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Alumni Update: 3/9

March 9, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

NHL

  • Brad Thiessen is 2-0 since being called up to the NHL for the first time in his career. He has given up just 2 goals in each of his starts and has a .917 save percentage.    His latest win came in a nationally televised came that featured many Northeastern mentions.  Thiessen has looked good in his starts and he is positioning himself for an NHL contract next season whether it be in Pittsburgh or somewhere else.  He will be a restricted free agent this summer.
  • Staying in Pittsburgh, Joe Vitale is enjoying his first NHL season.  Vitale has been a  constant on the 4th line all season and he has chipped in with 4 goals and 9 assists.   The former Husky captain has also been huge for the Penguins on faceoffs.  They recently rewarded him with a 2 year, $1.1 million extension that will keep him in Pittsburgh through 2014.

AHL

  • Tyler McNeely‘s Bridgeport Sound Tigers are leading their division.  McNeely is a +11, but has just 5 goals and 10 assists in 52 games despite getting off to a hot start.
  • In last place in that same division is Wade MacLeod and the Springfield Falcons. MacLeod missed some time earlier in the season with an injury but he has fared well since returning.  He has 6 goals and 14 assists in 49 games.
  • Brodie Reid is having a quiet season in his first as a professional.   In 55 games, he has 8 goals and 13 assists for the Worcester Sharks who are barely hanging onto a playoff place.
  • Michael Ryan may never play hockey again.  After 3 games this season, Ryan was forced out of the lineup with concussion like symptoms.   He returned in February but lasted just 5 games.  There is a chance he could come back, but there is not a lot of optimism.   Ryan, who graduated in 2003, has dealt with concussion problems for much of his career.  A career that has seen him play 83 NHL games split over 3 seasons.   Its an unfortunate situation, but hopefully his long term health will not be compromised.

ECHL

  • Kyle Kraemer continues to tear it up for the first place Ontario Reign.  48 points in 46 games has him tied for 2nd best on the team.   This is Kraemer second full season of professional hockey and he has done well in both.   He could be in line for a shot at the AHL next year if he continues this pace.
  • Chad Costello leads the ECHL in points with 76 in 45 games.  He has been called up to the AHL twice already but managed just 4 assists in 11 games.  In his career, he has played 19 AHL games.  He is just 0-5-5, -2 in those games.  He can dominate the ECHL all he wants, if he doesn’t start performing in his AHL chances, he will never get higher in the ECHL.   Since leaving Northeastern after his Sophomore season in 2008, Costello has played for 8 different teams in 4 different leagues.
  • Dennis McCauley was traded to Chicago, but he failed his physical so the trade was cancelled and he has been returned to Reading.
  • Chris Donovan: 25 GP 0-2-2, Steve Silva: 36 GP, 6-23-29,  Dave Strathman: 21 GP, 2-6-8 (since being traded to Utah), Louis Liotti: 38 GP, 2-4-6

CHL

  • Jake Newton finally found his comfort zone.  After posting a 1-2-3 in 31 games with Lake Erie, Newton found himself demoted to the CHL this week.  In his first game with the Allen  Americans, he scored a goal.   Since leaving NU, Newton has played 79 AHL games over two seasons.  He is a 3-9-12, -17.  If those stats don’t justify Cronin’s response to him leaving, then this demotion definitely does.  This should serve as a warning for defenseman who think they may be ready for pro hockey but really aren’t.   But judging by the events of this offseason, it clearly hasn’t.

Juniors

  • Jamie Oleksiak is having a good go of things in Niagara.  In 24 games, he has 4 goals and 13 assists to go with his +19.  His team has already clinched a playoff bid.

Intramurals

  • JP Maley has 2 goals in 4 games for the Mighty Ducks.  His team needs to win their last game to grab a playoff spot after once again finishing behind Reptar on Ice.

Coaching

  • Toronto fired their head coach, but Greg Cronin survived and remained on the staff.   He could be looking for a new job in the summer though if Toronto decides to clean house.
  • Jason Guerriero and Holy Cross swept Army last week in the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs.  This week they head to Mercyhurst for their quarterfinal matchup.
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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 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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