Thursday, August 23, 2007

Muskegon signs pair of goaltenders

The Muskegon Fury signed two goaltenders today out of the college ranks.

Ryan Grinnell and Kyle McNulty inked contracts to play in Muskegon this fall.

Grinnell just completed his collegiate eligibilty at the University of Toronto, while McNulty finished his four years at Clarkson University.

The 31-year-old Grinnell went 18-9-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage and two shutouts last year.

“Ryan is a goaltender who has really come on later in his overall career," Fury head coach Bruce Ramsay said. "Last season, he experienced an absolutely outstanding year which was made even more impressive in that he accomplished it against some of the top-notch major junior goaltenders."

McNulty, 25, saw action in five games last year going 1-2-0 with a 3.85 GAA and .870 SV %. It was in his junior year of 2005-06, however, when he really thrived, compiling a 2.86 GAA in 15 outings alongside a 7-8-0 mark.

“Kyle is coming to us from a very strong Division I program where he was an integral part of their goaltending position for four solid years," said Ramsay. "He possesses an outstanding work ethic and we know he will come to camp well-prepared as he has been on the ice all summer long to get ready for his first pro season."

The Fury now has a dozen players signed for this upcoming season.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Grand Rapids brings back solid foursome

Adding punch, scoring and depth to their lineup, the Grand Rapids Griffins have re-signed four players to contracts for the 2007-08 American Hockey League season: right wings Adam Keefe, Jamie Tardif and Mike Walsh and defenseman Cleve Kinley.

All four made their Grand Rapids debuts last season.

Keefe, 23, quickly became a fan favorite after being acquired in a Feb. 23 trade with the Manitoba Moose. He racked up 97 penalty minutes in just 16 games with Grand Rapids before his season came to a premature end due to a severe hand laceration suffered in a March 28 game against Milwaukee. A third-year pro who won a Memorial Cup with Kitchener in 2003, Keefe has totaled 12 points (5-7—12) and 346 PIM in 69 career AHL contests, along with 33 points (15-18—33) and 547 PIM in 105 pro games.

Tardif, 22, earned his way into Grand Rapids’ record book while logging his first pro hat trick on March 3 at Syracuse, as he became only the third player in Griffins history to score three goals in a single period. Calgary’s fourth selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, he registered nine goals and 15 points in 27 games with the Griffins, after totaling three other AHL contests with Manitoba and Iowa. Tardif began his rookie campaign with the ECHL’s Toledo Storm, compiling 30 points (10-20—30) in 34 games and scoring a goal during the league’s all-star game on Jan. 17. He subsequently signed with the Griffins on Jan. 26.

Kinley, 23, originally signed an amateur tryout with the Griffins on March 12, following his senior season as captain at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. After tallying nine points (3-6—9) in 31 games for the River Hawks, he went scoreless in his pro debut with the Griffins on March 16 before logging two assists in three appearances with the UHL’s Muskegon Fury.

Walsh, 24, signed his first pro contract with the Griffins last summer and spent the majority of the 2006-07 season with their ECHL affiliate in Toledo. The native of Royal Oak tied for third on the Storm in scoring with 40 points (14-26—40) in 66 games and netted his first pro hat trick in Toledo’s 3-0 win over Columbia on Feb. 17. A Notre Dame alum who was the New York Rangers’ fourth choice in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Walsh saw action in five games with the Griffins last season.

Icehawks sign three ex-Flags

The Port Huron Icehawks announced today the signing of three players who were members of the Flags last season. All three players - Mark Cadotte, Mike Olynky and Joe Markusen - contributed to Port Huron's playoff push last season.

Cadotte (5-foot-8, 185 pounds), is a left-handed center who can also play left wing. He has been playing professional hockey since 1998. A former member of the Detroit and Plymouth Whalers, Cadotte played the 2005-2006 season in Italy and returned to the U.S. last year with the Flags, where he scored 19 goals and 21 assists in 66 games.

"Mark is a 20-plus goal scorer with great speed and penalty kill instincts," Icehawks coach-GM Stan Drulia said. "And after a year of playing back in North America, he is better adjusted for the style of game we play."

