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The Palm Tree: An update on hockey players with local connections.


On Team Trib we like to think that hockey coverage is not just about the Penguins, though certainly that is our priority. Still, hockey is hot througout out region. Has been for a while now, actually. Mike Palm, a valued member of our hockey team (remember last season’s 1991 Cup Chronicles?), has offered to keep tabs on notable players with local ties. The first of his must-read submissions:

= Defenseman Matt Bartkowski (Mt. Lebanon)

Current team: Providence (AHL)

Draft: Seventh round (190th) in 2008 by Florida.

What he’s up to: In 23 games, he has 7 assists, 28 PIM and is minus-11.

= Goaltender John Gibson (Whitehall)

Current team: Kitchener (OHL)

Draft: Second round (39th) in 2011 by Anaheim.

What he’s up to: In 21 games, he’s recorded a 14-6-0 record with a

2.52 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.  On Monday, he was named to the preliminary roster for the 2012 U.S. national junior team.

= Defenseman Nate Guenin (Hopewell)

Current team: Anaheim (NHL)

Draft: Fourth round (127th) in 2002 by N.Y. Rangers.

What he’s up to: In 9 games, he has 1 goal and 6 PIM and averages 9:35 of ice time.

= Center Christian Hanson (Peters Township)

Current team: Hershey (AHL)

Draft: Undrafted.

What he’s up to: In 26 games, he has 3 goals, 7 assists and 23 PIM.

= Defenseman Stephen Johns (Wampum)

Current team: Notre Dame (NCAA)

Draft: Second round (60th) in 2010 by Chicago.

What he’s up to: In 20 games, he has 2 goals, 4 assists, 59 PIM and 16 blocked shots. On Monday, he was named to the preliminary roster for the 2012 U.S. national junior team.

= Defenseman Grant Lewis (Upper St. Clair)

Current team: HC Poprad Lev (KHL)

Draft: Second round (40th) in 2004 by Atlanta.

What he’s up to: In 27 games, he has 1 goal, 4 assists and 24 PIM and averages 17:33 of ice time.

= Left wing Ryan Malone (Upper St. Clair)

Current team: Tampa Bay (NHL)

Draft: Fourth round (115th) in 1999 by Pittsburgh.

What he’s up to now: In 25 games, he has 6 goals, 8 assists and 15 PIM and averages 15:54 of ice time.

= Center J.T. Miller (Coraopolis)

Current team: Plymouth (OHL)

Draft: First round (15th) in 2011 by N.Y. Rangers.

What he’s up to: In 31 games, he has 13 goals and 26 assists for 39 points to rank 13th in OHL scoring, along with 20 PIM.  On Monday, he was named to the preliminary roster for the 2012 U.S. national junior team.

= Right wing George Parros (Scenery Hill)

Current team: Anaheim (NHL)

Draft: Eighth round (222nd) in 1999 by Los Angeles.

What he’s up to: After taking a month to recover from surgery to repair a torn retina, he returned Tuesday. In 14 games, he has 1 assist and 26 PIM, including a fight in his third game back.

= Defenseman Dylan Reese (Upper St. Clair) Current team: N.Y. Islanders (NHL)

Draft: Seventh round (209th) in 2003 by N.Y. Rangers.

What he’s up to: Scored 3rd career goal Saturday after an emergency recall on Thursday. In five games with the Islanders, he has 1 goal, 1 assist and averages 17:00 of ice time. In 21 games with Bridgeport (AHL), Reese has 2 goals and 10 assists

= Left wing Brandon Saad (Gibsonia)

Current team: Saginaw (OHL)

Draft: Second round (42nd) in 2011 by Chicago.

What he’s up to: In 13 games, he has 10 goals, 12 assists and 6 PIM.  

On Monday, he was named to the preliminary roster for the 2012 U.S.  national junior team.

= Right wing Bill Thomas (Fox Chapel)

Current team: San Antonio (AHL)

Draft: Undrafted

What he’s up to: In 23 games, he has 6 goals, 7 assists and 10 PIM for the fourth-place Rampage.

= Center Vince Trocheck (Upper St. Clair)

Current team: Saginaw (OHL)

Draft: Third round (64th) in 2011 by Florida.

What he’s up to: In 30 games, he has 15 goals and 24 assists to rank 12th in OHL scoring, along with 37 PIM.

= Left wing R.J. Umberger (Plum)

Current team: Columbus (NHL)

Draft: First round (16th) in 2001 by Vancouver.

What he’s up to: In 29 games, he has 5 goals, 5 assists and 10 PIM and averages 18:29 of ice time.

= Defenseman Mike Weber (Cranberry)

Current team: Buffalo (NHL)

Draft: Second round (57th) by Buffalo.

