Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dr. Pepper Stars Center in Plano to Reopen

After being closed for being closed for basically the entire season due to foundation issues and not being able to get the work on during the Stars Ownership situation. A group of investors outside of the Stars Organaziation will look to get it back open again in the next several months.

Steve Stoler of WFAA reported this last night and you can the video and full report here.

Ice Jets take 2-of-3 against the San Diego Gulls

The Ice Jets had another strong series by taking 2 of the 3 games this weekend against the San Diego Gulls over the weekend at the Polar Ice House in Grapevine. One of the biggest themes of this series was that was decided with all 3 games having the winner get into a scoring burst with the winning team scoring twice in a minute or less. First on Friday Night it was Jefferson Wright & Austin Rehwinkel scoring on both ends of a 5-on-3 power play in just 17 seconds which was part of a 4 goal 1st period and lead to a 5-1 victory.

Next on Saturday Night, it was a comeback victory after a slow start to where the Gulls were won 1-0 and after a bit of an uneventful 2nd period where Giovannetti scored late in the 1st period on the Power Play with just 1:15 left in the 1st period where Tyler Giovanetti was one of the big standouts for the Gulls this weekend where he scored goals number nine and ten of the regular season this weekend.

After Grant Williams got his 3rd straight multi point game (1G 5A) over that stretch of time where he assisted on Brandon Unser's game winner at the 3:37 mark of the extra frame and the Ice Jets were looking at not only get a rare series sweep, but also leap frog the El Paso Rhinos for the Mid-West Division Lead.

Sunday was San Diego day to advert the sweep and to keep the Ice Jets from getting the Mid-West Division Leading. But it got off to another great start for the Ice Jets thanks to Christian Elsborg who was able to continue a strong scoring run as he was able to get his 6th goal in the last 5 games, including a hat trick on January 22 against the Cheyenne Stampede.

That goal made it 1-0 just 1:14 into the game as they were able to play one of the better overall periods as they were able to smother the Gulls by out shooting San Diego 22-7 through the 1st period. It didn't prevent the Gulls Tyler Giovannetti from scoring his 2nd goal of the weekend with just under 5 minutes on a great feed from Kyle Clements.

This lead to a big time momentum shifter that goal as the Gulls were able to get off to a fast start which included 7 shots on goal and being able to hold the Ice Jets to just 4 shots on goal during the 2nd period.

The Gulls were able to gain the lead at 10:56 of the 2nd period where Justin Lazalde fired a shot from the high slot was deflected by Aaron Peterson just in front of the net to give them a 2-1 Gulls. Just 16 seconds later Tomas Busek got a laser beam sort of a pass from Stoyakn to give the Gulls a 3-1 lead.

After an Aaron Peterson Penalty for boarding at 14:07 to give the Ice Jets a Power Play opportunity when Austin Rehwinkel scored on a great slap shot sent from Dylan Campbell to trim the Gulls lead down to one at 3-2 with less then 5 minutes left in the 3rd period.

It wasn't enough through as the Gulls got the insurance goal from Arseny Stoyakn to put the game at 4-2 with just over 12 minutes left in the 3rd period. But not without some late chances from the Ice Jets to get back in this game and try to force OT like when Austin Rehwinkel almost took advantage of a bad clearing opportunity by Brian Walters.

It was quick strikes in all 3 games that decided this series. Despite the two wins, the Ice Jets still find themselves just 1 point behind the Mid-West Division Leading El Paso Rhinos who sweeped the Park City Moose by a combined score of 28-3 in the 3 games including a 14-1 win back on Friday Night.

Elsewhere in the DFW Area oer the weekend included the Texas Tornado getting a 6-2 win over the Fresno Monsters in their only game of the weekend. The Victory included Frederick Leisner 1st win as a Tornado Goalie since the trade that brought the Garland based Net Minder from the Aberdeen Wings. It also had Ondrej Kopta's 1st multi point game of his Junior Career for the 16 year old of the Czech Republic.

Also the Dallas Snipers continued their winless streak which now sits at 9 games and they haven't won since December 17 when they beat the Phoenix Knights at the WSHL Vegas Showcase. Also the Texas Jr. Brahmas were able to win of 2 of their 3 games against the New Mexico Renegades out in Rio Rancho, New Mexico over the weekend.

As for the current standings in both the WSHL Mid-West Division & NAHL South Division. The Mid-West Division Title will probably be the most exciting race as the Regular Season enters the final month as El Paso leads the Division by a single point. Currently the Jr. Brahmas are 18-11-1 (37 PTS) in 3rd Place, while the New Mexico Renegades are 4th with 30 Points (14-18-2). While the Snipers sit in last with a league worst 6 points (3-33-0) who is already officially eliminated in the WSHL Playoffs.

Texas is still battling with the Topeka Roadrunners for 2nd and that all important 1st Round Home Ice as the two teams are tied with 58 points with Topeka having the current tie breaker with 2 more wins in 1 fewer game (Texas is 43 GP, 26-11-6; Topeka is 42 GP, 28-12-2).

This upcoming weekend will be busy with a 3 game series against the Wichita Falls Wildcats (Thursday & Friday at Home, Saturday at Home). While Topeka is at home for a rare mid-week series on Wednesday and Thursday against the Corpus Christi Icerays.

While the WSHL Teams will be in action, especially the Jr. Brahmas with 4 games in 5 nights this week starting with a late night matchup on Wednesday against the Dallas Ice Jets at NYTEX Sports on Wednesday Night.

Later in the week the Long Beach Bombers come into town for a weekend series with this being the start of a 7 game home stand which will also include against El Paso next weekend.

Also the Dallas Snipers will play in a series that will mean very little where they will play the Park City Moose in a series that will mean next to nothing with both teams having the worst records in the WSHL This season.

Austin Smith's case for the Hobey Baker by Brian Sullivan

In Brian Sullivan's Weekly ECAC Hockey Column for USCHO, in addition to the Weekend Wrap up of the Conference Action where he gives out who he thinks is a contender and a pretender as the conferences gets into his final month of the ECAC Hockey Conference Regular Season. He writes the case for Austin Smith being a major contender for the Hobey Baker Trophy as were closing in on a month to go before the fan voting on the Hobey Baker Website wraps up on March 1st.

Currently the Colgate Raiders sit in 3rd Place in the ECAC (14-9-3 Overall, 8-5-1 Conference) with 8 games left to play as they sit just 4 points back of Conference Leading Union. However, they are also just 2 points back of Clarkson who sit in 5th Place, so it's shaping up to see that Colgate will be fighting it out to finish in the top 4 which would get them a 1st Round Bye in the ECAC Playoffs and a guarantee home series in the Quarterfinals which would really help their chances of making the ECAC Championship Week on March 16-17 in Atlantic City, N.J.

In the NCAA Pairwise Rankings, the Raiders sit in 22nd right now so making the Tournament as an At Large Bid is currently proving to be a hard proposition at the moment, in fact, some experts are thinking that the ECAC Could be a Single Team Conference this year so it's critical for the Raiders to look sharp going into the Playoffs to have the best chance possible to win the Conference to get an automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament when it gets underway on March 23.

Here's this week's ECAC Column from Brian Sullivan on USCHO

Who's Hot Today

No point pretending anymore: this league is flat out wacky. Cornell's seven game unbeaten streak? Gone. Colgate's six game winless slide? Gone in the same series; not it's a two game winning streak. Harvard kicked it's eight-game winless skid to the curve; turning it into a 4 game unbeaten run.

