Compean has immediate goals for Flint
January 21, 2013
Second-year defenseman Compean has immediate goals for Flint
Even though the Flint Jr. Generals have hit a rough patch in recent weeks when it comes to winning games, veteran defenseman Alex Compean is hardly worried. The 19-year-old Monroe native was part of last season’s regular-season championship team and wants to taste the same success this spring. “This year is a little different than last year,” admitted Compean. “We aren't clicking as soon as we did last year, but I feel that we will break through and go on a great streak right into the playoffs.”
Selected by Flint in the 2011 NA3HL draft out of Monroe High School, Compean felt his senior season with Monroe helped him prepare for the junior hockey grind. “My head coach, Isaac Murphy, taught me how to be a defensive defender,” explained Compean. “I also had a friend that played on the Generals during my senior season of high school and I emailed (Flint scout) Doug Bailey and asked if I could practice with the team. Then I got drafted, made the team and here we are. I couldn’t be happier. “I heard nothing but good things about the organization and (owner) Kelly (Cronk) treats us all like we are professionals. The staff brings in players that can fill in certain roles which overall helps us win games.”
Winning games is ultimately what every player strives for and that is no different in Flint and for Compean, who has his eyes on advancing past the NA3HL next year. ”My short-term goals are to have a great second part of this season, win the Hurster Cup and go to nationals,” said Compean. “Long-term, I would like to play competitive college hockey.”
Just look at the Jr. Generals’ alumni list. If ever there was an organization that consistently develops players for the next level, it’s happening in Flint.
Second year vet Barile happy with role
December 18, 2012
Second-year vet Barile happy with role, being teammates with younger brother
Casey Barile moved to Flint last year to play for the Jr. Generals and found the hockey and the area a tad different than what he was used to in suburban St. Louis .
After winning the NA3HL regular-season title in 2011-12, Barile found his way back to Flint for second tour of duty this year.
“So far we are doing pretty good, but there are a few games that I feel should have gone our way but didn’t,” said Barile. “That’s all part of being a team.”
Barile is joined on the team this season by his younger brother, Ted, a rookie goaltender, who has helped with the transition to new coach Steve Howard. The two live in the same billet house, too.
”It’s awesome and I love playing with Ted,” said Barile. “We played high school hockey together, but I never thought juniors would allow us to be on the same squad.
”Coming into this year, I think I was more nervous than I was last year because of the new coach . I had no idea what to expect or how he was going to be running things, but it’s been great the first couple months.”
As a third- or fourth-line forward, Barile said he is comfortable in his role and said he’ll do anything for team ownership that has given him so much already.
”My role as a grinder is to get the puck deep and change, bang the body and play on the penalty kill,” Barile said. “The Cronks put in so much hard work and they make you know what to expect the second you walk through the locker room doors.”
Down the line, Barile wants to hoist the Hurster Cup next spring and eventually move on to college hockey and eventually into coaching.
Strong penalty killing Odom's biggest asset to Flint
December 12, 2012
Strong penalty killing Odom’s biggest asset to Flint
Most anyone can score goals and most anyone can break up a rush up ice. Goalies have their jobs and fourth-liners have their jobs.
But for the Flint Jr. Generals, third-year veteran James Odom prides himself on getting on the ice when his team is down a man, or sometimes two.
“I feel like my role right now as a 20-year-old on the team is to play solid defensively and help the new guys get used to this league,” Odom said. “My forte has always been penalty killing.” Joining the Jr. Generals back in 2010, Odom came with several teammates of his from the Tri City Icehawks, where former Flint coach Jeff Worlton had coached prior to being named the Jr. Generals’ bench boss. Worlton was named an assistant coach with the NAHL’s Corpus Christi IceRays over the summer.
“Before I came to the Generals, I really didn't know anything about the team,” admitted Odom. “All I knew was that they were in the CSHL at the time, but in my three years here, I have learned so much more about the team and the league. “I think Flint has a great program. The coaching staff is always working very hard at recruiting. I feel like the program is based on hard work and with hard work, we have done well. When other players see that we do, well, they want to come here and play, too.”
