Like last season, Bowdoin alum Jon Landry ('06) is the only former NESCAC player to play at the highest level of minor league hockey. Despite leading the Hershey Bears in +/- last season, the 32 year old Quebecois defensemen did not get any offers headed into the season. By mid-November, Landry signed with the Utica Comets, affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks and co-tenant in the Aud with D-III's own Utica Pioneers.
The former Polar Bear has had his best offensive season in per game numbers with 21 points (6-15-21) in 36 games for the Comets, who are currently third in the North Division of the AHL's Eastern Conference. Landry was out for about a month, but returned this past week and apparently he's healthy enough to lay out some people.
Jon Landry with a HUGE hit!!! pic.twitter.com/XS4J0we3ov— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) March 19, 2016
The ECHL has been a bit more hospitable to the 'Cac, specifically to former Middlebury Panthers. After winning an SPHL title with the Knoxville Ice Bears last season, Robbie Donahoe ('14) caught on with the LA Kings' AA affiliate Manchester Monarchs this season. He has been with the club all season, only missing time due to injury in November and December. In 36 games, the former two-sport collegiate star (golf) has seven points (2-5-7) and +9 for the east division leading New Hampshire squad.
The ECHL road for Donahoe's former teammate, Louis Belisle ('14), has been a bit more circuitous. Belisle has spent the majority of the season with the SPHL's Columbus Cottonmouths, whom he earned 1st Team All-SPHL honors with as a rookie last season. He has had three stints in the ECHL this sesason: six games with the South Carolina Stingrays (Washington Capitals) in November/December , eight games with the Wheeling Nailers (Pittsburgh Penguins) last month, and he is currently six games into a stint with the Fort Wayne Komets. Belisle has three points (1-2-3) in the 20 games.
Here's a gif of @MiddAthletics alum @flippinlou's first @ECHL goal last Friday for the @WheelingNailers pic.twitter.com/ZIenqf0I5O— Hockey in the 'Cac (@hockeyinthecac) February 17, 2016
Other NESCAC players that have seen action in the ECHL include Trinity's Jackson Brewer ('15) and Conn College's Tim DiPretoro, who just finished up his college career last month. Brewer has spent most of his first pro season bouncing around the SPHL, but he did have a three game run with the injury depleted Evansville IceMen (Ottawa Senators). For DiPretoro, he recently signed with the only Canadian team in the ECHL, Brampton Beast (Montreal Canadians). Normally seniors sign ATO's during SpringBreak but according to the ECHL transactions list, Dipretoro signed a standard player contract. He has a point in four games so far with another week left on his spring break.
Beast rookie Tim DiPretoro gives his thoughts on recording his first pro point last night. #BeastLive pic.twitter.com/JNSRG4OEpq— Brampton Beast (@BramptonBeast) March 18, 2016
As mentioned previously, Brewer has spent most of the season at the Southern Professional Hockey League level, mostly with the Huntsville Havoc. In 29 games for the Alabama squad, the 2014 NESCAC Player of the Year posted sixteen points (5-11-16), a winning shootout goal and a Mariah Carey Christmas karoake session. Brewer has also spent eight games with Donahoe's old club, Knoxville, posting four points in eight games (2-2-4), and is currently with the newest SPHL club, the Georgia based Macon Mayhem. Brewer has eight points (2-6-8) in nine games for the Mayhem.
Brewer was joined in Huntsville by former Cac foe and Bowdoin alum John McGinnis ('15). The Cocoa, FL native has spent the entire season with the Havoc and has 32 points (12-20-32) in 51 games McGinnis was briefly joined in Huntsville by another Polar Bear, Leland Fidler ('10), who scored a goal in his two game stint in January. Fidler has spent parts of the past three seasons with Huntsville and has bounced around 10 teams in four leagues (FHL,CHL, SPHL, ECHL) since leaving Brunswick.
As mentioned above, Belisle has had the Columbus Cottonmouth as home base when not in the ECHL. The former Panther has 27 points (12-15-27) in 30 games for the Cottonmouths, who currently sit in last place in the nine team SPHL. Like the NESCAC, eight teams make the playoffs and Columbus is five points behind Macon for the final postseason birth.
The Fayetteville FireAntz (yes, with a z) sit in fifth place in the SPHL, three points ahead of Huntsville (though with four extra games played). Fayetteville employed Hamilton Alum Bennett Schneider ('13.5) as recently as yesterday before cutting him today. Schneider spent 32 games as a FireAnt enforcer, posting five points (1-4-5) and sixty-eight penalty minutes. There's no fighting in NCAA hockey, but as you can see below, that restriction does not apply to pro hockey, especially south of the Mason-Dixon line. Schneider spent 28 games in the SPHL in early 2014 after leaving the Continentals midseason due to early graduation in December 2013, but was away from pro-hockey in 2014-15.
Did we miss anybody? Know someone who is on the verge of singing an ATO for Spring Break? Send us the info at firstname.lastname@example.org