Fayetteville’s SPHL Marksmen have not been sitting still this off season, having signed a number of players and new coaching staff. Plus, for those of you keeping score at home, there has been a noticeable glow-up from the Marksmen. Almost like they are working on making a run to get and AHL or ECHL team or something…….not that we here at CC would have an opinion on that.
Here is a run down of the off season news from Fayetteville.
The summer silly season started off with some moves behind the bench as Fayetteville’s head coach Cory Melkert accepted an assistant coaching position with the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL. While in Fayetteville, Melkert secured a franchise record 40 wins in his opening season, becoming just the fourth head coach in league history to earn a 40-win year.
But the head coaching job would not go unfilled for long. On July 10th the Marksmen announced Ryan Cruthers would become the seventh head coach and the director of hockey operations. Prior to coming to Fayetteville this off season, Cruthers, was the assistant coach for the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede.
Rounding out the Marksmen coaching staff is two-time SPHL champion Kyle Sharkey. Sharkey played 150 SPHL games and amassed 130 points (50g, 80a), all with the Huntsville Havoc. Most recently Sharkey had been coaching with the NAHL’s Minot (N.D.) Minotauros.
2023 SPHL Rookie of the Year Austin Alger was announced, along with 12 other players, to the Marksmen’s SPHL protected list. Alger led all SPHL rookies with 51 points this season.
But an off season would not be complete without signing players to bring in more firepower or add more on defense. For the first time in recent memory the Marksmen went looking for a goaltender in the off season, as Jason Pawloski was not placed on Fayetteville’s protected list.
In total, Fayetteville has signed 14 players to round out their roster for the 2023-24 season.
Forward Connor Fries was the first to sign with Fayetteville this summer bringing his experience back to Fayetteville. With stints in Peoria, Quad City, Knoxville, and an early tour Fayetteville, Fries has skated in 154 games in the SPHL. Fries has 118 professional points dating back to 2019-20.
Coming back to Fayetteville after three games at the end of last season is Grant Loven. Loven made his professional debut on April 1 vs. Quad City.
Utica College’s Joey Berkopec comes to Fayetteville with back-to-back UCHC titles in the 2021-22 & 2022-23 seasons. He registered 60 points (13G+47A) and 265 PIM in 163 games with the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials and Coquitlam Express.
Forward John Moncovich also signed with the Marksmen for the 2023-24 season. Moncovich appeared in 5 Marksmen games last season, recording 4 goals and 1 assist. He also appeared in all 3 postseason games after graduating from Utica College. Monovich represents a homegrown player hailing from Wilmington, NC.
Ty Readman joins the Marksman from the college ranks. Splitting time between Northern Michigan University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Readman tallied 71 points.
Named 2022-23 NCHA All-Conference Team from St. Norbert College, Michael McChesney comes to the Marksmen’s forward line with 66 points in 79 games.
Mitchell Hale also comes to Fayetteville from college hockey having played at SUNY-Plattsburg. In 74 games, Hale marked 10 goals and 24 assists.
From Macclesfield, England, by way of Trine University Brad Jenion has also singed this off season. Jenion was named to the NCHA’s All-Freshman Team following the 2019-20 season while playing for the Thunder. He also found himself in the penalty box for 152 over an 82 game career.
Merritt Oszytko put up 17 in 24 games for Grant MacEwan University during the 2023-24 season. He has junior hockey experience with Sherwood Park Crusaders and Fort McMurray Oil Barons in the AJHL
Also rejoining the Marksmen is Ryan Lieth. In 3 games with Fayetteville at the end of the season he rated 2 assist and a +8.
Goaltender Michael Herringer signed with the Marksmen for the season. Herringer finished the season on loan to Fayetteville from the ECHL’s Savannah Ghost Pirates. He came away with a 2-1 record, .955 save percentage and 1.33 GAA.
Brennan Feasey also signed with Fayetteville. Formerly of the Abu Dhabi Storms in the United Arab Emirates, Feasey amassed 31 goals in 14 games.
The most recent off season signee is Defenseman Nick Parody. Parody played 6 games with Fayetteville last season.
But hockey moves are not the only moves the Fayetteville Marksmen have been making. Off the ice, the Marksmen have announced they are hosting a Pre-Game Meet and Greet with WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley ahead of their Wrestling Night at the Crown Coliseum. The Meet and Greet/ Q &A will take place from 4:15pm – 5:30pm, prior to the Marksmen game that evening.
If you have not already, make the trip down to Fayetteville to take in a Marksman game. Tickets are so affordable and the hockey is really awesome. If you cannot make it to a game, you can keep up with the Marksmen via livestream on their Youtube Channel.