A native of Saginaw , Odom said his hometown is “a lot like Flint , just bigger.” “I feel that Flint has been more of a hockey city, but Saginaw is definitely catching up,” Odom said.
Done with junior hockey after the 2012-13 season, Odom has aspirations to keep playing not only next year, but for many years to come. ”I really want to play college hockey and maybe one day play professionally somewhere,” said Odom. “I see myself playing college hockey and studying medicine in the next five years.”
And remember – college and pro hockey always needs penalty-killers, too.
Veteran McDiarmid playing confident
November 25, 2012
Flint veteran McDiarmid playing confident game for Jr. Generals
Like many North American 3 Hockey League players, Luke McDiarmid made the jump from high school hockey to Junior A, and after an adjustment period at the start of last season, McDiarmid is experiencing success this year with the Flint Jr. Generals. Drafted by Flint in the 2011 NA3HL draft, McDiarmid skated the 2010-11 season for the Traverse City Bay Reps before hoping to take his game to the North American Hockey League.
It was while at an NAHL camp in 2011 that the Flint brass noticed the Alden, Mich. , native.
”After some teams in higher leagues fell through, I wanted to continue my hockey career and Flint felt like the right choice,” McDiarmid said. “I actually knew a lot about Flint before coming here being that the majority of my family hails from Flint , so in a way, I feel like I’m at home playing here being around extended family. I love the area here. Flint has a bad rep for being dangerous, but as long as you’re smart, you can still have a good time living in Flint and playing juniors here.”
As a second-year forward with Flint , the 19-year-old McDiarmid is playing a more confident game this season and attributes that to knowing the ins and outs of the NA3HL and what to expect from the Jr. Generals’ brass.
“Compared to last year, I feel like I don’t worry as much about making mistakes,” said McDiarmid. “On a team level, I feel that we have more talent than last year and we’re just trying to match last year’s work ethic.” On the ice, McDiarmid knows his role and plays it to a ‘T.’ “I think I have a mixed role on the team this year,” explained McDiarmid, who wants to play college hockey in the future. “I am a grinder at heart, but am looked at to make room for my linemates to score and put up points in the process. I try to lead by example, whether it’s a big hit or just an energetic shift to get the momentum back into my team’s hands. I love the role I play in Flint . It’s why I love the game.” Another positive in McDiarmid’s NA3HL career is simply being in the Jr. Generals’ organization. Players past and present have routinely said Flint has been a turning point in their advancement process and McDiarmid wants to use the Jr. Generals as a stepping stone to higher levels of hockey.
“I think the reason our organization has a winning mentality comes from the top of our ownership,” stated McDiarmid. “Kelly Cronk demands success along with coach (Steve) Howard and it rubs off onto the players. We have systems and game plans that we try to execute day in and day out and I think that’s why we are successful. “From the vets to the rookies, we are expected to win and nothing less.”
Jones on playing for Jr. Generals
October 31, 2012
Jones on playing for Jr. Generals: “I love being here"
In the 2012 calendar year, Eric Jones has gone from Traverse City to Sault Ste. Marie to Flint – with no complaints along the way. As a matter of fact, Jones admitted that he is actually happy playing this season in the NA3HL with the Flint Jr. Generals rather than up a notch in the NAHL. Needless to say, the 19-year-old from Traverse City has a realistic approach to the game and his abilities.
“On a personal level, the hockey here in Flint is a great fit for me,” Jones said. “It is a step below the North American League where I played last season (with the Traverse City North Stars), but I struggled last year and so I think this level is good for me.”
