Saturday, December 31, 2011

Newsstand: Jon Gillies

Indianapolis Star correspondent Paul Shepherd wrote a profile of Ice goaltender Jon Gillies for the New Year's Eve edition of the newspaper.

Here it is. 

Sending out 2011 with a "W"

The Ice and Phantoms play in the second period at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Possessing two of the league's top scoring lines and one of the top 2012 draft prospects in net, the Indiana Ice have had aspirations of being one of the USHL's elite teams this year.

At the end of 2011, they've been proving it.

The Ice capped off 2011 with a textbook-perfect 3-0 victory over the Youngstown Phantoms at the newly-named Bankers Life Fieldhouse, extending their year-ending streak to 6-0-2 in the last eight games.

Included in that are two weekend sweeps against the top challengers in the four-way race for the top spot in the USHL's Eastern Conference -- one against Dubuque in early December, and now back-to-back victories over Youngstown, with whom the Ice were tied in the standings going into Friday night's game. The Ice outscored the Phantoms 7-2 in the two games.

Ice goaltender Jon Gillies made 26 saves for his second shutout of the year and his franchise-record fifth of his USHL career. The defense kept the number of tough chances to a minimum, blocking several shots and keeping much of the Phantoms offense on the perimeter. Gillies had to make a point-blank save late in the second -- not long after the Ice defense broke up a 3-on-1 and turned into a Daniil Tarasov breakaway on the other end, one that was also stuffed by Youngstown's Michael O'Connor.

The Ice did have to kill off six Youngstown power plays, including an extended 5-on-3 situation. They were successful in all six.

The offense got going early for the Ice in this one -- just 1:42 in, Sean Kuraly fed John Doherty in front of the net. Doherty made a nice move and slipped the puck past Youngstown goaltender O'Connor to open the scoring. It was Doherty's second goal since coming from Dubuque nine games ago, and his second in as many nights.

Less than four minutes later, penalties to Youngstown's Michael Gunn and Ryan Lowney gave the Ice a prolonged 5-on-3. Robert Polosello's shot from the slot deflected off O'Connor and trickled over the goal line to make it 2-0. It was his sixth goal of the season.

That would be all the offense Ice netminder Gillies and the Ice defense would need.

The Ice carried the play in the first two periods, outshooting Youngstown 28-15. The Phantoms held a significant shot advantage in the third, but had very few strong scoring chances.

Sean Kuraly added an insurance goal at 7:05 of the third by blasting a shot from the right faceoff dot through a small 5-hole opening, converting a feed from Robbie Baillargeon from the high slot to the right circle. R.J. Boyd started the play from the left point.

The goal was Kuraly's team-best 18th goal of the year, and his fifth straight game with a goal -- the longest such streak for an Ice player this season. The San Jose Sharks draft pick has five goals and two assists in the last five contests.

The Ice played the final two periods without top-line center Jacob Fallon, who wasn't seen in uniform on the bench during that time. Youngstown was also a bit shorthanded, as second-leading scorer Austin Cangelosi was scratched from the lineup.

The two teams will see each other again at the Pepsi Coliseum next Saturday night -- a day after the Ice travel to face the Waterloo Black Hawks.

The game was the first of three scheduled at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The annual Pack the House Night will be held Feb. 10. The Jan. 27 game -- previously scheduled to be at the Pepsi Coliseum -- has been moved downtown to accommodate Super Bowl festivities taking place at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Indianapolis Star story story
USHL boxscore

3 stars
1. Jon Gillies (Ice), 26 saves, shutout
2. Sean Kuraly (Ice), goal, assist, +2, 2 shots
3. Robbie Baillargeon (Ice), 2 assists, +1, 1 shot

Newsstand: Andy Brown

An  interesting story that came across the Web in the last couple of days ... profile of ex-Racers goaltender Andy Brown, who was also an aspiring open-wheel racer.

Thanks to Tim Gassen of the WHA Hall of Fame and the author of the Racers' history book and DVD, for the link.

Andy Brown profile

Blashill adjusting to NHL life

The Kalamazoo Gazette caught up with former Ice coach Jeff Blashill, who is now an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings.

