Jan. 22, 2013
AMHERST, Mass. -
With the National Hockey League season opening up this past weekend, four former UMass hockey players are on the rosters of NHL clubs and all saw action in their teams' season openers. Former Minuteman captain Mike Kostka and Matt Irwin both played in their first NHL games, increasing UMass' NHL alumni total to eight.
Kostka, a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Irwin, a member of the San Jose Sharks, joined former Minutemen Justin Braun (San Jose Sharks) and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings) among the NHL ranks to match the highest number of active NHL players in program history.
The following is a brief overview of UMass' active NHL alumni:
Name: Justin Braun
Team: San Jose Sharks
UMass Years: 2006-2010
Braun is beginning his third NHL season after playing in 28 games in 2010-11 and 66 in 2011-12. As a senior with the Minutemen in 2009-10, he was named a second team All-American, to the New England All-Star Team, to the Hockey East All-Conference First Team and was selected as the New England and Hockey East Defensive Player of the Year.
Name: Matt Irwin
Team: San Jose Sharks
UMass Years: 2008-10
Irwin made his NHL debut in the Sharks' season opener, a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames and was on the ice for 19:06, including 51 seconds on the power play. He also registered two shots and two hits in the contest. Irwin turned pro following his sophomore season at UMass and was named an AHL All-Star with the Worcester Sharks in 2011-12.
Name: Mike Kostka
Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
UMass Years: 2004-07
Kostka made his NHL debut in the Maple Leafs' season opener and helped the Toronto down the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1, in the teams' season opener on Hockey Night In Canada. Kostka saw 23 minutes of ice time in the contest, the second-most of any player for Toronto, and picked up an assist just four minutes, 51 seconds into his NHL career. Kostka, who won the Calder Cup with the Norfolk Admirals in 2011-12, was a Hockey East All-Conference Second Team selection and served as team captain as a senior in 2007-08.
Name: Jonathan Quick
Team: Los Angeles Kings
UMass Years: UMass Years: 2005-07
The Kings' season opener marked the 250th NHL game for Quick, who made his NHL debut on Dec. 6, 2007. The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner became the first Minuteman to win the Stanley Cup in 2012. Last season he earned an NHL All-Star nod and was awarded the ESPY for NHL Player of the Year. Quick, who turned pro following his sophomore season at UMass, led the Minutemen to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 2006-07 and garnered second team All-America status.