Jones joined the Jr. Generals after getting released by the NAHL’s Soo Eagles (the relocated North Stars) and receiving an invitation from Flint coach Steve Howard to come and skate with the team to see what he thought. “After quickly developing a strong rapport with coach and the guys, I decided to stay put,” said Jones. “Prior to signing with Flint and playing my first few games in the NA3, I wasn't too familiar with the league. I knew it was a tough league, but that was about all I knew. A good friend of mine, Luke McDiarmid, who is also on the team, played for Flint last year and I know he is a talented player and he had nothing but good things to say about Flint so I took his word for it. “Since I have been here in Flint , everything I expected is here. The league has fast play and is a very physical league. Coach Howard is a great coach and I love being here.”
Jones said that his fondness for the game started at a young age and has continued to the present. “When I was three years old, my mom would take me to Mom-and-Tot skates every week and that was the start of my love of the game,” said Jones. “I started Mites at age four and no other game ever compared to the excitement or fun of hockey.”
With 10 points over his first seven games in a Jr. Generals’ uniform, Jones’ offense has been in full force, but showing his mature side, Jones would rather look at the big picture. “Since I have been here, what I think that has made us so successful is our style of play,” explained Jones. “When we stick to our game plan and play our game, we are a very tough team to play against. In the seven games in which I've played, we have won six and lost one in a shootout. Penalties kill us, but when we play five-on-five, we're unstoppable. Having a coach that cares so much about his players is also a perk.
“My expectations for the team this year are pretty simple. We are in second place in our division right now and I would love to go to the league championship and win that and keep going to win a national championship. We definitely have the talent and heart to win it all more so than any team I've ever played for. “If a national championship team is in my future, this might just be the year.”
Jr. Generals' Gnagni made right choice to play in Flint
Jr. Generals’ Gnagni made right choice to play in Flint
By Matt Mackinder
After the Chicago Hitmen organization folded following the 2011-12 season, forward Nick Gnagni was left without a place to play for the 2012-13 season.
It didn’t take long for the 19-year-old Chicago-area native to find a home, though. “I had a few options, but after talking with ( Flint scout) Doug Bailey and (head coach) Steve Howard, I made my decision and came to Flint to play,” said Gnagni. “All my teammates are great and we all gel really well together. We are turning into a family.”
With the Hitmen, Gnagni was second in team scoring with 20 goals and 40 points. This season in Flint , he has 12 points through 11 games. “I would have to consider myself a playmaker,” Gnagni said. “I like to set my teammates up with goals and I think I see the ice pretty well. Flint is a blue collar-type town and I think our team reflects that. We pride ourselves on hard work, dedication, and effort. We are always trying to better ourselves and one another.”
When asked to compare Flint to Chicago in terms of hockey, Gnagni gave a rather surprising answer. “I would say Flint is more of a hockey town than Chicago ,” said Gnagni. “There seems to be more support from the community here than in Chicago and I think a lot of that in Flint starts with team ownership. The Cronks have done an amazing job with the organization. We have our own bus for road trips. We get hot meals on the road and the hotels are very nice. We have our own locker room. “They take care of us like we are some of their own.” Gnagni feels the Jr. Generals have a solid team this year and like the old adage, team success can breed personal success and that’s always on Gnagni’s mind.
“I hope I can be a leader on the team, maybe be among the league leaders in points, help my team reach the playoffs and play for a chance at the Hurster Cup,” said Gnagni. “I would like to be able to play at the next level of hockey, whether that’s a higher tier of juniors or college hockey, and get an education.” If Gnagni can do that, he’ll join an ever-evolving list of Jr. Generals who used the league as a springboard to higher levels of hockey.
Flint veteran Osowski piling up points, doing job in own end
October 19, 2012
Eddie Osowski is in Flint to play for the Jr. Generals for two reasons – win and move on to the next level.
Sounds simple enough, right? Admittedly, the city of Flint is “nothing like back home in New Jersey,” but for Osowski, it doesn’t need to be like his hometown of Montclair, N.J. “There is a lot more to do back home in terms of malls, the shore and even taking a quick train ride into New York City,” said the 19-year-old Osowski. “In the end, none of that really matters because I'm here to play hockey like the rest of my teammates, so the rink and gym are good enough for me. It has been a lot of fun living away from home and has definitely been a very good experience.”
