Thursday, September 28, 2006

Flint adds two forwards, plus a goaltender

The Flint Generals announced the acquisition of three more players today.

Forwards Jeff Zehr (pictured) and Josh Piro were picked up through trades and goaltender Jason Churchill signed his first professional contract.

Zehr, 27, comes to the Generals in a trade with Port Huron for Greg Bullock. He was a second-round draft coice in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders. This will be his seventh season of professional hockey and first in the UHL. In 1999-00, his first season, he played 12 games for the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. During that season he was called up to the NHL by the Boston Bruins and appeared in four games. Zehr’s best season statistically was 2002-03 with Columbus in the ECHL when he had 58 points on 23 goals and 35 assists in 58 games with 229 penalty minutes.

“Greg is a veteran center who we can count on to be responsible and leader in practice," Port Huron head coach Stan Drulia said. "He’ll give us depth up front and he’s basically one of the key guys that we’ve been talking about getting here."

Piro, 27, was acquired by the Generals in a trade with Bloomington for future considerations and is a former member of the Motor City Mechanics. Piro played four seasons at Elmira College before beginning his professional career in 2003 with his hometown Johnstown Chiefs in the ECHL. Last season he played 49 games for Elmira and recorded nine points on three goals and six assists.

Churchill, 20, was a fourth-round selection of the San Jose Sharks in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He has played the last four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, three years with the Halifax Mooseheads and last season with the Saint John Sea Dogs. Churchill’s best season statistically was 2004-05 with Halifax. In 54 games he posted a 28-18-8 record with a 2.59 goals against average and a .905 save percentage.

“Zehr is a first line forward for us. He has NHL and AHL experience and brings character and leadership to our team.” stated Generals' GM Al Sims. “We’re also excited about getting Piro from Bloomington. He is a good two-way center that can play on all three lines. And Churchill was a NHL draft pick. He is a big kid that takes up a lot of the net and he comes with high credentials having been drafted.”

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Trio added to Muskegon roster

Forwards Bill Zalba, Mark Walter and Patrick Steinmayr have all signed with the Muskegon Fury on the eve of training camp starting Sunday.

Zalba played for the Fury the past two seasons while Walter and Steinmayr are rookies.

Steinmayr, a native of Linz, Austria, currently resides in Haslett. In 2005-2006, he did not play, but maintained his conditioning through his full practice participation with the nearby Michigan State Spartans.

Zalba put up 13 points in 2003-2004 and 25 last season with the Fury.

Walter scored 11 goals in 29 regular season games last season with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League.

Twenty players have now signed with Muskegon for this season.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Generals sign Turgeon and Eriksson

The Flint Generals have signed two more players and have invited another on a tryout.

Tyson Turgeon and Jan Eriksson are signed to contracts, while David Frawley will be in camp on a tryout.

Turgeon spent three seasons playing for the Kalamazoo Wings. He set career highs in games played, goals, points and penalty minutes in the 2004-05 season. In 73 games he recorded 25 points on eight goals and 17 assists and had 80 penalty minutes. Turgeon has 54 points in 162 games in his career, all with the Wings. Before turning pro, the 29-year-old defenseman played four years at Lake Superior State University.

Eriksson, a 27-year-old forward from Porvoo, Finland, will be making his North American debut this season. Eriksson has played six seasons of professional hockey in Europe and had his best season statistically last year. He set career highs in games played, goals, assists and points. In 48 games he had 66 points on 23 goals and 43 assists.

Frawley enters his second season of professional hockey after splitting last season with Flint and Fort Wayne. In 17 games with the Generals he had one assist and eight penalty minutes. The 22-year-old appeared in 36 games for the Komets and had two goals and six assists for eight points. Frawley will still be classified a rookie this season because he has played fewer than 60 as a professional.

“Turgeon will be a top four defenseman in this league. He competes hard and is a good skater.” said Flint GM Al Sims. “Eriksson is a good offensive player and he should be able to put up some good numbers in this league. And Frawley is a heart-and-soul type player, a good character guy. I had him in training camp last year in Fort Worth before he came here to Flint.”

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fury signs two more in Insana, Cyr

Defenseman Jon Insana and goaltender Ryan Cyr have signed on the dotted line with the Muskegon Fury.

