Tag Archives: Alumni

NHL, Meet Brad Thiessen.

February 26, 2012

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Back in October of 2006, The Northeastern Huskies took on the Boston College Eagles for the first game of the season. In net, BC was touting the 24th overall pick of the 2004 NHL Draft in Cory Schneider, whose level of play is currently having some NHL teams consider converting him from an underused backup into the starting goaltender he should be. On the NU end was an overage, average-sized goaltender from Aldergrove, British Columbia named Brad Thiessen. It was his first start after winning the job outright as a freshman, and while Schneider put on a display of consistency, Thiessen struggled to find his in the 5-2 loss that night in Chestnut Hill. Despite these differences, not one, but both guys would make their way to the NHL.

Over the next three years, Thiessen improved steeply, culminating in an impressive junior year which saw Thiessen garner both All-American and Hobey Baker finalist honors. It’s a true testament to his propensity to improve and play with a level head. The Pittsburgh Penguins rewarded Thiessen with a two year deal, and the experience of seeing the Penguins win a Stanley Cup. Thiessen was a part of the  team’s taxi squad before being relegated to the AHL. He would go on to earn his keep with AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre Scranton, winning the AHL’s goaltender of the year award and starting the the league’s annual all-star game in 2010-2011.

Fast forward to this season, and Thiessen has been in a rut. He’s gone from having a .922 save percentage the year before to a .885 for 2011-2012. The prospect of Thiessen making the run for a cup he experienced has faded significantly. But again fortune (and Penguins GM Ray Shero) have rewarded Thiessen’s determination again. With backup Brent Johnson falling ill on top of his own share of struggles, Ray Shero has used the goaltender exemption to bring Thiessen up, giving the Penguins three goaltenders for a few days, which avoids creating issues with Johnson’s one-way contract. But just as it seemed Thiessen was going back after a short stay, the Penguins have not only decided to keep Thiessen up for the day, but he’ll be making the start this afternoon against the Columbus Blue Jackets at 1pm. So call it luck, a low pressure start, a tryout, or whatever you want but Thiessen’s made it and that’s all that matters. Cheers to the former Husky, he’s earned it.

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Alumni Update 1/25

January 25, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

NHL
  • Joe Vitale has cemented his spot on the 4th line for the Penguins.  He has played in 42 of 49 games for Pittsburgh this season, posting a 2-7-9 line.  He is averaging just under 11 minutes of ice time per game, but his 55.7% win percentage on faceoffs leads the team.    Last night, Vitale got to play in front of friends and family as the Penguins traveled to his hometown of St. Louis.  Penguins coach Dan Bylsma even let Vitale take the game’s opening faceoff, which he won.  While he may not be lighting up the stat sheet, Vitale has proven that he can be a reliable 4th liner in the NHL and he looks like he will be sticking around.
AHL
  • Wade MacLeod has returned from injury for Springfield.  He is having a quiet season with a 3-11-14 line in 31 games.
  • Tyler McNeely is playing on the first line for Bridgeport, but he has just 11 points in 39 games.
  • Jake Newton’s change of scenery hasn’t really done much for him.  He is a +2 after 29 games, but has just 3 points to his credit.  Since leaving Northeastern after his freshman season, Newton has played 77 AHL games.  He is a -16, with just 3 goals and 9 assists.   Cronin said at the time that he wasn’t ready and it looks like he was right.   Definitely a cautionary tale for guys thinking about making the jump.
  • On the hand, Brodie Reid has proven Cronin wrong.  Reid put together a great second half to his freshman season and parlayed it into a pro deal.  In his first year of professional hockey, Reid is 7th on his team with 18 points (7 g, 11 a).  It will be interesting to see if Reid can keep it up through the entire season.  Regardless, he has proven that he can at least hold his own in the AHL.
  • Michael Ryan was supposed to finally return this week from an extended absence to due to lingering headaches, but it doesn’t appear he that has happened. They are not sure whether it is a concussion or just neck problems, but either way they aren’t taking any chances.  The 7th year veteran has been out of the lineup since the first week of the season.  Hopefully it is not the end of a career that he has seen Ryan play 83 NHL games between the Sabres and the Hurricanes.
  • Brad Thiessen is having a tough year for Wilkes Barre Scranton.  He has started 29 out 46 games, posting 2.81 GAA and .890% save percentage.  But Thiessen has somewhere to turn to off the ice, thanks to the voluntary chapel program he has set up for the team.  Thiessen has turned it around of late with wins in his last 4 starts.  The quickest path to the NHL is probably still going to be through a trade, but his play this year may have diminished that.  Definitely a situation to watch with just 1 month until the trading deadline.

