In the pros: O’Connell starts career off 2-0

DSCF0396Anchorage-based goalie Drew O’Connell, a former Tiger, picked up a win against his hometown ECHL Aces when the Ontario Reign needed an emergency fill-in netminder. He stopped a penalty shot  in a 3-1 win.

That so impressed the Reign, who took O’Connell on the plane back for a home game against Las Vegas (19 saves including one penalty shot) and a 4-1 victory.

The wins were first reported by the Anchorage Daily News who first reported on their hometown goalie and noted he had filled in as a backup for the Aces a few times last season. As of Wednesday night, O’Connell’s pro stats are 2-0-0, 1.00 goals-against average, .944 save percentage and 44 saves, including two penalty shots, in 65 minutes (5:00 scoreless relief on Jan. 11).

Here is a good game story featuring O’Connell’s exploits against the Aces and how former Air Force player Jacques Lamoureux passed on word through his brother (and North Dakota alumnus) Mario about O’Connell being available. That is reason No. 2,349 why I love college hockey.

In the pros: Lampl, Crabb

Lampl with SteelheadsHeavily tattooed former Tiger Cody Lampl, pictured while he was playing for Idaho,  will have some new ink to add; the name of he and his wife Ellie’s first child who is expected to be born sometime this week.

My favorite quote of the article:  “It has refocused me. I’m playing for diapers now.”

Joey Crabb continues to spark the Alaska Aces.

Friday reading: Hall contract,Tech jerseys, Army obit, PSU arena

Former Tiger Tim Hall, pictured, performed well enough late last season to get another contract with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces, who travel to Colorado to face Arthur Bidwill‘s Eagles Oct. 12-13. Unfortunately for Tiger fans, CC opens against Clarkson that weekend. Colorado hosts Alaska Wednesday, March 20 and Friday-Saturday March 22-23, which is the WCHA Final Five weekend.

Hall, 22, will enter his first full pro season after joining the Aces as an amateur last year. A week after his CC career ended, Hall made his pro debut in mid-March. He appeared in eight games for Alaska and registered a pair of assists. He also played in five postseason games for Alaska. The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Pennsylvania native and defensive forward finished with 40 points (16g, 24a) in 135 college games. As a senior, Hall recorded five goals and three assists in 34 games. Four of his five goals came in the final 12 games of the year. Hall was a mathematical economics major who twice made the WCHA All-Academic team. His best offensive production came as a sophomore when Hall had 18 points (5g, 13a) in 38 games and received the team’s Most Improved Player Award.

Michigan Tech has announced its three new jerseys for the coming season. Here are links to the home white, the road black and gold alternate pictures.

From Tech sports information: “This design is a throwback to the 70s, when Tech played in three straight NCAA Championship games,” said head coach Mel Pearson, who lettered for the Huskies from 1977-81. “As I said when we released the black jersey, we want to honor the tradition and long-standing history of the Michigan Tech hockey program.”

The Army hockey program is mourning the death of former player and officer representative Tom Kennedy, who was killed in Afghanistan. He was stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado after leaving West Point.

The first seating section for Penn State’s Pegula Ice Arena was installed Tuesday night.

In the pros: Bidwill signs with Colorado Eagles

Arthur Bidwill saw a chance to move up a level in pro hockey and return to Colorado. He gladly took it.

The former Colorado College defenseman said he signed a one-year contract recently with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles.

“After last season (in the Central Hockey League) ended I was looking for the best fit,” he said Friday. “It is great that I get to stay in Colorado. I really enjoyed my four years at CC. I know the Eagles have a really good fan base. It will be fun.”

Bidwill played four postseason games with the CHL’s Allen (Texas) Americans, with former teammate Brian McMillin, who recently re-signed with the franchise. Bidwill’s season ended early with a knee injury in the playoffs. He he fully recovered by the team awards brunch in May.

Bidwill did well in his short time in the CHL, finishing plus-7 thanks in part to the slower, more controlled pace on the NHL-sized sheets of the CHL, especially when compared to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. He knows the ECHL (which used to be an acronym for East Coast Hockey League) will be a step up in speed and skill.

“I do not know really what to expect,” he said. “I hope I can contribute. I know I will go in, work hard and then we will see what happens.”

