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8 posts categorized "USA Hockey"

July 02, 2012

H.S. Hockey | Slightam off to Select 16 development camp

Posted by: Feldman

High school hockey teams are almost done with their summer practice allowances. They have a mandatory week off this week because of the holiday (Independence Day, not Canada Day, though hockey players should celebrate that, too, right?), then they'll be allowed to practice next week. That's it for coaches working with players until practice starts in November.

I went out to one of each of the Rochester teams' practices this past week, talked a bit with the coaches, and will have an update on each team. I'll try to get those started tonight and have one a day for the next four days.

A common theme among the four Rochester teams -- Century, JM, Lourdes, and Mayo -- is the need to replace veteran d-men. While each team has some quality d-men returning, they're all looking for some depth and guys who'll need to log significant ice time. But ... we'll get around to those conversations over the next few days.

One thing I can tell you, is that none of the Rochester teams has signed Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, though Suter would certainly provide another ice time-eating blue-liner for any of them. :)

Now, since the headline of this post says "Slightam off to development camp" I suppose we should get to that. Lourdes sophomore-to-be defenseman Griff Slightam is in Rochester, N.Y.,  where he'll participate with approximately 100 of the top 16-year-olds from around the country in the 2012 USA Hockey Select 16 Development Camp. The camp begins Saturday and runs through July 13.

The campers will divided into 10 teams for a series of games, practices, individual drills and dryland training. The rosters have not been posted yet for the camp teams, but here's a link that you can keep checking for them.

Slightam will not only receive top-notch coaching, but he'll likely be performing in front of pro and college scouts. Talking to him last week, he's excited to go test himself against the best in the country.

Rochester has sent a number of players to the USA Hockey national development camps over the past decade. Former Mayo standout and current MSU, Mankato forward Charlie Thauwald went in 2007, while former Century defenseman Conor Faupel and current Shattuck St. Mary's forward Tyler Vesel have also participated in the development camps in recent years.

Here's what Slightam had to say last week as he prepared to leave for New York:

* What do you expect the camp to be like? "I don't know what to expect, to be honest. I'm hoping to go play at the highest level I can and get recognized. I just want to go play my game and show what I can do."

* Any idea what the competition will be like? "I'm just looking forward to seeing how I compare against the best in the nation."

* Have you been working out or going to any other camps this summer? "I've been working a lot, skating a lot with Todd Lampman, working on a lot of technique, just trying to get better in every aspect. It's really specific training. He's picky -- like 'you should just be putting your toe down here instead of your whole blade' -- but it really helps. I've skated with him for a long time (in summers)."

* What have your summer camp practices been like with the Lourdes team? "We're getting ice time and bringing out intensity and setting the tone right away in the summer. We're good friends, but we're pushing each other as hard as we can."

* You'll be just a sophomore, but will be a third-year varsity player. Do you like the idea of being looked at as a team leader? "I kind of feel like I should do my best to be a leader and looked at in that way. I'm comfortable with it and looking forward to it. We have high expectations. We'll be much more experienced and everybody will be more comfortable."

April 26, 2012

Lourdes' Slightam makes USA Hockey Select 16 camp

Posted by: Feldman

Griff Slightam was one of Rochester Lourdes' best defensemen this past season as a freshman. Slightam showed off his consistently solid play this past weekend at the Reebok High Performance 54 showcase in the Twin Cities.

He didn't have any points in the three games, but Slightam was impressive as a physical presence who showed he could break the puck out of the defensive end.

For his effort, Slightam has earned a trip to the USA Hockey 16s National Player Development Camp in Rochester, N.Y., from July 7-13. The camp brings together players from all over the country and they are divided up into teams to compete in games and skill development sessions during the week.

"His parents will get to see him for about 10 minutes a day for that week," Lourdes coach Josh Spaniol said, "otherwise he'll be busy."

The camp will give Slightam a forum to show off his skills in front of some of USA Hockey's top officials as well as many Division I college coaches.

Spaniol said Slightam still has room to improve on his game in order to get to where he wants to be, but that Slightam made the camp is a testament to his strong overall game.

Here's a link to the 19 players from Minnesota who were picked for the camp. As you see, all but three of the players are from the Metro Area, so it's nice to see Slightam get a chance to show off his skills. He'll be one of Lourdes' top two defensemen next season as a sophomore, along with senior-to-be Karl Krecke.

