ECHL goaltender loses shutout streak but ties another record on incredible run

Jared Clinton
Jeff Jakaitis (via South Carolina Stingrays)

South Carolina Stingrays goaltender Jeff Jakaitis was chasing down the modern day professional shutout record heading into Saturday’s contest against the Cincinnati Cyclones, but he will have to settle for minor professional’s all-time mark.

The Cyclones’ Steven Hodges scored on Jakaitis, who came into Saturday’s contest with a streak of 319:32 of consecutive shutout hockey, little more than two minutes into Saturday’s game. His final shutout mark stands at 321:46 and breaks the minor professional record set earlier this season by AHL netminder Matt Murray.

Even though Jakaitis didn’t quite reach the pro record – 332:01 set by Brian Boucher when he was a member of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2003-04 – but he did earn himself another major ECHL mark: he’s now tied for the most consecutive wins by a goaltender at 13. His four shutouts in a row coming into Saturday night were also an ECHL record. Read more

16 seasons. 22 teams. Zero NHL games. But the passion never left Frank Littlejohn

Ken Campbell
Frank Littlejohn (Photo Courtesy Brampton Beast)

Frank Littlejohn was most recently a Beast. Truth is, he’s been many beastly incarnations since he began his pro hockey career 16 years ago. He’s been a Glaciercat, an IceHawk, a Falcon, a River Rat, a River Otter, a Mallard, a Jackal and an IceGator. And that doesn’t cover half the teams he’s played for over the course of his hockey travels. He’s ranked as high as General, a Baron and a Privateer, but he’s also been a Lumberjack. He’s been a Nailer and a Checker, literally and figuratively. He’s even covered off the winter weather conditions as a Chill, a Blizzard and a Frostbite.

This issue of The Hockey News is known as our Rookie Issue, which showcases the players you’ll be seeing starring in the best league in the world for years to come. But for every Aaron Ekblad and Filip Forsberg, there are guys like Frank Littlejohn, who at 37 waits for the phone to ring with a minor league coach or GM on the other end, wondering whether he might be able to suit up and continue chasing the dream. Read more

ECHL goaltender sets league record, approaches hockey history

Jared Clinton
Jeff Jakaitis (via South Carolina Stingrays)

Jeff Jakaitis of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays — the affiliate of the Washington Capitals — has already helped his team break the league record for consecutive victories, but he himself is on his way to accomplishing something much greater.

In Friday night’s game, Jakaitis stopped 35 shots en route to South Carolina’s 20th straight victory and his fourth consecutive shutout, both ECHL records. By turning aside every shot he faced, Jakaitis has now posted 319:32 consecutive minutes of shutout hockey, only 12:29 fewer than the modern day professional hockey record set by Brian Boucher in 2003-04. Read more

Is the next Logan Couture at the OHL Cup?

Ryan Kennedy
Quinte's Brady Gilmour (photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

The OHL Cup has been dominated by teams from Toronto and its suburbs for years, but that doesn’t mean every player to watch hails from around the Big Smoke. This year’s edition of the minor midget showcase tournament includes a pretty solid Quinte Red Devils team, representing the area around Belleville and Cobourg, a couple hours east of Toronto.

And the leader of that Quinte squad is captain Brady Gilmour, who is also expected to go as high as top-five in the OHL draft this summer. Gilmour actually comes from Grafton, which is even smaller than Belleville and Cobourg.

Read more

ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings honor St. Patrick’s Day – by playing on green ice

Adam Proteau
The Kalamazoo Wings' green ice (Image via Kalamazoo Wings' Youtube channel)

The ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings hosted the Indy Fuel Tuesday night. And in honor of St. Patrick’s Day – and the continuation of what is has become a 34-year-tradition for the franchise – they turned the ice at Wings Stadium surface green.

The team has made a Green Ice Day a tradition since 1982 and it has proven to be one of its more popular games of the year. Here’s a time-lapse video of the makeover prior to Tuesday’s game: Read more

Minnesota’s annual All-Hockey Hair Team soars again

Ryan Kennedy
East Grand Forks goalie Garrett Lieberg

The Minnesota state high school tournament is a bucket list event for any hardcore hockey fan, with sold-out crowds packing the home of the NHL’s Wild each year. And while the hockey itself can be heart-racing, some of the hairstyles are just as harrowing.

For years now, Pulltab Productions has put together an All-Hockey Hair Team and this season’s edition lives up to the hype. I was actually eagerly anticipating this.

Read more

Minnesota high school player scores while flying through the air

Jared Clinton
Jon Kopacek scores while flying through the air. (via YouTube)

There has been great diving, sprawling goals in the last decade. But from Alex Ovechkin’s famous falling tally against the Coyotes to one this season in the EIHL, it’s hard to match the effort on this goal by Jon Kopacek.

Kopacek, a senior at New Ulm High School in New Ulm, Minn., scored what can’t even be considered a video game goal. After skating in over the opposition blueline, Kopacek fired a shot on goal, which left a big rebound.

When it was clear that he wasn’t going to beat the second defender to the puck, Kopacek dove for the loose puck, connected with his backhand and knocked it in past the outstretched pad of Mahtomedi netminder Will Swanson. See it for yourself: Read more

Toronto minor hockey league aims to further curb bodychecking

Ken Campbell
Minor hockey  (Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Depending upon how you look at it, the Greater Toronto Hockey League is on the verge of becoming either an outlier or a pioneer. It could become one of the first jurisdictions to have its older kids to play at a competitive level without bodychecking, even if it means they won’t be able to compete in tournaments and championships at the provincial level.

The GTHL, which is home to some 40,000 players and bills itself as the largest minor hockey association in the world, intends to put a vote to its membership a rule change that would take bodychecking out of all age groups at the ‘A’ level. Presently, bodychecking is not allowed at any competitive level below bantam (12 years old and under) or at any age level in house league competition under Hockey Canada’s rules. But this rule would take bodychecking out of the game at all age levels, including the bantam and midget levels, for all ‘A’ leagues. Read more