Tag Archives: evan fear

Jr. Blues Alumni Breakdown

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues have advanced over 100 players onto college and professional hockey in the last 25 years. We’ve picked out a handful of alumni who have been excelling this season on and off the ice for this week’s Jr. Blues Alumni Breakdown.

Dryden McKay nabbed his fourth WCHA Goaltender of the Week award after going 1-0-1 for the MSU-Mankato Mavericks against the Michigan Tech Huskies. McKay, a freshman, stopped 57 of 60 shot in two games started and ended with a .950 save percentage and 1.38 goals against average. McKay turned aside 24 shots in Friday’s contest, and an additional four shooters in the shootout victory. On Saturday the Downers Grove, IL native made 33 saves in a 3-2 overtime win. He is now 17-5-2 over all with a 1.87 GAA and a .923 save percentage this season. McKay currently leads all freshmen goaltenders in minutes played (1477:55), wins, goals against average, and shutouts (3).

Stefanos Lekkas, to his own credit, has been playing equally as well for the University of Vermont Catamounts as of late. After going 1-1-0 against University of New Hampshire he was named the Hockey East Co-Defensive Player of the Week. Lekkas, who is from Elburn, IL, stopped 57 of 59 shots he faced over the weekend. He denied 26 shots in a 1-0 defeat on Friday before making 31 saves in a 4-1 victory on Saturday. On the season Lekkas is 12-14-2 with a 2.26 GAA and a .931 save percentage.

Facing off with Lekkas was a fellow Jr. Blues alum in Mike Robinson. Robinson led the UNH Wildcats to a 1-0 victory on Friday behind a 29 save shutout, his fourth of the season. In Saturday’s 4-1 defeat Robinson turned aside 37 of 41 shots. In 25 games played this season he is 10-8-7 with a 2.25 GAA and a .923 save percentage.

Not to be outdone or forgotten, Tommy Nappier is continuing to win for the Ohio State Buckeyes. The St. Louis, MO native is 11-1-2 with a 1.60 GAA and a .946 save percentage for the #2 team in the nation. Over the weekend Nappier kept 29 of 30 shots out of the net in a 4-1 victory over Wisconsin.

McKay, Lekkas, Robinson, Nappier, and Devin Cooley have not only been topping our alumni list each week, but they’ve also been ranking at the top or near the top of statistical categories for all goalies in the NCAA. Nappier has the highest winning percentage in Division 1 Men’s Ice Hockey (.857), while McKay sits at sixth (.750) and Cooley is 15h (.654).

All five are in the top 20 for goal against average: Nappier is second (1.60), McKay is seventh (1.87), Cooley is 14th (2.08), Robinson is 19th (2.25), and Lekkas is 20th (2.26). Nappier is also second in the nation in save percentage (.946), while Lekkas is fifth (.931), Cooley is 8th (.929), McKay is 15th (.923), and Robinson is 16th (.923).

Here is a quick recap of a few more of our alumni:

  • Max Kalter had 2 assists for UCONN (NCAA); he now has 6 goals and 7 assists in 28 games played.
  • Brian Rigali had 1 goal and 1 assist for UCONN (NCAA); he now has 4 goals and 5 assists in 23 games played.
  • T.J. Friedmann scored his first NCAA goal for Quinnipiac on Feb. 2nd against Clarkson University. He has four assists in 23 games as well.
  • Kelly Klima has four points in his last five games (2 goals, 2 assists) and has at least one point in 13 of his 20 games played this season (8 goals, 9 assists) for the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL).
  • Kevin Loppatto is currently on loan to IF Bjorkloven in HockeyAllsvenskan (Second League) in Sweden. He has 1 goal in three games played with the team. Loppatto had put up 16 goals and 13 assists in 33 games for Vannas HC in Sweden’s Division 1 League (Hockeyettan, Tier Three).
  • Evan Fear was traded to the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL by the Green Bay Gamblers. In 24 appearances this season, Fear is 10-9-4-0 with a 3.33 GAA and a .899 save percentage. He has three USHL Goaltender of the Week awards this season (10/22/18, 12/10/18, and 12/31/18).
  • Mike McKenna is now on his second AHL team this season (Belleville Senators, Lehigh Valley Phantoms) and his 14th AHL team overall (Norfolk, Milwaukee, Omaha, Portland, Lowell, Albany, Binghamton, Peoria, Springfield, Syracuse, and Texas). McKenna has played in 470 AHL games and holds a career line of: 228-176-25 with 27 shutouts, a 2.71 GAA, and a .913 save percentage. He has appeared in two Calder Cup Finals (Syracuse Crunch and the Texas Stars).
  • Luke Radetic has 13 goals and 9 assists for University of St. Thomas (NCAA D3) in 23 games.
  • Bradley Marek has 6 goals and 4 assists in 41 games for the Central Illinois Flying Aces (USHL).

Springfield Jr. Blues Alumni Report

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues a proven record of moving players onto college and professional hockey. Over the last 26 seasons countless players have made their mark after leaving Springfield. Here is an Alumni Update on just a few of those players. 

Stefano Lekkas (2013-14) – University of Vermont, Hockey East

Stefano Lekkas (Elburn, IL) was named the Hockey East Player of the Week after a remarkable performance against #4 University of Michigan. Lekkas stopped 48 shots in the contest, including 19 on the penalty kill and 15 in the 3rd period alone. Lekkas is in his third season at Vermont and is one of nine former Jr. Blues goalies currently playing in the NCAA.

