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V.23 : I.2 | September 17, 2012


Table of Contents

September 17, 2012 Volume 23: Issue 2 6 The Locker Room Talking hockey on Facebook and Twitter

8 SlideShow

Busy summer days at the Troy Sports Center

10 Speaking of Hockey

What is your all-time favorite jersey of a Michigan-based team?

12 Get Better

Drills to improve your team’s warm-ups

14 you should know The NTDP’s Dylan Larkin


GRAHA celebrates 40 years


The Michigan teams prepare for a new NAHL season


College and Major Juniors previews The Spartans won the “Pride of the Mitten” cover vote contest for our college and juniors preview, but how will they – and the other eight college and OHL teams in the state – do this season?


The nine covers from our “Pride of the Mitten” contest


A season outlook for all the Div. 1 programs in Michigan


A look at what fans can expect from the Whalers and Spirit


Grand Rapids Griffins

The Jeff Blashill era begins in Grand Rapids




Red Wings Insider

The Wings will need to fill holes when the season eventually starts


Look for our next issue Last Line

Darren Eliot says there is no such thing as a lockout in Michigan

OCTOBER 8, 2012

To advertise in MiHockey please contact Lucia Zuzga at (248) 479-1134 or, or Michael Caples at (248) 479-1136 or

September 17 , 2012 V.23 : I.2

from the editor MIhockeyMAG Editor Michael Caples

Advertising Lucia Zuzga

Design Emily Huston Chuck Stevens miHockey staff Ben Fleck Brian Kalisher Stefan Kubus Ryan Zuke Distribution Lucia Zuzga ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTORS Amy Jones Anne Ellis PUBLISHER Darren Eliot

EDITORial Board: Bob DeSpirt, Christine

Knight, Derek Blair, James Jenkins, Julie Pardoski, Kirk Vickers, Linda Holland, Lisa Zarzycki, Mark Vansaw, Nyron Fauconier, Randy Paquette, Rob Mattina, Susan Bottrell, Tim Wilson, Todd Krygier

Letters TO THE EDITOR: MICHIGAN HOCKEY® welcomes Letters to the Editor. E-mail

MICHIGAN HOCKEY is published by SUBURBAN SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS, LLC 23995 Freeway Park Drive, Suite 200, Farmington Hills, MI 483352829.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to

MICHIGAN HOCKEY®, 23995 Freeway Park Drive, Suite 200, Farmington Hills, MI 48335-2829. ©2011 by Suburban Sports Communications. All Rights Reserved. The opinions and views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of MICHIGAN HOCKEY or its advertisers. All editorial copy, photographs and advertising materials remain the property of MICHIGAN HOCKEY.

MIchigan hockey 23995 Freeway Park Drive • Suite 200 Farmington Hills, MI 48335-2829 (248) 478-2500 • FAX: (248) 478-1601 e-mail: website: Photos at left: Joakim Andersson (Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins), Nick Lidstrom (Tom Turrill/MiHockey) Cover: Photos by Dave Reginek/DRW, and courtesy of MSU Athletic Communications. Design by Emily Huston/MiHockey

Cover reprints available e-mail:

September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2


BY MICHAEL CAPLES We had to make some changes to our editorial calendar. This was going to be our professional hockey preview edition. Go ahead and think about how absurd it would be for us to tell you all about the start of another NHL season, with a big TBD on pretty much every single line. It shouldn’t be like this, but it is what it is, I guess. The NHL is merging onto the expressway labeled “Lockout”. I’m not going to take one side or the other; it really is just millionaires and billionaires bickering over things the majority of the hockey population will never understand. They’re blessed to be able to play a game, or blessed to be able to own a professional sports franchise. But I’m going to take the stance of…oh well. Hockey’s hockey, whether the pros are playing or not. This fall, thousands and thousands of kids will fill rinks to play the sport they love, and I just hope the lockout doesn’t cause any to stop playing. High school hockey will still start up soon. College and junior teams will still feature players striving for that ultimate goal of reaching hockey’s highest stage. Adult league players will enjoy skating and feeling like a kid again for a few hours. And if you really need a taste of the pros, the Griffins will still be playing, including a preseason game at Yost on Oct. 7. Due to scheduling a press cycle around hockey season and not lockout season, we send this magazine to the printers a few days before the collective bargaining agreement expires. Who knows what will happen between me clicking the ‘send’ button and MiHockeyMag showing up at your local rink. That’s why we decided to kick off our coverage of college and major junior hockey, because we know that our seven Div. I programs and our two Ontario Hockey League teams will take to the ice this fall. In fact, we want everyone to celebrate that fact. We are lucky to have so many different teams to turn

to when the pros remind us that hockey is a business at that level. Perhaps this year, everyone will take a closer look at their alma mater’s hockey program, or that school they might be going to someday. Or they will take in a few more Whalers or Spirit games than usual. Watch hockey at that level, appreciate hockey at that level. Enjoy hockey that isn’t all about salaries and revenue sharing and unions and owners. I also hope you enjoyed our “Pride of the Mitten” cover contest. In case you didn’t know, we opened up the decision process of which team to pick for the MiHockeyMag cover to our readers. For seven days, we asked you, our readers, to vote for their favorite cover on; we offered cover designs for all nine of the teams we preview in this issue. The Spartans ended up recording the most votes, but I was impressed with the wide-ranging support from fans of all nine teams. Roughly 1,000 votes were recorded, and no team recorded more than 25 percent of the total vote. Says something about this state, doesn’t it? Everybody loves this sport, and everyone has an allegiance. Just remember, hockey still starts this fall. That’s the point of this issue. The Wolverines will still take the ice at Yost. The Lawson Lunatics will still be out in full force. The Whalers will compete for an OHL championship once again. The Spirit will enjoy the services of Red Wings pick Jake Paterson between the pipes. And don’t forget, it’s the last season for the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. We will be there from start to finish, and I hope you are, too. The game’s not going anywhere. Neither are we. See you at a rink soon,








Western Michigan defenseman Danny DeKeyser retweeted our post about voting for the Broncos for the cover of the magazine, and we appreciated his kind words afterwards.

Did you see our coverage of Jonas Gustavsson’s Warrior photo shoot on

It was great to see fans using social media to lobby for more votes for their favorite college/junior teams.

Did you check out our custom EA Sports NHL ’13 covers on Readers voted Shawn Hunwick as their favorite out of the eight custom creations by MiHockey’s Stefan Kubus.

LOCKER ROOM POLLS of picking which team we would feature on the cover, we decided to let you, Q: Instead the fans, pick instead. The results are in: A: 22% Michigan State Spartans 9% Lake Superior State Lakers 15% Michigan Tech Huskies

7% Plymouth Whalers

13% Western Michigan Broncos

4% Saginaw Spirit

13% University of Michigan Wolverines

4% Ferris State Bulldogs

13% Northern Michigan Wildcats 6


September 17 , 2012 V.23 : I.2


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New Jersey’s Adam Henrique and Vancouver’s Alex Burrows modeled some new Warrior Hockey gear and apparel a week before Gustavsson. Here are the two NHL stars inside the Oakland Grizzlies’ locker room.

Burrows spent hours on the ice with cameras following him around, as he both test drove and modeled current and future Warrior products.

New Red Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson showed up at the Troy Sports Center to do a little modeling work. The Swedish netminder helped Warrior Hockey with a goalie equipment photo and video shoot, and modeled his new red and white helmet, jersey, and pads for MiHockey at the same time.

Warrior’s athlete representatives weren’t the only people using the Troy Sports Center; NHLers were skating there to get in shape for the season, as well. Here’s a photo of Justin Abdelkader, who was just one of many Red Wings and Michigan natives skating together.

Photos by Michael Caples / MiHockey 8


September 17 , 2012 V.23 : I.2



EXPERIENCE THE #SPEEDBLADE FACTOR @ccmhockey /ccmhockey CCM and logo are registered trademarks of CCM Holdings (1983) Inc.and are used under license by Sport Maska Inc. and under sublicense by Maska U.S. Inc. © 2012 Taylor Made Golf Company, Inc.


After seeing ESPN count down the top professional sports jerseys, we asked…

“What’s your all-time favorite hockey jersey from a Michigan-based team?” For each issue of the magazine, we will post a question on Facebook, and one randomly selected answer will win a Warrior prize pack: hoodie, hat, and T-shirt. Good luck!


Little Caesars jerseys... light blue and orange... straight beauties.

Where it all began. The Detroit Cougars! Harry Lewis Wings’ Winter Classic jersey. Thomas Keating

— Matt Hickling

Wings, the red version, Fedorov 1995. Brian Woj Loved that dirty purple Vipers jersey.

Michigan Wolverines navy jersey. Josh Lewis

Detroit’s ‘D’ Winter Classic or the iconic Howe jersey. Neil Cyr

Green and white Kalamazoo K-Wings jerseys. Kyle Shearer

Jordan Peerbolte

Detroit Vipers were sweet. Todd Arnold

Bob Probert home jersey. Dustin O’Neil

No love for U of M gold? How could you forget the ‘shimmer’! Steve Auch

Michigan Tech current jerseys. I’m a fan of the shininess. Matt Cavender

Visit our Facebook page to try and win our next Warrior prize pack, Photo credits, clockwise from top: Michael Caples/MiHockey, TSN, Dave Reginek/DRW, Tom Turrill/MiHockey, Tom Turrill/MiHockey 10


September 17 , 2012 V.23 : I.2

Push the limits of stick technology, put ‘em in the hands of some of the best players in the game, and yeah, secret’s gonna get out. Not just redefining the game, redefining words.


Secret’s out now at




IMPROVE YOUR TEAM’S WARM-UPS WITH THESE SKATING STATIONS ORGANIZATION: Divide players into four equal groups positioned as shown in the diagram. Station No. 1: Skate through the cones with good puck control and with your head up to the goal line, and stop using a hockey stop, facing the middle of the ice. Station No. 2: From a starting position, explosive quick start to the red line, continue long strides down to the far goal line, stop using a hockey stop, facing the middle of the ice. Station No. 3: Backwards start, skate backwards to the red line, pivot, open up towards the boards, skate forward to the corner of the net. Station No. 4: Obstacle course; stickhandle through the cones ďŹ rst, make a move right or left of the stick on the ice, jump over the next obstacle, skate a ďŹ gure-8 between the next two cones and skate forward to the far cone, backward around the next cone, down the ice to make a move around the last object or coach for a shot on goal.


