Monday reading: Howe mask, coach Straub, Delich, Mankato

Here is a link to some other views of CC goalie Joe Howe‘s new mask, pictured. It looks very good. I am curious if he has the Serenity Prayer on the back as he has had in the past and who the old-school goalie in the picture may be. I think his grandfather was a goalie.

Former Tiger Brandon Straub is now an assistant coach for the Pikes Peak Miners 16U AAA club team. The Colorado Springs native played four years of professional hockey in the ECHL and AHL.  In 230 professional games, Straub accumulated 9 goals, 18 assists, and racked up 612 penalty minutes.

“Brandon is the perfect complement to our staff,” said head coach Lucas Trombetta said in a press release. “I have watched him work with players in our summer development camps over the past two years, and his ability to teach kids at this level is astounding.  He has the ability to break the game down into the smallest of details and his message to players is clear, concise, and spot-on.  Brandon took a path to professional hockey that is very similar to the path that all of our Pikes Peak players are on, and his experience at the Junior and NCAA level will no doubt have a positive impact on the guys in our organization.”

Dave Delich won the Colorado Golf Association Senior Stroke Play Championship on the third hole of a playoff on Friday.

Two former MSU-Mankato defenseman signed with ECHL Las Vegas.

CS native Holmstrom signs two-way deal with Flyers

Colorado Springs native Ben Holmstrom, a former UMass-Lowell standout, signed a two-way deal with the Flyers organization for one year worth $550,000 if he plays the entire season in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL.

Holmstrom, 25, played five games with the Flyers as an injury call-up last season. In 67 games with the Adirondack Phantoms, Holmstrom scored 15 goals and 26 assists while compiling 134 penalty minutes. He was named Phantoms captain prior to last season and is a solid depth forward at the NHL level.

The contract comes after his two-year entry level free agent contract, signed with the organization in 2010. Holmstrom played at UMass-Lowell for four seasons before joining the organization. He is often a linemate  of former Tigers captain Mike Testwuide, who also signed a two-way deal recently with Philadelphia. They played together on the Pikes Peak Miners as youth players.

Pine Creek grad assumes big leadership role at Penn State

Pine Creek High School graduate Taylor Gross received a huge honor and an equally large responsibility last week when she was named as the first captain of the new NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey program at Penn State.

“Even if I was not captain, I would still need to be a leader because of my Division I experience on a team with a lot of freshmen,” she said. “But, I think we will surprise some people. We will be better than most people will expect.”

Her coach is confident too as he builds a program that will take on the likes of Syracuse and women’s national power Mercyhurst in the College Hockey America conference this October.

“Taylor is absolutely the ideal person to lead this team. She has significant experience and success at the Division I level, and has demonstrated the commitment to Penn State’s academic and athletic values in her time here already,” said Nittany Lions head coach Josh Brandwene. “She will be a tremendous leader for our program and a great mentor to our many young student-athletes.”

The 2010 Eagles graduate played on PSU’s club team this past spring semester after playing a season and a half for Hockey East member Connecticut. She appeared in 46 games during her UConn career and totaled 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists). The Colorado Springs native was the team’s 2010-11 Rookie of the Year.

She will lead 18 freshmen on a 25-player roster that includes a couple holdovers from the previous club squad. Women’s club hockey is a step down from Division III programs, which are below D-I. There is no Division II.

Gross partnered up with two fellow juniors and UConn transfers to give the club team their top scoring line despite playing only half a season. The forward did her best to contribute on the ice without overstepping her role as a newcomer in the locker room.

“I tried to be a leader but without getting in the way of the older club players who had been here for years,” the biology major said. “I stayed positive.”

Excitement is building for hockey in Pennsylvania’s Happy Valley, she said. The women will share a state-of-the-art arena when it opens in 2013 with the men’s team, which is coached by former Colorado College standout Guy Gadowsky. Terry Pegula, owner of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, donated $88 million for the Pegula Ice Arena and to bank roll the two programs.

The creation of the men’s program started a conference shuffle in Division I hockey that prompted CC to become one of the charter members of the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which is headquartered near the Broadmoor Hotel.

Gross is one of three Colorado Springs women set to play Division I hockey this winter including Rampart graduate Molli Mott, a standout forward for St. Cloud State, and defenseman Kristen Jakubowski, a former Cheyenne Mountain High School student in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute program. A fourth area player, former Minnesota captain and forward Emily West (Pine Creek), graduated in May after scoring the game-winner in the NCAA championship game.

Gross played with Mott on the Sabercats, a local Tier II high school team, and on the Tier I club Colorado Selects of Denver with Mott and West. Gross played against boys in the Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association until age 12, when her small frame – she is listed at 5-foot-1 as a college junior – led her to focus on girls’ leagues. Playing against the bigger boys certainly helped her development as a player in a physical sport, she said.

Her goal of obtaining a Division I scholarship was realized, but she soon grew tired of UConn, considered moving to St. Cloud State,  and then transferred to PSU over Christmas because of its strong academics and athletics. Because it was only a club, Gross could transfer to Penn State without having to sit out a season.

Now she is ready to lay the foundation of a new program with big-time resources and TV exposure. The men’s and women’s programs have the potential to become national powers.

“I am excited to be at Penn State,” she said. “We have a lot of good leaders among the returning club players and the (incoming) freshmen. Everyone will have to play a large role. My job is to make the freshmen feel welcome and build team unity. If we can do that, we will surprise some people who may be underestimating us.”

Monday reading: Fejes’ NHL draft ranking, West, Duluth anniversary, DU honoree, All-Americans, club news and tryout info

The NHL released its final draft rankings and CC 2012 commit Samuel “Hunter” Fejes was rated at No. 91 among North American skaters. The draft is June 22-23.

Pine Creek High School graduate Emily West, pictured at right, is bringing the NCAA women’s championship trophy to her old Denver area club team to inspire the next generation of women’s college players.

One year ago today, on April 9, 2011, Minnesota Duluth won the NCAA title (video).

Denver’s Joey LaLeggia, who led Division I rookie defensemen with 38 points, was named the Hockey Commissioners Association National Rookie of the Year, it was announced over the weekend in Tampa.

LaLeggia was also the WCHA’s Rookie of the Year. The assistant coaches of the college hockey teams vote, with each league’s rookie honoree nominated. Cornell’s Brian Ferlin, Michigan’s Alex Guptill, Bentley’s Alex Grieve and Massachusetts-Lowell’s Scott Wilson, scheduled to play at World Arena this October, were runners-up. CC travels to Cornell in mid-October over block break while Air Force may host Bentley.

Here is a full list of the All-America teams announced over the weekend, which included West first team forward and former Tiger Jaden Schwartz and second-team East defenseman Tim Kirby of Air Force. Kirby is an East honoree because the Atlantic Hockey Association is based in the Northeast.

In club news, three Pikes Peak Miners were named to their age division’s all-North American Prospects Hockey League teams. Alec Butcher leads the U18 division in goals and points and is headed to the Kenai, Alaska franchise in the NAHL. Looks like he may be one for college scouts to keep an eye on.

The Colorado Hockey Club’s (Rampage) tryouts are April 20-22 (all goalie spots full) and July 27-29. Click here for more info.

The Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association (Miners) are also holding their first tryout session April 20-22. Click here for more details.