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7 selected in USHL Draft
The AAA Blue Jackets today had seven players drafted in phase...
Growing a Sport - by Aaron Portzline Columbus Dispatch
Growing a sport | Hockey: Local programs are producing elite players Pro,...
NHL Officiating Exposure Combine
Attention Midget aged Hockey Players : NHL to host Amateur...
Former Olympian, Chesson, joins U19 Girls Coaching Staff
The Ohio AAA Blue Jackets are pleased to announce the addition of...
Jason Tackett Commits to Ferris State
    On March 12th, Ohio Blue Jacket alum and current...
Blake Edwards Named to Second Team All NESCAC
  For the second season in a row Ohio Blue Jackets Alum and...
U18s Come Home Champions
  The U18s headed to Blaine, Minnesota this weekend for the...
Kole Sherwood Commits to Boston University
  Committing to play hockey at Boston University was a no-brainer...
Big Weekend For The Organization
    Last weekend many of our teams came up big in...
Big Weekend for the U16 Boys
The U16 AAA Ohio Blue Jackets capped off a perfect weekend  at...
Catching Up With Connor Murphy
  On January 3, 2015 we traveled to Arizona to see alum Connor...
The Season of Giving
  We are officially in the heart of the season of giving....
More Than Just A Fundraiser
people   U18s Zach Tyson and Brock Rumbaugh participated in...
Coach Cassels Speaks Out About Mental Health Awareness
    Coach Andrew Cassels has joined forces with his...
Austin Pooley Commits to The Ohio State University
  Former AAA Ohio Blue Jacket, Austin Pooley, committed to...
Past Success in the NHL Draft
  From the moment little boys lace up their first pair of...
2014-15 Boys Head Coaches Announced
The Ohio AAA Blue Jackets are pleased to announce the boys Head Coaches...
A good read for hockey parents
7 selected in USHL Draft

The AAA Blue Jackets today had seven players drafted in phase 2 of the USHL draft.

U18 Defensemen Nick Jenny and Brendon Demler went back-to-back in the first round. Jenny was at No. 11 by Omaha and Demler went No. 12 to Des Moines.

Also drafted were: 

- Center Mitch Perrault, by Omaha, in the 6th round, No. 93 overall

- Center, Jason Tackett, by Youngstown, in the 9th round, No. 147 overall

- Left Wing, Walker Sommer, by Des Moines, in the 10th round, No. 149 overall

- Right Wing, Chase Gresock, by Youngstown, in the 13th round, No. 211th overall

- Goaltender Grant Valentine, by Des Moines, in the 15th round, No. 230 overall

The USHL is the U.S. equivalent of the Canadian Major Junior program, and it sends scores of players into the NHL draft each year.


by posted 05/06/2015
Growing a Sport - by Aaron Portzline Columbus Dispatch

Growing a sport | Hockey: Local programs are producing elite players

Pro, college scouts are noticing talent in this hockey hotbed


9/20/14 - Since moving to Columbus nine years ago, Ed Gingher has told anybody who would listen — even those with an eyebrow raised — that central Ohio is a burgeoning hotbed of hockey talent.

The pool of elite players has been growing for almost two decades, in fact, triggered by the proliferation of suburban hockey rinks in the area and the arrival in 2000 of the Blue Jackets as an NHL expansion team.

The math is simple: interest plus opportunity equals participation.

Greater participation — roughly 5,000 central Ohio kids play amateur hockey, vs. about 150 in the early 1990s — means better competition.

“And where there’s better competition,” Gingher said, “the talent gets better and better.”

Since 2006, the former general manager of the minor-league Dayton Bombers has run the program that oversees the best talent in central Ohio.

Gingher is program coordinator of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets, founded eight years ago (with funding from the NHL team) to help elite players pursue their dream of playing big-time hockey.

“When you’ve got thousands of kids playing hockey, and when they’re well-coached at every level, you’re going to have some special players emerge,” Gingher said. “That’s what is happening in Columbus. It shouldn’t surprise people much longer.”

Defenseman Connor Murphy, 21, of Dublin is expected to be a regular for the Arizona Coyotes this season.

Two other central Ohio prospects — Trent Vogelhuber, 26, of Dublin (Blue Jackets) and Cole Cassels, 19, of Lewis Center (Vancouver Canucks) — are in NHL training camps. Another, 21-year-old, Sean Kuraly of Dublin, would be in camp with the San Jose Sharks if he weren’t enrolled for his junior year at Miami University.

Meanwhile, Jack Roslovic, 17, of Bexley has begun his second year with the U.S. national team development program, an elite academy in Ann Arbor, Mich., that has produced some of the best U.S.-born NHL players of the last generation. Roslovic is expected to be drafted by an NHL club next summer.

Players born and trained in Columbus have received college scholarships, been selected in the Ontario Hockey League draft — a part of the Canadian major-junior program — and signed professional contracts overseas.

“There are markets in our country where hockey is historically strong,” said Jim Johannson, executive director of USA Hockey. “But the real story of our growth in recent years is in the newly emerging areas in California, Colorado, Texas and, yes, Ohio.

“We’re seeing lots of kids from Columbus now starting to make their way onto the national and international stage. It’s one of our major success stories.”

Vogelhuber is the pioneer of the group, the first player from central Ohio to be taken in the NHL draft. The Blue Jackets selected him with the final pick — No. 211 overall — of the 2007 draft.

Murphy and Kuraly, who grew up as best friends, were part of the U.S. team that won the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.

