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November 2, 2012

College Hockey: Merrimack alums feeling lockout pinch

Members of the NHLPA aren’t the only ones feeling the sting of the ongoing NHL lockout.

With an influx of players taking to the minor leagues and Europe while the NHL sits stagnant, young up-and-comers are relegated to lower levels of hockey.

Merrimack grad Joe Cannata, an All-American last season, looked as if he was going to be the starter for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. It seemed apparent that the parent club, the Vancouver Canucks, were going to deal starter Roberto Luongo, bumping former Phillips and BC star Cory Schneider into the starting role. That would have meant that last year’s Chicago starer, Eddie Lack, was likely destined for the NHL as a backup to Schneider.

But thanks to the lockout, plans changed.

Rosters are frozen, meaning Luongo hasn’t gone anywhere. Lack, who is still eligible to be sent to the AHL, is back in Chicago as a starter and Cannata, instead of wasting away on the Chicago bench, had to move to Kalamazoo, Michigan where he’s suiting up for the K-Wings of the East Coast Hockey League.

For non-hockey buffs, that’s the equivalent of moving from Triple A to Double A in baseball.

And he’s not the only one.

Ryan Flanigan was picked up by the AHL’s Connecticut Whale. A few weeks into the season, he was pinched out of a roster spot and sent to Greenville (ECHL) before it happened again; he’s now with Wichita of the Central Hockey League, in essence Single A.

Chris Barton and Jesse Todd, two of Merrimack’s most prolific scorers of the last five years, are certainly capable of AHL slots as well, but they’re both in the ECHL waiting for roster spots to open.

One who has stuck, however, is defenseman Karl Stollery.

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