Olynyk (6-foot, 197-pounds) plays center and right wing. Last season for Port Huron, he scored 14 goals and had 10 assists.

"Olynyk was a huge surprise last year," Drulia said. "He's gritty and fights for every inch of ice. All his teammates love to play with him, and he does all the little things. He's never afraid of a game situation and almost seems to enjoy the nasty side of the game."

Markusen (6-foot, 185-pounds) is a defenseman who played four seasons at Michigan State. He played for the Kalamazoo Wings and Elmira Jackals last season before joining the Flags for the playoffs. His solid defense allows him to play in every situation and provides depth and backend support for the Icehawks.

"Joe is an extremely cool customer and simply does not get rattled," Drulia said. "He should get 20-plus points and 130 penalty minutes. He is very sound in his own end, has great poise with the puck and loves to step up and catch his opponents with their head down in open ice."

Cadotte, Olynky and Markusen add veteran leadership and invaluable game skills to the Icehawks.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Former Viper, Mechanic inks with Fury

Kyle Kos, a former second-round pick of Tampa Bay, signed with the Muskegon Fury over the weekend.

Kos, who played minors in Michigan with the defunct Detroit Vipers of the old IHL and Motor City Mechanics of the UHL, will be entering his ninth pro season after inking a two-year deal with Muskegon.

“Having watched him for those two seasons with Motor City, we know that Kyle will be a major asset to the success of the Fury for this coming season," Muskegon head coach Bruce Ramsay said. "He is a big, solid defenseman who will bring plenty of attributes to our club. He is physical, moves the puck exceptionally well and has lots of great experience. With Kyle, Dave Van Drunen and Philippe Plante, we have a trio of stellar veteran defensemen who will not only shore up our back end but will also be vital to the development and maturing of our younger players.”

Last year, Kos, 28, tallied 21 points with the Rocky Mountain Rage of the Central Hockey League.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Icehawks and Red Wings team up

The Port Huron Icehawks will now function as a AA affiliate to the Detroit Red Wings. The affiliation will aid the development of players and will give the Red Wings access to the Icehawks’ roster.

Thus far, two members of the Icehawks, center Kris Vernarsky and forward Neil Clark, have been invited to partake in the Red Wings’ training camp.

“The Port Huron area has a great hockey tradition and we look forward to expanding on that tradition,” Jim Nill, assistant general manager of the Red Wings, said. “Our coaches will evaluate players during training camp and the entire Red Wings organization will do its best to nurture the talent we find.”

Vernarsky has been playing professional hockey since 2002. He was selected in the second round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs and played with the Boston Bruins, where he scored one goal in 17 games. Last year, the Warren native played with the Port Huron Flags and scored 22 points in 34 games.

Clark played at Iona College for the 2002-03 season before transferring to Manhattanville College, where he played from 2003-06. Last year, he was a member of the CHL's Laredo Bucks and played in the championship series against the Colorado Eagles. In 21 playoff games, he scored six goals and 12 points.

“This is great for our players and organization,” Port Huron coach-GM Stan Drulia said. “The Red Wings have allowed some of our players the opportunity to show case their skills at the games highest level. We look forward to the upcoming season and hope our players one day can play in the NHL.”

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Watt returns to Muskegon for '07-08

Forward Mike Watt will return to the Muskegon Fury this fall for his second year with the IHL team as player-assistant coach.

Last season, Watt, 31, finished ninth in UHL scoring with 35 goals among 79 points. He was also named the league's most sportsmanlike player.

“The return of Mike Watt represents a huge signing for the Muskegon Fury organization," Fury head coach Bruce Ramsay said. "The assets and attributes he brings to us are vast. He brings that key veteran leadership which is so vital to the successes that we enjoyed last season and for the upcoming season. He probably possesses the hardest shot in the league and always plays a strong and responsible game defensively. In addition, Mike will, again, serve in the capacity of our assistant coach. Through that role, he will instill the importance of our team systems and also play an important part in working with our young players. Mike is one of the most outstanding players in our league.”

Muskegon now has nine players under contract for next season.

K-Wings bring back Karlander, add goalie

The Kalamazoo Wings signed forward Kory Karlander and goaltender Brad Smith today.

