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 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 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, 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, 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 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.