Blashill is working with a busy schedule, and oversees the NHL's fifth-best power play.

Read the story here.

New Iceman propels Ice to 5-2 victory

Justin Bailey -- the Ice's first pick in the USHL Futures Draft -- made his USHL debut tonight.

It took him just half a period to score his first USHL goal.

A highly-touted 6-foot-3, 182-pound forward prospect from upstate New York -- and the son of former NFL player Carlton Bailey -- Justin Bailey had initially decided to play the year for a team coached by Pat LaFontaine on Long Island. He has been on the Ice's affiliate list, and has yet to show up on the Ice's 23-man protected roster, which is updated each Friday by USA Hockey.

Bailey -- who was also selected by the OHL's Kitchener Rangers this year -- couldn't have picked a better time to join the Ice and make an impact. Playing a big two-game series against a Youngstown Phantoms squad that appears to be in a tussle with the Ice for playoff position the rest of the year, Bailey scored the game's first goal, assisted by linemates Emil Romig and Dan Sherer, at 10:25 of the first period.

That would eventually turn into a four-goal lead in a 5-2 Ice victory over the Phantoms Friday at Pepsi Coliseum. The two teams will meet again at 6:05 p.m. Saturday at Bankers Life (formerly Conseco) Fieldhouse in downtown Indy.

The Ice took advantage of a 5-on-3 early in the second period -- with a carryover penalty to start the period added onto with a minor on ex-Iceman Alex Gacek. It took just 12 seconds into the two-man advantage -- and 46 into the second period -- for Daniil Tarasov to make it a 2-0 game, with Ryan Obuchowski and Robert Polosello assisting.

Sean Kuraly and John Doherty scored 1:47 apart midway through the period to make it 3-0. For Kuraly, it continued a hot streak, as he has now scored a goal in four straight games and has 17 for the season in 23 games. Doherty's goal was his first in eight games since joining the Ice in a trade from Dubuque, and it chased Youngstown starter Matthew O'Connor, who left after stopping 10 of 14 shots in 31:05. Sean Romeo stopped all 13 shots he faced after that. The Ice dominated the second period, outshooting Youngstown 16-8 in the middle 20 minutes.

Youngstown scored twice to cut the Ice lead to 4-2, but Ice goaltender Jon Gillies stood tall. Tarasov added an empty-netter for his 17th goal and 36th point of the year.

Gillies made 25 saves to make the lead stand up. He was making his 11th straight start for the Ice, and is 7-2-2 in that stretch.

The victory moved the Ice into second place with a 16-7-4 record and 36 points -- seven back of first-place Green Bay, one ahead of Dubuque and two ahead of Youngstown.

Three stars
1. Sean Kuraly (Ice), goal, +2, 2 shots
2. Daniil Tarasov (Ice), 2 goals, 3 shots
3. Justin Bailey (Ice), goal, +1, 3 shots

USHL boxscore

Today in history: December 31

New Year's Eve in Indianapolis hockey history
1998: Dave Hymovitz and Brian Noonan both post four-point games for the Ice against the Cincinnati Cyclones. The Ice win 5-4 in a shootout. 

Kurt Kleinendorst: Checkers forward in 1985-86, where he had 11 goals and 22 assists in 45 games. The Providence College grad was drafted by the New York Rangers in the fourth round of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. He played on the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team, and was also a part of the Tulsa Oilers team that defeated the Checkers in the 1984 Adams Cup Finals as a rookie. After his stint with the Checkers, he played several years in Europe. He retired after the 1990 season and turned to coaching, starting when he was named the head coach of ECHL Raleigh in 1991. He got the NHL callup after coaching in Europe, and was a New Jersey Devils assistant in 2001-02. He coached the USNDTP U18 team in 2009-10, leading the team to the gold medal at the 2010 IIHF U18 World Championships. In 2010, he became the head coach of the AHL Binghamton Senators and led them to the Calder Cup championship. A native of Grand Rapids, Minn., he is 51. 
Paul Gillis: Ice center in 1991-92, where he had 10 goals and 15 assists in 42 games. His pro career began in 1982-83 with the Quebec Nordiques, and included 11 NHL seasons -- from 1982-90 with Quebec, then joining the Blackhawks organization for two seasons, and finishing with two years in Hartford. The Nordiques' second-round pick in 1982, he had 88 goals, 154 assists and 1,498 PIMs in 624 NHL games. In 1994, he entered coaching with the AHL Springfield Falcons. He won the UHL championship in 1998 with the Quad City Mallards, and currently coaches the CHL Odessa Jackalopes, a job he has held since 2007. A native of Toronto, he is 48. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Games 27-28: Youngstown at Ice

