If re-building is what the Thunder Bay Flyers did this season by making the play-offs with a 19-30-7 record. Then the 1999-2000 season the Flyers must be re-tooling for better things to come. The biggest change has already taken place. As Gary Wenzel was fired as head coach and general manager after only one season behind the bench. His replacement is Thunder Bay native Todd Jones who spent the last three years as assistant coach and assistant general manager of the Sioux City Musketeers. Both the Flyers and Musketeers are owned by Superland Sports business tycoon Ted Carlson.
The Flyers have 11 players returning to the Lakehead. The veterans will be led by Pat Sharp with 19 goals, 24 assits for 43 points in his rookie season. Other returning forwards are Derrick McIver 43 points last year, Chris Sharp 32 points, Murray MaGill, Clayton Carson, Aaron Grynol, Jeff Miles, Chris Shaffer 40 points. The defence looks to be a question mark with only two d-man suiting up from Wenzel’s squad. Rookie defenceman Jesse Baraniuck had a strong play-offs and Tyler Williamson returns for his third season on the blueline.
The Thunder Bay Flyers have made the United States Hockey League playoffs for the first time in four years. The Flyers qualified with a 5-2 win over the West Division leading Omaha Lancers. Thunder Bay jumped out to a 3-0 second period lead on goals by Chris Shaffer, Derrick McIver and Jeff Miles. But the Lancers stormed back with two of their own by Jason Jaworski and Jed Ortmeyer.
The Flyers increased the lead back to two goals as Aaron MacKenzie tipped in Mike Tilson’s point shot in the third period. Derrick McIver scored his second of the night on the empty net to send Thunder Bay back to the playoffs. The Flyers once again received strong goaltending from Cory MaEachran who made 43 saves in the win.
The Flyers sit in sixth place but could drop to seventh on the out come of Sunday nights games. The Flyers will either play the Lancers or the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL Quarter-Finals. The post season will start early next week. Stay tuned to Hockey’s Future for Flyers Updates.
Three wins by Des Moines over the weekend clinch regular season title
The Des Moines Buccaneers took their first step to a National Championship over the weekend by clinching the Anderson Cup for winning the regular season title. The wins also assured them a place in the upcoming Gold Cup playoffs for the National Junior Hockey Championship.
The weekend started at home for Des Moines with a 6-1 win against the North Iowa Huskies. The Buccaneers Peter Sejna figured in on 5 of the 6 Des Moines goals with one assist and 4 goals, one of which came on the power play. The Buccaneers then traveled the 103 miles North to Waterloo and finished clinching the cup with an easy 7-3 win against the Waterloo Black Hawks. Kelly Miller got the game-winning goal while Jerrid Reinholz, Pete Fregoe, and KC Caudill each added 2 goals apiece. Des Moines then added another 5-4 win against North Iowa, this time coming in Mason City.
Lincoln clinches fifth to set up western division showdown
The Lincoln Stars clinched fifth place in the USHL over the weekend to set up a first round matchup between the Stars and the 4th place Sioux City Musketeers in the first round of the USHL playoffs. Lincoln clinched a playoff spot on Wednesday with a 6-5 shoot-out win in Sioux City. The Stars then went on to win 3 more games over the weekend including wins over Dubuque 8-3, North Iowa 4-3 (SO), and a 5-3 win over Green Bay at home. Lincoln got contributions from literally every direction as they tallied 21 goals from a total of 11 different players in their 4 games on the week, let by Eric Maksimenko’s 4 goals.
The bottom teams in the USHL continue to scramble for the last 3 remaining births in the playoffs. Thunder Bay, who has only 2 games remaining, was only able to gain a single point over the weekend in a 2 game series with the USA (18& Under) Team. They lost on Friday 4-1, and took the USA team to a shoot-out before losing on Saturday by a 3-2 (SO) score. The Flyers, by gaining the one point for a shoot-out loss, still hold on to 6th place in the league currently with 43 points.
Wins by Waterloo and North Iowa keep teams 6-9 separated by just 4 points
The Waterloo Black Hawks and North Iowa Huskies, who are both fighting for their playoff lives managed to take a pair of games each from teams they are battling for the remaining playoff births in the USHL. Waterloo took a pair of 2-1 wins from Thunder Bay north of the border on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The Black Hawks played a pair of tight defensive games headlined by goaltender Mike Walsh, who made 61 of 63 saves over the weekend to earn the league’s defensive player of the week. The losses could spell big trouble for the Flyers who have only 4 games remaining, 2 against USA (18 & Under), 2 with Omaha, and have a combined 0-2-2 record against those 2 teams so far this season. Thunder Bay is leading 9th place Rochester by just 4 points, while the Mustangs have 4 games in hand.
North Iowa bounced back from an 11-0 loss on Wednesday to the red hot Des Moines Buccaneers, and swept a home and home series with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. The Huskies won a 4-1 decision on Saturday in Mason City, IA with goals from Josh Schlipp(2), Effren Larranago, and Marty Goulet. They then capped the weekend by traveling to Dubuque and blanking the Saints 2-0. Jason Gregoire got the Shutout on Sunday stopping all 23 of Dubuque’s shots on goal.