Michi-gamer: Pride of the Mitten (Week of March 18)

Welcome to another season of MiHockey’s Michi-gamer, now powered by Bauer Hockey.

We take great pride in our homegrown talent. Whether they grew up in the Mitten or we welcomed them here for college or juniors, they are our own. They represent the best place in the world for hockey.

Every night, we’ll keep an eye on those players, and every morning, we will pick one Michi-gamer of the night – one Michigan player who stood out above the rest.


MARCH 22 – JORDIE JOHNSTON

Former Ferris State star Jordie Johnston had a big night last night, helping his Greenville Road Warriors to a 5-4 win over the Orlando Solar Bears. Johnston had two goals and was +4 in the shootout victory, which means he was on the ice for all four of his team’s goals, and none of the opposition’s. Oh yeah, and to top it off, Johnston was the first shooter for the Road Warriors in the shootout, and he scored there, too. The former Bulldog now has 22 goals and 22 assists in 53 games, along with a +16 on the season.

More MiHockey articles on Johnston:

Michi-gamer: Pride of the Mitten (Week of Dec. 10)

Johnston, Denis lead Ferris State to second round


MARCH 21 – JEFF ZATKOFF

Can’t fault the goalie when the boys in front of him don’t score any goals. Detroit native Jeff Zatkoff stopped 26 of 27 for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last night, only to see his team get shut out by a score of 1-0. Zatkoff gave up one goal early in the second period, and that’s all for the contest, but unfortunately his record dropped despite a strong showing. On the season, Zatkoff, a Miami RedHawks alum, now holds a 20-19-3 record with the AHL affiliate of the Penguins. His individual stats are far more impressive; Zatkoff holds a 2.01 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

More MiHockey articles on Zatkoff:

Michi-gamer: Pride of the Mitten (Week of Dec. 3)

Zatkoff, Kennedy take home AHL awards

Michi-gamer: Pride of the Mitten (Week of Nov. 19)


MARCH 20 – CHRIS MUELLER

Although it came in a loss, 27-year-old Chris Mueller found the back of the net for the first time in his NHL career and in only his second game this season. In a wild 4-3 loss to Columbus, the former Michigan State Spartan scored one of two late goals with two minutes remaining in the game to bring the Nashville Predators to within a goal. While it wasn’t an end-to-end rush that many players dream of having for their first, Mueller drove hard through the middle, one-timed a pass from just behind the net over the glove of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Mueller’s goal took only 21 career games, in which he also has three helpers that he recorded back in his 15-game rookie campaign (2010-11). Over the past two seasons, Mueller has seen some time with the Preds, but most of his career has been spent in the AHL, where he has found a scoring niche. In his past two AHL seasons with Nashville’s affiliate in Milwaukee, Mueller has amassed 56 goals and 110 points in 140 games. This season, he has 36 points in 55 games.


MARCH 19 – ERIC NYSTROM

Former Wolverines star Eric Nystrom had a big goal for the Dallas Stars Monday night, making him our Michi-gamer selection for Tuesday morning. Nystrom, who played for Michigan from 2001-2005, scored late in the first period to give the Stars a 2-0 lead – a lead they would never relinquish.  Nystrom started the rush up ice, dished a saucer pass to Jaromir Jagr, then ended up regaining possession of the puck in front of the Calgary goal, and fired the puck past former Red Wing Joey MacDonald for the goal. It was the third goal of the season for Nystrom, who played for the U.S. NTDP in Ann Arbor before joining the Wolverines.

More MiHockey articles on Nystrom:

Michi-gamer: The pride of the Mitten (2011-12 archive)


MARCH 18 – JUSTIN ABDELKADER

The Vancouver Canucks hosted the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night, donning maroon and off-white heritage sweaters akin to those worn by the 1914-15 Stanley Cup-winning Vancouver Millionaires. However, the Red Wings played spoiler in Vancouver, with Muskegon native Justin Abdelkader stealing the show. The 26-year-old Abdelkader potted a pair of goals, the first and last for Detroit, en route to a 5-2 victory, as the Red Wings have put 13 goals past Roberto Luongo and the Canucks in two games this season. There were question marks about the Muskegon native even being able to play Saturday night; the day before, Abdelkader suffered a bad cut across his foot. Wrapped up with some extra padding, the former Spartan made it work, and his first goal even came by him driving to the Vancouver goal, and the puck hitting that very foot and bouncing into the net. His second goal came in an unconventional fashion, as well, as the puck struck Abdelkader’s body and found its way past Luongo. Abdelkader now has three goals and one assists in 29 games for Detroit. Prior to joining the NHL, Abdelkader earned Mr. Hockey honors playing high school hockey for Mona Shores. He then went on to enjoy a successful collegiate career at Michigan State, winning an NCAA national championship in 2007.

More MiHockey articles on Abdelkader:

Abdelkader talks training camp, urgency to prepare for shortened season

MiHockey’s annual ’50 Most Influential People in Michigan Hockey’

Abdelkader guest stars at Red Wings Youth Camp


To see last week’s Michi-gamer nominations, click here.

This week’s Michi-gamer list assembled by MiHockey’s Stefan Kubus and Michael Caples.