Former Canisius hockey players continue careers in professional ranks
blog by The Canisius Griffin • September 27, 2011 @ 8:00am
After losing the final game of their collegiate careers to Holy Cross in the Atlantic Hockey semifinals this past March, a few members of the record-setting class of 2011 will continue to play hockey at the next level, with the added bonus of padding their wallets.
On July 5, forward Cory Conacher signed a one-year deal with the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League. In addition to his AHL contract, Conacher has the honor of being an invitee to the Tampa Bay Lightning training camp, Norfolk’s NHL affiliate. Conacher has already participated in Tampa Bay’s Development Camp and Rookie Camp over the summer, scoring goals in two consecutive games during the 2011 Florida Rookie Tournament against the Florida Panthers prospect team.
Conacher, who owns the Canisius records for points, goals and game-winning goals, recorded six points (4G, 2A) in seven AHL games split between the Rochester Americans and Milwaukee Admirals at the end of last season. He also was very productive in three games in the East Coast Hockey League, posting five goals and seven points with the Cincinnati Cyclones, who sent his ECHL rights to the Florida Everblades this week; a mere formality since the Everblades are affiliated with Norfolk and Tampa Bay.
Vince Scarsella, Conacher’s linemate for three and a half years, was officially signed by the Cyclones on Sept. 15. Scarsella holds the Canisius record for games played with 144, and is second all-time in the record book for career assists (93) and points (133). Cyclones head coach Jarrod Skalde is looking forward to adding Scarsella to the roster.
“Vinny is a great skater and a high-energy player,” Skalde said over a live Facebook chat. “He has tremendous offensive upside after a great college career.”
On July 19, forward Eric Rex signed with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL, who are affiliated with the AHL’s Texas Stars and the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Rex set career marks in his senior season at Canisius with nine goals and 18 assists in 37 games, including a career-high two goals and three points against the Niagara Purple Eagles in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.
Another former Griff who will play in the ECHL this upcoming season will be defenseman and former captain Phil Rauch, who was signed by the Toledo Walleye on July 22. Rauch also had a career season in his senior year, recording his first collegiate goal to go along with seven assists in 38 games. Rauch had an offer to play for the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers at the end of last season, but opted instead to finish his college degree. The Walleye are a part of the Detroit Red Wings’ and Chicago Blackhawks’ system.
On August 17, the agent for defenseman Scott Jenks tweeted that his client signed with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League, a farm team of the Colorado Avalanche. Jenks had 19 points (5G, 14A) in 117 career games at Canisius and also scored the game-tying goal against Niagara with 17 seconds left in regulation in a 6-5 overtime loss on November 22 of last year.
Canisius College students don’t normally expect to be able to flip on the television in their dorm rooms and see former classmates, but that may soon become a reality.
By Rich Lunghino