The Ice are in a tight three-team race for the second-through-fourth positions in the USHL's Eastern Conference standings as the season hits the midway point.

Each of those positions is important. The second-place team gets a first-round playoff bye. The third and fourth-place teams host the entire first round. And one of the teams in the fight -- the Youngstown Phantoms -- will soon become a familiar foe to the Ice.

The Phantoms visit both Indy arenas -- the Pepsi Coliseum on Friday, the newly-renamed Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday -- for games this weekend, then return to Indy next weekend for another game.

The Ice have been strong of late, going 4-0-2 in their last six games and gaining 14 standings points in their last 10 games -- a .700 clip. But the Phantoms might be the hottest team in the league south of Green Bay, going 7-1-2 in their last 10 and having a winning streak snapped Wednesday night against Cedar Rapids -- but in a shootout.

While the Ice possess one of the USHL's top offenses -- and the top offense outside of Green Bay, which has put together an incredible team this year -- Youngstown has been strong defensively. The Ice are the USHL's second-highest scoring team, while Youngstown is fourth in the league both in goals scored and goals allowed.

The Ice's top two lines are lethal -- which shows in a power play that is hitting at more than a 30-percent clip -- with Daniil Tarasov, Sean Kuraly, Jacob Fallon and Robbie Baillargeon all in the top 12 in the league in scoring. Baillargeon is in the midst of a six-game scoring streak, which he continued with a goal Wednesday. Tarasov is the USHL's second-leading scorer with 34 points. He and Fallon are tied for second in the league in assists with 19. Kuraly is third (16) and Tarasov fourth (15) in the USHL in goals scored.

Meanwhile, Youngstown's J.T. Stenglein is ninth in the league with 13 goals. He didn't score, but had two assists in the teams' lone meeting so far, a 4-3 shootout win for the Phantoms on Nov. 5. Mike Ambrosia is sixth in assists (17) and 12th in points (25).

Two of the league's top goaltenders will match wits, with Youngstown's Matthew O'Connor posting a 2.40 GAA and the Ice's Jon Gillies right behind at 2.44. They're also the league's two busiest goaltenders -- Gillies leads O'Connor for minutes and wins, but they're 1-2 in both categories.

Tonight's game
Youngstown Phantoms (16-6-2)
Indiana Ice (15-7-4)
Friday: 7:05 p.m., Pepsi Coliseum, Indianapolis, Ind.
Saturday: 6:05 p.m., Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind.


Season series: Phantoms lead 1-0
Nov. 5: Phantoms 4, Ice 3, SO (at Youngstown): Robbie Baillargeon 2G, Ian Spencer G, Jon Gillies 23 sv (Ice); Alex Gacek/Dylan Margoneri/Ryan Belonger G, J.T. Stenglein 2A, Matthew O'Connor 36 sv (Phantoms)

Tale of the Tape
Ice (15-7-4, 2nd USHL East)
Head coach: Kyle Wallack
GF: 93 (2nd). GA: 74 (8th)
PP: 30.5% (1st). PK: 85.2 % (3rd) PIM: 482 (13th)
OT record: 3-2 SO record: 1-2
Home record: 7-5-1
Leading scorers: Daniil Tarasov (15-19-34), Jacob Fallon (9-19-28), Sean Kuraly (16-12-28), Robbie Baillargeon (11-14-25).
Leading +/-: Daniil Tarasov (+15), Alex Barron (+13), Ryan Obuchowski (+12)
Leading PIM: Woody Hudson (67), Daniil Tarasov (55), R.J. Boyd (47)
Leading goaltender: Jon Gillies (14-5-4, 2.44 GAA, .923sv%, 1 SHO), Dalton Izyk (1-2-0, 3.77 GAA, .878 sv%)
Last 5: 3-0-2. Last 10: 6-2-2
Last 5
12/28: at Muskegon (OTW 3-2)
12/18: at Muskegon (OTL 2-3)
12/17: at Chicago (W 6-2)
12/16: at Chicago (SOL 2-3)
12/10: vs. Dubuque (W 3-2)

