Springfield, Illinois – With many players’ seasons having come to an end, we thought we’d switch our Alumni Report up a bit and focus on four players who have really made an impact on their teams’ success this season! So buckle up, folks, here’s this week’s Alumni Report!
Our first spotlight is on one of our most successful Alumni in recent memory: Dryden McKay. McKay, a native of Downers Grove, IL, is in his Senior season at Minnesota State-Mankato where he’s set numerous records in his tenure, including the NCAA career record for shutouts (currently at 33). But what may stand out even more than his numbers is his consistency. He has won 20 games or more in each season, his goals against average has never been over 2.00, his save percentage has never dropped below .920, and he’s had 4+ shutouts in each season. On top of all of that, he earned his third Goaltender of the Year award (WCHA & CCHA) and is once again a Semifinalist for the Hobey Baker and the Mike Richter Awards. With so much spotlight on his own personal accomplishments, it’d be easy to overlook how the Mavericks are ranked #1 and have a legitimate chance at winning their first National Championship this season. McKay currently has a career stat line of: 109-19-4, 1.46 GAA, .932 SV%, and 33 shutouts in 135 appearances. He has also earned seven CCHA Goaltender of the Week honors and three CCHA Goaltender of the Month honors. To say McKay has had an impact on the Mavericks and the NCAA is an understatement, and we are proud of how much he has accomplished to this point!
We stick around the CCHA to spotlight our next Alumni: Freshman forward Bradley Marek. Marek, a native of Big Rapids, MI, is in his first season at Ferris State University and has opened a lot of people’s eyes with his steady play and faceoff prowess. In 36 games this season for the Bulldogs he scored 10 goals and 9 assists to finish second on the team in scoring and tying for the most goals. For his outstanding campaign Marek earned CCHA Rookie of the Year honors, leading all rookies with four out of a possible seven votes from the CCHA’s coaches. He is the first hometown kid to win Rookie of the Year for Ferris State and just the second Freshman to earn the title overall. Marek recorded the third most faceoff wins and third best faceoff percentage for a freshman in the nation. He is the only forward and only freshman in the top 20 in the CCHA in blocked shots (31). He was teammates this season with fellow alum and Captain of the Bulldogs Ethan Stewart, who was also his teammate when he played here in Springfield during the 2017-18 season. Marek has shown that perseverance through adversity can result in positive surprises and we are very proud of how well Bradley has done through one year at Ferris!
The transition from collegiate hockey to professional can be tricky, but one Jr. Blues alumni has found the right recipe for success in his third season with the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the SPHL. Brennan Blaszczak, who was named Captain before the season this past fall, has been on a tear with 26 goals and 14 assists in 35 games played. He has 7 power-play goals, 2 game-winning goals, and 6 short-handed goals as he sits third on his team in points but is first in goals. Blaszczak also sits second in goals overall in the league, just one goal behind the league leader. Brennan has now played in 72 professional hockey games, all with Pensacola, and has accumulated 32 goals and 20 assists in addition to being part of their 2020-21 Championship team. Blaszczak played two seasons here in Springfield, tallying 41 goals and 29 assists in 114 games before playing in parts of three seasons for the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. He is one of six Jr. Blues alumni to have played in the SPHL this season alongside Russell Jordan, Nathan Chasteen, Timothy Faulkner, Dylan Rauh, and Riley Doyon. Brennan has displayed the leadership qualities that contributed to his stellar play here in Springfield, in Alaska, and now in Pensacola. We are proud of the work he has put in and the accomplishments he has been able to attain!
The last spotlight this afternoon takes us all the way to Davos, Switzerland where veteran netminder Sandro Aeschlimann has proven that hard work and dedication pays off. The Zaziwil, SUI native is in his sixth professional season and his third with HC Davos of the National League (NL). Sandro has been an absolute brickwall this season, compiling a 22-10-0 record with a 1.78 GAA, .942 SV%, and 7 shutouts as he leads the NL in shutouts and goals-against average, is 2nd in save percentage, and is 5th in wins. In just his third season with Davos he has gone from 27 starts to 29 to 34 this season and was also selected to represent Switzerland at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Sandro is no stranger to success, however, as he earned MNJHL Best Goaltender, Most Valuable Player, and League Champion during the 2014-15 season, and was a part of EV Zug’s Swiss Cup Winning team in 2018. Overall in 109 career starts in the NL he has compiled a 65-30-3 record with a 2.40 GAA, .922 SV%, and 10 shutouts. He is the only alumni currently playing in the NL and although Fabio Hollenstein is playing in Switzerland, he’s playing in the SL. We want to congratulate Sandro for a remarkable season and we are looking forward to seeing how he and HC Davos fare in the playoffs!