Thursday, June 29, 2006

Van Drunen re-ups with Muskegon

All-Star defenseman Dave Van Drunen has re-signed with the Muskegon Fury for the upcoming 2006-2007 season.

Van Drunen posted seven goals and 31 points last year with 195 penalty minutes and a +37 rating. For a second consecutive season, he captured two top Fury team awards in the Discovery Ford/Best Defenseman Award and the Fury Best Plus Player Award.

"We have begun the process of building our team with the signings last week of one of the premiere offensive talents in the league in Todd Robinson and today with the announcement of one of the top defensemen in Dave Van Drunen," Fury head coach Todd Nelson said. "‘Vandy’ has been the real staple of our defense in his first two years with us. He brings our team outstanding qualities as experience, grit, skill and strong leadership."

"I’m looking forward to my third year in Muskegon," added Van Drunen. "In the new season, we want to rebound from last season’s somewhat disappointing finish. It certainly should provide us with excellent motivation. We are fortunate to have a great coach who has demonstrated that he has a lot of faith in me and I really appreciate that. My family and I are looking ahead to being a part of a really strong organization and seeing all of the great Fury fans with the coming of the new season."

Griffins' '06-07 schedule format released

The first-ever meetings with the Albany River Rats and the return of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will highlight the Grand Rapids Griffins’ 2006-07 American Hockey League schedule.

The schedule format, announced by the Griffins on Wednesday, features 15 of the AHL’s 26 other teams, matching the team’s most diverse schedule in its six seasons as a league member.

Albany, the top affiliate of the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes, will make one visit to Van Andel Arena this coming season. Wilkes-Barre, which finished just two points behind regular season champion Grand Rapids in 2005-06, will face the Griffins for the first time since the 2003 AHL Western Conference Quarterfinals. The teams have not met in the regular season since a home-and-home set in 2001-02.

The Griffins will attempt to repeat as champions of a North Division that has been reduced to six teams, with the redeployment of the Cleveland Barons as the Worcester Sharks. Grand Rapids will play 38 of its 80 regular season contests against division rivals Hamilton, Manitoba, Rochester, Syracuse and Toronto, while staging 36 games versus the West Division and six against the East Division.

Grand Rapids’ frequency of games against each AHL opponent is as follows: 10 games (five home, five road) versus Hamilton; eight games (four home, four road) versus Manitoba, Milwaukee, Peoria, Rochester and Toronto; four games (two home, two road) versus Chicago, Houston, Iowa, Omaha, San Antonio and Syracuse; and two games (one home, one road) versus Albany, Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre.

The schedule for the AHL’s 71st season is expected to be announced in late July.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

K-Wings to remain on WLKM and WQSN

The Kalamazoo Wings have announced fans can listen to the defending UHL Colonial Cup champions this season on WLKM (95.9 FM) and WQSN (AM 1660).

Since the Kalamazoo Wings re-established their radio network back in 2002, fans have enjoyed listing to K-Wing games on WLKM. With their new agreement, the K-Wings and their flagship station, which is based in Three Rivers, can continue to have games reach a coverage area that covers 11 Southwest Michigan Counties.

The K-Wings have also reached a new agreement with Kalamazoo's local sports leader, AM 1660 WQSN. Besides having their games heard on Kalamazoo's only sports station, WQSN will be the on-air home for the Kalamazoo Wings Weekly Coaches Show "K-Wings Live." WQSN is the home of various national and local programming, including Mike and Cash, where fans can hear the most up-to-date Kalamazoo Wings news with the K-Wings Update, which airs in the final segment of every show.

K-Wing games can also be heard via the web at

"We are extremely excited to continue our relationship with both WLKM and WQSN," said K-Wings Vice President and General Manager Paul L. Pickard. "By having a two station radio network, we (K-Wings) have one of the most comprehensive radio networks in minor league hockey."

