Minor League (Not) Monday: Zykov on Fire, Another Brodeur Netminder, Shake-up in Roanoke

AHL

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-If you haven’t already, you have to start to keep an eye out for Valentin Zykov in Charlotte. With 17 goals already this season, he’s tied with Lehigh Valley’s Danick Martel with most goals in the league. In fact, Zykov is on a five-game goal-scoring streak, where he has tallied seven goals in that span. Zykov also has topped his goal output form last season in 40 less games. A former 2nd Round pick by the LA Kings, Zykov was a throw-in by LA for Kris Versteeg at the 2016 Trade Deadline; to which the Carolina Hurricanes organization is reaping the benefits.

-I know I’ve mentioned how great the Manitoba Moose turnaround has been, but it keeps on going for them. They haven’t lost in regulation in 14 games with the shootout loss happening between a nine-game and currently a four-game winning streak. They are 13 points up on 2nd place Rockford while boasting two players in the top-10 in scoring in Jack Roslovic (14g, 16a) and Mason Appleton (9g, 18a). Add that to the superb goaltending of Michael Hutchinson (11-1-2, 1.71, .950) and you have a team with the right chemistry for this revitalization for the Moose.

ECHL

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-Say what you will about goaltending being in the family, but Jeremy Brodeur has been making quite the name for himself in his early going with the Allen Americans this season. In 13 games this season, one-half of Martin Brodeur’s twin boys is 6-2-1 while being top-five in save percentage at .930 in this early season. Brodeur has been taking the reins from Stephon Williams in net with Riley Gill being injured, which could be a nice little changing of the guard for the Americans if Brodeur can keep this going.

-There’s not much to cheer about for the Jacksonville IceMen, who have only five wins on the season, but Emerson Clark has provided a solid stat-line for the fans. Tied for the team lead in points with Alexandre Goulet, Clark’s 113 PIMs in only 19 games is possibly the most impressive of any hockey player. Bringing the old school toughness back with the playmaking and scoring ability to keep him relevant in the ECHL.

SPHL

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-It will be interesting to see how the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs will respond to Sam Ftorek getting fired for Dan Bremner. It hasn’t been easy for Roanoke, but at the same time– maybe a shake-up for the team will do them well. With the SPHL having such a short season, the need to right the season early on is crucial. You almost have to wonder if it could be too late to turn the season around, though they are only two points away from a playoff spot. Of course, with the new “Pick Your Poison” playoff format, the team would want to improve their spot and actually be a threat, rather than a one-and-done team. Time will tell, but maybe getting a coaching change will be a wake-up call to the players. Plus, with Bremner’s experience playing in the SPHL, it’ll help the players realize the urgency to get back on the winning track.

MINOR LEAGUE MONDAY: P-Bruins Rolling, Williams Pride of the Monarchs, DeLaVergne is All or Nothing

AHL

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-The streaky team of the week is the Providence Bruins, who have won their last seven games. After getting embarrassed 8-2 by Charlotte on November 25th, the P-Bruins haven’t lost and have won four of the seven game in extra time. While Kenny Agostino hasn’t been able to get into a rhythm that got him the MVP last year, Austin Czarnik has been picked up the scoring with 21 goals in 18 games. There’s a tough patch for the P-Bruins, who won’t play on home ice until January 5th as they go on an eight-game road swing.

-Despite being minus-six in the goal differential category, the Texas Stars have still managed to be one of the hotter teams in the Western Conference. With eight wins in their last ten, including their current three-game winning streak, the Stars are looking to add a little more punch to their game. However, they’ve taken a hit with Jason Dickinson getting called up to the NHL. While Travis Morin and Curtis McKenzie hold down the fort, the Stars will need to get more consistent secondary help, as well as some key stops from their goaltending. Rookie Landon Bow has been solid with 10-4-0 record, but the hope is that he’ll improve on his 2.65 GAA as the season goes on and he continues to adjust.

ECHL

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-Charles Williams is a great story. The rookie goalie from Manchester has been a great addition to the every day line-up, leading the ECHL in GAA (1.98) and save percentage (.936) while being tied for second in wins (10) . This is after he had an amazing season at Canisius College (21-7-5, 1.82, .949) after transferring from Ferris State due to lack of playing time. With a chance to get playing time, Williams got into the top-10 in voting for the Hobey Baker Award and was Canisius College men’s player of the year. Williams went a perfect 3-0-0 when he joined the Monarchs at the end of last season.

