The Mahoning Valley Phantoms have announced that forward Cole Schneider has committed to the University of Connecticut (Atlantic Hockey) for the 2010-11 season.
Schneider, an 18-year-old from Williamsville, N.Y., has nine goals and eight after 25 games this season with the Phantoms.
On his way back from signing his letter of intent with UConn, Schneider said that he was happy to know that both his education and his hockey career are set for the next few years.
“It feels pretty good to know that I’ve got a future somewhere once I’m finished playing for the Phantoms,” he said.
Schneider made his commitment while on his official visit to Connecticut, where he toured the campus, located in Storrs, and took in a Huskies game at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum, a 4-2 loss to Merrimack.
“I had a good meeting with Coach [Bruce] Marshall and the rest of the coaching staff,” said the Phantoms’ fourth-leading scorer, “and they took me around and showed me the campus. It’s a beautiful place and a great school with a solid reputation. I was able to make my decision right there.”
Signing on to play for UConn continues a big week for Schneider, who netted four goals in two games on Sunday and Monday to help the Phantoms sweep the Alpena IceDiggers and secure first place in the NAHL’s North Division heading into the New Year.
Schneider is the fourth current Phantom to accept a Division I scholarship, following Brad Smith (Ohio State University), Alex Lippincott (Ohio State) and Michael Gunn (Michigan State University).
PHANTOMS ANNOUNCE PRE-AUCTION OF LEMIEUX FOUNTATION JERSEYS: The Phantoms will begin a pre-auction of game-worn special edition jerseys on Saturday morning at MVPPhantoms.com, with the proceeds going to benefit the Mario Lemieux Foundation.
On January 10, the Phantoms will host Mario Lemieux Foundation Night as they take on the Motor City Machine at the Chevrolet Centre. After the game, there will be a live auction of the Phantoms’ special edition Foundation jerseys that they will be wearing during the game.
Former Pittsburgh Penguin, NHL Hall of Famer and Foundation chairman Mario Lemieux has seen the uniforms and says that fans who bid on them will be in for a treat.
“The Foundation jerseys for the fundraiser look great, and the auction winners are going to be excited to have a unique item like this,” said the two-time Stanley Cup Champion.
Because the Phantoms understand that some fans may not be able to make it to the Chevrolet Centre next Saturday, the team is offering those fans a chance to make early bids on their favorite player’s jersey in the week leading up to the event at MVPPhantoms.com.
The pre-auction bids will be accepted starting Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Fans that make pre-auction bids will also be given the opportunity to make bids in the live auction on January 10 via telephone with Phantoms staff members.
The jerseys’ main color is white, with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ signature black and gold on the sides of the torso and the Mario Lemieux Foundation logo centered on the chest.
The sleeves are white with gold-trimmed black numbers and a black “bottom” from the underarm to the wrist and a patch of gold above the wrist on “top” of the sleeve. The numbers on the back of the jersey will also be black trimmed in gold.
The Phantoms logo appears to the top left of the Foundation logo on the chest.
Phantoms head coach Bob Mainhardt says the team is thrilled to be partnering with the Mario Lemieux Foundation for the event.
“Anytime you can do something that gives back to the community and is for a good cause - and this is a foundation that really tugs at your heartstrings because it helps kids that are in need - any time you can help out an organization like that, it’s a special moment for anyone.
“Couple that with a name like Mario Lemieux and what a fine human being he is, it will be a great night that the players and the fans will remember for the rest of their lives.”
Lemieux adds that the feeling is mutual on the part of the Foundation.
“The Foundation is proud to be associated with the Phantoms, and we appreciate the opportunity to hold an event in Youngstown,” said the two-time Hart Trophy winner.
The Mario Lemieux Foundation was formed in 1993 by Lemieux who had his 1993-94 NHL season cut short when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease.
After a successful battle with Hodgkin’s, the eventual NHL Hall of Famer was cancer free, but his experience led him to focus on ways to assist those who were not so fortunate.
The main objective of the Mario Lemieux Foundation is to fund promising medical research projects being conducted by talented scientists.
Among the donations made by the Foundation was a $5 million gift to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to establish the Mario Lemieux Centers for Patient Care and Research in 2001 and a $2 million gift to the Children's Home of Pittsburgh in 2005.
RANGERS READY FOR SECOND HALF: When the Marquette Rangers announced their schedule this past July, team president and general manager David Saint-Onge called it the best schedule in team history. With 16 of their last 25 games at home, the North Division team is hoping that those words were more prophesy than opinion.
The Rangers (15-14-4) have been off since December 20 due to the holidays and will begin the calendar year by entertaining the Alpena IceDiggers on Friday and Saturday at Lakeview Arena. Marquette and Alpena have been separated by three or fewer points in the North Division standings since early November.
“We’re ready to get back into it,” said Rangers head coach Kenny Miller. “It’s a long season, and we were ready for some time off after the first half of the year. But now it’s time to take advantage of the long rest and the fact that we have a ton of home games over the next three months.”
After a slow start, the Rangers ended 2008 by winning four out of their last five, including a three-game road sweep of Alpena and Motor City and a split at first-place Mahoning Valley.
“I like where we are as a team,” added Miller. “We’re getting scoring from a nice combination of veterans and newcomers, and both our goaltenders are giving us the chance to win whenever we hit the ice which is the key to any team’s success. If we continue to play the way we’ve been playing, I’m confident our fans will see good things happen the second half of the year.”
Marquette continues to be led in scoring by cousins Chad and Aaron Pietila, with Marquette native Jimmy Gallagher a close third. Chad Pietila leads the way with 33 points (14 goals) while Aaron Pietila has notched 30 points on 12 goals. Gallagher is a close third with 28 points on 11 goals.
Kevin Kissaw has seen the bulk of the workload for Miller’s team in net over the past month, posting a record of 4-1 in the month of December. Overall, Kissaw is 10-6-2 on the season with a goals-against average of 2.70 and a save percentage of .916.
So far this season, the Rangers and the IceDiggers have played eight times with Alpena holding a 5-3 record over Marquette on the season.