The preseason starts Oct. 5 with the Eagles hosting the expansion franchise San Francisco Bulls with the regular-season opener at home against Alaska, which has Tim Hall on its protected list, on Oct. 12 at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.

Monday reading: Tigers in the playoffs, Zaba video, J. Schwartz honor

Former Tigers Trevor Frischmon (No. 28) and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders' top affiliate, saw their season end on Sunday night with a 4-3 OT loss to Connecticut. The Whale swept the best of five AHL playoff series, 3-0.

Colin Stuart, captain of the Rochester Americans, will try to stave off elimination when his team hosts the Toronto Marlies on Monday night in the league’s only game.

Nate Prosser returned from an unspecified injury and the Houston Aeros defense held together for a 1-0 win Sunday at Oklahoma City to keep the best-of-five series going. The West top seed Barons still lead 2-1 in games.

Brian Connelly recorded an assist in Abbotsford’s 4-2 win Sunday night at Milwaukee. The Heat lead the series 2-0 and head back to B.C. for Game 3 on Wednesday.

The Foxes celebrate their championships in Italy's top pro hockey league.

Here are highlights of the Bolzano Foxes’ perfect (12 wins in 12 games) run to the franchise’s record 19th Italia Serie A championship as shown in this highlights video that features goalie Matt Zaba (No. 1, black headgear). The Foxes wear red and white.

Top hockey prospect website HockeysFuture.com selected Jaden Schwartz, drafted 14th overall in 2010, as an honorable mention after  his sophomore performance with Colorado College and as captain of the bronze medalist Canadian world juniors team.

The USA U18 team brought home yet another gold medal.

In the ECHL playoffs, Alaska will host Las Vegas, probably on Friday, to open the Western Conference finals. Brian Swanson and Tim Hall play for the top seed Aces. No former Tigers play for the Wranglers.

In the pros: ECHL, AHL playoffs update

San Antonio's Mark Cullen had a big game against Chicago in the AHL playoffs on Saturday night.

In the AHL, Mark Cullen picked up two assists, including the first assist on the game-winner in San Antonio’s 4-3 win over Chicago, which plays Bill Sweatt.

Gabe Guentzel played his second playoff game for Syracuse and finished plus-2. David Civitarese has yet to appear for Hershey in the postseason.

Today is a busy day for former Tigers with Bridgeport’s Trevor Frischmon trying to avoid elimination in the best-of-five series against Connecticut while Houston hopes to do the same at OKC. Abbotsford, which features Brian Connelly, will try to take a 2-0 lead at Milwaukee this afternoon.

Former Tiger Brian Swanson assisted the opening goal as the Alaska Aces defeated Stockton 4-1 in Game 5 of their ECHL second-round playoff series and advanced to the Western Conference finals for the sixth time in the franchise’s nine years. They Aces will face the winner of the Las Vegas-Idaho series (LV leads 3-1).

Tim Hall played for Alaska. The loss ends Ryan Lowery’s stay in Stockton He may now be called up to AHL Oklahoma City, which holds a 2-0 lead in its best-of-five series against Houston, which has Kris Fredheim, Nate Prosser and Chad Rau on its roster.

Thursday reading: Schedule; Early departures; In the pros

CC will play North Dakota four times next season according to a tentative schedule compiled by the Grand Forks Herald. The dates are UND at CC Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and the Tigers in Grand Forks Jan. 11-12.

J.T. Brown joined the growing list of WCHA early departures.

Former Tiger Tim Hall remains a member of the ECHL Western Conference champion Alaska Aces as is forward Brian Swanson and goalie Drew O’Connell who made his pro debut in a 5-1 loss in relief (seven saves on eight shots) on Feb. 11

Joey Crabb is an unrestricted free agent this summer. It remains to be seen what the Leafs’ offseason plans may be after another disappointing season.

Chad Rau was sent down to AHL Houston to free up a roster spot for rookie Jason Zucker. The Wild need to give the DU junior some ice time to determine his role.

UConn is looking to become the 12th member of Hockey East.

It is now a week until the Frozen Four begins. Here’s some game notes from Minnesota.

