Diamonds and Ice

Former RoughRider Miskovic signs with NHL’s Capitals

Former Cedar Rapids RoughRiders defenseman Zach Miskovic has signed a one-year entry level contract with the NHL’s Washington Capitals, it was announced Thursday. The contract is for the 2009-10 season.

Miskovic was a first-team ECAC Hockey defenseman this season and is considered an all-American candidate. He played 154 career games for St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, not missing any. This season, his senior season, he had 17 goals and 26 points in 39 games. The 17 goals led NCAA Division I rearguards.

Miskovic is a River Forest, Ill., native. He played for Cedar Rapids for three seasons, from 2002 through 2005. His contract with Washington doesn’t begin until next season, though he will join the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears for the rest of this season on a amateur tryout contract.

“Nothing Misky has done has surprised me,” said RoughRiders head coach/general Mark Carlson. “Other people might be surprised, but I’m not.”

Zach Miskovic

Zach Miskovic

Stalock leads Duluth to its first WCHA championship game

How about that Alex Stalock? The former Cedar Rapids RoughRiders goaltender made 31 saves Friday night to help 12th-ranked Minnesota-Duluth to a 3-0 shutout win over No. 5 North Dakota in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament semifinals in St. Paul, Minn. The Bulldogs advance to tonight’s title game against defending champ Denver for the first time in school history.

The win followed up a 2-1 victory over Minnesota in a tournament play-in game Thursday night in which Stalock made 39 saves. The victories likely put UMD into the NCAA tournament regionals.

“Our best player was our best player (tonight),” UMD Coach Scott Sandelin said Thursday night.

Stalock, a junior who was named MVP of the Clark Cup playoffs in 2005 for the Riders, has had a superb season for Duluth. He was named first-team all-WCHA goalie this season. He has a .925 save percentage and 2.15 goals against average. Friday night was his eighth career shutout, tying the school record.

A fourth-round draft pick of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks in 2005, Stalock will likely remain at Minnesota-Duluth for his senior season before turning professional. Much of that has to do with the Sharks already having good young goaltending in their system.

“He has been having a very good season and is developing well,” Sharks scout Pat Funk said in a story on a Sharks blog.

 “He’s a real good athlete and he’s cocky but in the right way. He has that mentality where if you beat me you’re not going to beat me again … Our staff has seen him play quite a bit and we are very happy with his progress, not only as a hockey player but as a leader also.”

Word is Minnesota was recruiting Stalock – a Twin Cities native – and another goaltender five years ago, but ended up offering the other guy a scholarship. Wonder if the Gophers regret that decision now?

Alex Stalock

Alex Stalock