Stations No. 2 and No. 3 can add



Goalies can take shots at the end of Station No. 1 and at the end of Station No. 4, or participate in all the skating drills.






September 17 , 2012 V.23 : I.2



A Friday or Saturday night game at Yost Arena to watch the University of Michigan Wolverines


Scrambled eggs with cheese


Hockey Night in Canada



Aaron Carter’s “I Want Candy” Tour in 2003


Being at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany and watching the U.S. take on Italy


I would be given the opportunity to play in the NHL and start a charitable foundation to give back


Will Ferrell, Olivia Wilde and Crystal Reed


Composite Hockey Sticks


Eat a banana while I tape my stick. I also tape my shin pads clockwise


Dylan Larkin U.S. National Under-17 Team forward Waterford native Dylan Larkin will be adjusting to some new scenery this season; the former Belle Tire star will now be calling the Ann Arbor Ice Cube home. The 6-foot, 172-pound forward might as well get used to playing hockey in Wolverines country; Larkin has given his verbal commitment to Red Berenson and the University of Michigan. But until he puts on the Maize and Blue, Larkin will be wearing the Red, White, and Blue, skating for the U.S. team for the next two seasons.

Photos courtesy of: (Happy Gilmore, 2006 World Cup, Hockey Night in Canada), (Will Ferrell), University of Michigan (Block ‘M’)



September 17 , 2012 V.23 : I.2


'HTXLQGUH5G‡Rochester MI 48307

Phone: 248.601.6699

Rochester Hockey Club & FUNdamental Hockey are still accepting applications, but space is limited so sign up today! Please contact or or visit for more details

FALL& WINTER ADULT LEAGUE 2012-13 Friday “D� Draft League Individual sign-up ages 18 & over 22 weeks, October 12 to March 22 SHUSOD\HU‡*RDOLHVSOD\)UHH Excellent Friday game times

Ages 18 & over

SEE THE STARS OF TOMORROW ‌TODAY! UPCOMING HOME GAMES Sept. 21 vs. LaSalle Vipers Sept. 22 vs. LaSalle Vipers Sept. 28 vs. Des Moines Buccaneers — Magnet Schedule Giveaway


22 weeks

TICKET INFO: $1 Youth Hockey Player with Jersey $5 Students/Seniors/Active Military $7 Adults


September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2

Call 734.327.9251 for tickets! Visit




GRAHA celebrates 40 years of youth hockey BY MICHAEL CAPLES


n Sept. 8, the Grand Rapids Amateur Hockey Association threw quite the party at Patterson Ice Center. One of the largest associations in west Michigan, GRAHA is celebrating their 40th anniversary this season. To start it off on the right note, the association acknowledged their accomplishment with a party at Patterson, their official home rink. From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., players, parents, coaches, managers and fans enjoyed free hot dogs and hamburgers, a 70-foot inflated obstacle course, a bounce house, an inflatable rock climbing wall with a slide, and free open skating. Griff, the mascot for the Grand Rapids Griffins, and Pounce, the Davenport University mascot, stopped by to help with the celebration. GRAHA house teams are named the Panthers, and their travel teams are named the Griffins. GRAHA currently has 12 travel teams this season, two of which are girls’ teams (12U and 16U). The other travel programs range from Squirt A through Midget A and JV. GRAHA has six Mite house teams, four Squirt house teams, two PeeWee house teams, one Bantam house team, and one Midget BB house team.

Ted Lindsay Foundation donates $36,000 to Beaumont Hospital



espite hanging up his skates decades ago, Detroit hockey legend Ted Lindsay continues to help Hockeytown. On Sept. 7, the Hall-of-Famer and his wife Joanne donated $36,000 through the Ted Lindsay Foundation to the Beaumont Children’s Hospital’s HOPE Center to help children with autism. The foundation, created 11 years ago to support autism research, presented their first gift to Beaumont in Royal Oak. With the generous donation, Beaumont will be able to purchase electronic tablets and netbooks for the



center, and to provide autism treatment scholarships for children. A statement from Beaumont said that therapists across the United States have discovered the value of using tablets in treating children with autism; “because of the device’s intuitive interface, crisp graphics and speed, it is ideally suited for use by children with autism, giving them confidence as they master its use.” Lori Warner, Ph.D., director of the Hope Center (a hands-on parent education program offered through Beaumont’s Center for Human Development) said that the Lindsays’ donation will help Beaumont make great strides in assisting children with autism. “The amazing generosity and support of Ted and Joanne Lindsay through their foundation has begun to open so many new possibilities for our families,” Warner said. “Behavioral treatment for autism requires lots of time and lots of caring, and the financial support for our scholarship fund means that more families will be able to access this effective therapy. The Lindsays are also dedicated to helping our families make the most of the latest technology. Our ability to use tablets and specialized applications helps us reach and teach our children in a whole new way. We are so grateful to the Lindsays and the members of their foundation and board for becoming our champions.” Ted Lindsay said this is only a start for his foundation and Beaumont. “This is a first step for us,” Lindsay said. “We are committed to fighting autism and helping the people it impacts.”

FROM THE BEAUMONT PRESS RELEASE: Dozens of applications for electronic tablets have been created to help children with autism or other special needs learn to communicate and express themselves. Because of their ease of use, the devices are also ideal for parents, allowing them to work and play side by side with their children. The tablets do not replace traditional therapies, but they are a powerful, additional treatment tool, allowing caregivers and parents to try new and promising approaches with their children. The netbook computers will make it easier for therapists to record and save treatment notes as they rotate through different patient activities. They will allow real-time record keeping and the ability to access the system from off-site observational sessions and home visits. Internet wireless connectivity will also introduce more web-based activities into the treatment curriculum. Because of the intensive and time-consuming nature of autism treatment, getting help for autistic children can be cost-prohibitive for many families, often causing them to delay therapy or not seek it at all. The HOPE Center has focused on easing this financial burden by providing needbased treatment scholarships that cover up to 75 percent of expenses. Scholarships are awarded on a sliding scale. In 2011, there were more than 6,700 patient visits to the HOPE Center for therapy sessions and classes. YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE TO BEAUMONT’S HOPE CENTER ONLINE AT FOUNDATION.BEAUMONT.EDU OR BY CALLING 248-551-5330.

September 17 , 2012 V.23 : I.2

Niagara Sport Tournaments Niagara Falls NY “WE ARE MORE THAN JUST HOCKEY” Hyde Park Ice Pavilion now has a new lobby, snack bar, and bathrooms. There has also been new lighting added to both rinks, with new locker rooms added to Rink One. We at NST are still offering multiple team and tournament discounts to organizations who bring more than one team or want to play in more than one tournament. Please feel free to inquire about both. Specializing in family entertainment, tourist attractions and casino gambling. Let your weekend be a mini vacation. Why travel hundreds of miles when you can get competition in a nearby location. In most cases we are just a tankful of gas away. We are more than just hockey!

We hope to hear from you.

2012 - 2013 Tournaments in Niagara Falls, New York Niagara Falls Columbus Day Early Bird Festival Of Lights Niagara Falls Blizzard Challenge Niagara Falls Presidents Day Niagara Falls Championship Cup

Oct.6–8, 2012 Nov.23–25, 2012 Jan.19–21,2013 Feb.16–18,2013 Mar.15–17,2013

Mites, Squirts, Peewees, Bantams and Midgets, A, B, AE & AA

Gene Carella 716-405-7154

Divisions available in most tournaments. Teams usually come from US and Canada. Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey to name a few. We have also hosted teams from Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, Illinois, Massachusetts, California and Texas.

For complete information and online application, visit: or call Gene or Mike Carella (716) 791-4068 email: or


DINNE R C LUB Suburban Ice-Macomb will run a special Suburban FUNdamental hockey session for Mighty Mites (ages 4-7) from September-March.

It’s not too late to get in the game! Great schedule and excellent ice times all at one location! One 50-minute skate each week for 24 weeks on Sundays at 4:30 pm September 23 - March 24, 2013 Emphasis is placed on creating a fun, challenging environment for players to learn the beginning principles of skating in equipment, stickhandling and puck skills at their competitive level. Skill stations and skillbuilding games will be a part of each session



Instructional Training Camp | Team Play | Game Time Ages 18 & up 24 Weeks – September 16 through March 24 Sundays, between 5:30 & 7:00 pm No sessions November 25, December 23 & 30, and February 3

Program serves as the initiation program for the Macomb Hockey Club Full equipment required - equipment available to borrow

WITH QUESTIONS PLEASE CONTACT: Steve Kruk, Assistant Manager & Hockey Director | 586.992.8600

54755 Broughton Road | Macomb, MI 48042 | (586) 992-8600

September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2



Ferris State ICE ARENA Big Rapids Area Junior Hockey Association 2012 – 2013 Youth Tournament Schedule

Premier Tournament Sponsor — Holiday Inn Sept 28-30 = HS Fall/Midget AA-AAA Showcase 8 – 10 teams ($700-$800) 4 games Oct 12-14 = HS Fall/Midget AA-AAA Showcase 8 – 10 teams ($700-$800) 4 games Nov 9-11 = Squirt B Tourney weekend, 8 teams ($725)

• THE CELEBRATION ROOM A private banquet space seating up to 150 guests.

• THE ROOF & DECK An indoor/outdoor area perfect for social events & networking.

• THE CITY THEATRE A 400-seat theater complete with stage, lighting & sound. Perfect for any type of presentation.