ECHL

  • Its been a tough season for the 2 Reading boys.  Both have missed time due to injuries.  Louis Liotti is a -13 and has just 5 points in 32 games.  The Pride of Billerica, Dennis McCauley is 8-8-16 through 31 games, with 4 fights this season.
  • Trenton is struggling as well but Steve Silva is enjoying his first season as a pro with 13 points in just 11 games.  Silva missed the early part of the season with an injury but he returned just before Christmas and has been enjoying a nice run.  Just like he did at Northeastern, Silva has put up great numbers in two categories: assists (10) and penalty minutes (33).     Being 3rd on the team in PIMs despite missing half the team’s game is quite an accomplishment.
  • Its been an interesting year for Dave Strathman who know finds himself on his third ECHL team of the season. He was picked up by Gwinnett after Reading let him go at the beginning of the year.  He played 18 games with them before being traded to Utah this week.  Strathman’s former teammate at Northeastern, Chris Donovan, is also on Utah.  Donovan had 25 points last year, but has been unable to replicate that in his second season.  In 16 games, he has just 2 assists to his name.  He has not put up a point in the 5 games he has played since returning to the lineup in late December after an injury.
  • Its not all bad for NU alums in the ECHL, Kyle Kraemer is putting together a good year for Ontario.  The team is in 2nd place and Kraemer has played a big part in that.  After missing the beginning of the year with an injury, he has put up 18 points in 25 games.  In 9 games this month, Kraemer has 4 goals and 7 assists.
  • Chad Costello is having a another great year for Colorado.  He is tied for second in the league with 22 goals, and he leads the league with 57 points,  thanks to a league leading 37 assists.   For the second time in two weeks, he has earned a call-up to the AHL.  In  his 2 previous call-ups, Costello has managed just 1 point from 12 games.   But through 2 games with the Worcester Sharks, he already has 2 assists.  Since leaving Nu after his sophomore season, Costello has dominated the lower league, but so far been unable to find success in the AHL.  Hopefully this chance will be his breakthrough.

Europe

  • Ryan Ginand made the move across the pond this season and is paying dividends.  Ginand has 39 points through 32 games in the Italian league and he is a +40.  He was also featured in the Globe recently.
  • Jared Mudryk has an insane line of 22-41-63 in just 31 games for his German team.  He is second on the team in goals, assists, and points.

Major Juniors

  • Jamie Oleksiak has played in just 6 games since being traded to the Niagra Ice Dogs, but he already has 4 assists and earned a +4 rating.  The trade saw him go from the bottom of the standings to the top, where as joined Bruins 1st round pick Dougie Hamilton on a very talented team.  The Ice Dogs will be looking to make a run for the Memorial Cup it could be just another big moment for Oleksiak who has already got to be a part of the NHL Draft (where he was picked 14th by Dallas) and the World Junior Championships (where he played for Team Canada) this year.

Coaching

  • The Maple Leafs find themselves just outside the playoffs in Greg Cronin‘s first year as an assistant there.
  • The Houston Aeros have the second most points in the AHL’s Western Conference.  Sebastien LaPlante is in his first year as an assistant with the team.
  • Rob Rassey is an assistant with Youngstown who find themselves in the middle of the pack in the USHL.
  • Jason Guerriero and Holy Cross are in 8th of 12 in Atlantic Hockey.   There hasn’t much chatter about a move to Hockey East in a while, but Guerriero has been traveling all over North America on recruiting trips in his first year as an assistant.
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Alumni Update 1/12

January 12, 2012

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Joe Vitale, F, Pittsburgh (NHL): The Penguins have dropped five straight, and the news that Sidney Crosby is ready to skate couldn’t have come at a better time (I hope they’re not jumping the gun). In November, Vitale averaged around 13 minutes a game, but in 3 games in the new year, he’s only been allotted just 9:40 on average, and was a scratch in last night’s shutout loss to the Capitals. Vitale finds himself in a constant fight for ice time in his role as fourth line center. The Penguins are too structurally sound for their woes to continue, and Vitale brings too much energy to the game to stay grounded.

Jamie Oleksiak, D, Niagara (OHL): The towering defenseman was traded over break from Saginaw to Niagara in a blockbuster deal. The Ice Dogs gave up a lot for Oleksiak, who joins a contending team after a solid World Junior performance for third place Canada. He joins Bruins top prospect and Canada teammate Dougie Hamilton on a stacked blue line.

Brodie Reid, F, Worcester (AHL): Brodie Reid received his first professional penalty Tuesday. The season started months ago for the Sharks prospect. He also scored two goals Saturday, leaving his total at 7 goals and 16 points in 24 games.

Tyler McNeely, F, Bridgeport (AHL): It’s official. McNeely has emerged as the enforcer of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI). Contributing eight points this year has helped the undersized winger bolster his leadership role as well.

Wade MacLeod, F, Springfield (AHL): MacLeod returns from injury to help the Falcons (CBJ) make a late season run. He has 12 points in 25 games.

Brad Thiessen, G, Wilkes-Barre-Scranton (AHL): The netminder has been struggling lately but is in a rebound. After giving up 14 goals in 3 games, Thiessen has recovered to win two in a row, one shootout, and on Tuesday a victory for the Penguins in which he turned away 24 out of 26 shots.  It’s an uphill climb, but Thiessen has shown he is much better than what his numbers say.

Dennis McCauley, D, Reading (ECHL): Typical McCauley. His team is clawing for wins but the former NU fan favorite is scoring at a healthy clip and cleaning up the rink as usual.

Steve Silva, F, Trenton (ECHL): Silva has been on an absolute tear since returning from injury, scoring 9 points in 9 games, especially at clutch moments.

Chad Costello, F, Colorado (ECHL): The far and away leading scorer in the ECHL was just returned to Colorado after being on loan from Springfield (AHL), where he played with former teammate Wade MacLeod (despite getting very little ice time) for four games over the holiday. He has a staggering 52 points in 30 games, and potted a hat trick in his return.

Kyle Kraemer, F, Ontario (ECHL): Kraemer, who’s been battling knee issues all year, has been on a four game tear in the new year, scoring six points.

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Alumni Update 12/6

December 6, 2011

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Despite being allotted just 7:43 of ice time, Former Husky captain Joe Vitale made a splash last night during the Bruins/Penguins game for several reasons, most notably in this fight with Greg Campbell. Just seconds after making an athletic takeaway play to set up Matt Cooke for a goal, Vitale followed up a bid by teammate Tyler Kennedy and ran into Tim Thomas in his crease, which is a big no-no. Bruins center Greg Campbell took exception, but what stole the show was NESN’s Jack Edwards showing the propensity to go from exciting to delusional almost instantly, making it seem like Campbell was drilling Vitale until he realized this was not the case. It was tough to decide who to root for in this one, being an avid B’s fan as well, but Vitale held his own in the fight and may have even won the bout.  Good for Joe for answering the call though, as well as earning himself the third star of the night.  NESN gave Northeastern and his career achievements a nice mention too. Vitale is a fan favorite who is further solidifying his role on Pittsburgh’s roster.

Former Hobey Baker finalist Brad Thiessen is in a bit of a skid, dropping 6 of his last 7 contests, but the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) netminder should bounce back, he’s one of the top goaltenders in the minors and has too much talent/poise not to. A motivator for the 25 year old could be found in the BCHL’s recent list of their top 50 former players of all time. The league’s fans voted on the top ten players from each decade since the 1960’s. Along with lofty company such as Brett Hull, Mark Recchi, and Paul Kariya from previous decades, Brad Thiessen was named the the 2000’s portion with Duncan Keith, Jamie Benn, Andrew Ladd, Travis Zajac, and other NHL regulars. The full list can be seen here.

D Jamie Oleksiak (Saginaw, OHL) has been named to Canada’s U-20 World Junior Championship preliminary roster. The hulking defenseman has shown some offensive prowess to go with his punishing defense as of late, and could be the piece Canada needs to complete their blue line. It’s far from a sure thing though, as he has some serious competition for a roster spot.

Worcester Sharks (AHL) F Brodie Reid is leading his team with a +7 rating through 19 games, which is tangible proof of the solid two-way player he is becoming. Wade MacLeod (Springfield, AHL) is among his teams’ leaders in points with 11 through 22 games, and has been involved in some key plays for the Falcons.

Jason Guerriero’s (’05) Holy Cross Crusaders (Assistant Coach) are back to .500 following a sweep of Canisius over the weekend.

Dennis McCauley (Reading, ECHL) has turned on the jets and is having himself a nice season despite his team’s missteps so far. The Husky hero has 9 points through 19 games. The Reading Eagle features McCauley’s local ties and family here.

Kyle Kraemer (Ontario, ECHL) is back from injury and is already contributing. He looks to be back on track to improve on an impressive first season with the Reign.

