9/21/2012: Hockey Today

— Plenty of interesting hockey news today, as always. But it wasn’t all good, and I’m not even talking about reports that Gary Bettman may pull the plug on the Winter Classic in a few weeks. Further suspensions have come out of the North Dakota men’s college hockey team’s party…here’s the school press release in its entirety:

(PR) GRAND FORKS, N.D. – University of North Dakota Director of Athletics Brian Faison announced today additional suspensions for a violation of team rules stemming from a Sept. 15 men’s hockey team party. Today’s suspensions were determined based on additional information gathered during the athletic department’s investigative process.

Sophomores Connor Gaarder, Andrew Panzarella and Stephane Pattyn have been suspended for UND’s Oct. 20 regular season game at Alaska Fairbanks. On Monday, Faison had announced 1-game suspensions for senior captains Andrew MacWilliam, Corban Knight, Danny Kristo and Carter Rowney to be served during UND’s Oct. 19 regular season opener against Alaska Anchorage in Fairbanks.

Faison also announced today that Kristo and sophomore forward Brendan O’Donnell have each received a 1-game suspension for a violation of UND Athletics Department policy unrelated to the team party.

O’Donnell will serve his suspension on Oct. 19 versus Alaska Anchorage, while Kristo will serve his additional suspension Oct. 20 at Alaska Fairbanks.

When Faison issued the four initial suspensions on Monday, he also announced several additional team disciplinary measures including, but not limited to:

o Athletics Department-issued team probation under which any further violations by a team member could result in immediate reduction of scholarship, suspension from competition, or expulsion from the program.
o The implementation of a mandatory team community service program
o Weekly team alcohol education programming

Faison reiterated that “measures taken by the athletics department do not preclude possible additional measures by the department, or actions by the University or local and state authorities.”

Neither Faison nor head coach Dave Hakstol will provide further comment.

Matt Hackett, who made his NHL debut last season, will be part of a star-studded cast in Houston Aeros training camp this year (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

Good point by Minnesota Wild beat writer Mike Russo when discussing the sheer amount of talent that Minnesota’s AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, will have on their roster this year.

Houston will have five homegrown first-round picks, four second-round picks, a third-round pick, three fourth-round picks, a sixth-round pick and a seventh-round pick in training camp. Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker and Matt Hackett are among the aforementioned players.

Veteran NHL defenseman Brett Lebda signed a PTO with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs today (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— An intriguing AHL signing to report. The Rockford IceHogs, affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, have brought in veteran NHL defenseman Brett Lebda in on a tryout deal. Lebda, who has played with the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets, hoisted the Stanley Cup just three years ago as a member of the Red Wings. Lebda was in the NHL as recently as last year with Columbus.

The IceHogs training camp roster features a lot of quality young talent; Brandon Bollig, Jimmy Hayes, Marcus Kruger, Brandon Saad, Brandon Pirri, Andrew Shaw and Nick Leddy among them.

— The Norfolk Admirals had six players agree to AHL contracts today, including veteran NHL wingers Luca Caputi and Troy Bodie.

— The ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays signed forward Matthew Pistilli today. The 23-year-old had spent the past three seasons in the Carolina Hurricanes system — South Carolina is now a Bruins affiliate — but more importantly spent the entire year in the AHL with Charlotte, posting 25 points. He isn’t the first and won’t be the last player with extensive AHL time to get pushed down to the ECHL thanks to the lockout.

— For example, the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads added Patrick Cullity. The 25-year-old defenseman spent the majority of his year in the AHL with Abbotsford and Springfield, playing in 49 games at the highest level of the minors while adding another 20 with the Utah Grizzlies.

Idaho head coach Brad Ralph in a team statement: “Pat is going to bring leadership and experience to Idaho. He’s a big, mobile defenseman who can play in any situation, so he’ll play big minutes for us. He also brings a lot of work ethic and character to the locker room, which is another big plus.”

After a nice run in the AHL at the end of last year, Joe Fallon returns to the Las Vegas Wranglers (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— Veteran goaltender Joe Fallon has returned to the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers. Fallon, who was named both the AHL and ECHL Player of the Week at various points last season, performed very well for the Houston Aeros in a late season call-up.

— The CHL’s Allen Americans added tough guy Ryley Grantham today. Grantham, who was selected by the Calgary Flames in the 2008 NHL draft and played extensively for them at the AHL level, played for current Allen head coach Steve Martinson last year in the ECHL with Chicago.

“Ryley Grantham is a tough physical forward with great hands,” said Martinson in a press release. “I expect him to score goals, make plays, and be a tough forward to play against.”

— Connor McDavid, who was selected first overall in the OHL draft by the Erie Otters, scored his first goal tonight in an 8-2 loss to the London Knights tonight. McDavid is just 15 years old.

— John Gibson, the goaltender selected 39th overall by the Anaheim Ducks last year, posted his first shutout of the season in a 3-0 Kitchener Rangers win over the Mississauga Steelheads.

— The WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors announced that Kendall McFaull will wear the “C” for their team for the second straight season. Blues draft pick Joel Edmundson and Morgan Rielly, selected fifth overall by Toronto this year, are among the alternate captains.

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