Welcome to the new set fixture for the Daily Dish; the Monday Mash.
We are going to have some fun today. Aside from the good stuff from the weekend of games, we also have something to say about our friends over in the USPHL.
The Mash brings the most interesting takes from the week of junior hockey. In general, the idea is to remain positive. With that said, please understand that It’s not satire and unfortunately, will at times, open a few eyeballs to the underside of the level of play.
North American Hockey League
We’ve got to keep ‘em separated!
The NAHL has earned the reputation for the advanced development of outstanding goaltenders and it looks like this season is not going to be an exception. There are seventeen goalies with save percentage more than .925. That’s an exciting start to the season for the twineminders.
Than there are the other guys. There is more than one NA coach that may be proving himself to have more loyalty than brains. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out there might be a few holes in the scouting report if the men behind the masks have numbers south of .880 this deep into the start of the season.
To no one’s surprise, the Central Division race has started out hot as a firecracker. Minot leads the charge (this week anyway) while riding a five-game surge. The Bruins are a single point behind with Aberdeen and Bismarck a point behind Austin. Not sure what happened to the Blizzard this week but do know that it was not very pretty. Head Coach Moe Mantha will need some of his best stuff this week to get it right.
The beasts of the East Division continue to show their chops. The hard-charging Tomahawks made it look easier than it should have been.
The Midwest Division leading Kenai River Brown Bears are 5-3-0-0 after the weekend split at Springfield. The boys finally get to Alaska for a few weekends of home cooking before heading back to the lower 48 for the last two weekends of October. The Magicians split their weekend set with Fairbanks while Janesville took both ends of the home-and-home set with Chippewa.
Amarillo ignited the Bull Pen with a combined ten goals scored in home sweep of the Pilots. Odessa and Shreveport earned valuable road wins on Friday night before both suffered shutout losses on Saturday.
I’ll get deeper into our NA coverage on Wednesday.
British Columbia Hockey League
The level of competition in the BCHL so far in the early season has been impressive. Considering the wide range of economical standards, the on-ice product has been amazing.
On the Island, Victoria and Powell River have continued the on-going battle for the lead. The strange occurrence is the slow start to Nanaimo’s season. History tells us that the Clips will find a way.
On the Mainland, Chilliwack is looking good through the first ten games of the season. The surprise here must be Coquitlam’s early season success. Surrey is having a rough go.
Then there is the Interior where only two points separates the front-running teams (Merritt, Wenatchee, and West Kelowna) from bottom (Salmon Arm, Penticton and Vernon). Yes, this is going to be a heck of a fight with this group.
U$PHL Wallet Development
A player from one of John Swartz’s teams asked for a trade to a team closer to home. No problem said the coach, but I’m going to ding you for a $5,000+ for those few games played and less than a month of being in town. Nasty business.
But not as nasty as the (now ex-) USPHL coach that borrows a player’s car to go home (because he was not feeling good) to a nearby apartment, only to disappear for three days. When the player finally recovered the car, the coach was seen wearing the player’s clothes that were found inside a bag in the borrowed (really stolen) car. That coach has since been replaced. We can’t make this stuff up either.
Wait, there must be more. While that Death Dude continues to bash the NA3HL about lopsided scores and roster shortages, he never mentions the USPHL. The Palm Beach Hawks recently played a game with eight skaters against the Florida Eels (getting beat 8-2 and outshot 77-27). That was better than getting beat 16-1 by that same Eels team in the previous game.
Daytona (DME for this season) was outscored 24-1 in the last three games of the showcase in North Carolina. The Rabbits did pull-out an ironman (ten skaters) effort in the event opening win over Potomac.
Not to be outdone, and sticking to the state of Florida (I’m here, so why not?), the Florida Jr Blades continue their struggle with just eleven skaters in one of the games at the “showcase.”
Let’s face the reality of the situation, shall we? The USPHL Elite is Junior “D” hockey at best and exists simply to keep the money flowing to Boston. Frank “The Don” Scarpaci (and his buddy in Tampa) should be allowed to simply create a second premier team like the Metro-Jets have been allowed to do and stop the charade. There is zero development when players are forced to play against an noncompetitive team. Let the Eels and Tampa Bay have two teams each and create a more competitive atmosphere in the state.
Maybe the USPHL needs to just dump the Elite level entirely. Nah, that would make too much sense.
Speaking of the dump, the Premier’s Hartford Jr Wolfpack, were throttled by Mike Stanaway’s New York Aviators 21-1 in their first two games of the season. The weekend tilt at Champion’s Skating Center was a gem to watch. The home fans even turned Stanaway into the villain, just in time for the Halloween festivities.
The Palm Beach Hawks (great organization) premier have not played a game in two weeks after getting beat 47-6 in their first four games. A bird told me that the premier Hawks may be grounded for the season. You think?
That’s it for today folks!