TO BOOK YOUR NEXT EVENT, CONTACT OUR GROUP SALES DEPARTMENT AT 313.471.3454 HOCKEYTOWNCAFE.COM • 2301 Woodward Avenue, Detroit MI 48201 Next to the Fox Theatre, Across from Comerica Park

Nov 16-18 = Pee Wee B Tourney weekend | 8 teams ($750) Dec 1-2 = Mite ADM Studio Rink Tournament 8 teams ($450) 4x4/3x3 hockey played on the Ferris State Studio Rink. FSU vs Michigan, Fri/Sat, Nov 30-Dec 1 — call early for group tickets

Detroit Skating Club 2013 Fall/Winter Adult Hockey Leagues Sign-up Today! Sunday League Offered Division II - 18 & Over Established League Looking for 1 - 3 Teams 6:30 Start Time (1Hour Games/Running Clock)

Dec 7-9 = Bantam B Tourney weekend, 8 teams ($800) Jan 4-6 = Mite ADM Studio Rink Tournament 8 teams ($450) 4x4/3x3 hockey played on the Ferris State Studio Rink. FSU vs Michigan State, Sat, Jan 5 — call early for group tickets Jan 18-20 = Mini-Mite & IP ADM Tourney weekend 8-10 teams ($400) 4x4/3x3 hockey played on the Ferris State Studio & Full Sheet. FSU vs Michigan State, Sat, Jan 19 — call early for group tickets Jan 18-20 = Mite Full Ice Tourney weekend 8 teams ($650) Games start Friday afternoon. FSU vs Michigan State, Sat, Jan 19 — call early for group tickets. Jan 25-27 = JV/Midget A Tourney Weekend, 8 teams ($850) Feb 8-10 = Midget B/BB Tourney weekend, 8 teams ($850) Feb 16-17 = Mite ADM Studio Rink Tournament 8 teams ($450) 4x4/3x3 hockey played on the Ferris State Studio Rink. FSU vs Bowling Green, Fri/Sat, Feb 15-16 — call early for group tickets (tourney discount) Feb 16-17 = Mini-Mite ADM Studio Rink Tournament, 8-10 teams ($400) 4x4 / 3x3 hockey played on the Ferris State Studio Rink. FSU vs Bowling Green, Fri/Sat, Feb 15-16 — call early for group tickets (tourney discount) All Tournaments are 4-game guarantees, with Fri/Sat/Sun games unless noted Studio Rink Dimensions — 100 x 85 with radiused corners Midget and Bantam tournament games = 1.5 hours All participants/teams must be USA registered Tournament Info: printable application, tournament rules, etc – or

League Features 23 Games including Play-Offs Three (3) 15 minute running time periods No hidden fees!

New Leagues Available Division - Over 30 or Over 40 Division - II, III or IV Start Times Available Friday - 9:15 pm Saturday - 7:45 pm Sunday - 8:15 pm 888 Denison Court Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302 Phone: (248) 332 332--3000 Ext. 102 Email:

Tournament Hotline: 231-591-2881 Ferris State Ticket Hotline: 231-591-2888 Hotel Sponsor, Holiday Inn: 231-796-4400 please call 3-4 weeks prior for reservations.



September 17 , 2012 V.23 : I.2


Hocktoberfest October 26, 27, 28 2012

Tournament Levels and Dates

This is a Travel Tournament. Sanction # MIT130029

Squirt, Peewee & Bantam Travel

Squirt B “Fall Kickoff” 12 Minute Periods Nov. 16 – 18 $650/team MIT130131 Peewee B “Deke into December” 13 Minute Periods Dec. 7 – 8 $655/team MIT130132 Bantam B “Deep Freeze” 14 Minute Periods Jan. 25 – 27 $670/team MIT130133 JV Preseason Shootout 15 Minute Periods Oct. 19 – 21 $800/team MIT130130

Bar Down Showdown November 9, 10, 11 2012 Sanction # MIT130030

Squirt & Peewee House/Travel, Bantam House, Mini-Mite/Mite Jamboree

Danglers Cup December 7, 8, 9 2012 Sanction # MIT130031

Squirt Travel/House, Peewee Travel/House, Bantam Travel/House, JV

Tournament Features

Bottle Knocker January 11, 12, 13 2013 Sanction # MIT130041

Squirt House, Peewee House, Bantam House, Midget BB, Mini-Mite/Mite Jamboree

Shamrock Shakedown March 8, 9, 10 2013 Sanction # MIT130042

Squirt Travel, Peewee House/Travel, Bantam House/ Travel

No Gate Fee Pizza party provided after Saturday evening’s games from Mancino’s Pizza and Grinders!!! Trophies for champions and runners-up No spots held without full payment and registration in our possession Arena located minutes away from beautiful Ludington and Manistee 4 game guarantee Medals for all participants All tournaments sanction through USA Hockey and closely monitored Teams from past tournaments include: Kentwood, Bay City, Sault Ste. Marie, East Grand Rapids, Lansing, Grand Valley, Holland, Midland, HAWKS, Muskegon, Big Rapids, Mt. Pleasant, Kalamazoo, Cheboygan


West Shore Community Ice Arena and Recreation Center 3000 N. Stiles Rd | Scottville, MI 49454 Fax: (231) 845-7823 For more information on our tournaments call (231) 843-9712 or visit our website at

September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2





September 17 , 2012 V.23 : I.2


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BY MATT MACKINDER KALAMAZOO JR. K-WINGS An expansion team in 2011-12, Kalamazoo put on quite a show, finishing second in the North Division and losing in the North Division finals to Port Huron. “We set the bar pretty high for ourselves last season coming so close to both a regular season and playoff championships in the division, so I think this year it is something we definitely have our sights set on,” said Jr. K-Wings’ head coach Marc Fakler. “We are going to have 13 returning players and another four with NAHL experience. We know the North will be very tough and a challenge to make the playoffs, but we are excited about the competitiveness and variety of the games. “We have almost all our returning scorers from last season and I feel real good about our defense and goaltending because there is a veteran presence there, too. I think having guys with experience is always a plus.” Up front, the Jr. K-Wings return forwards Robbie Payne, Kyle Gattelaro, Brandon Flood, Jacob McDowell and Taylor Burden. On defense, Brett Beauvais, who is being looked at as a potential NHL draft prospect for the 2013 draft, and Mark Essaki, who was acquired from Jamestown, will be the blueliners looked upon to stabilize the game. In goal, Alex Okicki, who split time last season with Ken MacLean, should start the year as the No. 1 goalie, but will be pushed by Nick Stuart.

MICHIGAN WARRIORS After getting all the way to the title game of the 2011 Robertson Cup, the Flint-based Warriors experienced a “sophomore slump” last year. A rebound season is just what head coach Moe Mantha is hoping for this go-round. “We were looking for more speed and goal-scoring up front for this season,” said Mantha. “We also want to improve at the goaltending position and be more consistent. After losing some of the key players we did, including the league’s MVP (Robert Tadazak), we knew



LEFT: Martin Gruse (photo courtesy Krista Ketterer) RIGHT: Tyler Marble (photo courtesy of the NAHL)

we were going to be young and have some immaturities last season. I think any time you have a really young team like that it is hard to be consistent for 60 games, but towards the end of the season, I saw the improvement in our players and we put together a decent run and were able to make the playoffs.” Captain Martin Gruse is back in the Vehicle City and is joined up front by fellow returnee Brad Pizzey. On the back end, Jared Fiegl and Derek O’Flynn are back for another season. The only issues may be in goal where Trevor Gorsuch, Michael Pesendorfer and Jordan Uhelski will all battle for the No. 1 spot, though Gorsuch did see time during the second half and in the playoffs last season. Rookie forward and California native Luke Rendino should crack the lineup on a regular basis, as should top draft pick Jake Hopfner.

PORT HURON FIGHTING FALCONS The “worst to first” Cinderella story from last season, which included a North Division title and a berth in the Robertson Cup tournament, the Fighting Falcons are out to prove this year that 2011-12 was no fluke. That said, NAHL coach of the year Bill Warren stepped down over the summer and Steve Shannon has taken over. Changes may be happening, but winning is still expected in Port Huron. “I think that the guys who were here last year will come into the season with a certain hunger for more success,” said Shannon. “They had a remarkable season last year and I know that after getting so close to a championship, they will have the desire to give it another run.” Gone is goaltender Peter Megariotis, who accepted a scholarship to Ohio State, but Max Milosek, who shared time last year with Megariotis, is more than capable of winning games on his own. Forwards Kody Polin (24 goals), Ian Miller (26 goals) and Rick DeRosa are all back and will all be expected to

increase their offensive output. Swedish forward Daniel Rehnstrom is new in town and rookie defenseman Mark Evan Auk has already had some NCAA Division I interest. Veteran defenseman Alex Archibald will be counted on for leadership and dominant play.

SOO EAGLES New to the league, but certainly not new to junior hockey, the Eagles take over the Traverse City North Stars’ franchise and make the move from the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League to the NAHL. The Soo Indians also played in the NAHL from 19952005 and at one time, boasted a young goalie named Ryan Miller. Eagles’ head coach Bruno Bragagnolo is fired up for the season to start. “I never want to leave a game thinking we have been out-worked,” said Bragagnolo. “I want the players with skill to be able to free-wheel a little bit and make things happen in the offensive zone. “Having a good core of players with NAHL experience that played in Traverse City definitely impacted the way I recruited for this upcoming season. We didn’t alter anything we normally do. We wanted to find some really good and talented players who could also be a nice compliment to those players that were coming over from Traverse City.” Traverse City holdovers Jared Van Wormer, Alex Taulien, Chris Waterstreet, Eric Rivard, Jake Peacock and Kyle Loridon lead the way up front, while former Traverse City defensemen Nathan Harris and Kyle Froese are expected to be impact players along with junior hockey veterans Michael Lant and Cody Von Rueden. Veteran goalies Tyler Marble and Zach Naglevoort, who both played in Traverse City, should be a solid 1-2 punch between the pipes. Coaches’ quotes courtesy

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TOURNAMENT CALENDAR MICHIGAN SEPTEMBER 2012 Hockey Time Productions Motown Cup Tournament Series Detroit, MI September 21-23, 2012 Mite-Midget House, B, A, AA High School Varsity and JV 216-325-0567 Great Lakes Pre-Season Challenge Holland, MI September 28-30, 2012 Squirt, Pee Wee, Bantam; AA and A; Midget Minor and High School JV Girls U10, U12, U14, U16, U19 Contact MYHockey Tournaments Toll Free US and Canada 855898-4040 FSU-BRAJHA HS Fall/Midget AA-AAA Showcase Big Rapids, MI September 28-30, 2012 HS, Midget AA-AAA (231) 591-2881 or House B Early Bird Tournament Kalamazoo, MI September 28-29, 2012 Mite-Midget House B Only 269-349-PUCK or Wingsstadium. com

OCTOBER 2012 Otsego County Sportsplex Gaylord, MI AAA Early Bird Tournament October 5 – 7, 2012 4 game guarantee Level: 2000 8 team limit Jim Driver 989-858-3400 Hockey Time Productions Motown Cup Tournament Series Detroit, MI October 5-7, 2012 Mite-Midget House, B, A, AA High School Varsity and JV 216-325-0567 Travel Early Bird Tournament Kalamazoo, MI

