Parma native Alex Nedeljkovic starred for the Cleveland Barons and represented the U. S. at the U18 and U20 levels before going on to great success in the Ontario Hockey League and the American Hockey League. He earned Goalie of the Year honors at both levels and guided the AHL's Charlotte Checkers to the 2019 Calder Cup championship. "Ned" saw significant action in the NHL this season with the Carolina Hurricanes, posting a 15-5-3 record with a 1.90 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. He then started nine of the team's 11 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs (2.17/.920). He is one of three finalists for the NHL's 2020-21 Rookie of the Year. Read our OHD Feature Story on Alex from last year.
The Athletic's Aaron Portzline previews what has the potential to be a wild and wacky summer in Columbus as the Blue Jackets juggle a coaching search, free agency and the draft along with negotiations (or trades) with several core players. No shortage of topics for the veteran hockey scribe!
At the risk of beating a dead horse, we convened a panel of high school coaches from various levels of the competitive spectrum across the state to discuss the need for an alternative format for the high school post-season in Ohio and worked towards a consensus on a specific format to propose to the OHSAA. Lots of different perspectives were represented and various proposals were floated, but it was again unanimous that something needs to change! Could the OHSAA start to see teams opt out of their post-season tournament or leave their ranks altogether? The panel included: Our own Tim Sullivan (St. Edward), Pat O'Rourke (Saint Ignatius), Kyle Botos (Avon), Tim Pennington (Olentangy Liberty), Kevin Brown (Toledo Whitmer) & Steve Bogas (Mayfield)
The Wooster Oilers and Columbus Mavericks are two of six franchises that have joined the USPHL in and around Ohio in recent years. We check in with Wooster owner Marty Kerr and head coach Jordan Roemer to talk about the Oilers' return to the ice in 2020-21 and their plans for Year Two. Nate Handrahan took over behind the Mavericks bench last year and tells us about the players he has been signing - including many Ohioans - for the upcoming season. We also get Quinn Warmuth's shocking account of how the student athletes at Robert Morris University were told the school was dropping men's and women's hockey (18:00 mark).
Former Strongsville Youth Hockey and Cleveland Baron Andrew Perrott is the son of a former Cleveland Lumberjack who saw his fourth season in the Ontario Hockey League wiped out by COVID-19. He took matters into his own hands and is part of a group organizing the PBHH Showcase in Erie, PA (May 31 - June 13). The event will give 2021 draft-eligible players a chance to play in front of NHL scouts. He also tells us about growing up playing hockey in Cleveland, carving out a role in the OHL (which included fighting another Clevelander) and getting on the ice during COVID by going to Slovakia to play professionally.
Greg Gutterman, a former NCAA DI player at the Air Force Academy, a retired Brigadier General and a finalist for the NHL Stick Tap for Service Award (see video below), is the head coach at Beavercreek High School. The Beavers are the two-time defending champions of the Southwest Ohio High School Hockey League and also host the "POD" Tournament along with Archbishop Alter. The POD Tournament ("POst-District") gives teams in the SWOHSHL - and "White" and 'Blue" teams from around the state - an opportunity to conclude their season in a competitive environment they do not experience in the OHSAA District Tournaments. We talk to Coach Gutterman about the benefits of The POD and the need for 2-3 divisions for high school hockey in Ohio.
It's a landmark episode #50! We couldn't possibly cram all of the highlights from the first year (or so) of the podcast into one episode, but we picked some of them out for this special episode. THANK YOU TO ALL THE GUESTS AND SPONSORS THAT MADE THE FIRST 50 EPISODE POSSIBLE!!! Also make sure you click the link above to go through the archive page and see a complete list of guests.
We check in with Seanna Conway (Gilmour Girls U16), Darryl Noren (Ohio AAA Blue Jackets U18) and Patrick Metzger (Team Ohio U16 & U18) before they depart for their respective USA Hockey National Tournaments.
Spencer Cox grew up in Westerville, OH and played for the AAA Ohio Blue Jackets before heading to Culver Military Academy. He talks to us about his COVID-impacted development path, which took him through several twists and turns through Tier I and II Junior Hockey this year before he landed with the Chippewa Steel of the North American Hockey League, where he was able to secure an NCAA commitment with the fledgling DI program at Long Island University.
