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8 posts categorized "AHL"

October 13, 2011

Pro Hockey | Good start for Stuarts

Posted by: Feldman

Some NHL teams have already played four or five games.

The Winnipeg Jets have played one.

Come on, NHL! Fans in The Peg have been dying to have NHL hockey of their own for a decade and a half and they get just four of their first 15 games at home?! Ah well, I think Jets fans are OK with that, or, at least they will be when they have a stretch of 13 out of 15 games at home between Nov. 29-Dec. 31.

Plus, they opened their inaugural (can we call it that? I'm going to) season at home on Sunday, and Rochester native Mark Stuart, a d-man for the Jets, became a part of history/answer to a trivia question. Stuart assisted on the Jets' first goal, their only goal of the game, in a 5-1 loss to Montreal.

Stuart's point shot was stopped by Carey Price, but Nik Antropov buried the rebound. (By the way, if you're looking ahead, Stuart and the Jets make their only trip to the Xcel Center on Thursday, Feb. 16, to face the Wild in a 7 p.m. game).

The Jets play their second game of the season tonight at Chicago at 7:30 p.m. It will be the first time that Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, a Winnipeg native, gets to play against the Jets. It will also mark a return to Chicago for Roseau native Dustin Byfuglien, a key member of the Blackhawks' run to the Stanley Cup two years ago. Byfuglien participated in Shjon Podein's charity golf tournament at Somerby in Byron this past summer. He's a very laid-back guy off the ice, great to talk to and spent seemingly more time posing for pictures and signing autographs than he did playing golf.

• Another Stuart, Mark's brother, Colin, had a good start to his season with the Rochester (N.Y.) Americans, the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres. Colin scored one of the Americans' two goals in a 5-2 season-opening loss to Hamilton on Saturday. He also led the team with eight shots on goal, so clearly he's being looked at by the coaches as a guy they need to count on for scoring.

Also, if you click on the link I provided in the previous paragraph, it takes you to the box score of the Rochester-Hamilton game. Notice who the backup goalie is for the Americans? Former Mayo standout Jeff Jakaitis.

It actually looked late last week like Jakaitis might start the Americans' opener. He didn't, but the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle did a short piece on his hockey travels, and briefly mentions that he and Stuart are both from another Rochester.

Rochester plays its second game of the season, its home opener, at 6:05 p.m. Central Time tonight, against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

August 18, 2011

Hockey | Playing catch-up, part I

Posted by: Feldman

Amazing what can pile up when you're on vacation for a bit (Phersy should know what this feels like, since he's always on a vacation).

Here are a few notes to toss out there for now, and I'll have a post on the Lourdes boys hockey team's summer practices a little later tonight. I went over and talked to coach Josh Spaniol during their final week of summer workouts in late July. I didn't get around to posting anything, as I was waiting to hear how a couple of their players did in Junior tryout camps (not that any of them anticipated leaving high school, but I was waiting to see how they fared at those camps).

So, for some notes:

• Former Rochester Century standout d-man Connor Faupel will play for Neepawa of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League this coming season. It's a nice move for Faupel, who passed up his senior season at Century to play for the Russell Stover midget program in Kansas City. I'll put in a call to Faupel tonight and hopefully find out more about his decision.

From what I'm told, he had the chance to go to three or four other places, including another team in the MJHL (which is a Tier II league in Canada), and to Helena, which won the USA Hockey Junior A, Tier III, national championship here in Rochester back in April. Faupel leaves for Neepawa on Tuesday. Neepawa is about 45 miles northeast of Brandon, Manitoba, or about 130 miles west of Winnipeg.

• Former Rochester Mayo forward Charlie Thauwald has become the most recent Rochester native to commit to a Division I hockey program. Thauwald made it official with Minnesota State, Mankato, last week. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Thauwald could make an immediate physical impact for the Mavericks. He'll be the biggest player on the team (along with LaCrescent's Eriah Hayes, who goes 6-4, 210) and the second member of his family to play D-I hockey (his brother, Scott, played at Colorado College and now plays professionally in Australia).

Charlie left Mayo before his senior season to play with Chicago of the USHL. After suffering an injury there, he played part of the 2009-10 season with Owatonna of the NAHL. Last season, he was a key member of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs' run to the NAHL (Robertson Cup) championship, along with Lourdes grads Tyler Voigt and Pete Spratte.

• The University of Maine has posted its men's hockey roster, and former Mayo defenseman Bill Norman will wear No. 12 for the Black Bears. Norman is listed at 5-feet-9, 160 pounds, so he'll have to use his speed and hockey sense — like he did at Mayo last season — to have an impact in Hockey East this year. The closest Maine comes to Minnesota this season is a two-game series at North Dakota, Oct. 14 and 15.