Phantoms (16-6-2, 2nd USHL East)
Head coach: Anthony Noreen
GF: 83 (4th). GA: 66 (4th)
PP: 13.5% (14th). PK: 83.8% (6th). PIM: 413 (8th)
OT record: 2-0 SO record: 1-2
Road record: 7-4-1
Leading scorers: Mike Ambrosia (8-17-25), Austin Cangelosi (11-11-22), Ryan Belonger (10-9-19), J.T. Stenglein (13-5-18)
Leading +/-: Austin Cangelosi (+14), Jordan Young (+11), Michael Gunn (+11)
Leading PIM: Pat Conte (56), Ryan Belonger (44)
Leading goaltender: Matthew O'Connor (13-4-2, 2.40 GAA, .919sv%, 1SHO), Sean Romeo (3-2-0, 3.62 GAA, .875 sv%)
Last 5: 4-0-1. Last 10: 7-1-2

Ice next 5 games
12/30: vs. Youngstown
12/31: vs. Youngstown (Bankers Life Fieldhouse)
1/6: at Waterloo
1/7: vs. Youngstown
1/13: vs. USNDTP

Today in history: December 30

December 30 in Indianapolis hockey history
1939: Sid Abel scores the game-winner and has two goals in a 7-3 win at Springfield. The Hall of Famer would play 21 games and post a 7-11-18 line in the Capitals’ inaugural year. 
1981: Monty Trottier has a big night, with 45 PIMs – three majors, two misconducts and a game miscondut. The Checkers beat Dallas 6-2 in Texas. 

Rick Boyd: Right wing for the Ice in 1988-89. He had two goals, one assist and 113 PIMs in 27 games. He split that year between Indianapolis and Flint, and would play professionally from 1987-2001, primarily in the ECHL. A native of Fort St. John, B.C., he is 47. 
Milan Gulas: Forward for the Ice in 2004-05, their inaugural USHL season. He had 12 goals and 10 assists in 30 games. He has since played in his native Czech Republic, including a 23-goal season in 2010-11. A native of Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, he is 26.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ice go OT for win

The Indiana Ice have had a penchant for giving the customers free hockey the last few nights.

For the third time in four games, the Ice went overtime Wednesday night at Muskegon. Sean Kuraly's unassisted goal with 14 seconds left in the extra session gave the Ice a 3-2 victory in the L.C. Walker Arena.

Kuraly's game-winner was his 16th of the year. 

The victory -- coupled with Dubuque's loss to Green Bay and Youngstown's shootout loss to Cedar Rapids -- moved the Ice past Dubuque and into a second-place tie in the USHL Eastern Conference with Youngstown with 34 points. Dubuque is in fourth with 33 points.

The Ice and Youngstown won't wait long to settle their second-place deadlock -- they play two games in Indianapolis this weekend -- at Pepsi Coliseum Friday and at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Saturday.

These two teams were meeting for the second straight game, and for the second straight game, Muskegon rallied from a third-period deficit to force overtime.

The Ice's league-best power play got going on its second opportunity in the first period, when Robbie Baillargeon cashed in, assisted by Ryan Obuchowski and Jacob Fallon with 4:21 left in the opening frame. It was Baillargeon's 11th goal of the year and his sixth consecutive game with a point.

Captain Alex Barron scored his third of the season unassisted at 2:59 of the second to give the Ice a 2-0 lead. The Ice dominated the opening two periods -- outshooting Muskegon 25-11 in the first 40 minutes, including 17-7 in the middle period -- but Muskegon's John Keeney was able to keep the puck out of his net the rest of the period after Barron's early goal, including killing off three Ice power plays in the middle of the frame.