October 5-7, 2012 Mite-Midget Travel A & AA 269-349-PUCK or Wingsstadium. com Otsego County Sportsplex Gaylord, MI AAA Early Bird Tournament October 12 - 14, 2012 4 game guarantee Level: 2001 8 team limit Jim Driver 989-858-3400 Great Lakes Fall Showdown Holland, MI October 12-14, 2012 Squirt, Pee Wee, Bantam; AA and A; Midget Major and High School Varsity Contact MYHockey Tournaments Toll Free US and Canada 855898-4040 FSU-BRAJHA HS Fall/Midget AA-AAA Showcase Big Rapids, MI October 12-14, 2012 HS, Midget AA-AAA (231) 591-2881 or Motown Cup Tournament Series Detroit, MI 10/12/12- 10/14/2012 Mite through Midget: House, B, A and AA, High School Varsity and JV Hockey Time Productions (216) 325-0567 Otsego County Sportsplex Gaylord, MI AAA Early Bird Tournament October 19 - 21, 2012 4 game guarantee Level: 2002 8 team limit Jim Driver 989-858-3400 Hockey Time Productions Motown Cup Tournament Series Detroit, MI October 19-21, 2012 Mite-Midget House, B, A, AA High School Varsity and JV 216-325-0567

JV Preseason Shootout Scottville, MI October 19-21, 2012 JV 231-843-9712 GTHA Tournament Series Traverse City, MI October 19-21, 2012 Squirt AA 231-933-4842 Great Lakes Fall Classic I Holland, MI October 26-28, 2012 Squirt A, B and House, Pee Wee AA, Bantam A, B and House, Contact MYHockey Tournaments Toll Free US and Canada 855898-4040 Hocktoberfest Muskegon, MI October 26-28, 2012 Squirt-Bantam Travel 231-739-9423 GTHA Tournament Series Traverse City, MI October 26-28, 2012 Pee Wee A & AA 231-933-4842 gthatournaments@yahoo. com Motown Cup Tournament Series Detroit, MI 10/26 - 10/28/2012 Mite through Midget: House, B, A and AA, High School Varsity and JV Hockey Time Productions (216) 325-0567

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Great Lakes Fall Classic II Holland, MI November 2-4, 2012 Squirt AA, Pee Wee A, B and House, Bantam AA, Midget B and House Contact MYHockey Tournaments Toll Free US and Canada 855898-4040 GTHA Tournament Series Traverse City, MI November 2-4, 2012 Bantam A & AA 231-933-4842 Bar Down Showdown Muskegon, MI November 9-11, 2012 Squirt & Pee Wee House/ Travel, Bantam House, MiniMite/Mite Jamboree 231-739-9423 Great Lakes Veterans Cup Holland, MI November 9-11, 2012 Squirt A, B and House, Pee Wee AA, Bantam A, B and House, Midget Major and HS Varsity Contact MYHockey Tournaments Toll Free US and Canada 855898-4040 Columbus Cup Mt. Pleasant, MI November 9-11, 2012 Pee Wee House B 989-772-9623 FSU-BRAJHA Squirt B Tourney Big Rapids, MI November 9-11, 2012 Squirt B (231) 591-2881 or Motown Cup Tournament Series Detroit, MI 11/9/2012 - 11/11/2012 Mite through Midget: House, B, A and AA, High School Varsity and JV Hockey Time Productions (216) 325-0567


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Hockey Time Productions Motown Cup Tournament Series Detroit, MI November 30-December 2, 2012 Mite-Midget House, B, A, AA High School Varsity and JV 216-325-0567 GTHA Tournament Series Traverse City, MI November 30-December 2, 2012 Pee Wee House 231-933-4842 gthatournaments@yahoo. com

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Instead of picking which team we would feature on the cover, we decided to let you, the fans, pick instead. Below is a gallery of nine custom covers the MiHockey design team created for our seven Division I schools and our two Ontario Hockey League teams.

September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2





“It can be tough to play hockey and balance your academics, but in the end you are rewarded with a college degree and you get to pursue your hockey career.”




Michigan State University


Notre Dame’s T.J. Tynan (Dave Reginek/DRW)

Plymouth’s Stefan Noesen (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

TOP DEFENSEMAN – Jon Merrill (Michigan)


BY MIHOCKEY’S MATT MACKINDER PLYMOUTH WHALERS – 1st in West Division – Will lose in Western Conference finals to London SAGINAW SPIRIT – 4th in West Division PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Stefan Noesen (Plymouth)

Detroit Red Wings

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – Connor McDavid (Erie)

Play It Smart. Play College Hockey.

TOP GOALTENDER – John Gibson (Kitchener) TOP DEFENSEMAN – Matt Finn (Guelph)



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MICHIGAN WOLVERINES JUST KEEP RELOADING BY MICHAEL CAPLES REWIND – Motivation shouldn’t be an issue for the Wolverines this season – to say that last season ended too soon is putting it kindly. Michigan, holding the No. 2 overall spot in the NCAA Tournament, lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Cornell in their opening game of the national playoffs last March. The Wolverines also finished as runner-up in both the CCHA regular-season standings, and in the CCHA championship, where they lost to Western Michigan 3-2. The conclusion of the season saw departures by a strong senior class, along with junior Chris Brown leaving for the Coyotes. The Wolverines enjoyed the NHL Draft, however; incoming freshman defenseman Jacob Trouba was taken ninth overall, while Phil Di Giuseppe was picked 38th overall, and incoming freshman forward Boo Nieves was selected 29th overall. The club also experienced another summer de-commit, as Connor Carrick decided to head down M-14 to the Plymouth Whalers. BENCH BOSS – One would assume that Red Berenson will retire someday. However, it doesn’t seem like the iconic coach is going anywhere soon. Berenson signed a threeyear extension over the summer, keeping him behind the Wolverines’ bench until 2016. Nobody in Ann Arbor is complaining about the consistency in the coaching staff; Berenson has led U of M to 22 straight NCAA Tournament appearances. The two-time national champion coach has also gotten the Wolverines to 11 different Frozen Fours. When Berenson talks, people listen – and so do recruits. LINE CHANGE – There will be a period of adjustment for Maize and Blue fans; some staples of the Wolverines’ roster have moved on to the next level. Shawn Hunwick, Greg Pateryn, Luke Glendening and David Wohlberg (all



Michigan natives, as well) served as the veteran leadership for the Wolverines last year, and their absence will show early. Hunwick was the goaltender of record in all but two games last season, and the three aforementioned skaters were amongst the ice-time leaders for the Wolverines every game. However, as college athletics always go, fresh faces will emerge. Trouba, the Rochester native, U.S. NTDP alum, and now Winnipeg Jets prospect, could make for an immediate impact on the blue line. Trouba’s former teammate in the Red, White, and Blue, Jared Rutledge, is a highly-touted goaltending recruit, as is Nieves at the center spot.

will be picking between junior Adam Janecyk, who has played in a grand total of six games (only one of which he started), redshirt sophomore Luke Dwyer (hasn’t played at all), Rutledge (freshman) and Steve Racine (another freshman). The selection is expected to be Rutledge, a Chicago native who spent the last two seasons with the NTDP. There is talent both at forward and at defense, but if the Wolverines can’t find a reliable goaltender, there could be some bumps in the road this season. The four graduated players served as the leaders of the team, as well – how will a new regime handle the pressure of leading Michigan hockey?

IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF FULL – To borrow from one of the other teams on campus, “This is Michigan.” The Wolverines reload season after season, and this shouldn’t be any different. The club returns leading scorer Alex Guptill, along with new captain A.J. Treais, Lee Moffie, and Di Giuseppe. A full season for Jon Merrill – who decided against turning pro this summer – will remind people in Ann Arbor and beyond why he was a high draft pick by New Jersey. Trouba will become the steady presence on the blue line that might be missing right now from Pateryn’s departure. And while they were big losses to the roster, the Wolverines only lost five players from a team that was just a play away from making another run through the NCAA Tournament.

MVP – We’re expecting a big season out of Merrill. The Brighton native has had a tumultuous career at Michigan so far, but as he enters his junior season, hopefully he’s gotten the kinks worked out. If the half-season suspension didn’t wake him up, nothing will – but we’re banking on Merrill knowing he needs to both impress his coaching staff and the New Jersey Devils management at the same time this season. Don’t forget, Merrill put up 25 points as a freshman two seasons ago, and he was taken 38th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. He should – and will – be a dominating force on the blue line for the Wolverines this season.

IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF EMPTY – This could be the season where the goaltending de-commits finally catch up to the Wolverines. Hunwick will forever be remembered as a hero around Yost as he carried the program through the years where they were supposed to have Jack Campbell and John Gibson. Now, Berenson

DIFFERENCE-MAKER – Phil Di Giuseppe impressed in his first CCHA season; so much so that the Carolina Hurricanes picked him in the second round of the draft. The now-sophomore forward plays at both ends, too – he finished plus-23 as a freshman. Expect Di Giuseppe to build upon his 11 goals and 15 assists from a year ago, and be the decisive player in more than a few games for Michigan this season.

