The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

April 5, 2014

Opportunity keeps knocking for McInnis

Mavericks captain set to sign; Palmquist will return

In the buildup to the NCAA East Regional at Worcester, Mass., last week, Boston native Johnny McInnis talked about the opportunity he got by leaving New England to play hockey after high school — first in juniors at Alberta, Canada, then in college Minnesota State.

After four seasons at MSU, that decision has turned into a professional opportunity.

McInnis has agreed to an amateur tryout contract — known as an ATO — with the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League. The Monsters are an affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche.

McInnis is expected to sign the contract join the Monsters, who play in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday and finish out the season with them.

“It was fun,” McInnis said about fielding calls this week. “I had to wait around a little bit. I just waited for an opportunity, hopefully, to try out in the AHL. I’m just happy something came about. This was the best opportunity.”

McInnis, a senior forward and the Mavericks’ captain this past season, had career highs in goals and points this season with 21 and 38, respectively. His goal total led the team and was the most by an MSU player since the 2002-03 season.

For his college career, McInnis had 43 goals and 36 assists in 131 games. His 79 points put him in a tie for 25th on MSU’s Division I-era scoring list. He ranks second in program history with 14 game-winning goals, including six this year.

McInnis said the idea of playing professional hockey was always a dream but not necessarily a realistic one when he first arrived at MSU. He was not drafted during his eligible years and was a free agent.

“I was just looking for an opportunity to play a little more, to be honest,” he said. “It’s a goal in the back of your mind, but you have to keep achieving little goals, too.”

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