Griffins and Wolves Aim For a Turner Cup Rematch

By Chad Cranmer
Last year’s Turner Cup finalists Grand Rapids Griffins and Chicago Wolves both aim to get back to the finals this season, and both have the firepower to do it.

The Wolves return many key players from last year’s championship team, and also have added players such as center Robert Petrovicky and the first overall pick in the NHL goalie Rick DiPietro. The Griffins also return many of their key players as well as receiving top players center Todd White and last year’s top IHL defenseman Mike Crowley from their parent >Ottawa Senators.

Not everyone is back however. The Wolves lost leading scorer Steve Maltais when he signed an NHL contract with the Expansion Columbus Bluejackets. Chicago will be counting center Steve Larouche and new comers Mark Lawrence, a New York Islanders prospect, Petrovicky, and left wing Mike Maneluk, assigned to the team by Columbus, to fill the scoring void left by Maltais’ departure. Right wing Brian Noonan will provide veteran leadership, and Paul Kruse will add muscle to the forward unit.

Glen Featherstone, Kevin Dahl, and Dallas Eakins anchor a corps of blueliners this year that also includes 22 year old Russian Evgeny Korolev who was assigned to the team by the Islanders. Veteran Wendal Young, who helped the Wolves to the Turner Cup last year, will share the goal with DiPietro.

The Griffins lost their all-time leading goal scorer, Michel Picard, goalie Jani Hurme, and forward Kevin Miller from last year’s squad, as well as IHL Coach of the Year Guy Charron, who took a job as an assistant for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Offensively, the Griffins have captain Ed Patterson returning, as well as a group of quality forwards like second year winger Petr Shastlivy, veteran Derek King, and bangers Chris Neil and Chris Szysky from last years Eastern Conference championship team. Left wing David Roberts joins the team and should, along with White, make up for the loss of Picard, who signed a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in the offseason, and Kevin Miller. On defense, the Griffins lost Todd Nelson, the first player they ever signed, but added Crowley. Grand Rapids also returns Travis Richards and John Gruden. A big addition to the Griffins’ lineup is Joel Bouchard, a veteran of 244 NHL games. Mike Fountain returns to the Griffin’s net, and will split time with rookie Mathieu Chouinard. Bruce Cassidy takes over behind the bench.

Both teams expect to win the Turner Cup this year, and they both have a very good chance of doing so.