Woody on Hockey

Alaska is hockey heaven -- the Alaska Aces are perennial ECHL contenders, the UAA Seawolves play in the nation's premier college league and NHL star Scott Gomez headlines a contingent of pros. Join the conversation about the Aces and Alaska hockey with Doyle Woody, who has covered the game here at all levels for 29 years.

Contact: dwoody@adn.com

Here's a historically encouraging way of looking at UAA's WCHA series in Grand Forks - 10/25/2012 3:43 pm

Aces: Ambroz released (Plus, Courchaine note) - 10/25/2012 1:26 pm

Aces: Gee, those are some decent linemates Imbeault just got; plus, numbers changes - 10/25/2012 10:45 am

Aces add a defenseman in fourth-year pro Alain Goulet - 10/25/2012 9:59 am

A bunch of Alaska connections play in the Austrian League where Alexandre Imbeault began the season - 10/24/2012 5:41 pm

Man, UAA's Early Schedule Is Odd - 10/24/2012 5:07 pm

Former Aces Center Imbeault Is Now Current Aces Center Imbeault (UPDATED) - 10/24/2012 1:16 pm

North Pole's Copley Is WCHA Rookie Of The Week - 10/23/2012 12:19 pm

Washington Capitals Make Anchorage's Wuthrich A 4th-Round Draft Pick

Right winger Austin Wuthrich of Anchorage became the first Alaskan taken in the 2012 NHL entry draft when the Washington Capitals selected him in the fourth round this morning.

Wuthrich, 18, is heading into his sophomore season at Notre Dame. The Caps made him the 107th overall pick.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder enjoyed a strong first season in South Bend, racking 7-10--17 totals in 36 games as a true freshman for the Fighting Irish.

Wuthrich previously played in USA Hockey's prestigious National Team Development Program for both the U-17 and U-18 teams.

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Anchorage's Cooper Invited To USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp

Defenseman Brian Cooper of Anchorage, who excelled in the USHL and is headed to Nebraska-Omaha in the fall, is one of 46 players invited to USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp, Aug. 4-11 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Players from that group will comprise Team USA in the 2013 World Junior Championship.

Cooper, 18, will be a true freshman in the fall. He's likely to go in the top third of the NHL draft this weekend, so, lot of good things happening for the kid.

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Marsh Headed Abroad Again (Notes)

Alaska Aces defenseman Tyson Marsh is headed to Europe again.

Marsh, who played in Italy two seasons ago and began last season in the second division in Germany before returning to the Aces, has signed with the Wales-based Cardiff Devils in the Elite Ice Hockey League.

Marsh would have been considered an ECHL veteran in the upcoming season. The retirements of captain Brian Swanson and sniper Wes Goldie opened two veteran slots for the Aces for the upcoming season -- ECHL clubs are allowed a maximum of four veterans.

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DeCaro Headed Back To England; Bales Still Racking Fat Points In Australia

This version of Alaska-Connected Cats Across The Pond(s) comes courtesy of reader Franklin, so stick-tap to him.

Turns out former UAA and Alaska Aces goaltender John DeCaro, who had a deal to play in Norway next season, changed his mind and decided to rejoin the Sheffield Steelers in the Great Britain-based Elite Ice Hockey League. You can click here to check out the story at prohockeynews.com

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Check Out This Nice Story From NHL.com On Defenseman Brian Cooper Of Anchorage

Defenseman Brian Cooper of Anchorage, headed to Nebraska-Omaha as a true freshman in the fall, could go as high as the second round in the NHL draft later this month.

So it is that nhl.com this week profiled Cooper, who began playing, and well, in the USHL as a 15-year-old for the Fargo Force.

Cooper is strong on the ice and in the classroom, and you can click here to check out the story on nhl.com

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The Blog Is Back (Well, As Much As It Can Be In "Summer'')

Settling in behind the keyboard here at the typing factory after some time off, seems like not a great deal happened in the world of Alaska hockey in The Blog's absence.

Still, a few notes out there to, well, make note of (as you see, time off did nothing to enhance The Blog's writing awesomeness) -- so, here we go, in no particular order, with some things that caught our eye:

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Former UAA Center Paul Crowder Heading To Europe

According to eliteprospects.com, former UAA center Paul Crowder will head to Europe in the fall for a tryout with Orli Znojimo, a Czech-based club that plays in the Eishockey Liga, a circuit that also includes clubs from Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia.

Crowder, 27, turned pro after his junior season, signing with the New York Rangers. He played his rookie season in the AHL and has spent nearly all of the last two seasons in the ECHL. With ECHL Wheeling last season, he produced 24-26--50 totals in 57 games.

Next season will be his fourth as a pro.

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USA Hockey Is Honoring The Late Harry McDonald, Who Was Awesome Before "Awesome'' Was Ubiquitous

Presumably, a fair amout of puckheads in these parts don't know who Harry McDonald was, or know of his monumental impact on local hockey, or just what an awesome man he was.

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Time To Plan Your Winter -- The Aces' 2012-13 Schedule Is Out

Sure, it's not even summer, but you puckheads can already get a jump on planning your winter -- The Alaska Aces' 2012-13 schedule is out.

For just the second time in 10 ECHL seasons, the two-time defending Brabham Cup champs open on the road -- they have games Oct. 12-13 at Colorado.

The home opener is Friday, Oct. 19 against Utah.