Fans can start listening to the K-Wings defend their Colonial Cup this October, as the "Voice of the K-Wings" Mike Modugno gets set for his fifth season of hockey in Kalamazoo by calling all the action from the opening face-off to the final buzzer. Coverage of K-Wings hockey starts 15 minutes prior to face-off with the Digital Highway Pre-Game Show.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Former Wing, Viper inks deal with Flags

The Port Huron Flags have finalized contract details to bring Sylvain Cloutier, their first round pick in the recent Adirondack/Danbury dispersal draft, to Port Huron this fall.

Flags personnel are anticipating great things from the former Adirondack Frostbite center.

"I am expecting Sylvain to lead our team from day one," said Flags' head coach Stan Drulia, who played alongside Cloutier during part of the 1997-98 season with the Detroit Vipers.

In 2005-06, Cloutier recorded 31 goals during the regular season and five more during Adirondack's playoff run. A third-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, Cloutier has 15 years of professional hockey under his belt, including seven games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1998-99.

At 6-foot and 195 pounds, Cloutier, 32, can make his presence felt, as evidenced by his 127 penalty minutes last season. He was named UHL Player of the Week on April 3, in recognition of his eight points and plus-6 rating over three games.

Aware of the benefits Cloutier brings to the team, Drulia said, "I saw how valuable he was when things really counted. He stepped up in every situation. Whether it was shutting down a team's best players or scoring in overtime, he always found a way to get the job done."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Red Wings' NHL Entry Draft coverage

The Detroit Red Wings traded their first-round draft pick today in a deal with the Phoenix Coyotes and got the 41st and 47th picks in return through the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Detroit's first pick wasn't until that No. 41 slot in the second round.

Detroit's 2006 picks:

2nd round, 41st overall (from Florida) -
Cory Emmerton, center/left wing, Kingston, OHL

2rd round, 47th overall (from Tampa Bay) -
Shawn Matthias, center, Belleville, OHL

2nd round, 62nd overall -
Dick Axelsson, wing, Huddinge, Sweden

3rd round, 92nd overall -
Daniel Larsson, goalie, Hammarby, Sweden

6th round, 182nd overall -
Jan Mursak, left wing, Budejovice Jr., Czech Republic

7th round, 191st overall (from Phoenix) -
Nick Oslund, right wing, Burnsville (Minn.) High School

7th round, 212th overall -
Logan Pyett, defenseman, Regina, WHL

Detroit's fourth-round pick was dealt to the Washington Capitals as part of the Robert Lang-Tomas Fleischmann trade back in 2004...Their fifth-round selection went to Phoenix in the first-round pick deal from earlier today...The 191st overall pick was obtained from Phoenix for defenseman Jamie Rivers at last season's trade deadline.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Lidstrom and Datsyuk win NHL awards

Last night at the annual NHL Awards presentation in Vancouver, two Detroit Red Wings left with some impressive hardware as defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom walked away with his fourth Norris Trophy and forward Pavel Datsyuk was named the Lady Byng Trophy winner.

The Lady Byng Trophy is awarded annually "to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability," as selected by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.

Datsyuk was named on 94 of 128 ballots and received 41 first-place votes for 669 points, finishing well ahead of 2004 Lady Byng winner Brad Richards of the Tampa Bay Lightning (442).

Datsyuk led the Red Wings in scoring in 2005-06 with a career-high 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists), the most by a Detroit player since Brendan Shanahan's 88 in 1996-97. Datsyuk became the first Red Wings player to tally 50 assists in a season since Steve Yzerman, also in 1996-97, and was the first player in franchise history to attempt and score a shootout goal, Dec. 20 vs. Columbus. He was assessed just 22 penalty minutes in 75 games.

For the fourth time in the past five seasons, Lidstrom has won the Norris, awarded to the defenseman demonstrating "the greatest all-around ability in the position," as selected by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.

Lidstrom was named on all 129 ballots and received 91 first-place votes for 1,152 points. He finished ahead of 2004 Norris Trophy winner Scott Niedermayer of the Anaheim Ducks (817).