After missing pretty much all of last season with Reading, defenseman David Strathman has rebounded with Gwinnett (ECHL), scoring his first goal of the season on Friday.

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Alumni Update 11/23

November 23, 2011

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Joe Vitale was a healthy scratch Monday night with the return of Sidney Crosby. It appears he’ll be in a platoon situation with Richard Park for the fourth line center role in the meantime. Bias aside, Vitale is better suited for the job and will win it back for the most part. Both guys are dominant at faceoffs, but Joe Victory plays a better physical game.

Wade MacLeod continues his impressive start for Springfield (AHL, Columbus). He has 8 points in 16 games.

Brodie Reid  is continuing to have a productive rookie year in Worcester, and now has 2 goals and 3 assists through thirteen games. He is +6 for the Sharks AHL affiliate so far, and scored in back to back games a couple weeks ago. His stock could rise easily in a notably weak San Jose prospect pool.

Last year’s captain Tyler McNeely has had a slow start to the year offensively (1G 1A through 16 games) for Bridgeport in the AHL (Islanders), but has the toughness and leadership to contribute otherwise. And yeah, he gives up 30 pounds in that fight.

Brad Thiessen remains the clear-cut starting goaltender for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (AHL), despite his backup’s great performance so far. Thiessen has slipped a bit lately, but remains one of the best goalies not in the NHL.

Steve Silva has been activated from 21-day injured reserve to play for Trenton (ECHL).

Dennis McCauley is contributing in many ways for Reading (ECHL), and has been impressive on the penalty kill. 8 points in 16 games is a solid start for the former Northeastern fan favorite.

Kyle Kraemer (Ontario Reign, ECHL) is currently on IR, but should be returning soon.  Kraemer is in his second year with the team.  He had 37 points last year for them.

Dave Strathman has left the Reading Royals to join the Gwinnett Gladiators, who are also in the ECHL.

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Alumni Update: 11/9

November 9, 2011

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

  • Joe Vitale (15 g, 1-2-3)  is just one of many centers on the Pens roster, but that list just got 1 smaller, when they traded away Mark Letestu thanks in part to his solid play.  Vitale could be in  battle for playing time once Sid the Kid returns though.
  • The Worcester Sharks are off to a good start thanks to one of their best rookie classes ever, which features Brodie Reid (8g, 1-2-3)
  • Greg Cronin’s PK revamp up in Toronto is not going so well.  The first couple weeks were good, but now things have gone sour for Cro.  At least they dont have him running the Power Play.
  • Brad Thiessen has been outstanding and has been a big part of the early season turn around for Wilkes Barre Scranton.  Brad is already 7-2, whith 2 shutouts and has only allowed 17 goals all season.   He will be the next NU player to make the NHL, its just a question of when.
  • Wade MacLeod is off to a decent start in Springfield.  Through 11 games, he has 1 goal and 4 assists.
  • Tyler McNeely is tearing it up for a struggling Bridgeport team.  Through 10 games, he has 5 goals and 6 assists to go with a +9 rating.  Hopefully he can keep it up and earn a shot with the Islanders.
  • Chris Student sat out last year after transferring to Minnesota, and he has yet to dress for a game this year besides an exhibition game.
  • Jamie Oleksiak is transitioning to major juniors well.  He has 4 goals in 18 games, as well as a +2 rating.
  • I saw JP Maley at the gym yesterday.  His intramural team, the Mighty Ducks, must count on other results if they hope to make the playoffs.
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Alumni Update: 10/26

October 26, 2011

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Reminder: You can see update to stats of all alumni in the NHL/AHL by going to our Alumni Page and click on their picture.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

  • Brad Thiessen continues to impress for the WBS Penguins.   How much more can he prove in the AHL?
  • Dave Strathman (Reading, ECHL) is beginning the season on Injured Reserve. Dennis McCauley ( 1-1-2, 13 PIM) and Louis Liotti (0-0-0, -3) have played all 4 games for Reading.
  • Jason Guerriero made his debut as a coach Saturday with Holy Cross as they beat BU 5-4.
  • Jamie Oleksiak has picked up right where he left off.  He has been selected for an OHL All Star Team.
  • Jake Newton will be hoping for a fresh start in Lake Erie after he has struggled since leaving school.
  • Joe Vitale has been benefitting from the veteran leadership of Richard Park.
  • Chad Costello’s team may be new to the ECHL, but he is not.  He does have 8 points in 4 games though.

If you have any news you’d like to add or players you want to see, email us at huskyhockeyblog@gmail.com

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