ECHL Round-Up for Last Week

So, I feel a little bad in that I usually try to cover at least the three All-Star Games that take place around this time of the year in succession. But, with the NHL game taking place later on in February this year and the AHL edition just being outright scrapped due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, the ECHL game slipped under my radar this year.

It did air live over the NHL Network this past Monday (I was busy watching the Los Angeles Rams-Arizona Cardinals NFL Wild Card Game, truth be told) and emanated from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

The format saw the ECHL All-Stars defeat the host Jacksonville Icemen 14-7. The ECHL’s website (ECHL.com) reports that the Kansas City Mavericks’ Marcus Crawford was named the game’s Most Valuable Player as he tallied three goals and an assist for four points for the All-Star team.

In addition, Anthony Nellis of the Trois-Rivieres Lions notched a hat trick for the All-Stars. His Lions teammate Olivier Archambault also recorded five assists in the game.

The Adirondack Thunder, the Devils’ ECHL affiliate, were represented on the ECHL All-Star team by defenseman Joe Masonius. Masonius had just been reassigned to Adirondack on Monday from the AHL’s Utica Comets.

(Forward Tyler Irvine was also assigned to Adirondack by Utica on Monday while goaltender Brandon Kasel was returned to Adirondack by Utica from loan and forward Shawn Weller was placed on reserve by Adirondack in other transaction news for the Thunder.)

One of his fellow All-Star teammates on the blue line was Jordan Subban of the South Carolina Stingrays, brother of Devils’ rear-guard PK Subban.

During the 2022 ECHL Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic would be the Mugwamp Productions/ECHL All-Star Skills Competition. Each event would see the winner taking home a goal for their team in the actual game itself.

The fastest skater event was won by Jacksonville’s Ben Hawerchuk (13.01 seconds – which the ECHL website says is tied for the third fastest in ECHL history for that part of the Skills Competition). As such, that earned the Icemen a goal.

Trois-Rivieres’ Nellis (13.15 seconds) came in second according to the site while Jacksonville’s Jacob Panetta (13.17 seconds) was third. The next runners-up were Liam Pecararo (13.27 seconds) of the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Brandon Fortunato (13.38 seconds) of the Icemen, Gavin Gould (13.46 seconds) of the Allen Americans, Allie Thunstrom (13.75 seconds) of the Premier Hockey Federation’s Minnesota Whitecaps and Jillian Dempsey (14.74 seconds) of the PHF’s Boston Pride.

The hardest shot event saw Jacksonville win a goal as well with Croix Ervingson winning with a top shot of 90 miles per hour. Mike Lee (Indy Fuel) and Logan Nelson (Rapid City Rush) tied for second with shots of 88 MPH. Jacksonville’s Sean Giles was next at 84 MPH, then Blake Winiecki of the Florida Everblades with an 81 MPH shot and, finally, Luke Lynch of the Icemen at 83 MPH.

Jacksonville swept the Skills Competition when Derek Lodermeier won the accuracy shooting competition to earn the Icemen another goal. He hit all of the targets in 6 seconds flat. Aaron Luchuk of the Orlando Solar Bears came in second with a time of 7.7 seconds. TJ Hensick of the Toledo Walleye was next with a time of 7.8 seconds followed by Sophia Shaver of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (Team adidas & Minnesota) with a time of 10.4 seconds and then Abbott Girducks of the Icemen with a time of 14.2 seconds.

The weekend also saw the annual induction into the ECHL Hall of Fame. This year’s class included Ray Harris, who is currently the Owner and President of the Cincinnati Cyclones – having served in that capacity since 2003.

The other inductees were:

Brett Marietti, who played the bulk of his professional hockey career for the South Carolina Stingrays from 1994 to 2003. He won two Kelly Cups (the ECHL’s championship) with South Carolina in 1997 and 2001.

Joel Martin, who spent parts of ten seasons in the ECHL, playing with the Columbus Cottonmouths, Trenton Titans, Augusta Lynx, Elmira Jackals and Kalamazoo Wings. He is second all-time in the ECHL in minutes played (22,962), third in appearances (394) and fourth in wins (199) among goalies. Single season, he holds the ECHL record for most minutes played in a season (3,793 in 2012-13) and is also second on that list as well (3,777 in 2015-16). He is also at the top of the list for games played in a season (64 in 2015-16 and 63 in 2012-13). He had five ECHL seasons where he won 20 or more games and three where he won 30 or more games.

Tim Nowak, an on-ice official who started as a linesman for the ECHL in 1989, ultimately working three seasons in the league (two of which saw him work the Riley Cup Finals – then the championship series for the ECHL). He made his NHL debut on October 8, 1993 and went on to a 26 season career in the NHL while working over 1,700 games at that level. He retired from the NHL in 2019. Over his NHL career, he worked the 2003 NHL All-Star Game, the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 2008 Winter Classic between the Penguins and Sabres in Orchard Park, New York. He also worked two Winter Olympic Games (2002 – Salt Lake City and 2010 – Vancouver).

(All of this information comes from the ECHL.com press release on the Hall of Fame.)

In a final bit of ECHL news, the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week for January 3 to 9, 2022 was named last week and was none other than Jeremy Brodeur of the Maine Mariners.

Brodeur, son of Devils/hockey legend Martin Brodeur, won the award after going 2-0-0 against the Adirondack Thunder, ironically enough, in two appearances last week. In those games, he notched a 1.50 goals against average and a .958 save percentage.

He made 33 saves in Friday’s 3-2 win and 36 saves in the Mariners’ 4-1 win on Sunday.

The Essex Fells, New Jersey native, as noted by the ECHL’s press release on the award, is currently under contract to the AHL’s Providence Bruins (the Mariners are the ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins) and has played in 20 games for Maine in 2021-22. He has a 9-6-2 record and a 3.25 GAA and .909 save percentage this season while also recording 578 saves (ranking second in the ECHL) and 1,070 minutes (third in the ECHL).

Devils Get Three Players Back from COVID List

Going once again to Sam Kasan reporting for the “Inside the Devils Blog,” the Devils got three players back today from the COVID Protocol list: goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood and forwards Mason Geertsen and Janne Kuokkanen.

With that, Kasan points out, the Devils are beginning to get a full roster of healthy players for the first time in about five weeks.

Kasan noted that the three players released from COVID Protocol “rejoined the club for practice on Monday afternoon at Prudential Center.”

It should be mentioned that, as per Kasan, these players did not have “particularly bad symptoms to their illness” and were “mostly dealing with boredom.”

The thing that really stands out is that the players were out of commission for a little over a week and could only condition through body-weight exercises. Kasan then relayed how being “tossed back into practice can be jolting” for the players who were out.

Blackwood said “It felt more like a training camp day for me, getting my wind back, my legs back. It didn’t get me like it did last time. I feel like I’ll be good to go.”

Blackwood had battled COVID in January of last year as well.

Geertsen added “I was a little bit stiff. I made sure to do a little extra in warmup to make sure I was bit limber and ready to go. I was breathing hard in the drills, but it felt good.” He continued, “I feel like I’m good to go. I was a little rusty (Monday). (Tuesday) will be another tune up and if they call me on Wednesday, I’ll be ready to rock.”

Kasan said that the Devils had 17 players on the NHL roster having tested positive for COVID throughout the season.