-While he hasn’t gotten any weekly or monthly awards, Michael Joly out of Colorado should be getting plenty of recognition. Sure, he’s a Cy Young nominee (many more goals than assists)– but his 19 goals and six power play goals lead the league. With the help of Matt Register and Drayson Bowman, Joly and the Eagles are in prime position to defend their Kelly Cup title in the franchise’s last season in the ECHL.

SPHL

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-Mike DeLaVergne is an interesting subject. He leads the SPHL in GAA (1.98) and save percentage (.944), as well as being undefeated in regulation– but in his two losses he’s given up three and five goals a piece, but in his wins– it’s one or less. DeLaVergne is really an all-or-nothing goalie. It will help the Huntsville Havoc for DeLaVergne to push Keegan Asmundson and maybe get more time between the nets. For a team in the middle of the standing– it’ll probably come down to the goaltending to get them into a better spot in the playoffs.

Minor League (Not) Monday: Sommer at the Summit, ECHL North Heating Up, SPHLers Moving on Up

AHL

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-A big congratulation to Roy Sommer of the San Jose Barracuda for getting his 700th AHL career win this past weekend. Sommer has been a soldier for the San Jose Sharks organization since he came in as an assistant coach in 1996-97. He has coached San Jose’s AHL affiliate since 1998 from Kentucky to Cleveland to Worcester and now San Jose. For a guy who has never coached in the NHL, he should be considered for the Hockey Hall of Fame when he’s done, not only for the wins record in the AHL, but for being 3rd all-time for most games coached in the professional ranks, currently at 1,833– behind only Barry Trotz and Scotty Bowman.

-The hottest team in the Eastern Conference is the Syracuse Crunch. With a six-game winning streak, the Crunch have been able to get back into the North Division playoff picture. Though Cory Conacher is up with the Lightning, Michael Bournival and Matthew Peca have been able to pick up the slack. A balanced attack on offense has been able to help, as well, with 13 players potting at least three goals on the season.

ECHL

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-The North Division could be one of the races to look at as the season goes along. All the teams are sitting at .500 or better to start the season, with only five points separating the fifth spot from the top spot. While the Manchester Monarchs are trying to get some distance with their four-game winning streak, Wheeling is right behind them with three of the top-ten in scoring on their roster (Cody Wydo, Reid Gardner, and Garrett Meurs). Reading, Adirondack, and Brampton are still contenders and who knows what Worcester could be doing as they keep going along.

-Though they are following Toledo in the standings, Cincinnati has a strong scoring presence, with both Shawn O’Donnell (10pts in seven games) and Justin Danforth (9pts in six games) with two of the longest point-scoring streaks in the league. With Eric Knodel helping out on the power play and Anthony Peters holding down the fort in net– the Cyclones are in a prime spot to battle Toledo for top-spot in the Central.

SPHL

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-One of the biggest stories is how the downfall of the affiliation in Norfolk of the ECHL plucked a lot of players from the SPHL. Max Cook (Fayetteville), Nick Miglio (Peoria), and John Rey (Birmingham). As the season goes on, depending on the fate of the Admirals, more names could be going that way. While it’s good for those players and the league to be a developmental asset, the teams may feel the crunch, especially if it’s late in the season and they lose a top guy when they need them the most.

Maryland Pro/Developmental Report: 12.04.17

About a month ago, I did the whole thing about how Maryland does have plenty of players who were born there that are taking on solid roles in minor pro hockey, as well as Major Juniors, NCAA, and USHL. In a follow-up to that, why not do a report each month about how they’re doing through the year?? All filler, no killer– right??

AHL

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Nick Ellis, Bakersfield Condors (Millersville): 5-5-1, 2.82 GAA, .914 Sv%: While he did take Player of the Week honors earlier in the year, the season since hasn’t been to kind of Ellis and the Condors. The Condors are next to last in the league, while Ellis has been okay enough to get to the .500 mark. However, with Cam Talbot going down, it has allowed for Ellis to get his first NHL call-up of his career.

Sam Anas, Iowa Wild (Potomac): 3g, 7a, +1: The Landon School product has had a lot better sophomore year to start out with, if not a little streaky in his scoring. While he hasn’t gotten the power play minutes yet, it seems that the Wild are relying on him when it comes to that secondary scoring on this Wild team that continues to improve.

