NMU hockey alumni update: Gustafsson, Flyers ousted from NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, but Florek, Bruins remain
MARQUETTE – Former Northern Michigan University captain and Marquette native Justin Florek is projected to take the ice tonight for the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of a best-of-seven NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Montreal Canadiens at 7:30 p.m. at TD Garden in Boston.
Florek, who played for the Wildcats from 2008-12, was called up on an emergency basis for the Bruins’ regular-season finale on April 13 at New Jersey and hasn’t left the NHL since.
The former Marquette Electrician appeared in all five games of the Bruins five-game, first-round series win over the Detroit Red Wings. He scored his first and so far only NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs goal on April 20 in the Bruins 4-1 victory in Game 2.
Florek, 23, has been skating on the Bruins’ third line in the playoffs with center Carl Soderberg and right wing Loui Eriksson – both of Sweden – while also logging minutes on the penalty kill.
The Bruins were without left wing Daniel Paille and center Chris Kelly during the first round against Detroit. Paille, who returned to practice Tuesday, was recovering from a reported concussion while Kelly is still out with a reported back injury.
Florek, who is a restricted free agent after this season, appeared in a total of four regular season games with Boston, recording a goal and an assist.
With the Providence Bruins of the AHL, Florek has 19 goals and 19 assists for Boston’s minor league affiliate.
Erik Gustafsson, Philadelphia Flyers, NHL: Gustafsson, a defenseman for Northern from 2007-10, helped the Flyers force a Game 7 against the New York Rangers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by giving Philly a 3-0 lead 14:17 into the second period on Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
The Flyers went on to win Game 6, 5-2, but dropped the series via a Game 7, 2-1 loss on Wednesday, to the Rangers.
Gustafsson, 25, was a healthy scratch for the first five games of the series. He finally got his chance to play in Games 6 and 7 after defenseman Nick Grossman suffered a leg injury in Game 4 and veteran defender Hal Gill flopped in Game 5, finishing with a minus-2 rating in a 4-2 Flyers’ loss.
The native Swede appeared in 31 games for the Flyers during the regular season, scoring two goals and eight assists. He has a plus-7 rating.
Like Florek, Gustafsson is set to become a restricted free agent in June.
Mike Santorelli, Vancouver Canucks, NHL: Santorelli, who played for the Wildcats from 2004-2007, resurrected his career in his hometown of Vancouver by scoring 10 goals and 18 assists for the Canucks in 49 games. He suffered a season-ending injury in mid-January, however.
Since posting career highs of 20 goals and 21 assists in 82 games for the Florida Panthers in 2010-11, Santorelli has seen his career slide. He had 11 points in 2011-12 for Florida, and three points for the Panthers in 2012-13 before being sent to the AHL and then traded to the Winnipeg Jets.
Santorelli, 28, signed a one-year, two-way free agent deal with the Canucks prior to the 2013-14 season worth a reported $550,000. His previous deal with Florida was one-way, for two-years and worth a reported $3.2 million. He is an unrestricted free agent in June.
Nathan Oystrick, HC Lev Praha, KHL: Oystrick, a former NMU captain and defenseman from 2002-06, scored in overtime on Monday for HC Lev Praha of Prague, Czech Republic, to force a Game 7 on Wednesday in the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League Finals against Metallurg Magnitogorsk of Siberia. Metallurg won Game 7, 7-4, to clinch the KHL’s Gagrin Cup on Wednesday. Lev is the first European team to ever make the KHL Finals.
Oystrick, 31, just completed his second season with Lev in what is considered the premier league in Europe and Asia and second to the NHL in the world. He finished 2013-14 with two goals and 16 assists in 43 regular season games, then posted four goals and seven assists in 22 playoff games.
Oystrick previously played for the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks and Atlanta Thrashers.