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SPARTANS LOOK TO BUILD ON 2011-12 SUCCESS BY MICHAEL CAPLES REWIND – Spartans coach Tom Anastos stepped behind the MSU bench for the first time last fall, and promptly started the rebuilding process in East Lansing. The team followed the coach’s lead, making a five-spot jump in the standings from the 2010-11 season, finishing in fifth place. That earned the Spartans their first berth in the NCAA Tournament since 2008, where they fell to Union 3-1. Days after the conclusion of the season, Livonia native Torey Krug announced that he had signed with the Boston Bruins, forgoing his senior season. Krug’s departure, along with a nine-member senior class, means even more new faces in East Lansing this fall. BENCH BOSS – Anastos has his work cut out for him. The former CCHA commissioner ended the 2011-12 season with a 19-16-4 overall record and an important trip to the NCAA Tournament. Now Anastos has the opportunity to fill the roster with the players he wants. Michigan State will add 11 newcomers to the roster this fall (Brother Rice’s Mr. Hockey, Mackenzie MacEachern will enroll in 2013) in Anastos’ first full-year recruiting period. The pressure will be on Anastos and his staff both to recruit elite-level talent, and to develop it within the program, over the next few seasons. LINE CHANGE – The MSU roster took on quite an overhaul over the off-season. Krug’s departure – he skated in his first NHL game a short time after signing with Boston – will hurt the Spartans the most. Krug was the Spartans’ leader both on (led the team with 34 points) and off the ice. The senior departure list includes Brett Perlini, Trevor Nill, Brock Shelgren, Daultan Leveille, Matt Crandall, Mike Merrifield, and goaltender Drew Palmisano. New names added to the roster include NHL-drafted



players Matt DeBlouw, John Draeger and Rhett Holland, along with Travis Walsh, Ryan Keller, Connor Wood, Brock Krygier, Nickolas Gatt, Michael Ferrantino, David Bondra, and goaltender Jake Hildebrand. IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF FULL – The Spartans showed great improvement from 2010-11 to 2011-12. They might be a young team, but as Anastos is able to recruit the players he wants for his aggressive systems, the Spartans should continue showing growth. Now with two years under his belt, junior goaltender Will Yanakeff is ready to be the workhorse for MSU, as he will no longer be splitting time with Palmisano. Michigan State’s offense should improve; Lee Reimer, Greg Wolfe, Matt Berry and Kevin Walrod all return up front. The defense, while young, will be much more physical, due to an emphasis on size and toughness in recruiting.

he is the main guy between the pipes. He’s also going to have to be, especially early in the season, as the new defensemen try to establish themselves in the defensive schemes and systems. Yanakeff could be in for a big season in East Lansing. DIFFERENCE-MAKER – If he continues to progress, Matt Berry could be the force the Spartans need up front. The Canton, Mich., native and former Muskegon Lumberjack led all Spartans freshmen in scoring with 11 goals and 19 points, 14 of which came in conference play. He’s also shown that he’s not afraid of the big stage; Berry scored MSU’s lone goal at the NCAA Tournament, scored the game-winner against Michigan on Feb. 10, and scored the only goal of the shootout against their in-state rivals on Dec. 10.

IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF EMPTY – The roster haul might be too much for the Spartans to overcome this season. Matt Grassi will be the lone senior on the blue line, and Jake Chelios will be the lone junior with any experience. On most nights, there will be four fresh faces on the blue line, and that could mean problems in a grueling CCHA season. The Spartans will also be waiting for an offensive force to step up; Krug led the team in scoring over the last two seasons. Losing ten total players means that the Spartans could take one step backwards in the rebuilding process in East Lansing. MVP – With little experience in front of him, Yanakeff is going to see a lot of pucks this season. The Jerome, Mich., native had a 2.50 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage last year, and he should thrive now that

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BRONCOS CAN FINISH FIRST IN FINAL CCHA SEASON BY MICHAEL CAPLES REWIND – Seems like just yesterday that the Broncos were celebrating at Joe Louis Arena. After finishing tied with Michigan for the second spot in the CCHA regular season, Western Michigan took care of business at the Joe, topping the Wolverines 3-2 to clinch the Mason Cup for the second time in school history. Despite a firstround exit in the NCAA Tournament, it was a successful first season for new coach Andy Murray. With minimal turnover during the offseason, the Broncos should be eagerly awaiting the 2012-13 season, and rightfully so. BENCH BOSS – Murray returns for his second season behind the Broncos’ bench. The former NHL coach should like what he’s seeing at practice so far, as he has the luxury of returning many of his top players. It will be interesting how Murray navigates the recruiting scene; his own starpower, along with the fact that the Broncos will be one of the founding members of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, means he should continue to attract elite talent to Kalamazoo. Murray finished with a 21-146 record, good for the most wins recorded by a Broncos team since 1995-96. LINE CHANGE – The conclusion of the 2011-12 season meant an expiration date for some of the Broncos’ leaders. Greg Squires, Derek Roehl, Kyle O’Kane, J.J. Crew, and captain Ian Slater have all moved on, as has defenseman Matt Tennyson, who signed with the San Jose Sharks during the summer. There are currently only four freshmen on the 2012-13 Broncos’ roster – Colton Hargrove (Boston Bruins pick), Nolan LaPorte, Kenney Morrison, and Josh Pitt – while according to Chris Heisenberg’s master list of commitments, Red Wings draft pick Mike McKee will show up in K-Zoo in 2013. But there are still plenty of big names



on the roster – like Frank Slubowski, Danny DeKeyser, Chase Balisy, Garrett Haar, and Shane Berschbach IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF FULL – Like I just hinted at, the big guns are back for the Broncos. Their top two scorers – Balisy and Berschbach – return. So does DeKeyser, who was arguably their best defenseman last season. And the goaltender that turned some heads down the stretch - Frank “The Big Slubowski” - is back too, and now he’s a sophomore with a full season under his belt. Confidence should not be an issue, nor will coaching. Murray got a taste of winning at the college level last season, and with his track record, one can be sure he will do what it takes to get the Broncos back to the Big Dance.

DIFFERENCE-MAKER – OK, let’s be honest here, I’m really just using the ‘Difference-maker’ label here to do a co-MVP. If Slubowski isn’t crowned king of Kalamazoo by the end of the season, Balisy will be. The California native and NTDP alum was second on the team in scoring as a freshman, and led the Broncos last year with 32 points. He has 62 points in 78 career games as a Bronco. And he’s only going to get better with age.

IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF EMPTY – There’s something to be said for depth and leadership. While the big scorers are there, will the Broncos be able to overcome the loss of their senior class? Secondary scoring could become a concern, as Walters and Squires accounted for 24 goals and 48 points alone last season. Plus, it’s always an adventure replacing a captain, as Slater turned out to be a pretty good one for the Broncos last season. And what if Slubowski hits a sophomore slump? MVP – Slubowski seemed like the real deal down the stretch last season. He posted a 17-11-4 record, along with a 2.03 goals-against average and .911 save percentage, as a freshman. You have to have something special to put up those kinds of numbers as a fresh-faced rookie in a league like the CCHA. Plus, he played every minute of the Broncos’ run to the Mason Cup. Slubowski has made a name for himself, and he’s going to have a strong team in front of him, which will only help his numbers in 2012-13.

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CAN THE BULLDOGS REPEAT THEIR CINDERELLA RUN? BY MICHAEL CAPLES REWIND – Not much was expected to come out of Big Rapids last season, at least not by the people outside of the Ferris State locker room. Those people – myself included – were dead wrong. Ferris State put together a season that will long be remembered. A CCHA regularseason championship and the team’s first trip to both the Frozen Four and the NCAA title game captivated hockey fans in Michigan, and rightfully so. And despite falling to perennial power Boston College in the final, the Bulldogs have plenty to celebrate from the 2011-12 season. However, with the conclusion of each season comes turnover, and the Bulldogs were not immune. Fan favorite Chad Billins is now a member of the Grand Rapids Griffins, while goaltender Taylor Nelson is now a member of the AHL’s Worcester Sharks. BENCH BOSS – The NCAA title game appearance is just the cherry on top of a highly successful career for Bob Daniels. The longtime coach will start his 21st season behind the Ferris State bench this fall, and he will continue building on his school record for wins. The 2011-12 CCHA Coach of the Year (he was a finalist the year before, too) continues to maintain a top-level program in Big Rapids, with no signs of slowing down. Last season, he coached the Bulldogs to a 23-11-5 overall record, and a 16-7-5 mark in conference play. LINE CHANGE – And it is a good thing the Bulldogs have a coach like Daniels behind the bench this season. As is the case with many collegiate teams that experience high levels of success, there’s now a lot of turnover on the roster. At a quick glance, there are glaring omissions at each position. Leading scorer Jordie Johnston has graduated. As has Billins, the top defenseman. And as

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mentioned earlier, Nelson has concluded his collegiate career as well. But then when you dig a little deeper, you will realize that the Bulldogs not only lost Billins, but four other defensemen who played significant minutes for the Bulldogs – Derek Graham, Michael Trebush, Brett Wysopal, and Tommy Hill. That means a steep learning curve for freshmen defensemen Zach Dorer, Connor Schmidt, Brandon Anselmini, and Sean O’Rourke. Freshman goaltender Charles Williams will become the understudy for C.J. Motte, who played in 12 games last year for the Bulldogs. The club also added forward Dakota Klecha, Kenny Babinski, and Matt Robertson. IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF FULL – You don’t reach the NCAA title game without a talented roster from top to bottom. The Bulldogs experienced a great deal of success last season, which will mean confidence and experience for this year’s group of guys. They will have a strong senior class in forwards Kyle Bonis, Matthew Kirzinger, Eric Alexander, and Travis Ouellette. Motte, a native of St. Clair, posted a 1.98 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in his 12 starts last season. With a season under his belt, he should be ready to take over between the pipes for Nelson.

shutdown defense and win close games the way they did last season with inexperience from the blue line down. MVP – The Bulldogs will need more scoring out of Kirzinger. The now-senior right winger was second on the team in scoring behind only Johnston last season; now he will have to be the big man on campus. The Leroy, Saskatchewan native isn’t the biggest player on the Bulldogs’ roster – he checks in at 5-foot-9 and 172 pounds – but he has the offensive skillset necessary for big numbers in the CCHA. Expect him to build on the 10 goals and 24 assists from 2011-12 if the Bulldogs hope to have another successful season. DIFFERENCE-MAKER – Motte will have to be the difference-maker for the Bulldogs. As Ferris State breaks in a practically brand-new defensive corps, there’s going to be some mistakes. And that means a goaltender hung out to dry. If Motte, a NAHL and USHL alum, can steal a few games for the Bulldogs, they can once again make some noise in the CCHA standings. If he falters, it might not be a repeat of a Cinderella-like season.

IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF EMPTY – The losses will just be too much to overcome for the Bulldogs. A loss of five defensemen that played in a significant number of games for Ferris State last season is a major, major hole, and filling it will take time for Daniels and Co. They are also losing 20 goals and 36 points from Johnston, and 29 points from Billins; which is a lot of scoring for a team who averaged less than three goals per game last season. The Bulldogs will struggle to play




NORTHERN MICHIGAN LOOKS TO SEPARATE FROM THE PACK BY MICHAEL CAPLES REWIND – During the 2011 CCHA playoffs, the Northern Michigan Wildcats were stopped from advancing to Joe Louis Arena by an underdog Bowling Green squad. The 2012 CCHA playoffs were a repeat of the year before. After two straight seasons of disappointing playoff finishes, can the Wildcats break out of their slump? They’re going to have to do it without their top two scorers; Tyler Gron and Justin Florek are now playing at the next level of their hockey careers. With revenge on their minds, Walt Kyle and the Wildcats will be looking for a strong finish in the final CCHA season. BENCH BOSS – Kyle is no stranger to the hockey scene in Marquette. He has served as the head coach of the Wildcats since 2002, when he took over for Rick Comley. He’s just the second coach the Wildcats hockey program has ever experienced, but as of right now, there’s no need to look elsewhere. Kyle has led the Wildcats to six 20-win seasons, and holds a career mark of 193-16745. He has guided NMU to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA championship weekend seven times, and last got the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament in 2009-10. He has experience at the pro level, as well, having served as an assistant coach with the Rangers, and as coach of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. He knows what it takes to get his players to the next level, and he consistently fields a competitive team in Marquette. LINE CHANGE – Now, however, Kyle will be working without his two most talented players from previous seasons. Gron is now with the ECHL’s Reading Royals (an affiliate of the Washington Capitals), and Florek, a Marquette native, is now working his way through the Boston Bruins’ system (he was a fifth round pick in 2010).