• Another former Century standout, goalie Alex Kangas, is officially a free agent. He wasn't signed by the team that drafted him — Winnipeg (actually drafted by Atlanta, of course, in 2006) — by Monday, so he's free to sign with another NHL team, or go overseas, if he chooses.

• Rochester native Colin Stuart re-signed with the Buffalo Sabres organization last month. Stuart reportedly signed a one-year, two-way deal, which will pay him $525,000 if he sticks in the NHL, or less if he plays with Buffalo's AHL affiliate in Portland, Maine. Stuart had 16 goals and 28 assists in 72 regular season games with Portland last season. He added three goals and four assists in 12 playoff games. He also played in three games for the Sabres, with no points and two penalty minutes.

• As Phersy noted in a previous post, the Rochester Ice Hawks are holding their final tryout camp this weekend, beginning tomorrow (Friday) and running through Sunday. They jump right into training camp on Monday.

June 01, 2011

Pro Hockey | Stuart bros. speak on Thrashers' move; Colin a free agent again

Posted by: Feldman

The announcement on Tuesday that the Atlanta Thrashers have been sold and are relocating to Winnipeg, was just another twist in an odd three months for Rochester native Mark Stuart.

On Feb. 18, he was traded from the Boston Bruins, the team that drafted him in the first round in 2003, and for whom he played 283 games over six season. He was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers and 10 days later, he signed a three-year, $5.1 million contract extension. He became an instant hit with the Thrashers players and fans, even wearing the "A" as the team's alternate captain for a handful of games late in the season.

Last month, Stuart, a former Lourdes player, wore another letter -- this time the "C" -- as captain of the U.S. team at the 2011 IIHF World Championships in Slovakia, where the U.S. was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Since coming back to his offseason home in Minneapolis, he has seen his former team, the Bruins, advance to the Stanley Cup Finals (they play Game 1 tonight at Vancouver) and has current team, Atlanta, get sold to a group that will move it to Winnipeg.

Stuart couldn't be reached Tuesday, when the announcement was made. I put in a call to Rob Tillotson with the Thrashers media relations department, and Rob called me back this morning. He said some players are hesitant to comment on the move right now because they don't want their emotions to speak for them. So, I may hear from Mark today, or may not. It's understandable if he doesn't want to speak emotionally right now; he obviously really enjoyed his short time in Atlanta.

I did reach Mark's brother, Colin Stuart, who was a 5th round draft pick of the Thrashers in 2001, and played 51 games for them from 2007-09. He also helped the Thrashers' AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, win the Calder Cup in 2008.

Colin said he had talked briefly with Mark on Tuesday when the announcement was made in Winnipeg by True North Sports and Entertainment, the group that purchased the Thrashers and will move them to the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

"I think Mark's disappointed they couldn't make it work in Atlanta; he liked it there," Colin said. "It's confusing anytime something like this happens. But he's excited to play in Canada, in front of some of the most die-hard hockey fanatics."

Mark Stuart did speak to the Globe and Mail, one of Canada's two or three biggest newspapers, yesterday. Here's some of what he had to say:

“I saw it coming. After Phoenix went through and they were going to stay, we became the topic of conversation. So I expected it, but there was kind of just a waiting period until it became official. It doesn’t really come as that big of a surprise.”

“I’m excited to go (to Winnipeg), I’m excited for the fans there. Everyone can see how excited they are to have an NHL team back and they’re very deserving of that.”

“(Bruins defenceman) Shane Hnidy texted me today saying I’ll really enjoy it there. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’ve heard stories about Winnipeg from guys that had a chance to play there and really enjoyed it. About the support and the fans. That’s very exciting for a player.”


C. Stuart enters free agency ... again

For a second consecutive summer, Colin Stuart will enter unrestricted free agency, on July 1. A year ago, he signed with the Buffalo Sabres organization and was a key player all season for their AHL affiliate, the Portland (Maine) Pirates.

He played three games for the Sabres, bringing his career total to 54 NHL games (he has 8 goals and 5 assists in those games).

In Portland, he played 72 regular season games and was the seventh-leading scorer for the Pirates (16-28--44). He also had 3-4--7 in 12 playoff games for the Pirates, who lost to the Binghamton Senators in six games in the AHL Atlantic Division Finals. Binghamton went on to sweep Charlotte in the Eastern Conference Finals and the B-Sens are now playing the Minnesota Wild's AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, in the Calder Cup Finals (that series is tied 1-1, with Game 3 coming up tonight at Binghamton.

Colin isn't ruling out a return to Portland/Buffalo. He said, in a way, it's nice to be an unrestricted free agent and be able to choose where you want to play. But, he said, it's also stressful to not know if what teams, if any, will be interested in him.

