Colgate Alum Making His Mark in the NHL

Greg Mole

Teemu Selanne is all the rage in Anaheim. Reunited with his former team, the 35-year-old perennial All-Star is turning back the clock. Among the league leaders in points, he has netted nine goals and seven assists thus far. But overlooked in the resurrection of Selanne and the Mighty Ducks is the fine play of Colgate alum Andy McDonald ’00.

McDonald has never been one to put up gaudy numbers as a pro. In his four-year NHL career, the former Raider center has registered only 27 goals and 53 assists. He has also missed significant time due to injury, including the last 29 games of the regular season and the playoffs when the Mighty Ducks made the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003.

This year, however, McDonald is making his presence felt. In 12 games, the center has six goals and four assists. At only 5’10” and 174 lbs, he is small for an NHL center, but offsets this deficiency with speed and finesse. Playing alongside Selanne, who scored 76 goals in his rookie season for the Winnipeg Jets, is an immense bonus, and this has the makings of a breakout year for the young forward.

With Selanne and McDonald scoring, the Mighty Ducks have started coming on as of late. Although the team won its season opener, it lost several of its next games and quickly fell behind in the standings. Although the Ducks only sport a 6-5-1 record, this is the first time since the opener that they have been over .500. Their last win, a game in which McDonald scored, was over the Nashville Predators, a team that has lost only twice all season and is third in the Western Conference with 17 points.

The Ducks’ fortunes should improve even more as the season goes on. High-scoring forward, Sergei Federov, and productive defenseman, Sandis Ozolinsh, have been on the shelf with injuries. Their returns will help take the pressure off Selanne and McDonald, and will add to an already potent offense.

While McDonald is starting to find a rhythm in his hockey career, several other Colgate alums – Joey Mormina ’05, Steve Silverthorn ’05 and Matt Nicholson ’04 – have recently signed contracts and been assigned to minor league teams.

Mormina made his presence felt in a big way as a first-year defender at Colgate, so much so that the hulking blue liner was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the sixth round (193rd overall) of the 2002 draft. After opting to stay with the Raiders, he now joins the Los Angeles Kings organization as a free agent. Mormina will play the 2005-2006 season with the Manchester (NH) Monarchs of the American Hockey League (AHL) and is predicted to get a shot at the pros in a few seasons.

Goaltender Steve Silverthorn has been picked up by the Dallas Stars and will play the 2005-2006 season for their AHL affiliate, the Iowa Stars. A standout goalie and three-year starter with the Raiders, Silverthorn went 24-10-3 last season, and posted a .921 goals-against average. His overall record at Colgate was 55-30-9.

Nicholson is in his second year in the Central Hockey League. As a rookie last season on the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, the defenseman notched three goals and 10 assists. At 6’0” and 205 lbs, Nicholson offers size as well as a knack for coming up big in the clutch: of his three goals last season, two were game-winners. Taken from the Mudbugs in an expansion draft, he will join the Youngstown (OH) Steelhounds for their inaugural season.

In the recent past, Colgate has not had much success with players making it to the pros. Steve Poapst ’91 has been in the league a number of years as a defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins, but he is an exception. Although the trio of Mormina, Silverthorn and Nicholson are still years away from a potential move to the NHL, each has a chance to make an impact on his new team. With Andy McDonald paving the way for these new prospects, Colgate is looking to make its mark on the NHL.