Matt Thurber and Stephan Vigier, who finished third and fourth in scoring, respectively, will need to make up for the combined 73 points lost by Florek and Gron graduating. Main goaltender Jared Coreau returns, but his back-up, Reid Ellingson, is no longer available for splitting time between the pipes. The second spot on the goaltending depth chart will be between freshmen Michael Doan and Mathias Dahlstrom, a native of Smedjebacken, Sweden. The Wildcats’ defensive corps remains largely intact. HALF FULL – When you return your top four defensemen, and your goaltender, you have to be feeling pretty confident about your team defense. The Wildcats welcome back Kyle Follmer – who led all NMU defensemen in scoring with 26 points – along with Scott Macaulay, Mitch Jones, and Wade Epp. Coreau now has two seasons of college hockey under his belt, and looked like one of the top goaltenders in the CCHA last season. He posted a 12-7-2 record, along with a 92.8 save percentage and 2.22 goals-against average, in 2011-12. If the loss of Florek and Gron is at least somewhat managed, the Wildcats will be able to win some close hockey games this season.

squad. With freshmen behind him on the depth chart, Kyle will be leaning on his junior goaltender for big, big minutes. Coreau will need to deliver, too, since goal scoring could be an issue for this NMU team. DIFFERENCE MAKER – Thurber, a senior from Wisconsin, will need to take his game to the next level this season. If he can build on his totals from last season – 11 goals and 19 assists – he could become the offensive threat the Wildcats need. If he doesn’t, then there’s a very good possibility that the Wildcats stay near or below the middle of the CCHA standings.

HALF EMPTY – The loss of Florek and Gron could be glaring for the Wildcats this season. Nobody else on the roster had more than 11 goals last season, and as mentioned earlier, they accounted for 73 points last season alone. You have to prevent goals in college hockey, but you have to score some, too. The fact that the Wildcats were a middle-of-the-pack team even with the two talented forwards means that the offense could struggle this season. MVP – Coreau will be the backbone of this Wildcats

September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2


PEARSON CHANGING THE CULTURE IN HOUGHTON BY MICHAEL CAPLES REWIND – The rebuilding process in Houghton is alive and well. The 2011-12 campaign saw a dramatic 12-win improvement for the Michigan Tech Huskies, punctuated with an appearance in the WCHA Final Five. Much of the credit for the turnaround should go to new coach Mel Pearson, who brought a wealth of experience from Ann Arbor to his alma mater up north, and promptly improved the outlook for Michigan Tech moving forward. BENCH BOSS – A year ago, Pearson was just getting his feet wet, having been named the new Michigan Tech coach in May of 2011. Now, he’s got momentum. Taking over a program that had finished 4-30-4, Pearson led the Huskies to a 16-19-4 record in 2011-12. MTU was predicted to finish in last place in the WCHA preseason poll; instead, they had a shot at fifth place during the final weekend of the regular season (eventually ending up in eighth). Pearson was named WCHA coach of the year for his impressive first year. It will be interesting to see what he can do next at his alma mater; Pearson recorded 56 points in 97 career games as a Husky from 1977-81. LINE CHANGE – There will be some noticeable absences when the Huskies start their 2012-13 season. Top scorer Brett Olson – he recorded 30 points last year – is gone, as is the No. 3 scorer, Jordan Baker. The club also loses goaltender Josh Robinson, who played in 35 games for the Huskies last season. Senior goaltender Kevin Genoe played in seven games last year, but played to a 1-5-0 record. Freshmen netminders Phoenix Copley and Jamie Phillips (a seventh round pick of the Winnipeg Jets) will share in the battle for crease time leading up to the regular season. Another new freshman on campus is forward Jujhar Khaira, a third-round pick by the Oilers.

September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2

IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF FULL – If Pearson could turn the team around that much in one season, what can he do with two? The club returns the Johnstone brothers, David and Jacob; the former posted 29 points as a sophomore last season. And Blake Pietila, a fifth-round pick of the Devils, had 24 points as a freshman. He’s got older brother Chad and cousin Aaron with him for one more season before they both graduate. And the drafted youngsters mentioned above could add an immediate boost to the line-up. IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF EMPTY – It’s going to be hard for the Huskies to replace their top scorer and their goaltender. Olson was the only player to top 30 points for MTU, and Robinson played in all the important situations in goal last season. Plus, now that Michigan Tech has the attention of the rest of the WCHA, it might get a little tougher from week to week. MVP – I’m going to go with David Johnstone. As mentioned earlier, he was second on the team in scoring last year, just one point behind Olson. Approaching his junior season, Johnstone should be ready to roll, and lead the Huskies on the score sheet most weekends. DIFFERENCE-MAKER – The youngest Pietila on the Huskies roster is also the most talented of the three, and with one collegiate season under his belt, Blake should be ready to go in 2012-13. He had 10 goals last season; if he can add to that total this year (and he is expected to), Pietila will make the Huskies that much more difficult to deal with both in Houghton and on the road.




LAKE SUPERIOR STATE LOOKING TO LEAVE IMPRESSION IN LAST CCHA SEASON BY MICHAEL CAPLES REWIND – There wasn’t much to write home about for the members of the Lake Superior State Lakers last year. After a seventh place finish in conference play, LSSU posted a first-round playoff win over Alaska, only to run into Western Michigan. One shouldn’t blame them for losing to the eventual CCHA Tournament champions, but it still showed that there is work to be done in Sault Ste. Marie. BENCH BOSS – Jim Roque is entering his eighth season behind the bench of his alma mater. He’s no stranger to the program, after having played there from 1983-87 (he recorded 144 total points) and coached there from 200102 as an assistant before returning in 2005 as head coach. He holds a 103-125-44 all-time record as bench boss of the Lakers. LINE CHANGE – As mentioned earlier, the Lakers didn’t lose much, at least compared to some of the other teams in the state. The team graduated four players – Kyle Haines,



Washington, Mich., native Chris Cotti (Photo courtesy of the CCHA)

Fred Cassiani, Kyle Pobur and Brian Cooper – and Kyle Jean (24 points last season) left early to sign with the New York Rangers’ organization. The important thing is who is back. Leading scorer Domenic Monardo returns after posting 11 goals and 18 assists as a junior. Nick McParland and Colin Campbell, second and third last year with 27 and 25 points, respectively, are back as well. And between the pipes, Kevin Kapalka returns after a 2011-12 season where he posted a 2.67 goals-against average, .916 save percentage, and 17-14-5 record. IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF FULL – As I just alluded to, the Lakers are bringing back a hefty portion of their roster. They lost three forwards (Cassiani, Cooper and Jean) and two defensemen (Kyle Haines and Kyle Pobur), and that’s it. That means there won’t be much of a learning curve needed early in the season. The few freshmen on the roster – there are six – won’t be burdened to carry any of the position groups. IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF EMPTY – The talent

wasn’t there for the Lakers last year, and another year of experience doesn’t mean drastic developments in skill. None of the freshmen arriving seem to be immediate game-changers, and strong goaltending from Kapalka can only take a team so far if they can’t score goals. The Lakers only recorded 102 goals last year, which equals 2.55 goals per game. MVP – Kapalka will need to have another strong season in goal for the Lakers. If he can steal a few games for LSSU, it could make for an interesting final CCHA season. He has the experience – 69 games over the last two seasons – and the skill set – career .920 save percentage – to boost the Lakers this year. DIFFERENCE-MAKER – Monardo has proven to be a leader and a role model for the rest of the Lakers. He overcame a broken neck during junior hockey, only to join LSSU as a walk-on, and eventually earn a scholarship and lead the team in scoring in 2011-12. It will be interesting to see what he can do in his final year of college hockey.

September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2








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Plymouth Whalers return with a PLYMOUTH WHALERS RETURN WITH A LOADED ROSTER Alex Aleardi (Photo by Walt Dmoch/Plymouth Whalers)

BY MATT MACKINDER REWIND – The Whalers were expected to go all the way to the OHL title last season and went 47-18-2-1 in the regular season, but were stopped in the Western Conference semifinals by the Kitchener Rangers in a seven-game thriller. Disappointed to say the least, as the West Division champions seemingly had all the ingredients in place – scoring led by Stefan Noesen (38 goals), Alex Aleardi (36 goals), Andy Bathgate (44 assists), Rickard Rakell (28 goals), J.T. Miller (25 goals) and Mitchell Heard (29 goals), a top-notch defense led by captain Beau Schmitz (54 points), Austin Levi and Colin MacDonald, and two No. 1 goalies in Scott Wedgewood (28 wins) and Matt Mahalak (19 wins). In the offseason, Schmitz and Levi signed with Carolina, Rakell with Anaheim and rugged forward Tom Wilson was drafted in the first round by Washington. Heard (Colorado) and gritty forward Cody Payne (Boston) also became NHL property in June, with Heard signing with the Avalanche late in the summer.

BENCH BOSS – Mike Vellucci is entering his 12th season behind the Plymouth bench. Vellucci always seems to have a competitive team to work with and in recent years, has begun to show more intense emotions behind the bench, usually getting the players in front of him to play with more confidence and a chip on their shoulders. One of the most respected coaches in the league, Vellucci’s name comes up often when drafted Whalers or alumni in the NHL are asked to name their most influential coach, and for good reason. He’s always a contender for OHL coach of the year honors and won the award in 2007 after leading Plymouth to its last J. Ross Robertson Cup and a Memorial Cup berth, where they were knocked out in the semifinals. No matter the makeup of the team, Vellucci gets the most out of his players and has had current and former players say he is tough, but fair.