ECHL

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Nick Sorkin, Wheeling Nailers (Rockville): 3g, 16a, +1: It’s been a helluva start to the year for Sorkin, picking up on the point-per-game scoring clip he left in Wheeling last season. Sorkin is second on the team in assists, while being tied for third in helpers in the ECHL.

Jack Burton, Indy Fuel (Reisterstown): 0g, 1a, 18 PIMs: The first year pro, Burton hasn’t had much production when it comes to his time in Indy, but not much has worked out well for the Fuel this season. His time will come, as we all know defensemen take longer to hone a pro game coming out of college.

Eric Sweetman, Idaho Steelheads (Woodbine): 0g, 2a, -3: Much like Burton, the rookie year hasn’t been all that productive as of yet for Sweetman. The Team Maryland and Washington Little Caps prospect is coming off of four seasons at St. Lawrence and still trying to find his footing in the pro game.

SPHL

Mike Chen, Knoxville Ice Bears (Rockville): 3g, 6a, +6: The small rookie defenseman is making his way in the SPHL, tied for fourth in points by a defenseman with nine, while leading all rookie defensemen in scoring. Chen is currently on a three-game points streak with a goal and four assists in this streak.

OHL

Adam Varga, Mississauga Steelheads (Bel Air): 0g, 4a, -8: The young prodigy out of Maryland has had a rough go of it as a 16-year-old in the OHL with only four assists to his name. Of course, having to get up to the OHL speed from the Mid-Atlantic U16 is going to take time, but he has the ability to be an impact player so long as the Steelheads commit to training him properly.

USNTDP

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Patrick Giles, US National Development Program (Chevy Chase): 7g, 6a, +4: The Boston College commit is going to be focus on in the mid-rounds of 2018 NHL Draft and, despite playing only five games thus far at the USHL level, he has played plenty for USA Hockey’s U18 team, netting five goals and 11 points in 20 games, while also serving as an alternate captain at the U18 Five Nations Cup.

NCAA

Jerad Rosburg, Michigan State (Clarksville): 0g, 1a, 20 PIMs

Matt McArdle, Lake Superior State (Odenton): 0g, 2a, 23 PIMs

Colin O’Neill, U-Mass Lowell (Odenton): 1g, 5a, +1

Jason O’Neill, Providence (Odenton): 0g, 5a, +1

Bruce Racine, Colgate (Bethesda): 0-1-0, 5.00 GAA, .833 Sv%

 

 

Minor League Monday: Marlies Rolling, Herbert Streak Snapped, Sholl Leading Thunderbolts

AHL

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Photo by Christian Bonin/TSGphoto.com

-With seven-straight wins, the Toronto Marlies are again atop the AHL in points, which should be no surprise. The past few years, the Marlies have been the favorites as the season went on, though they have no Calder Cup to show for it…yet. Andreas Johnsson has led the way for the Marlies with 17 points on the year, which includes his current seven-game point streak (4g, 5a). Garret Sparks has dazzled in net with a 1.50 GAA to go with his ten wins on the season.

-The team chasing the Marlies for league supremacy is the Manitoba Moose. After finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference their first two years back in the AHL, the Moose have been quite a surprise this year with their young stars finally getting the hang of playing in the pros. Both second-year pros Jack Roslovic (11g, 11a) and Brendan Lemieux (5g 6a) are better than a point per game– 1.05 and 1.10 respectively– while veteran Mike Sgarbossa (8g, 12a) and Buddy Robinson (7g, 7a) have provided solid secondary scoring. A bigger surprise is the bouncing back of Eric Comrie (8-4-1) who has been solid in net for the Moose with a 2.30 GAA and .927 save percentage in 13 games.

ECHL

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-A round of applause to Caleb Herbert, who finally had his 17-game point-streak snapped on Friday night. The Swamp Rabbits’ forward had 11 goals and 17 assists for 28 points during the streak that began since the beginning of the season. Herbert, unsurprisingly, leads the ECHL in points, with teammate Allan McPherson two points behind him before a trio of Wheeling Nailers pop up– Cody Wydo, Reid Gardiner, and Garrett Meurs.

-With points in seven of their last ten, the Colorado Eagles are making the most of their last season in the ECHL in their title-defense season. Michael Joly is leading the way in the ECHL in goals with 13 and has only one of his 16 games has been held pointless. Matt Register has helped out on the back-end quarterbacking the power-play and holding down play in his own end. All the while, Joe Cannata has been a near-perfect 7-0-1 on the year since being placed in Colorado by the Avalanche from San Antonio.