Two weeks ago, Osowski was named the NA3HL’s 2nd Star of the Week after Flint posted a weekend home sweep of the Three Rivers Vengeance, scoring seven goals in the process. Osowski figured in on five of those seven goals with two goals and three assists. “There are certain players that find themselves around the puck and Ed is one of those guys,” boasted Jr. Generals’ coach Steve Howard. “He has a sense about where to be and it helps him and his teammates. He is very creative with and without the puck.”
Not too shabby for a player who goes just 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds . “Being smaller, I have always focused on my skating a little more than other aspects making sure I was shifty and pretty fast,” explained Osowski. “I have also become a rather chippy player and don't take crap from opposing players.” With 14 points through his first nine games this season, Osowski is on pace to eclipse his 24 goals and 62 points of a year ago. Last spring, Osowski was named to Team East and played in the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament in Frisco, Tex., where he added two more goals and an assist in four games. “I feel that from my success last year, it has given me even more confidence in my game,” Osowski said. “Also being around some veterans like Warren Carter and Andrew Lay (last year), I learned some leadership qualities that will help me be a leader for this year’s team. My long-term hockey goal is to play competitive college hockey and after that, we will see what happens.
“So far from a personal standpoint, I feel the season has started off in the right direction for me. I'm putting up points like I am expected to, as well as locking down defensively when needed. Now as a team, the season started a little rocky, but we have made some changes and picked up a few players making us a much stronger team.” And as is the case with most players that come through the doors of Iceland Arena, Osowski is quick to praise the Jr. Generals’ ownership group in the father and son tandem of Gale and Kelly Cronk.
“We are most definitely treated like professionals,” said Osowski. “The Cronks do everything they can to help us get to the next level. A lot is expected of us on and off the ice and with success comes reward. “My expectations for this season are to finish where we left off last year and with nationals in the picture, now that makes one more goal for us to strive to achieve.”
Flint veteran Lay wants to ‘win it all’ with Jr. Generals
October 11, 2012
Andrew Lay wants to finish his junior career on a high note for the Flint Jr. Generals.
Truth be told, Lay actually thought he would be playing college hockey this season, but after a Division III opportunity fell through, he was more than happy to come back to Flint . “My season here in Flint is going great and the guys on the team have welcomed me back and have treated me well,” said Lay. “I have gotten off to a great start so far, which is surprising to me because I was preparing myself for a college season that doesn’t start until mid-October and having to jump right in and start playing here in Flint wasn’t what I was expecting.”
Lay has recorded 16 points in six games heading into this weekend to lead the team and was second in team scoring with 65 points in 2011-12. “I plan on treating my last year of juniors just like any other year trying to improve my game and get better each day,” Lay said. “I will do the same thing that I have done in my two years here in Flint and that is going to the gym after practice and showing up early to the rink. “I believe that my time here in Flint has made me realize that I need to play both ends of the ice. Coming from high school hockey, I only focused on the offensive side of the ice and at first, I would hurt my team because of that, but over the past two years I have developed into a better hockey player because of my defensive play, which has made me an all-around better player. “What makes playing for Flint special and unique is simply the gentlemen that run our organization, Kelly and Gale Cronk. They have treated the team and me great over my last two years here.”
Playing in the NA3HL has also been a boom to Lay’s development as well.
“The NA3 has helped my development as a player by year in and year out each team putting together the best young talent that they can,” explained Lay. “This is a great developmental league for any young and up-and-coming player that has dreams of playing in the NAHL or playing college hockey and that has not only helped me as a player, but many of my teammates who are now playing in the NA or playing college hockey.”
With the season now in full swing, Lay has a positive outlook for the Jr. Generals and won’t settle for anything less than a championship. “My expectations for this year’s team are to win it all this year,” said Lay. “Last year, we fell short and I believe it was due to the lack of experience. This year, with the amount of returners we have coming back and other guys who have played in the league will be just what we need to go all the way this year. For my individual goals, I believe those will go with the team success that we will have this year. “I would like to be atop the leading scorers list this year, but again, that is secondary to what I really want and that is to bring a championship back here to Flint .”