Yale, ECAC Hockey's recent standard barer, was 5-1-1 and 8-6-2 earlier in the year; The Bulldogs are now 9-10-2. Clarkson - once 6-1-2, then 9-10-5 is now back on top at 12-11-5 with only one loss in its last five games. Rensselaer, once left for dead by most pundits (I'll even include myself in that group to some extent), is 4-2-1 in its last seven.

Here's the facts: Dartmouth has nine games left. Union, Harvard & Princeton have seen left. The standings by points are the same as by winning percentage, with the exception of Harvard and Clarkson: the Golden Knights have the edge on the Crimson at their current respective paces. Nothing has been mathematically determined yet, but the weight is definitely increasing on St. Lawrence and RPI to climb out of the cellar.

It always seem as through there's a long way to go and a lot of hockey to played there... until there isn't.

Dutchman Flying

You'll have to forgive me; there just aren't that many puns out there that incorporate "Dutch". Fortunately, i'm not the only one stumped by Union: the Schenactdy icers are blasting through all comers lately, winning six of seven (6-1-0) and having lost only once in the Eastern Time Zone since Mid-November (10-1-3) the non EST Losses were at Denver & Colorado College in late December.

It's not as though November marked some major turning point either. Union was 5-3-3 prior, but also 2-2-0 against ECAC. The guys in garnet haven't sniffed .500 since, stacking W's like flapjacks and turning 2-2-0 into 9-3-3 and sole possession of first place.

A couple of sudden replacements have paid massive dividends in the Capital District. Newly minted head coach Rick Bennett has done a masterful job of taking over the program builder Nate Leaman, building what is currently the highest scoring, defensively stingiest team in the Conference. Sophomore Troy Grosenick deserves quite a bit of credit in his own right, stepping into the boots left behind by New Jersey Devils Prospect Keith Kinkaid; he's excelled. The Dutchman's backstop leads the conference in league goals against average (1.49), save percentage (.946) and winning percentage (.792, 9-2-1).

Union is in the Drivers Seat, with two big weekends against the Cornell-Colgate traveling tandem yet to play. I can't muster another prediction... but the Dutch have done all that could be asked of a team that is seeking it's second Cleary Cup in as many years, and it's second in program history.

Colgate, Smith make a splash

Quoth the Raiders: We're not dead yet!

Colgate did all it could end a dreary January on a positive note, smothering Cornell at Lynah (2-1) and blasting them at Starr (5-3). The wins ended up maintaining the 'Gates' hold on third place, once all the results were in, giving it a one point lead on Harvard (and a game in hand) and a two point lead Quinnipiac. It's never to early to count points in a 22 game regular season... especially when you've only earned one lead in the first three weeks of the month.

Senior forward Austin Smith rolls on, accumulating his 25th and 26th goals of the season on Saturday, and points number 39,40 & 41 on the weekend. He's annihilating the rest of the country in goals-per-game (a perfect 1.00 per game - 26 goals in 26 games, 0.22 ahead of second place), he has 12 multi point games (including three three point-nights and one four point outing), and has been held off the score sheet twice all year. He's not even padding his own total with power play goals (only four so far)... in fact, he has more shorthanded goals then he does's PPG (six).

Yeah, that deserves it's own paragraph: six shorthanded goals! (Most in the Country, of course).

Smith is one point shy of the national scoring lead (as calculated by points-per-game) and has to be considered - at this point a no brain er for the Hobey Hat Trick. He has pulled far, far away from any of the ECAC's Hockey other potential hobey canadidates, and it makes me sad to consider that where he plays will most likely work against them. Who else in the big boy pool of Hobey Baker Contenders? players like Spencer Abbot (Maine, leads the nation in scoring). Players like Jack Connolly (Minnesota-Duluth, fourth in scoring, but a title winner). Players like Ryan Schwartz (Colorado College) and Nick Bjugstad (Minnesota, tied with Schwartz for second nationally in goals per game).

They are considered - by narrow minded eyes - the real contenders, because they play in the championship conferences: Hockey East and the WCHA, in these cases. They play "real competition", where area's ECAC Hockey is... well, somehow, not.

And I say, that's baloney.

Smith scored a goal and an assist at Nebraska-Omaha. He had two goals - one each night - against Miami (OH). He notched assists against Vermont and against Merrimack, and tallied a goal and a helper against Ferris State. (That's not even including his 5-5-10 line against Atlantic Hockey Foes this season). The only opponents who successfully kept him off the books were Yale and Quinnipiac... both on the road, by the way.

Furthermore, there is more to be said for accumulating points with goals (rather then assists) then meets the eye. Obviously, nobody ever won a game with assists - goals are the only thing that count on the big board - but there is also a dirty little seceret around college hockey that many assists aren't even worth the pixels their published with. Some/rinks/teams/scorers have a reputation for handling only assists with unjustifiable exuberance, and there's no time like a Hobey Baker Race to inflate the stats at every possible opportunity. I'm not making any specific accusations, mind you, but i'm not saying any such activity would surprise me in the least, either. On Smith's behalf, it's almost impossible to create a goal to award. Assists however - especially on the secondary variety - are quite more malleable product.

Last and no means least, I will ask you all one thing: all things being equal, would you rather have a guy who gets a goal a game, or an assist per game? Because here and now, that's what the the contenders are sporting. And only one of them can boast the former @AustinforHobey

Monday, January 30, 2012

Amarillo blast Odessa in front of full house

The Jackalopes were looking to impress in front of one their biggest crowds of the season of nearly 5,000 as the Bulls continued to show that they are the best team in the NAHL South Division which included a hat trick from Joe Kozlak that took the Bulls an impressive 15 point lead over both the Topeka Roadrunners & Texas Tornado and basically on the verge of officially clinching the 1st Playoff Spot in the South Division this season as the Bulls look to show that they can get back to the NAHL Robertson Cup Tournament in Frisco coming up in May.

Game Report from Dave Henry of the Amarillo Globe News

From Amarillo, Texas: Even if the 4,936 fans had paid to get in the doors of the Cal Farley Coliseum, they still would have had more then got their money's worth.

The Amarillo Bulls put on an impressive show on "Sonic Sunday" - the team's 2nd free admission game in two seasons - by storming past the Odessa Jackalopes, 7-2.

And the game had a little bit of everything, from fights to natural hat tricks to playoff implications. Amarillo stretched its streak of non losses (games in which the Bulls have not lost regulation and earned at least one point) to 21 straight games, the best streak in the North American Hockey League this season.

The Bulls also clinched at least a tie for a playoff birth and will earn a post-season spot outright with their next win.

And for the second straight night, the Bulls weren't shy about dropping their gloves with their opponent.

The Bulls and Jackalopes had four fights, including a rare goaltending tussle between Amarillo's Mike Taffe & Odessa's Justin Davis 21 seconds into the third period when the net-minders charged each other at center ice.

"We talk about us a group playing tough hockey. It is a team game and we ask guys to stick up for each other," and that's what we've been doing," said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. "Our Penalty Kill has been good right now, but obviously there are some penalties there that I don't like - the slashing and the hooking. A penalty for boarding or a hard hit, hey, that happens. We just don't need to take those lazy penalties."

Bulls forward Joe Kozlak did come out lazy as he had Amarillo's first three goals, including two on the power play, and the Bulls were in control from that point.

"I just got to the front of the net," said Kozlak, who has 19 goals.

"One was just a shot from the slot and the others were putting the puck on the net from the dirty areas. We've always been a physical team, that is our nature. We don't always do things pretty. We just wanted to work their defense down low and use that to our advantage."

"We had some fights, we had some hits and we had some goals, and I think everyone had fun tonight. I know we had a lot of fun tonight."

The Bulls recent penchant for fisticuffs was evident when Taffe and Davis stormed from their respective nets during another fight between Bulls defensemen John Rey and Odessa Defensemen Tyler Minx. Both goalies received fighting/game misconducts and hit the showers.

