Elite League rosters are out, and summer transfer intrigue and early departure watches are underway…it’s time to start writing about hockey again. I’ll start on a light note by dipping into my Duluth East archives. Here’s a list of every active former Duluth East player that I’m aware of who played at some post-high school level last season. Asterisks denote players who left East early.
Nick Anderson (’97 F) Anderson’s hockey career is a testament to persistence and hard work. He wasn’t a star at East, playing a regular shift only as a senior, and even that was mostly in a supporting role on the ’97 2nd-place team. But he stuck with it through 3 years of juniors, played 5 years at Minnesota-Duluth (there must have been a redshirt in there), and went on to spend time in the ECHL, Germany, Italy, and the UK. He didn’t finish out last season with his British team, so the run may finally be over, but no matter what, it’s been an admirable one.
Nick Angell (’98 D) Angell, the star defenseman of the ’98 state champ Hounds, played 4 years at Minnesota, winning a national championship as a senior. He went to Europe one year after graduation and has primarily played in Sweden since, though he also had stints in Germany and in the elite Russian KHL. He had a productive season in Sweden’s second-tier league in 13-14.
Zack Fitzgerald (’04 D)* Fitzgerald left East for the WHL after his freshman year (00-01) and played there for 4 years. He got a single-game cameo in the NHL with the Canucks in 07-08, but has spent most of the past nine years as an AHL enforcer, racking up massive penalty minutes and the occasional point in the process. He’s the younger brother of ’91 East alum Rusty Fitzgerald, who played parts of 3 seasons in the NHL.
Cade Fairchild (’07 D)* An offensive defenseman, Fairchild left East after his sophomore year for the National Training and Development Team, and went on to play at Minnesota. Like Fitzgerald he’s had a cup of coffee in the NHL, but has spent most of the past 3 years in the AHL.
Josh ‘Podge’ Turnbull (’07 F)* Turnbull transferred to East from Hayward, Wisconsin as a sophomore and spent two years in red and grey before a year of junior hockey and a 4-year run at Wisconsin. He’s bounced around various minor leagues for the past 3 seasons, most recently landing in with the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
Keegan Flaherty (’08 F)* The much-hyped Flaherty played 3 years of Hounds hockey but left for juniors after flat-lining some as a junior. In the USHL he reinvented himself as a hard-working depth player and had 4 serviceable years at UMD. He was Turnbull’s teammate in Pensacola last winter.
Max Tardy (’09 F) Tardy just wrapped up his 4 years at UMD, and will be best remembered there for his goal in the 2011 national championship game. His overall UMD career was a mild disappointment as he sometimes struggled to crack the lineup in his upperclassman years, but he played with good energy when he did, and could likely catch on somewhere if he so desires.
Alex McLean (’09 D) McLean, one of the more defensive defensemen on the ’09 squad with 4 D-I D-men, played two years of juniors before catching on at Ohio State, where he’ll be a senior this coming year.
Jake Williams (’09 D) You’ve probably never heard of American International College, but it’s based in Springfield, Massachusetts and is a D-I program in the Atlantic Hockey Association. Williams has been a regular there for the past 3 years and will be a senior this coming year.
Julius Tamasy (’09 F) Tamasy transferred to East as a senior and, after a stint in juniors, went to D-III Nazareth College in New York, and was its 2nd-highest scorer in its inaugural season. He’ll be a junior there this fall.
Derek Forbort (’10 D)* The most hyped of all the Hounds on this list and the school’s only ever 1st-rounder, Forbort played for the NTDP and spent 3 years at North Dakota before making the jump to the AHL this past season. There have been occasional questions along the way, and his NHL debut has probably been delayed somewhat by being stuck in the Kings’ organization, but it should come in due course.
Andy Welinski (’11 D)* Welinski, another highly touted defenseman and a 3rd-rounder, played 2 years in the USHL and will be a junior at UMD this coming fall. His development has been fairly steady.
Phil Johnson (’11 F) Johnson, a stalwart on the 2011 runners-up, has had 3 productive seasons a D-III St. John’s in Collegeville, Minnesota.
Hunter Bergerson (’11 D) Bergerson played one year in the NAHL and has spent the past two seasons playing some for D-III St. Scholastica in Duluth.
Nolan Meyer (’11 F)* Meyer transferred to Cloquet for his senior year, but had two seasons of modest production as a Hound. He is now at D-III Augsburg, where he has played sporadically over the past two seasons.
Dom Toninato (’12 F) A Maple Leafs draft pick, Toninato had a very strong year in the USHL before coming to UMD. He didn’t have huge points in his freshman year, but was often matched against others’ best lines and more than held his own.
Jake Randolph (’12 F) Mike Randolph’s son followed up a quality first year in the USHL with a monster one, breaking the league’s assist record and being named forward of the year. He’ll make his debut at Nebraska-Omaha this winter.
Trevor Olson (’12 F) The third member of the phenomenal Class of 2012 top line, Olson’s progress has been slowed somewhat by injuries, but he looked sharp when healthy at the end of the past USHL season and will start at North Dakota this fall, a school that should fit his edgy style well.
Nate Repensky (’12 D) Like Olson, Repensky’s had his injuries, but was very productive in the NAHL, and was named its defenseman of the year. He’s headed to Yale this coming school year.
Paige Skoog (’12 G) The first goalie on this list, the Forest Lake transfer was primarily a backup in his season in red and grey, but has had two reasonably good seasons in the NAHL.
Conner Valesano (’13 F)* Valesano has had two reasonably productive USHL seasons, but has yet to grab a D-I offer, meaning he’ll likely be back in the USHL this coming year.
Meirs Moore (’13 D) The shifty defenseman had a slow start to his USHL career, but came on toward the end of the season. He’ll spend a second season there before heading to D-I Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).
Alex Toscano (’13 F) Toscano spent his first year of junior hockey shuttling between the USHL and NAHL.
Jack Forbort (’13 F) Derek Forbort’s younger brother put up decent numbers in the NAHL this past year.
Andrew Kerr (’13 D) Kerr had a strong NAHL rookie season, scoring more than he did in high school, mixing things up, and was picked in this spring’s USHL draft.
Hogan Davidson (’13 F) Like Kerr, Davidson picked up his share of penalty minutes as he bounced between a couple of NAHL teams.
Ryan Lundgren (’13 F) Lundgren had been set to play in the NAHL before suffering a season-ending injury. Depending on his recovery, he has some shot at playing at a higher level.
Dylan Parker (’13 G) Parker spent most of the past season in the NA3HL and was briefly rostered in the NAHL, but did not play.