Building off an average of 84 points over the past two seasons, Karlander is set to return for his fourth straight season and fifth overall with the K-Wings. The 12-year pro is the only current member of the K-Wings that can make claim of representing the K-Wings the last time they played under the IHL umbrella (1999-00).

Assistant captain the past two seasons and member of the K-Wings 2005-06 Colonial Cup championship team, Karlander made Kalamazoo’s final season in the United Hockey League a memorable one. The native of Melita, Manitoba shattered the franchise’s UHL record for goals in a single season netting 45 to surpass Jim Duhart, who established the record during the 1999-00 season, when the franchise was located in Madison, Wisconsin.

“Not only is Kory a top goal scorer in our league, he is also one of the top centers when it comes to winning face-offs," said Kalamazoo GM Wade Welsh. “Kory is committed to being a K-Wing. He had opportunities overseas, but his first choice was always to return to Kalamazoo.”

A consistent performer during the 2006-07 campaign, Karlander was one of five K-Wings selected to the starting lineup for the 2006 UHL All-Star Game. Karlander rung in the New Year going on an 11-game goal and point streak. The goal streak was both a season high for the K-Wings and UHL.

Stellar play in the regular season earned Karlander the K-Wings’ KOHA Plus/Minus (+20), Keyser Insurance Agency Leading Scorer (88) and Otten Trophies Star of Game (7) awards. Karlander’s postseason accolades were not limited to team honors. The veteran, who led all UHL players in goals scored (45) was selected to the UHL’s All-Star First Team.

Karlander’s regular season success carried over in last year’s playoffs where he went on a K-Wings’ and UHL playoff high 10-game point streak and in the process set the K-Wings’ UHL franchise record for points (33) in a playoff career.

In addition to playing in North America, Karlander has also played two seasons of hockey in the British International Super League with the Belfast Giants. While in Belfast during the 2002-03 season, Karlander led the Giants to the league championship. In 29 games, Karlander compiled 22 points in the regular season. During the playoffs, he proved to be unstoppable, amassing 24 points in just 18 games to lead his team to the title and earn the league’s post season scoring title.

Kalamazoo acquired the rights for Smith during the Dispersal Draft in June. The signing of Smith makes him the first goaltender signed for the upcoming season.

After commencing last season in the CHL with the New Mexico Scorpions, Smith finished his first season in professional hockey in the UHL splitting time with both Port Huron and Quad City. Smith allowed 44 goals in 13 games with both the Flags and the Mallards.

“Brad has the potential to be a good rookie goaltender in the new IHL,” said Welsh. “We expect him to come to camp, work hard and solidify our back-up goaltender position for the upcoming season.”

Though the 2007-08 season will be Smith’s second, the native of Detroit is considered a rookie under IHL rules, which states a goaltender shall have rookie status if he has logged less than 3,600 minutes between the pipes.

Smith, who played two years of NCAA hockey with the University of Connecticut, still holds the Huskies’ school record for saves in a single-game by stopping 52 of 53 shots en route to a 4-1 victory for UConn over Sacred Heart during the 2006 Atlantic Hockey Association quarterfinals.

Smith's top pro performance occurred with New Mexico as he recorded 45 saves last November 1 to lead the Scorpions to a 2-1 victory over the Youngstown Steelhounds.

The addition of Karlander and Smith gives the K-Wings a dozen players signed for the upcoming 2007-08 season.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

K-Zoo brings back Drake, Versteeg-Lytwyn

The Kalamazoo Wings announced the signings of forwards Lucas Drake and Mark Versteeg-Lytwyn on Monday.

Known for scoring the most important goal in K-Wings’ UHL history, a game five Colonial Cup clinching overtime tally during the 2006 playoffs, Drake is one of the most popular
K-Wings in recent time.

The upcoming season will be Drake’s fifth as a professional and third in Kalamazoo. After hoisting the Colonial Cup to cap off the 2005-06 season, Drake started last year in the ECHL with the Columbia Inferno.

In mid-December, Drake returned to Kalamazoo and made an immediate impact, recording a hat trick in his Wings Stadium season debut versus the Fort Wayne Komets. The goal sparked an offensive explosion for Drake, who then went on a ten-game point streak.

