Monday, March 26, 2007

Hittin the Links: Florek, Electros and pro flights

Adding to Kyle's recruiting update, 2008 commitment Justin Florek returned to Marquette this weekend as a member of the U.S. National Team Development Program U17 squad to face the Rangers. The USNTDP escaped with a shootout win Saturday after falling, 4-3, the night before.

Florek notched a goal and as assist at Lakeview Arena over the weekend where he spent his years playing youth hockey in Marquette. Florek has really bulked up since that last time I saw him when he first returned with Team USA in the fall. Florek has become a physically dominating player for the USNTDP under John Hynes. It was great to see the undersized Rangers make a run at Florek, only to be bounced back onto their own asses.

More about Florek's progress can be found in today's Mining Journal.

Electros search for new coach

Florek's former team, the Marquette Electricians Midget AAA program, is seeking a new coach after Jon Nebel resigned Saturday. Nebel had compiled a 314-211-66 record in nine years with the Electricians.

In the release, Nebel cited the departure of assistant coach Dr. John Lehtinen as one of the reasons why he would not be returning for a 10th year. Lehtinen, who is also the NMU hockey team doctor, has taken on additional responsibilities with the Wildcats. This season Lehtinen could be seen spending a lot more time at NMU practices and obviously it was not just to spend time with his son, Rob, during his senior season.

The Electricians have posted the job description and application on its website at I spoke with Marquette's winningest coach, John Kyle, this weekend and while he agrees he is the most qualified candidate for the job with his 1.000 winning percentage at the college level, he is not a candidate for the job.

Going, Going, Gone!

There were two notable flights from the CCHA last week which made many coaches breath a sigh of relief, besides maybe Red Berenson and for sure not Jim Culhane.

CCHA Rookie of the Year Mark Letestu of Western Michigan signed a two year, entry level deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins and was assigned to the AHL. Letestu notched 46 points for the Broncos in 2006-07 and was a huge reason for the Broncos run this year, which helped by Culhane another year.

Michigan's Jack Johnson is also not returning to play for Michigan in 2007-08. Johnson did not join the rest of the team on the plane back to Ann Arbor after the Wolverines fell, 8-5, to North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Johnson is planning to play for the Kings tomorrow night in San Jose and apparently the contract has been all but agreed upon, minus the signing bonuses, according to the Michigan Daily who broke the story Sunday.

Other recent notable departures included Alaska's Darcy Campbell and Wisconsin's Jack Skille and Joe Piskula.

Point Comley

Finally we'd like to congratulate former Northern Michigan head coach Rick Comley for guiding the Michigan State Spartans to the Frozen Four with a 2-1 win over Notre Dame in the Midwest Regional Finals.

It is the first Frozen Four appearance for Michigan State since 2001 and first Frozen Four appearance for Comley since winning the 1991 National Championship at Northern Michigan. For the CCHA, the Spartans are the first team since 2003 to reach to the national semifinals.

Comley has faced harsh criticism since he arrived at Michigan State and has been target by fans and boosters to be fired until he won the Mason Cup last season. Again the haters began to surface after Sparty finished third in the league. The team was picked to finish first.

Since Comley started playing with his own players and not Ron Mason's, MSU has made strides every year. Last year the team won the CCHA playoff championship and advanced to the regional finals. Now Sparty has reached the Frozen Four.

The Frozen Four appearance for the Spartans is not only a huge step for the program, but a huge personal victory for Comley who continues to silence his critics. Again, congratulations Rick.

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