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7 posts categorized "Buffalo Sabres"

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.

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.

September 24, 2010

Stuart bros.: Colin gets shot with Sabres, Mark wears "A" for Bruins

FELDY: When Rochester native Colin Stuart signed with the Buffalo Sabres back in August, it was considered by Sabres fans and Buffalo media as a move to strengthen the grit and depth of the Sabres' AHL franchise, the Portland Pirates.

While it's likely that Stuart will at least start the season in Portland, reports from The Buffalo News indicate he's at least being given a chance in camp to show what he can do. Stuart, considered a strong defensive forward and valuable penalty-killer, scored a goal in an intra-squad scrimmage over the weekend and he's listed as a fifth-line winger for the Sabres, who open their preseason at home on Saturday against Toronto.

Stuart is one of 22 forwards listed on Buffalo's roster, but from the looks of it, he'll get a chance at some point this preseason to show what he can do in a game against another team.

Here is a look at the Sabres line combinations heading into Saturday's game.

* In Boston, Colin's brother, Mark Stuart, will clearly be an every-night defenseman for the Bruins, barring the injury troubles he battled last season. In fact, Mark didn't dress for Boston's preseason opener on Wednesday, but he wore an "A" for the Bruins' game Thursday against Florida. Boston lost 3-2.

He was on the Bruins' second defensive pairing, along with Steve Kampfer. while Nathan McIver played with Zdeno Chara on the top pairing.

There was some good and some bad for Stuart in his first preseason action. He played on the second power-play unit, but he also had a couple of rocky shifts, including one in the final minute of the first period that led to a scoring chance for David Booth.