What he’s up to: On injured reserve since Nov. 17 with an upper body injury.

= Right wing John Zeiler (Thomas Jefferson)

Current team: Augsburger Panther (German Ice Hockey League)

Draft: Fifth round (132nd) in 2002 by Phoenix.

What he’s up to: In 26 games, he has 2 goals, 14 assists and 42 PIM.


Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.


  1. dwf says:

    Who cares!!!

    In case you folks at ‘Team Trib’ didn’t realize, the Pens played a hockey game last night against the Red Wings. You couldn’t think of anything better to write about prior to this showcase game than the fact that John Zeiler is playing for the Augsburger Panthers of the German Ice Hockey League!!!!????

  2. Dave L says:

    Well I take exception to your remarks, dwf. I love to hear about hockey history and “other” hockey players besides current Penguins. In hockey, like any other sport, one needs to see the “big picture” of the culture and human interest side of the sport to truly appreciate your own team players and their accomplishments. The Trib writers did an enormous amount of work to research all those peolple.
    Great job Palm and Rossi !

  3. J.L. McConaughy says:

    You forgot CJ Severyn of Beaver. He is in his first year with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL) and is a 2007 7th round pick of the Calgary Flames.

  4. Cammy says:

    dwf: Why should the TR write about the Penguins when they played another lousy game? Staal and Fleury were awful again, but you won’t ever read that on this site. I feel like I’m in Tacoma.

  5. Raz says:

    Denny Urban from Whitehall is playing for the Reading Royals. just had 2 very strong games against the Wheeling Nailers last weekend.

    keep the local updates coming. awesome to see how pittsburgh is transforming into a hockey hotbed!

  6. BB says:

    Good job Rossi on keeping up with local players. Hopefully this will become a monthly update with more names in the upcoming years.

  7. Dejan Shortpants says:

    You forgot Robbie Beertempfel’s kid! He scored his first career goal the other night, as his father revealed on this site. I also believe it’s the first story that Robbie ever broke here.

  8. Mike Palm says:

    J.L. and Raz, thanks for the updates. I’ll add those 2 for the next update. If there’s anyone else I’ve forgotten, feel free to let me know. Thanks.

  9. Eddie says:

    Dejan: LOL

  10. Jay Walker says:

    C’mon, isn’t it time for Rossi to take over as sports editor and be done with it?

  11. Dejan Shortpants says:

    Ain’t buying the bull that Yohe’s trying to shovel. MAF ranks 19th in save percentage and 12th in goals-against average. For $5.5 mill, those are crummy numbers. O-ver-ra-ted!

  12. Lady Di says:

    I’m ready to sell my season tickets. Way too pricey for an average team without Sid.

  13. William says:

    Of all the things to write about, this is what we get? Where do I apply for the sport editor’s job!

  14. Sammy says:

    I can’t stand Ray Shero. His father helped ruin hockey and many of us will never forget it.

  15. Allan says:

    Brilliant news judgment, Rob. I would much rather read about Vince (No-check) Trocheck than any of the Penguins.

  16. dwf says:

    I can only hope that the Trib management folks realize that their readers want to read and be kept abreast of what is going on with the PITTSBURGH PENGUINS! This is ‘filler’/’fluff’ that screams “I can’t think of anything else to write about!” Lame!!!

    The Trib made an incredible hire by bringing DK aboard! Hopefully, they keep moving in the right direction and bring in more people like him.

  17. Handsome Ransom says:

    dwf: Don’t kid yourself. DK absolutely destroyed team chemistry, I’m told.

  18. Bob says:

    Where’sur dynasty?

  19. dwf says:

    Handsome Ransom: That doesn’t matter to me. As a reader of the Trib, I want to read articles that are informative, timely, UNBIASED, and well written. I honestly don’t think that is asking for much?? Other than DK’s articles, this type of reporting does not exist at the Trib.

  20. Scott Reed says:

    dwf: If Tomlin had pulled this stunt in New York, he would have been undressed in public. The Steelers (Rooney) and Penguins (Lemieux) are exempt from heavy criticism here.

  21. Jay Walker says:

    Toews and Malkin were the best players on the ice last night. And to think that they coulda been teammates . . .

  22. Jack says:

    Jagr look great again tonight. He never would have been happy here with the lousy fans and Lemieux apologists around.

  23. Edgar says:

    Yeah, Jay, more Ray Shero magic, as Steigy would call it.

  24. Gabrielle says:

    Hey, Rossi, got any updates on Beertemple’s kid?

  25. Cool Rob says:

    Hey, look — Staal actually scored a point!

  26. CJT says:

    Great to see all the local talent!

  27. The Gonsk says:

    It’s time to tank the season and have the league fix the lottery for us again. Without Sid, we have zero chance to win the Stanley Cup.

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