Springfield, Illinois – The 2019-20 hockey season is in motion for nearly all hockey leagues this week. From juniors, to college, to professional, we take a look at some of the highlights from our alumni from this past weekend.
We begin this week with two goaltenders who have received NCAA recognition for their play from opening weekend. Dryden McKay, a sophomore at Minnesota State-Mankato, earned WCHA Goaltender of the Week honors after backstopping his team to two wins against Arizona State. The Downers Grove, Ill. native stopped 25/26 shots on Friday in a 4-1 win before blanking the Sun Devils on Saturday, stopping all 14 shots. He currently is 2-0-0 with a 0.50 GAA and .975 SV%.
Meanwhile in the B1G Ten conference, Tommy Nappier earned the First Star of the Week after he backstopped the Ohio State Buckeyes to the IceBreaker title with a .958 save percentage and 1.45 goals-against average in a tie against Western Michigan and a win over RIT. Nappier made a career-high 44 saves in a 2-2 tie with Western Michigan, adding five more saves in the ensuing 3-on-3 overtime and stopping four out of five attempts in the shootout. The next night against RIT he stopped 24 shots in a 4-1 victory. This is Nappier’s fifth weekly award and first since February 5, 2019.
The NCAA is beginning to heat up and each student athlete is focusing on making improvements to play professionally once their collegiate careers are over. Currently there are 13 alumni who are listed on professional teams’ rosters here in the United States. Six are in the ECHL, two are in the AHL, two are in the SPHL, and three are in the FHL.
Lester Lancaster, a defenseman for the Allen Americans of the ECHL, is drawing attention for his play to start the 2019-20 season. In 2 games played for the Americans the Ypsilanti, MI native has recorded three assists. His assist on Friday was his first professional point, and he added two assists in Saturday’s game to complete a remarkable opening weekend.
Josh Lammon, who played with Lancaster at Mercyhurst in addition to the Jr. Blues, starts this season with the Allen Americans. He assisted on the game winning goal in overtime on Friday for the Americans and now has 6 points in his professional career. Last season Lammon played in 9 games for the Florida Everblades and scored 2 goals and added 3 assists.
Opposite Lancaster and Lammon on Friday was another Jr. Blues alum: goaltender Tyler Parks. Parks, a Imperial, MO native, stopped 28/31 shots for the Rapid City Rush on Friday against the Allen Americans, but picked up the OT loss. Parks would bounce back on Sunday against the Tulsa Oilers by picking up his first win of the season by stopping 36/39 in a 5-3 victory. He currently has a 1-0-1 record with a 2.93 GAA and .914 SV% on the season which will be his second with the Rush.
In addition to Lancaster, Lammon, and Parks, several other players have also begun their seasons on professional rosters. Here is a quick run through of players who made opening night rosters:
- Matt Iacopelli (Kalamazoo Wings – ECHL)
- Alex Jaeckle (Norfolk Admirals – ECHL)
- Ross Olsson (Worcester Railers – ECHL)
- Nikolai Knyzhov (San Jose Barracuda – AHL)
- Kelly Klima (Tucson Roadrunners – AHL)
Additional players who are listed on professional training camp rosters are Mike Crowley (Roanoke Rail yard Dawgs – SPHL), Russell Jordan (Birmingham Bulls -SPHL), Brad Denney (Danville Dashers – FHL), Jordan Brant (Danbury Hat Tricks – FHL), and Nick Niedert (Danbury Hat Tricks – FHL). The Jr. Blues have even more players who are playing professional overseas, but we’ll save that for another day.
Here’s a quick glance at other players who had impressive weekends: