Jr. Blues Alumni Report – Feb. 12th, 2020

Feb 13, 2020

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues have maintained a steady presence in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) for 27 seasons and, in the process, have moved over 350 players onto the NCAA and 150 players onto professional hockey. With nearly 175 alumni currently playing around the world, we have a lot to dig into. Here is this week’s Alumni Report!

We start this week’s Alumni Report in NCAA Division 1 hockey as Sophomore goaltender Dryden McKay earned WCHA Goaltender of the Week honors after leading Minnesota State-Mankato to a weekend sweep of Northern Michigan. The Downers Grove, IL native turned aside 21 of 24 in Friday night’s 7-3 victory to earn his 24th win of the campaign. He then improved his performance as he stopped all 22 shots on Saturday in a 1-0 victory to pick up his single-season school and WCHA record 8th shutout. The Hobey Baker and Mike Richter candidate now has 12 shutouts in his career, also a school record, and is now tied for 9th on the WCHA career shutout list. McKay is 25-3-2 with a 1.37 GAA and .939 SV% in 2019-20; his wins, GAA, and shutouts lead the nation while his SV% ranks third. The weekly award is McKay’s sixth Goaltender of the Week award this season and his 12th career honor (2 – Rookie, 10 – Goaltender). 

Sticking with Division 1 netminders, we shift our attention out East as University of New Hampshire Junior Mike Robinson helped lead the Wildcats to a weekend sweep of Vermont. On Friday, the Bedford, NH native stopped 23 of 26 shots as the Wildcats overpowered the Catamounts 7-3. Robinson then stopped 16 of 17 on Saturday in a 2-1 victory that saw two Jr. Blues alumni battling it out in the spotlight as Stefanos Lekkas manned the Vermont net. With the two wins over the weekend Robinson now has a record of 9-9-2 with a 2.55 GAA and .901 SV%. He has two shutouts this season as well after ranking 2nd in HockeyEast in shutouts last season with five. 

From Division 1 to Division 3, we stay out East and congratulate Freshman forward Nikita Kozyrev who has earned SUNYAC Rookie of the Week honors for the fourth time this season. Kozyrev, a native of Tallinn, Estonia, has been an offensive force for the Buffalo State Bengals this season and continued his strong play this past weekend. Kozyrev scored the lone goal in Friday night’s 2-1 overtime loss to Potsdam, before scoring one goal and three assists in Saturday’s 6-1 victory over Plattsburgh. In 21 games for the Bengals this season Kozyrev leads the team in points with 29 on 8 goals and 21 assists. Nikita is tied for the 2nd most points by a Freshman this season in Division 3 hockey with Adrian forward Zachary Heintz as they both trail Brandon Osmundson of Utica who has 31 points. 

Babson College forward Patrick Flynn has been rolling this season. The Framingham, MA native is in his third season with the Beavers and is fourth on the team in scoring with 21 points (6 goals, 15 assists), as he and his teammates begin transitioning towards a playoff push in the NEHC. In Saturday’s 11-2 rout over Johnson & Wales, Flynn recorded his first collegiate hat trick, scoring twice in the opening period and one more in the middle frame. He was held off the board in Monday’s 4-1 victory over Suffolk but has 10 points in his last 10 games (4 goals, 6 assists). 

The Northeast isn’t through garnering it’s fair share of the spotlight as we next focus on Hamilton College Freshman forward Cade Groton, who recorded his first collegiate goal on Saturday night. The Asburn, VA recorded his second assist of the season in Friday night’s 4-2 victory over Bowdoin, and then scored his 1st college goal just five minutes into Saturday night’s 4-1 victory over Colby. In 14 games this season for the Continentals, Groton has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and becomes the 15th Jr. Blues alum to record their first NCAA goal this season (Puricelli, DiGrande, Smyth, Fineman, Scherer, Kozyrev, B. Schmidling, Brainin, Techel, Nelson, Aird, B. Schultz, Balodis, Matsinger).

Our final spotlight this week is shined on Russell Jordan, who is in his second season with the Birmingham Bulls of the SPHL. In Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the Fayetteville Marksmen, Jordan scored the game-winning goal shorthanded in the 2nd period, the second consecutive shorthanded goal in the game by the Bulls. He followed up his performance by scoring his second goal of the season and adding two assists in Tuesday night’s 6-5 overtime loss to Knoxville. In 10 games played since joining the team in early January, Jordan has two goals and five assists with 11 penalty minutes. The Aurora, IL native has played for two other teams in the SPHL (Pensacola & Evansville) and has also seen playing time in the ECHL (Fort Wayne & Kalamazoo). 

Jr. Blues Highlights: