Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

Hockey's Headwaters

Hockey’s Headwaters: Mann re-signs, Johnston to Sweden, more

Rob Mann reacts to scoring a goal during the 2016 Three Rivers Classic. -- BRIAN MITCHELL

Former Robert Morris captain Rob Mann has re-signed with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies for the 2017-18 season. Mann originally signed with the Reading Royals after his senior season, but did not play a game in Reading. He then landed with the Grizzlies, where he played two games and recorded his first professional point.

Mann set career highs with three goals and eight assists in 36 games as a senior in 2016-17.

QUALIFYING OFFERS SENT OUT

Mann joins 2016 graduate Chase Golightly (Reading) as former Colonials with ECHL contract for next season. Earlier this month, Adam Brace, David Friedmann and Cody Wydo were all extended qualifying offers.

Wydo, a 2015 RMU alum, was qualified by the Nailers, where he has skated ever since leaving RMU. In parts of three season with the Nailers, Wydo has posted 116 points in 138 games. Last season, he led the club with 30 goals and was tied for the team lead with 60 points. He also got his first taste of AHL hockey, as he was loaned to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for three games and scored one goal.

Brace has an offer to re-join Golightly in Reading after doing a lot of bouncing around in this three pro seasons. After graduating in 2013, Brace played for the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. In 2014-15, he played for the Charlotte Checkers and Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL and the Cincinnati Cyclones and Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. He was back in Florida in 2014-15, spent 2015-16 in Germany and then played for Florida and the Orlando Solar Bears before landing in Reading toward the end of the 2016-17 season.

Two local players also received qualifying offers. The Quad City Mallards qualified Pittsburgh defenseman Alexander Kuqali. Kuqali, an RIT alum and Pittsburgh native, split his first professional season between Florida and Quad City and 16 assists in 63 games.

Valencia native Ty Loney was qualified by the Adirondack Thunder. Loney played 36 games with the Thunder last season, scoring 18 goals and 40 points. He also earned two call-ups to the AHL, playing four games with the Albany Devils and 20 with the Chicago Wolves.

ANOTHER ACROSS THE POND

Friedmann played 40 games with the Wichita Thunder last season after coming over in a mid-season trade from Fort Wayne. Though he was qualified by the Thunder, he has already reached an agreement to play overseas with HK Nitra of the Slovak Extraliga, where he will join fellow 2016 RMU alum Matt Cope.

Friedmann had 27 points in 67 ECHL games between the Thunder and Komets last season. He also had four goals in eight games with Fort Wayne after the end of his senior season in 2015-16.

Cope joined HK Nitra mid-season last year and put up 23 points in 29 games.

JOHNSTON CONTINUES CAREER

It isn’t just the men of RMU’s 2017 graduating class that are moving on. Forward Mackenzie Johnston has signed her first professional contract with SDE HF of the Swedish Women’s Hockey League.

Johnston had an injury-plagued senior season with the Colonials. She played in just 25 games — a career low — while posting six points. She frequently skated in a bottom-six role and wore a knee brace for most of the season.

Before her senior year, Johnston had been a productive player for the Colonials, posting back-to-back 10-goal, 20-point seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

HOCKEY IN THE SUMMERTIME

Upper St. Clair native and Penn State forward Matt Mendelson scored a goal in USA’s 12-3 win over Russia.

The Americans are 1-1 after dropping their first game to Canada. RMU defenseman Eric Israel is also on the squad. They play Israel on Monday.

In Australia, former RMU center Joe Harcharik had a goal and an assist as the Newcastle North Stars beat the Sydney Bears, 5-3 on July 8. Harcharik now has 26 points in 16 games with the North Stars.

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