“He (Drake) brings a lot of intangibles to our lineup,” said Wings GM Wade Welsh. “Over the past two seasons, Lucas has been one of our most consistent performers, especially in critical games.”

Drake’s heroics have been noticed by the fans, as the forward received the K-Wings’ Kalsee Credit Union Unsung Hero Award during each of his two seasons in Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo has been a second home for the Holt native. Besides two years with the K-Wings, Drake played four seasons of collegiate hockey for the Western Michigan University Broncos (2000-2004), registering 55 points in 149 games.

Another returnee from 2006-07 K-Wings, Versteeg-Lytwyn was the youngest player (20 years old) in the UHL last season.

Youth didn’t hinder Versteeg-Lytwyn’s growth as a player, as the forward notched 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) during his rookie campaign, with 18 of those points occurring in the second half of the season. Highlighting his first-year was a four-point night on January 26 at Wings Stadium, where he recorded his first professional hat trick and added an assist against the Elmira Jackals.

As a result of Versteeg-Lytwyn improvements during the season, he received the K-Wings’ 2006-07 Meijer Most Improved Player Award.

“Mark is the type of player that will do whatever it takes to be successful,” said Welsh. “As last season went on, his confidence increased and so did his development. With a year under his belt, we (K-Wings) believe he will continue to grow as a player.”

Before turning pro last season, the native of Sharon, Ontario spent the past four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League. A majority of Versteeg-Lytwyn’s amateur success came with the Guelph Storm, where he helped his team to win the OHL championship ('03-04).

The addition of Drake and Versteeg-Lytwyn gives the K-Wings 10 players signed for the upcoming 2007-08 season.

Flint adds talented forward trio

Michel Beausoleil, Mike Alexiou and Jaroslav Cesky all signed with the Flint Generals this week, adding to the team's supply of forwards.

Beausoleil spent the past season with the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League where he netted 19 goals and added 21 assists for 40 points and 71 penalty minutes in 54 games. He helped the Blazers return to the CHL playoffs where he had four points and 18 penalty minutes in 14 games.

“We are looking for Michel to be a force offensively,” said Generals director of hockey operations Ron Sanko. “He is a gifted and skilled player who we expect to be one of our team leaders in scoring.”

Alexiou spent four seasons at Merrimack College where he finished among the top 10 in scoring each of his four years.

“Mike has good skills and understands the game well,” said Generals head coach Kevin Kerr. “He will fill a role for us on the third line and we are happy to have him.”

Cesky, a native of the Czech Republic, was traded to Oklahoma City from the Tulsa Oilers, a team he was entering his third season with. In 31 games with the Blazers, the speedy right-winger had six goals and six assists for 12 points and 36 penalty minutes. He appeared in 13 playoff games with the Blazers and had five points (two goals and three assists) and 22 penalty minutes.

“Jaroslav is another quality guy with good work ethic, qreat speed and can contribute offensively to the lineup,” said Kerr. “He reminds me a lot of Jan Jas who was voted as a fan favorite with our team last year. He is a European who plays the North American style of game with an edge. We are building our team around toughness and grit and he will fit into our plans.”

Flint has 10 players under contract for the upcoming season.

Generals and Red Wings form affiliation

The Flint Generals have entered into a one-year affiliation agreement with the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League.

Flint will serve as an affiliate at the Double-A level of professional hockey. As part of the affiliation, the Generals will send selected players to the Red Wings' training camp in Traverse City. During the season and playoffs Detroit will be able to send and or call-up players from Flint.

The Generals replace the Toledo Storm of the ECHL, who ceased operations last spring, as Detroit's No. 2 affiliate.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Generals sign ex-Mechanic Futers for '07-08

The Flint Generals continue to add depth to their roster with the addition of forward Shawn Futers.

Futers spent last year with Quebec RadioX of the Quebec Senior Professional Hockey League where he played in 18 games and notched one goal and one assist for two points and had 77 penalty minutes.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound left-shooting left winger has previous professional hockey experience with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League where in the 2005-2006 season he had one goal and two assists for three points and 251 penalty minutes in 51 games.

