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ECHL report: Gacek excels in debut

Alex Gacek shuffled between three ECHL teams in 2016-17, but he finished seventh in rookie goals and ninth in points by a first-year player in that league.

Alex Gacek as a senior (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Gacek, a 2016 Miami graduate, scored 26 times and dished for 26 assists en route to a 52-point rookie campaign with South Carolina, Orlando and finally Atlanta.

Gacek started the season with South Carolina but was traded to Orlando on Dec. 29. On March 7 he was acquired by Atlanta at the trade deadline.

Gacek ended the season with a plus-11 rating and his shooting percentage was 18.7.

OTHER ROOKIES: Matthew Caito played just 23 games with Toledo during the regular season, but the defenseman scored eight times and added six assists.

Caito picked up his first pro hat trick vs. Fort Wayne on Nov. 25 as part of a five-game stretch in which he found the net seven times.

Caito also played with Grand Rapids (AHL) for 13 games before returning to Toledo for the playoffs, racking up nine more points in 17 games. He logged eight games with the Walleye at the end of 2015-16 following Miami’s season.

Taylor Richart (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Defenseman Taylor Richart netted seven goals and picked up 13 assists in his first pro season.

Playing for Utah, Richart was limited to 48 games in 2016-17 but still finished second on the team in blueliner goals. He was tops among ex-Miamians in ECHL defenseman points with 20.

Defenseman Colin Sullivan made his pro debut with Atlanta this spring after wrapping up his season season in Oxford.

Sullivan earned his first career assist at Greenville on April 2.

LEADING AT INDY: Alex Wideman led all former RedHawks in ECHL points last season with 55.

Alex Wideman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

He was tops on Indiana in assists (33) and shootout goals (3) and has already racked up 94 points in 128 games in the league.

Wideman played juniors in Indianapolis for two years prior to his Miami career, and now calls his former rink home.

MINORS MASTERTON: Alden Hirschfeld required season-ending brain surgery in 2015-16 but returned to post a career-high 49 points last season for Toledo.

Hirschfeld also set high marks in goals (23) and plus-minus (17).

After earning a promotion to AHL Grand Rapids, Hirschfeld collapsed on the bench as the result of a seizure on Jan. 8, 2016 and underwent a craniotomy on March 14, during which a malformation on his brain was removed.

MILESTONES: Gary Steffes needed two points to reach the 200 mark for his career entering the final game of the 2016-17 regular season.

His line in that contest: 1 goal, 1 assist, capped off by a clinching marker in a 4-2 win over Wichita.

Steffes also scored his 100th ECHL goal late last season and has rolled up 105 in four seasons in that league.

PLAYOFFS?! PLAYOFFS?!?! No former Miamian advanced to the championship series, but Kevin Morris and Matthew Caito both posted nine points as their respective teams qualified for the conference final.

Morris played 19 games with Manchester, scoring five goals and adding four assists, and defenseman Matthew Caito racked up a goal and eight helpers.

Dynasty team Allen was bounced in the second round, and Gary Steffes finished with three goals and three assists in that team’s postseason.

See also: BoB’s look at RedHawks in the NHL, as well as RedHawks in the AHL in 2016-17.

On deck: BoB takes a look at Miamians in other leagues.

A look at all RedHawks that appeared in ECHL games this season:

Regular season
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Alex Wideman Indianapolis F 70 22 33 55 -19 26
Alex Gacek Atlanta F 61 26 26 52 11 16
Alden Hirschfeld Toledo F 55 23 26 49 17 27
Gary Steffes Allen F 68 21 26 47 19 43
Kevin Morris Manchester F 66 16 20 36 9 93
Tyler Biggs Kalamazoo F 58 13 19 32 -14 42
Taylor Richart Utah D 48 7 13 20 -5 14
Chris Joyaux Tulsa D 54 1 14 15 7 22
Matthew Caito Toledo F 23 8 6 14 7 18
Will Weber Fort Wayne D 67 3 6 9 4 76
Devin Mantha Fort Wayne F 25 2 4 6 2 2
Colin Sullivan Atlanta D 6 0 1 1 -2 6
Justin Vaive Cincinnati F 1 0 0 0 0 0


Goalies

Player Team GP Min. W L GAA Sv% SHO
Ryan McKay Utah 7 288 2 3 3.53 .862 0
Connor Knapp Norfolk 14 774 2 10 3.65 .893 0
Jay Williams Orlando 10 364 1 3 3.95 .895 0