Insana will be starting his third year with the Fury while Cyr is beginning his first UHL season.

Originally drafted by the Fury in the fifth round of the 2002 UHL North American Amateur Draft, Insana starred for four years at Michigan State where he was a teammate of Fury captain Rustyn Dolyny.

Cyr played 21 games last year with the ECHL's Phoenix Roadrunners.

"We're very excited to have Jon back in the Fury fold for another season," Fury head coach Bruce Ramsay said. "It has been proven in the past that Jon Insana can be one of the premiere defensemen in this league.

"Ryan enjoyed a tremendous major junior A career in the WHL and finished last season as the No. 1 goalie on a bad team. However, despite such adversity, he still generated some excellent numbers for his Phoenix team. Once Ryan arrives here in Muskegon, we fully expect him to challenge Clayton Pool for the No. 1 goaltending spot all season. Should he play to his potential, he could be one of the top goalies in the UHL."

A total of 17 players are now under contract with Muskegon.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

K-Wings continue to add offense

The Kalamazoo Wings announced the signing of forwards Shawn Snider and Scott Dobben today.

Snider is a second-year professional, who comes to Kalamazoo after spending his rookie campaign with the Phoenix Roadrunners of the ECHL. Last season in Phoenix, the native of Fergus, Ontario, tallied 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 70 games and earned a spot in the ECHL All-Star Game.

“Shawn brings the ability the score and some grit up front,” said Wings' GM Paul Pickard. “He also has led two Ontario Hockey League teams in scoring and we expect him to reach that same level here.”

Snider’s abilities have earned him an invitation to the Worcester Sharks (AHL) training camp beginning next Monday.

Dobben (right), entering his third professional season, has spent a portion of his first two years in the American Hockey League.

Dobben played with both the Motor City Mechanics and the Missouri River Otters last year and was also called up to the Peoria Rivermen (AHL).

“In his two-year career he (Dobben) has proven he can play not only at this level, but at the next level,” said Pickard. “Scott has been productive everywhere he has played and we believe he will find continued success here in Kalamazoo.”

The native of Drayton, Ontario, was selected in the fourth round (113th overall) of the 2002 National Hockey League Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators.

Dobben began his pro career during the 2004-05 season in the ECHL with both the Fresno Falcons and the Johnstown Chiefs. However, Dobben would spend a majority of his rookie campaign in the AHL with the Cleveland Barons.

The addition of Snider and Dobben gives the K-Wings 13 players signed for their defense of the Colonial Cup.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Katzberg, Bonello sign with Port Huron

Three weeks away from training camp, Port Huron Flags head coach Stan Drulia has signed two more weapons for the high-powered offense that he is planning for the season.

Andrew Katzberg is a winger who comes to the Flags from the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Florida Seals. Last season, Katzberg recorded 12 goals, 10 assists and 341 penalty minutes in 55 games.

"He is a big, strong guy who will provide plenty of toughness to an already hard-nosed team," said Drulia. "I am very excited about adding Andrew into the mix. His game will keep other players honest. No one is going to come into our arena and leave here without some bumps and bruises."

Left wing Brad Bonello spent last year between the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins and two ECHL teams, racking up 49 points across the season.

“Brad is a small guy who plays big," Drulia said after the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Bonello. "He should score around 30 goals and will play a very antagonistic game. Other teams and players will know when he is on the ice."

Katzberg and Bonello are the 17th and 18th players to sign with the Flags this offseason.

Travis Richards Night - Nov. 24

Travis Richards, the only Grand Rapids Griffins player to play in each of the team’s first 10 seasons (1996-2006), will have his No. 24 jersey retired during a ceremony on Friday, Nov. 24, prior to the Griffins’ 7:00 p.m. game against the Chicago Wolves.

As part of the festivities for “Travis Richards Night presented by Grand Craft,” the first 1,500 kids will receive a Griffins T-shirt featuring Richards’ name and legendary No. 24 on the back. The organization will also mark the occasion with presentations and events throughout the evening.

At the time of Richards’ retirement announcement, only five pro athletes in the state of Michigan – Kris Draper, Nicklas Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings, and Jason Hanson and Cory Schlesinger of the Detroit Lions – had logged more consecutive, uninterrupted seasons of play in their current uniform than “Mr. Griffin.”

