Blue Liner Hartwick Bound for Quad Cities
Byrd, Axtell Sign Tryout Agreements
The Quad City Mallards of the “AA” Central Hockey League today announced that they have signed defenseman Mike Hartwick and have inked tryout agreements with center Mike Byrd and left wing Phil Axtell. Per club policy no contract terms were announced.
Hartwick, who turns 27 next month, spent the last two seasons in Britain playing for the Cardiff Devils of the Elite Ice Hockey League. The Bedford, New Hampshire, native scored six goals and totaled 16 points in 55 games last year while helping the Devils to the EIHL playoff final. Hartwick notched four goals and 12 points in 49 games in his first season in the U.K.
“Mike has size, experience and very good defensive zone awareness. He plays with grit, has ECHL experience and performed well the last two years in the British Elite League,” said Mallards Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Frank Anzalone. “Mike comes well-reommended and should be a stalwart on the back end for us. He’s also a very interlligent person who will be a positive addition to our dressing room.”
Hartwick last played in North America in 2007-08, spending the bulk of that season with the ECHL’s Mississippi Sea Wolves. He scored twice and recorded six points in 51 games with the Sea Wolves. Early in that campaign Hartwick also played single games for both the Charlotte Checkers and the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL. The 6’ 3”, 216-pound blue liner made his professional debut in the spring of 2007 with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers, for whom he played seven games and picked up one assist.
As a collegian Hartwick helped Dartmouth to four straight winning seasons. In Hartwick’s junior year- 2005-06- the Big Green won the first ECAC regular season conference title in school history. Hartwick scored once and recorded 17 points in 122 career collegiate games.
Byrd, who will celebrate his twenty-third birthday next Monday, last season scored 14 goals and registered 25 points in 28 games for Carleton University in Ottawa.
“Mike played one season of college hockey at Carleton University in Canada and was a leading scorer. He put up great numbers at the Tier II junior level where he showed that he is capable of scoring goals,” said Anzalone. “I’m excited to see Mike compete in camp.”
The 6’ 1”, 191-pound Byrd spent the three seasons prior to last year shining for the Brockville Braves of the Central (Ontario) Junior Hockey League. The Kemptville, Ontario, product led the CJHL in assists (83) and points (111) in 2008-09 and piled up 92 goals and 172 assists for 264 points in 178 career CJHL games.
Axtell, 24, last played in 2008-09 for Northern Michigan. He skated in six games for the Wildcats without recording a point. The 6’ 5”, 250-pound Axtell sat out the 2007-08 campaign after transferring from Michigan Tech, for whom he scored twice and collected nine points in 27 games in 2006-07.
“Coach Mark Carlson in Cedar Rapids, the same person who supported Shane Lovdahl joining our team last season, has asked that Phil be given an opportunity to showcase his talents,” said Anzalone. “At 6’ 5”, Phil will be given every chance to make an impact on the left wing. He has good hands, can score and wants to show he can be a solid player at the AA level.”
In two seasons in Cedar Rapids with the United States Hockey League’s RoughRiders Axtell scored 28 goals and totaled 48 points in 73 junior games. Axtell- along with Lovdahl- helped the RoughRiders to the 2004-05 USHL Clark Cup title. The New Windsor, Maryland, native will be one of three former RoughRiders in the Mallards’ training camp. Zach Pearson, whose signing was announced last week, skated for Cedar Rapids in 2002-03.
Hartwick, Byrd and Axtell join Lovdahl, Pearson, Obi Aduba, Nick DeCroo, Jason Dolgy, Mark Ehl, Tyler Kindle, Jason Kostadine, Patrik Levesque, Brandon Marino, Darren McMillan, Omar Pacha, Ryan Palmer and Michel Robinson to bring the number of players on the Mallards’ preseason roster to 17.