"(Davis) kind of asked me during the second TV Timeout. He had a couple of choice words for me and I didn't want to have anything to do with it," said Taffe, who stopped 10 of 11 shots and improved to 16-1-3."

"After our first little scrum, I said 'Why Not?' There's 4,500 fans and I don't like being called out and i'm not afraid to throw them down if I have to.

"If your going to hit us, we're going to hit you right back."

Southwest Regional Hockey Schedule for 1/30-2/5

The All Star & Top Prospects Game continue for some leagues across North America this week as the American Hockey League All Star Game takes place tonight up in Atlantic City, New Jersey after the Western Conference winning the Skills Competition last night 18-10. Highlights including former Texas Tornado Goalie Ben Bishop won the Top Goaltender so far this season which leads the league with 6 shutouts was one of the top goaltenders by stopping 16 of 19 shots when in net. Also Ryan Keller of the Oklahoma City Barons was the co champion of the Accuracy Shot by hitting all 4 targets in just 5 shots along with Abbotsford Heat Forward Brian Connelly as well.

You can read about the entire AHL All Star Skills Competition here as well as the full results here.

With the NHL All Star Break now behind us, the league will resume the Regular Season tomorrow night with the Stars beginning a huge 2 game road trip to California to play the Ducks on Wednesday & the Sharks on Thursday as the Stars will look to eat into the Pacific Division Gap as they sit 8 points back of the Division Leading San Jose Sharks. Following the California Road Trip, it's back home to the Stars as they face the Minnesota Wild who currently holds down the 8th & Final Playoff Spot who like the Stars, have fallen back some what after an impressive start to the regular season.

Eddie Belfour will also be on hand for his NHL Hall of Fame Recognition after he got inducted back in November. He is the 3rd player from the Stars 1999 Stanley Cup Winning Team to be inducted into  the NHL Hall of Fame along with Joe Nieuwendyk who also got inducted along with Belfour & Brett Hull who was inducted back in 2009.

The 1st 7 games on February are critical to the team's Playoff Chances as they will be playing teams that are all very winnable and that are critical to the playoff run with 34 games left in the regular season that will take place over the final 2 months of the regular season which will wrap up on April 7.

When the AHL All Star Break wraps up after tonight's All Star Game. The American Hockey League will get back to business on Thursday Night with all 4 Regional Teams in action with San Antonio playing the Western Conference Leading Oklahoma City Barons while the Texas Stars will take on the Houston Aeros.

Oklahoma City will look to cool off a surging Rampage Team that has now risen to 7th Place thanks to a 7 game winning streak that goes back to January 14th win against the Rockford Ice Hogs. In addition to Rockford, San Antonio has also 3 wins over Houston & a victory over the Abbotsford Heat as well who are battling with Houston for 4th & get in a position where they would have home ice advantage in the 1st Round. Overall, the gap from from the 4th Place Houston Aeros to 7th Place San Antonio Rampage is now just 4 PTS.

Other big games in the AHL This week includes a battle of the West Division Leading Oklahoma City Barons against the Mid-West Division Leading Charlotte Checkers on Friday in OKC. Charlotte will also visit the Texas Stars on Saturday, while the Lake Erie Monsters are also visiting the Southwest by playing the Rampage on Friday & the Aeros on Saturday Night as well.

Elsewhere in the Region this week will have an important battle for the 4th & Final Playoff spot in the Berry Conference between the Tulsa Oilers & RGV Killer Bees in Tulsa. RGV needs to respond after losing 2 of 3 last weekend after a OT Loss to South Texas Rival Laredo Bucks & a 4-1 loss to the Allen Americans on Sunday last weekend that allowed the Oilers to gain a slight lead where they were able to gain points in all 3 games with wins over the Texas Brahmas & Laredo Bucks as well as forcing OT in Kansas over the Wichita Thunder who are battling with Allen for the Conference Lead right now.

Among the Junior Ranks, we will see an all Dallas Area Game on Wednesday Night as the Ice Jets will play their final game before being off for two weeks as they will look to go ahead of the El Paso Rhinos for the Mid-West Division. This game is a virtual must win to help the Ice Jets Chances as the Rhinos still has two games in hand (three after Wednesday Night) as the Rhinos will have another Favorable Series against West Coast Division Cellar Dwelling Phoenix Knights after El Paso outscored Park City 28-3 in the 3 game series that wrapped up yesterday.

In the NAHL, the Texas Tornado & Wichita Falls Wildcats will play a 3 game series as the Tornado will host the series on Thursday & Friday before both teams head to Wichita Falls on Saturday Night. Also it will be a chance for the Corpus Christi Icerays to show that not only they can make the playoffs, but show they will be a dangerous foe as the Icerays travel to Kansas to play the Topeka Roadrunners on Wednesday & Thursday Night.

Finally the Dallas Stars Elites at both the U18AAA & U16AAA Levels will play their 2nd to Final Tier 1 Elite League Showcases of the season as the U18's will head to LA while the U16's will be in Denver. This weekend will also be used a tune up for the TAHA State Championship where both teams will play the Alliance Bulldogs in the Best of 3 State Tournament Series. Speaking of Alliance, the Alliance Bulldogs U18 team will play the Dallas Oilers on Sunday; while the U16's will head to Colorado to play the Pikes Peak Miners in an exhibition series up in Colorado this weekend.

National Hockey League

2/1: Dallas Stars VS. Anaheim Ducks  9:30 PM (FSN Southwest+)

2/2: Dallas Stars VS. San Jose Sharks  9:30 PM (FSN Southwest)

2/4: Minnesota Wild VS. Dallas Stars  7:00 PM (FSN Southwest+)

American Hockey League

1/30 (All Star Game) 6:00 PM in Atlantic City, New Jersey


San Antonio Rampage VS. Oklahoma City Barons  7:00 PM

Texas Stars VS. Houston Aeros  7:05 PM


Charlotte Checkers VS. Oklahoma City Barons  7:00 PM

Lake Erie Monsters VS. San Antonio Rampage  7:00 PM


Charlotte Checkers VS. Texas Stars  7:00 PM

Lake Erie Monsters VS. Houston Aeros  7:35 PM

2/5: Milwaukee Admirals VS. Houston Aeros  12:05 PM

Central Hockey League

1/31: RGV Killer Bees VS. Tulsa Oilers  7:05 PM

2/1: Texas Brahmas VS. Laredo Bucks  7:00 PM


Tulsa Oilers VS. Allen Americans  7:05 PM

Texas Brahmas VS. Laredo Bucks  7:30 PM

Wichita Thunder VS. RGV Killer Bees  7:30 PM


Tulsa Oilers VS. Allen Americans  7:05 PM

Wichita Thunder VS. Laredo Bucks  7:30 PM

Texas Brahmas VS. RGV Killer Bees  7:30 PM

North American Hockey League

2/1: Corpus Christi Icerays VS. Topeka Roadrunners  7:05 PM


Corpus Christi Icerays VS. Topeka Roadrunners  7:05 PM

Wichita Falls Wildcats VS. Texas Tornado  7:30 PM


New Mexico Mustangs VS. Amarillo Bulls  7:00 PM

Fresno Monsters VS. Odessa Jackalopes  7:05 PM

Wichita Falls Wildcats VS. Texas Tornado  7:30 PM


New Mexico Mustangs VS. Amarillo Bulls  7:00 PM

Fresno Monsters VS. Odessa Jackalopes  7:00 PM

Texas Tornado VS. Wichita Falls Wildcats  7:05 PM

Western States Hockey League

2/1: Dallas Ice Jets VS. Texas Jr. Brahmas  9:30 PM


El Paso Rhinos VS. Phoenix Knights  9:00 PM

Dallas Snipers VS. Park City Moose  9:00 PM

Long Beach Bombers VS. Texas Jr. Brahmas  9:00 PM

Cheyenne Stampede VS. New Mexico Renegades  9:30 PM


Long Beach Bombers VS. Texas Jr. Brahmas  3:45 PM

Cheyenne Stampede VS. New Mexico Renegades  6:30 PM

El Paso Rhinos VS. Phoenix Knights  8:45 PM

Dallas Snipers VS. Park City Moose  9:00 PM


Long Beach Bombers VS. Texas Jr. Brahmas  10:15 AM

Dallas Snipers VS. Park City Moose  12:45 PM

El Paso Rhinos VS. Phoenix Knights  1:30 PM

Cheyenne Stampede VS. New Mexico Renegades  3:00 PM



Phoenix Jr. Coyotes VS. Dallas Stars Elites 10:00 AM

Colorado Thunderbirds VS. Dallas Stars Elites  6:15 PM


Dallas Stars Elites VS. Colorado Rampage  10:30 AM

Russell Stover VS. Dallas Stars Elites  6:45 PM


Rocky Mountain Roughriders VS. Dallas Stars Elites  10:30 AM

Alliance Bulldogs VS. Dallas Oilers AA  8:00 AM



Dallas Stars Elites VS. Rocky Mountain Roughriders  3:30 PM

Alliance Bulldogs VS. Pikes Peak Miners  6:30 PM


Dallas Stars Elites VS. Russell Stover  12:15 PM

Alliance Bulldogs VS. Pikes Peak Miners  3:00 PM

Dallas Stars Elites VS. Colorado Thunderbirds  6:30 PM

DJHA U18 AA VS. Dallas Ice Jets  7:00 PM


Alliance Bulldogs VS. Pikes Peak Miners 9:00 AM

Dallas Stars Elites VS. Colorado Rampage  12:30 PM

1/29 Major Junior & NCAA Scoreboard

Here's a look at yesterday's scores from both the Canadian Hockey Leagues & the NCAA as both organizations are going to start entering the final stretch of the regular season. In the NCAA, The Atlantic Hockey Association, Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) & ECAC Hockey Conferences will wrap up on February 25, and the Hockey East & Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Seasons will wrap up on March 3. Just 2 weeks after that will see the end of the Canadian Hockey League's Regular Season which will end on March 18 for all 3 leagues.

NCAA Hockey

Atlantic Hockey Association

Hockey East

Western Hockey League

Ontario Hockey League

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Friday, January 27, 2012

Corpus Christi fires back at Wichita Falls

After getting sweeped last weekend against the Wichita Falls Wildcats in a pair of losses (4-2 last on Friday & 2-1 (OT) on Saturday) to continue to show the rest of the South Division that they are the favorites to finish 4th and get into the Playoffs for the 1st time in the NAHL Era as the Ice Rays are now 8 points up on the Jackalopes right now. Both teams will be playing again tonight at 7:05 PM at the American Bank Center.

Else where in the South Division Coming up tonight, the Amarillo Bulls visit Odessa while the Texas Tornado play their only game of the weekend as they entertain the Fresno Monsters while Topeka welcomes the New Mexico Mustangs this weekend.

By Greg Rajan of the Corpus Christi Caller

From Corpus Christi, Texas: Ice Rays Head Coach Justin Quenneville said his team really didn't play any differently against the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Thrusday then on eight previous occasion's.

There was one notable difference, though: the goal light behind Matt Leon's net finally got some use.

Corpus Christi ended Leon's run of dominance in a big way, rolling to a 5-2 victory over Wichita Falls at the American Bank Center.

The IceRays (19-17-3, 41 Points) moved eight points up on Odessa (14-19-5, 33 Points) and 10 on Wichita Falls (14-23-3, 31 PTS) for the final playoff spot in the North American Hockey League South Division. Corpus Christi also matched it's win total from last year, it's first in the NAHL.

"We had more pose tonight," Quenneville said. "I haven't even watched the game film, but I can tell you that we didn't play any different then we did the nights before. We kept things simple, made the plays and were effective at both ends of the ice," he added. "The goals just went in tonight. The guys buried (chances) and I'm proud of them. We had a ton of chances. I'm glad they started going in for them."

The story entering the game was Leon. the Wichita Falls Goalie who was 6-0 against Corpus Christi and had allowed just seven total goals. But by the end of the second period, the IceRays had pumped five pucks past him to turn a close game into a rout.

"Honestly, I can't tell you exactly (what we did differently)," said Forward Joe Smereck who had a goal and played a strong two way game. "Hockey is a funny sport, and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't. But I guarantee tonight we worked a lot harder then we have any other night."

"Tonight we just found our niche. Sometimes, you just can't find it," he added.

The Icerays trailed 1-0 late in the first period before a strong individual effort by Perry D'Arrisso gave them a spark.

The forward beat the Wichita Falls Wildcats Defensemen Tucker Poolman to a loose puck, skated in Leon and faked the goalie to the ice before slipping in the equalizer at 15:22.

"That's a goal scorers goal right there," Quenneville said. "He recognized had a bead on the defensemen. We had been preaching a long time to the guys to make that move to the outside, gain speed and then the power to move to the net.

"Yeah, you take a licking, but you'll get a great (chance) out of it," he added. "That was a great play by him and a big (confidence) builder for us."

The IceRays then got to Leon for four goals in 14 minutes during the second, giving goalie Anthony Stolarz - who made 41 saves - plenty of offensive support.

First, Beau Walker's left circle shot went off Leon's right shoulder under the crossbar at 4:14, then at 9:22, A.J. Jarosz snapped a wirst shot from the high slot off the left post and in on the power play.

At 14:33, Smereck tailed after a strong rush down left wing and around the defense. Erik Purcell then capped the second period scoring from the low slot at 18:04 and Captain Frank Misuraca pinched in from the right point and found Purcell alone in front.

"On the Bench, were going wild," Jarosz said. "It just felt good to finally put five up against him."

"With Leon, he stays in the net, and you've got to be patient with him and wait for him to go down. I think we played pretty well tonight against him."

Lose Pucks

IceRays defensemen Ladislav Hruska left the game with 10:35 left in the first period with an ankle injury after a collision along the left wing boards with Wildcats Forward Renato Engler. Hruska was down on the ice for several minutes before being helped off and didn't return.

1/26 Canadian Hockey League Scoreboard

Here's a look at the Scoreboard from last night's games in the Canadian Hockey League. Nothing took place last night out west, while they were 4 games in the OHL & 3 in the QMJHL. As for Stefan Noesen, he had another assist in a victory over the Barrie Colts last night as the Whalers are still 4 points behind the London Knights for 1st Place in the OHL Western Conference.

Ontario Hockey League

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Texas Rubber Magazine Feature on the NAHL in Texas

Here's a recent magazine article that was featured in Texas Rubber Magazine by John Tranchina about the North American Hockey League's Growth in Texas with 5 teams and a growing number of youth players it's effected as well.

Here's the Texas Rubber Magazine Article by John Tranchina

With no less then 5 of it's 28 franchises based in the North American Hockey League (NAHL), the United States only Tier 2 Junior A League, is the nations largest state is a testament how far the sport has progressed.

That Texas host more NAHL Clubs then any other state marks a dramatic increase from a low of one (Wichita Falls Wildcats) just four seasons ago in 2008-2009, when the four time Robertson Cup Champion Texas Tornado suspended operations to allow for the renovation of the Dr. Pepper Star Center in Frisco. Since then, the Tornado returned, switched ownership and gained new rivals with expansion teams in Amarillo (Bulls), Corpus Christi (Icerays) & Odessa (Jackalopes).