“He’s a youthful guy who brings toughness and a physical presence to our team,” said Flint director of hockey operations Ron Sanko. “He is going to make players accountable who come in to Flint to play.”

Futers broke into professional hockey during the 2004-2005 season where he played in one game with the Motor City Mechanics of the United Hockey League.

The gritty forward played in 163 career junior games in the Ontario Hockey League with the Peterborough Petes, London Knights, Kingston Frontenacs and Sarnia Sting. He had six goals and 12 assists for 18 points and 292 career penalty minutes.

“He plays a role on the team and if you are going to have success you need grit, defense, playmakers and goal scorers,” Sanko said. “He is another piece of the puzzle to bring a winning team to Flint.”

Port Huron adds Davis, Gehrke to blueline

The Port Huron Icehawks added defensemen Andrew Davis and Chris Gehrke this week.

Davis (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) is known for very physical defensive play. He compiled 166 penalty minutes last season in addition to eight goals and 20 assists while he split time with the Odessa Jackalopes and Memphis Riverkings of the Central Hockey League.

“This guy is can flat out play in any situation,” Icehawks coach-GM Stan Drulia said. “He competes on every shift with a nasty edge.”

Davis’ physical style of play has garnered the attention of the American Hockey League as he will be attending training camp this season with the Worcester Sharks.

Gehrke (5-foot-11, 205 pounds) has only played in 52 professional games, qualifying him as a rookie under International Hockey League rules. To qualify as a veteran, a player must amass 3600 minutes as a pro. The Icehawks obtained his rights by drafting him in the second round of the dispersal draft in June.

Gehrke played collegiate hockey at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Last year with the Chicago Hounds, he had 22 fighting majors and 206 penalty minutes.

“Chris is extremely physical, competes every shift and does not back down,” Drulia said. “He brings his lunch pail, blue-collar mentality on the ice and competes every shift and is not afraid to mix it up. Our fans may remember the fight he had last season with (former Flag) Colt King.”

Drulia stated that with these two additions, the Icehawks should be solid on the blue line.

“These two guys will keep the offensive players of the other teams on their heals,” Drulia explained. “Our defensive zone is not going to be a nice place for opposing players this season.”

The Icehawks now have 13 players on its roster for the upcoming 2007-2008 campaign. Davis and Gehrke will join defensemen Mark DeSantis, B.J. Adams and Chris Bogas. The team has also inked goaltenders Marty Magers, Ron Vogel and Ray Jean.

Now that the defense is strong, Drulia plans on addressing the team’s offensive needs.

“We are working our way out,” Drulia said. “Our goaltending is solid, our defense is solid and offense is our next step.”

Friday, August 10, 2007

Zalba makes return to Muskegon

Bill Zalba signed with the Muskegon Fury yesterday for his third tour of duty with the club.

Last season in Muskegon, Zalba posted nine goals and 15 points. He's known as a sparkplug and Fury head coach Bruce Ramsay is aware of what Zalba can contribute.

“First, we are pleased to have Bill back in the fold for the upcoming season," Ramsay said. "He has been an outstanding two-way performer who has always brought a lot to the table for the team and is very much appreciated by his teammates. He has become an ace penalty-killer for us and he has the ability to play all three of the forward positions in a very versatile fashion and he will always stand-up for his teammates no matter what the situation may be.”

With Zalba's signing, the Fury now has eight players under contract for next season.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Muskegon signs pair of defensemen

The Muskegon Fury today signed defensemen Jay Hardwick and Russ Moyer.

Hardwick played the last three seasons in the Central Hockey League with the Corpus Christi Rayz after four years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Moyer just completed his college career in Canada at Acadia University. He won an Ontario Hockey League championship in 2001 with the Ottawa 67's.

“Jay Hardwick is a solid, stay-at-home-defenseman who will be a very effective player and will continue to keep the Fury’s tradition alive of being a very strong defensive team," Fury head coach Bruce Ramsay said. "In addition, he brings to us the valuable experience of pro leadership which should translate in Jay being good in the locker room and a standout team man. The attributes he brings to Muskegon will make us a better overall team as well.

“As far as Russ Moyer is concerned, he is expected to be one of the best rookies in the IHL for the upcoming season. He, too, is a solid defenseman who possesses good offensive talents and instincts. He has excellent speed and we look for him to create and contribute offensively for us this new season.”

Muskegon now has seven players under contract for 2007-2008.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Flint brings in big defender Westgarth

The Flint Generals strengthened their defense corps this week with the signing of rookie Brett Westgarth.

Westgarth spent the end of the 2006-2007 season with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League and notched an assist and had six penalty minutes in five games.

“We are excited to have a player with the caliber and talent of Brett,” said Generals head coach Kevin Kerr. “He is a big kid who understands the game and can move the puck really well. Brett has a good upside offensively and is solid defensively.”

Prior to attending the Generals training camp, Westgarth will take part in the Detroit Red Wings training camp.

Westgarth spent four years at Princeton University where he played in 114 career games and notched four goals and 20 assists for 24 points and 110 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound right-shooting defender from Amherstburg, Ontario was a member of the ECAC All-Academic Team in 2004, 2006 and 2007. Westgarth was also four-time letterwinner while at Princeton.

Flint now has six players signed for the 2007-2008 season.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Red Wings like Gelech's potential

By Matthew Wuest

The Detroit Red Wings see a little bit of Anaheim Ducks forward Travis Moen in recently-signed right-winger Randall Gelech.

The 23-year-old Gelech inked a two-year contract with the Red Wings in mid-July after the Phoenix Coyotes opted not to re-sign him. The Red Wings like his potential and want to keep developing him, and will likely assign him to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

“You’re hoping Gelech, down the road, maybe becomes a Travis Moen,” Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said. “He played against Moen in junior and he was just as good of a player. You’re just hoping. He’s still a young kid.”

Moen, 25, had 21 points in 82 games with the Ducks last season and added 12 points in 21 playoff games en route to Stanley Cup. Gelech recorded 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points in 79 games last season with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has the attributes of a good NHL fourth-liner.

“We like his size, he plays hard on the boards, he chases the puck well and he has pretty good hands for a big guy,” Nill said. “In this game, we’re forced to rush a lot of kids and we’re just hoping we find one of them who slips through the cracks, much like Dan Cleary did.”

In other news, goaltender Logan Koopmans has re-signed with the Red Wings, inking a one-year contract. The 23-year-old has averaged just over 20 starts per season over the past three years because of various injuries, and was even contemplating retirement at one point.

The Red Wings now have five goaltenders under contract.

“He had tough luck with injuries and we just said, ‘You know what? Let's give him a chance, one more time,’” Nill said.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Generals hire Puska for radio duties

The Flint Generals will have a new radio voice this season.

The Generals announced the hiring of Denis J. Puska as the new Director of Media Relations/Broadcasting and Account Executive. Puska begins working in the Generals front office next Monday.

Puska brings more than 20 years of broadcasting and media relations experience to the position along with six years in professional hockey. He was the 2004 Central Hockey League’s Broadcaster of the Year while with the Amarillo Gorillas, a team he spent four seasons with. That same season he was named as a member of the broadcast team for the CHL All-Star Game in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I am thrilled to be joining a first-class organization in the Generals,” said Puska, a native of Kapuskasing, Ontario. “I’ve heard nothing but great things about the new ownership group and can’t wait to get started getting to know the great Generals’ hockey fans and becoming a part of the community.”

Puska spent the 2006-2007 season with the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the ECHL and prior to that was the first radio voice of the Huntsville Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

Broadcasting hockey has been in Puska’s blood from an early age. He began practicing calling games in his parent’s basement in Canada at the age of 11 and got his first job at the local radio station calling minor hockey tournaments at 14. He is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism program at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. Puska has spent many years working in the media industry as a reporter for newspapers and radio stations.

He had an article on San Jose Sharks’ forward Jonathan Cheechoo published in The Hockey News in 1999.

The Generals and also hired Andy Howell as Director of Game-Day Operations. He comes to the Generals from the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL. Howell graduted from Flushing High School and has a degree from Northwood University in Sports Entertainment and Sports Promotions and Management.

