Monday, May 26, 2014

An "Ice" look back: The forwards

With the offseason upon us, it's time to take a look back at the 2014 Clark Cup champion Indiana Ice on a player-by-player basis, their contributions and where they'll continue their hockey careers. Yesterday's post focused on the defense and goaltenders. Today, look at the 14 forwards who finished the season on the Ice roster this year.

  • Tyler Andrew: A first-round pick for the Ice after playing in the NAHL last season, Andrew provided a big, strong body on the forecheck for the Ice (6-5, 209). During the season, he had 10 goals, 14 assists and was a +22, primarily skating at right wing. In the postseason, he dressed for six games and had nine shots. Next up: Andrew is headed to play collegiately at Ferris State.  
  • Scott Conway: An All-USHL performer, Conway was among the league leaders in goals (33), points (68) and tied for the league lead in +/- (+40). He had 24 points (9G, 15A) on the power play. He was also the Ice's leading scorer in the playoffs, with four goals team highs with seven assists and 11 points. He continues the Ice's tradition of having star players from non-traditional hockey areas, as he comes from Kissimmee, Fla. -- not far from where Brian Ferlin grew up in Jacksonville. He played with a number of different linemates in the postseason, but whichever line he centered was in on a large number of the Ice's goals in the first two series. Conway also assisted on both of Mitch Hults' PPGs in Games 2 and 3 of the playoffs. A strong playmaker, he's a natural center with a knack for putting the puck on the tape of a teammate's stick from the wall, skills that will serve him well in college. Next up: Conway is expected to suit up for Penn State this fall.
  • Mitch Hults: Could have been the Clark Cup Final MVP for his knack for scoring goals in tight. He led the Ice with five goals in the playoffs, four in the Clark Cup Final. He was scratched for four games early in the playoffs, but stuck in the lineup and produced big-time against Waterloo. He was a power-play ace who scored four of the team's nine PPGs in the playoffs. In the final, he buried two cross-ice feeds from Scott Conway with snipes from the dot in Games 3 & 4, and he scored a critical goal in Game 5 by batting in a rebound from mid-air. He is a two-year Iceman who had 11 points in 35 games during the regular season. Next up: Was drafted by the Madison Capitols in the USHL dispersal draft. Currently uncommitted for college, he'll likely be in Madison for his third USHL season next year. 
  • Sam Kurker: The 6-3, 210-pound right wing joined the Ice midway through the year after starting the season at Boston College. Kurker was often in the "dirty areas" in the slot and showed some skill in open ice. His strength in the crease is where most of his goals came from. He had 3 goals and 3 assists in the playoffs -- including a four-point third period in Game 2 against Green Bay -- and had 14 points and a +12 in 24 regular-season games. Even when he wasn't scoring, he was creating traffic in front of the net and getting to rebounds. Next up: Kurker has a year of USHL eligiblity remaining, and was picked by Sioux City in the Dispersal Draft. Expect him to start the year with the Musketeers before continuing his college career. His NHL rights are held by the St. Louis Blues, who drafted him in the second round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
  • Aidan Muir: Muir's speed and strength on the forecheck was a key part of his line with Pinho and Pritchard, where the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 USHL Draft produced with an assist on the series-clinching goal. At 6-3, 195, he can combine size with his game to put together a strong college/pro career. Muir had 14 goals and 27 assists in the regular season, but struggled to score in the playoffs (1-1-2) in 10 games. Next up: He was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He is expected to play for Western Michigan next year.   
  • Patrick Newell: Newell is small (5-9, 135), but he's strong on the puck and was a huge player around the net for the Ice early in the playoffs. He had four goals and three assists in 12 postseason games, tallying seven points (second on the team). He flipped between skating left wing with Conway early in the postseason, and centering a line that had numerous linemates in the Dubuque and Waterloo series. Newell had three power-play points and two game-winners in the postseason. During the regular season, he had 13 goals and 30 assists in 59 games, a +24 rating and 16 power play points (6-10). A creative playmaker, he'll likely have another big year in the USHL next season. Next up: Newell was drafted by Tri-City in the USHL Dispersal Draft with the third overall pick. He is committed to play collegiately at St. Cloud State. 
  • Tyler Pham: The Ice captain was the left wing on was arguably the Ice's best line in the final, with Joe Sullivan and Alex Talcott. They often handled defensive duties, but . From the moment we saw Pham in the first tryout camp in 2011 -- moments after the Ice took him with their first-round pick, the Denver native showed a lot of strength on the puck and in all three zones -- strong on the forecheck, strong in the neutral zone in stopping Waterloo rushes, and good in his own zone. He was also one of the team's top penalty killers. He was also a strong leader who bridged the strong 2012 Ice squad with the 2014 championship team. Next up: Pham is headed to play collegiately next season at Army.
