Category Archives: ECHL

FUEHRING: DAVIS VANDANE & CT GOALTENDER ALEX VAZZANO SIGN WITH GREENVILLE

11143639_927403127297912_3705843869806580190_nROAD WARRIORS AGREE TO TERMS WITH VANDANE, VAZZANO

Greenville adds a pair of rookies for the 2015-16 season

 

BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Road Warriors

Greenville, SC The Greenville Road Warriors, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the addition of rookie defenseman Davis Vandane and first-year goaltender Alex Vazzano for the 2015-16 season.

Vandane, 23, will enter his first professional campaign after spending the last two seasons at the University of Calgary. He registered 17 points (5g, 12a), 12 penalty minutes and a +7 rating in 33 contests with the Dinos.

“Davis is a tough defenseman who brings an offensive upside to the game,” Head Coach Brian Gratz said. “He has good size and moves well. I’m looking forward to seeing and utilizing his versatility.”

Prior to his collegiate career, the Yorkton, Saskatchewan native played four seasons in the Western Hockey League (WHL) from 2009-2013. In 189 regular-season games, Vandane amassed 79 points (15g, 64a), 92 penalty minutes and a combined +27 rating with Saskatoon, Spokane and Prince Albert. The 6’4, 215-pound blueliner added seven assists and 16 penalty minutes in 34 playoff contests.

In addition, Vandane played two seasons alongside current Rangers’ prospect Josh Nicholls in Saskatoon (2009-2011) and spent another season with Tampa Bay Lightning star Tyler Johnson in Spokane (2010-11).

Vazzano, 24, turned pro near the end of last season when he made six appearances between the pipes for Evansville. Previously, the Trumbull, Connecticut native spent two seasons in net at the University of Vermont and was also the primary starter for two seasons at Sacred Heart University. He played alongside current Rangers’ prospect Chris McCarthy during both seasons at Vermont.

The 6’2, 200-pound netminder was selected in the third round (#34 overall) by Waterloo in the 2009 USHL Entry Draft.

Follow: Keep up with the Road Warriors throughout the off-season and interact with other fans on the Official Road Warriors Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram pages.

Ticket plans for the Road Warriors’ sixth season in the Upstate are available now and start as low as $81! Call an Account Executive today at 864-674-PUCK or CLICK HERE to secure your seats! The Road Warriors open their home portion of the 2015-16 season on Friday, October 23rd with a 7:00 p.m. puck drop against the South Carolina Stingrays.

CANTLON’S CORNER: ANOTHER WEEK OF HOCKEY NEWS

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

NEW AHL SCHEDULE AND PLAYOFF FORMAT

The evisceration and the emasculation of the AHL is complete.

Confirmation of all that was whispered about a few months ago for next year, not only about having one division, the newly created Pacific Division, but their playing only 68 games while the rest of the league will play 76, has all happened. Couple that with the new bizarre percentage-points-based playoff system that’s been spawned because of it.

You may need a degree in trigonometry to figure out how the AHL playoff races are going to be figured out next spring. Continue reading

FUEHRING: ELBRECHT SIGNS WITH ROADIES

Elbrecht_0ROAD WARRIORS INK GRITTY DEFENSEMAN

Greenville signs Tyler Elbrecht for 2015-16 season

 BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Rd Warriors

Greenville, SC The Greenville Road Warriors, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the club has agreed to terms with defenseman Tyler Elbrecht for the 2015-16 season.

“Tyler’s addition is a huge piece to strengthening our defensive corps,” Head Coach Brian Gratz said. “He has good experience at this level and is the kind of player we’ve been looking to add to our blue line. He is hard-nosed and physical, and has a lot of potential to continue to enhance his role with the team.”

A third-year pro, Elbrecht spent each of his first two seasons with Toledo and Idaho, providing a strong and physical presence on the back line. He led the Walleye with 117 penalty minutes last season, and added 12 points (2g, 10a) and a +17 rating in 66 regular-season games. Elbrecht also produced six penalty minutes in seven playoff contests, helping Toledo reach the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals. He was a teammate of Road Warriors’ Assistant Coach Troy Schwab in 2014-15 as well.

A native of Edwardsville, Illinois, Elbrecht debuted with Idaho during the 2013-14 campaign and recorded seven points (1g, 6a) and 110 penalty minutes in 45 contests. He was traded to Toledo on February 24, 2014 and chipped in two assists and 62 penalty minutes in 21 games with the Walleye.

Prior to turning pro, Elbrecht spent four seasons at Minnesota State University-Mankato from 2009-2013. In 142 contests, he notched 27 points (3g, 24a) and 103 penalty minutes, and was named team captain in his junior and senior seasons. The 6’4, 210-pound defenseman also played one season of junior hockey in the United States Hockey League (USHL) and won the 2008 Clark Cup Championship with the Omaha Lancers.

Follow: Keep up with the Road Warriors throughout the off-season and interact with other fans on the Official Road Warriors Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram pages.

Ticket plans for the Road Warriors’ sixth season in the Upstate are available now and start as low as $81! Call an Account Executive today at 864-674-PUCK or CLICK HERE to secure your seats! The Road Warriors open their home portion of the 2015-16 season on Friday, October 23rd with a 7:00 p.m. puck drop against the South Carolina Stingrays.

