Springfield, Illinois – The 2019-20 season came to an abrupt end all across the entire hockey world this past week, and nearly 170 Jr. Blues alumni are now starting an early summer. We are going to open our 2020 off-season by first taking a look at our alumni representing the capital city in the WCHA.
There were 8 alumni who spent time in the WCHA this season, including one player who turned pro at the conclusion of the regular season. One player is getting all the accolades and is still waiting to hear about more. Two players continued to impress despite their teams struggling overall, while four others are still transitioning to NCAA Division 1 hockey.
Our first stop is in Mankato, Minnesota where the WCHA Regular Season champions were led by sophomore netminder Dryden McKay. The Downers Grove, IL native finished the 2019-20 season with a remarkable 30-4-2 record, 1.31 GAA, .942 SV%, and 10 shutouts, setting WCHA single season records in GAA, shutouts and save percentage. McKay was named the WCHA Goaltender of the Year and to the All-WCHA First Team as he led the conference in all major goaltending categories. He earned eight Goaltender of the Week honors alongside three Goaltender of the Month awards, and topped that off by being named a 2020 Hobey Baker Award Top-10 Finalist. While the Mike Richter Award finalists have yet to be named, we can only imagine that the goalie leading the nation in several categories would be at the top of the list.
But that’s not where McKay’s season ends. After not making the grade for the WCHA Scholar Athlete Award during his freshman campaign, he not only earned the award this season but was also named to the 2019-20 WCHA All-Academic Team. With two full seasons now under his belt, McKay has a solid resume that includes two WCHA regular season titles, a 54-11-4 record, career GAA of 1.53 & SV% of.934, and 14 shutouts. We’ll make sure to keep our eye on McKay this summer and see if he participates in any NHL development camps.
Up next on our list is a stop at Bowling Green University and a check-in on junior forward Sam Craggs. The Elmhurst, Illinois native appeared in 38 games this season for the Falcons, tallying 6 goals and 8 assists. He has now appeared in 117 games for Bowling Green and has compiled 17 goals, 21 assists, and a striking +22 rating. Craggs is a two-time WCHA Scholar Athlete Award winner and was named to the All-Academic Team for his work off-the-ice this season. He notched his first multi-assist game of his NCAA career in February against Ferris State and registered two multi-point games overall on the season. Craggs additionally led the Falcons in penalties (26) and penalty minutes (71) this season.
From Bowling Green to Alaska-Fairbanks, we transition to focus our spotlight on forward Brennan Blaszczak and defenseman Jordan Muzzillo. Blaszczak, a native of Troy, MI, wrapped up his third and final season at UAF by appearing in 9 games overall. After 27 games across three seasons in which he notched 1 goal and 3 assists, Blaszczak turned professional at the end of February by signing with the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the SPHL. He notched his first professional goal on March 6th against Fayetteville before tallying his first multi-point game the next evening. In 6 professional games Blaszczak scored 2 goals and 1 assist. While at UAF, Blaszczak earned WCHA Scholar Athlete & All-Academic Team honors twice.
His teammate and fellow alum Jordan Muzzillo appeared in 8 games for Fairbanks this season and notched two assists. Muzzillo, a native of Capron, IL, has played in 21 games over two seasons with the Nanooks and has 3 career points, all assists. He was named to the 2019-20 WCHA All-Academic Team as well as earning the Scholar Athlete Award. With Blaszczak moving on to professional hockey, Muzzillo will be the lone Jr. Blues alum in the state of Alaska next season.
From two teammates in Alaska, to two teammates at Ferris State. We next look at forwards Coale Norris and Ethan Stewart, who recently have finished their junior and sophomore seasons respectively. Norris, an Oxford, MI native, appeared in 25 games this season, scoring 6 goals and 2 assists for the Bulldogs. He also earned the 2019-20 Scholar Athlete Award for his performance in the classroom, his first such honor in his NCAA career. In 97 games for the Bulldogs over three seasons he has 23 goals and 23 assists.
Stewart, who hails from Rockford, IL, appeared in 9 games for the Bulldogs this season, failing to register any points. In 21 career games for Ferris State, Stewart has compiled 2 assists. Ferris State has been a welcomed home for many alumni in the last 27 years including forward Greg Rallo, who would go on to become just the third former Jr. Blues player to play in the NHL. Additionally, current Assistant Coach Todd Pococke is also an alum of the Bulldogs, having played from 2007 to 2011.
Our final stop in the WCHA is in one of the more unlikely of places: Huntsville, Alabama. Junior Defenseman Teddy Rotenberger and freshman goaltender George McBey are both currently on the UAH Chargers roster, while only Rotenberger has seen action. Rotenberger, a Huntsville, AL native, has yet to manufacture any points in 13 games over three seasons, but he is a three-time WCHA Scholar Athlete Award winner. McBey, a native of Dallas, TX, did not appear in any games this season as he was stuck behind junior workhorse Mark Sinclar on the depth chart. He will look to break into the lineup next fall once hockey resumes.
We won’t know who the playoff champion this year would have been, or if that team would have made it the Frozen Four. But what we do know is that the Jr. Blues were represented well in the WCHA both on and off the ice. While we wait to see if McKay wins any more awards this season, we want to congratulate all of these young men on their hard work and dedication. We are proud of the work that you have done and we look forward to what next season will bring!