Yes, it was a strangely easy week in the world of junior hockey. There were a few lopsided losses and the usual suspects turned in the usual short rosters. All that is becoming old news. I get it, when the bus to the game is a 15-passenger van (and everybody fits), it may be time to seek other options. Just saying.
Now let’s get to the fun stuff.
NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE
Aberdeen moved into a first-place tie with Austin after a successful series at Chippewa. Minot is a point behind the frontrunners in the battle for Central Division supremacy. Meanwhile, nobody is overlooking the Bobcats or Wilderness either. There’s a tremendous amount of hockey to be played and even last-place Brookings picked up a big win this past weekend, look for the Blizzard do deliver a lot more W’s in the month of November.
The Tomahawks picked up a road sweep at the WB and have built a four-point lead over second-place New Jersey is the East Division. The expansion Black Bears move to .500 after their home split with the Rebels needed shoot-outs in both games. The Generals and Titans split their series in Middletown as well.
The Magicians have a one-point lead over Kenai River and Janesville after their weekend split with Austin. The Brown Bears and Jets followed that trend with weekend splits to match. Fairbanks eased two-points closer to the pack with a road sweep at Corpus Christi and are above .500 for the first time this season.
Then we have the South Division where the usual suspects are sitting at the top of the heap. The ‘Bugs split their series at Amarillo and remain three-points behind the Bulls. Sandwiched between those two is Topeka. The Pilots split their home set with Kenai River. Lone Star scored ten goals in their home sweep of Odessa.
Since that Dark Dude wants to cherry pick bad games from every NA3HL weekend, we thought it would be fun to take a good look at some of the action in the u$phl too.
From the elite division (otherwise know as Junior C for the real hockey folks that know better)…
The Islanders Hockey Club rolled over and crushed the Springfield Pics 12-1 on Saturday, outshooting the Pics 74-34 in the process. Pics netminder Brandon Bieda (’02 Chicopee MA) stopped 57 of the 66 shots he had to face in this game. Bieda stats for the season don’t look very pretty (0-4-0-1, .823 SV%) until we realized that the poor youngster has had to face 55+ shots in four of his six games.
Premier must be the most misused word in the Dickey G / Not-So-Little Johnny dictionary. Somebody explain what part of the Tri City Icehawks is premier.
The Decatur Blaze burned the Icehawks 11-2 on Friday before Tri City kept it close on Saturday (6-4) and Sunday (5-3). Now I must question just how premier the Blaze are as well.
Hudson crushed Kasson 11-2 Saturday in a game that featured 132 minutes of penalties. The Blue Ox melted Steele County 10-1 on the same day.
You see, we can pick apart games too.
That’s life in Dickey G’s world.
LET’S BE CLEAR
There are going to be a lot of floaters in the punch bowl of any pay-to-play leagues right now. That’s going to be obvious when Dickey G’s group is enjoying limitless expansion. The only way for USA Hockey sanctioned leagues to combat that is to get aggressive. As of last summer, USA Hockey was unwilling to take a Hockey Canada type of stance against unsanctioned leagues. So maybe it’s time for the leagues to simply do it themselves.
For the NAHL, that should be a league-mandated rule that players from non-sanctioned leagues are not eligible to be drafted or tendered. The USHL should follow suit. The second part of that should be that players from unsanctioned leagues must attend a team’s pre-draft camp before being eligible for Main Camp or Training Camp. Those players could still win an NAHL (or USHL) opportunity, but they are going to have to attend a minimum of three camps to do it.
A simple change to the international transfer procedures could take a stab at the problem as well. Players from unsanctioned leagues should have to play a minimum of twenty sanctioned games in the previous season before USA Hockey allows the player to transfer out of his home country.
This little gem is something that the International Ice Hockey Federation could put into play.
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 will, at times, open a few eyeballs to the underside of the level of play.