FUEHRING: ROADIES ADD A BLAST FROM THE PAST TO COACHING STAFF

greenville-road-warriors_thumb16ROAD WARRIORS NAME TROY SCHWAB ASSISTANT COACH

Former Johnstown, Toledo forward enters his first season as coach

BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Road Warriors 

Greenville, SC The Greenville Road Warriors, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, are excited to announce that former Johnstown Chiefs and Toledo Walleye forward Troy Schwab will join the organization as assistant coach for the 2015-16 season.

“Troy brings a lot of experience at this level that will greatly help relate to our players,” Head Coach Brian Gratz said. “He’s very educated with a high level of hockey intelligence and a strong desire to teach and learn the game beyond his playing career. He is also a keen offensive mind and a great leader. Fans are going to love him”

Schwab, 30, will enter his first season in a coaching position after completing a six-year playing career this past May. As a professional, he spent time in the Central Hockey League (CHL), DEL2 German league and ECHL, with more than 350 regular-season games to his credit.

“Troy will be a tremendous addition to our coaching staff,” General Manager Chris Lewis said. “He’s a student of the game and his ability to relate to other players will enhance our recruiting and development processes. I have no doubt his leadership will positively impact the team’s performance on the ice.”

A native of Kindersley, Saskatchewan, Schwab tallied an impressive 60 points (19g, 41a) in 70 regular-season games with Toledo last season, helping the club to 50 wins and the 2015 Brabham Cup title. He added 1.02 points-per-game (22 points) in 21 playoff contests and helped the Walleye reach the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals against South Carolina.

A former 5’7, 180-pound forward, Schwab spent three seasons in the CHL from 2010-2014 with Wichita and Denver, recording 1.25 points-per-game (232 points) over 186 combined contests. He boasted career-bests in goals (25), assists (71), points (96) and penalty minutes (81) during the 2013-14 campaign with Denver.

“I’m extremely excited to start my coaching career in Greenville,” Schwab said. “I’ve known Brian (Gratz) for about five years now and working with him is going to be a great fit.”

“Coaching is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Schwab continued. “I’m a motivator and an offensive mind, so I’m definitely going to push that side of the game.”

Schwab began his pro career on October 17, 2009 when he debuted with the Johnstown Chiefs, one year prior to the franchise’s relocation to Greenville. He made 67 appearances during his inaugural season and earned a team-best 35 assists, and was third on the club with 53 points.

Prior to turning pro, Schwab played four seasons at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan from 2005-2009. He served as an alternate captain during his sophomore campaign and was named team captain during his junior and senior seasons.

Follow: Keep up with the Road Warriors throughout the off-season and interact with other fans on the Official Road Warriors Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram pages.

Ticket plans for the Road Warriors’ sixth season in the Upstate are available now and start as low as $81! Call an Account Executive today at 864-674-PUCK or CLICK HERE to secure your seats! The Road Warriors open their home portion of the 2015-16 season on Friday, October 23rd with a 7:00 p.m. puck drop against the South Carolina Stingrays.

CANTLON’S CORNER: CATCHING UP ON ALL THE MOVES

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – Last week’s wild free agency cavalcade/bazaar brought serious changes to the team whose home address is on Asylum Street.

When the 2015-2016 season begins, the roster of the Hartford Wolf Pack will be distinctly different than when it last hit the ice in the fall.

The heart and soul of the Eastern Conference finalists were altered with nine of it’s pieces leaving for many new ports across North America and Europe.

Last week saw last season’s First Team All-Star, Chris Bourque, sign with and return to the Hershey Bears with a two-year deal paying $350K per year. Meanwhile, the Game 5 OT Hero in the Providence Bruins series, Chris Mueller, became the first player signed by the Anaheim Ducks to play for the San Diego Gulls. Mueller signed to play in the new AHL Pacific Division for $250K .

Goaltender, Yann Danis, who was a rock in the net during the Pack’s extended playoff run stays in North America after signing for $150K* with the New Jersey Devils after Scott Clemmensen retired to become the parent club’s new goalie coach. For Danis it will now be just a three-hour drive from his Quebec home to Albany rather than a plane ride across the ocean to Europe.

Conor Allen, a top pair defenseman for the Pack, migrated off to the Milwaukee Admirals, the Nashville Predator’s top farm team getting a $10K raise to $80K. Continue reading

FUEHRING: CHRIS BERMAN IMPRESSION HEADLINE – “SGT” HOLKA & ALBERGA, “CANADA” RETURN TO GREENVILLE

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ROAD WARRIORS BRING BACK ALBERGA, HOLKA

Both forwards completed last season in Greenville

BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Road Warriors 

Greenville, SC – The Greenville Road Warriors, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced forwards Domenic Alberga and Joey Holka have each re-signed for the 2015-16 season.

Alberga, 22, made his professional debut with the Road Warriors last season following a two-year career at Ryerson University in Toronto. The gritty forward was initially signed on February 25th and immediately made an impact, scoring three goals in his first four appearances. Overall, Alberga notched four points (3g, 1a) and eight penalty minutes in 13 contests.