LINE CHANGE – Schmitz, Bathgate and Jamie Devane



ended their OHL careers last April as the team’s three overagers, while Levi, Heard and defenseman Dario Trutmann (playing pro in Switzerland) are also done. Forward Mitchell Dempsey, Plymouth’s top pick from the 2011 OHL draft, was traded to Sault Ste. Marie for defenseman Gianluca Curcuruto in August, while defenseman Connor Carrick chose the Whalers over the University of Michigan shortly after being drafted by Washington in June. Other new faces to Compuware Arena this year include 2012 first-round pick Zack Bratina, NHL prospect Ryan Hartman (2010 draft pick who reneged on the NCAA to play for Plymouth), forward Connor Sills (2011 draft), defensemen Alex Peters (2012 draft), Steve Duda (OHL free agent) and Simon Karlsson (2012 import draft) and goaltenders Riley Corbin (trade with Sudbury) and Alex Nedeljkovic (2012 draft), who will battle for the backup role behind Mahalak.

IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF FULL – Even with Schmitz and Wedgewood graduating to the pros, the Whalers return virtually their entire roster from last season and have beefed up considerably. Wilson emerged last season as a legitimate power forward-type and with his size (6-foot-4) and ability, can be downright scary to play against on a nightly basis. Aleardi is in his fifth and final OHL season and has the potential to put up 90-100 points and 100 penalty minutes. Mahalak has learned from Wedgewood and Plymouth goalie coach Stan Matwijiw the past two years and is ready to be a full-fledged starter in the OHL. All the pieces to the puzzle look to be in place at this point in the season and even if the season gets off to a slow start, keep in mind the same thing happened late in 2006 and look what happened in May 2007. IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF EMPTY – With as many as 11 NHL draft picks on the roster heading into the

season and some already signed, egos could get in the way or players who have already cashed their NHL bonus checks (just look out in the parking lot for the newest and most tricked-out SUVs) may take nights off here and there. Not saying it WILL happen, just saying there is a chance based on past history. Carrick has been groomed during the preseason to take over Schmitz’s role as the power-play quarterback and if he has a hard time adjusting from the USHL to the OHL, there could be more problems. Back in 2010-11, Mahalak was touted as a first-round NHL draft pick and faltered horribly during the first half of the season. Where his confidence is two years later could also be a major factor in where the Whalers wind up, especially if the offense should happen to sputter.

MVP – Many choices here, but let’s go with Noesen. His confidence is booming, as is his scoring prowess and he already has signed with Ottawa after being their first-round selection in 2011. Most nights, if Noesen is on, the rest of the team follows. He’ll most likely wear a letter this season, maybe even the ‘C.’ Very well-spoken and very intelligent, the Texas native has never been one to complain about anything, even during his rookie season three years ago when he was sitting atop the press box half the season. Noesen is a solid, solid hockey player and an even better human being. Can be a clutch, emotional player as well and has respect around the league. DIFFERENCE-MAKER – Wilson, by far. As one who leads by example, Wilson can get the team going with a big hit, dropping the gloves or by showcasing his offense, as he did during the 2012 playoff run. Wilson is the perfect example of how a big hit or fight can change the tempo of a game and if he can stay injury-free and maybe pick his spots this year, expect bigger numbers from Wilson, along with a bigger role.

September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2


SAGINAW SPIRIT LOOK TO BUILD ON LAST YEAR’S SECOND HALF BY MATT MACKINDER REWIND – If only Greg Gilbert was Saginaw’s coach all season, who knows what might have been the result? After taking over for Todd Watson midway through the season, Saginaw went on to qualify for the postseason by finishing third in the West Division and then advanced to the second round after turning aside a pretty stacked Sarnia squad in the first round. Captain Brandon Saad began last year with Chicago and didn’t look out of place before getting sent back to Saginaw, where he proceeded to rattle off 34 goals in 44 games and another 17 points in 12 playoff games. Forward Vince Trocheck led the team in scoring with 85 points in 65 games, while overage forward Josh Shalla popped 40 goals and Garrett Ross, who may be back as an overager in 2012-13, added another 25 goals for the Spirit. Brandon Archibald was a steady force on the blue line and Red Wings’ draft pick Jake Paterson had a team-best 18 wins between the pipes.

(22 goals, 47 points). Defenseman Brad Walch, the first Saginaw native to suit up for the Spirit, has also graduated from junior hockey and signed with the Washington organization. New to Saginaw are forward Andrey Alexeev and goaltender Nikita Serebryakov, both taken in this past summer’s import draft. Forward Jeremiah Addison, defender Brandon Prophet and forward Dylan Sadowy were all drafted by Saginaw in the 2012 OHL draft and should see playing time this year.

BENCH BOSS – Gilbert replaced Watson during last season and quickly turned around the Spirit and in the process, was named OHL coach of the year. Gilbert played 15 years in the NHL and also coached in the NHL with Calgary and in the OHL with Mississauga. With a full offseason under his belt in Saginaw, Gilbert should have the Spirit players geared up for a markedly improved season in 2012-13. The fact he was named the OHL’s top coach in just a half-season’s worth of work speaks volumes about Gilbert’s coaching ability to get results.

IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF FULL – Each year, Saginaw seems to have a decent-looking team on paper, but a slow start, injuries or something else seems to take the wind out of the Spirit’s sails and an early playoff exit is next up. If Trocheck can keep up his offense, Paterson shows why Detroit thinks so highly of him and Gilbert can continue his magic from a year ago, then there is no reason to think Saginaw won’t be a factor in the Western Conference. Forward Jimmy Lodge will play in the All-American Prospects Game later this month in Buffalo and if he can improve on his eight-goal season from a season ago, scouts will take notice. Defenseman Grant Webermin came over from Windsor at the trade deadline and didn’t miss a beat. He needs to continue his solid, safe play this year as a leader on the back end. Eric Locke, another trade-deadline acquisition from Windsor, scored 20 goals and 30-35 is not out of the question this year.

LINE CHANGE – Obviously, the biggest loss is Saad, who, barring an NHL lockout, should begin the season with Chicago and certainly has the ability to stay in the Windy City for the long haul. Shalla’s 40 goals will be missed, as will Michael Fine’s offense from a year ago

IF THE WATER BOTTLE IS HALF EMPTY – Injuries need to be kept to a minimum this year. If not, it will be a long season in mid-Michigan. If egos get in the way and players don’t buy into Gilbert’s systems, again, look for a long season and lots of notches in the loss column. Justin



Kea, a Buffalo pick last summer and Saginaw’s top pick in the 2010 OHL draft, needs to show why he is thought of as an NHL prospect – three goals in 65 games last year won’t cut it again. When the right chemistry is in place, Saginaw can be a dominant team. When it isn’t, well, the golf clubs come out in early spring in Saginaw. MVP – This has to be Paterson, doesn’t it? He’ll get lots of hype being a Red Wings’ prospect and with the stellar season he had a year ago, the Spirit will be counting on even more this season. Paterson is a humble person, but needs to play with a chip on his shoulder on the ice, something he has shown at times. Confidence for a team starts with its goalie and if Paterson can be a leader from the crease and post similar or better numbers to his 18 wins, 3.42 goals-against average and .904 save percentage, Saginaw will win many games and be a consistent team all season long. DIFFERENCE-MAKER – Trocheck isn’t the biggest player on the ice (5-foot-11, 190 pounds), but there is no doubting his speed and his offense. He’s one of those players that grab your attention and you quickly say, “Wow.” It’s a wonder he lasted all the way until the third round of the 2011 draft before Florida snagged him. If his development doesn’t hit any ruts, Florida got itself a steal of a pick. From 43 points in 2009-10, to 62 in ’10-11 to 85 a year ago, it’s not wrong to think 110 points may be in the cards for the Pittsburgh native this season. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility to see Trocheck as Saginaw’s captain this year. He leads by example and plays whistle to whistle – sounds like captain material.

Photos courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images

September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2







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September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2




Blashill’s Winning Recipe Calls for Commitment BY KYLE KUJAWA One month away from the drop of the puck on the AHL’s 77th season, Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill knows that his opening night lineup is not exactly set in stone. While he is aware of the many different scenarios that could play out, he’s preparing to work with any players willing to buy into his recipe for success. “Like anything in this league, you deal with the hand that you’re dealt,” said Blashill, who was named the Griffins’ ninth head coach on June 25. The Griffins roster for the 2012-13 season is mostly set. The team returns much of the young talent featured on last year’s club in addition to several new AHL veterans and Red Wings prospects. What’s up in the air at this point is the status of the NHL – a potential lockout could see every AHL team pick up a few players it wouldn’t otherwise have. “If we end up with some of those players, that’s great for us,” he continued. “How are we compared to who other teams are getting? I don’t know, and I’m not going to spend time studying that. I believe that if we commit on a daily basis, we’ll have a chance to be successful.” “I don’t think the differentiation in talent is going to be enough to be a road block for our success or enough to guarantee our success. We’re going to have to earn it.” The current landscape of the game makes Blashill’s AHL head coaching debut an interesting one. At this time of year, teams are typically gearing up for prospects camp – like Detroit’s annual camp in Traverse City – and Blashill would be preparing to work on-ice with current and future Griffins before the Red Wings’ main training camp later in September and eventually the NHL preseason. However, that camp has already been canceled, and training camps and exhibition contests may soon follow. Instead, potential Griffins will skate in Grand Rapids, and use the team’s first two preseason games since 200506 (Oct. 6 at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, and Oct. 7 at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, both against Lake Erie) as tune-ups for the regular season. The situation leaves Blashill playing the waiting game. Meanwhile, he’s moved his family to the Grand Rapids area and is preparing for what might lie ahead. For now, his expectations for the team come from a delicate balance of research of their past performances combined with the knowledge that nothing will be settled until they hit the ice. “I have experience with some of them, both through last year’s Red Wings camp and from the few who were called up to Detroit last year,” said Blashill. “Others I’ve had past experiences with from coaching against (in the NCAA and USHL). Ultimately, the judgment will be made here on a daily basis; your past is part of who you are, but you have a chance every day to make new impressions.” Having served as an assistant coach with the Red Wings in 2011-12 presents Blashill with a wealth of

