By Andrew Hoyle
The 2002-2003 hockey season brings a wide variety of changes to the former Omaha Lancers. The newly-named River City Lancers will be playing their home games in the new 7,000 seat Mid-America Center, located across the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Jim McGroarty joins the Lancer staff as an assistant coach, replacing Leigh Mendelson, now coaching with the U.S. National Team. Even long-time play-by-play radio announcer Frank Adkisson has passed the mike to Bob Bakken. And, of course, a new season always brings a new group of players. One thing that won’t change, however, is the winning attitude and commitment to excellence that produced a USHL-best record of 46-12-3 last year, and brought the Anderson Cup to Omaha for a final visit. Another successful season will depend on how quickly veterans and new players can mesh into a cohesive unit.
A solid core of veterans return this season, with 5-10, 180 pound goaltender Dominic Vicari (25-5-1, 1.78 AVG, .926 SV% last year for the Lancers) heading the list. “Dominic can take an otherwise lackluster performance and turn it into a win,” says head coach Mike Hastings. Behind Vicari, Chad Beiswenger, a 6-3, 180 pound native of Moorhead, ND, and Dan Tormey, a 6-2, 180 pound native of Syracuse, NY, will battle for playing time.
The Blue Line returns Tim Cook (43 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 PTS, 39 PIM last year for the Lancers), a 6-4, 190 pound native of Montclair, NJ; Jason Dest (45 GP, 1 G, 8 A, 9 PTS, 29 PIM last year for the Lancers), a 6-0, 156 pound native of Fraser, MI; and Grant Clafton (60 GP, 6 G, 28 A, 34 PTS, 36 PIM last year for the Lancers), a 5-11, 190 pound native of Grand Rapids, MI. Matt Carle, a 6-0, 190 pound native of Anchorage, AK, previously with the U.S. National Under-18 Team, brings a wealth of experience to the Lancer Blue Line. Newcomers Josh Williams, a 5-10, 175 pound native of Maple Grove, MN; Nick Schaus, a 5-11, 175 pound native of Orchard Park, NY; and Kyle Hood, a 5-11, 185 pound native of Osoyoos, British Columbia, round out the defensemen. “I expect them [the defensemen] to be the backbone of the team in the beginning,” says coach Hastings.
Forwards Yale Lewis (58 GP, 8 G, 13 A, 21 PTS, 125 PIM last year for the Lancers), a 6-2, 210 pound native of Carbondale, CO; Brian Burns (56 GP, 15 G, 9 A, 24 PTS, 24 PIM last year for the Lancers), a 6-0, 170 pound native of Binghamton, NY; Taylor Jindra (60 GP, 15 G, 17 A, 32 PTS, 50 PIM last year for the Lancers), a 5-11, 185 pound native of Burnsville, MN; and Bryan Baron (60GP, 17 G, 23 A, 40 PTS, 40 PIM last year for the Lancers), a generous 5-6, 150 pound native of Baudette, MN, return to lead the Lancer attack. USHL veteran Charlie Kronschnabel, a 6-3, 195 pound native of Mendota Heights, NJ, was an excellent acquisition in the dispersal draft for the now-defunct Tulsa Crude, and Nate Raduns, a 6-3, 200 pound native of Sauk Rapids, MN, comes to the Lancers via the U.S. National Under-18 Team. Both bring solid experience to the forward position. Paul Stastny, a 5-11, 185 pound native of St. Louis, MO, follows in older brother Yan’s footsteps in becoming a Lancer. Janne Jokila, a 5-10, 174 pound native of Turku, Finland; Matt Hallberg, a 6-1, 185 pound native of Omaha, NE; Mike Howe, a 5-11, 180 pound native of St. Cloud, MN; Ryan Coakley, a 5-9, 170 pound native of Duxbury, MA; and Jeff LoVecchio, a 6-2, 175 pound native of Chesterfield, MO, look to round out the forward position.
The Lancers have recently completed a trade with the Des Moines Buccaneers, sending 6-1, 180 pound defenseman Travis Anderson, of Coon Rapids, MN, to the Bucs. In return, the Lancers received Tommy Kolar, a 5-10, 175 pound forward from Duluth, MN.
Another recent acquisition was forward John Togiai (70 GP, 12 G, 15A, 27 PTS, 113 PIM last year for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL), a 6-0, 185 pound native of Pasco, WA.
The Lancers have also announced that Matt Jackson of Apple Valley, MN, has left the team.