Evan Fear (2016-17; 2017-18) – Green Bay Gamblers, USHL

Evan Fear (Winnetka, IL) is currently playing for the Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League (USHL). In three starts this season, Fear is 1-2-0 with 3.04 GAA and a .898 save percentage. But the big news came out this morning, as Evan committed to Quinnipiac University for the 2019-20 season. He joins a list of former Jr. Blues players who have played for Quinnipiac including T.J. Friedmann (2014-15) and Matthew Cassidy (2016-17).

Mike McKenna (1999-00; 2000-01) – Belleville Senators, AHL

Mike McKenna (St. Louis, MO) is entering his 14th professional season this year and is one of three former Jr. Blues goalies who are playing professionally in North America (Tyler Parks and Nick Niedert). McKenna played for the Jr. Blues in the late 90’s and early 00’s before playing four years at St. Lawrence University. McKenna was drafted in the 6th round of the 2002 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators and has played games in the ECHL, the AHL, and the NHL. He is currently playing for the Belleville Senators, who are the AHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators.

 

Fear factor: Jr. Blues going into playoffs with seasoned goalkeeper

By Dave Kane – Sports Writer / Taken from The State Journal Register

After spending most of last season as a backup with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the Tier I United States Hockey League, goaltender Evan Fear headed back to Tier II with the North American Hockey League’s Springfield Jr. Blues.

Instead of sulking over what could be considered a demotion, Fear took everything he learned at Dubuque and applied it to his second tour of duty with the Jr. Blues.

It’s been a memorable return to Springfield, with another chapter beginning Friday night in Janesville, Wisconsin.

“I think Evan’s oozing with confidence right now,” said first-year Jr. Blues coach Tyler Renette, who’ll guide the team into a first-round NAHL Robertson Cup playoff series against the Janesville Jets.

“To him, the puck looks like a beach ball coming at him. To me, he’s been the hottest goalie in the league the past month. He’s earned everything he’s gotten. He’s been unbelievable for us down the stretch, and he’ll be starting Friday night.”

The 18-year-old Fear, a Winnetka native, has played a big role as the last line of defense for a Jr. Blues team making its first playoff apperance since 2013.

For the season, Fear has two shutouts and a 2.39 goals-against average. That ranks him in the middle of the NAHL pack.

But Fear was in goal for six of Springfield’s eight straight wins to close the regular season, including two shootout victories in which he stopped all five penalty shots he faced against Janesville on March 28 and the Minnesota Magicians on March 30.

Fear’s backup is rookie Jurja Ovecka, a native of Slovakia who owns the other two victories in the eight-game streak.

“The goaltending position is an interesting one,” Fear said. “There can only be one guy in the net at a time.

“I think I’m playing pretty well at the moment, and I’ll be getting the first chance in the playoffs. But it’s what you do with it, right? If I lay an egg, it’ll be Juri’s chance. It’s our job to compete with each other.”

Fear joined the Jr. Blues late in the 2015-16 season. His best memory from that year was getting to play one game with older brother Erich Fear, a defenseman who spent that one season in Springfield before enrolling at the University of Denver.

Erich was a member of Denver’s NCAA Frozen Four national champions in 2017, although Evan had another commitment that kept him from joining his family to watch Erich and Denver win the Frozen Four at the United Center.

“That was a little bit of a bummer,” Evan said. “We were still in-season, so I wasn’t able to go to Chicago. It was perfect for them. They got to celebrate.”

Fear was still with the USHL Dubuque team at that point. He was the backup goalie, but he still got to play in 16 games. Practice time was equally important in his development.

“The biggest takeaway from that was Matt Millar, the goaltending coach,” Evan said. “He helped me a ton. With four or five practices a week, I got to be on the ice with (Millar) and really work on my game.”

Fear started the next preseason — for the 2017-18 campaign — with Dubuque. But he said a coaching change and his own sub-par play led to him being released.

But the Jr. Blues welcomed back Fear with open arms. Rennette, who was a Jr. Blues assistant to Tony Zasowski last year, knew Fear’s potential.

’“When Dubuque called me and wanted to know if we wanted (Evan) back, I said sure,” Rennette said. “But I told him, ‘I’m not going to just hand you the No. 1 spot. You have to earn it.’

“He came in and really battled for the job.”

Experience on the roster was a priority for Rennette this season as he added older players in hopes of making a push to the playoffs.

“I think there were two points in the regular season where (more experience) was pretty relevant,” said the 18-year-old Fear. “At the start of the year when I came here, there were a lot of teams with young guys and not much experience. That helped us early.

“Then down the stretch, when games got pretty tight with overtimes or shootouts, we’ve been able to control play with our experience — guys who’ve been there before.”

Fear has been there, in both the USHL and the NAHL. Now comes playoff pressure.

“I always get nervous before a game,” Fear said. “There are some butterflies there.

“You have to be excited for the playoffs, but you don’t change your routine too much. We’ve had a lot of success lately. We have to keep playing like we’ve been playing. If we stay confident in ourselves, I think we’ll do pretty well.”

Contact Dave Kane: 788-1544, dave.kane@sj-r.com, twitter.com/davekaneSJR.