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.

Wildcat Recruiting Update

It has been a while since I have posted anything substantial here. This post took much longer to create than I initially figured it would, but it's done now.

Here, then, is a quick glimpse into Wildcat recruits. There are currently no new names to announce, but this is the current state of the incoming class of NMU athletes.

Class of 2007

Tyler Gron - RC - Spruce Grove (AJHL)
(60 GP-26 G-24 A-106 PIM)
Gron finished the regular season second on the team in points. In the post-season, Gron picked up five goals and four assists in ten games and Spruce Grove fell to the Grand Prairie Storm 4-1 in a best-of-seven playoff series. Offensively, Gron leads the next Wildcat class.

Andrew Fernandez - LD - Selkirk (MJHL)
(56 GP-14 G-34 A-100 PIM)
Fernandez is a member of the Selkirk Steelers, easily one of the most offensively explosive teams in the MJHL. In the regular season, the team's top four point gatherers combined for 516 points.

Now in the playoffs, the Steelers have glided through to the finals, winning a pair of best-of-seven series, 4-1 and 4-0. In the nine games, Fernandez has four assists and 37 PIM.

$ Nick Kosinski - LW - Marquette (NAHL)
(58 GP-18 G-30 A-64 PIM)
A native of Marquette, Kosinski will comntinue to play in his own backyard when he takes the ice for NMU. His current team, the Rangers, has two games remaining on their regular season schedule and with a 24-30-5 record, they have clinched a playoff spot.

$ Evan Lucas - LD - Oswego (OPJHL)
(32 GP-5 G-23 A-125 PIM)
Picking up 23 assists on the year, Lucas was a big part of an Oswego team that finished 19-25-2-3. The Admirals were swept out of the playoffs by Port Hope, three games to none. One of the select few recruits to actually be signed at this point, Lucas will be looked to next year to help bolster a depth-challenged defensive unit.

$ Jared Brown - W - Lincoln (USHL)
(52 GP-29 G-40 A-26 PIM)
Brown's 69 points leads the Stars at this point in the year. There are still eight games remaining in the regular season and Lincoln is 33-16-3 and in second place in the West Division. Brown, along with Gron, will be looked to next year to produce offensively.

Mario Lamoureux - LC - Tri-City (USHL)
(50 GP- 10 G-17 A-75 PIM)
Thus far, Lamoureux is fifth on the team with 27 points this season. Three weeks remain in the Storm's regular season schedule and he still has time to step up.

Billy Smith - LW - Alaska Anchorage (Transfer)
After transferring to NMU, Smith is already on campus with the Wildcats. In 2005-2006, he collected four goals and four assists in 32 games with the Seawolves. Smith hasn't played competitively in a decent amount of time, but he has certainly benefited from his time with the team.

Mark Olver - RC - Omaha (USHL)
(49 GP-27 G-28 A-76 PIM)
The brother of recently departed Wildcat Darin Olver, Mark currently leads the Omaha Lancers in points. The Lancers are 33-14-5 and in first place in the West Division with eight games remaining.

This is one prospect that Marquette-area residents seem to be particularly interested in. He hasn't yet signed, though, and therefore, coach Kyle can't actually say anything about him (Although they have asked on several occasions).

Ian Keserich - G - Tri-City (USHL)
(40 GP-22 W-11 L-5 OTL-2.53 GAA-.903 SV%)
Keserich's Storm are currently third in the USHL West Division with eight games remaining and he has been the go-to guy for the team. Throughout the season Aaron Rock and Bryce Christianson have combined to start 18 games, but Keserich has been in goal for the large part.

The last I heard, however, it looked as though Keserich may not end up at Northern after all. This may have something to do with Brian Stewart's play late in the season, maybe not. The fact of the matter is that Keserich is not yet signed and may not be in Marquette come fall.

Derek Janzen - G - Langley (BCHL)
(50 GP-25 W-23 L-1 T-3.52 GAA-.896 SV%)
Janzen, who was playing at NMU last season, went to the BCHL so that he could continue to rack up experience while freshman Brian Stewart gained some NCAA time.

During the playoffs, Janzen went 3-4 with a 3.41 GAA as his Chiefs lost 4-3 in a best-of-seven series against the Burnaby Express.

Class of 2008

Cherniwchan - RW - Drayton Valley (AJHL)*
(60 GP-36 G-17 A-236 PIM)

Erik Spady - RD - Salmon Arm (BCHL)*
(56 GP-10 G-34 A-117 PIM)

Justin Florek - LC - USNTDP U-17 Team*
(45 GP-11 G-10 A-38 PIM)

Charlie Smith - C - Detroit Belle Tire*
(18 GP-3 G-7 A-2 PIM)

Kory Kaunisto - C - Traverse City (NAHL)*
(59 GP-6 G-15 A-126 PIM)

$-Has already signed a National Letter of Intent