  • Brian Pinho: Pinho produced big-time this year, centering a line that usually featured Jacob Pritchard and Aidan Muir. Pinho was tremendous on the forecheck, and a creative playmaker that went on a hot streak at the end of the season that included a natural hat trick. He was the team's second-leading scorer with 28 goals and 28 assists. In the postseason, he had two goals and four assists, but came up huge in Game 5 against Waterloo. His drive to the slot in the first period generated the rebound that Mitch Hults batted in for the first goal, and he scored the Clark Cup-clinching goal with 2:15 left with a one-timer from the right circle off a drop pass from Muir. A strong all-around player, he has a bright hockey future. Next up: Pinho is headed to Providence College to join former Iceman Jon Gillies. He was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the sixth round of the NHL Entry Draft last year. 
  • Jacob Pritchard: Left wing on one of the team's most effective lines in the playoffs, Pritchard was a perfect complement to Pinho and Muir. His strength along the wall allowed the line turn into a puck-possession machine. Pritchard had a goal and three assists in the playoffs, but was a team-best +5. During the regular season, he had 14 goals and 22 assists, as well as a +23 rating, in 49 games. He had 10 power-play points in the season. He just finished his first full USHL season, but had played six games over the previous two years. Next up: Pritchard was picked second overall in the USHL Dispersal Draft by Des Moines. A 1995 birth-year player, he has one USHL year of eligibility remaining. He is committed to play collegiately at St. Lawrence.  
  • Jason Salvaggio: A hustler, Salvaggio's second year with the Ice saw him score 15 regular-season goals, 26 points and be a key performer in special teams. His two shorthanded goals were second on the team to Pinho's three, and seven of his 11 assists came on the power play. He dressed for five playoff games, including two in the final. Next up: Salvaggio is headed to play collegiately at New Hampshire.
  • Denis Smirnov: The 5-7, 171-pound winger showed himself as one of the top 16-year-olds in the USHL, playing as a high-scoring left wing. His return from injury in the playoffs gave the Ice another dimension, as he slotted in nicely at wing with Scott Conway at center, and produced three goals and two assists. He had the game-winning goal in Games 1 & 3 of the Green Bay series, and a crucial goal in the 3-2 Game 2 victory against Dubuque. He found his way to the net, with a team-high 36 shots in 12 postseason games. He had 15 goals and 26 assists in 47 regular-season games, including five game-winners and 10 power play points. Next up: A 1997 birth-year player, Smirnov is still a year away from NHL Draft eligibility. He's likely headed to Fargo next year after being made the top pick in the Dispersal Draft. He is committed to play collegiately at Penn State.
  • Joe Sullivan: The Las Vegas native was the Ice's alternate captain this year, and centered a strong three-zone line with Pham and Talcott. He was also important on a penalty kill that slowed Waterloo's outstanding power play in the Clark Cup Final. He came up with some of the biggest plays of the Clark Cup Final -- a wraparound goal that ended Game 2 in double OT, the game-winner in the 4-1 Game 3 victory, and a strong play along the wall in traffic to assist on the game-tying goal in the third period of Game 5. Sullivan had four playoff points in 12 games, but they came at critical times. In the regular season, he had a 6-16-22 line in 58 games, including a shorthanded goal and assist. Next up: Sullivan is headed to play collegiately at St. Lawrence. 
  • Alex Talcott: An outstanding three-zone player, Talcott's all-hustle persona made him a critical piece of the Ice's puzzle throughout the season. Talcott skated much of the playoffs with Pham and Sullivan, providing a trio that was punishing on the forecheck and in all three zones. Talcott scored one of the biggest goals in Ice history, posting up in front of the net for a rebound, then spinning to his backhand and reaching it around Waterloo goalie Cal Petersen and into the net. That goal tied Game 5 at 2-2 in the latter half of the third period, and set the stage for Pinho's Cup-winner later in the period. Talcott had two goals and four assists in the postseason, and a 9-11-20 line in 47 regular-season games. Next up: Talcott is headed to the University of Michigan in the fall. 
  • Dwyer Tschantz: A 24-goal scorer in the regular season, he often skated right wing with Conway and Smirnov during the year and in the playoffs. Tschantz has a nose for the net, as evidenced by his play and his size (6-5, 209) helps him get to the dirty areas. He was the team's third-leading goal scorer and overall scorer (44 points), and was +31 during the regular season. He was very good on the power play, scoring seven goals, second to Conway on the team. In the playoffs, he struggled to find the net, with three assists and seven shots in eight games. He was a +2 in the postseason, and was a strong asset to the team's play. Next up: Tschantz is headed to play collegiately at Cornell. 

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