL season to date by leaving New Jersey for the Anaheim Ducks, while Eric Gryba (Boston University) went to the Devils from the Edmonton Oilers. Longtime pro netminder Mike McKenna (St. Lawrence), who backstopped the Dallas Stars' American Hockey League franchise to within one win of the AHL's Calder Cup championship, has signed with the Ottawa Senators, as has former New York Rangers forward Paul Carey (Boston College).

A full list of recent NHL transactions can be found here.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Bowling Green's Reirden Takes Over with NHL's Capitals



Todd Reirden (Bowling Green) is the new head coach of the NHL's Washington Capitals. The Illinois native, who has served four years as an assistant or associate coach with the Capitals, takes over the top job after Barry Trotz resigned earlier this month. Trotz subsequently joined the New York Islanders after leading Washington to the first Stanley Cup title in franchise history this spring.

Reirden began his coaching career at BGSU in 2007-08, before moving on to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League as an assistant the following year. After serving as head coach of the WBS Penguins for the next season-and-a-half, he moved up to the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins as an assistant in 2010. He stayed there for four seasons before joining the Caps in 2014 as an assistant, before being promoted to associate head coach in 2016.

A defenseman as a player, Reirden skated four NCAA seasons at BGSU (1990-1994), collecting 25 goals and 51 assists for 76 points to go with 160 penalty minutes for the Falcons. A second-round NHL draft choice of New Jersey in 1990, he turned pro with Tallahassee of the ECHL in 1994-95. He would suit up for two more ECHL teams and three International Hockey League teams before making his NHL debut in 1998-99 with the Edmonton Oilers.

Reirden would go on to skate in 183 career NHL regular season contests for Edmonton, St. Louis, Atlanta and Phoenix, tallying 11-35—46 points and 181 PIM. He also played for five different AHL teams before concluding his career in Austria in 2006-07.

Reirden, 47, becomes the second former Central Collegiate Hockey Association player to become an NHL head coach this off-season. He joins Rod Brind'Amour (Michigan State), who is now head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Former NCAA Players Sign with ECHL Clubs



Several former NCAA Division I forwards were recently in the news regarding the ECHL, the primary Tier II or Double-A league for professional hockey, according to the league's website at ECHL.com.

Alex Kile (Michigan) became the first-ever player to sign with the new Maine Mariners franchise that will begin play in the fall. He spent last season with Cincinnati (ECHL), recording 15 goals and 13 assists for 28 points in 46 games, after tallying 40-40—80 points in 130 games at Michigan from 2013 to 2017.

Joe Cox (Michigan State) re-signed with the Florida Everblades after helping them to within one victory of the ECHL's Kelly Cup playoff title earlier this month. He recorded 22-32—54 points in 70 regular-season games, before adding six goals and 16 points in 21 playoff outings. He collected 28-41—69 points in 143 games at MSU from 2013 to 2017.

Woody Hudson (St. Lawrence) re-signed with the Worcester Railers after posting 10-19—29 points in the team's inaugural campaign in 2017-18. He registered 19 goals and 35 points in 140 games at SLU from 2013 to 2017, and then turned pro with Indy (ECHL) following his senior NCAA season.

Bo Brauer (Notre Dame) has signed with the South Carolina Stingrays after helping the Fighting Irish to within one victory of the NCAA championship in April. He notched a career-high five goals and eight points in 35 appearances last season, and finished his career with 8-5—13 points in 64 games overall.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Hutsko Headlines 2018 Boston College Draftees


Logan Hutsko (Boston College) was the lone current member of the BC men's hockey team to be drafted on Saturday at the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas. The Florida native was chosen in the third round, 89th overall, by the Florida Panthers.

A former member of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Hutsko overcame both a neck fracture and a cracked kneecap prior to college to tally 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points as a freshman for the Eagles in 2017-18. He also helped BC to last season's Hockey East regular season title.

Incoming BC freshman Jack McBain, son of retired NHL player Andrew McBain, was the first choice of the third round, and went 63rd overall to the Minnesota Wild. The 6-foot-3 center recorded 21-3758 points in 48 regular-season appearances last year with his hometown Toronto Junior Canadiens in the Ontario Junior Hockey League. On the first day of the draft on Friday, incoming BC forward Oliver Wahlstrom was selected 11th overall by the New York Islanders.

Two former Eagle defensemen were involved in trades over the weekend. On Saturday, Noah Hanifin was traded from the Carolina Hurricanes to the Calgary Flames, in a deal that also involved former Calgary draft choice Adam Fox (Harvard) going to Carolina. Hanifin played just one year at BC, and helped the Eagles to the 2015 NCAA Tournament by notching five goals and 23 points in 37 outings. He has collected 18-6583 points in three complete NHL seasons, all with the Hurricanes.

On Friday, two-time Stanley Cup champion Brooks Orpik was dealt from the Washington Capitals, whom he helped to their first-ever Cup earlier this month, to the Colorado Avalanche. A member of BC's 2001 NCAA championship team, Orpik notched 41 points and 324 penalty minutes in three seasons at the Heights, and has registered 185 points and 940 PIM in 14 full NHL campaigns.