“We were really proud to be the first ones from Columbus to play there,” Kuraly said. “I’m sure some people looked at the roster and said ‘Columbus? As in Ohio?’ ”

Roslovic, who last summer began a two-year commitment with USA Hockey, is living, training and attending his final two years of high school in Ann Arbor.

The development program — which has produced such NHL stars as Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Toronto’s Phil Kessel, Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler and Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson — selects only the top 20 or so players nationwide each year. Roslovic is the first central Ohioan to be invited.

“The guys just call me ‘Columbus,’ ” he said. “They think that’s a slightly unusual place to be from if you’re a hockey player. But I keep telling them ... get used to it.”

In February, the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets won the prestigious Quebec International PeeWee Tournament for 12- and 13-year-olds. The tournament, the largest of its kind in the world, is the hockey equivalent of the Little League World Series.

“The first wave of talent — with Trent and Connor and Sean and Cole — is now ashore,” Gingher said. “And we think the waves are going to keep coming.”

Staying in Columbus

During a one-hour conversation recently, tears welled twice in Paul Donskov’s eyes.

For more than 25 years, the Westerville resident and his family have run a highly regarded hockey academy, Donskov Hockey Development.

The first tears reflected sadness, at the thought of all the players who, until a few years ago, had to join travel teams in other cities or move out of Columbus to further their hockey careers. Some gave up the dream altogether.

“You just wonder what could have been if they had a chance here in the 1980s and ’90s,” Donskov said. “But there weren’t enough good players, and there wasn’t a program to keep them growing.”

Among those born too soon was Patrick Schafer, whose parents began driving him from Hilliard to Cleveland three days a week in 1999 — he was 12 years old — so he could face better competition.

At 15, Schafer lived with a host family in Cleveland so he could play for the Cleveland Barons of the Midwest Elite Hockey League. The Ohio AAA Blue Jackets were still four years away.

Schafer was the first central Ohio-born player to be recruited by Ohio State, and he’s still being paid to play hockey for the Mississippi RiverKings of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

“But it would have been great to have an opportunity then to stay in Columbus,” Schafer said. “I’m sure my dad would have appreciated it more than anybody. He did all the driving.”

Donskov’s second wave of emotion was on the other end of the spectrum — pure joy.

The best players in the area, many of whom have been taught at his academy, now have a much more advanced, competitive environment to help them succeed.

Eighteen have committed to or accepted scholarships from Division I colleges, and scores of others have moved on to junior programs in Canada or the United States, or are playing at small colleges.

Vogelhuber would have moved to Detroit or Cleveland had the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets not formed.

“I get emotional when I think about how far we’ve come as a hockey town,” Donskov said. “When I think about the opportunities today’s kids have … to realize their dreams. This is why teachers teach and coaches coach.”

Just a generation ago, members of local elite travel teams in the area faced daunting hurdles as the programs struggled for legitimacy.

“Our kids would get up at

4 a.m. in order for us to be in Detroit around 7:30 or 8 a.m.,” said Gord Murphy, Connor’s dad, a former NHL defenseman and a current assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers.

“The only way we could get games up there was to play at those times. It was their way of keeping us in our place.”

Much has changed.

“They come to us now,” Gingher said. “We play home-and-homes with programs that, when we first started, wouldn’t leave their backyards to play us.”

Coming to Columbus

Central Ohio youths who wanted better competition used to find host families in Cleveland, Detroit or Chicago. Now, the opposite holds true.

Jerry Rosburg, an assistant coach for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, knew that his son Jerad would need to leave the Baltimore and Washington area to find better competition.

Two years ago, the Rosburgs picked Columbus and the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets, putting Jerad up with a host family for two years. Jerad plans to play one more season for Sioux City in the United States Hockey League — the U.S. equivalent of Canadian major junior — and then attend Michigan State on a scholarship.

This year, the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets will have three players from Cleveland and one each from Detroit; Washington — and Fairbanks, Alaska.

Yes, 16-year-old Cole Michealis has traveled from Alaska to play in Columbus.

“He did all the research, looked all over the place and said this is where he wants to play,” Gingher said. “Kinda nice.”

The growth in elite-level talent in central Ohio has brought other people to town, too: college recruiters, NHL agents looking for future clients, and even NHL scouts preparing for future drafts.

“There was no reason to stop here before — there was no talent playing in Columbus,” former Ohio State coach John Markell said. “Now, I get phone calls all the time from guys asking me if I’ve seen this guy or that guy.”

NHL agents have “eyes” in Columbus, just as they have had for many years in Minnesota, Michigan, Boston and upstate New York. When the “eyes” see a young player who looks special, a phone call is made.

Most agents say they won’t talk to a player’s family until the player is at least 15 years old. But of the five agents contacted by The Dispatch, four already had heard the names of Anthony Vidrick, who is 12, and his brother Andrew, who is 11. Both starred on the PeeWee team that won in Quebec.

A decade ago, the Vidricks likely would have been making plans to leave Columbus — Detroit? Cleveland? — so their sons could continue to develop.

But those days are done.

“These kids in Columbus now have grown up in a time where they go to Nationwide Arena and touch the dream,” said Anton Thun, an agent who represents NHL players Steve Mason, Dave Bolland, Shawn Thornton and others. “The infrastructure to create and develop players didn’t exist until the NHL arrived.

“If you go back 20 years, Ohio State played in that little rinky-dink, crappy arena, and that was the pinnacle of what Columbus hockey was at the time. It had so far to go, and it’s come a long way.”


by posted 05/06/2015
NHL Officiating Exposure Combine

Attention Midget aged Hockey Players :

NHL to host Amateur Exposure Combine to introduce individuals to Officiating 

The NHL Amateur Exposure Combine will introduce a group of young individuals to officiating. The combine will take place August 13th - 16th, 2015 at the HARBORCENTER in Buffalo, NY. The combine's focus is on Midget level hockey players ages 15-18 with no Officiating experience. 

