Photo: Sean Flynn Photography/Quad City Mallards
The Quad City Mallards have re-signed forward Matt Neal and defenseman Jake Baker, the Mallards announced today.
Neal, 23, made an immediate impact after joining the Mallards out of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in March. Neal piled up a goal and five assists in seven regular season games before scoring three goals and added two assists in seven playoff games.
“Matt adjusted to pro hockey very quickly and delivered for us right away last season,” said Mallards coach and general manager Terry Ruskowski. “He's a skilled player who sees the ice well and can also score himself. He was an important player for us at the end the season and in the playoffs and now we want to see him take the next step and perform for a full season.”
Neal scored five times and notched 11 assists for 16 points in 35 games as a senior at RPI last season. In 2013-14, the 5’ 11”, 200-pound Minesing, Ontario, native set collegiate career highs by scoring ten goals and recording 27 points in 37 games.
Over his four seasons as an Engineer, Neal produced 25 goals and 52 assists for 77 points in 127 games.
Before arriving at RPI, Neal spent three seasons with the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Stouffville Spirit. He capped off his junior career in 2010-11 by ringing up 40 goals and 60 assists in 50 games to finish fourth in the OJHL with 100 points.
Baker, 23, also signed with the Mallards just after completing his college career in the spring. The 6’ 5”, 223-pound Northern Michigan product recorded one assist along with a plus/minus rating of +5 in seven regular season games. Baker registered another assist while posting a plus/minus of +2 in seven playoff games.
"Jake is another guy who did a very good job making the jump from college hockey last year," said Ruskowski. "We were able to put him out against other teams' top lines and count on him to do a solid job. With his size and ability to play a physical game he's a very promising young defenseman."
Baker, who served as an NMU co-captain last season, scored five goals and added three assists in 36 games as a Wildcat senior. The Port Moody, British Columbia, native notched eight goals, 17 assists and 25 points in 144 games over four collegiate seasons.
Before heading to Northern Michigan, Baker spent three junior seasons in the British Columbia Hockey League where he skated for the Merritt Centennials, Nanaimo Clippers, Victoria Grizzlies and Trail Smoke Eaters.
Mallards 2015-16 season tickets are now available. Season ticket holders enjoy significant savings of the walk-up ticket price and receive a host of exclusive benefits. For more season ticket information, fans can contact the Mallards at 309-277-1364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.