Posts Tagged ‘rick cleaver’

Father on new UVM recruit plus ice chips

February 10, 2010

The University of Vermont’s newest hockey recruit, defenseman Nick Luukko, knows his own mind, according to an expert on the subject, father Peter Luukko.

The elder Luukko is the president of the Philadelphia Flyers—he speaks fondly of John LeClair’s days there—and the COO of Comcast-Spectator. He’s also a University of Massachusetts alum, the school his son declined in favor of UVM.

The younger Luukko is a senior at The Gunnery, a prep school, and the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder won’t arrive on the Burlington campus until 2011 after a year’s physical and competitive growth in the USHL, the country’s top junior hockey league.

“He had a number of various schools from a number of conferences contact him,” said Peter Luukko, a board member of the UMass school of management. “At the end of the day, it came down to UMass and UVM.

“He liked the setting of the university, the fact the team is so much a part of the fabric not only of the school, but of Burlington and the State of Vermont. That seemed unique to only a few programs in the country,” Peter Luukko said. “The school itself is fabulous and for him in many ways the right size.”

It certainly didn’t hurt that the elder Luukko was familiar with UVM nor that LeClair “had nothing but great things to say about going to school there.”

Both Luukkos were very impressed with head coach Kevin Sneddon as well as the rest of the staff. In addition, with the Catamounts scheduled to lose five defensemen over the next two years, Nick Luukko would have an opportunity to play immediately.

Conceding his fatherly eye in evaluating his son, Peter Luukko said, “His game is hockey intelligence. He makes the great first pass out of the zone. His game is defending and making that great first pass.”

Dad added of Son, “From an offensive perspective, he’ll go up, rush the puck and shoot, but it’s always based on the situation. He’s a shutdown defender with offensive upside … a good skater who can block shots, defend, pick the puck away, move it quickly up ice and then join the rush.”

Ice chips: Norwich alum Keith Aucoin was named the January player of the month for the American Hockey League after scoring 35 points in 14 games for the Hershey Bears … UVM alum Dean Strong has joined Norwich alum Rick Cleaver with the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL … After playing for one ECHL team and two AHL teams this year, former UVM defenseman Kenny MacAulay joined Zagreb Medvescak in the same Russian league in which all-time UVM great Eric Perrin plays for Omsk Avangard … Missed it earlier, but Sports Illustrated hockey guru Michael Farber named UVM great Martin St. Louis to his all-decade team for the 2000s … Former UVM great Tim Thomas a former Bruin? According to an earlier report from, Boston is rumored to be looking for more scoring help and offering the reigning Vezina Trophy winner (and current U.S. Olympian) as the bait. Teams mentioned include Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis and Columbus as in need of goaltending help … When former UVM goalie Joe Fallon joined the Chicago Blackhawks for one game, but didn’t play, he became the second Vermont goalie to make such an appearance. Andrew Allen dressed as a backup for the Florida Panthers 2001-02 seson …


All-star update

January 21, 2010

The American Hockey League and ECHL all-stars with Vermont connections fared well in a pair of games Wednesday evening.

In the AHL’s game, Norwich’s Keith Aucoin scored one goal and UVM’s Graham Mink of Stowe added an assist as their team, PlanetUSA, dropped a 10-9 decision in a shootout to the Canadian team.

Aucoin also added a successful goal in the shootout. He plays for the Hershey Bears and has played nine games with the Washington Capitals this year.

Mink, 30, was the PlanetUSA captain. He plays for the Rochester Americans.

In the ECHL, UVM’s Peter Lenes of Shelburne picked up a goal as his team, the National Conference, dropped a 10-9 shootout decision to the American Conference. Lenes plays for the Ontario (Calif.) Reign, which played host to the all-star game.

Two ex-Cadets playing for the victorious side also did well. Rick Cleaver of the Kalamazoo Wings contributed a goal and an assist and Nikita Kashirsky of the South Carolina Rays collected two assists.

The two have spent some time in the AHL this year, Cleaver with the Hershey Bears and Kashirsky with the Springfield Falcons.

Bits and pieces …

January 20, 2010

A little bit of this, a little bit of that …

  • UVM’s and Shelburne’s Peter Lenes, a huge favorite of Ontario (Ca.) Reign fans, won the ECHL all-star skills competition for the 1-on-1 puck relay competition, beating former UNH standout Jacob Micflikier of the Florida Everblades by a stride. Lenes won the event Tuesday and was scheduled to play for the National Conference in the all-star game in Ontario on Wednesday.
  • Lenes isn’t the only ECHL all-star with Green Mountain ties. Former Norwich University standouts Nikita Kashirsky and Rick Cleaver were named to the American Conference squad.
  • Speaking of the Cadets, their freshman class has accounted for 46 of 77 Norwich goals this season, led by Kyle Thomas (11) and Blake Forkey (10). Eight freshmen forwards have contributed at least one goal for the second-ranked Cadets (12-0-3).
  • Middlebury hasn’t shown that kind of depth, but a mini-French Connection of sophomore Martin Drolet (8-14-22) and freshman Mathieu Dubuc (8-8-16) provide a nice 1-2 punch for the sixth-ranked Panthers (7-1-4). But the surprise of the year is senior goalie Max Kennedy, who’s 4-0-2 with a 1.22 goals against average and a .938 save percentage. Prior to this year, he had barely nine minutes of game time.
  • It’s that time of the year: Here comes Castleton. The Spartans opened the hockey season 1-5-1 overall and 0-4-1 in ECAC East. Since then, they’re 5-1-2 and 4-0-0. It’s getting to be a CSC tradition; start slowly, finish fast.
  • Chris Davidson is doing a nice job with the SMC men’s team, but here’s the reality: As long as St.  Michael’s remains a Division II school, the hockey team is unlikely to excel. No ECAC East or NCAA tournaments to offer as recruiting inducements. Wonder if with b-ball coach Tom O’Shea’s announced departure at season’s end if St. Michael’s will consider moving its athletic program to D-III. Unlikely, but a smart move if a viable league could be found, and forget about NESCAC.
  • As powerful as the UVM women’s basketball team was against America East opponents at Patrick Gym this season, the Catamounts went into Wednesday’s game at UMBC with one huge question mark: Are they anywhere near as good on the road as they are at home? They barely beat New Hampshire in Durham and had the luster taken off their first Top 25 ranking in nearly two decades at Boston University. At home, nothing but routs.
  • That big Marqus Blakely block against Hartford was impressive Tuesday, but Evan Fjeld’s behind-the-back pass for a Blakely jam topped that, if only because Blakely’s got a batch of highlight blocks and Fjeld’s pass was as surprising as it was spectacular.

Following the pros

November 21, 2009

A glance at the scoring leaders in the ECHL (no longer the East Coast Hockey League; just the ‘ECHL’) reveals some well-known names to Vermont college hockey followers.

Ranked 10th in overall scoring is Rick Cleaver, the former Norwich University standout. He has eight goals and 19 points for the Kalamazoo Wings, although he’s currently on loan to the Hershey Bears of the AHL, where he’s played one game.

Sitting in 17th place is one of UVM’s former mighty dynamos, Scott Mifsud of the Gwinnett (SC) Gladiators. Mifsud had seven goals and 17 points in a dozen games.

Another Cadet, Nikita Kashirsky, is tied for 18th with 10 goals and 16 points. His 10 goals are fourth among rookies.

Meanwhile, home-grown UVM mighty mite Peter Lenes of Shelburne has six goals and nine points for the Ontario Reign, with whom he’s rapidly become a fan favorite.