The St. John’s IceCaps added to their growing stable of U.S. college-produced defencemen Tuesday with the announcement rearguard Mike Montgomery has been signed to a professional tryout contract by the American League team.
The 25-year-old Montgomery, who has appeared in 14 games with the ECHL's Ontario (Calif.) Reign this season, spent the previous four seasons playing for the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. The Lino Lake, Minn., native was the Bulldogs' captain in 2010-11 as the team claimed it's first-ever NCAA championship.
Montgomery becomes the sixth defenceman on the IceCaps' roster out of the American college ranks, joining Travis Ramsey (Maine), Zach Redmond (Ferris State), Jason DeSantis (Ohio State), Kyle Bushee (Western Michigan, Cansiius College) and Jake Marto (North Dakota).
In all, there are a dozen IceCaps who have played in the NCAA, with forwards Marco Rosa (Merrimack), Shawn Weller (Clarkson), Kevin Clark (Alaska-Anchorage), John Albert (Ohio State) and Jason Gregoire (North Dakota), along with goalie Peter Mannino (Denver), completing the group. Mannino, like Montgomery, is an NCAA men's hockey Frozen Four champion, having backstopped the University of Denver Pioneers to a national title in 2005.
In his four seasons with Minnesota-Duluth, the right-handed shooting Montgomery played in 132 games, registering 38 points (four goals, 34assists) and 42 penalty minutes. The six-foot-three, 210-pounder has no points for the Reign, who play out of California's San Bernadino Country, about 60 kilometers east of Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, St. John's has also recalled forward Akim Aliu from the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL.
The 22 year-old Aliu, who was assigned to the Eagles out of the IceCaps' training camp in early October, has two goals, four assists and 28 points in 10 games for Colorado.
Originally a second-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007, Aliu played with three different teams last season, the Chicago Wolves and Peoria Rivermen of the AHL, and Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL. He had nine goals and nine assists, plus 73 PIMs, in 59 AHL games, while registering 20 points (12 goals, eight assists) and 22 penalty minutes in 16 games with the Gladiators.
The six-foot-three, 220-pound Aliu was born in Nigeria, but he and his family moved to the Ukraine when he was an infant and then to Canada when he was 12.
The AHL-leading IceCaps (12-3-3) finish off a six-game homestand when they host the Toronto Marlies Friday and Saturday at Mile One Centre.