News & Features
The United States Hockey League is rich in tradition and history. Although the Eastern Division is tough, the Western Division is usually tougher. Last season saw all six Western Division teams make the eight-team field in the playoffs with the Omaha Lancers and Lincoln Stars playing for the Clark Cup title. Things are changing a bit though as the Des Moines Buccaneers have taken their legacy back to the East while the West welcomes two new editions to the league. The Tulsa Crude and Topeka Scarecrows make their USHL debuts this season. Tulsa, who previously played in Dubuque, Iowa as the Fighting Saints, will struggle the most out of the two. Lincoln and Omaha do not appear as invincible as in recent years, although that always changes when it comes gut check time. Tri-City in the second year may not fare as well as hoped by the faithful in Kearney, Nebraska. All in all, the Western Division usually is a fight to the finish and this season will be no different.
1. Sioux Falls Stampede
Stampede is an appropriate name for this team. Since they entered the league in the 1999-2000 season, Sioux Falls never dealt with the usual problems of an expansion team. If you thought they were not able to reload then you were wrong. The Stampede is my pick to win the Western Division and my preseason pick to win the league this year. A lot can change, but this team is stocked. Thomas Vanek is the key superstar to the team this year. His cast is full of many though and although he may win the league scoring title, he won’t be at the top of the lis Read more »
Moral victory comes at a high cost
It wasn’t a win, but it sure felt like one. Both players and fans alike came away from Wednesday’s 1-1 tie game with Red Deer feeling like it was a moral victory in that it provided some pluses for a club sorely in need of good things to build on. It also proved to be very costly.
A couple of weeks ago in an interview with Rob Vanstone for The Hockey News, Jarrett Stoll lamented the bout of bad luck he’d suffered over the summer and into the beginning of the season. Referring the wrist surgery, a case of strep throat before the Calgary Flames training camp and the freak kitchen knife accident that sliced the hand of the Yorkton, Sask. native that will see him sidelined for at least another month, his mother had always told him that things happen in threes. Being prophetic about her son is one thing, being clairvoyant about predicting the early season mis-fortunes of the Kootenay ICE is quite another.
But you could use any cliche here. Bad things always happen in threes, when it rains it pours, pick one, in the recent fortunes of the Kootenay ICE, almost any apply.
Marek Svatos, the club’s leading scorer and offensive catalyst in the absence of Stoll received the worst possible news when the slick Slovak suffered a dislocated shoulder that will sideline the Colorado Avalanche draft pick indefinitely. Adding to bad news of Stoll cutting himself and Dan Blackburn sticking with the New York Rangers, losing Svatos was not a possibility that the club wanted to ponder.
Coach Ryan Mc Read more »
BRANDON WHEAT KINGS
The Brandon Wheat Kings have taken advantage of some struggling teams in the east division and have taken top spot with a 6-4 record, not great, but the best by a ways in the weak east division. The Wheat Kings are the only team over five hundred and the nearest team has a meagre three wins. look for the Moose Jaw Warriors to make some kind of move if they get Brian Sutherby back from Washington and Steve Crampton recovers from knee surgery, but with that said, the Wheat Kings have taken advantage of the other teams problems and reached the top. The Wheat Kings aren’t loaded with a ton of dynamic offensive threats, however they are scoring by committee which is often the best way to go.
Ryan Craig is probably the best offensive threat night in and night out for the Wheaties, however he has just returned from injury, but has already amassed five points in just two games. Richard Meuller, Lance Monych, Tim Konsorada and Jordan Tootoo are the next best so far offensively with Monych and Konsorada only being seventeen. Tootoo and five year veteran Randy Ponte are the sparkplugs on the team, both being a little on the short side vertically, but either one is like a pitbull if you care to get rocking, while rookie Ryan Stone appears to be learning fast and should help in the toughness department as he gains experience and strength. European Jiri Jakes can contribute more than the six point he has so far and the Wheaties will need him to pick it up. Colin McCrae, Caine Pearpoint, Michael Young and the currently injured Travis Ea Read more »
The Calder Corner
Martinek: 1 Assist, 1 Shot
As a general rule, I will always list goals and assists and other noteworthy stats. If there is more to be noted, HF encourages our readers to talk about them below!
When Jeff Jillson decided to leave the University of Michigan after his junior year last season, he had a specific goal in mind—to make himself as ready for his first professional hockey season as possible. Jillson spent most of the summer of 2001 in San Jose working out with the Sharks’ Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Mac Read, trying to prepare himself for the faster, bigger, and stronger competition at the professional level, but it’s not the first time he’s had to adjust and turn himself into a different player.
It was only four years ago that many felt he would have been better suited to play in the Canadian Hockey League as opposed to college, but Jillson decided not only to make the decision that was best for his hockey career, but also what was best for his own personal development.
“I saw a few games in the junior leagues and then I saw a couple in the college leagues and figure I got the best of both worlds, (I got to) play a high level of hockey and at the same time continue my education,” said Jillson. “The thing is at Michigan is that you get so much exposure even though it’s a college team as far as hockey goes and you can get the best of both worlds to continue to work on your game as well as continue on with your education, so it works out pretty well.”
In another sign of Jillson’s constant strive for improvement, not just in hockey, but in life, Jillson recently registered for classes on the Internet at Michigan where he was a constant All-Academic selection. He said that the early plan is to do most of his coursework Read more »