A native of Maple, Ontario, Alberga recorded 75 points (53g, 39a) in 82 games at Ryerson. Prior to his college career, the 6’1, 185-pounder played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with Brampton, Sarnia and Kitchener from 2009-2013.

Holka, 25, also joined the Road Warriors last February and tallied one goal and seven penalty minutes in eight games. Previously, Holka played three games with the Utah Grizzlies and seven contests with the Mississippi RiverKings (Southern Professional Hockey League), where he earned more than a point-per-game; three goals, five assists and a +6 rating.

Prior to turning pro, the Phoenix, Arizona native spent three seasons at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He notched 14 points (6g, 8a) and 53 penalty minutes in 80 career games.

The 6’3, 190-pound forward also played three seasons of junior hockey in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with the Penticton Vees from 2008-2011. He registered 102 points (49g, 53a) and 192 penalty minutes in 161 regular-season contests, and an additional nine points (5g, 4a) and 28 penalty minutes in 32 playoff games.

Follow: Keep up with the Road Warriors throughout the off-season and interact with other fans on the Official Road Warriors Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram pages.

Ticket plans for the Road Warriors’ sixth season in the Upstate are available now and start as low as $81! Call an Account Executive today at 864-674-PUCK or CLICK HERE to secure your seats! The Road Warriors open their home portion of the 2015-16 season on Friday, October 23rd with a 7:00 p.m. puck drop against the South Carolina Stingrays.

FUEHRING: GRATZ NEW HEADMAN FOR ROADIES

greenville-road-warriors_thumb16BRIAN GRATZ NAMED ROAD WARRIORS’ HEAD COACH

33-year old boasts six years of professional head coaching experience

 

BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Rd Warriors

Greenville, SCThe Greenville Road Warriors, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, are proud to announce that Brian Gratz has been named the team’s second head coach in franchise history. Gratz served as the club’s assistant coach during the 2014-15 season and has been the interim director of hockey operations since April 16th.

 

“Being a part of this organization is very special and I am honored to have this opportunity,” Gratz said. “I am truly humbled by the faith the entire organization has bestowed upon me. This is a great city with a very passionate fan base that expects excellence. I look forward to continuing its high level of success.”

“Brian has a tireless work ethic and has demonstrated that he can cultivate and maintain the relationships that will be critical to our roster-building process,” Executive Vice President and General Manager Chris Lewis said. “He also has a tremendous vision. He has a strong plan for our systems, our player development and for building our locker room culture.”

Lewis continued, “Brian has already been very active with recruiting and building our roster for next season. His focus from the beginning of this process has been to put us in a strong position from a recruiting perspective and he has done a great job of keeping open dialogue with players and agents.”

“Coach Gratz has a no-quit attitude and he has already earned the respect of the organization,” Owner Fred Festa said. “When I think of a great coach, there are three things that come to mind. I want a coach that will put the team ahead of his own personal gain, a coach that can integrate and be part of the community, and a coach that can develop young men and be a leader.”

New York Rangers’ Assistant General Manager, Jim Schoenfeld, also commented on the process.

“We’ve been involved from the beginning, but told Chris and Fred from the get-go that this is their decision,” Schoenfeld said. “Along with the staff in Hartford, we’ve made a conscious effort to provide as much feedback and advice as possible. We look forward to working with Brian and the staff in Greenville on the continued development of our prospects.”

A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Gratz boasts six years of head coaching experience at the professional level. The 33-year old has spent time in the ECHL, Central Hockey League (CHL), Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) and Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL).

Gratz began his coaching career with the Reading Royals in 2007 and was named head coach and general manager of the Indiana Ice Miners (Mid-Atlantic Hockey League) the following season, where he won 2007-08 MAHL Coach of the Year honors and earned the inaugural league title. Gratz continued his early success by leading the Jersey Rockhoppers to the 2009 EPHL Championship.

After spending the 2009-10 season as the head goalie coach at Penn State University, Gratz was named head coach and general manager of the Dayton Gems (CHL) in 2010-11. In his first of two seasons, he made an immediate impact and bolstered the team’s win total, and was also named to the CHL Competition Committee in May of 2011, working with league officials to continuously assess and improve the league’s hockey operations.

During the 2012-13 campaign, Gratz served as the head coach and director of hockey operations for the Bloomington Blaze (CHL), and led the league in total player call-ups to the ECHL and AHL. He continued to serve as Bloomington’s head coach into the 2013-14 season when the organization joined the SPHL.

 

Gratz graduated from Penn State University with degrees in Finance and Economics in 2004. He was also member of four consecutive ACHA National Championship teams as a goaltender at Penn State.

 

Follow: Keep up with the Road Warriors throughout the off-season and interact with other fans on the Official Road Warriors Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram pages.

Ticket plans for the Road Warriors’ sixth season in the Upstate are available now and start as low as $81! Call an Account Executive today at 864-674-PUCK or CLICK HERE to secure your seats! The Road Warriors open their home portion of the 2015-16 season on Friday, October 23rd with a 7:00 p.m. puck drop against the South Carolina Stingrays.