Men’s Hockey: 4 Huskies sign pro contracts

Men’s Hockey: 4 Huskies sign pro contracts

By Matt Nielson

Four seniors from the men’s hockey team signed professional contracts this week, after the Huskies’ season ended last weekend against Boston College in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East tournament. Forward Bryan Esner and defender Steve Birnstill signed with the Peoria Rivermen of the American Hockey League (AHL), while goaltender Adam Geragosian signed with the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) and defender Brian Deeth signed with the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL.

Esner was the first to sign, inking a deal with the Peoria Rivermen, the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, last Wednesday. Esner was a valuable commodity for the Huskies this season, dominating on the penalty-kill unit. Esner scored four goals shorthanded and finished the season on a hot streak, scoring four goals in the team’s final five games.

Shortly after, Esner was joined in Peoria by Husky assistant captain Birnstill. The senior defenseman said it was a matter of timing, as well as playing time, that lured him to Peoria.

“It all happened pretty quickly,” Birnstill said. “Right after the BC game, I was talking to my agent, and to other teams, but Peoria showed a lot of interest. They’ve had some injury at [defense], and they’re making a playoff run, so I thought it would be a chance to get out there and show them what I can do. It was a good situation for me, because I had a chance to get some playing time.”

Esner’s presence with the Rivermen also helped make up Birnstill’s mind.

“It was a good feeling to know that Bryan was out there,” Birnstill said. “It helps to ease nerves. When you’re moving out there to join a new team, it’s really exciting to have somebody out there that you know well, and that you’ve played with.”

Birnstill led the team in assists this year with 13, and recorded 58 points in 130 career games with Northeastern. Birnstill and Esner have already gotten their pro careers going, playing in three and four games, respectively, for the Rivermen last week.

Also joining the pro ranks was Geragosian, who signed with the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the ECHL and made his first professional start Sunday night, a 3-2 loss to the South Carolina Stingrays. Geragosian started 29 games as a Husky, and recorded two career shutouts, including a 5-0 homecoming victory over Union College Oct. 21, 2006.

Deeth is the latest to sign, joining the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL Monday. Deeth, a fan favorite, appeared in 84 games in his collegiate career and was a mainstay at defense in his last three seasons at Northeastern.

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