Lidstrom, a Norris finalist in seven of the past eight seasons, led all defensemen in scoring with a career-high 80 points (16 goals, 64 assists) in 80 games. The Red Wings were a perfect 14-0-0 when he scored a goal. He ranked third in the NHL in ice time per game (28:06) and posted a +21 rating. Lidstrom was one of just two defensemen to average more than five minutes of power-play and six minutes of shorthanded time per game. He was also named to the NHL's First All-Star Team.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Robinson back for seventh season with Fury

Muskegon’s second all-time leading scorer Todd Robinson has come to contract terms and will return for his seventh year of duty with the Fury this fall.

In 2005-06, the Trail B.C., native tallied 84 points on 21 goals and 63 assists with 68 penalty minutes and a solid +9 rating. Robinson’s 63 helpers ranked as sixth-most in the league while his points-per-game average of 1.50 was third-best behind teammates Jeff Nelson (1.63) and Robin Bouchard (1.58).

“We want to keep our team in a top contending role for this next season in our bid to return the league title back to Muskegon," Muskegon head coach Todd Nelson said. "The return of Todd Robinson certainly represents only our first major step forward in signaling what we want accomplish in the 2006-07 season. Todd has earned the outstanding reputation of being one of the premiere, clutch players in all of Fury history, and for that matter, the entire the UHL. He is a proven winner who has been a major force and factor in our last three championships and having his presence in our lineup markedly increases our offensive production. He has a very competitive spirit that makes him want to win every night, every game. Throughout his Fury career, his playoff numbers have validated his unwavering will to win.”

For his overall seven-year pro career, the 28-year-old Robinson has recorded 624 points (173-451) with 340 PIM and a points-per-game average of 1.30. He has a 22-77-99 line in the playoffs as well. In Robinson's first seven seasons as a pro, he has averaged 89 points per season.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Two more teams dispersed in latest UHL draft

The UHL conducted a dispersal draft today to disperse players from the 2005-2006 final rosters of the Adirondack Frostbite and Danbury Trashers. Neither member club will participate in the 2006-2007 season.

The Flint Generals, Kalamazoo Wings, Muskegon Fury and Port Huron Flags all participated in the five-round process.

Port Huron - Sylvain Cloutier (C), Adirondack
Flint - Hugo Belanger (LW), Adirondack
Muskegon - Kris Tebbs (G), Adirondack
Kalamazoo - Mark Hurtubise (C), Adirondack

Port Huron - Sylvain Daigle (G), Danbury
Flint - Donny Grover (D), Danbury
Muskegon - Frederic Belanger (D), Danbury
Kalamazoo - Mathieu Wathier (D), Adirondack

Port Huron - Troy Smith (D), Danbury
Flint - Greg Bullock (C), Danbury
Muskegon - Danny Stewart (LW), Danbury
Kalamazoo - Alex Jerofejevs (D), Adirondack

Port Huron - John Osborne (LW), Danbury
Flint - Corey Wogtech (G), Adirondack
Muskegon - Ryan Barnes (F), Danbury
Kalamazoo - Joe Markusen (D), Adirondack

Port Huron - Ryan Prentice (C), Adirondack
Flint - Jan Jas (RW), Adirondack
Muskegon - Dimitri Suur (D), Adirondack
Kalamazoo - PASS

The latest dispersal draft

Nelson to return as Fury head coach

The all-time winningest franchise in UHL history, the Muskegon Fury, have agreed to terms with Todd Nelson and signed him to a new two-year contract to remain as director of hockey operations and head coach of the Fury.

Adhering to club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In inking his newest deal, Nelson officially becomes the longest tenured head coach in Fury club history as the upcoming 2006-07 season will mark his fourth campaign at the helm under its initial 14-years of operations under the Fury banner.

In his first three years behind the Fury bench, Nelson has guided Muskegon to 149 victories, two consecutive Colonial Cup championships and one Tarry Cup regular season crown as well as one Central Division title. His 29-playoff victories also rank No. 1 in the Fury record book.