Each of the three newest Texas squads resides in cities that previously housed in the Central Hockey League (CHL) clubs that were forced to ceased operations. Now, showcasing in the NAHL's exciting brand of junior hockey, they are all thriving, with each of the five Texas clubs among the league's top nine in attendance.

"In all of those cases, they were basically markets that became available and they are interested in the North American Hockey League model and it seems to be paying off for them." noted NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld, whose league headquarters are based in Frisco. "Our strategy, in general, is you want to have good partners and close divisional rivalries. That's our strategy in Michigan or whereever you're considering expanding, but in Texas, there was no strategy there, just the change of the times with the economy and ownership changes. It's really more of a natural progression of a model and a benefit to our league. Had we not existing partners in Texas & Wichita Falls, that probably would not have evolved."

Having built in rivalries with the other Texas Teams has been a major factor in each of the new teams successes, both as far as keeping travel costs down and in having familiar opponents for their fans to root against.

"Most definitely it's good for us because if it wasn't for those teams, we couldn't be in this league," acknowledged Patt Dunn, general manager of the second year Icerays. "Already, we have to go to New Mexico & Topeka and we have 14, 15 hour bus rides. That's far enough, I'd hate to see if our closest rivals, so definitely it's a plus. And there are other teams that were in the Central Hockey League at one point, so for the fans, that's there familiarity."

The transition from Professional Hockey to high-level juniors has progressed smoothly for each of the three newcomers, both at the ticket window and within the community. "We're in our second year, but we had been in pro hockey for 13 years and it was rough," remarked Dunn, we also spent several years working for the CHL incarnation of the IceRays. "We enjoyed it and really enjoyed the product, but it was just time to move on. We went to the NAHL and have been very happy and our fans have embraced it. We had to educate our fans on what the product was, but after they got to witness it themselves, they're really excited about it and enjoying the quality of play."

One other positive each of the three newcomer NAHL Cities have experienced is more of a commitment by the clubs to serve the community. With teenage players between the ages of 16 and 20, they are more eager participants to giving back to the communities, and that higher visibility in turn helps more kids to the local youth hockey programs.

"They're a big reason we're doing so well as we are this year." stated Amarillo Hockey Association, Inc. (AHAI) president Kenneth Creamer, whose organization maintains a strong connection with the NAHL's Bulls. "They are in the community and they're promoting youth hockey a lot more then we used to get with the pro team. These guys are not getting paid, it's not their job, so they doing everything they can to be involved in the community and to grow hockey in our area."

With the tremendous escalation of the game at the grassroots level in Texas over the last decade plus, more and more locally produced players are ending up on NAHL Rosters and that serves as further inspiration for the kids in those youth programs.

"Any time you read a program and you see half the team is from Plano or Flower Mound or Dallas, it just excites everybody and makes them think, 'Hey we could be that guy,'" Dunn said. "So the younger kids believe it and they're thinking they could be the next guy playing here, that you don't have to have ice in your backyard to become a hockey player. Kids down here in the South are really good athletes and are getting into hockey."

Austin Sutter, who serves as the Amarillo Youth Programs ice coordinator while doubling as business development manager for the Bulls, illuminates how profoundly the relationship can be mutually beneficial. "The bigger the youth hockey program grows, the more revenue we can bring in for the NAHL Team and vice versa," said Sutter, who played four plus seasons for the former Amarillo Gorillas in the CHL before retiring in 2010 to get into youth coaching. "The Bulls understand the value of that partnership and so does youth hockey. When the Bulls fans come to games, they can see that we offer quite a program for kids here for kids that want to play and try the game. We do work hand-in-hand."

"Everywhere, the youth programs grow when you have a junior team there," Frankenfeld said. "That situation is good for everybody, with more people playing hockey."

About Texas Rubber Magazine: Texas Rubber Magazine is a brand new digital magazine that debut last fall and it's a monthly magazine with different features on different Youth & Junior Teams around the State. Including Texas, Rubber Magazine also does similar magazine for the states of Arizona, California, Colorado & Florida.

1/25 American Hockey League Scoreboard

With the NHL on it's All Star Break and it's events beginning tonight with the NHL All Star Fantsay Draft coming up tonight. The American Hockey League (AHL), the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) & the Central Hockey League (CHL) are in action right now. For the Southwest Based Teams, it's a quiet couple of days as the Dallas Stars aren't back in action till February 1 when the Stars play the Ducks out in Anaheim.

While the Region's AHL teams are all off til Friday when Houston visits the Oklahoma City Barons while the Texas Stars travel to San Antonio to take on the Rampage. Then the Pre-All Star Game portion of the schedule wraps on Saturday where the Texas Stars & Houston Aeros will trade places with Oklahoma City & San Antonio as the Stars play the Barons & the Aeros playing the Rampage on Satuday as the league will head into their All Star Break.

In the Central Hockey League, the Americans are getting ready for a battle with the Wichita Thunder on Friday Night for a 1st Place Battle in the Berry Conference. While a critical battle for the league's last two playoff spots will be taking place as the Tulsa Oilers VS. Texas Brahmas will be taking place at the NYTEX Sports Center on Friday.

American Hockey League

Greg Rajan In the Crease Podcasts

A recent addition to Greg Rajan's hockey coverage of the Corpus Christi Icerays is his Podcast called In the Crease where he talks to current & Former Players Junior & Minor League Players. As well as coaches, GMS, Owners and Media that cover these levels of hockey.

A couple of his recent interviews included former Corpus Christi Iceray from the CHL Days and current Texas Brahmas Forward Chad Wollard about the league's new playoff format, who he thinks the Brahmas biggest rival is and and a bizarre episodes that he has witnessed over the course of his career including when a rival folded in Mid-Season and became the teams new head coach.

Also in his recent episode is Brian Sandalow of The Monitor in McAllen where he covers the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees who has been one of the league's biggest surprises this season after many felt the team was going to fold last summer. Currently the Killer Bees sit in 5th Place just a point back of the Tulsa Oilers for the 4th & Final Playoff Spot in the Berry Conference with just under 30 games left in the regular season.

1/24 Episode

He was also able to get a fans perceptive from Ice Rays Fan Robert Hutchinson who has been a huge fan and season ticket holder of the Corpus Christi Icerays since the early days of the team playing in the Central Hockey League. Rajan got his thoughts on main issues like the team's lack of success on the ice, but it how continues to gain big crowds. The recent brawl between the Tornado & Ice Rays that resulted in 6 different players getting suspended, including Skyler Spiller for 10 games.

Also the biggest pros & cons of the Junior Game and losing South Texas Rivals with the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and the Laredo Bucks as well as looking to see where they futures could be if the Central Hockey League can't survive with all the problems the league has had in recent years regarding teams either folding or moving to different leagues like the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) and the North American Hockey League.

1/17 Episode

1/25 Canadian Hockey League Scoreboard

Here's a look at the Scores from last night's games in the Western Hockey League (WHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL) & Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Which included a huge game in Edmonton between the Edmonton Oil Kings VS. Tri-City Americans in which some think could be a possible preview of the Western Hockey League Championship Game come Early May. A majority of the games were in the Western Hockey League last night with just 2 in the QMJHL & 1 in the Ontario Hockey League.

Western Hockey League

Ontario Hockey League

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

AT&T Metroplex HS Hockey League Playoff Format & Dates

The Dates & Format for this year's AT&T Metroplex HS Hockey League Playoffs have been revelled which will be starting this year on March 5th for the Gold Tier Teams while the Silver Tier Playoffs will begin on March 7. With just 22 teams overall this season in the league (6 in the Gold Tier, 16 in the Silver Tier), the playoffs are going to come fast & furious this season overall. In addition to the league playoffs, the Gold Tier Champion will advance to the USA Hockey HS National Championships which will be from March 21-25 in Salt Lake City, Utah this season.

