Aspen Junior Hockey has been a storied youth hockey program since 1972 and has served to provide numerous opportunities – including the Aspen Leafs 20U junior team – for area players to stay in town and develop their games AVALANCHE VETERAN IGINLA STILL MAKING AN IMPACT AT 39
CAHA BLIND, DEAF CLINICS PROOF THAT HOCKEY HAS NO LIMITS
TRIO OF NCAA SQUADS SEE OPTIMISM FOR '16-17 SEASONS
RENEGADES TWEAK STAFF, TAB IMONTI NEW HOCKEY DIRECTOR
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FROM THE EDITOR You know, the start of hockey season is just like December 25th
very year about this time, I have to admit, I still feel like a small boy on Christmas morning. And while the holiday season is still a little while from kicking into full swing (some retail stores will have you believe otherwise), the start of hockey season - youth, high school, junior, college and pro - is enough to make this 38-years-young editor giddy with anticipation. Why not? In a state where hockey continues to grow, gain more and more exposure and see so many success stories come from it, Colorado is on its way to becoming a hockey hotbed, if not already there. Matt Mackinder We've got unbelievable youth programs at all levels and youth programs continue to see registration numbers rise, three high-end NCAA Division I college teams and pro squads, including the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, that can draw fans and excitement on weekends. Folks, hockey in Colorado is here to stay. And that's a good thing. In memoriam of the late Oliver “Butch” Mousseau, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) will retire his officials’ jersey No. 12, while on-ice officials will wear a specially-designed “12” sticker on their helmets throughout the 2016-17 season. Mousseau, a beloved longtime league official who called Erie home with his family, tragically passed away March 25 at the age of 48 after suffering critical head injuries stemming from a fall to the ice during warmups prior to the second WCHA Final Five semifinal game a week earlier at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. “The WCHA is, and always will be, a better league because of Butch’s involvement,” said WCHA president and commissioner Bill Robertson. “His legacy is one of the utmost professionalism, a truly infectious positivity and an ever-present smile that we would all do well to replicate. It is our hope that these small gestures are a reminder to us all of how lucky we are to have had Butch in our lives.” Over in Utah, the Utah Grizzlies, in conjunction with Broadway Media, announced that ESPN 700 has been named the new flagship station for Grizzlies radio broadcasts this season. In addition to the game broadcasts on ESPN 700, the team will be featured twice a day during “Grizzlies In 60” that will air during morning and afternoon drive programming. ESPN 700’s afternoon show with O’Connell and Swinney will also broadcast live from the Maverik Center prior to select Friday home games during the season from 2-6 p.m. “ESPN 700 exhibited a strong commitment early on to becoming the new home for Grizzlies hockey,” said Grizzlies VP of communications and broadcasting Adrian Denny. “They do a phenomenal job promoting and producing games for their current play-by-play broadcast partners and they will do the same for us.” Congratulations to Lakewood native and Colorado Select alum Nicole Hensley on being named to the U.S. Women's National Team that will compete in the 2016 Four Nations Cup from Nov. 1-5 in Vierumaki, Finland. Colorado resident Ken Klee will coach the team. Both Hensley and Klee were part of the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Championship last March 28-April 4 at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, British Columbia. More from the NCAA circles: Centennial native, Colorado Thunderbirds alum and Minnesota State University senior goalie Cole Huggins was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 10. Huggins backstopped then-No. 19 Minnesota State to a season-opening sweep of then-No. 17 Michigan Tech, stopping 45 of 46 shots in the two wins Oct. 7-8, including a shutout on Oct. 8. His shutout was the school-record 11th of Huggins’ career (most among active NCAA goaltenders), while he now ranks sixth in Minnesota State history with 40 wins.
Contact Matt Mackinder at email@example.com 4
Colorado Rubber Hockey Magazine
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Air Force opened up the 2016-17 college season looking sharp, defeating both Boston College and Ohio State to claim the Ice Breaker tournament championship Oct. 8 at Magness Arena in Denver. Pictured, from left to right, are senior Johnny Hrabovsky, former WCHA/CHA commissioner Bruce McLeod and senior A.J. Reid. More NCAA coverage on Pages 12-13. Photo/Shannon Valerio
ON THE COVER Members of Aspen Junior Hockey bask in the amazing fall colors that the town of Aspen has to offer near Lewis Arena. Back row, pictured left to right, are Charlie Van Allen (20U), Garrett McNichol (20U), Shaun Hathaway (executive director), Keaton Miller (14U), