By Victor Fernandes Erie Times-News staff blogger
Staff writer Victor Fernandes has ice in his veins. Hockey – he plays it, coaches it and provides the region's best coverage of it.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-870-1716
Posts tagged ‘otters’
Posted: April 15th, 2010

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League announced on Wednesday that forward Ryan Hayes of the Plymouth Whalers is the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy Winner presented to the OHL’s humanitarian of the year for the 2009-10 season.

Hayes, a 20-year-old from Syracuse, New York, led the Whalers’ organization in his third OHL season with 54 official community appearances, representing participation in nearly a quarter of the team’s total community events.  Hayes follows Chris Terry as the second straight member of the Whalers to receive this award.

“I had a great role model last year working with Chris (Terry) in the community,” said Hayes.  “It really is a huge honour for me to win this award.  It means a lot to be able to give back to the community as a hockey player.  I remember when I was younger how much it meant to me to see older guys at appearances, and hopefully the kids we reach out to give back when they get older.”

This season, Hayes took on a leadership role for the Whalers in the “Friends of Jaclyn” program, which supports the non-profit charitable organization that improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors.  The Whalers were paired up with 7-year-old Johnny Muller and his 5 year-old brother Aidan.  Johnny has had a brain tumor since the age of 2.  Hayes took over the project by explaining to the rest of the players what the program was and the importance of helping out.

“Our whole team was involved in the program,” said Hayes.  “The boys always put a smile on our faces even after losses.  They are a great family and the boys are just like little brothers to me.”

After learning of the boys’ interest in becoming hockey players, Hayes organized a private postgame skate and stayed on the ice for nearly two hours providing individual lessons.  He has been a constant role-model and friend to both Johnny and Aidan and keeps close contact with the Mullers to learn the latest news about Johnny’s condition and provide the necessary support.  He even drove an hour and a half on an off day to the boys’ school to take part in a “show and tell” class presentation.

“Ryan not only made Johnny and Aidan feel welcome every weekend, before and after the games, but he went above and beyond to show my boys how much they meant to him,” said Krissy Muller.  “The boys had never skated before and it was a very scary idea for Johnny considering his tumor sits on the area of his brain that controls balance.  Ryan talked him into coming out on the ice with him and made it a night Johnny would later call the best day of his life.”

Serving as an assistant captain and captain throughout the season, Hayes took on a leadership role off the ice in a variety of team initiatives, including regular “March is Reading Month” appearances at area schools stressing the importance of education to the students, and the Whalers’ annual “Pink Out” for Breast Cancer Awareness that again featured the entire hockey club dyeing their hair pink to promote the cause.  He also showed extensive participation with Special Olympics Michigan at their annual hockey tournament cheering on the participants, passing out the medals, and staying afterwards to pose for pictures and sign autographs.

“Just having a Plymouth Whaler at the event was enough for our athletes,” said Special Olympics Michigan Development Manager Ashley Diersch. “Ryan’s involvement and the true connection he seemed to have with everyone made it one of the best experiences they have had.”

Hayes’ commitment to the community was also evident during the summer, when the Whalers’ Learn to Skate Program was almost cancelled due to a lack of instructors.  Hayes informed the Whalers front office that he would be willing to teach the classes and promptly moved back to Plymouth for the entire summer to help out.

Each year the OHL awards a player that has demonstrated outstanding qualities as a positive role model in the community with the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy.  The Ontario Hockey League Board of Governors announced in 2004 that the OHL humanitarian of the year award would be renamed in recognition of Snyder the former Owen Sound Platers captain, who was twice named his team’s humanitarian of the year in recognition of his tremendous efforts in supporting community activities.

Hayes will officially be presented with the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy at the OHL Awards Ceremony June 9 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.  He will also be the OHL’s nominee for humanitarian of the year at the Annual CHL Awards.

2009-10 Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy Nominees:

Barrie – Stefan Della Rovere

Belleville – Adam Payerl

Brampton – Brad Albert

ErieMatthew Paton

Guelph – Tyler Carroll

Kingston – John Cullen

Kitchener – John Moore

London – Leigh Salters

Mississauga – Dustin Ekelman

Niagara – Dylan MacEachern

Oshawa – Andrew Wilson

Ottawa – Corey Cowick

Owen Sound – Marcus Carroll

Peterborough – Jack Walchessen

Plymouth – Ryan Hayes

Saginaw – Tyler Murovich

Sarnia – Nathan Chiarlitti

Sault Ste. Marie – Robin Lehner

Sudbury – John Kurtz

Windsor – Adam Wallace

- From OHL news release

Posted: April 13th, 2010

Heading to the playoffs

Players with Erie ties participating in postseason play in several professional leagues:

National Hockey League (starts Wednesday)

Pos. Name (local connection) Team   Opponent (round)

D Chris Campoli (Erie Otters)  Ottawa Buffalo (Eastern Conference quarterfinals)

C Tim Connolly (Erie Otters)   Buffalo            Ottawa (Eastern Conference quarterfinals)

D Steve Montador (Erie Otters)            Buffalo            Ottawa (Eastern Conference quarterfinals)

C Cal O’Reilly*           Nashville         Chicago (Western Conference quarterfinals)

C Ryan O’Reilly (Erie Otters)  Colorado          San Jose (Western Conference quarterfinals)

American Hockey League (starts Wednesday)

Pos. Name (local connection) Team   Opponent (round)

D Chris Breen (Erie Otters)      Abbotsford      Rochester (North Division semifinals)

D Tim Filangieri (Erie Otters)# Chicago           Milwaukee (West Division semifinals)

LW Luke Gazdic (Erie Otters) Texas   Rockford (West Division semifinals)

D Jamie Hunt (Mercyhurst)     Chicago           Milwaukee (West Division semifinals)

RW Nick Palmieri (Erie Otters)            Lowell Worcester (Atlantic Division semifinals)

ECHL (started April 5)

Pos. Name (local connection) Team   Opponent (round)

D Cullen Eddy (Mercyhurst)    Cincinnati        Charlotte (American Conference semifinals)^

F Sam Ftorek* Kalamazoo      Reading (American Conference quarterfinals – lost 3-2)

D Scott Hotham*         Florida Reading (American Conference semifinals)^

RW Anthony Peluso (Erie Otters)        Alaska Stockton (National Conference quarterfinals – lost 3-1)

F Matt Pierce (Mercyhurst)      Cincinnati        Charlotte (American Conference semifinals)^

D Eric Regan (Erie Otters)       Bakersfield      Stockton (National Conference semifinals)^

F Brett Robinson (Mercyhurst)            Cincinnati        Charlotte (American Conference semifinals)^

Note: Zack Torquato (Erie Otters) isn’t listed on Idaho’s playoff roster.

International Hockey League (begins next week)

Pos. Name (local connection) Team   Opponent (round)

RW Kerry Bowman (Mercyhurst)        Port Huron       TBD

D Paul Cianfrini (Erie Otters)   Port Huron       TBD

C Justin Hodgman (Erie Otters)           Fort Wayne      TBD

G Matt Lundin (Mercyhurst)    Muskegon        TBD

RW Sean O’Connor (Erie Otters)         Fort Wayne      TBD

Central Hockey League (started last month)

Pos. Name (local connection) Team   Opponent (round)

G Kevin Beech (Erie Otters)    Corpus Christi  Lost in first round

* O’Reilly is the older brother of former Erie Otter Ryan O’Reilly; Ftorek is son of Otters coach Robbie Ftorek; Hotham is the older brother of former Otter Andrew Hotham

# Former Erie Otters’ draft pick, attended Boston College

^ Cincinnati def. South Carolina 3-2 in quarterfinals; Florida def. Elmira 3-2 in quarterfinals; Bakersfield def. Victoria 3-2 in quarterfinals

Posted: April 13th, 2010

Former Erie Otters forward Justin Hodgman has returned to the scene of his greatest hockey achievements – Fort Wayne, Ind.

Find out more by clicking the link. In other news, former Otters defenseman Paul Cianfrini‘s first professional goal was a game winner. He scored with six seconds left in overtime to lead the Port Huron Icehawks to a 2-1 win against the Dayton Gems in an International Hockey League game on Sunday.

Posted: April 13th, 2010

Greg McKegg (Contributed/Erie Otters)BOBRUISK, Belarus – Erie Otters forward Greg McKegg’s initial experience at IIHF World Under-18 Championships wasn’t a good one.

His native Canada lost 3-1 to Switzerland Tuesday in their opening game of the preliminary round.

McKegg was scoreless despite tying for the team lead with four shots. The Canadians fell behind 2-0 after one period. Quinton Howden, of the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors, sliced Switzerland’s lead in half midway through the second. But Switzerland’s empty-net goal with five seconds left sealed the win.

Canada returns to action on Thursday against host Belarus. The United States also lost their opening game 4-2 to Sweden on Tuesday. The U.S. faces Switzerland today.

Posted: April 13th, 2010

Michael Rupp won the Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2003 with the New Jersey Devils.

Could he win Cup No. 2 this spring with the Pittsburgh Penguins? This is his best chance, Rupp said.

“We have all the tools,” Rupp said. That’s why he signed a two-year contract with the defending Cup champion last July.

“My main concern when I signed here was to be on contending team,” Rupp said. “I think we’re definitely that. We’ve had our struggles this year. We fought through them. In time, it’s made us stronger.”

Rupp has no regrets about joining the Penguins. Along with having another shot at the Cup, his offensive game has blossomed while playing alongside linemates such as superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Rupp set career highs with 13 goals and 19 points and tied his best with six assists. His previous single-season highs were six goals and 11 points with the Devils in 2003-04, his second NHL season.

“I was at the beginning of the year put in situations where I was able to show (the coaches) more of an offensive side,” he said. “The success of the team is when other players besides your superstars are able to chip in. We have guys that do that. It shows the depth of our team.”

Now it’s time for Rupp to perform in the playoffs.

“I hope that they feel I’m capable of doing whatever they call on me to do,” he said.

- Victor Fernandes

Posted: April 10th, 2010

WOODRIDGE, Ill. – Kevin Zugec and the Pittsburgh Hornets fell to the host Chicago Mission 3-1 on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the USA Hockey Tier I Boys 18U National Championships.
Zugec, the Erie Otters’ ninth-round pick in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection, didn’t record a point for the Hornets (1-2-1) in the loss. He finished the tournament with two goals and two points.

- Victor Fernandes

Posted: April 9th, 2010

Toronto – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Barrie Colts forward Bryan Cameron is the recipient of the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy as the OHL’s Overage Player of the Year for the 2009-10 season.

Cameron led the OHL with 53 goals in 62 games and added 25 assists for 78 points to help the Colts capture their first Hamilton Spectator Trophy for first place overall in the regular season.  He registered a plus-minus rating of plus-38 which was 10th best in the league.  He was one of only two players to score 50 goals this season and recorded three hat-tricks and 23 multi-point games.

He was also among the league-leaders in power play goals with 18 and game-winning goals with seven.  His 53 goals set a new Colts’ record for goals in a season, surpassing Sheldon Keefe who scored 48 goals in the 1999-2000 season where he captured the league’s scoring title with 121 points.  Cameron becomes the first member of the Colts to win this award since it was first introduced following the 1983-84 season.

“It’s a great honor for me” said Cameron.  “We had great overage players here in Barrie including another great one on my line so I feel pretty lucky to win this award.  Luke (Pither) and I both had really good years and there are a lot of quality overage players around the league so it feels really nice to win this award and I am definitely grateful.”

A 21-year-old from Brampton, Ontario, Cameron began his OHL career with the Belleville Bulls where he spent four seasons.  He was selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2005 OHL Priority Selection in a season where he captured an OHL Cup championship title with the Toronto Marlboros.

He played in 318 career OHL games over five seasons producing 324 points including 184 goals and 140 assists.  His 81 points last season marked his best offensive year and earned him the Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy as the Top Scoring Right Winger and a spot on the OHL’s First All-Star Team.  He was selected in the third round, 82nd overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

The Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the top overage player of the year as selected by all 20 OHL General Managers.  Teams were not permitted to vote for players from their own hockey club. Players received five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote and one point for a third place vote. Cameron received 59 points in the voting, just narrowly edging defenceman Jacob Muzzin of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds who received 58 points.  Zack Torquato of the Erie Otters finished third with 35 points.

Former winners of the trophy include Iain Fraser (Oshawa, 1989-90), Bill Bowler (Windsor, 1994-95), Dan Tessier (Ottawa 99-00), and Ryan Callahan (Guelph, 2005-06).  Justin DiBenedetto of the Sarnia Sting won the award last season after finishing third in league scoring with 93 points in 62 games.

The Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy was donated by the trainers of the Ontario Hockey League, in memory of the late Leo Lalonde, former Chief Scout of OHL Central Scouting.  Leo Lalonde was also formerly the chief scout for the Belleville Bulls as well as a scout for the Peterborough Petes. Cameron will be presented with the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy at the 2009-10 OHL Awards Ceremony, scheduled for June 9 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

- From OHL news release

Posted: April 9th, 2010

During a NHL media conference call on Wednesday, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylmsa responded to a question about forward Michael Rupp, a former Erie Otter. Check out a transcript the question and response below.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the contributions of Mike Rupp this season, what you expected when the team brought him in?
COACH BYLSMA: I think having played against Mike Rupp in the same division, from our scouts to our coaches to our players, a big guy, a physical guy, a real presence on the ice, adds a growl to his team. You know, our scouts thought that and our coaches thought that. But I also think a guy like Sidney Crosby thought that because we played against him, because of what he had done against the Penguins in the past.
That’s what we thought we were getting, and that’s what we got. He’s a huge specimen, a big body, a physical guy. But he can play and he can play in the offensive zone, he can go to the net. He’s an intimidating guy when he plays that way. That’s what we hoped. That’s what we got when we got Mike Rupp this year.
- From NHL media Web site

Posted: April 7th, 2010

Greg McKegg (Contributed/Erie Otters)Erie Otters forward Greg McKegg rose 29 spots in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings for 2010 draft prospects, which was released Wednesday. He stands 66th among North American skaters after placing 94th on the mid-term list unveiled in January.

McKegg stands five spots behind fellow Otters forward Andrew Yogan. He moved up to 61st after ranking 65th on the midterm list. Meanwhile, goaltender Ramis Sadikov is 12th among North American goaltenders – third among OHL goaltenders.

Plymouth center Tyler Seguin moved past Windsor left wing Taylor Hall as the No. 1 North American player in the draft. Hall slipped to the No. 2 spot.

Forward Brett Connolly (Prince George – WHL) is third. Kingston defenseman Erik Gudbranson and Windsor defenseman Cam Fowler complete the top five.

The NHL Entry Draft is set for June 25-26 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Check out the complete lists of the top North American skaters, North American goaltenders, European skaters and European goaltenders by clicking on the link.

Posted: April 6th, 2010

Former Erie Otters defenseman Paul Cianfrini has signed a professional contract with the International Hockey League‘s Port Huron Icehawks, the Otters announced Tuesday. Cianfrini is the second Otter from the 2009-10 team to sign a pro contract in the past week. Forward Zack Torquato signed with the ECHL‘s Idaho Steelheads last week.

Torquato had no points and a minus-1 rating in his first two games last weekend. But he wasn’t listed on the Steelheads’ playoff roster. Idaho finished the regular season with a league-leading 48-17-2-5 record. Cianfrini could make his pro debut on Tuesday night against the Flint Generals.