Richards became the second player and first American to sign with the Griffins on July 26, 1996, and he departed as Grand Rapids’ all-time leader with 655 games played. He helped lead the Griffins to five division titles, four conference championship appearances and an IHL Turner Cup Finals berth (2000) during the last seven years.

Full Griffins press release HERE

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Generals acquire pair, sign rookie

The Flint Generals completed a trade with the Quad City Mallards today.

The Generals traded the rights to defenseman Brent Currie for the rights to forwards Chris Gignac and Sean Kotary.

Gignac (pictured), 32, played the last two seasons for the Motor City Mechanics and has played eight seasons of professional hockey, including two seasons in Germany. Last season, Gignac played in 56 games for Motor City and had 43 points on 15 goals and 28 assists. His rights were acquired by Quad City in a dispersal draft earlier this summer.

Gignac played juniors in the early 1990s for the OHL's Detroit Junior Red Wings (now Plymouth Whalers).

The 25-year-old Kotary, a ninth-round selection of the Colorado Avalanche in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, has played one season of professional hockey. Kotary finished his college career at SUNY-Oswego before beginning his professional career. Last season he played for Port Huron and Elmira and finished the season with Quad City. He scored 19 points on one goal and 18 assists in 73 games with all three teams last season.

The Generals also announced the signing of rookie forward Steve Richards. After playing three seasons of junior hockey, he played eight games for the Knoxville Ice Bears of the SPHL last season. His best season in juniors was 2002-03 when he had 34 points in 44 games playing for Amherst and Yarmouth in the MJAHL.

“We feel we are putting together a very competitive team this season and all three of these players will add to our success.” said Flint GM Al Sims. “Richards is a player in the mold of our coach Kevin Kerr. He’s a feisty player that is a bit of an agitator and will be fun to watch him during our camp.”

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Flint adds two defensemen, forward, goalie

The Flint Generals are quickly adding players to their roster for the upcoming season.

Over the past week, the Generals signed four players - two defensemen, a forward and a rookie goalie.

Forward Steve Roberts has played 11 seasons of professional hockey, five seasons in Europe. The majority of his career in North America has been in the ECHL, but has also played in the AHL and IHL. Roberts’ best season was 1996-97 with the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL when he had 47 goals and 26 assists for 73 points in 62 games. He followed that with 54 points (37g-17a) in 50 games the next season. Roberts spent last season with Victoria of the ECHL and had 23 points (14-9) in 34 games.

"Roberts is a very skilled offensive player, something the Generals need to be successful," Flint GM Al Sims said.

Gerard Miller and Dion Hyman are the pair of defenders.

Miller is entering his first full season of professional hockey in North America. After three seasons at the University of Vermont, Miller played in Germany for a season and a half. He played the second half of last season for Amarillo in the Central Hockey League.

Hyman has played four years of professional hockey, mostly in the CHL. He began his professional career with the Laredo Bucks where he won a championship in 2004. Hyman has played as high as the AHL, seeing some action with San Antonio in 2005.

"Miller is a solid young defenseman that can really skate and handle the puck," said Sims. "He also has a bomb of a shot from the point. Hyman is big, strong, physical defenseman, something we will need this season."

Former Saginaw Spirit goalie Eric Pfligler will be Jason Muzzatti's understudy in net.

Pfligler played last season for the Chicago Steel of the USHL. At the end of last season, he made his professional debut, appearing in three games for the Odessa Jackalopes of the CHL. Pfligler suited up for Saginaw in 2003-04, going 2-17-0 in 23 games, but with a respectable .903 save percentage and a 3.28 goals-against average.

"Pfligler is a young, talented goaltender who will have an opportunity to learn the professional game playing with Jason Muzzatti," noted Sims. "As an organization, we are very pleased the way the Generals are coming together this season."

A total of eight players are now under contract for the Generals for 2006-07.

Fury signs pair of forwards for '06-07

Center Scott Barnes and left wing Evan Kotsopoulos are the newest members of the Muskegon Fury.

Barnes is a cousin of current Fury enforcer Ryan Barnes and Kotsopoulos will be entering his first professional season.