For more information and to apply visit: 

by posted 04/16/2015
Former Olympian, Chesson, joins U19 Girls Coaching Staff

The Ohio AAA Blue Jackets are pleased to announce the addition of Lisa Chesson to the U19 Girls coaching staff.  Lisa will assist Head Coach John Markell this upcoming season.

Lisa Chesson is a 2010 Olympic Silver Medalist and was a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team for the 2009 International Hockey Federation World Women’s Championship, where she earned a gold medal.   Chesson was also a member of the U.S. Women’s Select Team in both the 2007 and 2008-09 seasons.   She was a member of the U.S. Under-22 Select Team for 2007 and Under-22 series with Canada, along with being a four-time USA Hockey Women’s National Festival Participant and two-time USA Hockey Player Development Camp attendee.

“Lisa brings a wealth of knowledge and experiences that will directly help our girls improve.   As a former USA Olympian, she has played at every level our girls aspire to play at.  We are very excited to have her part of our staff,” added Ed Gingher, Program Coordinator.

Chesson played four years of hockey at The Ohio State University, completing her Buckeye career after the 2007-08 season.  She tallied 27-62-89, ranking ninth in OSU’s record book and fourth among defensemen with her point total.  She tied for 10th in the NCAA among blueliners her senior year, registering .74 points a game, while also being named All-WCHA Second Team.  Chesson was selected as Third Team All-WCHA both her junior and sophomore seasons, her junior season setting career highs in goals (13), assists (24) and points (37).  She was ranked as the sixth defenseman in the nation for points per game and led the Buckeyes with a plus 17 rating.  Chesson skated in 36 games her sophomore season. 

As an Illinois native, she competed for Plainfield Central High School team from 2002-2004, also competing with the Chicago Mission Under-19 Team and Team Illinois. Chesson was the only girl selected to skate in the 2004 boy’s varsity all-star game.  She also received the 2003 Best Defenseman Award at the Chicago Showcase and 2002 Sportsman Award.  Chesson also lettered in track and field.  She recently was inducted into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.

Ohio AAA Blue Jackets U19 Girls begin Friday, April 10th in Columbus.  Click here to register:


by posted 04/07/2015
Jason Tackett Commits to Ferris State

Photo Credit: Kemptville 73s



On March 12th, Ohio Blue Jacket alum and current Kemptville 73s forward, Jason Tackett committed to Ferris State for the 2016-17 season. Committing to play for a Divison 1 college hockey team was a decision to make a dream come true. "It has been my dream to play Division 1 hockey since I was very young," reflected Tackett,"I am extremely excited to be a part of such an amazing program."

After weighting the type of education and hockey program Ferris State has to offer it was easy for Tackett to make his dream a reality. "It really just felt like the right spot for me," explained Tackett,"They play my style and always compete for a WCHA and National Championship which was a big factor in making my decision."

Tackett gives the Ohio Blue Jackets and the Kemptville 73s a lot of credit for preparing him to take the leap to college hockey.

From the Ohio Blue Jackets Tackett learned how to conduct himself on and off the ice. "The main thing I learned from Coach Gingher and the rest of the program was to always conduct myself in a professional manner," said Tackett.

The Kemptville 73s have taught Tackett how to play a more intense hockey game with teammates that are older than him. "You can never take a shift off," Tackett explained,"You have to compete 100% of the time to be able to make it to the next level."

All of these things will help Tackett immensely as he furthers his career in hockey. Maybe he'll even create a new memory to file away next to his favorite Ohio Blue Jackets memory, beating the Cleveland Barons in a shootout in the district semi finals.

by posted 03/14/2015
Blake Edwards Named to Second Team All NESCAC

Photo Credit: @tuftsathletics


For the second season in a row Ohio Blue Jackets Alum and current Tufts Captain, Blake Edwards, was named to the second team all NESCAC. With 3 goals and 7 assists in the 2014-15 season it’s clear to see why Edwards won this prestigious award again.

Upon receiving the award Edwards felt both honored and humbled.  “It is always nice to get awards like that because it feels like a reward for the hard work you’ve done,” explained Edwards, “There are a number of guys on our team that could have gotten the award as well.”

After discussing Edwards second time career achievement, he spoke freely about game day, Tufts Hockey, and being a part of the Ohio Blue Jackets organization.  

Game Day Prep

Edwards takes game day very seriously and follows a strict regimen to get him game ready. Two hours before game time Edwards shows up to the rink and gets changed into his workout clothes. Next, he tapes and prepares his sticks for the upcoming game. When those are ready to go Edwards goes on a hunt to find the perfect place for the team to warmup. When warmups are done, Edwards heads back to the locker room and begins to put on his gear. The right piece goes on first and then the left piece. Edwards even has a specific routine for on ice warmups. “I do certain things in warmups on the ice that would probably make you think I was crazy,” he explained, “but it is all part of my routine.”


Choosing Tufts

Education was a huge factor in Edwards choosing to play hockey at Tufts University. “Academics was the biggest deciding factor when it came to making my decision,” explained Edwards, “Tufts has a stellar reputation when it comes to academics.”


What Tufts Hockey Has Taught Blake Edwards

From being a part of the Tufts Hockey organization Edwards has learned the key to personal success. His explanation of personal success may not be what you thought it would be. “Overall it (Tufts Hockey) has taught me about putting the team before yourself,” explained Edwards, “by doing that you’ll get personal success.” Simple words from a humble captain that lead to big actions.

