Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ex-Union star Zajac signs in Finland

by Ryan Fay

Former Union star Kelly Zajac is headed to Finland.

The 27-year-old forward signed with with Lukko of the Finnish Elite League on Sunday. The agreement is for one-year, including a two-month try-out period. The Finnish Elite League is considered the top hockey league in Finland.

Zajac spent the past three seasons and change mostly with the American Hockey League's Albany Devils, the team he signed with after finishing his Union career in 2012. He registered 17 goals and 44 assists in 108 career contests with the Devils, including three goals and 10 assists in 24 games last year.

Along the way, he also posted six goals and 10 assists in 15 games with the now-defunct Trenton Titans of the ECHL in 2012-13.

Zajac ranks third in Union's Division I history with 128 career points on 37 goals and 91 assists. He served as an assistant captain during his senior season.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Ex-Union volunteer coach Ronan joins Mercyhurst

by Ryan Fay

Former Union men's hockey volunteer assistant coach John Ronan was named an assistant coach at Mercyhurst on Thursday.

Ronan with Union during the 2013-14
Ronan replaces associate head coach Robert Ferraris, who took the head coaching job at Trinity-Pawling earlier this month.

"We are really excited to have John join our coaching staff, " Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin said in a release. "He is going to fit right in and add a great deal of knowledge and expertise to our program. We welcome John, his wife Robin, and his daughter Cameron to the Mercyhurst University family."

Ronan served as the Dutchmen's volunteer assistant coach during their 2013-14 national title season. He spent last year as an assistant coach for the U.S. Hockey League's Youngstown Phantoms.

“Since I came to Youngstown a year ago I have grown not only as a coach, but also as a man," Ronan said in a release. "The time I spent with [former Phantoms head coach] Anthony Noreen, Brad Patterson, and Jason Koehler helped me beyond measure, and I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to coach and learn with these men. The USHL is a developmental league, not just for players but for coaches as well, and I am excited to take the next step in my coaching career.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mark Bennett signs with ECHL's Jackals

by Ryan Fay

Former Union forward Mark Bennett signed a tryout agreement with the ECHL's Elmira Jackals on Tuesday.

Bennett with Union's 2014 national
championship trophy
The offer came after he impressed during the team's pro placement camp last weekend. He'll join the Jackals at their main training camp in October with a shot to make the team.

"I felt like I played well at the camp, and getting an invite to main camp obviously reflects that," Bennett told Union Hockey Blog. "Going forward it's only going to get more difficult but I look forward to competing for a spot at the beginning of October."

Bennett had a goal and four assists in 21 games with the Dutchmen last season. A member of their 2014 national championship team, he finished his Dutchmen career with five goals and 11 assists in 71 contests.

Bennett's signing means six of Union's seven seniors last season signed with a professional team this summer. Forward Daniel Ciampini (Rockford/AHL), goaltender Colin Stevens (Florida/NHL), forward Max Novak (Albany/AHL), defenseman Charlie Vasaturo (Kalamazoo/ECHL) and forward Sam Coatta (Mississippi/SPHL) have also joined the professional ranks.

The only senior who didn't turn pro was third-string goaltender Dillon Pieri, who took a job in the business world.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Unger steps down as radio analyst

by Ryan Fay

Union men's hockey radio analyst Brian Unger announced Monday that he is calling it quits after 11 seasons behind the microphone.

Union play-by-play man Matt DuBrey (l) 
and analyst Brian Unger (r).
Unger cited the challenge of juggling his day job at PricewaterhouseCoopers and his broadcasting responsibilities.

"I want to thank everyone involved with the Union athletic and sports information departments for allowing me to represent such a great hockey program and school," said Unger, a 1993 Union graduate who also called games as a student. "Broadcasting hockey is one of my very favorite things to do and I will miss it terribly. I hope to get to the rink as often as possible this year but I am also truly looking forward to spending more of my weekends with my son."

Matt DuBrey, who is entering his 14th season as the Dutchmen's play-by-play man, said Unger will be missed in the booth.

"I am not sure if there is anyone not wearing skates more passionate about Union hockey than Brian Unger," said DuBrey. "Brian has great knowledge of Union and the sport of hockey, and he will be greatly missed. I will miss having him by my side on the air, but understand that life involves tough choices, and wish him all the best."

A team spokesperson said Union plans to hire a replacement for Unger, but had no immediate announcement on who that will be. Adam Ullman, who has been used on a fill-in basis in recent years, said he hopes to continue working the occasional broadcast but added that his future role, if any, "is still to be determined."

"I am excited to see what changes will come to the airwaves this coming season," DuBrey added. "I know with the quality coverage [we] have provided for so long, that the standard has been set for what Union will bring to the airwaves going forward."

Garnet-White scrimmage set for Oct. 3

by Ryan Fay

The Union men's hockey team will hold its semi-annual Garnet-White intrasquad scrimmage on Sat. Oct. 3 at Messa Rink, the team announced Monday.

There will be no admission charge for the scrimmage, which is slated for a 5:30 p.m. start. It will offer fans their first look at the 2015-16 Dutchmen.

The Garnet-White scrimmage was last held in 2013. The Dutchmen hosted an exhibition game against the University of Prince Edward Island last year.

Union, which is looking to rebound from a disappointing 19-18-2 campaign, opens the regular season on Oct. 9 at home against Sacred Heart.