"I would have obviously liked to have spent more time in the NHL," he said. "Buffalo is a great system to be in. I was fortunate to play under a couple of great coaches in Portland (Kevin Dineen and Eric Weinrich). They respect their players and make it a joy to come to the rink every day. And Portland was a great city for me and my wife."

Now, Stuart will wait and see which teams show interest in him on July 1. He's 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and is a left-handed shot. And, at just 29 years old, he'll surely help a team, either in the AHL or NHL, next season.

"We'll wait and see what happens on July 1," he said. "It's exciting, but a little nerve-wracking to be looking for work. You just hope your reputation is good and your play speaks for itself."

May 04, 2011

AHL | Stuart helps Portland stay alive

FELDY: Colin Stuart still has a chance to win a Calder Cup for the second time in four seasons.

Stuart had a goal and an assist on Tuesday as the Portland (Maine) Pirates beat the Binghamton Senators, 6-2, at Binghamtom in Game 5 of their AHL Atlantic Division Finals series.

Portland — CLICHE ALERT! — had its backs against the wall on Tuesday (and still does). The Pirates trail the best-of-7 series, 3-2, after their Game 5 victory. Game 6 is set for Friday night at Portland.

Stuart, the Rochester native who played on the 2008 Calder Cup champion Chicago Wolves (Atlanta Thrashers affiliate), has had a very good season for the Pirates, the top minor league affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres. He put up 44 points in 72 regular-season games, and has excelled in the playoffs, with seven points in 11 games.

Here's an audio clip of Stuart's goal from the Pirates' radio network. Broadcaster sounds like he has a helium tank hooked up to his mic or something. Then again, that's why I work in newspapers. :)

Don't discount Portland in this series, even though it was in a 3-1 hole. The Pirates have young goaltending phenom Jhonas Enroth back in net after he spent time with the Sabres late in the regular season. Enroth was 9-2-2 in 15 games with the Sabres, posting a .907 save percentage. He made 35 saves in Tuesday's game.

May 03, 2011

Pro Hockey | Playing catch-up

Posted by: Feldman

Time to catch up on some hockey news involving former area players...

We're into May and a handful of former Rochester-area hockey players are still chasing championships.

Three former Rochester high school standouts -- Tyler Voigt and Pete Spratte of Lourdes, and Charlie Thauwald of Mayo -- are playing together for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the NAHL. The Ice Dogs open play in the Robertson Cup Final Four tonight, but we'll get into that in a subsequent post.

Two Rochester natives are still chasing championships at a higher level -- brothers Mark and Colin Stuart. While both would much rather be playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, they have to be happy to be still playing at this time of year.

* Mark Stuart, a defenseman for the Atlanta Thrashers, is the captain of Team USA at the IIHF World Men's Championships in Slovakia. The U.S. opened play on Saturday with a 5-1 win against Austria and followed that with a 4-2 victory against Norway on Monday, to secure a spot in the qualification round.

The U.S. plays its final pool play game of the tournament against Sweden on Wednesday. That game will be televised on Versus (channel 35, Charter Cable, Rochester; or channel 761 in HD). The qualification round is scheduled to begin Thursday.

* Colin Stuart and the Portland (Maine) Pirates are on the verge of elimination from the AHL playoffs. Portland, the top minor-league affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, trails the Binghamton Senators, 3-1, in the best-of-7 Atlantic Division finals. Stuart, who has played 54 games at the NHL level in his career (including three this season), played in 72 games for Portland in the regular season, putting up 44 points (16 goals, 28 assists). He has two goals and three assists in 10 playoff games.

Stuart and the Pirates have a big hole to dig out of, needing three consecutive victories to advance in the Calder Cup playoffs. He's no stranger to postseason success. Stuart was on the Chicago Wolves 2008 Calder Cup championship team.

* Rochester native and former University of Minnesota defenseman Jake Taylor's season is over, but the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder had another solid season in the AHL. Taylor played in 65 games, accumulating five assists, a plus-14 rating and 135 penalty minutes for the Oklahoma City Barons, an Edmonton Oilers affiliate. Taylor also had one assist in six playoff games for the Barons, who

* Rochester's Bryce Lampman played 24 games with Ingolstadt ERC of the German Elite League at the end of the season. After playing in five games with the Houston Aeros of the AHL, Lampman, 28, had two goals and five assists for Ingolstadt ERC. He also had one assist in four postseason games.

* Red Wing's Reid Cashman had 25 points and 72 penalty minutes in 54 games this season for Linz EHC in Austria. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman also had a goal and two assists in five playoff games. Cashman split time last season between Cincinnati of the ECHL and Milwaukee of the AHL.