SPHL

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-Quietly, the Evansville Thunderbolts are having a great sophomore season in the SPHL. The play of Tomas Sholl since he came from Macon, he’s been solid with a 4-1-0 record with a 2.00 GAA in Evansville. Justin MacDonald is leading the league in goals with nine, while MacDonald, along with Dylan Clarke and John Scorcia are point-per-game players. The Thunderbolts also boast a great road record with points in six of their eight road game on the season (5-2-1). With one more road win, Evansville will match their entire road win output from last season.

Minor League Monday: Baby Pens Rolling, Pat Nagle’s Dominance, RiverKings Looking For Crown

AHL

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-It’s about time to talk about the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. With only one shootout loss in their last 11 games, the Baby Pens are the class of the AHL so far this year. The interesting part is that there’s not one Penguin in the top-20 in scoring. That said, Daniel Sprong has been great this season with nine goals in 14 games. After major shoulder surgery kept him out most of last season, his first full pro campaign has been off to a good start. Casey DeSmith has also been a great find for the Penguins, going 8-0-1 this season and in the top-five in GAA and save percentage.

-The Chicago Wolves are feeling the expansion crunch. While they have some players still from the St. Louis Blues, the Wolves do have the majority of Vegas Golden Knights prospects– though they are not the top of prospects. Sure, it doesn’t help that both goalies were plucked from Chicago to get into Vegas and they had to scramble to get Kasimir Kaskisuo from Toronto to make sure they had someone to play. The play of quadruple-A player Teemu Pulkkinen has been one of the small bright spots, but unless Maxime Legace or Oscar Dansk come back soon– it could be a huge uphill climb from the basement for the Wolves.

ECHL

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-Pat Nagle is continuing his solid play in the ECHL, but this time it’s with the Toledo Walleye. After signing with the Grand Rapids Griffins this summer, Nagle was assigned to Toledo and since then, hasn’t lost in regulation. With a 10-0-2 record to start the season, Nagle is filling the void that was left when Jake Paterson was not given a qualifying offer. It’s hard to say that Nagle hasn’t been the top ECHL goalie over the past four years, as he is 93-29-17-4 since the start of the 2014-15 season, which includes playoffs.

-In a very top-heavy South Division, the South Carolina Stingrays are possibly the underappreciated team of the top-four. With points in eight of their last 10, the Stingrays have gotten it done in every way possible. The return of Jeff Jakaitis hasn’t been as great as his record shows, while having him post a 5-1-1 record, his GAA and save percentage are among the worst in the league (3.13/.884). However, Steven Whitney and Nick Johnson has created the goals with six a piece, while Joe Devin and Kelly Zajac have provided the set-ups.

SPHL

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-Quietly, the Mississippi RiverKings are putting together a great start to their season. Tied for first in the league, the 7-2-0 RiverKings have gotten contribute from all-around, especially from the newcomer Donald Olivieri, who has three goals in his three games with Mississippi. Both Devin Mantha and Derek Sutliffe lead the team with four goals a piece, while Tyler Green is 5-1-0 and tied for wins in the league.

Minor League Monday: Checkers, Gladiators Streaking Upward, Bulls Not So Much

AHL

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-It may not be because of the move to the Eastern Conference, but the Charlotte Checkers are out to one of the best starts in the AHL this season. Despite only Lucas Wallmark being in the top-20 in points, they are tied for most goals in the league. Valentin Zykov and Warren Foegele are in the top-15 in goals this season, while Alex Nedeljkovic has taken over the reigns from Jeremy Smith and has not lost a game in his seven starts yet this year.

-After missing the playoffs their first two years back into the league, the Manitoba Moose are looking to change that this year. With points in eight of their last 10 games (6-2-1-1), the Moose are atop the Central Division. After finishing up last season with 11 points in 10 games, Jack Roslovic is continuing to lead the Moose with eight goals and 17 points in the first 15 games for the Moose.

ECHL

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-Following an 0-4 start, the Atlanta Gladiators have woke up and put together a 7-0-0-1 record since the first four games. Phil Lane and Thomas Frazee have been a huge factor, both of whom have had a nine-game scoring streak with Frazee’s being snapped on Saturday (4g, 10a), while Lane’s (8g, 6a) continues on.

-Despite being at the bottom of the Mountain Division, the Rapid City Rush have won four-in-a-row, including a weekend sweep of the Kelly Cup champion Colorado Eagles. Kenton Miller has been the offensive leader with seven goals and 11 points, but the real question going forward is how their goaltending is going to fare. Even with Adam Vay and Steve Michalek getting the last four wins, you have to wonder if they can keep up the solid play and lower that team GAA of 3.76.

SPHL

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-The start of the revamped Birmingham Bulls is probably not what everyone thought was going to happen…or maybe it was for an expansion team. Through six games, the Bulls are winless and only have six goals for the entire season while giving up 22. If there is a bright spot, it might– oddly enough– be in their goaltending. Mavric Parks has the most saves in the SPHL and is fourth in save percentage (.914) even though he sports an 0-5-0 record.

-Pensacola is still undefeated and it’s interesting that they aren’t the top scoring team in the league. Their balanced attack has put three players in the top-10 in points (Stephen Hrehoriak, Garret Milan, Jessyko Bernard) while also having a great goaltending tandem in Sean Bonar and Greg Dodds. If they can stay healthy– they will be the class of the league once again.

Fixing the Minor League System

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Photo taken from N2B Goal Horns’ YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BCELxhOAFw)

Yesterday, I talked about the Draft system in the NHL and how it is a broken system when it comes to the player’s rights and actual development with the team overall. However, the only real way to fix this system is to totally overhaul the minor league system as we see it today.

The idea to have a 31-31-31 system is a great idea for hockey– but are there 93 markets out there that are strong enough to keep things solidified for a decent amount of time and are there enough prospects out there to fill that team and make the pipeline system viable and valuable overall to the landscape?? You can say that there are a good amount of markets that are stable as hell, but you can’t assume that all 93 markets will be very strong if they stay across three leagues.

First, you have to make the minors mean something– especially if you change it to a point where players have to choose between their amateur status (in a world with Major Juniors is considered amateur and you have to leave there to start a pro career) and their pro career starting. You’d need a strong first step. Elements need to be taken from the SPHL– not saying that they’d be a jumping off point, but their regional presence is something that minor leagues need more of.

Second, take that regionalism and then create leagues that way. The problem with minor league hockey in the late-90s/early-00s is the fact that while there were a wide array of hockey leagues– they were all in competition with each other trying to be the Alpha League. The ECHL was in competition with the WCHL, UHL, CHL– but ultimately the ECHL won out. The AHL had to compete against the IHL, but the IHL’s owners were too enamored with competing with the NHL that they lost the plot and then the AHL won out.  The thing in this day in age– especially with a stress being put on development– is to take a page out of baseball and have multiple minor leagues in different regions, but a uniform classification for them to battle it out playoffs wise; almost like the NCAA and their conferences.

(In this scenario, amateurs are in my consideration Major Junior and NCAA, with the same rules applying that if you declare and sign a pro contract, you can’t go back to those teams– as a point I suggested with the post on Thursday. You can bet that the CHL will have plenty of push-back on that because they’re trying to run a youth-pro league off these kids; but it’s my imaginary situation– so get over reality for a bit.)

As great as the SPHL has been– they almost have to be considered independent to this whole scenario I’m putting together since I don’t believe there’s any official affiliation with the NHL and the SPHL clubs. Not only that, but I doubt there’s enough prospects for each team to sustain quality hockey across 31 Single-A teams. The SPHL is better off as its own entity anyway because they wouldn’t be held to the hard and fast rules of the NHL in their trickle down theory.

Therefore, the current ECHL is the entry-level point for players who declare and sign their pro contract. However, you can’t have the ECHL as one league anymore– you almost have to have the two conferences as two leagues under the AA banner of hockey. Hell, if they really wanted to get into it– make it three leagues under the banner and then the top teams meet in a final eight– the two top teams from each of the three leagues and overall wild card to win the AA title.

When it comes to the AHL– or AAA level– you can do what baseball does since teams are moving more westward with their teams. Especially with Loveland, Colorado coming into play next season, it just adds to that flavor. Again, you could have three leagues with an Eastern, Midwest, and Pacific leagues under that AAA banner to have all three meet akin to what I suggested with the AA league.

While minor league hockey does have its niche, the fact that people believe that one league is needed seems a little stupid, especially with how the NHL made sure to move their teams closer to them and then held the AHL hostage to make their games/travel less than the rest of the league or they threatened they would start their own league. In all honesty, they should have started their own league and started this upheaval quicker than what I’m suggesting.

Granted, some teams in some areas may want promotions, but at the same time– it’s knowing their market and knowing what they can be capable of doing in those markets with that league. An idea of relegation or promotion– which is sexy in a gimmick sense– won’t do much for stability in a cutthroat business of sports. It’s a nice idea, but when put into reality does more harm than good.

There’s a lot to enjoy about minor league hockey– but when you look at a successful and sustainable league, the regionalism of the SPHL is the front-runner for solid business model. They know their communities, they know their role in hockey, and they don’t get too ahead of themselves thinking they’re going to be the next big thing. They play to what they know and it pays off for them overall. If all minor leagues and minor league teams could see that and realize that regional hockey is a solid money maker/travel saver– then the divided leagues under the same classification could work out very well in order to save minor league hockey decades down the road.

Minor League Monday: Streaking Teams, Odd Scheduling, and Shaky Defense

AHL

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-With three wins in a row and won five of their last six, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers seem to be maturing as the season goes on, especially in net. Christopher Gibson and Kristers Gudlevskis have posted shutouts against Providence this weekend alone. Rookies have also taken a big role with Scott Eansor, Mitchell Vande Sompel, and (the other) Sebastian Aho being in the top-five in team scoring. The addition of Josh Ho-Sang to compliment Tanner Fritz up front will definitely make them offensively stronger moving forward.

-Despite his point-streak ending on Saturday, Andrew Mangiapane is making a name for himself in his sophomore season. With 16 points (6g, 10a) in 11 games, Mangiapane has helped the Stockton Heat lead the way in goals-for in the Pacific Division and second in the Western Conference. As a rookie, Mangiapane, along with Mark Jankowski, were the only 20-goal scorers in the Stockton, which helped Mangiapane build off of two 100-point seasons to end his OHL career. A sixth-round pick, Mangiapane could be a diamond in the rough that Calgary found to help their offensive growth.

ECHL

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-During their current four-game winning streak, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits have scored 23 goals in that span. Allan McPherson and Adam Chapie are both atop the ECHL scoring board, while Caleb Herbert is on an 11-point scoring streak from the start of the season. The only issue could be the team defense. The Swamp Rabbits are tied for the most goals given up this year. While Ty Rimmer has turned his game around a bit, the development of Brandon Halverson seems to have hit a rough patch with his 5.06 GAA in six appearances so far.

-The schedulers of the ECHL only seem to have slotted the Jacksonville IceMen to play in five games in the month of October. The IceMen are winless in those five games, but their inexperienced line-up (13 of 21 rostered players are rookies) give them a little leeway. The inexperience is showing with Jamie Phillips being 0-4-1 and a 4.21 GAA after an impressive rookie season last year in Tulsa. The upside for Jacksonville is that Alexandre Goulet has points in all five games and five goals in four of those games.

SPHL

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-While the Fayetteville Marksmen haven’t gotten much puck luck this season, the play of Jake Hauswirth, John Schiavo, and Kyle McNeil should be something to help ease the blow of being in 7th place. Hauswirth’s 11 points are a league-high, while Shiavo and McNeil are tied with Evansville’s Justin MacDonald for the league-high in goals with five. If Peter Di Salvo can get back on track, the the Marksmen could be a threat as the season goes on.

On the Topic Of Marylanders in College, Junior, and Pro Hockey

If you have followed along in my life, Maryland is a huge part of it. After living in Glen Burnie for 21 years, obviously there’s a sort of pride there. But recently, I’ve seen an influx of Marylanders getting into the pro hockey ranks, as well as Division I NCAA and Major Juniors. With it being a dormant landscape for hockey, it’s always a fine sight to see a kid from Maryland get noticed on a big stage.

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One of the bigger ones recently has been Nick Ellis of the Bakersfield Condors. The Millersville native was signed by the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent after three years at Providence College where he posted a 30-9-5 record with a 1.90 GAA. Earlier this year, Ellis got AHL Player of the Week honors and has been put into a bigger role for the Edmonton affiliate.

