CEDAR PARK, TX- The Texas Stars have announced the signings of forward Colin Markison and defenseman Eric Sweetman to AHL contracts for the upcoming campaign. The Stars, AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars, add a forward with four years of professional experience in Markison, and a rookie defenseman from St. Lawrence University in Sweetman.
Markison joins the Texas Stars after playing 28 games during the 2016-17 season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The 25-year-old from Princeton, NJ played four years of college hockey for the Catamounts of Vermont, amassing 25 points as a senior in 2014-15. Markison was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and has spent most of the last four seasons in Bridgeport, with the exception of 24 games in 2015-16 for the ECHL Missouri Mavericks (now Kansas City Mavericks). During those 24 games with the Mavericks Markison tallied 17 points, including 10 goals. Markison has 18 points in 73 career AHL games, all with the Sound Tigers. He will bring versatility to the team with his ability to play both wing or center, and will look to most likely see time with the third or fourth line.
Eric Sweetman, 23, from Woodbine, MD, will also join the team after finishing his college career this past season for St. Lawrence University. He played four years for the Skating Saints, and was twice selected as second team All-Conference. Sweetman signed as an undrafted free agent and has the potential to be a very nice fit in Texas. Rookies are always an unknown variable, and undrafted rookies even more so, so The Sin Bin reached out to SLU Associate Head coach Mike Hurlbut in an attempt to learn more about him.
Talking with Coach Hurlbut, two things stood out more than anything, Sweetman is an old school defenseman and has incredible work ethic and leadership. Coach Hurlbut talked glowingly about how after a freshman year in which Sweetman posted 15 points but was a minus-five, he worked tirelessly to better his puck handling and improve his game. He said the effort was obvious to everyone and it rubbed off on his teammates. Sweetman was named alternate captain and wore the “A” for his junior and senior seasons.
“The other players watched his work ethic and attitude,” Hurlbut said. “Eric is a quiet guy, but the other players saw how much he cared. He was a lead by example guy, but as he grew into his role he became more vocal as well.”
The work paid off as Sweetman had his best season of his career as a sophomore. He racked up 20 points on five goals and 15 assists, and had a terrific plus-21 +/-. He continued the solid play as a junior putting up 15 points and posting a plus-13. As a senior the number went down a bit to 14 points and plus-10, but Coach Hurlbut said was playing injured most of the year and showed a ton of heart and leadership.
“He battled through injuries as a senior,” Hurlbut said. “I think he showed a ton of heart and leadership.”
Parent club Dallas hired Ken Hitchcock as head coach this off-season, and Hitchcock is known to play what can only be described as old school defensive hockey. With that philosophy filtering down from the top, Coach Hurlbut talked about how Sweetman would fit in with the Stars organization.
“Eric is an old school defenseman that any coach would be lucky to have, and I think he will fit in Coach Hitchcocks’s system very well.”
Coach Hurlbut also talked about one aspect of Sweetman’s game that wouldn’t show up on a gamesheet, but fans should look out for:
“Hits.” Hurlbut said. “He is not the biggest guy, but he is good on his skates and delivers big hits.”
From talking with Coach Hurlbut it seems clear that Sweetman will bring a great attitude and work ethic to the squad. He should quickly become a fan favorite as the effort and heart of the 5’10” defenseman will be immediately obvious to all in attendance when the Stars hit the ice inside the H-E-B Center this season.
Stars fans in Austin will have their first chance to see the team in game action when the Stars host their rival, the San Antonio Rampage for a pre-season game September 30. The regular season starts October 6 at home against the Chicago Wolves.
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