Goettel says Flint is ‘best fit,’ Jr. Generals ‘so special and unique’
October 11, 2012
Nick Goettel joined the Flint Jr. Generals right out of high school for the 2011-12 season and said suiting up in the Flint colors was a situation he thought about often.
As a native of nearby Davison, Goettel followed the Flint Generals pro team and dreamed of one day playing for that club. In 2010 when the Generals folded, that left a void in the Flint area and even after the North American Hockey League’s Michigan Warriors assumed the tenancy at Perani Arena, Goettel felt the Jr. Generals could also give the area competitive hockey to root for. “From a personal standpoint, playing for the Flint Jr. Generals is so special and unique to me because I grew up watching the Flint Generals and as a little kid, I always thought how special it would be to play for them one day and to become a part of such a great tradition,” Goettel said. “When the Flint Generals were taken away from Perani Arena a couple years ago, it was a sad period of time for Flint hockey fans. Now, I truly believe that the Flint Jr. Generals have replaced that tradition and we have started a new tradition of our own. “Playing for Flint is so unique because we have such an awesome group of guys from all over the country. It is special to see such a diverse group of people come together and fight for one another day in and day out.”
After a solid rookie season on the Flint blue line in 2011-12 with the Jr. Generals, Goettel weighed his options for the 2012-13 season, but when all was said and done, there was only one place he wanted to play.
“I did have a couple other opportunities over the summer, but I knew Flint was the best fit for me for a lot of reasons,” said Goettel. “Kelly and Gale Cronk treat all of the players like we're professional athletes and I know I wouldn't get that kind of treatment playing anywhere else. Kelly always takes care of us like we're his own, so I found myself very loyal to the Cronk family. Also, I worked with coach Howie ( Flint head coach Steve Howard) during most of the summer with the STRIDA Hockey program that goes on out at Iceland Arenas. Working with him for that period of time showed me that he was a great coach and that he knew what he was talking about with every single aspect of the game. We had a really good season last year with a great group of guys, but we came up short to reaching our ultimate goal of winning the Hurster Cup. I knew I wanted to come back to Flint so we could finish our goal from last season. “ Flint is a great organization and I couldn't be prouder to be a Flint Jr. General.”
So far this season, the 19-year-old Goettel has seven points in eight games.
“My season has gone just as I expected and I believe I have been playing very well, but I know that there is always going to be room for improvement,” said Goettel. “From a team standpoint, I believe we are all starting to buy in and become a true team. There have been a lot of positives so far, but everyone on the team knows that we haven't reached our full potential just yet. We did just complete our first sweep over this past weekend (at home against Three Rivers) and I think it had a lot to do with everyone coming together as one and buying into coach Howie's systems.” When looking at what the NA3HL offers its players, Goettel alluded to the league’s track record of moving players on to higher levels of hockey.
The NA3HL has done a lot for my development as a hockey player and I noticed right away last year that it was a whole different game from high school hockey,” said Goettel. “Every single aspect of my game has gotten better from playing in this league simply because of its competitiveness between the teams and the overall skill level of the players. I feel like I'm getting better each and every day. Every single player in this league shares the same goal that I do and that is to play college hockey. That is what makes playing in the NA3HL so great.”
Goettel is also hoping to have another stellar season in Flint and he is putting pressure on himself to be a leader for the Jr. Generals and help make that happen. ”We have a lot of expectations for the rest of the season,” Goettel said. “We definitely want to become one of the best and most talked about teams in the entire league. Just like last year, we expect to win the regular season. We want teams to be afraid to play us and with this group of guys that we have, there is no doubt in our minds that we can make that happen. As for bigger goals, we want to win the Silver Cup and establish that we are clearly the best team in the NA3HL. “Our expectations are high and we have a lot of work to do, but we all know we're capable of reaching them.”