Chris Bergeron has been a fixture in Ohio hockey going back to his time as the captain of the first Miami University team to win a conference championship and go to the NCAA Tournament. He played pro hockey in Toledo and Cincinnati then went on to play an important role in the "Golden Area" of Miami hockey as an assistant coach before breathing new life into a Bowling Green teetering on the edge of extinction. Now in his third stint in Oxford - this time as the head coach of the RedHawks - he has a clear picture of where Miami hockey belongs, but also provides a very candid assessment about where the program is two years into a rebuild.
Joe Battista is a Professional Speaker, Success Coach, Owner of Pragmatic Passion Consulting, and Author of “The Power of Pragmatic Passion: 7 Common Sense Principles For Achieving Personal and Professional Success.” Joe, a former ACHA coach at Penn State and VP of Hockey and Administration for the Buffalo Sabres, was instrumental in securing an NCAA Division I team and a new arena at PSU. He is also currently the Vice President of Business Development and an Executive Coach for the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy.
Rick Gotkin has been the head coach of the Mercyhurst University men’s hockey team for 33 seasons. He is the only coach in NCAA history to take a team to the NCAA Tournament at all three levels, and has guided the Lakers to over 500 wins, six NCAA tournament appearances and five league championships. He is a member of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee, has coached several “USA Select” National Festival Teams, has been a featured speaker at many USA Hockey coaching clinics and symposiums, and has served on the Hobey Baker Award Committee, the American Hockey Coaches Association Division I Committee, the US College Hockey Online.com National Poll Committee, the Division I East region advisory committee, and the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine College Hockey Poll.
Ohio High School Athletic Association Executive Director Doug Ute tells us how he navigated a very eventful first six months in office and addresses some of the key issues relating to high school hockey in Ohio, including the state tournament venue and creating a second division of competition. Then we had an entertaining roundtable discussion with the four district champion coaches ahead of this weekend's Ohio "Frozen Four" in Columbus.
Ani FitzGerald shares stories about growing up in Shaker Heights, playing at Gilmour Academy for five seasons (including a Mid-Am District Championship and trip to Nationals), competing at three USA Hockey National Development Camps and moving on to Northeastern University where she is currently a freshman for the number
2 1 ranked women's team in the NCAA.
After an exciting expansion announcement from Tri-States Collegiate Hockey League commissioner Tim Driscoll, Ohio University DI head coach Cole Bell joined us to talk about his career path that led him to Athens, having to tell his team that the 2020 ACHA Nationals were cancelled, and shares some tips for young players that want to move up the ranks and play for a top program like the Bobcats.
We heard from all of the coaches that took home hardware in the Baron Cups, Cleveland Cup, Blue Jackets Cup and SWOHSHL tournaments, and looked forward to the four OHSAA District Tournaments that will be starting up in
four three rinks across the state with help from Ronald Sayers (OHSAA), Ed Dick & Sean Duffy (Sports on Tap) fresh off calling a Baron Cup championship triple-header and Dave Purpura (This Week News).
The T-Show may be shut down for the year, but Bowling Green's DII ACHA team is back in action. Head coach Jake Rishel and senior defenseman Bobby Edwards join us to talk about getting the Falcons back on the ice during COVID and Edwards' role in getting the historic Cleveland Heights program back on its feet.
On the eve of the long-delayed American Hockey League season, Cleveland Monsters play-by-play man Tony Brown came on the show to preview the Monsters lineup and talk about the unique AHL season coming up. He also looks back at his broadcasting career that led him to Cleveland for the last six years, and reflects on calling the 2016 Calder Cup championship victory.
Dave Starman has been a college hockey goalie, a coach and a scout at various times in his life in hockey, but he is best known as the voice of college hockey and the IIHF World Junior Championships. This season he called more than half of the games in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's "Pod" for NCHC.tv and Team USA's games at the 2021 WJC for the NHL Network.