On Ed Gingher and the OBJ Organization

Edwards spoke freely and openly about his time with the Ohio Blue Jackets. He talked about the way he was treated and how it made him feel. The things Edwards said are a consistent theme of feelings among former and current players.

“The Columbus AAA program really helped me because of the people that are in the organization. They truly care about character when it come to their teams, and that will set anyone up with a good foundation for their future. I owe a lot to Ed Gingher for everything he has done for me even after I had left the AAA organization.”

Favorite OBJ Memory

The Cleveland Barons have been the arch nemesis of the Ohio Blue Jackets since the beginning. Both organizations are constantly battling for the hearts of Ohio. So it’s no surprise that Edwards’ favorite Ohio Blue Jackets memory is when they beat the Barons at the state playoffs in triple overtime. “We had a big crowd for the game that included a bunch of our friends and family,” reflected Edwards, “so it was a lot of fun to win a game like that in front of them.”

Words of Wisdom for the Current OBJ Players

“Have trust in the organization and your coaches. The program has come so far since my time there, and players have more opportunities than anyone else in the program before them. Don’t take these opportunities for granted.”


by posted 03/13/2015
U18s Come Home Champions


The U18s headed to Blaine, Minnesota this weekend for the Tier 1 Elite Playoffs. Teams from across the country were ready to take on the infamous Ohio Blue Jackets. They wanted to prove they could beat the team who has been in the top 10 in the nation pretty much all season. Knowing they were one of the teams to beat at this tournament the Jackets brought their “A” game to Blaine.

Currently the U18 Ohio AAA Blue Jackets are headed back to Columbus with some serious hardware. The U18s are officially the Champions of the Tier 1 Elite playoffs. They went 4-1-0 for the weekend. Below is a breakdown of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets scores. Great Job Boys!


Game 1 vs TPH Thunder (5-0)

  1. Joe Urbancic (Walker Sommer, Kole Sherwood)

  2. Trevor St. Jean (Cam Sangster)

  3. Kole Sherwood (Walker Sommer)

  4. Brock Rumbaugh (Carson Meyer)

  5. Trevor St. Jean (Bryan Babcock, Andrew Augustine)


Game 2 vs Pittsburgh Penguins Elite (1-4)

  1. Carson Meyer ( off a rebound from Mitch Perrault’s shot. )


Game 3 vs St. Louis Blues (3-2 OT)

  1. Brock Rumbaugh

  2. Nick Jenny

  3. Nick Jenny


Semi Finals vs Victory Honda (8-4 )

  1. Carson Meyers (Mitch Perrault, Nick Jenny)

  2. Mitch Perrault (Brock Rumbaugh, Carson Meyer)

  3. Walker Sommer (Carson Meyer, Kole Sherwood)

  4. Mitch Perrault (Carson Meyer, Bryan Babcock)

  5. Walker Sommer (Kole Sherwood)

  6. Brock Rumbaugh (Bryan Babcock)

  7. Zach Tyson (Cam Sangster, Trevor St. Jean)

  8. Brock Rumbaugh (Carson Meyer, Mitch Perrault)


Final vs Pens Elite (6-2)

  1. Trevor St. Jean (Cam Sangster, Zach Tyson)

  2. Trevor St. Jean (unassisted)

  3. Kole Sherwood (Brock Rumbaugh)

  4. Kole Sherwood (Walker Sommer)

  5. Zach Tyson

  6. Trevor St. Jean (Hat Trick)


by posted 02/16/2015
Kole Sherwood Commits to Boston University


Committing to play hockey at Boston University was a no-brainer for Kole Sherwood. "I knew it was home the second I got to campus," explained Sherwood, "I feel BU (Boston University) gives me the opportunity of reaching my ultimate goal of playing in the NHL."

Attending Boston University is more than just a path to the NHL for Sherwood. According to QS World University Rankings, Times Higher Education, Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, and Newsweek, Boston University is one of the top 100 schools in the world for academics. In fact, the lowest BU was rated globally was at 78th.

When you put one of the best collegiate hockey teams in the country and one of the best academic programs in the world together it's clear why Sherwood committed to Boston University. "Overall it was the right fit for me, not just hockey wise but also academically," said Sherwood.

While at BU, Sherwood will use everything he was taught in the AAA Blue Jackets program to help guide him along the way. "Everything the coaches have taught me here I will use with me for the rest of my career," explained Sherwood, "It's like the foundation of a house, it's where I've grown and will continue to use everything every step of the way."

Sherwood is also looking forward to the relationships he will create with his future teammates. "I would say I'm looking most forward to creating a bond with the guys that you share the same goal and dream of reaching."

by posted 02/10/2015
Big Weekend For The Organization



Last weekend many of our teams came up big in their respective games.

The U18 boys swept and won the Mid Winter Classic held in Detroit. They beat the Ontario Avalanche (3-1), Hill Academy Prep (3-1), Soo Indians (4-1), Victory Honda (4-2), North Jersey Avalanche (6-2), and the Michigan Nationals (3-1). With a 47-8-0 record on the season the U18 boys hold down the number 3 spot in the nation.

The U16 boys extended their win streak to 9 games after beating their arch nemesis, the Cleveland Barons. Game one went to a thrilling shoot out that put the jackets on top, 4-3. Chase Gresock had a hat trick and scored the shoot out game winner. All of his goals were assisted by Justin Richards and Connor Pooley. In the second game, the U16 boys shutout the Barons, 4-0. Goals were scored by Alex Olschewske (Richards, Pooley), Hunter Hogue (Larbes, Reed), Chase Gresock (Richards, Pooley), and Justin Richards (Gresock). The weekends sweep moved the Jackets from 26th in the Nation to 21st.

