by Amy Moritz
It's a senior-heavy class for the Canisius men's hockey program and while they're focused on batting for the Atlantic Hockey title again this year, the Golden Griffins have an eye toward the future. Today they announced four players signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period.
Defender Zack Pittman comes to Canisius from the Lincoln Stars of the USHL, the same junior team that senior forward Kyle Gibbons played for. A native of Macomb, Mich., he has 10 points (four goals, six assists) and is a plus-21 in 76 career games for the Stars. Last season his plus-24 ranking was eighth among USHL defensemen. The USHL is considered the best junior league in the United States.
Jeff Murray, a native of Newmarket, Ontario playing in the OJHL, has 19 goals and 17 assists in 28 games this season for the Whitby Fury. In October, he was invited to the Team Canada East Selection Camp for the 2013 World Junior A Challenge.
The Griffs also signed two Western New Yorkers and members of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres -- Ryan Schmelzer of Buffalo and Nolan Sheeran of East Amherst
Schmelzer is the captain for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres in his third year with the OJHL team. He has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 16 games this season and 132 points (50 goals, 82 assists) in his three-year junior career. Schmelzer also played at Williamsville East.
Sheeran has 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 28 games for the Jr. Sabres this year and 81 points (30 goals, 51 assists) in his two years with the club. He played two seasons at Williamsville North.