Our panel of fantasy hockey "experts" give you tips on how to start up a league, make the one you are in better, or just make your team more competitive this year. Scott Harrington, Tyler Whidden and Skip Snow are veteran fantasy leaguers with connections to a hockey league that is still going after 26 years!
Rob Sangster us in his 8th year as head coach of the St. Charles Cardinals. He tells us some stories about what it was playing in the Ontario Hockey League in the 1980's when you needed to be able to hold your own when the gloves came off. He also reflects on a pro career that included being drafted by the Vancouver Canucks and playing for the rough-and-tumble Columbus Chill in the ECHL.
Jamie Ruffner 1971-2021
Jeff Svoboda has been the team reporter for the Blue Jackets for since December 2018, providing news, analysis and features about the organization at BlueJackets.com. Prior to that he served as sports editor of the Toledo Blade as well as a staff writer at Buckeye Sports Bulletin, where he covered Ohio State hockey for 10 years. He's also a bad D League goalie on weekends.
Long-time listener, first-time caller. For the last 15 years Chris Cogan has been at the helm of the Rocky River Pirates and has seen his teams win numerous Baron Cup titles, GCHSHL Red Division championships and a berth in the 2013 Frozen Four. He is also a local connoisseur of area restaurants' nacho dishes.
Join us as we preview the Padua Holiday Hockey Tournament - the Grand Daddy of Ohio in-season high school tournaments with many of the top teams from the Cleveland (Holy Name, Padua Franciscan, Shaker Heights, St. Edward, University School), Columbus (Olentangy Liberty, St. Charles and Upper Arlington) and Toledo (Findlay, Sylvania Northview, Toledo St. Francis and Toledo St. John's) areas. Tournament director Sean Evans will be with us, along with Dave Purpura from This Week News to help us cover the Columbus entries and Mark Monroe of The Toledo Blade to provide some insight on the Toledo-area contenders.
Bob Turow is commissioner of the United States Premier Hockey League which consists of 600 teams and 12,000 players at various age levels, including five Tier III Junior franchises in the Ohio Hockey Digest coverage area: the Columbus Mavericks, Fort Wayne Spacemen, Lake Erie Bighorns, Toledo Cherokee and Wooster Oilers. Bob tells us about his career in hockey, gives us a better understanding of what the USPHL is all about, and talks about the upcoming "Hub City" concept that will allow league members to play as many as 20 games in Florida next month.
Representatives from all five of Ohio's high school (OHSAA) hockey leagues joined the podcast for an informative panel discussion on the current state of the game in their part of the state, how they are managing the COVID crisis, and some of the other challenges facing OHSAA hockey like the need for 2+ divisions of varsity competition and the best venue for the state tournament. Participants: Tony Morris (SWOHSHL), Patrick Murphy (CHC), Ryan Kelber (GCHSHL), Sean Evans (GLHL) and Markus Rasmus (NHC).
Maumee, OH native Ben Schoen joined the Boys on The Pod to tell us about his formative years in NW Ohio, making the big jump to Junior A at 16 and representing the U. S. at U-17 and U-18 tournaments internationally. He talks about the long bus trips and the rowdy fans in the USHL and how he ended up committing to Penn State.
Chagrin Falls, OH native Curtis Hall joined us to recount his growth as a young hockey player with the Cleveland Barons, how big a jump it is from the T1EHL to the USHL, making Team USA for the 2020 World Junior Championship, getting drafted by the Boston Bruins and what he is going to do now that the Ivy League has shut down.
COVID-related cancelations and conference re-alignments are among the topics we cover in our timely conversation with College Hockey News managing editor Adam Wodon. We also check in with Miami University head coach Chris Bergeron to talk about the state of the re-build in Oxford.
Patrick Metzger and Matthew Geib provided a re-cap of the "pre-" portion of Team Ohio's split season schedule came to a close with state championships for both the U16 and U18 teams. Hear how the teams were put together and how they marched to their respective championships.
Cover high school sports for 20+ years and you accumulate some stories. Chris Lillstrung shares some from his time at The News-Herald where he has watched all of the top players and teams on the East Side of Cleveland for more than two decades. The award-winning scribe talks about the biggest games he witnessed in person, the top rinks and concession stands in the area, and some of the more outrageous interactions he had with parents over the years.