Playoffs
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Kevin Morris Manchester F 19 5 4 9 26
Matthew Caito Toledo F 17 1 8 9 15
Gary Steffes Allen F 9 3 3 6 4
Alden Hirschfeld Toledo F 13 1 5 6 7
Tyler Biggs Kalamazoo F 7 0 5 5 8
Taylor Richart Utah D 3 0 0 0 2
Will Weber Fort Wayne D 8 0 0 0 4
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Catching up with Miami alumni

LoVerde

(Defenseman Vincent LoVerde, photo by Cathy Lachmann)

Between the Stanley Cup playoffs, minor league championships, the NHL draft and its resulting transactions, trades and Wednesday’s free agent madness, numerous Miami alumni have spent the past couple of months winning trophies and moving to different cities.

If all of the activity is giving you a headache, here is the Miami-centric version of recent events involving former RedHawks.

LOVERDE WINS CALDER – Defenseman Vincent LoVerde, the captain of AHL Manchester, led the  Monarchs to a Calder Cup championship in June.

The fourth-year pro who graduated in 2011 tied a career high in the regular season with nine goals, and he went 2-8-10 in 19 playoff games. LoVerde, 26, has already played in 275 professional games, racking up 25 goals and 69 assists for 94 points in the Kings organization.

STEFFES A KELLY CUP WINNER – What a season it was for Gary Steffes. The 2010 Miami graduate scored 61 goals between the regular season and playoffs and capped his year off by winning the Kelly Cup with Allen of the ECHL.

Steffes netted four goals in nine games in a call-up to AHL Milwaukee, potted a league-leading 44 regular season goals for Allen – more than twice his previous career high – and tallied 13 more in 25 postseason contests, the second-highest total in the league.

In 317 pro games, Steffes has 128 goals and 116 assists for 244 points.

BOYLE REACHES NHL CONFERENCE FINAL – Defenseman Dan Boyle advanced to the Stanley Cup conference final as a member of the New York Rangers, playing 19 postseason games and recording three goals and seven assists.

Boyle, the only RedHawks alum to participate in the Stanley Cup playoffs, also became the first former Miamian to play in 1,000 regular season games in 2014-15. In addition to leading all ex-RedHawks in career regular season games played (1,019), he is tops in assists (428) and points (581), as well as career playoffs games played (126), goals (17), assists (63) and points (80).

PRO SIGNINGS, PLAYERS ON THE MOVE – Former Miamians were involved in a number of transactions between draft weekend and the first day of free agent signings on Wednesday.

Here are the highlights:

– Forward Reilly Smith was dealt from Boston along with F Marc Savard to Florida for F Jimmy Hayes. Hayes and Smith played against each other in the 2010 Frozen Four.

Smith has 36 goals and 64 assists for 100 points in 203 NHL games with the Bruins.

– F Blake Coleman signed a two-year deal with New Jersey on Wednesday. Coleman was drafted by the Devils but did not join a New Jersey affiliate in the spring after Miami was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.

– F Andy Miele was re-signed by Detroit for one year. He finished second in the AHL in points last season with 70.

– D Chris Wideman was re-signed by Ottawa for one year. Wideman led all AHL defensemen in assists (42) and points (61) and was tied for the league lead in goals (19).

– F Carter Camper, who played in the Boston, Columbus and Ottawa systems, was signed to a one-year deal by Washington. Camper finished with a pro-high 52 points with Binghamton in 2014-15.

– F Marc Hagel was inked to a two-year deal by Minnesota. Hagel is coming off his second full pro season, and he went 12-21-33 with AHL Iowa.

– F Curtis McKenzie signed a two-year deal to remain with Dallas. McKenzie split time between AHL Texas and the Stars. He went 6-15-21 in 31 games in the AHL, and he was 4-1-5 in the NHL.

– F Austin Czarnik signed with the Bruins right after Miami’s season ended, coincidentally ending up in Providence, where the RedHawks played their final game of 2014-15. Czarnik played three games with the P-Bruins, notching two assists.

– Though he’s not an alumni yet (thank God), F Sean Kuraly had his rights traded from San Jose to Boston last week. Kuraly will be a senior at Miami this fall and could rejoin Czarnik in 2016.