The 2001s traveled to Chicago for the Super Series last weekend. They beat the Madison Capitals (3-1) and the Green Bay Gamblers (6-2). They ended the weekend with a loss agains the Chicago Young Americans (1-4). Currently the 2001s have a record of 25-17-5 and firmly sit at 28th in the Nation.

The Quebec bound 2002s swept the Tri State Spartans, 5-0 and 3-1. They have games this weekend in Pittsburgh and then head out on the road towards Quebec.

The 2003s were swept by the Pittsburgh Pens Elite, 1-3 and 1-5. Regardless of these losses they still sit in the top 50 across the Nation.

The 2004s finished the weekend with a record of 3-0-1. They swept Indy (3-0, 4-1), tied Tri State (4-4), and beat Tri State (5-1). This weekend the 2004s head to the Cleveland Showcase.


by posted 02/05/2015
Big Weekend for the U16 Boys

The U16 AAA Ohio Blue Jackets capped off a perfect weekend  at the Philadelphia showcase over MLK weekend going 4-0.  This is the first time in U16 AAA Ohio Blue Jacket history that a team has had a perfect sweep weekend in the Tier I Elite Hockey League. 

Game 1 = 6-2 Win over NJ  Rockets

Game 2 = 8-3 Win over Philly Jr Flyers

Game 3 = 3-1 Win over Pittsburgh Penguins Elite

Game 4 = 3-1 Win over Boston Advantage

The combination of both solid offensive & defensive play made this a total team effort to complete the sweep this past weekend. 

Way to go U16 AAA Ohio Blue Jackets !!!

by posted 01/23/2015
Catching Up With Connor Murphy


On January 3, 2015 we traveled to Arizona to see alum Connor Murphy play in his home barn against the team he grew up watching. Murphy proved to be a tough opponent for the Columbus Blue Jackets. While he did not tally any points in the game, Murphy did get under a few Jackets' skin causing them to get rattled. Murphy set up a few really nice plays and constantly threw his body around to protect the goalie. The Coyotes would end up topping the Blue Jackets, 6-3.


Earlier that day Murphy was gracious enough to take a few minutes out of his game day routine to answer questions about the NHL and his time with the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets.



Playing Against the Columbus Blue Jackets


It's kind of hard not to root for the Columbus Blue Jackets when your dad is the Assistant Coach and you play in their youth hockey league. So, for Murphy, when the Jackets step foot onto the ice at Gila River Arena it's always an exciting feeling. “It's really cool playing against the team you grew up watching,” explained Murphy, “It's always kind of surreal when you're out there after years of being in the stands watching them play.”



Playing Against His Dad


In December, Murphy experienced another memorable milestone in his career when the Coyotes took on the Flyers. The assistant coach of the Philadelphia Flyers just happens to be Gord Murphy, Connor's dad. In his wildest dreams, Connor Murphy never thought he would play against his dad. “Knowing he was always playing in the NHL I never thought it would turn into playing against him”, said Murphy, “It was really exciting and a great moment for our family.”


Even though they were both excited both Gord and Connor Murphy managed to keep it professional. “I was trying to make eye contact with him during warmups but he wouldn't look over,” Connor Murphy reflected with a chuckle.




How the AAA Prepared Him for the NHL


Murphy recognizes that the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets were an integral part of preparing him for life in the NHL. “That was the first time I was taught about routines and kind of what it takes to be a player,” explained Murphy. As an Ohio AAA Blue Jacket Murphy learned just how important it was to put in the time to work out, to practice, and train with the same kind of intense training the NHL Blue Jackets do. “We had Donskov training with Anthony Donskov,” said Murphy, “It helps you prepare and know how important off-ice stuff is.”


However, the most important lesson Murphy learned while with the AAA was how to keep his love of hockey strong. He credits his strong, undying love of hockey to the “great teammates” he has played with through out the years.



Lessons from the Coyotes Organization


As you grow into a better athlete you never stop learning. Every day is lesson full of different challenges. For Murphy, getting used to playing at the pro level has been one thing he learns to deal with on a daily basis. “You have to play consistently every night at your highest pace and be an effective player when you are on the ice,” explained Murphy.


According to Murphy the NHL is “different than any other league”. He pointed out that on top of the number of games you play in a season you also have to bring a lot of intensity to those games. Making it that much harder to balance intensity with having fun.



Favorite AAA Memory


We love hearing what our alums favorite memories are of the AAA program. Oddly enough it always involves the word “bus”. Murphy shocked us with his answer when he gave us a memory that didn't include the word “bus” once in the answer.


For Murphy making it to Nationals was his favorite memory. Granted, the results weren't what everyone had hoped. “We were pumped,” Murphy pauses to laugh, “and then we lost every game.” He then took a moment to reflect on how far the AAA Blue Jackets have come over the past few years. “Winning the Quebec Peewee tournament and making it to Nationals other years,” said Murphy, “It's crazy how much better they are now than we were.”




by posted 01/11/2015
The Season of Giving


We are officially in the heart of the season of giving. Every December many people catch the giving bug and luckily a few of our own have come down with giving fever.

At the beginning of December former Ohio AAA Blue Jacket, Connor Murphy, helped the Arizona Coyotes Foundation restore Bonsall Park North in Glendale, Arizona. Over the course of 6 hours the Coyotes turned the old, unstable playground into a beautiful and safe place for children to play.