"He made a good first pass every time, rushed the puck up the ice well and made a lot of good decisions," Spaniol said of Slightam's play this past weekend. "He was a physical presence and kept it simple. He didn't stick out -- he wasn't flashy -- but he made very few mistakes and was very consistent."

Slightam is the first Rochester player to make a USA Hockey Select camp since Mayo's Charlie Thauwald made the Select 17 camp in 2007. Prior to Thauwald, P-B records indicate Mark Stuart was the last Rochester player to participate in a Select camp.

No one from the area or Section 1 was named to the Select 17 camp. That roster can be found here.

February 23, 2012

PHERSY AND FATIS SHOW: End O Da Regular Season

PHERSY: We're back! I tracked down coach before the final weekend of the regular season. Nick07_thumb

Don't forget, the Ice Hawks are home at 7:05 p.m. Friday, and then they play the MnJHL champion Twin Cities Northern Lights on Sunday in Owatonna!

Enjoy the show!!


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 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 19, 2011

Random hockey notes (Funk, Farrell in HP 54s; Vesel to Select 17 camp)

Posted by: Feldman

Sorry, we've been away from the blog for a few days. I was letting a few hockey notes pile up. Time to get to them now.

First off, the USHL held its Futures Draft today. All of the teams in the country's top junior league had a chance to secure the rights to the top 95-born players who could potentially wind up in the USHL. No local players were taken, though there are ties to a couple of players drafted.

With the top overall pick, Waterloo selected Taylor Cammarata from Plymout. Cammarata plays at Shattuck St. Mary's in Faribault, where he starred on the U16 team that finished second in the country this year. Cammarata led Shattuck with 126 points (64-62--126). The second-leading scorer on that U16 team, and the only other player on the team to top 100 points, was Rochester's Tyler Vesel, brother of Lourdes senior Rory Vesel, who was a Second Team All-State pick this season and the Faceoff/Post-Bulletin All-Area Player of the Year. Tyler had 36-67--103 in 48 games; from what I've heard, he'll be playing on Shattuck's top team next season.

** And while we're on the topic of Tyler Vesel, he'll get some more big-time exposure to top junior and college scouts this summer. He is one of 14 Minnesota players invited to USA Hockey's National Player Development Select 17 camp at Rochester, N.Y., July 7-13.

Among the other Minnesota players invited to the Select 17 camp are Vesel's Shattuck teammate, Zach Stepan (cousin of former University of Wisconsin standout and current N.Y. Ranger Derek Stepan); Edina forward Louie Nanne (yep, of that Nanne family) and Apple Valley star forward A.J. Michaelson.

** Minnesota players selected for the Select 17 and Select 16 national camps were chosen after this past weekend's High Performance 54 Showcase in Plymouth.

Vesel was one of three Rochester players who competed in the HP 54. Lourdes forwards Alex Funk (who will be a junior next season) and Landon Farrell (a senior-to-be) both played in the three-team all-star tournament. Each team had 18 players on their rosters (54 total players, thus the HP 54 name).

Funk played for Team Blue, which also included Stepan and Class A state tournament darling Adam Johnson of Hibbing (which beat Funk's Eagles in the first round at state last month). Also on that team was New Prague goalie Joe Morris, who was outstanding in the Section 1A tournament, with his Trojans falling to Lourdes, 2-0, in the section title game.

Farrell played on Team Red, and Lourdes head coach Josh Spaniol coached Team White, which went unbeaten in three games. Spaniol's team included Vesel, Michaelson and Lakeville South defenseman Charlie Heller.

Vesel led Team White with five points (2-3--5) in three games; Funk didn't have a point in three games; and Farrell had one assist in three games.

Spaniol said both Funk and Farrell had good weekends, played well in front of scouts from most WCHA teams and USHL teams.

October 26, 2010

Junior Hockey | Ambroz named to Jr. Select team

FELDY: A former Section 1A star has made the United States roster for the upcoming World Junior A Challenge in Penticton, B.C.

New Prague native and Gophers recruit Seth Ambroz is one of 22 players to make the U.S. Jr. Select Team roster, announced Monday by USA Hockey. Ambroz is one of three players on the U.S. roster who also played on the U.S. Under-18 Select Team that competed in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament earlier this year in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Forward Carson Hohmann and defenseman Brian Cooper are the others.

USA Hockey's press release can be found here.

And here is a link to the roster.

All 22 players on the roster currently play in the USHL. Ambroz plays for the Lincoln Stars.