Fury re-signs Collins for fourth season

The Muskegon Fury signed forward Billy Collins today for his fourth full season with the Fury.

Collins, 25, scored 11 goals and 26 points last season for Muskegon and was also a member of the 2005 Colonial Cup championship team.

“We’re glad to have Billy back on board with us for another Fury season," said Muskegon head coach Bruce Ramsay. "He has been a consistent player for us over the years and has really excelled in the playoffs. He also has shown the ability to be an effective penalty-killer. Billy possesses the special talent of having excellent hands, especially in close and his overall size and strength are true assets for us.”

In the 2005-06 season, the former Wayne State standout (2001-2004) was awarded the Fury team award for Most Improved Player, recording 37 points in 73 games on 18 goals and 19-assists with 154 penalty minutes.

Collins was originally the Fury's fourth-round pick in the 2004 North American Amateur Draft.

Muskegon now has five players under contract for 2007-2008.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Reeds steps down in K-Zoo, off to OHL

The Kalamazoo Wings announced today that director of hockey operations and head coach Mark Reeds has left the organization to except a similar position in the Ontario Hockey League with the Owen Sound Attack.

With the departure of Reeds, the K-Wings have already begun the search for the 19th head coach, not including interim coaches, in K-Wings history, and first since joining the newly-formed IHL.

Reeds has produced winning teams everywhere he has coached, but it was with the K-Wings were he flourished. By having the K-Wings give him all the resources he needed, Reeds was able to reach the postseason every year he was in Kalamazoo, which includes reaching the Colonial Cup Finals the past two seasons.

The only man to be selected UHL Coach of the Year on more than one occasion (three times: 2001-2002, 2003-2004, 2004-2005), Reeds helped the K-Wings capture its first championship in 26 seasons during the 2005-06. Reeds also ranks third on the UHL’s all-time coaching win list.

With heading the OHL, Reeds heads to a league that over this off-season sent many coaches to the American Hockey League.

“Mark’s goal has always been to coach in the National Hockey League and he believes he is moving closer to obtaining that goal by excepting this position,” said Kalamazoo GM Wade Welsh. “This off season a majority of the coaching vacancies in the AHL were filled by OHL head coaches."

Prior to coming to Kalamazoo, Reeds honed his winning coaching style as an assistant coach of the Peoria Rivermen (IHL). After four seasons as an assistant coach, he was named head coach of the Rivermen, when they joined the ECHL. While the bench boss of the Rivermen, Reeds guided Peoria to the Kelly Cup semifinals in 1996-97, and a Northwest Division and Northern Conference title in 1997-98. In fact, from 1996-98, Reeds compiled more wins than any other coach in the ECHL.

Following his tenure in Peoria , Reeds became the head coach of the Missouri River Otters and right away established the standard for an expansion franchise. The River Otters are still one of three expansion teams in UHL history to average 40 wins in their first three seasons.

As stated above, the K-Wings have already commenced the search for a replacement.

“We have high standards in every aspect of our organization, including the director of hockey operations/head coach,” said Welsh. “While we understand the season is fast approaching, we will take our due diligence during this search to secure the perfect candidate that meets the standards we set in place five years ago.”

Fury signs forward Sergerie, defender Plante

The Muskegon Fury signed forward Adam Sergerie and All-Star defenseman Philippe Plante this week.

Sergerie just finished a three-year career in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League with the Selkirk Steelers where he literally re-wrote his team’s book of records. He posted 125 points in 56 games on 64 goals and 61 assists, while his 28 power-play goals also led the league and his 61 assists ranked as fifth most in the MJHL.

“We feel fortunate to have signed a rookie player of this stature as he was third in league-wide scoring and second overall in all of Canadian Junior ‘A’ Tier II hockey in goal production," noted Fury head coach Bruce Ramsay.

Plante will be starting his fourth season with Muskegon this fall. Finishing fourth on club in scoring last year, he had 67 points in 75 games on 18 goals and 47 assists with 102 penalty minutes and a +38 rating.

