It’s the start of a new season and a new set fixture for the Daily Dish; the Monday Mash. The Mash will bring the most interesting takes from the weekend of junior hockey.
So, let’s give it a go.
North American Hockey League
Pre-Blaine action each season generally plays more like the pre-season with teams trying to fine-tune rosters. Considering the number of extra players still sitting on United States Hockey League depth charts, the entire event in Blaine may be little more than a very expensive sneak preview of the actual power of the NAHL season.
With that said, the games over the weekend did pull the sheets back on several interesting situations.
Defending champion Shreveport looked good in the home-sweep of the Corpus Christi IceRays. Once again, Mudbug fans packed George’s Pond in support of the boys.
The Lone Star Brahmas picked up the W in their single road win at Amarillo where the Bulls managed to get 2,000+ into the Bull Pen. Nicely. Nicely done.
Is anybody really surprised by the Topeka Pilots? Let’s just say this; money does change everything. Make no mistake, the RoadRunners owner has some seriously deep pockets, but his family does not dance with the B word or have a team in the National Football League (plus Major League Soccer and the ECHL…). The Pilots started the season with a bang, getting the big win for the home opener and taking two of three games for the weekend.
The Johnstown Tomahawks picked up a nice road sweep at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and looked very dominant in Saturday’s 5-1 beatdown of Tom Kowal's Knights.
A little birdie told me that the Northeast Generals faced the United States Hockey League’s Youngstown Phantoms in an exhibition match-up over the weekend. The result? It's a secret.
The expansion Maryland Black Bears drew 700+ to their first ever game at Piney Orchard Ice Arena Friday. Head Coach Clint Mylymok’s crew managed to pick up a point in Saturday’s overtime loss to New Jersey.
Quick, what Alaska team is sitting on top of the division standings this morning? In an unusual turn of events, the Kenai River Brown Bears find themselves at the top after getting a huge road sweep at Janesville.
Meanwhile, Alaskan powerhouse Fairbanks Ice Dogs were swept at Chippewa Falls (3-2,3-2), joining Janesville at the bottom.
British Columbia Hockey League
The season has gotten off to a roaring start with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
The Trail Smoke Eaters (3-0-1-1) lead the ultra-competitive Interior division with seven points. The Wenatchee Wild (3-1-0-0) and Merritt Centennials (3-2-0-0) are right behind with six each.
The Prince George Spruce Kings (4-0-0-0) are already making things look easy in the Mainland Division.
The Island Division’s Powell River Kings (2-0-0-0) are the league’s other blemish-free club after a solid opening weekend. The Victoria Grizzlies (2-1-0-0) and Alberni Valley Bulldogs (2-2-0-0) both match the Kings’ point total with four each.
USPHL vs Canada's "B" and "C"?
Let’s be frank here, the Ontario Provincial League’s “C” level is playing at a higher level of play than the USPHL’s Elite Conference. The funny part is, the entire Canadian Junior B system is likely at a much higher level than the USPHL’s Premier.
If you really want an eye-opener, I’d take last year’s Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League Champion Listowel Cyclones over any of the USPHL’s NCDC teams in a heartbeat as well. The Cyclone’s bench boss Jason Brooks did a fantastic job leading that group last season and would likely embarrass the best of whatever the NCDC could throw at them.
Maybe someday. Heck, if the United States Women’s National Team can play an entire series of games against USPHL teams, why can’t a Canadian Junior “B” club put a big zipper on those loud-mouths from Boston?
USPHL Players Black Listed from NAHL?
There seems to be a bit of turmoil regarding the NAHL’s ability to keep players from non-sanctioned leagues (burp, USPHL) off NAHL practice ice. While USA Hockey refused to take the Hockey Canada type of stance (no players from non-sanctioned leagues allowed that have played a game after October 1st), the NAHL has discovered other rules already on the books regarding unregistered players. The practice of offering opportunities for players from non-sanctioned leagues are also being frowned upon by the league and team owners.
That’s going to leave a big mark for all the USPHL coaches that have been promising such opportunities to unsuspecting players and families.
And one last thing…
Who is the big dummy that came up with the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings anyway? Is there an actual formula or is it based entirely on where a certain league commissioner hides the photos from that outing in Las Vegas? I’m sorry, but also certain that the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Cochrane Crunch (ranked #8 by the crack CJHL rankings) would not come within ten goals of beating the Trail Smoke Eaters or Wenatchee Wild from the BCHL. The Powassan Voodoos too? Oh please. In reality, I don’t think either of the NOJHL’s “best” teams could knock out the Listowel Cyclones either. Now that IS funny.
That’s it for today folks!