Goaltender Matt Cooper comes to the IceGators from Iowa State, where he went 11-11-5 for the Cyclones last season. The two-year All-ACHA nominee was stingy during his three years in Ames, Iowa – putting up a combined 45-20-9 record with nine wins coming by shutout, a .937 SV% and a 1.92 GAA in 78 games. Cooper’s soild play in net earned himself trips to Italy and Spain to represent the USA in the World Winter University Games in 2013 and 2015. The 6’0″ tendy also has an SPHL connection: he was a teammate of former Ice Flyers enforcer Joe Bueltel. Cooper will be competing for the backup goalie job with Matic Marinsek when training camp begins next week.
Jacob Laliberte was a teammate of former IceGators goalie Scott Diebold at RPI, and scored 87 points in 138 games for the Engineers. The speedy 5’8″ forward is another player in the mold of the Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau and IceGators’ forward Steve Buco. Laliberte’s five-year junior hockey numbers in the CCHL are staggering – 212 goals and 221 assists in 276 games. Currently, the Rockland, Ontario native is attending training camp with the ECHL Adirondack Thunder with the aforementioned Buco.
Johnny Daniels is another small forward brought in by coach Omicioli to compete for a roster spot. The Division 3 St. Anselm (NH) graduate played in 21 games for the Hawks and scored 20 points (11G-9A) in 21 games last season, and 85 points (38G, 47A) in his four year collegiate career.
A polar opposite to Laliberte and Daniels, Vladyslav Gavrik is a 6’4″, 220 lb. power forward. In junior hockey in his native Ukraine, Gavrik was named to the national team three times in 2008, 2010, and 2011. He then played three seasons at Division 3 Skidmore (NY) College, scoring 71 points (34G, 37A) in three seasons with the Thoroughbreds before turning pro. Last season Gavrik split time in the FHL with Danbury and Berkshire, and represented his country once again in Division 1A of the IIHF Hockey World Championships.
The final forward signed by Omicioli is a true wild card. Forward Radoslav Konecny played 17 games in the FHL during the 2012-13 season, and played 11 games in his native Czech Republic last season. Omicioli describes Konecny as “A diamond in the rough… with a punishing power forward mentality.” Given the wealth of big bodied forwards already signed by the IceGators, Konecny will have an uphill climb to make the opening night roster.
The last player in today’s signing class is defenseman Matthew Geurts, who completed his collegiate career at St. Olaf (MN) College. The 25-year-old Alaska native played 65 games in four seasons for the Lions, scoring 26 points (9G, 17A) while improving his offensive zone production each season. Blueliners with a 200-foot game are highly coveted in the SPHL, and Guerts has a solid chance to earn a roster spot.
The IceGators’ latest group of signings brings their training camp roster to 28 of a possible 30 players. The Gators currently have three goalies, 17 forwards, and eight defensemen. Training camp opens next week in Lafayette.
The team travels on October 17 to Pensacola to face the Ice Flyers in their only pre-season game, and open the regular season against the RiverKings on October 23 in Southaven.