Muskegon rallied in the third when Dakota Kletcha scored on the power play at 4:55 of the third. Each team got a power play in the ensuing minutes, but couldn't cash in. Mark Yanis scored at 12:26 of the third to tie it, and then Muskegon got its sixth power play of the night moments thereafter. But Jon Gillies and the Ice defense kept the net clean, allowing the game to go to OT, where Kuraly's heroics gave the Ice another extra-session victory.

The Ice dominated the OT, outshooting Muskegon 7-2 in the session and 46-25 for the game. Keeney made 43 saves, Gillies made 23.

Three stars
1. Sean Kuraly (Ice), GWG, +1, 8 shots
2. John Keeney (Mus), 43 saves, 3 GA
3. Mark Yanis (Mus), GTG in 3rd period

USHL boxscore

Today in history: December 29

December 29 in Indianapolis hockey history
1956: The Chiefs beat Huntington 9-1, setting a club record for win margin in a game. Pierre Brillant scores, adds two assists. Marc Boileau and Bob Bowness also score twice. 
1981: The Checkers nearly pack the Coliseum, as 7,526 turn out to see a 4-2 victory over the Tulsa Oilers. Kelly Hrudey tends net. It is the third in what would be an eight-game winning streak. 
1998: Sylvain Cloutier scores a hat trick for the Ice, but they fall to Fort Wayne 9-5. 

Mike Ratchford: Center for the Chiefs in 1960-61, playing six games. He had three assists in what would be his final pro season. A native of Sudbury, Ont., he was born in 1933. 
Neil Davey: Defenseman for the Checkers in 1986-87, where he had two goals and 11 assists in 44 games. It was the end of a two-year pro career that was also spent with the AHL Maine Mariners and the IHL Toledo Goaldiggers. A native of Edmonton, he is 46.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Game 26: Ice at Muskegon

After a 10-day layoff, the Ice are back in action tonight as they travel north to face the Muskegon Lumberjacks.

As we turn to a new year, it's always fun to look back. Not only does an Ice-Lumberjacks matchup conjure up feelings of 1990 -- and the Turner Cup Finals that year -- it also brings into focus two of the USHL's better-run organizations -- the Ice have built a championship-level club under the direction of Paul and Charlie Skjodt, while Muskegon is building under the leadership of Josh Mervis -- who was also the Ice's first USHL GM.

This week is also huge for the Ice, as they'll play three games in four nights against Eastern Conference foes. After leaving Muskegon tonight, they'll return home to face the Youngstown Phantoms in two home games -- Friday at Pepsi Coliseum and Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Ice currently sit in fourth place, but at 32 points, are just one point back of second-place Youngstown and Dubuque.

The Ice's Daniil Tarasov is the USHL's second-leading scorer behind Lincoln's Kevin Roy. Sean Kuraly and Jacob Fallon are both sixth in scoring. At +15, Tarasov is also fourth in plus/minus. The Ice also possess the USHL's top power play, connecting at 31 percent.  Tonight's game also features the USHL's two most penalized teams.

Let's look at tonight's game:

Tonight's game
Indiana Ice (14-7-4)
Muskegon Lumberjacks (9-12-0)
7:05 p.m., L.C. Walker Arena, Muskegon, Mich.


Season series: Lumberjacks lead 2-0
Dec. 18: Lumberjacks 3, Ice 2, OT (at Muskegon): Sean Kuraly G, A; Robbie Baillargeon G; Jon Gillies 31 saves (Ice); Max Shuart GWG in OT, Mike McNicholas GTG with :21 left in 3rd, Ryan Lomorg 2A, Jon Keeney 44 saves (Mus)
Nov. 12: Lumberjacks 5, Ice 4 (at Pepsi Coliseum): Woody Hudson, Robbie Baillargeon 2G; Christian Hilbrich 2A; Dalton Izyk 25sv on 29 shots (Ice); Nick Seeler, John Padulo G, 2A each; Max Shuart G, A; Paul Berrafato 33 saves (Mus)

