Four birthdays today: former Racer Ralph Hopiavuori and former USHL Ice Glen Ylitalo, Anthony Bitetto and Tim Smith.
Happy birthday to ...
Ralph Hopiavuori: Defenseman who played 28 games for the Racers in their inaugural 1974-75 season. He had two goals and eight assists for the team. The Maple Leafs' third-round pick in 1971, he opted for the WHA upon its founding in 1972 and played 70 games in the league -- 42 for the Cleveland Crusaders from 1972-74 and the 28 for the Racers. He also played in the AHL and NAHL through 1976, and then played several years of senior hockey. A native of Kirkland Lake, Ont., he is 63.
Glen Ylitalo: Forward who played two games for the Ice in 2004-05. He played much of that season in the NAHL, as well as part of the next season. He briefly played for Div. III Hamline University in 2006-07. A native of Maple Plain, Minn., he is 29.
Anthony Bitetto: Indiana Ice defenseman from 2008-10. In 82 games, he had 12 goals and 32 assists. He had seven points in 22 playoff games, including three assists in the 2009 Clark Cup championship run. He went from the Ice to Northeastern University, where he had 35 points in 72 games over two seasons. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 draft by the Predators, he signed in 2012 and has played the last two seasons in the AHL and ECHL -- primarily with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals. This past season, he tallied 11 goals and 25 assists in 73 games with the Admirals. A native of Island Park, NY, he is 24.
Tim Smith: Ice defenseman in the 2010-11 season. He played in 60 games, with five goals and 14 assists. He also played five playoff games for the Ice. He joined the team after playing a collegiate season at Providence, and went from the Ice to play three more seasons at Minnesota-Duluth. He just finished his college career at UMD with eight assists in 76 games. A native of Superior, Wis., he is 24.