Mr. Hockey Joey Larson commits to Northern Michigan
From left, Joey Larson, Matt Hunwick and Dan Sturges.
Last season’s Mr. Hockey will be heading back to Michigan in a year or two.
Forward Joey Larson, who led Hartland to the past two Division 2 state championships and is now playing in juniors with the Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League, committed to play at Northern Michigan University beginning either next season or 2021-22.
Larson was named Michigan’s top boys High School hockey player at the Hockey Weekly High School All-State Awards Luncheon for the 2018-19 season.
He is making a smooth transition to junior hockey, leading Chilliwack with nine points (four goals and five assists) in nine games.
“We are extremely proud of Joey and are excited to be a part of his development as he looks to take the next step in his career,” Chiefs coach/GM Brian Maloney told The Chilliwack Progress. “Joey is a class individual that handles himself the right way on and off the ice, and we look forward to him being a part of the culture here in Chilliwack for years to come.”
The18-year-old Larson, who is 6-1 and 179 pounds, has family connections to NMU.
His mother, Kirsten, attended the school, and his late aunt, Kim Ylitalo, was a star swimmer for the Wildcats in the 1980s.
Ylitalo was a four-time All-American and record setter who was inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.
Hunwick is volunteer U-M coach
Veteran NHL defenseman Matt Hunwick of the Buffalo Sabres, who will not be able to play this season because of a neck injury, will serve as a volunteer assistant coach for his alma mater, the University of Michigan, in 2019-20.
Hunwick, 34, has also played for the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins during his 12-season career.
He will work with the Wolverines’ defensemen.
Sturges returns to East Lansing
Michigan State has hired former Spartan Dan Sturges as its director of hockey operations.
Sturges played at MSU from 2005-09, helping the Spartans win the 2007 national championship. He graduated with a degree in psychology.
He had been at the University of Colorado, where he coached two of the school’s ACHA programs. Sturges was head coach of Colorado’s ACHA Division II team for three seasons from 2016 to 2019 before being elevated to the top job of the ACHA D-I program this past spring.
“It’s always great when you can welcome another Spartan back to the program,” Michigan State coach Danton Cole said in a statement. “Dan gained some excellent experience over the last few years and did a great job coaching at Colorado. … We’re excited about Dan and what he brings to Spartan hockey.”