Here's the Full Varsity Playoff Schedule

While the Top Silver Tier Teams will advance to the Silver Tier State Champions against the Top Teams from the Houston & Austin Area which will take place from March 23-25 in a location that is still yet TBD.

The format for both Tiers will be as follows this season.

Gold Tier: With just 6 teams in the leagues Top Tier this season, all 6 teams will be in the playoffs with the #1 & #2 Seeds gaining Quarterfinal Byes while the #3 VS. #6 & #4 VS. #5 Teams will be starting out in the Quarterfinals. The Semifinals will have the #1 Seed taking on the Lowest Seeded QF Winner, while the #2 Seed will play the Highest Seeded QF Winner that next night. Both the Quarterfinals & Semifinals will be a Single Game. Then once the Gold Tier Championship Series is all set it will be a Best of 3 Series to determine the league champion & who will represent Texas in Salt Lake City at the USA Hockey HS National Championship in Late March.

Gold Tier Playoff Dates

3/5: Quarterfinals

3/6: Semifinals

3/8: Gold Tier Final Game 1

3/9: Gold Tier Final Game 2

3/11: Gold Tier Final Game 3 (If Needed)

If the playoffs started today, here's a look at what the Playoff Matchups would look like right now.

#1 Arlington ISD & #2 Plano West would have 1st Round Byes

#3 Dallas Jesuilt VS. #6 Coppell

#4 Allen VS. #5 Plano Senior

The Parity in the Gold Tier has been very tight with the exception of Coppell who's sitting way back in last place with just 9 PTS (4-11-1) in 16 games so far this season. So basically everyone else could find themselves anywhere from the #1 to #5 Seeds when the regular season wraps up on March 1. A 3 way tie is currently atop the top of the Gold Tier between Arlington ISD (10-5-1), Plano West (9-4-3) & Dallas Jesuit (9-4-3) with 21 points each.

Just behind them are Allen & Plano Senior (Both 8-6-2) with 18 points, but are very much in the race for the 2 Quarterfinal Round Byes when the playoffs early March. With just 6 games left in the regular season, it's going to be a wild wild finish to the regular season in the Gold Tier.

Silver Tier: The Silver Tier Playoffs will have the top 4 teams in both the North & South Divisions where they will start in a cross over (#1N VS. #4S, #2N VS. #3S etc.). With the winners will play each other in the Semifinals and on to the Finals. Each Round will be a single elimination format for all 3 rounds. The winners will advance to the State Silver Tier Tournament against the Top Teams from the Interscholastic Hockey League (ISHL) and the Austin Area Champion as well.

Silver Tier Playoff Dates

3/7: Quarterfinals

3/8: Semifinals

3/11: Silver Tier Championship

If the Playoffs started today, here's a look at what the Quarterfinal Round Matchups would look like.

#1N Plano East VS. #4S GCISD

#2N Highland Park VS. #3S Midlothian

#1S Keller ISD VS. #4N Prosper

#2S Southlake Carroll VS. #3N McKinney ISD

The South Division Top Seed is most likely going to come down to a 3 team race between Keller ISD (14-2-0), Southlake Carroll (12-2-2) & Midlothian (12-4-0) who are just 4 points apart which separate the top 3 teams in the South. While GCISD (9-7-0) is currently holding down the 4th & final playoff spot at the moment, both Mansfield ISD (8-6-2) & Denton County (8-8-0) are hot on their tail as they look to chase them down over the final month of the regular season.

As for the two Flower Mound Teams, for the most part, they will battle for pride and most likely stay out of last Place in the South Division as they sit just 5 points back of both GCISD & Mansfield ISD. Their only hope of making the playoffs is that either GCISD, Mansfield ISD or Denton County collapse down the stretch and that either team can get red hot.

The North Division has Plano East (10-3-3) holding a 4 point lead over Highland Park as the Scots will be hoping that the Panthers falter some over the final 6 games to help improve their chances of getting the #1 Seed for the post season.

Elsewhere in the North Division, McKinney ISD & Prosper are fighting it out for the #3 Seed and looking to avoid top seeded Plano East in the Quarterfinals Round of the playoffs. However, Richardson/Rockwall (6-9-1) and is emerging as the top challenger to get into the top 4 to challenge both McKinney ISD & Prosper. Speaking of the race for 3rd & 4th, Richardson/Rockwall will be playing McKinney ISD this week as it will repserent a critical game in this Race where the gap at the end of the night could be anyway from 1 to 5 points.

A Richardson/Rockwall Win would really eat into that gap start making both McKinney ISD & Prosper beginning to sweat. While a McKinney ISD Win would put a big blow into Richardson/Rockwall's Playoff hopes this season.

While Bishop Lynch & Frisco ISD (both 5-11-0) & Garland ISD (3-12-1) are way back in this race and would most likely take a miracle for either one of them to get into this playoff race.

The Americans Complete Sweep of Arizona

The Allen Americans have recently completed a sweep of a 3 game set that took course of the last 5 days where the Americans won both games in Arizona over the weekend in a pair of 1 goal decisions. Follow that with a 2-0 Shutout Victory of the Sundogs at the Allen Event Center last night. In addition to completing the sweep of the Sundogs recently, the Americans have also regained the Lead in the Berry Conference over the Wichita Thunder by a single point.

For the Americans, this is a great chance to develop a bit of a gap in the Berry Conference as the Americans have just a stretch of 9 of their next 10 will be at home (The only road game coming up is against the Brahmas on February 10th). Next up will be a 3 game in 3 night stretch as the Americans will play the Wichita Thunder on Friday Night, then a pair of games against the RGV Killer Bees on Saturday Night & Sunday Evening.

Here's the Next 5 Allen Americans Games (All at the Allen Event Center)

1/27: Wichita Thunder VS. Allen Americans  7:05 PM

1/28: RGV Killer Bees VS. Allen Americans  7:05 PM

1/29: RGV Killer Bees VS. Allen Americans  5:05 PM

2/3: Tulsa Oilers VS. Allen Americans  7:05 PM

2/4: Tulsa Oilers VS. Allen Americans  7:05 PM 

Press Release from the Allen Americans

From Allen, Texas: The Allen Americans earned the first shutout of the season Tuesday Night defeating the Arizona Sun Dogs 2-0 at the Allen Event Center.

The Americans jumped out to a 1-0 first period lead on the first shorthanded goal of the season for the Americans, Jeff Martins with his 4th of the season unassisted. Martins stole the puck at center ice and broke in ahead of the defense beating Arizona netminder Scott Reid with a wrister to put Allen on top. The Americans out shot Arizona 7-6 in the first.

No scoring in the 2nd period, however both goalies were tested. Arizona's Scott Reid stopped Bruce Graham twice at point blank range, stopping 33 of 35 Allen Shots on the night.

The Americans added to their lead in the third, when Mark Nebus blasted one in the net from the right wing boards to give Allen a 2-0 lead. It was Nebus second goal as a member of the Americans, and second in as many games. Rejean Beauchemin was spectacular in net stopping all 24 Arizona shots and now allowing just one goal in his last 120 minutes of work. With the win, the Americans jumped past Wichita and into first place in the Berry Conference, one point ahead of the Thunder, setting up a first place showdown on Friday Night.