"We feel both very pleased and especially fortunate to have a coach and individual the caliber of Todd Nelson returning for a fourth year to guide our Fury team," Muskegon president Tony Lisman said. "The achievements and the accomplishments of our team under Todd's guiding force have been unprecedented; not only in the 46-year history of Muskegon pro hockey, but also in the history of the UHL. Nelly's ability and talents in building a top-notch, contending team each season and welding it into a championship stature have been truly remarkable. He has helped bring tremendous excitement and consummate professionalism to our organization and our great community.”

"I’m thrilled to be staying on in Muskegon with the Fury," added Nelson. "My first three years here have been an absolutely outstanding experience. These have been experiences here that I would never trade. After winning the championship the first two years, we felt, that in this recently past season, we again had a very strong team, though we did come up a little short in the playoffs. However, Muskegon is a first-class, great organization that always provides outstanding support. It’s the kind of support which once again will be there as we put together another great on-ice product that will challenge to regain the Colonial Cup."

Fury press release

Monday, June 12, 2006

Colt King the newest Port Huron signee

The Port Huron Flags added a double threat to the team roster Monday in signing left wing Colt King.

At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, King is a physical force that should not be underestimated.

“He will be one of the toughest players in the league,” said Flags' head coach Stan Drulia. “This is the kind of player the Port Huron supporters are looking for and he will probably be a fan favorite.”

In 2005-06 with the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies, King played in 67 games and collected 21 goals and 14 assists. He also saw almost 300 penalty minutes and has admitted that he is not afraid to fight.

“Colt will be a physical presence every night and I anticipate at least 20 goals from him during the season," added Drulia. "He is a very rare type of player, because he is both a fighter and a scorer. You don’t find that kind of combination very often."

King played under Drulia in 2004-05 with the ECHL's Augusta Lynx. The two earned each other’s mutual trust and respect. King was new to the league, but proved himself on the ice with a tireless work ethic and Drulia responded by increasing playing time.

“Colt has all the ability and tools to play in the AHL, when he plays in straight lines," Drulia said. "I believe that he is still finding his game and appreciates someone who spends time teaching him the right way to play."

King is a Thunder Bay, Ont., native and was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the fourth round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He was also a first-round OHL draft pick of the Guelph Storm in 1999 and also played in 2002 for the Saginaw Spirit during their first OHL season.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Flags ink Adams as player/assistant coach

The Port Huron Flags have added veteran defenseman B.J. Adams, who will double as the team’s player/assistant coach, to their roster for the upcoming 2006-2007 season.

Adams, a seven-year professional with 373 career games played, becomes the fourth player under contract with the Flags.

The 30-year-old native of Scarborough, Ontario, spent last season with the Toledo Storm in the ECHL. With Toledo, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Adams totaled 12 points in 65 games with 62 minutes in penalties and a plus-14 rating.

After a four year career at Bowling Green State University, Adams played his first four professional games in the now-defunct IHL with the Milwaukee Admirals in 1999-2000. The following season was spent in Toledo before moving on to play two season in Pee Dee (ECHL) and then the 2003-2004 season with the Rockford Ice Hogs (UHL).

He posted his career best numbers as a member of the Odessa Jackalopes (CHL) during the 2004-2005 season, with 10 goals and 28 points.

"B.J. is a smart all around defensive player," said Flags head coach Stan Drulia, an assistant in Toledo this past season. "We will play him every shift against the other team’s top lines."

Adams joins Ryan Gillis, Shayne Tomlinson and Trevor Edwards as players currently under contract with the Flags for the up coming season.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Port Huron re-signs Edwards and Tomlinson

The Port Huron Flags re-signed forwards Trevor Edwards and Shayne Tomlinson to join defenseman Ryan Gillis for a second consecutive season.

Edwards can play both the wing and center position. He has spent both of his two professional seasons in Port Huron, scoring 19 goals as a rookie with the Port Huron Beacons during the 2004-2005 campaign. Edwards’ rights were aquired last summer by the Flags and he became one of just two players on the team to play in at least 74 games.

The Carelton Place, Ont., native finished forth on the team in scoring (37 points), third in goals (17), fifth in assists (20), first in game winning goals (3), and tied for first in shorthanded goals (1). The 24-year-old had a career high in penalty minutes (101) and has career totals of (36-45-81) with 141 penalty minutes in 153 games played.

