FOND DU LAC - Recent Marian University men's hockey alumni Gianni Mangone, Derek Thorogood and Hunter Stewart have all signed professional contracts for the upcoming season.
Mangone (Calgary, Alta.) is arguably the best defenseman in Marian men's hockey history despite only spending three seasons as a Sabre and has signed a contract with the Hockey Club Neuilly-sur-Marne, a Division 1 hockey team located in France. Mangone became the first defenseman in program history to earn AHCA All-American recognition after his junior season when he was named to the second team. He also went on to earn two All-NCHA nods to go with All-Region honors once in his career and closed out his time as a Sabre earning a spot on the Google Cloud Academic All-American second team as selected by CoSIDA. Mangone became the all-time program leader for goals from a defenseman with 31 after a multi-goal game against Northland and closed out his Sabre career fourth all-time in points as a defenseman with 65.
"I am so excited for Gianni and his opportunity to play in France," commented head Marian men's hockey coach Zach Gaynor. "He has worked so hard and is very deserving of this offer. Gianni's high hockey intelligence, offensive talents, and his tireless work ethic are all assets that allowed him to have several pro offers this season. It is truly amazing what Gianni accomplished in only three years at Marian. Our program will truly miss Gianni next season but I couldn't be happier for him achieving his lifelong goal."
Thorogood (Calgary, Alta.) will join Mangone in Neuilly-sur-Marne after an illustrious four-year career as a Sabre. In his Sabre career, he was named an All-NCHA selection twice and closed out his career with a strong senior season that saw him score a team-high 15 goals, fifth in the NCHA, to go with 34 points, fourth in the NCHA. His senior season also saw him net a pair of hat tricks with his first career hat trick coming in a 9-2 win over Trine to open the season and the second in a 6-0 win over Finlandia. He also had nine multi-point games with two other multi-goal games to go with his pair of hat tricks. Thorogood went on to wear the Sabre uniform for 111 games in his career, the most games played in program history. Thorogood also closed out his career with 107 points putting him ninth on the all-time list and proved to be a clutch-scorer during his career with eight game-winning goals, fifth-most in program history.
"This is a great opportunity for Derek and his hard work and success at the college level provided him with several pro offers," commented Gaynor. "It will be great for Derek and Gianni to both play on the same team and already have chemistry together before they start this journey. Derek's fast-paced, high-octane, puck-possession style of hockey will allow him to thrive in France. He will round out any special teams unit and provide them with quality depth. All of that open ice will play right into Derek's strengths and will allow him to thrive at the pro level. I couldn't be happier for Derek and I know that he will have an excellent pro career."
Neuilly-sur-Marne competes in the French Ice Hockey Federation (FFHG) and is the second-highest tier of professional hockey in France. The FFHG Division 1 consists of 14 clubs from all across France with Neuilly-sur-Marne being founded in 1974.
Stewart (Calgary, Alta.) spent time with the Evansville Thunderbolts of the Southern Professional Hockey League following the 2017-18 season and has now signed a contract with the Atlanta Gladiators, an East Coast Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins. His professional career with the Thunderbolts started with a bang after he recorded a hat trick in his first career game. Stewart played a total of 11 games with Evansville, three of which were in the postseason, totaling eight points from four goals and four assists.
Stewart was a stand out all four years at Marian and closed out his career ranking second in program history with 80 assists. In his 108 career games as a Sabre, Stewart also scored 28 goals for a total of 108 points to put him eighth all-time in program history. His senior season was especially strong as he earned his first All-NCHA nod after leading the Sabres in scoring with 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points. During the season, Stewart was named the NCHA Offensive Player of the Week and earned a spot on the D3Hockey.com Team of the Week once. Stewart ranked third in the NCHA for total points and was second in the conference for assists, he also ranked tied for seventh in Marian history for assists in a single season. Stewart had nine games where he recorded multiple points with two of those games being multi-goal games. In the classroom, he was named NCHA All-Academic in both his junior and senior seasons.
"What a journey pro hockey has been for Hunter, making a name for himself from game one with Evansville producing a hat trick and ending the season with a point a game," commented Gaynor. "He has truly put in the hard work and has proven that he can play at the pro level. Atlanta is getting an excellent hockey player and an even better person. I have been fortunate to coach a lot of highly-talented forwards in college, but few possess the size, speed, skill set and the ability to play 200 feet like Hunter does. Hunter's mix of new age skill and throwback toughness will fit right into Atlanta's style of play. I couldn't be happier to see someone who works so hard achieve what few from our program have. The higher the level Stew plays at the better he will do, I look forward to watching him climb the ranks for years to come."
The East Coast Hockey League is a mid-level professional league that is only two tiers below the National Hockey League. The league consists of 27 teams with all but five NHL teams claiming an affiliate in the league. The Atlanta Gladiators were founded in 1995 and are based out of Duluth, Georgia. It was in 2015 that the Gladiators became an affiliate for the Boston Bruins and their AHL affiliate the Providence Bruins.
Marian University men's hockey has now had six student-athletes sign professional contracts in the past three years.