Another player to possible get buzz this year or next is 16-year-old Adam Varga. After playing for the Washington Little Capitals U15 team, Varga took an unorthodox step by jumping to Major Juniors and signing with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL. While there are territorial disputes of who’s a Marylander and who’s not (more on that in a second), but my count he is the fifth Maryland-born player to play in Major Junior after Jeff Brubaker (Hagerstown), Jeremy Duchense (Silver Spring), Charlie Pens (Perryville), and Campbell Elynuik (Silver Spring) to be stated as Marylanders in Major Junior. It’s a big step for hockey in Maryland and how the development is, as most Maryland kids go the NCAA route or even the Division III route for their higher-level hockey.

However, there is a bit of a conflict when dealing with player bios because some players will put somewhere else outside of Maryland, while other sites will post Maryland as their hometown. Elynuik is a perfect example as he is listed on HockeyDB as being from Silver Spring, but Elite Prospects will have him listed as being from Calgary, Alberta. Jarred Tinordi is another example, as he was born in Burnsville, Minnesota; but made his hay in Severna Park, Maryland– playing for Severna Park High School in his first year before going to join the US National Developmental Team. A guy like Michigan State’s Jared Rosburg is a whole other can of worms. Rosburg is listed as being from Clarksville, Maryland, but grew up in Strongsville, Ohio. Since he played for River Hill in Howard County, I’ll chalk Rosburg up to one of Maryland’s own.

(Elynuik, Tinordi, and Duchense bring about another example of guys listed as being from Maryland thanks to their father’s playing with the Washington Capitals when they were born. While Tinordi did play within the area, the others didn’t make that big an impact, especially with Duchense living in Quebec City for the majority of his youth.)

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Rosburg is one of many players who have touched NCAA Division I ice while being listed as a Marylander. The Michigan State defenseman has dealt with injuries, but has been a big presence on the blue-line and has come up with some big goals in his short career. Rosburg is following in the footsteps of Sam Anas, who is recently the most successful Maryland player, as he’s been in the Minnesota Wild organization for two years after a successful NCAA career at Quinnipiac after a solid high school career at the Landon School in Bethesda. Of course, Anas goes in that disputed Maryland/Washington DC zone where both sides want to claim him. Colgate’s Bruce Racine is in the disputed zone of Maryland/DC, as he was born in DC, but went to school in Bethesda at Georgetown Prep. Other NCAA players for the 2017-18 season are Matt McArdle (Annapolis/Lake Superior State), Colin O’Neill (Odenton/UMass-Lowell), Jason O’Neill (Odenton/Providence), and Graham McPhee (Bethesda/Boston College).

In the minor leagues, outside of Ellis and Anas; there are several others playing in the lower minor league ranks. Jack Burton was born in Reisterstown and went to Baltimore-area St. Paul’s school before heading to Colby College and then joining the Indy Fuel last season, where he is today. Another Maryland ECHLer is Nick Sorkin of the Wheeling Nailers, who played for Team Maryland and the Washington Little Caps before going to University of New Hampshire, then to the Nailers. Former Glenelg High School player and Woodbine native Eric Sweetman is in the ECHL, as well, playing in Idaho after four years at St. Lawrence University. Mike Chen played for Team Maryland growing up before heading to Division III at Salem State and is currently rostered on the Knoxville Ice Bears of the SPHL.

Women’s hockey has also grown in Maryland, especially with the likes of Haley Skarupa being from Rockville and playing on the US Women’s National team, as well as in the NWHL with the Connecticut Whale and Boston Pride after four successful seasons at Boston College. Beth Hanrahan of Poolesville played four years at Providence College for four years, being the team’s MVP in her junior and senior season, then playing for the New York Riveters before being name associate coach of Lindenwood University. Finally, Lindsay Berman of Odenton starts her third season as head coach of UMass-Boston’s Women’s team after her years in the CWHL with the Boston Blades, including a Clarkson Cup championship to her resume. Berman went to Arundel High School and played for the Washington Pride to garner attention leading her career at Northeastern University.

I’ve said before about how Maryland and the mid-Atlantic has been underserved as a market, especially with no NCAA program in the state. However, there’s a new wave coming through, especially with Varga in the OHL and young Patrick Giles (Chevy Chase) joining the US National Program; there’s a lot of shoot for in the youth programs in the Maryland (and sure, DC) area, though the high school systems does have a variety of teams. Also, the club hockey scene does have a lot of talent, but still not the top-tier talent other areas have. The area is still in need of more success stories, but I know I didn’t think in a million years there would be this much Maryland content across the NCAA and minor pro landscape as there is today.