Today Luke Buss (2002) headed to Nationwide Children's Hospital with multiple bags of donations in tow. The hospital is always in need of different items through out the year. Please consider making a donation this holiday season. No matter how big or small it will make a child's stay at the hospital a little more bearable. To see a list of items that Nationwide Children's hospital is in need of click here.

by posted 12/22/2014
More Than Just A Fundraiser



U18s Zach Tyson and Brock Rumbaugh participated in the “Do it for Daron”  fundraiser game the day after Thanksgiving. The event pulled in $10,000 to benefit the spread of Mental Health Awareness among teens. For Tyson and Rumbaugh this event was about more than raising money for a great cause.


Remembering Daron


Daron Richardson played with both Tyson and Rumbaugh on the CCYHA Blue Jackets before she moved to Ottawa. “She was one of our best defensemen,” reflected Tyson, “She played a whole entire tournament with a broken hand.” Both boys fondly reminisced about how purple was Daron's favorite color. “She wore purple under armor, had a purple tape ball, I mean purple everything,” said Tyson. Daron was also remembered as the happiest and nicest person both guys had ever met.


So you can imagine how hard it was for Tyson and Rumbaugh when they found out Daron had taken her life 4 years ago.


Rumbaugh was at an Ohio State tailgating party when his mom received the call about Daron's passing. “My mom broke down. I asked her what was wrong and she told me,” reminisced Rumbaugh, “It was terrible. It put a damper on the day that's for sure.”


Tyson was also with his mom when he heard the news. They were shopping at Hockey Stop when Mrs. Tyson received the phone call. “I remember being so shocked. I didn't know what to say or do,” said Tyson, “You should never be forced to do something like that.”


The Do it for Daron Fundraiser


When Tyson and Rumbaugh found out about the fundraiser game they jumped at the chance to play. Timing was perfect as the fundraiser took place during Thanksgiving break when the boys had no school or games. “I thought it was a great idea,” said Rumbaugh, “It was a great way to get the message out about mental health awareness.” Tyson also enjoyed being reunited with his former teammates. “It was great seeing all the guys I played with when I was little,” explained Tyson, “Half of those guys are in college already and I'm a Junior in high school.”


Both Tyson and Rumbaugh were impressed by the amount of people who showed up and supported the cause by donating $10,000 to the “Do it for Daron Foundation”. However, they hope this isn't the last you'll hear people talking about mental health awareness. Tyson and Rumbaugh want others to keep the conversation about mental health going. “There needs to be some form of communication at all times,” explained Rumbaugh, “I think as a kid there is nothing so bad that you have to take your own life because of it.” Tyson also pointed out that spreading mental health awareness is also about walking the walk. “You have to be willing to help anybody. Whether you know them or not, you have to be willing to help anybody,” said Tyson.


Something Good From Something Bad


Zach Tyson once said, “Something good will always come out of every event that occurs.” He is correct. For every negative there is a positive. Sometimes you have to search to find the positive but it's there. Luckily, Tyson and Rumbaugh found their positive and let Daron's death change them for the better. Both guys have modeled their lives around what they learned from Daron. “It made me take a different approach with people, especially my sisters, “ said Rumbaugh, “I know they have been through a lot of hard times. You kind of have to wake them up and say don't say that”. Tyson has taken a very similar approach to life. He's decided to carry on “Daron's tradition of being nice to everyone.” Tyson considers it the best way to honor her memory.


In honor of Daron Richardson and all those who have struggled with mental health let's keep the conversation alive. Don't be afraid for we are here to listen and help.


by posted 12/15/2014
Coach Cassels Speaks Out About Mental Health Awareness



Coach Andrew Cassels has joined forces with his fellow NHL Blue Jackets Alumni to support the spread of mental health awareness. On Friday, November 28th at 3pm in the Ice Haus Andrew Cassels, Jody Shelley, Chris Clark, Brett Harkins, Jean-Luc Grand Pierre, Fredrick Modin, and Martin Spanhel will take the ice against Daron Richardson’s former teammates. Daron, the daughter of former Blue Jackets captain Luke Richardson, lost her battle with depression when she committed suicide in 2010. From her death a foundation was created called “Do it for Daron”. The focus of “Do it for Daron” is to spread mental health awareness among the community in hopes that less people will suffer the same fate as Daron.       


Leading up to the event Coach Cassels and I discussed the importance of mental health awareness and why this cause is important to both of us. The transcript of our conversation is below.


Elaine Shircliff: You guys are doing the fundraiser to support Do it for Daron, right?

Andrew Cassels: Yes and it’s going to be on the Friday after thanksgiving

ES: This is your first fundraiser as an alumni association right?

AC: Yep

ES: What made you guys want to do this for your first fundraiser to support this organization? Was it because you played with Luke Richardson?

AC: Yes, Luke actually played with myself, Jody, and Jean-Luc. It was such a big hit last year when Jerome and Coughlin played. I think it’s a great way, especially for high school kids and teenagers to know that there are some issues out there that some people aren’t aware of.

ES: My best friend’s birthday is on the day of the fundraiser. He and I have been friends for about 21 years and he committed suicide in 2013. He was a firefighter and that’s what they are trying to work on with firefighters right now. People kind of skate around it and don’t talk to each other about it. I think it’s great that you’re doing this. It’s hard to talk about with kids and they need to know about this. They need to see it and talk about it.

AC: I totally agree. I think a lot of people don’t realize that it’s ok and it’s not their fault. There’s ways of getting help and to seek that help that you obviously need. Whether it be some kind of support system or whatever it is that the professionals can help with. I think people are either afraid to ask for help or for whatever reason don’t think there is help.

