The Whale found their way successfully to Newfoundland Thursday, without Benn Ferriero and with two new roster additions.
Jyri Niemi, who played five games with the Whale earlier this year, and a total of 54 over the first two seasons of his career, was reassigned back to the Whale from Greenville of the ECHL, and Michael Pelech, a 6-3, 210-pound forward, was signed to a PTO from the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones.
Ferriero was injured in Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Albany Devils, and did not skate in practice Wednesday or Thursday. Marek Hrivik also remains out, having missed the last 13 games after producing 22 points in the season’s first 32 tilts.
Prior to being assigned to Greenville December 28, Niemi had been hurt for 18 games, the result of a check November 11 by Bridgeport’s Colin McDonald that caused Niemi to be carted off the ice on a stretcher. The Finnish-born blueliner had produced well for the ECHL Road Warriors, chalking up six points, a goal and five assists, and going +8, in 14 games.
Pelech had a stint earlier this year with Worcester, during which he got a chance to play with his older brother Matt, who was a first-round pick by Calgary in 2005 and now is in his second year with the San Jose organization. Michael Pelech was drafted in the sixth round by Los Angeles in 2009 out of the Ontario Hockey League, but has played mostly in the ECHL in his four-year pro career. He had one assist in his three games with Worcester and sported numbers of 10-27-37 and 63 penalty minutes in 44 games with Cincinnati, good for tops on the team in assists and second in points and PIM. And that’s on a team that was ten games over .500. Last year with Cincinnati, Pelech was a point-a-game guy, with 60 points in 60 games, and had 98 penalty minutes.
And what a game tonight in the NHL for J.T. Miller. The 19-year-old Ohio native had his first two NHL goals, and was First Star, in a 4-1 Ranger win over the Islanders. He also earned the following evaluation from Coach John Tortorella, “Miller, what is he? 19? He has a lot of puck poise for such a young kid….He’s got some bite to him and I’d rather have a guy that you need to tame a little bit as he’s learning to be a pro then to get someone to play with some spunk like that. I like the way he carries himself, he’s got some good strut to his game.”