Tale of the Tape
Ice (14-7-4, 4th USHL East)
Head coach: Kyle Wallack
GF: 90 (2nd). GA: 72 (8th)
PP: 31.8% (1st). PK: 85.3 % (3rd) PIM: 470 (15th)
OT record: 2-2 SO record: 1-2
Road record: 7-2-3
Leading scorers: Daniil Tarasov (15-19-34), Jacob Fallon (9-18-27), Sean Kuraly (15-12-27), Robbie Baillargeon (10-14-24).
Leading +/-: Daniil Tarasov (+15), Alex Barron (+12), Ryan Obuchowski (+11)
Leading PIM: Woody Hudson (67), Daniil Tarasov (55), R.J. Boyd (47)
Leading goaltender: Jon Gillies (13-5-4, 2.47 GAA, .923sv%, 1 SHO), Dalton Izyk (1-2-0, 3.77 GAA, .878 sv%)
Last 5: 3-0-2. Last 10: 5-3-2
Last 5
12/18: at Muskegon (OTL 2-3)
12/17: at Chicago (W 6-2)
12/16: at Chicago (SOL 2-3)
12/10: vs. Dubuque (W 3-2)
12/9: vs. Dubuque (W 6-1)

Lumberjacks (9-12-0, 7th USHL East)
Head coach: Kevin Patrick
GF: 57 (15th). GA: 77 (9th)
PP: 15.1% (11th). PK: 82.4% (10th). PIM: 541 (16th)
OT record: 1-0 SO record: 0-0
Home record: 6-5-0
Leading scorers: John Padulo (6-9-15), Travis Behlorad (8-5-13), Ryan Lomberg (4-8-12)
Leading +/-: Carter Foguth (+3), Mike McNicholas (+2)
Leading PIM: Mark Yanis (64), Ryan Lomborg (58)
Leading goaltender: Paul Berrafato (5-4-0, 3.12 GAA, .892sv%), John Keeney (4-6-0, 3.42 GAA, .909sv%, 2 SHO)
Last 5: 2-3-0. Last 10: 4-6-0

Ice next 5 games
12/30: vs. Youngstown
12/31: vs. Youngstown

Today in history: December 28

December 28 in Indianapolis hockey history  
1958: The Louisville Rebels require a police escort out of the Coliseum as 50 fans swarm their locker room, thanks to a fight between Indianapolis’ Jean-Marc Picard and Louisville’s Moe Bartoli at the end of the game. The two would have a stick-swinging incident two weeks later. 

Terry Sawchuk: A goaltender for the Capitals from 1948-50. He played 128 games for the Caps, posting a 3.02 GAA in those two seasons, to go along with a 69-37-12 record and five shutouts. He was named the AHL's Rookie of the Year in 1949, and he helped lead the Caps to a clean sweep of the 1950 Calder Cup playoffs with a 1.50 GAA. One of the greatest goaltenders in hockey history, Sawchuk got a brief callup to Detroit in 1950 to replace injured Harry Lumley. His play made Lumley expendable, and Sawchuk got the permanent callup that summer. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year in 1951, then won three straight Vezina Trophies as the league's top goaltender from 1952-54 -- and would win another in 1965. He won three Stanley Cups in his first five years with Detroit. He was either a First-Team or Second-Team All-Star each of his first five seasons with the Red Wings, and won four Stanley Cups. He would be traded to the Boston Bruins in 1955, then dealt back to the Red Wings two years later for another long stint. He would be traded to the Maple Leafs in 1964, and would share the Vezina Trophy with Johnny Bower -- his old nemesis from the AHL. In 1967, he and Bower helped lead the Maple Leafs to the Stanley Cup -- the most recent in their history. He played in 11 NHL All-Star games, was a First or Second Team All-Star seven times, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1971. He set the NHL record with 103 shutouts, which stood until Martin Brodeur broke it in 2009. In 971 NHL games from 1950-1970 with the Red Wings, Bruins, Maple Leafs, Kings and Rangers, Sawchuk posted a 447-330-172 record and a 2.51 career GAA. He also had a 54-48 playoff record with a 2.54 GAA and 12 postseason shutouts, as well as four Stanley Cup rings. A native of Winnipeg, Sawchuk was born in 1929. He died on May 31, 1970 as a result of internal injuries, likely suffered in a fight with his roommate.