Touched by the Copper Country: Looking at hockey players around the world

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, left, talks with defenseman Matt Roy (3) during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

HOUGHTON — A large number of hockey players, either from the Copper Country, or who have passed through the Copper Country either for high school or college hockey, are still playing the game they love at a high level throughout the world.

For instance, while the Wisconsin Windigo have a former Michigan Tech Huskies player as their head coach in Blake Hietala, they also have a pair of Michigan Tech recruits in forwards Quinn Disher and Ethan DeKay.

The Austin Bruins, who also play in the NAHL, feature a trio of local natives in Austin Salani, Jackson Rilei and Camden Markham.

Salani, a Hancock native, leads the Bruins in scoring with 22 goals and 51 points in 46 games. He was held off the scoresheet in both games against the Minot Minotauros this past weekend.

Rilei, a Calumet native, has four goals and eight points in 39 games this season. He scored his fourth goal of the season Friday against Minot, and has three points (two goals and an assist) in his last four games.

Markham, a Houghton native, and 2023’s Mr. Hockey for Michigan, started the season with the Windigo, scoring two goals and five points in 18 games. Since being traded to the Bruins, he has two assists in 10 games.

Landon Stevens, a Houghton native, is playing for the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. He has nine goals and 25 points in 41 games. He scored a goal on Feb. 21, in a game against Soo Thunderbirds.

Gaborik Carlson, a Houghton native, started the season this year with the Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, along with Eliott Mikesch, son of former Michigan Tech forward Pat Mikesch, who is now coaching the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.

Both Carlson and Mikesch were traded from the Storm to the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

Carlson had one goal and four points in 34 games for the Storm before being traded to the Millionaires. Since the trade, in 17 games, he has three goals and seven points.

Mikesch had two goals and 12 points in 34 games for the Storm before the trade. Since joining the Millionaires, he has five goals and nine points in 17 games.

In major juniors, Calumet native Dean Loukus started the season with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League as an alternate captain. He had nine goals and 26 points in 34 games before he was traded to the Mississauga Steelheads.

Since the trade, he has seven goals and 14 points in 22 games.

In Tier 3 juniors, Matthew Ryyanenen, a Houghton native, has been the main starting netminder for the Bozeman Ice Dogs. In 33 appearances, he has a 19-11-1 record with two shutouts. He has a 3.44 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.


At the professional level, defenseman Connor Hannon, a Houghton native, is in his second season with the KSW IceFighters Leipzig in Oberliga in Germany. He has played in 20 games this season and has three goals and 12 points.

Forward Raymond Brice, a Houghton native, started the season with DEAC of the Erste Liga in Hungary. He played three games there, scoring two goals. He then moved to EV Duisburg in Oberliga, where he played in 24 games, scoring nine goals and 22 points.

Brice was recently acquired by the Manchester Storm of the EIHL in Great Britain. He has played five games for the Storm, scoring two goals.

Hancock native Tanner Kero, a center, is in his first season with the Colorado Eagles of the AHL after three seasons with the Texas Stars. In 46 games this season for the Eagles, he has 10 goals and 34 points, and is a plus-13.


Forward Brian Halonen made his NHL debut Sunday with the New Jersey Devils in a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Halonen suffered an injury in training camp with the Devils, and had only played 21 games for the AHL’s Utica Comets prior to the call-up. In those 21 games, he had 13 goals and 17 points.

Forward Joel L’Esperance is playing for the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins for the second year. He has 12 goals and 19 points in 37 games this season.

L’Esperance’s sometimes teammate Trenton Bliss has played two game for the Griffins, where he has one assist. He has spent the bulk of the season playing for Pat Mikesch in Toledo, where he has 18 goals and 50 points in 46 games.

Defenseman Matt Roy and goaltender Pheonix Copley in their second season together with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.

Roy, who is in his fifth full season with the Kings, has three goals and 16 points in 55 games. Copley, who is currently injured, has appeared in eight games, going 4-1-2 with one shutout. He has a 3.16 goals against average and a .870 save percentage.

Forward Tommy Parrottino is playing for the Dundee Stars of the EIHL. In 38 games, he has five goals and 14 points.

Defenseman Colin Swoyer has split time this season between the AHL’s Hershey Bears and the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays. With the Bears, in four games, he has three assists. With the Stingrays, in 25 games, he has one goal and five points.

Forward Parker Saretsky is playing for the Trois-Rivieres Lions of the ECHL. In 40 games, he has eight assists.

Forward Tristan Ashbrook, of Manistique, is playing for the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL. In 48 games, he has 18 goals and 30 points.

Defenseman Tyler Rockwell is playing for Marseille in Ligue Magnus in France. He has appeared in 42 games, scoring three goals and 22 points.

Defenseman Jake Crespi is playing for Ferencvarosi TC of the Erste Liga. He has seven goals and 28 points in 31 games.

Defenseman Michael Karow is in his third season with the Texas Stars. In 49 games, he has three goals and 11 points.

Goaltender Mark Sinclair is playing for the Allen Americans in the ECHL. In 18 appearances, he has an 8-10-0 record with a 4.25 goals against average and a .899 save percentage.

Goaltender Matt Jurusik is playing for the Kunlun Red Star of the KHL. He has made 36 appearances, sporting a 10-20-0 record. He has a 3.07 goals against average and .918 save percentage.

Editor’s note: We are aware this list is not complete. We will continue to monitor how our former local players are doing throughout the remainder of the season. If you know of anyone we missed, feel free to let us know so we can add them to the list.


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