ES: Or they feel like they are the strong one in the group so they don’t say anything.

AC: Right, I totally agree. Maybe that’s part of it too. Obviously it’s an illness and maybe they think it’s normal. I think it’s a great way to show the community we obviously support it and some of us have experienced it firsthand. I was at the funeral and am still in touch with Luke. They have another daughter too. It definitely is something that the more you can get out and show awareness that there is help out there the better. If we can help one person then that would be awesome.

ES: Exactly, if you can help one that’s all that matters. I’m really glad you’re doing this it’s important that adults have a way to talk to their kids about it. Parents don’t always know how to ask their kids “hey are you depressed?”

AC: Right. That’s true. There are so many parents because their kids are teenagers think that they are on their own so to speak. No one pays as close attention as we do when your kids are 5,6, or 7. Once they get a little older they tend to do a lot more on their own. Parents aren’t as close to their children a at that age and they don’t always see the changes. There’s always different things I think parents can look for.

ES: There’s always that struggle to give your kid independence and not smothering them. This event kind of toes the line and gives the chance to open that conversation.

AC: I agree, I totally agree.

ES: Thank you so much for talking to me about this subject.

AC: Hey no problem at all. I’m sorry about your best friend 

ES: It’s weird but a lot of good things have happened since then. It’s sad but for our group of friends it put life into perspective for us.

AC: Yea, as sad as it is you’re right. Sometimes something good comes from something bad and helps a lot more people out.

ES: He and I were the strong ones and when he died everyone became my rock. I was like “Oh wait people do that other than us?”

AC: Exactly, there are people who do things for us that we do for them. It’s great it worked out that way. A lot of times it can go the other way and you’re group of friends could have separated a bit. If you come closer together that’s great.


Coach Cassels, the AAA Blue Jackets, and I urge you to come out to this event on Friday. Use it as a time of learning and healing. For more information on the event please visit the Blue Jackets website.


by posted 11/27/2014
Austin Pooley Commits to The Ohio State University

Photo Credit: Fargo Force


Former AAA Ohio Blue Jacket, Austin Pooley, committed to play hockey at The Ohio State University on October 29th. After leaving the AAA Jackets, Pooley headed to the Omaha Lancers of the USHL where he played 46 games tallying 1 goal and 7 assists. Pooley was traded to the Fargo Force this off-season and it has proved to be a great fit for him. In the 13 games Pooley has played this season he's scored 4 goals and 2 assists giving him two points less than what he finished with last season.


As you can see Pooley is well on his way to being a phenomenal athlete but how did he get to where he is now. Why was it so important that he attend Ohio State? What made him the athlete he is today? He answered many of these questions and more.



Why he chose Ohio State :


A lot of factors came into play for Pooley when it came to committing to Ohio State. The first factor was the type of coaching staff that is currently involved in the Ohio State hockey program. Any hockey player will tell you a coaching staff can make or break a person's desire to play for a team. Luckily for Ohio State, Pooley feels as though he has formed a great relationship with the current coaches. “They really believe in me as hockey player and as a person,” explained Pooley, “They are giving me a great opportunity to come in and succeed.”


The second factor is location to family and friends. For Pooley hometown of Dublin is only 15 minutes away from campus. “I grew up watching and dreaming about playing at OSU,” said Pooley, “It will be great to have most of my family and friends at most of my games.”


The third and final factor is the one that sealed the deal for Pooley. When he sets foot onto the ice wearing an Ohio State sweater for the first time Pooley will be adding to his family's legacy at Ohio State. His uncle and dad played for Ohio State. “It is a great honor to play underneath my uncle's retired jersey hanging in the rafters and to see my dad's pictures hanging all around the rink,”said Pooley. Both his uncle and dad were All-Americans and top collegiate hockey players while they attended Ohio State. While this would make most players nervous Pooley welcomes the challenge. “This pushes me everyday to be great and get better, as I have a lot to prove and live up to,” explained Pooley.



Fondest AAA Memory:


Most AAA Ohio Blue Jackets alumni say there favorite memory revolves around the bus trips they often take to games. Pooley had a different favorite which, yes, included the bus but is not the sole memory. Pooley's favorite memories stem from the Super Showcases that the AAA Jackets often attend. “There is just so much excitement around it,” explained Pooley, “From the 12 hour bus rides with the boys to getting excited to play against some of the best teams in the country and battle for points in the standings” He even acknowledged the fact that the level of play is different at showcases. “It is fun and exciting to play in front of a couple hundred scouts which elevates the play a lot”.



How did the AAA Ohio Blue Jackets prepare him for the USHL


Every hockey player has to start learning somewhere. For Pooley the learning started with the AAA Blue Jackets. He took some valuable intangibles with him from the AAA to the USHL.


The first was the competitive schedule the AAA plays in the Tier 1 Elite system. The 60 game schedule the AAA plays is very similar to intense schedule of the USHL. “In the USHL you play a 60 game year plus playoffs, if you make it,” explained Pooley.


The second way the AAA Jackets prepared Pooley for the USHL was how to be a consistent player no matter how you are feeling. “You learn to play through sore legs and fatigue,” said Pooley, “The USHL is both a mental and physical grind and you have to be ready to play every night to have success.”



What the USHL has taught him :


The best players are always learning new things regardless of their age and their situation. The past few season the USHL has taught Pooley a few things. “It (USHL) teaches a player how to battle through all kind of adversity,” he said, “It helps you develop a lot by playing against the best players in the country everyday in practice and in games.”


