Former NCAA Stars Chase Calder Cup

As Grand Rapids, Syracuse meet for AHL title, college alums are prominent on both rosters.
Andrej Sustr is four wins from a Calder Cup after spending most of this season with Nebraska-Omaha.

Former college hockey stars play prominent roles on both rosters as the Grand Rapids Griffins and Syracuse Crunch face off for the AHL's Calder Cup, with their best-of-seven series beginning Saturday.

Six alums have appeared for each team in the playoffs, representing 11 schools. Nebraska-Omaha, with Jeff Hoggan on the Griffins and Andrej Sustr on the Crunch, has alums who have skated for each team.

Ferris State has the most representation, however, between Griffins rookie Chad Billins, Crunch backup goaltender Pat Nagle and Grand Rapids head coach Jeff Blashill. 

Three rookies who all played in the CCHA last season lead Grand Rapids' group of collegians, with former Michigan captain Luke Glendening tied for second on the team with 13 points in 18 playoff games. Billins, another rookie, leads all Griffins defensemen with 11 points, one more than former Notre Dame center Riley Sheahan.

Grand Rapids received a boost when Detroit was eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs and former Maine star Gustav Nyquist joined the team. Another potential addition could be former Western Michigan star Danny DeKeyser, who was injured while with the Red Wings.

Lightning in a bottle

Many of the Syracuse players - including Minnesota Duluth's J.T. Brown and Dartmouth's J.T. Wyman - are seeking their second consecutive Calder Cup after winning last year with the Norfolk Admirals. The Tampa Bay Lightning switched AHL affiliates last offseason but success has continued in Syracuse. 

Other alums contributing include Bowling Green's Dan Sexton, who is third on the team in scoring, and Providence's Matt Taormina, who leads all AHL players at +15.

Sustr, who spent most of this season with Nebraska-Omaha, ranks second among AHL rookies at +9, trailing only Princeton alum Taylor Fedun of Oklahoma City (+12).

League leaders

Fedun's teammate, former Yale Bulldog Mark Arcobello, finished the playoffs leading the AHL in goals (12) and tied for the lead in points (20).

In all, former college players represent:

  • 8 of the top 20 scorers in the playoffs
  • 9 of the top 19 rookie scorers
  • 6 of the top 12 players in plus/minus
  • 6 of the top 11 players in shots on goal
  • 9 of the 18 goalies who have played at least 60 minutes

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