There has certainly been some excitement in the prospect pool of the Western Hockey League this season. Out East, the Lethbridge Hurricanes are out of the gate and flying thanks to the crafty scoring talents of Nathan Barrett, Tomas Kopecky, and Ryley Layden, amassing 82 points combined through 15 games. The true “Windy City” is craving a long playoff run and the ‘Canes look to have the talent to produce. The Red Deer Rebels haven’t seem to falter a bit since spending their month of May conquering opponents to win the Memorial Cup. GM and Head Coach Brent Sutter watched junior-stars Kyle Wanvig (Minnesota), Martin Erat (Nashville), and Justin Mapletoft (Islanders) all start professional careers, yet packed enough ammo to sit atop the CHL rankings for the fourth consecutive week. Pittsburgh Penguin 1st Round Draft Pick Colby Armstong (10 points in 13 games played) now wears the Red Deer “C” while Columbus prospect Shane Bendera anchors the Rebels in net with a miniscule 1.58 GAA and a .942 SV%. In the West, the Kamloops Blazers are enjoying a hot streak while battling through some injury problems. Scottie Upshall is headlining their assault, demonstrating a balance of scoring touch and physical play with 21 Points and 38 PIM in 14 games played. The Seattle Thunderbirds are stuck in a rut that finds them with only four wins in the US Division, yet one more win than BC Division strugglers the Kelowna Rockets. Both teams have some impressive talent, such as T-Bird Read more»
The Manchester Monarchs can be thought of as a new, yet old team in the American Hockey League. Several of the players who make up the roster of one of the AHL’s expansion franchises could be found on the previous affiliate squad to the Los Angeles Kings, the Lowell Lock Monsters. Some of the familiar faces on the team this season are Richard Seeley, Joe Rullier, Greg Phillips, Mike Pudlick, and Chris Schmidt. The Kings moved out and into a brand-spanking new home about 25 miles north of its former abode, and the Carolina Hurricanes’ top minor league affiliate took up residence in the old place.
The Monarchs’ home opener is still three weeks away, but the folks who follow the team are still excited about having a New Hampshire-based team to cheer on. Fans got their first glimpse of the inside of the Verizon Wireless Arena on Tuesday, October 23, 2001, when they invaded the still-under-construction arena for the season ticket pick-up gathering. The Monarchs players were in attendance, giving fans the opportunity to meet the boys in purple, white and gold, get autographs and pictures, and chat.
Because their home rink won’t be available until mid-November, the Monarchs embarked on a 14-game road trip to start the season. Having played half of those games, things look a bit grim. They’ve played the currently undefeated Lowell Lock Monsters team twice, and have been handed defeat in both contests, losing 6-3 in the season opener (October 5th), then 4-3 last weekend (October 20th). They played back-to-back games against the Norfolk Admirals, the fi Read more»