connections who can provide knowledge on his potential players. The Griffins return several familiar faces on the bench, including assistant coach Jim Paek, athletic trainer John Bernal and equipment manager Brad Thompson. Blashill can also lean on the Red Wings’ Ken Holland, Jim Nill and current assistant coach Bill Peters, who coached against many Griffins as the Rockford IceHogs head coach from 2008-11. A lockout would guarantee that Grand Rapids returns the top offensive talent that helped it finish second in the AHL in scoring one year ago. The team will benefit from Gustav Nyquist, who would likely start the season in the NHL, as well as Joakim Andersson and Tomas Tatar, who would get long looks during training camp and potentially serve as Detroit’s top injury call-ups. “Once we get together, we’ll see where the chemistry is at,” Blashill said. “Nyquist, Andersson and Tatar are all talented players. But there are other guys in the system that I know people are excited about. Frankie Pare has been here for a number of years and has been a really good offensive player. Landon Ferraro is someone who can take a step forward and do things as well. “We want to make sure that all of those guys aren’t just putting up points but are complete players who are doing all the things that it takes to win hockey games,” he continued. “That’s certainly scoring and making plays, but it’s also winning puck battles, tracking back into your end, playing defense and blocking shots. We want to make sure everyone’s doing that.” On the backend, the team returns a pair of regulars in Brian Lashoff and, in the event of a lockout, Brendan Smith. Blashill believes that his experience in the USHL and NCAA – where large roster turnover from season to season is the norm – will help him sort out the new faces patrolling the blueline. “The AHL presents unique challenges in itself, but there are a lot of similarities in terms of turnover and your team changing on a weekly basis,” explained Blashill. “Chemistry is an important thing, and that’s something you don’t know until you get going. We have a number of quality, quality players. The important thing to understand for us is the difference in talent between the top and bottom teams is not very much. That’s why I truly believe we’ll dictate our own success.” The new look defensive corps could go a long way in improving the team’s goaltending from one year ago. A former goaltender at Ferris State University, Blashill plans work with his goalies “to be better and keep their habits sharp,” while also sticking to the plan and techniques set in place by goaltending coaches Jim Bedard and Chris Osgood. Three players Blashill knows he’ll have for sure are Brennan Evans, Triston Grant and Nathan Paetsch, a trio who signed AHL contracts with the Griffins this offseason. While he hasn’t met any of them yet, he knows the players who will make up the team’s veteran component have the credentials, but he’s also relying on returning players to assume leadership positions.

Joakim Andersson (Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins)



September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2



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When the season starts

holes in the Red Wings’ locker room will need to be filled BY DAVE WADDELL The Detroit Red Wings returned to a familiar place without a familiar face. Players have begun to trickle back to Detroit following the off-season and gathered for the first informal skate at Joe Louis Arena Sept. 7. Conspicuously missing was the retired Nick Lidstrom for the first time in 20 years. It’s a feeling that still hasn’t settled with his former teammates. “I think it’s one of those things you try to avoid thinking about still,” said Niklas Kronwall, who will shoulder a heavier burden in Lidstrom’s absence. “I think there’s going to be a time when everything starts up and you’re going to notice he’s not around anymore. That’s just the nature of life. “Everything has it’s time. He felt he was ready to quit. “We can only thank him for all he has done, not only for Red Wings hockey, but the NHL. I’m very pleased and proud to say that I’ve played with him.” The stark reality of the transition was there for all to see in the Wings’ dressing room already. Lidstrom’s locker had been taken over by Jonathan Ericsson while a photo of the former Detroit captain hung on the wall with the other great Red Wings of the past. “I think he had a few more years in him,” Kronwall said. “That’s how good his game was. “But when it comes down to it, it’s got to be about him and his family. For him, this was the right move and we can just say thank you for all those years.” The loss of the best defenseman of his generation was

a severe blow in itself last spring, but Lidstrom wasn’t the only key blue-liner to depart the scene. Kronwall’s longtime-partner Brad Stuart, who was going to depart as an unrestricted free agent, was dealt to San Jose where his family resides. Combined with the loss of Brian Rafalski to retirement a little over a year ago, the Wings have now lost three of their top four defensemen from just two seasons ago. “On the back end, we don’t have enough depth,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Now we have to replace them with people that step up. There’s opportunity for others. Kronwall will do that and Ericsson will do that. We think (Brendan) Smith has a chance. “We didn’t think things went as good for Quincey when he got here. We were hurt so much, it just never happened. “We need him to do a good job for us. We need another D for sure. “You can’t go into the season with 6 ‘D.’ We’ll have to get that fixed up and we will.” How that happens will likely be heavily influenced by what comes out of the next CBA whenever that is. Detroit may benefit from some salary dumps as teams scramble to get under the cap. Certainly, talks of trading for a defenseman have taken place, but the Wings aren’t going to gut their roster to do it. Talk that the Wings were hot after Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester has cooled. One Wings executive said Detroit wasn’t interested in dealing significant NHL bodies for Bouwmester as taking that ugly contract was reward enough for the Flames. Babcock acknowledges Detroit will have a different look in terms of line-up and style. However, that’s nothing new in his opinion.

“There has been (a change of style) every year whether people want to believe that or not,” Babcock said. “Our team has changed drastically. “Last year, I thought for 60 games we were as good as we’ve ever been. But if you go through our winning percentage without Darren Helm, it’s not very high. After we lost Helmer, things never went very well for us. “We’re going to have to be a team by committee up front that’s going to play real hard.” Up front, the Wings are overloaded with forwards - a position Henrik Zetterberg has few concerns over. “I think forwards wise, it looks good,” said Zetterberg, who is the odds-on favorite to be named Detroit’s next captain. “We have a lot of forwards under contract, so it’s going to be a battle for all the spots. “Losing Nick, that’s a spot you cannot fill. That’s tough and then when you lose Stewie, too, that’s a big loss for us as well. “We’ve got some work to do here before we start again. We will have a good team. “[New goaltender Jonas] Gustavsson’s going to come in and help Howie (Jimmy Howard) a lot. Sammy’s (Mikael Samuelsson) fired up to be here again. “I think we have some great additions and as soon as we get started here, we will be fine.” Zetterberg is less optimistic things will get started on time with the CBA negotiations bogging down. With a lockout potentially coming as early as Sept. 15, the Wings could be getting the heave-ho from the Joe only days after coming back. “Right now, yes, but you never know,” said Zetterberg of whether he thought there’d be a lockout. “This afternoon, we might sit down and talk and get a little closer. With bargaining, you take it day by day. If nothing happens, you go back at it the next day.”

ABOVE: Niklas Kronwall and Dan Cleary are back, but Brad Stuart is not. (Tom Turrill/MiHockey) RIGHT: The absense of Nick Lidstrom will loom large for the WIngs. (Tom Turrill/MiHockey) 44


September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2



o, the NHL is going to lock out the players yet again. No wonder I feel as if I’ve written this article before. Because I have. In the fall of 2004, I was high atop Air Canada Center in Toronto with my play-by-play partner Sam Rosen calling the final of the World Cup of Hockey. Canada won 3-2 over Finland, the crowd when wild and then the NHL closed up shop the next day. Canada won on Sept. 14 in Toronto and the league went dark Sept. 15, as Commissioner Bettman made it official in New York: no NHL hockey. It was an eerie, unsettling feeling leaving the Air Canada Center as everyone in the business – players, coaches, broadcasters, cameramen, audio engineers – lingered and longed to know when this impending lockout would end. It ended in a lost season, of course, and when the league started up anew, it was with a salary cap, escrow and salary rollbacks for the players. In between, people scrambled to find alternate work, including players flocking to Europe and color analysts like yours truly filing college football reports for TBS. That was the fall when I reaffirmed that my love of hockey far outweighs any need to be on TV. Chasing a college coach through the end zone at halftime to ask, “What adjustments does your team need to make for the second half kick-off ?” didn’t do anything for me. Which brings me to where we are in 2012 – staring down yet another NHL lockout and where I am this time around. In 2004, I was living in Atlanta, Ga. The NHL lockout left a real void in a sparsely populated hockey landscape. Personally, I devoted my time to the Junior Thrashers youth program and hockey in the south in general. Very rewarding, but it lacked context, with the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators the only professional team operating in the state. Now back home here in Michigan, this time I’m in the only state that has hockey at every top level: NHL, AHL, NCAA, USHL, OHL and NAHL. Cross off the NHL and that leaves plenty of quality hockey for fans to take in. Add in high-profile tournaments, Tier One Elite League and High Performance Hockey League showcases


THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A HOCKEY LOCKOUT BY DARREN ELIOT and you can see the game has plenty of options for fans – even with the top option scratched. Plus, there are events like the final season of the CCHA – a Michigan tradition for more than 40 years – and the Hockeytown Winter Festival that includes the Great Lakes Invitational down at Comerica Park. The AHL, OHL as well as the NCAA will all be part of the festival with or without the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor. Hopefully, the NHL lockout doesn’t drag on that long, but if you’re taking a cue from NBC Sports, enjoy that they are hedging their Winter Classic coverage by offering more college hockey…just in case. We get to see CCHA hockey on Fox Sports Detroit as always. Their college coverage isn’t lockout protection - it is part of the hockey fabric here in Michigan. I covered the CCHA last year on FS Detroit and enjoyed the experience immensely. I’m looking forward to being part of the coverage again for the upcoming season: Seeing the sophomores take that next step; witnessing freshmen enthusiasm; understanding the mindset of the seniors; is Bowling Green back?; a remodeled Yost; another championship at the Joe; a repeat for the Big Slubowski and Western? All this and more will be wrapped

Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images



@Darren_Eliot up in the celebration that is the swan song of the CCHA as a conference. It should be great, and the CCHA is just one such option to get excited about this season. The AHL had its strongest season in over 30 years when last we locked out. That makes the Grand Rapids Griffins must-see this season, especially with players like Gustav Nyquist returning after a taste of the NHL last season. Likewise, the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, Saginaw Spirit, Windsor Spitfires, London Knights and Sarnia Sting all are worth the price of admission, with newly-drafted NHL hopefuls focused on hockey instead of what’s going on in “the show”. Former NHL tough man Jim MacKenzie is behind the bench for his first full season for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, giving fans a place to see USHL hockey, along with games in Ann Arbor as the USA Hockey National Development Team competes in the USHL, as well. So, with all these opportunities to see great hockey here in our state, I hope you feel better about the NHL lockout. Compared to last time, I know I do. And I even get to be on TV as a hockey guy.

Photo by Dave Reginek/DRW

September 17, 2012 V.23 : I.2

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MiHockeyMag - September 17, 2012  
MiHockeyMag - September 17, 2012  

In MiHockey's "Pride of the Mitten" cover contest, the Spartans were voted by the fans to be on the cover of our college and major juniors p...