April 14, 2011

Pro Hockey | Jakaitis, C. Stuart lead Portland into AHL playoffs

FELDY: Two Rochester natives will be on the same bench when the Portland (Maine) Pirates open their first-round American Hockey League playoff series tonight in Portland against the Connecticut Whale.

Forward Colin Stuart -- who played three games this season for the Pirates parent club, the Buffalo Sabres -- is the Pirates' seventh-leading scorer, with 44 points in 72 games. Goalie Jeff Jakaitis, a Rochester Mayo grad, has only been with the Pirates for about a month, playing in six games so far. He played in three games for the AHL's Worcester Sharks earlier this season. Jakaitis spent most of the 2010-11 season with the Central Hockey League's Dayton Gems, where another former Mayo grad, d-man Nick Canzanello, was his teammate.

Jakaitis signed with the Pirates on March 5, after Buffalo called up 22-year-old goalie Jhonas Enroth for a fourth time this season.

Here's a story from the Portland Press Herald about Jakaitis' first start with the Pirates this season, about a month ago. Notice who scored the game-winning goal. Hopefully we see some more of that in the playoffs.

A couple of other names to note on the Pirates roster: Former Minnesota Wild forward Mark Parrish (the Wild are still taking a cap hit for the bad contract Doug Risebrough gave him) and goalie John Muse, who signed with the team after finishing his career at Boston College three weeks ago with a first-round NCAA tournament loss to Colorado College. My fellow North Dakota fans might also recognize Pirates defenseman Corey Fienhage, who played two seasons for the Sioux before leaving for Kamloops of the WHL.

Follow the entire Calder Cup Playoffs at the AHL's website here.

To follow Jakaitis, Stuart and the Pirates, the team website is here and the Portland Press Herald is here.

* * *

Elsewhere in the AHL playoffs, the Wild's affiliate, the Houston Aeros, got off to a good start in the postseason by beating Peoria (St. Louis affiliate), 4-1, in the opening game of their first-round series Wednesday night, at Houston.

Four players familiar to Wild fans -- Jed Ortmeyer, former Wisconsin star Robbie Earl, Warren Peters and Patrick O'Sullivan -- scored for the Aeros. Game 2 of the best-of-7 West Division semifinal series is Friday at Houston.

September 30, 2010

Colin Stuart sent down by Sabres

FELDY: On Wednesday, the Buffalo Sabres made official what was expected when they signed Colin Stuart in August -- he will at least start the season with the AHL's Portland Pirates.

Stuart, 28, was one of 14 players cut from the Sabres training camp roster on Wednesday. He must pass through waivers today before he can be assigned to Portland. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound winger was a fifth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2001. He has 8 goals and 5 assists in 51 career NHL games, all with Atlanta in the 07-08 and 08-09 seasons.

April 27, 2010

Pro Hockey | Stuart likely to miss all of Round 2

FELDY: We're down to three players from the area remaining in the pro hockey playoffs. 

* Starting in the NHL, Rochester native Mark Stuart missed the Bruins' first round Eastern Conference series against Buffalo, a series that the Bruins won, 4-2. Stuart was out with a finger injury; he had surgery on it in early April and an infection kept him out of the first round. 

In a conference call on Tuesday, Boston GM Peter Chiarelli said he doesn't expect Stuart to play at all in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bruins will face either Pittsburgh or Philadelphia in Round 2, depending on the outcome of the Montreal-Washington series.

"He's still a little ways away," Chiarelli said of Stuart. "I don't anticipate seeing him in the next round."

That raises the question: If Boston happens to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, can we expect to see Stuart back on the ice? What if the Bruins and coach Claude Julien are happy with their d-man rotation? I'd have to believe the B's would want a solid, consistent player like Stuart in their lineup in the postseason, but you never know.

* While we're on the subject of Stuarts, in the AHL, Colin Stuart and the Abbotsford (B.C.) Heat have pushed their first-round series against the Rochester (N.Y.) Americans to a Game 7. That will be held tonight in Rochester. Jon Rheault had a hat trick for Abbotsford in Sunday's Game 6, a 5-1 victory for the Heat.

A victory tonight would cap an unlikely comeback for the Heat, which trailed 3-1 in the series, but have won the past two games by a combined score of 8-2. Stuart hasn't played in the past three games because of an undisclosed injury. No word available on the Abbotsford website if he will be back for Game 7.

* Also in the AHL, one Red Wing player knocked out another, as Johnny Pohl and the Chicago Wolves topped Milwaukee and Reid Cashman in Game 7 of their first-round series on Monday. The Wolves won a tight Game 7, 2-1, scoring both of their goals in a span of 1:28 in the first period.

The Wolves, the top seed out of the West Division, will have home-ice advantage in their division finals series, which begins Friday against the No. 2-seeded Texas Stars. Games 1 and 2 are Friday and Sunday in Chicago.