Springfield, Illinois – We are getting closer and closer to the midway point of the 2021-22 season and while most of our focus has been on preparing for our own season, we would be remiss if we didn’t shine some light on how our alumni have been doing. Sit back folks, it’s time for this week’s Alumni Report!
We begin this morning in Wheeling, WV as we take a look at goaltender Stefanos Lekkas’ stellar weekend for the Nailers. Lekkas, a native of Elburn, IL, is a fresh face in Wheeling after starting the season in Fort Wayne and then bouncing to Orlando and now to the Nailers. He started all three games on the weekend and finished with a 2-0-1 record as the Nailers have now gotten points in six straight games. On Friday he turned aside 27 of 29 in a 3-2 victory over Cincinnati and then stopped 29 of 33 in an overtime loss to Toledo on Saturday. He wound up saving his best performance for Sunday when he stopped 32 of 34 in an overtime win against Indy. Lekkas is now 3-0-1 with a 2.42 GAA and .910 SV% in 4 starts for Wheeling this year and overall has appeared in 18 ECHL games in his career, sporting a 12-3-3 record with a 2.24 GAA and .913 SV% between the Komets, Solar Bears, and Nailers. Lekkas played for the Jr. Blues during the 2013-14 season (pictured above) and appeared in 42 games, finishing his time here with a 19-21-6 record with a 2.32 GAA and .927 SV%. He then went on to play four stellar seasons at the Univ. of Vermont where he set the HockeyEast record for career saves. In addition to his time in the ECHL, Lekkas has also played for the Rochester Americans in the AHL and served as a backup for the Buffalo Sabres towards the end of last season.
Our next spotlight takes us to Minnesota State-Mankato where Senior goaltender Dryden McKay is, once again, making a solid case for goaltender of the year in the CCHA and the NCAA overall. After posting two wins over the weekend over Michigan Tech, McKay’s record now sits at 14-3-0 with a 1.37 GAA, .923 SV%, and 6 shutouts in 17 appearances. He set the NCAA record for career shutouts earlier this season, surpassing NHL All-Star Ryan Miller when he collected his 27th career shutout over Northern Michigan. McKay has appeared in 114 NCAA games in his career and has a phenomenal 89-18-4 record with a miniscule 1.50 GAA, .931 SV%, and 30 shutouts. He is a two-time AHCA/CCM All-American, three-time WCHA Goaltending Champion, two-time WCHA Goaltender of the Year, two-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete, two-time WCHA All-Academic Team, two-time Hobey Baker Award finalist, and two-time Mike Richter Award Semi-Finalist. McKay played for the Jr. Blues during the 2014-15 season, appearing in 37 games with a record of 15-18-0-2 with a 2.77 GAA, .917 SV%, and 2 shutouts.
We stick around the world of NCAA Division 1 hockey as we next take a look at how Sophomore forward Aaron Swanson did this past weekend for St. Thomas. Swanson, a native of Sun Prairie, WI, is in his second season with St. Thomas, but his first Division 1 season after the Tommies moved from Division 3 after last season. On Friday Swanson scored his first D1 goal in St. Thomas’ loss to Bemidji State as he has now appeared in all 18 games this season for the Tommies. Swanny, as he is affectionately referred to here in Springfield, played parts of two seasons for the Jr. Blues, spanning across the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. He served as Captain in his final year here and overall appeared in 65 games with 17 goals, 26 assists, and 118 PIMs with the shield on his chest. Swanson also played for the Amarillo Bulls and Maryland Black Bears in the NAHL, the North Iowa Bulls in the NA3HL, and finished his junior hockey career with 26 goals, 40 assists, and 168 PIMs in 114 games.
Our final spotlight this week takes us to Champaign, IL where Junior forward Braden Stewart is having a remarkable season for the Fighting Illini. In their two game series against Missouri State this past weekend Stewart had 2 goals and 4 assists in their weekend sweep of the Brown Bears. On the season the East Peoria, IL native has played in 23 games and has recorded 14 goals and 20 assists to go along with 52 PIMs. Overall in his ACHA career he has played in 62 games with 34 goals and 40 assists to his credit. Stewart played for the Jr. Blues during the 2018-19 season, posting 3 goals and 3 assists with 83 PIMs in 43 games. Before his time in Springfield he played three full seasons for the Peoria Mustangs and tallied 53 goals, 77 assists, and 362 PIMs in 133 games.
We have over 100 alumni playing across the junior hockey, NCAA, and professional landscapes and unfortunately we can’t cover all of the remarkable things they accomplish each week. Nonetheless, here are the rest of our Alumni who excelled on the ice this past week!
Tyler Parks 1-0-0 Atlanta Gladiators ECHL
Ross Olsson 1 G, 1 A Worcester Railers ECHL
Brennan Blaszczak 2 G Pensacola Ice Flyers SPHL
Russell Jordan 1 A Birmingham Bulls SPHL
Kevin Klima 2 A HK Hradec Kralove Czech
Philipp Mass 1 G Krefeld Pinguine (1st Professional Goal) DEL
Martin Liljekvist 1 G Kalix HC HockeyEttan
Radim Matus 1 G, 2 A Orli Znojmo ICEHL
Danila Larionovs 1 A Saryarka Karaganda Kazakhstan
Lukas Zukauskas 1 G Gjovik Norway2
Les Lancaster 1 A Ilves Liiga
Sandro Aeschlimann 1-0-0, 1 SO HC Davos NL
Juraj Ovecka 1-1-0 HK Brezno Slovakia2
Brandon Puricelli 1 G Lake Superior State NCAA
Ethan Stewart 1 G, 1 A Ferris State NCAA
Patrick Smyth 1 A Army-West Point NCAA
Dylan Rauh 1 G Aurora NCAA DIII
Riley Doyon 1 G Aurora NCAA DIII
Chase Mickelson 2 A St. Norbert NCAA DIII
Ethan Heidepriem 2 A Skidmore NCAA DIII
Zach Tyson 1 G, 1 A Hobart NCAA DIII
Justin Brandt 4 A Tufts NCAA DIII
Josh Sarlo 1-1-0 Tufts NCAA DIII
Cade Groton 1 G, 1 A Hamilton NCAA DIII
Zach Shapiro 1 G Middlebury College NCAA DIII
Max Osborne 1 A Saint John’s NCAA DIII
Andrew Erwin 1 G Hamline NCAA DIII
Nick Techel 2 G UW-Eau Claire NCAA DIII
Andrew McGlynn 2 A UW-Eau Claire NCAA DIII
Darren Johnson 3 G, 1 A Aquinas College ACHA
Thomas Kolaz 3 G Univ. of Illinois ACHA
Cole Walter 1-0-0 Bradley Univ. ACHA
Mason McCormick 1 A Waterloo Black Hawks USHL