Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues have continuously aided players in achieving their goals of playing in the NCAA and beyond. In 27 season in the North American Hockey League (NAHL), we have seen over 350 players move onto either Division 1 or 3 collegiate hockey and nearly 150 players begin professional careers. From the ACHA to Europe, we have a lot to get to this afternoon. Here is this week’s Alumni Report!
Honestly, we could have started today discussing several different players, but we will shine our spotlight on defenseman Kyle Meeh first. Meeh, a native of St. Louis, MO, recently wrapped up his collegiate career at Saint Mary’s and over the weekend signed an ATO (Amateur Try-Out) contract with the Kansas City Mavericks of the ECHL. On Saturday night the 6’2” 181 lbs left-handed shot made his professional hockey debut as the Mavs hosted the Kalamazoo Wings. Meeh was held off the scoreboard, as were most of his teammates as they lost 8-2, but the beginning of any professional career will have its share of bumps. Meeh joins fellow Jr. Blues alums Alex Jaeckle, Les Lancaster, Josh Lammon, Kelly Klima, Matteson Iacopelli, Tyler Parks, and Ross Olsson who have all spent time in the ECHL this season.
Our next spotlight is on Buffalo State freshman forward Nikita Kozyrev, who was named the SUNYAC Rookie of the Year as well as to the SUNYAC All-Conference 1st Team this past week. After the Tallinn, Estonia native’s season ended with the Bengals losing to Potsdam on February 26th, Kozyrev was announced as the recipient of the ROTY award and 1st Team All-Conference honors. In 26 games played the 5’8” 154 lbs forward had 32 points on 9 goals and 23 assists, with his points being fourth best in the conference and his assists being third most. Overall among NCAA Division 3 freshman, Kozyrev ranks fourth behind Utica’s Brandon Osmundson who leads all freshman with 40 points. Kozyrev additionally earned four Rookie of the Week honors as well as one Player of the Week honor this season.
As we traverse the NCAA landscape, our next stop is focused on the outstanding play of sophomore netminder Dryden McKay. McKay, who plays for Minnesota State-Mankato in the WCHA, has earned Goaltender of the Week and Goaltender of the Month honors after helping lead the Mavericks to their fifth MacNaughton Cup in the last six years. The Downers Grove, IL native was proven to be mortal on Friday night as he stopped 31/33 shots in a 3-1 loss to Bemidji State before bouncing back by stopping a career high 38 shots in a 4-1 victory that clinched the regular season title.
McKay is 28-4-2 with a 1.30 GAA, .943 SV%, and 10 shutouts, leading the nation in all four categories. He was particularly impressive in February going 5-1-1 with a 1.14 GAA and three shutouts, including back-to-back perfect slates against Alabama-Huntsville. McKay’s monthly recognition is his third this season, while his weekly award was his eighth of the year. He is currently a front-runner for the Mike Richter Award as well as a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award.
From one star netminder to another, we shift our focus to the HockeyEast All-Time Career Saves leader: University of Vermont senior goaltender Stefanos Lekkas. The Elburn, IL native stopped 53 of 56 shots in a weekend sweep for the Catamounts, earning HockeyEast Defensive Player of the Week honors. Lekkas now sits in 8th place for All-Time Career Saves in NCAA history with 3,869. On Friday evening Lekkas led his team to a 4-2 upset over #14 Northeastern, stopping 31/33 shots before turning aside 22/23 on Saturday in a 3-1 victory. The sweep is only the second this season for the Catamounts, and first since December 28th and 29th. Lekkas record improves to 5-20-6 with a 2.82 GAA and .913 SV%. He was selected as a player to watch for the Mike Richter Award earlier this season, and was listed as a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award as well.
Our final spotlight this week is on St. Thomas sophomore forward Luke Radetic. The Chesterfield, MO native had a helping hand in getting the Tommies into the MIAC finals after posting three points over the weekend. In Thursday night’s 3-2 victory over Gustavus, Radetic had one goal and one assist before adding another assist in Saturday’s 4-1 victory over number-one seed Saint John’s. St. Thomas will now play Concordia for the MIAC championship this Saturday. Radetic did not reproduce the numbers he put up last season (14 goals, 9 assists in 26 games) but his 18 points on 9 goals and 9 assists are third most on the team.
Jr. Blues Highlights:
- Kelly Klima – 1 G (Tucson Roadrunners, AHL)
- Nikolai Knyzhov – 2 A (San Jose Barracuda, AHL)
- Josh Lammon – 3 A (Allen American, ECHL)
- Max Kalter – 2 G, 1 A (Cergy-Pontoise, France)
- Kevin Loppatto – 1 A (Halmstad, Sweden)
- Radim Matus – 1 A (Orli Znojmo, Austria)
- Michael Davies – 1 A (Sheffield Steelers, EIHL)
- Sandro Aeschlimann – 1 W, 1 L, 6 GA (HC Davos, NLA)
- Juraj Ovecka – 1 W, 3 GA (HK Skalica, Czech)
- Jordan Muzzillo – 1 A (Alaska-Fairbanks, NCAA)
- Jack Summers – 1 A (Univ. of Michigan, NCAA)
- Pat Curry – 1 G (Boston University, NCAA)
- Brady Tomlak – 1 G, 2 A (Air Force, NCAA)
- Trevor Stone – 1 A (Air Force, NCAA)
- Ryan Leibold – 2 A (Holy Cross, NCAA)
- Matt Long – 1 G, 1 A (Canisius, NCAA)
- Marcus Walter – 1 G (Bentley, NCAA)
- Brendan Aird – 1 G (St. Norbert, NCAA D3)
- Zach Tyson – 1 G (Hobart, NCAA D3)
- Joey Lupo – 1 A (Amherst, NCAA D3)
- Cade Groton – 1 A (Hamilton, NCAA D3)
- Zach Shapiro – 1 G (Middlebury, NCAA D3)
- Nick Techel – 1 A (UW-Eau Claire, NCAA D3)
- Andrew McGlynn – 2 A (UW-Eau Claire, NCAA D3)
- Braden Stewart – 1 G, 2 A (Illinois, ACHA)
- Tyler Opilka – 1 G, 2 A (Illinois, ACHA)
- Thomas Kolaz – 1 G, 1 A (Illinois, ACHA)
- Andrew Richter – 1 A (Illinois, ACHA)
- Chris Brown – 1 G, 1 A (Missouri State, ACHA)
- Josh Bell – 1 G, 1 A (Missouri State, ACHA)
- Nick Belger – 1 G, 2 A (Stony Brook, ACHA)
- Darren Johnson – 4 G, 1 A (Aquinas, ACHA)
- Jack Williams – 1 W, 25/29; 1 L, 10/12 (Muskegon Lumberjacks, USHL)
- Matthew Cassidy – 3 G (Youngstown Phantoms, USHL)
Alumni All-Academic Teams:
WCHA – Teddy Rotenberger (Alabama-Huntsville); Brennan Blaszczak, Jordan Muzzillo (Alaska-Fairbanks); Sam Craggs (Bowling Green); Coale Norris (Ferris State); Dryden McKay (Minnesota State-Mankato)
NCHC – Devin Cooley, Michael Corson, Erich Fear (Denver)
NCHA – Riley Doyon, Dylan Rauh, Anthony Tzveyn (Aurora); Jack Nickels, Kevin Shand (MSOE); Blake Robertson (Trine).
*We will update our All-Academic Team list as more conferences announce recipients.