Crawford's Corner: Traverse City Tourney Starts Friday

Sep 10, 2015

(Photo courtesy of

The perennial first official step in the Ranger organization’s season is the Traverse City NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, MI, and don’t look now, but the onset of that event is upon us.

The Wolf Pack coaching staff of head man Ken Gernander and assistants Jeff Beukeboom and Pat Boller will again be responsible for piloting the Ranger squad in Traverse City, and they departed for the journey today, with their first action being the tournament opener tomorrow, a 3:30 faceoff against the Minnesota Wild prospect team.

A roster of 24 youngsters is accompanying the Pack braintrust to northeast Michigan, and only one of them, defenseman Brady Skjei, has yet seen any action with the Wolf Pack.  Four others, European defensemen Calle Andersson and Petr Zamorsky, fellow blueliner Ryan Graves, a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League product, and forward Adam Tambellini, are Ranger-signed players who are age-eligible to play in the AHL.  Another six, goaltender Brandon Halverson, defensemen Ryan Mantha and Sergei Zborovskiy and forwards Ryan Gropp, Keegan Iverson and Brad Morrison, are New York draft picks who are still too young to be assigned to the Wolf Pack.  The rest are tryout invitees from various Canadian Major Junior clubs.

Of those free-agent tryouts, six would be eligible for the AHL if they showed enough in Traverse City to entice a further look.

Two of those are goaltenders from the Ontario Hockey League, Taylor Dupuis (Sarnia) and Jacob Smith, and Smith is coming off of a big playoff performance this past spring.  He helped his North Bay Battalion team get as far as the league semifinals, posting the best postseason goals-against average (2.00) and second-best save percentage (92.7) in the OHL.

Forward Anthony DiFruscia, another OHLer, had 26 goals, 51 points and 130 penalty minutes last season for the Niagara IceDogs, and fellow winger Jayden Hart got 11 games of AHL experience with Rochester at the end of last year, after a 22-goal, 49-point, 94-PIM campaign with Prince Albert of the Western League.

Centerman Mark Simpson, a product of the Quebec League’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan, is 6-5 (although listed at only 189 pounds), and D-man Jerret Smith (no relation to Jacob)goes 6-2 and 212 pounds and had 11 goals and 38 points in 2014-15 for the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds.

Full schedule information for the Traverse City tournament can be found here, and scores, stats and other info are available through Pointstreak here.

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