"Philippe, without question, is one of the best defensemen in our league," Ramsay said. "Both offensively and defensively, he really excels. Last season, he was the second best scoring defenseman in the whole league. He comes to play and works hard every night, every game. He is a team leader both on and off the ice and he always wants to win. With Phil and Dave Van Drunen, we have, perhaps, the two best defensemen at this level of our pro game.”

The Fury now have four players under contract for this upcoming season.

Icehawks add three more forwards

The Port Huron Icehawks announced today that the team has added offensive firepower by signing Brent Hughes, Tab Lardner and Neil Clark.

The trio is expected to provide Port Huron with a potent scoring attack this season in the newly reformed International Hockey League. All three have played professional minor league hockey, bring playoff experience and have performed in big games.

Last year, Hughes’ Colorado Eagles defeated Clark’s Laredo Bucks for the CHL President’s Cup championship. These competitors-turned teammates bring that big-game experience to Port Huron and are expected to add a solid scoring attack from the wings.

Hughes last year played for the Amarillo Gorillas and Colorado Eagles, scoring 10 goals and 29 points in just 39 regular-season games. He also scored 10 points in the playoffs as the Eagles captured the CHL championship.

“Brent is a small, feisty player who competes every shift,” Icehawks' coach-GM Stan Drulia said. “He is a lunch pail-type player.”

Clark attended and played at Iona College in 2002-03 before he transferred to Manhattanville College, where he played from 2003-06. Last year, he was a member of the Laredo Bucks and played in the championship series against Hughes and the Eagles. In 21 playoff games, he scored six goals and amassed 12 points.

“Clark is a big game player with blue collar mentality,” Drulia said. “His strong play helped propel Laredo to the finals last year.”

Clark will also be attending the Detroit Red Wings training camp with Icehawks teammate Kris Vernarsky September in Traverse City. He qualifies as a rookie on the Icehawks roster.

Lardner played collegiate hockey for Michigan Tech University from 1997-2001 and started his pro career in 2001. His best professional season was 2005-06 when he scored 25 goals and 55 points for the Wichita Thunder of the CHL. Last season, he scored 19 goals and 29 assists for the Youngstown Steelhounds as they advanced to the playoffs. In his seven professional seasons, Lardner has helped his team advance to the playoffs four times.

“He’s been averaging almost a full point per game the last few seasons,” Drulia said. “He never stops working and his great speed is a real asset for our penalty kill unit. On top of it all, he is also a great character guy, which makes everyone around him better.”

The signing of Hughes, Lardner and Clark give the Icehawks 11 players on their roster.

Port Huron signs trio of goalies

The Port Huron Icehawks signed three goalies this week: Ron Vogel, Marty Magers and Ray Jean.

“I think our goalie tandem will be the best in the league,” Icehawks' head coach Stan Drulia said. “Both Vogel and Magers can be No. 1 goaltenders on any team. As a coach, this gives me a lot of options. Out of these two guys, whoever I put in goal, I know he has the skill to win us the game.”

Vogel posted a 45-23-10 record over the past two seasons with the Rockford IceHogs and CHL's Corpus Christi Rayz. In that time, he made over 2000 saves and has a .908 save percentage. In his last season in the former United Hockey League with Rockford, Vogel went 23-11-6 with a 2.90 goals-against average.

“This guy is a battler, plays the puck very well and will help our D get the puck up ice,” Drulia explained. “He’s the main reason Corpus Christi had a long playoff run in 2007.”

The Icehawks used their first selection in this year’s expansion draft to obtain his Magers. Since he has logged less than 3600 minutes as a pro, he will count as one of the Icehawks’ rookies this year. Magers played with the Chicago Hounds last year and had a save percentage of .910.

“Marty competes every night and is a guy who can log a lot of games,” Drulia said. “He competes every night and was the main reason that Chicago rebounded last year with a solid finish to their season.”

Jean started his collegiate hockey career at Maine, but played his junior and senior seasons at Bentley College. During his best season in the NCAA, he had a .917 save percentage and 2.85 goals-against average in 28 games. Jean will battle for a roster spot during training camp.

Vogel, Magers and Jean will join a talented trio of defensemen in B.J. Adams, Chris Bogas and Mark DeSantis and centers Jeremy Tucker and Kris Vernarsky.