Erik Cagnina tells us how his youth hockey stat-keeping duties sparked him to develop a platform that allows game events to be tracked in real-time and turned them into advanced reports and video integration to help teams improve play and develop players. Athletic Performance Insight (www.athleticperformanceinsight.com) is a powerful tool that can help coaches at any level.
Paul McKito tells us about his background in coaching, starting with Midview and leading up to the last two dominant seasons with the Mentor Cardinals, the two-time defending Baron Cup champions, which have put together a 63-8-3 mark in that span. Coach McKito talks about the players responsible for that impressive run and looks forward to the 2020-21 season, including a conversation about how the Cards are navigating the COVID restrictions.
Cleveland native and NHL Network analyst Mike Rupp reflects on his 14 years in the NHL and a few of the crossroads that almost derailed his career before he was able to make his NHL debut, earn that second game, and eventually score the Stanley Cup clinching goal for the New Jersey Devils in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final. He also shares some thoughts on developing young players including the fact that you need time away from hockey!
Former NHL defenseman Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre recalls being a part of the Columbus Blue Jackets expansion team, playing professionally in Europe later in his career, the never-ending search for good Poutine, and how he transitioned into the media with FOX Sports Ohio. He also shares some thoughts on recent Columbus moves in the NHL Entry Draft and free agency.
Ty Eigner is a 1993 graduate of BGSU who spent the nine years as an assistant coach for the Falcons before being named head coach in April of 2019. Eigner has accumulated almost 25 years of coaching and administrative experience, playing three years at the professional level. In his first season at the helm of the Falcons, Eigner pushed Bowling Green to a 21-13-4 record, marking the team's sixth consecutive 20-win season. Eigner served as Bowling Green’s captain for the 1992-93 season, and was a member of the program’s last two NCAA tournament teams prior to the 2018-19 season.
Five-time CCHA Coach of the Year Enrico Blasi discusses the origins of "The Brotherhood" at Miami University, what he learned about family and accountability in his 20 seasons behind the bench at his alma mater, and what comes next for him.
Entrepreneurs Jarred and Brandon Smith trace their respective paths from Gilmour Academy through NCAA Division I hockey to the professional ranks, how they started experimenting with making their own all-natural sports drinks and how that evolved into NOOMA (www.drinknooma.com).
John Haferman, Executive Director of Columbus Ice Hockey Club and the Director of Hockey for the City of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department discusses being a 2020 Finalist for the NHL's Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award. John talks about the programs implemented in 20+ years with CIHC, which he co-founded to grow the game of hockey among the city's diverse population and which exposes over 5,000 kids per year to skating and hockey.
Hockey playing brothers Freddy and Charlie Gerard of Rocky River discuss their paths from the Cleveland Barons AAA program, through junior hockey, four-year NCAA Division I careers at Minnesota State and Ohio State, respectively and now embarking on their pro careers. They also share the inspiration for developing their own apparel line, boom boom tuck. (www.boomboomtuck.com).
Team Ohio general manager and U18 head coach Patrick Metzger goes back into the history of the program and details its evolution from a showcase tournament team to split-season, and now a program that offers full-season AA youth teams. He talks about some of the great players who have come through the program over the years and re-lives the near misses at the national tournament that eventually led to a national championship in 2019.
Sylvania Northview head coach Steve Elliott provides a common thread through the storied program, having served as a long-time assistant under Jim Cooper, and then Mike Jones, before ascending to the head coaching position in 2016. Steve reflects on some of the big games he has been a part of in Northview history, the Wildcats' trademark physical brand of hockey, and shares some thoughts on ways the game could be improved for kids in Ohio.
Solon's own EMack Bentley takes us through his path to NCAA Division III hockey starting with the Cleveland Barons, junior hockey in New Hampshire and Texas, and finally onto the campus at Middlebury College in Vermont where he heads into his junior season and is able to combine high-level hockey and academics.
Aidan Spellacy and Quinn Warmuth both played at Saint Ignatius and ended up playing NCAA Division I hockey at Robert Morris University, but they had different experiences in between.