The 27-year-old Barnes will be embarking on his third pro season. He comes to the Muskegon hockey area following an outstanding 2005-06 campaign in the Central Hockey League. Dividing his season with the Youngstown Steelhounds and the Oklahoma City Blazers, Barnes recorded 43 points in 59 games on 20 goals and 23 assists and also added 115 penalty minutes.

Kotsopoulos, 22, played four years in the Ontario Hockey League and last season in Canada at the University of Western Ontario where he posted 10 goals, 20 points and 56 PIMs in just 17 games.

"We, as a team, are very happy to add Scott to our lineup," Muskegon head coach Bruce Ramsay said. "He is an outstanding young player who has the real ability to spark our third line. In fact, he has the potential to play on one of our top two lines as well. Scott plays with an edge and also contributes offensively as his 20-goals last season would indicate. We are looking for him to become a real sparkplug on our club this season."

Ramsay went on to hype Kotsopoulos.

"Evan is a highly-touted rookie who is coming to us after an outstanding junior career which he followed with one solid season of university hockey last year," said Ramsay. "His numbers would demonstrate that he is a player quite similar in nature to Scott Barnes in that he is gritty and will put points on the board. Evan has the potential to become a top line forward and one of the top rookies in the UHL this coming season."

The additions of Barnes and Kotsopoulos makes the current Fury roster stand at 15.

Two Michigan teams make minor trades

The Detroit Red Wings and Muskegon Fury made trades yesterday, both very minor in nature.

Detroit dealt minor-league goaltender Drew MacIntyre to Vancouver for a conditional pick in the 2007 NHL draft. MacIntyre, 23, was selected by the Red Wings in the fourth round (121st overall) of the 2002 draft. He has divided his time between the Toledo Storm of the ECHL and the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL since joining the Wings organization.

On the UHL front, the Fury acquired big defenseman Brett Angel from the Elmira Jackals for the rights to goalie Kris Tebbs. Angel played 46 games for Muskegon a year ago with 196 penalty minutes and also saw action in four games with the Griffins.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Enforcer Fels back with Muskegon

Tough guy Ken Fels has re-signed with the Muskegon Fury.

Fels, 28, played in 73 games at right wing with the Fury a year ago and registered 10 points and 245 penalty minutes.

He also played with the Port Huron Beacons in 2003-2004.

"I have played with or either coached Kenny over the past four or five years," Fury head coach Bruce Ramsay said. "He is the consummate stand-up guy who gives everything that he has every game, every night. There are few hombres around who you would prefer not to tangle with; Ken is one of those kinds of tough customers. He is one of the toughest players in the UHL and he gives absolutely everything for his team and all of his teammates. When he is on the ice, he makes our club a lot stronger.

"What makes Ken even more valuable to our team is the fact that he is an excellent, well-conditioned athlete. He is always in great shape. A player of Ken Fels caliber combined with his toughness is a real plus for us. We are excited to have him here.”

Fels is the 13th Fury player signed for the upcoming season.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Kalamazoo signs ex-Wolverine, ex-Whaler

The Kalamazoo Wings have signed former Michigan defenseman Mike Roemensky and ex-Plymouth Whalers' goaltender Ryan Nie.

Roemensky, a White Lake native, joins the K-Wings for his third season as a professional. Before coming to Kalamazoo, Roemensky played in the ECHL with the Colombia Inferno and most recently with the now-defunct Motor City Mechanics in the UHL.

“Mike has proven himself at the collegiate level and has shown he can adapt his play to the pro game,” said Wings' GM Paul Pickard. “He’s a gritty player that can battle in the corners for pucks, as well as stand his man up at the blueline.”

While the 2006-07 campaign will be Nie’s rookie year, the netminder brings with him an impressive resume.

For the past four seasons, Nie has been one of the top goaltenders in the OHL. In 130 games between the pipes with Plymouth (2002-2005), Toronto and Sarnia, he had a goals-against average of 2.93 and a save percentage of .911.

Nie was originally a ninth-round pick of the Whalers in the 2001 OHL Priority Selection. He was also an All-Star in 2005, Plymouth's lone representative on the squad.

“We believe he will turn some heads with his play,” said Pickard. “With his resume, he has the ability to be our number one goaltender this year.”

The addition of Roemensky and Nie gives the K-Wings eleven players signed for their defense of the Colonial Cup.