Tickets are on sale for the Americans weekend home games against Wichita & Rio Grande Valley by calling 972-912-1000 or at TicketMaster

2012 NAHL Top Prospects Rosters Released

The 6 teams for this year's NAHL Top Prospects Tournament that will be taking place from February 20-22 with the 6 teams taking place at this year's Top Prospects Event from each of the 5 Divisions (Central, Mid-West, North, South, West Coast). As well as a U18 Selects Team for the best players under the age of 18 which includes Anthony Stolarz who was ranked #21 among North American Goalies during the NHL Central Scouting Mid-Season Rankings earlier this month.

Also from Southwest Teams that will be playing for the NAHL U18 Selects is Tornado Forward Justin Greenberg who's been among the top rookies in the NAHL this season. Finally among the Major Snubs is Wenatchee Wild Goalie & Dallas Area Native Robert Nichols who's leading in both GAA (1.59) & SV% (.940).

Here's the Press Release from the North American Hockey League

Also the Links to the Southwest Teams & their players that will be competitng in Troy, Michigan as well.

Amarillo Bulls

Corpus Christi Icerays

Texas Tornado

In addition to the Southwest Team Sites reporting on their players that made the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. Here's the links to the full rosters for all 6 teams.

Central Division

Mid-West Division

North Division

South Division

West Coast Division

NAHL U18 Selects

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced the rosters for next month's NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, presented by Combat Hockey, which will be held from February 20-22 at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan.

At the event, six teams - Central, Mid-West, North, South, West Coast & the NAHL U18 Selects - will each play three games. Each team consists of a 20 man roster as chosen by the NAHL Top Prospects Selection Committee as nominated by the league's 28 head coaches, with minor player crossovers among the six teams.

All NAHL Players are eligible to participate in the Top Prospects Tournament, regardless if they've committed to a NCAA School. Each of the teams will contain 12 forwards, 6 defensemen and 2 goaltenders. The number of players represented by each NAHL Team was based on each team's winning percentage as of January 16th.

In conjunction with the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, all North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) teams - Midget Major (U18), Midget Minor (U16) & Bantam Major (U14) will compete in the PHL Championship Tournament Series for the right to be crowned league champions. That event will also run from February 17-20, also at the Troy Sports Center.

The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) will also have representation at the Top Prospects Tournament, as 8 of the league's 16 teams (Battle Creek, Cleveland, Flint, Metro, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Queen City & Toledo) will play four regular season games from February 19-22 at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan.

For more info on the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, click here

Here's the NAHL Top Prospects Schedule, click here

For more info on the NAPHL, click here

For more info on the NA3HL, click here

TAHA Tier 1 & Tier 2 State Tournament Schedule revelled

With the State Tournament Playdowns wrapping up earlier this week, the full schedule for this year's Tier 1 & Tier 2 State Tournament is now out which will take place from February 10-12 at the Dr. Pepper Star Centers in McKinney, Farmers Branch & Frisco over the course of the weekend.

Almost all of this year's Tournament Teams are from the Dallas with the exception of the Houston Hitmen at the U16 Tier 2 Level as well as the Houston Wild Teams at the U14 & U12 Tier 2 Levels as well. Even though the state still has Dallas Dominance, all 3 of the Houston Teams performed very well during the State Tournament Playdowns, watch including a very strong series by the Houston Wild U18 where they felt they were upset by DJHA-Pfeiffer despite outshooting DJHA in all 3 games. However, after taking a 4-3 lead early in the 3rd period of Game 2.

A quick response tied at 4-4 just 35 seconds later. After that, the DJHA just keep coming and coming until a Travis Short Goal with just under 4 minutes left put them over the top to take a 5-4 lead. After that the Hitmen were devasted as DJHA took over in Game 3 controling the game from start to finish and winning in 4-1 to advance to the State Tournament.

And the Houston Hitmen fought off a pesky Aces team where they were able to get the game tied on 6 different occasions and eventually get game 1 to OT. Then in the OT, it didn't take long for the Hitmen to win the game and take the opener of the series.

In Game 2, the Hitmen were able to pull away in the 2nd period to put their series against the Texas Aces out of reach with 3 unaswered goals to put the series away and elinmate the Aces from the State Tournament Contention.

Congrats to all the teams that have advanced to the TAHA State Tournament as the quest to the USA Hockey National Championships will begin to heat up. Here's the schedule for the Tier 1 & Tier 2 National Championships that will take place from March 28 through April 1. As for the Tier 1 Teams, the winners will advance to the Rocky Mountain Regional Tournament which will take place from March 1-4 in Denver as the winners will be going up against teams from Arizona, Colorado Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma & Utah. The winners will advance to the Tier 1 Nationals which will be in Buffalo, N.Y. This season from March 28 through April 1.

Tier 1 Nationals (All Age Groups): Buffalo, N.Y.

U18 Tier 2: Lansing, Michigan

U16 Tier 2: Green Bay, Wisconsin

U14 Tier 2: Wayne, N.J.

U12 Tier 2: Ashburn, Virgina

Here's the formats for both Tiers this season.

  • Tier 1: For the U18, U16 & U12 Tier 1 Tournaments. Since they are only 2 Tier 1 Status Teams  in Texas (Dallas Stars Elites & Alliance Bulldogs) each of these events will be a Best of 3 Series with the first one to win 2 advancing to the Tier 1 Regional which will take place from March 1-4 in Denver, Colorado where they will be taking on teams from Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma & Utah.

  • Tier 2: The Tier 2 Tournament will contain 4 teams at each of the 4 Age Groups (U18, U16, U14 & U12) in a Round Robin Format that will take place at the Dr. Pepper Stars Center in McKinney on Friday & Saturday. After the Round Robin wraps up on Saturday Night, the Championship Games will be taking place at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco where the State Champions will be crowned. The State Tier 2 Champions will advance to Nationals where they will be divided into different divisions depending on their overall record & seeding situations as well.
Here's the Teams that will be competing in each Age Group

Tier 1: Dallas Stars Elites, Alliance Bulldogs

U18 Tier 2: DJHA-Kowal, DJHA-Pfeiffer, Dallas Oilers, Dallas Stars Selects

U16 Tier 2: Allen Jr. Americans, DJHA, Houston Hitmen, Texas Tornado

U14 Tier 2: Alliance Bulldogs, DJHA, Houston Wild, Dallas Ice Jets

U12 Tier 2: Houston Wild, Dallas Ice Jets, McKinney Lightning, Texas Aces

Here's the Full State Tournament Schedules for each of the Age Groups.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Road to the TAHA Tier 2 State Tournament

With the Texas Amateur Hockey Assocation Tier 1 & Tier 2 State Tournament coming up from February 10-12 in the Dallas Area. The State Tournament Playdowns have been going on over the last few weeks as teams from all over the state to qualify for the Tier 2 State Tournament. They are no qualifiers for the Tier 1 since they are only 2 Tier 1 Status Teams in the Dallas Stars Elites & Alliance Bulldogs and their teams will faceoff in a best of 3 series during the Tournament Weekend.

The Playdowns have been a series of Best of 3 Series with the winners advancing to the State Tournament. Once again, a majority of the teams are from the Dallas Area with a handful from the Houston Area looking to advance to next months state Tournament as well.

Here's the results so far and a brief overall of the series that have taken place so far.


DJHA-Kowal VS. Texas Jr. Brahmas

DJHA-Kowal wins Series 2-0

DJHA-Kowal had no doubt over a majority of the series that they were looking to control the series against the Jr. Brahmas. Dominic Girard had a huge series as he was able to help carry the team with an impressive 6 points in the 2 games (2 Goals, 1 Assist in both games). In addition to Girard, Zach Blair was part of a great start to game 1 where the Stars Selects were able to fire 4 goal periods in both the 1st & 2nd periods to help the Stars Selects run away from the Jr. Brahmas. One of the few bright spots for the Jr. Brahmas was Cole Rose that his physicality which took some penalties to help prevent some scoring chances in the game which prevented the games from being worse.