Spellacy recounts his three-year stint as captain at Saint Ignatius, playing in the famous seven-OT tie in the state title game in 2014, and a successful junior career in the NAHL before becoming RMU's Rookie of the Year as a freshman in 2018-19.
Warmuth talks about leaving home to play junior hockey at 17 and getting traded three times and playing for five different teams in four years before being summoned to Robert Morris in the middle of the 2019-20 season.
Long before he stepped behind the Amherst bench, Steve Morris was a two-time team captain in the early days of Miami University's program. The Boys talk to Coach Morris about building the foundation under Coach Cady at Miami and somebody breaking his career scoring record some day. They also get into Amherst's three straight Baron Cup II championships, their move up to the Red Division of the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League for the 2020-21 season, and how he managed to revive the program - and win - with a constant numbers challenge.
Denison University head Coach Jeff German tells us about his 40 years in the game of hockey, including the current challenge ahead of him establishing the Big Red as a legit ACHA Division II program after their move up from DIII a year ago. He talks about the short-term goals of not changing, but establishing, a culture around Denison hockey and where he would like to take the program in the long run.
North Olmsted native Tim Gettinger takes us inside The Bubble, telling us what it was like in Toronto for the NHL Return to Play with the New York Rangers. He also takes us through his path to the NHL, which started with the Cleveland Barons AAA organization and included a four-year stint with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, where he wore a letter for three seasons, and was captain of the team that advanced to the 2018 OHL championship series.
2018-19 was A Year Without Hockey at Bowling Green High School, but the iconic OHSAA program returned to the ice last season. Head coach Jamie Ruffner and senior defenseman Dylan Cox join the podcast to talk through the process of breathing life back into the Bobcats.
Trailblazer Steve Rymsha becomes the first On Air guest to earn a two-part interview. He wraps up his discussion with The Boys about what to focus on when coaching youth hockey, what scouts are looking for in prospects and what he likes about working for Warrior Hockey.
Nick Petraglia spent 20 years on the campus of Miami University before his recent move to the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets where he is Executive Vice President. He looks back on the things he learned from some great coaches in Oxford as a student-athlete, coach and administrator and looks forward to what lies ahead for the AAA Blue Jackets.
Warrior Hockey rep Steve Rymsha regales The Boys with stories from his playing days in Junior B, college, the North American minor pro ranks and Europe - from inspiring pre-game speeches in the ECHL to almost signing away his NCAA eligibility because of his dad's poorly-timed bathroom break, being chased around a rink by the guy he was traded for in the IHL and being shunned by grocery clerks in Germany.
Olentangy Liberty head coach Kevin Alexander hopped on the pod and brought senior goaltender Andy Keeler and Liberty alum and Ohio Bobcat Sam Turner with him to discuss the recent success of the program, what is needed to keep it going in 2020-21, and what Ohio high school players are capable of when you give them the chance.
Mike Chiellino, 2017 Midwest Prep Hockey League Coach of the Year, talks about how he ended up behind the bench at Gilmour Academy and what the level of play is like on the GA Prep team and around the MPHL.
Lake County native Lauren Bernard talks about the path she took to one of the top NCAA programs in the country, and representing the U. S. at the 2019 U18-World Championships in Japan. She tells us how playing against boys helped her transition into the women's game at a high level and walks us through her thought process on selecting Clarkson from a pile of offers. She also discusses finding confidence playing against male pro and college players in Cleveland's Summer Elite League, and admits she has to work on her celly...
University of Akron coaches Matt Koch and Greg Revak talk club hockey, Life U., talented cancers and hockey IQ. They reveal what kind of players and people they want playing for the Zips and how you can get the most out of your hockey career by not focusing solely on hockey.
Tri-States Collegiate Hockey League commissioner Tim Driscoll talks about channeling the competitive fire that he used behind the bench at the University of Dayton and Xavier University into running "The T" and making it the premier ACHA conference, the excitement he feels about bringing the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry to the TSCHL, and looks forward to the league's 2021 tournament at Bowling Green's Slater Arena.