Tomlinson will return for his tenth professional season. The native of Toronto is the only player to play for all three Port Huron UHL franchises, having spent time with both the Border Cats and Beacons, before becoming a Flag last summer. The 33-year-old was hampered by an injury last season that limited him to 53 games. Tomlinson scored five goals and four assists and earned 87 minutes in penalties.

Tomlinson was versitile, playing both defense and forward for the Flags a season ago.

Community oriented, Tomlinson donated $50 for each goal he scored last season to the St. Clair County Chapter of the Child Abuse and Neglect Council, raising a total of $250 for the organization.

The veteran of nine seasons has played 445 career games with a 24-85-109 line and 560 minutes in penalties.

The signings of Edwards and Tomlinson give the Flags three players under contract for the 2006-2007 UHL season.

Wings keep ticket prices same for '06-07

The Detroit Red Wings will not be raising ticket prices for the upcoming 2006-2007 season.

However, Joe Bucks, a a currency for food and merchandise sold at Joe Louis Arena, Hockeytown Café and Hockeytown Authentics, are no longer being offered.

Tickets will cost the same -- $85, $76, $54, $44 and $22 -- as they have since the 2003-04 season.

More details in today's Free Press.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mechanics scattered in UHL dispersal draft

The United Hockey League conducted a dispersal draft today to allocate players from the Motor City Mechanics, Roanoke Valley Vipers and Missouri River Otters.

Several Mechanics players were drafted, including 51-goal scorer Adam Edinger, who went first overall to the expansion Bloomington Prairie Thunder. The Muskegon Fury, Flint Generals, Port Huron Flags and Colonial Cup champion Kalamazoo Wings also took part.

Motor City ceased operations at the end of the season, citing monetary concerns as the main reason to end their two-year stay in the UHL. They may relocate and Traverse City has been mentioned as a possible destination.

Bloomington Adam Edinger (C), Motor City
Port Huron Mike Wiggins (LW), Roanoke Valley
Elmira Brent Gretzky (C), Motor City
Flint Peter Szabo (F), Motor City
Chicago Kevin Hansen (D), Motor City
Quad City Bill Ruggiero (G), Motor City
Adirondack Matt Smith (D), Motor City
Rockford Mike Burgoyne (D), Motor City
Muskegon Tyler Donati (RW), Motor City
Kalamazoo David Herring (F), Motor City

Bloomington Chris Bogas (D), Motor City
Port Huron Tyler Butler (D), Missouri
Elmira Tom Kotsopoulos (F), Motor City
Flint Tim O’Connell (D), Missouri
Chicago Kris Vernarsky (C), Motor City
Rockford Ryan VanBuskirk (D), Motor City
Muskegon Matt Miller (C), Roanoke Valley
Kalamazoo Scott Dobben (F), Missouri

Port Huron Rico Fatticci (D), Roanoke
Elmira Andrei Lupandin (D), Motor City
Flint Rod Branch (G), Motor City
Quad City Chris Gignac (C), Motor City
Rockford Vlad Serov (RW), Motor City
Danbury Greg Bullock (C), Motor City
Muskegon Jordan Owens (LW), Motor City
Kalamazoo Jimmy Callahan (F), Missouri

Port Huron Steve Makway (D), Missouri
Elmira Kyle Kos (D), Motor City
Flint Travis Smith (D), Roanoke Valley
Muskegon Clay Wilson (D), Missouri
Kalamazoo Mike Richards (D), Missouri

Port Huron Mike Olynyk (F), Missouri
Elmira Mel Angelstad (LW), Motor City
Flint Brian Heckendorn (D), Missouri
Muskegon pass
Kalamazoo pass

Also today, the expansion draft for Bloomington went through its process and the four remaining Michigan teams each lost a player.

Chad Wilcox (F), Flint
Jeff Reynaert (G), Kalamazoo
Jason Lawmaster (RW), Muskegon
Jeremy Symington (G), Port Huron

Complete dispersal draft list
Complete expansion draft list