Dallas Stars Selects VS. Alliance Bulldogs

Dallas Stars Selects Win Series 2-0

The Stars Selects were able to wear down the Bulldogs over the course of this series on all fronts. Especially on defense in Game 2 where after Dylan Isley & Cameron Choate scored in both the end of the 1st and beginning of the 2nd period to get the game tied at 2-2. Then the Stars Selects shut them down in the 3rd as the Stars Selects ran away with a 5-2 win to win the series in a sweep.

Houston Wild VS. DJHA-Pfeiffer

DJHA-Pfeiffer Win Series 2-1

In what was one of the best Qualifiers so far this year, the Wild & DJHA were going back-and-fourth  over the entire series. The best game was Game 2 where it looked like the Wild were looking to win the series in Houston in Game 2 after being up by 2 goals twice at 2-0 early in the game and 3-1 midway through the game. However, a wild early part of the 3rd period as 3 goals were scored in just under 2 minutes to 3-2 Houston Lead to a 4-4 game when Brent Jones scored to tie the game.

After a back-and-fourth 3rd period, Travis Short scored the game winner with just under 4 minutes left to give the DJHA a 5-4 win which forced a game 3. After giving up the lead, it just looked like Houston just wasn't in it for Game 3 as the DJHA Team took advantage of their 3rd period advantages to win 4-1 and take the series in 3 games.


Houston Hitmen VS. Texas Aces

Houston Hitmen wins Series 2-0

The Texas Aces were looking to punch a little bit above their weight class in this series and they did it well in Game 1 where despite not leading for any of the game. They were able to respond to tie it up on 6 occasion's and not being down more then 1 goal after the 1st period. One big part of that was the PP as the Aces were able were able to score 3 PP Goals during Game 1. But despite all the work and effort they were able to keep it close, the Hitmen were able to finally put them away at 2:00 into the OT Period when Weston Shattuck put the game away.

Later that day when Game 2 took place, the Hitmen showed no doubt they were able to pull away in the 2nd period with 3 unanswered goals to go from a 2-1 to a 5-1 game late in the 2nd period to put it away and win the series in two games.

Alliance Bulldogs VS. Texas Tornado

This series proved to be a bit of a miss-match (In part to the Tornado's NAPHL Experience this season). The Tornado made short work of the Alliance Bulldogs as the Tornado out-scored the Bulldogs 20-2 over the course of the two games. Among the leaders for the Tornado was Austin Cox who had 5 goals (3 in Game 1, 2 in Game 2) during the series as the Tornado just crushed the Bulldogs. One of the few bright spots for Alliance was goalie Ryan Odell who during the early portions of the 2nd period, made some great saves to keep the game at 3-1 in the 2nd period and kept it from getting much worse much earlier in the game.


Dallas Ice Jets VS. Allen Jr. Americans

Dallas Ice Jets Win Series 2-0

This Series was not even close and the Ice Jets even kept the Jr. Americans down to just 4 shots for the entire game in game 1.

Houston Wild VS. Texas Tornado

Houston Wild Win Series 2-0

Despite the Tornado using their great defense to control the Houston Wild. The Wild were able to get a critical goal at critical times in both games. First in the opener that went to OT, Ryan Kheir was able to score the 2nd of his 2 goals in the OT just 17 seconds in. He also scored a SH Goal late in the 1st period as well. Then in Game 2, the Wild overcame an early Tornado Goal Christian Moran just 3 minutes in to win a 3-2 game that could have gone either way.

Matt Donovan Update from Bridgeport

Bridgeport Sound Tigers Roster Photo: Courtsey of the AHL & Bridgepot Sound Tigers.

Here's an update from Bridgeport Sound Tigers Beat Writer Michael Fornabaio of The Connecticut Post to discuss the latest about Matt Donovan's progress as we apparoach the American Hockey League All Star Break this upcoming weekend. Prior to the All Star Break, the Sound Tigers have 3 games left in the Pre-All Star Game portion of their schedule against the St. Johns Ice Caps tomorrow night, then it's a weekend road trip to Western New York as they will play the Adirondack Phantoms on Friday Night & the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday Night.

The big thing that is showing up of course is the scoring surge that he has had since New Years Day that's been a big part of the Sound Tigers 8 game winning streak that has brought the Sound Tigers from near the bottom of the AHL's Eastern Conference all the way up to 10th Place and are just 3 back of the Portland Pirates who currently sit in the 8th & Final Playoff Spot. In addition, the team is also tied with the Adirondack Phantoms as they look to go into the All-Star Game with some momentum on their side when they return to action after the All Star Game on February 3 against the Portland Pirates.

Here's a samplaing of what Michael Fornabaino had to say when he had a discussion with Bridgeport Sound Tigers Head Coach Brent Thompson. First it's about him getting used to the Pro Game.

"Matt Donovan's been taking strides, really, because he's attentive to his details," Bridgeport Coach Brent Thompson said. "His Practice habits are improving. His defensive coverage is improving."

Other then his Increasing Point Totals, one of the other big improving stats has been an improving +/- stats. His Plus/Minus has improved from a -8, however since Mid-December, was when his defensive coverage begin to click and improve and has gotten into the + Side of the +/- Ranking over a +2 overall right now.

Here's some comments from Donovan about his season and his improvements since the start of the season back in October and the 6 games he played to end the 2010-2011 season last season.

"It's just playing, trying to play harder    to be harder to play against," Donovan said. "I'm trying to take the body more, use my size."

Fornabaio also mentioned that was still some work he had to do in certain parts of his game before he has a strong chance of making the NHL Full Time, but also mentioned that he's getting more consistent & more comfortable in a pro setting. However, his great offensive surge has also helped him climb up the Defensive Scoring Leaders List which has him just outside the top 10 right now (Currently 15th). '

They will be looking to Donovan to continue to be a strong defensive scoring presence for the Sound Tigers over the 2nd half of the season to help the team reach the playoffs. In a recent Q&A with Oklahoman Magazine, Donovan said mentioned this about his goals for his 1st season. Which includes getting a NHL Callup with the Islanders and looking to get the Islanders to the playoffs as well as this year being a strong fonduation for a long and strong Career. "I'm hoping this is the first year in a long professional career. I'm just working my hardest, just the way I've grown up. Hopefully I will be called up [to the Islanders] sooner or later this year. I wouldn't have signed if I didn't think I had a good chance playing in the NHL this year."

Well find out where he is as the 2nd half of the season begins to unfold. But he has really been coming up on the Islanders Depth Chart, even as recently as a month ago, Fornabaio thinks he's biggest competition will come from Calvin De Haan who's already has had a Call Up for a game and Dylan Reese who is beginning to emerge on the Islanders Staff and starting to get some time among the top 4 defensemen.

Brent Thompson also mentioned about he's looking to evolve during the 2nd half of the season and getting the team to the playoffs this season after missing out last year. The last time the Sound Tigers made the playoffs was in 2010 when they got elinmated by the eventual Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears in the 1st Round in 5 games

"He obivously has offensive gifts," Thompson said. "He's jumping in the play at right times. He's shooting the puck much better, which is a tribute to (assistant coaches) Eric Boguniecki and Matt Bertani working on a day-to-day basis. It's little details like that."

Coach Thompson also said that Donovan's defensive work has helped him generate chances for offense. Donovan has had some great games as his hard work is beginning to pay off as he has had 3 multi point games; including a three assists game against the Portland Pirates on 1/6.

"I can hardly wait to see, come playoff time, where he's evolved," Thompson Said.