HOUGHTON, Mich. – Five former Michigan Tech hockey players are on three ECHL rosters for the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs. CJ Eick, Riley Sweeney and Cliff Watson of the Kansas City Mavericks, Eric Kattelus of the Kalamazoo Wings, and Michael Neville from the Florida Everblades begin their playoff runs this week.
Playoff rosters consist of a maximum of 23 Players – a 20-man active roster and a three-man reserve list. Sixteen teams qualify for the Kelly Cup. The first two rounds will be played entirely within the division, with the division winner playing the fourth-place finisher and the second-place team meeting the third-place team in the Division Semifinals. The winners of each series will meet in the Division Finals, leading to the Conference Finals, and Kelly Cup Finals.
The Mavericks are the fourth seed in the Mountain Division and will play the top-seeded Tulsa, beginning on Thursday in Oklahoma.
CJ Eick (Appleton, Wisconsin) is in his third full season in the ECHL. He had career highs in games played (70), goals (12), and assists (15) in 2018-19. Eick has appeared in 199 games in his pro career with 58 points on 24 goals and 34 assists.
Eick was a three-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete who played 108 career games for the Huskies from 2012-16. He had 11 goals and 22 assists for Tech.
Riley Sweeney (Vancouver, British Columbia) also appeared in 70 games this season for the Mavericks. He had three goals and was second on his team amongst defensemen with 22 assists in his second season of pro hockey. Sweeney played 157 games in a Tech uniform from 2011-15, tallying 38 career points (4 goals, 34 assists).
Cliff Watson (Appleton, Wisconsin) played 25 games for the Mavericks in his second pro season, tallying 14 points on seven goals and seven assists. He also played in the AHL for the Ontario Reign, Utica Comets, Hershey Bears, and Stockton Heat over the course of the season. Watson is currently listed on the Playoff Eligible List for the Mavericks after recently being released from the Ontario Reign.
Watson played 162 career games over his four years in a Tech uniform, missing only one game from 2013-17. He was the captain over his final two seasons, an alternate captain as a sophomore, and tallied 42 career points on eight goals and 34 assists. He was named an ACHA All-American Scholar and WCHA Scholar-Athlete as a senior and appeared on the WCHA All-Academic Team three times.
Eric Kattelus (Traverse City, Michigan) and the Kalamazoo Wings play Cincinnati in the Central Division Semifinals, starting Friday. Kattelus has 28 points on 10 goals and 18 assists in his eighth full season of pro hockey. He appeared in 87 career games at Tech from 2007-11 and had 32 points (6 goals, 26 assists).
Michael Neville (Woodbridge, Ontario) and the Florida Everblades are the top seed in the South Division and host the Jacksonville Icemen. Neville tallied 35 points on 11 goals and 24 assists in 53 games in his first full season of pro hockey.
Neville played 155 career games at Tech, tallying 60 points on 15 goals and 45 assists. He was a two-time alternate captain and had a career senior season with 23 points on seven goals and 16 assists. He also had a WCHA-best plus-22 rating as a senior, finishing his career plus-52 and was a three-time recipient of the team's Rick Yeo Unsung Hero Award.
Former Tech goaltender Josh Robinson (Frankenmuth, Michigan) is the Video and Goaltending Coach of the Everblades. He played five seasons of pro hockey after appearing in 90 career games in a Michigan Tech uniform from 2008-12.
Other former Huskies in the ECHL not in the playoffs
• Angus Redmond (Langley, British Columbia) played 24 ECHL games in 2018-19 for the Reading Royals, South Carolina Stingrays, and Jacksonville IceMen. He also played a pair of games for the San Diego Gulls in the AHL and was the backup in the NHL for the Anaheim Ducks for a game. Redmond set a Tech record for wins by a freshman after going 22-10-5 in 2016-17 with a 1.85 goals-against average that ranked third in the country. He was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team.
• Malcolm Gould (North Vancouver, British Columba) played 13 games for the Worcester Railers, Newfoundland Growlers, and Allen Americans in his first season in the ECHL and third pro season. He had a goal and a pair of assists in an injury-shortened season. Gould was a two-time All-WCHA selection after tallying 75 points (32 goals, 43 assists) in 123 career games for the Huskies from 2012-16. He played his first two pro seasons in Europe.
• Dane Birks (Merritt, British Columbia) played 65 games for the Wheeling Nailers in his first pro season scoring a goal and adding 13 assists. He was recently promoted to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL, joining Jake Lucchini for the end of their season. Birks played 117 games for the Huskies from 2014-18. He had 30 points for the Huskies on seven goals and 23 assists and signed an NHL contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins in March 2018.
• Chris Leibinger (Saginaw, Michigan) appeared in 60 games for the Rapid City Rush in his second pro season, scoring seven goals and adding 20 assists. Leibinger played four seasons (2013-17) for the Huskies, appearing in 158 games before signing with the Quad City Mallards after his senior season. He had 35 career points on 13 goals and 22 assists and was a three-time WCHA All-Academic Team selection.
• Jamie Phillips (Caledonia, Ontario) appeared in 42 games in his third season of pro hockey. He played 30 games for the Florida Everblades before a move to the Reading Royals in March. In 12 games for the Royals, he went 8-2-1 with a .920 save percentage and 2.31 goals against average. Phillips played four seasons (2012-16) for the Huskies posting a 2.00 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in his career. He had a .678 (57-25-8) winning percentage and is Tech's all-time shutout leader with 10. Phillips was a two-time All-WCHA selection and named the WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete as a senior.