Kenny Miller talks about his junior hockey journey that took him from Toledo through Alpena and Marquette in the NAHL before coming full circle back to Toledo with the Cherokee of the USPHL where he has been general manager and head coach since 2013. He discusses what junior hockey managers and coaches look for in players, the differences between the Michigan and Ohio high school scenes and where you can get his mother's egg, cheese and mayo sandwiches.
Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Ben Simon talks about what it was like growing up in Shaker Heights and starring for the Red Raiders at Thornton Park under Mike Bartley before spending his senior year playing for the Barons in the NAHL, and how he ended up deciding on Notre Dame. He tells us how he adjusted his game to survive in pro hockey and reach the NHL, and his unconventional transition into coaching while squeezing in one last year on the ice in Britain.
Former Bowling Green Falcon Dan Bylsma recalls the phone call he got from Ray Shero summoning him to take over the Pittsburgh Penguins, the run to the 2009 Stanley Cup title, and his decision to keep sending T. J. Oshie out again and again for the shootout against Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The 2011 Jack Adams Award recipient tells us that skating - by far - is the most important skill in the game and that Sidney Crosby is as good as he is because of how hard he works.
Tyler Harkins tells us about growing up in a successful hockey family, playing his way up through the Cleveland hockey ranks with Rocky River, St. Edward and Team Ohio before moving on to junior hockey, and the highlights of a four-year college career at Ohio University. He also tells us about his startup hockey advisory firm Rule 1 Sports.
Russ Sinkewich becomes the first repeat guest on the podcast as he stops by to preview the Summer Elite League and Futures Hockey League. The SEL is the top game in town for pro and college players trying to stay sharp in the summer while the FHL's U19, U17 and new Pee Wee divisions feature the top high school and AAA talent in Northeast Ohio. Russ also touches on best practices for off-season conditioning and his early impressions of fatherhood.
Don Van Massenhoven shares some stories from his career as an NHL referee, which spanned 21 years and 1,366 games plus Stanley Cup playoffs and Olympics, talks about the importance of not making makeup calls, highlights the upside of one of hockey's most thankless jobs, and details his current duties as the NHL's director of officiating operations.
Gui (like LaFleur) Bradshaw shares what it takes to be a successful working on-ice official and details the path he took to working in the OHSAA and WCHA women's ranks. He says you need to be comfortable being the bad guy to be a good ref and points out that more players getting into refereeing will make the game better.
Gilmour Academy's John Malloy has won more games than any other high school hockey coach in Ohio history, but tells us his focus was never on wins, but on building better citizens and men. He reflects on his start as a figure skater at Cincinnati Gardens, his playing career in the infancy of the program at Miami University and shares some stories from his coaching career at Cleveland Heights and Gilmour.
In a very candid interview Patrick O’Rourke, head coach of the four-time defending state champion Saint Ignatius Wildcats, told us he is up for an "unofficial" Frozen Four this summer, revealed that wheels are in motion to move the OHSAA to two divisions for hockey by 2021-22 and shared his experiences - good and bad - with the state tournament being held at Nationwide Arena.
Seven Hills native Lynsey Wallace, the subject of what is still the most read article in the history of Ohio Hockey Digest, talks about playing with and against boys at Padua Franciscan, what it's like being active with ROTC while playing on the nationally-ranked women's team at The Ohio State University, and shares her thoughts on playing on boys and girls teams and what a girls division in the OHSAA would mean.
R. J. Umberger goes back to the start of his hockey career, torching the western PA high school ranks. He recalls the turmoil early in his pro career. A first-round NHL pick of the Vancouver Canucks he left Ohio State early but sat out a year and was traded twice before signing a contract. A trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets led to the best years of his NHL career and he now works developing the next generation of players with the Columbus Chill Youth Hockey Association.
Lee W. Mowen talks about covering high school hockey in Southwest Ohio, especially broadcasting Centerville and Springboro games, tells us how he got into broadcasting and recalls his time covering the Dayton Demons on their championship run in the Federal League.
Talawanda bench boss Zach Sens compares winning the SWOHSHL title as a player versus as a coach, talks about how he got buy-in from his players in his first season as the head coach at his alma-mater, and challenges what you might think about high school hockey in the southwest part of the state.