Pooley has also learned a lot about the fine art of paying attention to detail. “In the earlier stages of hockey you can get away with avoiding the small things but as you progress to higher and higher levels those little details become huge,” explained Pooley. According to Pooley the attention to detail can not only make or break your career but also you as as person.


What he plans on taking with him from both programs


Everyone takes away something different from the programs they have played for in their career. However, Pooley is taking the same thing from both the AAA and the USHL; a different mindset. “You have to take everyday as a new day and a day to get better,” explained Pooley of the mindset both programs have created within him.There are a lot of good hockey players and it you are not getting better then you are getting passed. Somebody is getting passed and somebody is passing somebody. I want to make sure I'm in the car in the left lane passing the other cars.”


As you can see, Pooley has allowed both the AAA and the USHL change him completely. He is open to grow into a better hockey player and a better human being.


Advice for current kids in the program


In my eyes, what makes the AAA Blue Jackets so special is the great advice the alumni always leave for the current kids in the program. What Austin Pooley imparts on the youth of program is something to not take with a grain of salt. Read it. Learn it. Live it. Love it.


My advice to the kids playing AAA right now would be to take everyday as a opportunity to get better. Don't just go through the motions in practice but take practice as a tool to becoming a better player and to transform your game. Put everything you have into your game as you only have one opportunity in life and don't let it go to waste. No regrets and no excuses! Secondly, have fun. If you are not having fun getting better and are not enjoying the process then you are In the wrong sport. Play the game hard and have fun doing it. “

by posted 11/12/2014
Past Success in the NHL Draft

Photo Credit: Columbus Blue Jackets


From the moment little boys lace up their first pair of ice skates their mind wanders to dreams of getting drafted to play in the NHL. They spend late nights on the ice, travel all over the country on weekends, and move away from their families at a young age just so they can get a shot at fulfilling their life-long wish. In the past seven years, four Ohio AAA Blue Jackets alumni have heard their name called on draft weekend.


Columbus hosted the 45th NHL Entry Draft in 2007 and hometown boy, Trent Vogelhuber, was draft eligible. Round after round went without Vogelhuber being called to the stage. It looked as though 2007 was not his year. There were hundreds of hopefuls left and one team left to pick. The team on the board? The Jackets. Would Vogelhuber get drafted by the hometown team? Or would he have to wait another year for his dream to take form? On June 23rd, 2007 Vogelhuber got what every little boy wearing hockey skates dreams of; to be drafted by the hometown team.


After being drafted, Vogelhuber played for the USHL's Des Moines Buccaneers. He then went on to play four years of hockey at Miami University (2008-2012). While at Miami, Voglehuber played 149 games, scored 21 goals, and had 30 assists. At the end of the 2011-12 season he headed to Springfield, Mass to play out the rest of the Falcons season. Vogelhuber has been playing in the Jackets system ever since leaving Miami and was resigned in June for one more year.



Connor Murphy and Sean Kuraly had both heard of each other before playing together. Putting two highly talented and well known players on a team could get a little dicey. Luckily, once they became part of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets organization they became fast friends. They pushed each other to be better hockey players. In 2011, their growing talent caught the eye of many NHL scouts. Both Murphy and Kuraly placed in the top 10 of multiple combine tests. They clearly impressed many because both of them were drafted in the 2011 NHL entry draft. Murphy went 20th overall to the Phoenix Coyotes and Kuraly went 133rd overall to the San Jose Sharks.


After being drafted by the Coyotes, Murphy played two seasons in the OHL with the Sarnia Sting. Then during the 2013-14 season he played 66 games between the Portland Pirates (AHL) and the Phoenix Coyotes (NHL). Murphy tallied 1 goal and 20 assists during the 2013-14 season.


Sean Kuraly took a different route after being drafted by the Sharks. He went to the USHL to play for Indiana Ice for a year and then headed to college at Miami University. During the past two seasons (2012-14) at Miami, Kuraly played a total of 78 games and tallied 41 points.


While playing with the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets U16 team (2010-11) Cole Cassels played 37 games, had 11 goals, and 23 assists. During that season he caught the eye of teams in both the USHL and OHL. Cassels was drafted 16th overall by the Oshawa Generals (OHL) and 45th overall by Muskegon (USHL). He opted to sign with the Oshawa Generals that year. Two years later the Vancouver Canucks drafted Cassels 85th overall.


Over the past three season with the Oshawa Generals Cassels has played in 189 games, scored 42 goals, and had 85 assists. He is constantly growing, getting faster, stronger, and his hockey IQ is off the charts. Cassels will be a force to reckon with once he enters the NHL playing field. Which shouldn't be too long from now. He officially signed with the Vancouver Canucks in December of 2013.

by posted 07/01/2014
2014-15 Boys Head Coaches Announced

The Ohio AAA Blue Jackets are pleased to announce the boys Head Coaches for the 2014-15 season.  Girls coaches will be announced soon.
U18 – Ed Gingher
U16 – Perry Ganchar
2000 – Luke Pavlas
2001 – Andrew Cassels
2002 – Jeff Christian
2003 – Todd Ehrie
2004 – Dale Jordan

Program Coordinator, Ed Gingher, added, “Again, I am very excited and proud of the lineup of coaches we have assembled for next season.  This is a great group of coaches who believe in the philosophies and foundations of our program.  They will help our players improve as hockey players both on and off the ice.”

Squirt Major – Bantam Major along with Girls U16 & Girls U14 tryouts are scheduled for April 12-14.  U18 and U16 Tryouts are scheduled for May 23-25.   Click on the Tryout link for all the information. To sign up for tryouts, please click:

by posted 03/03/2014
A good read for hockey parents

by posted 01/10/2014
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