Sunday reading: NCAA bracket, J. Schwartz (first NHL goal video), Hall, M. Stuart, Guentzel

Minnesota Wild's Nate Prosser, left, and Carolina Hurricanes' Brandon Sutter exchange punches during a fight in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 17, 2012, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Here’s the NCAA bracket in pdf format so you may print it out.

Former Tiger Jaden Schwartz scored his first NHL goal on his first shot in his NHL (also pro) debut for St. Louis. Here’s video of the eventual game-winning goal. Wow. Congratulations to him. The win clinches a playoff berth for the Blues.

Tim Hall recorded two assists in Alaska’a 3-1 road win over Colorado to clinch the ECHL Mountain Division title.

NEW YORK (AP)Winnipeg Jets defenseman Mark Stuart was fined $2,500 by the NHL on Saturday for his hit on Washington forward Marcus Johansson on Friday night. No penalty was called on the play in the second period of the Jets’ 3-2 victory over the Capitals.

Gabe Guentzel did not make his pro debut Saturday as hoped. His next chance is Wednesday at home against Rochester, which includies Colin Stuart.

Saturday reading: J. Schwartz, Guentzel, Hall, playoff recaps, previews

Here’s a preview of tonight’s St. Louis at Tampa Bay game when former Tiger Jaden Schwartz will make his NHL debut. (TV: 5 p.m. Mountain FS Midwest, SUN Network).

Expect Gabe Guentzel, pictured at left, to make his pro debut Saturday night for AHL Syracuse against Adirondack and former CC teammate Mike Testwuide. Guentzel will wear No. 10 judging from the roster.

Tim Hall made his pro debut for ECHL Alaska in a 3-1 loss at Colorado. It reads like he played his defensive role well, drawing two penalties.

Here’s a lot of good information on CC and its available personnel next season by the Gazette’s Brian Gomez: CC wing Dakota Eveland will not play next season after offseason neck surgery this Tuesday. Look for one or two more 2012 commits or one of the 2013 players to be brought in a year early.

North Dakota could be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, judging from the latest Pairwise rankings, if it wins its third Broadmoor Trophy in a row against Denver tonight in the WCHA Final Five championship game. ( TV: 6 p.m. Mountain ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain). Here’s plenty of recap and preview notes.

Western Michigan cruised past Miami in the CCHA semifinals on Friday. Top remaining seed Michigan defeated last-place Bowling Green State 3-2 in double overtime to end the Falcons’s memorable run at an NCAA berth.

In Hockey East, Maine downed Boston U in one semifinal while Boston College ended No. 7 seed Providence’s Cinderella run. Maine plays BC at 6 p.m. Mountain (TV: NBC Sports Network).

In the ECAC, Harvard kept its NCAA hopes alive by advancing to tonight’s championship against top seed Union. Harvard is rated at No. 19 in the Pairwise and must win the automatic berth to move on.

In the Atlantic, Air Force will take on No. 3 seed and host RIT tonight (Radio: 1300 AM, 5 p.m. Mountain)

Update: Watch Hall make ECHL debut Friday night against Colorado Eagles

Former Tiger forward Tim Hall signed an amateur tryout agreement on Thursday for an unspecified amount of time with the ECHL defending champion Alaska Aces and will join the team in Loveland for Friday and Saturday’s games at the Colorado Eagles.

Hall will make his pro debut Friday night in a road game against the Colorado Eagles. The Aces contacted him Wednesday and he jumped at the chance to show where he could fit into a team that features former Tiger and NHLer Brian Swanson as captain and all-time ECHL career goals scorer Wes Goldie.

“I’m going to be a third or fourth line guy,” he said. “They have a lot of skill on this team so they have their offense taken care of. I’ll come in, provide some energy and hopefully chip in a few points.”

The Aces are affiliated with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues organization and Peoria of the AHL.

The Aces can clinch the Mountain Division title with a win this weekend.

Hall finished his Tigers career with 40 points (16g, 24a) in 135 games including five goals and three assists in 34 games this past season.  However long his time with the Aces last, Hall is hopeful he’ll be able to take advantage of his chance.

“It’s a great place to start,” he said. “The Aces are a great organization. I hope I do well this weekend and make the most of this opportunity.”

That makes him the first of the six seniors to sign a pro contract. Gabe Guentzel will sign a deal with AHL Syracuse on Friday.