Medina native Dawson DiPietro (Cleveland Jr. Barons, Team Ohio and Walsh Jesuit) talks about the drive needed to move his career from high school to AAA then NCAA DI hockey at Western Michigan University. He also talks about his experience at NHL development camps and how that led to him signing a contract with the National Hockey League's Buffalo Sabres in March despite being previously passed over in the NHL Draft. DiPietro was also the subject of the first Ohio Hockey Digest feature story in 2017.
OHL and AHL Goaltender of the Year Alex Nedeljkovic has scored goals in the ECHL and AHL, but talks about the downside of playing the puck too much as a goalie. He traces his career path from his native Parma and the Cleveland Jr. Barons to the pressure-packed Ontario Hockey League and representing the United States at major international competitions. The second-round pick of the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes also recounts the drive to the 2019 Calder Cup championship with the AHL's Charlotte Checkers. Read our feature story on Alex here.
Toledo Walleye head coach Dan Watson gets out of his car long enough to tell us about how far the ECHL has come over the years - overall and specifically in Toledo - and to give us some insight on what his game days are like and the challenges and mechanics of assembling a roster at the "AA" level.
In a must-listen episode for any young player, Ian Moran of Neutral Zone details the process of scouting young players and provides a very revealing look at what it is scouts are noticing when you don't think they are watching. He also reflects on spending the first two years of his pro career in Cleveland - the last year of the Richfield Coliseum and the first year of "The Gund".
Seanna Conway tells us about all the amazing places the game of hockey took her all around the globe, starting in a hockey-playing family of (mostly) goalies, to playing on the boys team at Gilmour Academy, then on to college in the U. S. and Canada and then Ireland, where she played professionally and internationally on the one and only rink in the country. She also shares her thoughts on girls playing with and against boys vs. girls-only competition.
Cleveland Monsters assistant coach Trent Vogelhuber talks about growing up in a youth hockey scene that was just starting to take off after the arrival of the NHL's Blue Jackets, being the first hometown draft pick of the team, and playing for some great coaches with lots of Ohio-grown talent at Miami. He also tells some stories about the Monsters’ 2016 Calder Cup championship, the ensuing parade, and his surprisingly sudden decision to go into coaching.
Mentor Ice Breakers head coach Sebastian Ragno reflects on his young career in hockey, and the path that led to him to be a head coach in the pro ranks at 23 years old, tells us about his goals for the Federal Prospects Hockey League franchise, and updates us on the pieces put in place for the 2020-21 roster.
Aaron Portzline gives us a look behind the scenes of the day-to-day life of an NHL beat writer, shares some opinions on the immediate future of the Columbus Blue Jackets and speculates on the viability of Columbus as a divisional hub should the NHL resume 2019-20 regular season play in the coming months.
Absolutely he's from Cleveland! Ohio Hockey Project founder Russ Sinkewich tells us about the path he took from Cleveland-area youth hockey to the pros, including a year playing JV that might have been the most influential year in his development, and what he is trying to add to the hockey ecosystem in Ohio with the Ohio Hockey Project. Russ also talks about how he is continuing to push hockey players to reach their potential with the OHP at Home virtual training sessions during the stay-at-home order.
A former Mr. Hockey for the state of Wisconsin, Matt Buss, ended up in Ohio and the Columbus-area hockey community is the beneficiary. Matt talks about how the strong hockey market in Columbus, with the Blue Jackets, Ohio State and growing high school hockey, made the area attractive to his hockey-playing family and the sense of accomplishment leading New Albany to their first district title. He also recounts being in Nationwide Arena with the Eagles on a pre-states orientation visit when they learned the tournament had been postponed.
Toledo St. Francis head coach Chris Varga talks about the lack of closure with the state tournament being cancelled, his time in the junior ranks, changes he has seen in the game over the years – including the cost of playing – and reflects on winning for the first time at St. Francis.
Ohio Hockey Digest founder Scott Harrington joins the boys to talk about the origins of OHD, the ACHA and high school jersey tournaments substituting for actual hockey this spring, and to reminisce about his stint working in minor league hockey.