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UAA Adds 3 Recruits, 2 Of Them For Next Season (And Scheid Is Outta Here)

Looks like the UAA coaching staff has been busy on the recruiting front -- according to eliteprospects.com, the Seawolves have added three recruits, two of them for next season.

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Tough End To Junior Career For Fairbanks' Stephon Williams

In his last junior hockey game before heading to college, goaltender Stephon Williams of Fairbanks came out on the tough end -- his Waterloo Black Hawks were beaten 5-2 by the Green Bay Gamblers tonight in decisive Game 5 of the USHL's Clark Cup Finals.

Williams stopped 28 of 32 shots (empty netter for the Gamblers).

He finished the playoffs 10-5 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .922 save percentage, plus one bagel. Gotta like his two-season playoff totals in the USHL -- 14-6, 2.27, .922.

Next stop for the former Alaska Player of the Year: Minnesota State-Mankato in the fall.

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The Florida Everblades Are Your ECHL Kelly Cup Champs

Well, that seemed deserved -- the Florida Everblades won the first ECHL Kelly Cup in franchise history with tonight's 3-2 overtime win in Game 5 over the visiting Las Vegas Wranglers.

After dropping the opener in the best-of-7 series, the Everblades rolled through four straight wins to win their first hardware in three trips to the Finals -- Florida lost in 2004 and 2005. (Hopefully, no one writes on of those third-time's-the-charm leads on their story -- but someone probably will; hey, we've all contributed some groaners over the years).

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Dubinsky Back In Lineup For Rangers Tonight

New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky of Anchorage, who has missed the last 11 playoff games with a lower-body injury, is back in the lineup tonight in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the visiting New Jersey Devils.

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Alaskans Schwalbe, Carle Taken In USHL Entry Draft

A pair of Alaskans were selected today in the USHL's entry draft -- and both were picked by the Youngstown Phantoms.

Selected were center Ryan Schwalbe of Anchorage, who has been playing at Shattuck St. Mary's in Minnesota and is ticketed for Minnesota State-Mankato in 2013, and defenseman Alex Carle (the youngest of the three Carle brothers, all blueliners), who has been playing at Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire.

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AHL Peoria Signs Bruton To 1-Year Deal (And A McCambridge Note, And A J.J. Note)

On-again, off-again Alaska Aces winger Chris Bruton, who started this past season with the ECHL club before earning promotion to AHL Peoria and then returning to the Aces when Peoria failed to make the playoffs, has agreed to a one-year AHL deal with Peoria.

He earned it the hard way -- by coming up from the ECHL, taking on all comers despite relative lack of size for fighting, and doing whatever it took (blocking shots, fighting, being a pest) to stick in the AHL.

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ECHL Kelly Cup Finals: Florida 3, Las Vegas 1 (Wranglers Are Out Of Mulligans)

Well, the Las Vegas Wranglers are up against it now.

And the Florida Everblades are just one win from hoisting hardware.

Florida earned its third consecutive win in the ECHL's Kelly Cup Finals, taking Game 4 tonight, 3-1, in Florida.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Florida. The Wranglers, who eliminated the Alaska Aces in the Western Conference finals, must win to get the series back to Sin City for Game 6 and a possible Game 7.

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Anchorage D-Man Dax Lauwers Headed To Northeastern

Defenseman Dax Lauwers, who started his college career with a season at Army before returning to the USHL this season, has committed to Northeastern University of Hockey East, according to Chris Heisenberg's excellent recruiting site.

Lauwers, 20, is a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder who this season for the Lincoln Stars played all 60 games and registered five assists and a -6 rating. In eight playoff games, he had one goal and a -6.

He spent the 2010-11 season with Army, going 1-2--3 in 33 games before returning to junior hockey.

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USHL: Williams Gets Waterloo To Decisive Game 5

Goaltender Stephon Williams of Fairbanks has one more hockey game left in his junior career -- the biggest one of all.

Williams stopped 21 shots tonight to backsto the Waterlook Black Hawks to a 5-3 victory over the Green Bay Gamblers, and that forces a decisive Game 5 Wednesday in Green Bay for the USHL's Clark Cup.

Williams, the former Alaska Player of the Year for Lathrop who is headed to Minnesota State-Mankato in the fall, in these playoffs is 10-4, with a 2.15 goals-against average,. 926 save percentage and one shutout.

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Rink Roundup: ECHL Florida Up; Dubinsky Back On Blades, Plus Carle And Williams USHL Notes

Let's take a lap around the rinks.

The Florida Everblades went up 2-1 in the ECHL's best-of-7 Kelly Cup Finals tonight with a 4-3 overtime win against the visiting Las Vegas Wranglers -- Matt Marquardt, who Alaska Aces fans may remember helped eliminate that club in the first round in 2010, when he was with Stockton, authored the OT strike.

In the NHL, New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky is back skating for the first time in nearly a month after being out with a lower-body injury. No word when he'll be ready to go, but it is at least encouraging he's back on blades.

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Alaska Junior Aces Aim For Tier I Youth Excellence

Interesting move afoot in local youth hockey -- the Alaska Junior Aces will become a Tier I elite program offering AAA teams at the U-18, U-16 and U-14 levels, with coaches who have deep backgrounds in local pucks.

The aim of the program, said Jerry Mackie, one of the Alaska Aces' owners and a Jr. Aces board of directors member, is to get the best Alaska players in these age groups all playing together to drive their development and compete nationally.

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