Twenty-four former RedHawks either logged games in the AHL, the NHL or both last season. Here are the final 2014-15 regular season and postseason stats for all former Miamians currently playing pro hockey around the world:

REGULAR SEASON
NHL
F Reilly Smith, BOS, 81 GP, 13-27—40
F Tommy Wingels, SJ, 75 GP, 15-21—36
D Alec Martinez, LA, 56 GP, 6-16—22
D Andy Greene, NJ, 82 GP, 3-19—22
D Dan Boyle, NYR, 65 GP, 9-11—21
F Curtis McKenzie, DAL, 36 GP, 4-1—5
D Cameron Schilling, WSH, 4 GP, 0-0—0
G Jeff Zatkoff, PIT, 1 GP, 0-1, 1.62 GAA, .941 Sv%
AHL
F Andy Miele, GRP, 71 GP, 26-44—70
D Chris Wideman, BNG, 75 GP, 19-42—61
F Carter Camper, BNG, 75 GP, 15-37—52
F Pat Cannone, CHI, 64 GP, 14-33—47
F Marc Hagel, IOW, 67 GP, 12-21–33
F Curtis McKenzie, TEX, 31 GP, 6-15—21
D Vincent LoVerde, MNC, 63 GP, 9-11–20
D Cameron Schilling, HER, 63 GP, 3-15—18
F Trent Vogelhuber, SPR, 64 GP, 8-8–16
F Tyler Biggs, TOR, 47 GP, 2-3–5
D Steve Spinell, HFD, 52 GP, 1-4–5
F Gary Steffes, MLW, 9 GP, 4-0–4
F Justin Mercier, 16 GP, 2-2–4
F Alden Hirschfeld, GRP, 12 GP, 1-1–2
F Austin Czarnik, PRO, 3 GP, 0-2–2
F Ryan Jones, UTC, 5 GP, 0-1–1
D Will Weber, SPR, 30 GP, 0-1–1
F Alex Wideman, BNG, 4 GP, 0-0–0
G Jeff Zatkoff, WBS, 37 GP, 18-18, 2.45 GAA, .910 Sv%
ECHL
F Gary Steffes, ALL, 63 GP, 44-29–73
F Justin Mercier, TOL, 46 GP, 22-21–43
F Alden Hirschfeld, TOL, 59 GP, 11-33–44
F Tyler Biggs, ORL, 8 GP, 4-2–6
D Steve Spinell, GRE, 6 GP, 1-1–2
F Bryon Paulazzo, STK, 22 GP, 2-2–4
G Connor Knapp, REA, 41 GP, 24-15, 2.58 GAA, .915 Sv%
G Cody Reichard, STK, 31 GP, 8-20, 4.31 GAA, .872 Sv%
SPHL
F Devin Mantha, MIS, 39 GP, 11-17—28
F Bryon Paulazzo, MIS, 35 GP, 6-16—22
F Max Cook, COL, 36 GP, 3-9—12
Europe
F Dustin Whitecotton, Deggendorf, Oberliga (Germany), 38 GP, 14-33—47
F Evan Cheverie, Belfast, EIHL (Britain), 47 GP, 12-32—44
F/D Matt Tomassoni, Kassel, DEL-2 (Austria), 43 GP, 9-27—36
F Ryan Jones, Cologne, DEL (Austria), 30 GP, 12-5–17

PLAYOFFS
NHL
D Dan Boyle, NYR, 19 GP, 3-7–10
AHL
F Andy Miele, GRP, 16 GP, 3-11–14
D Vincent LoVerde, MNC, 19 GP, 2-8–10
D Cameron Schilling, HER, 10 GP, 3-5–8
F Pat Cannone, CHI, 5 GP, 0-6–6
F Curtis McKenzie, TEX, 3 GP, 1-1–2
D Steve Spinell, HFD, 3 GP, 1-0–1
F Alden Hirschfeld, GRP, 6 GP, 1-0–1
G Jeff Zatkoff, WBS, 1 GP, 0-0, 1.03 GAA, .958 Sv%
ECHL
F Gary Steffes, ALL, 25 GP, 13-5–18
F Justin Mercier, TOL, 20 GP, 8-4–12
F Alden Hirschfeld, TOL, 7 GP, 1-0–1
G Connor Knapp, REA, 7 GP, 3-4, 2.44 GAA, .919 Sv%
SPHL
F Bryon Paulazzo, MIS, 5 GP, 4-1–5
F Devin Mantha, MIS, 5 GP, 1-1–2
Europe
F Mike Kompon, Belfast, EIHL (Britain), 4 GP, 1-3–4
F Dustin Whitecotton, Deggendorf, Oberliga (Germany), 4 GP, 1-2–3
F/D Matt Tomassoni, Kassel, DEL-2 (Austria), 5 GP, 0-1–1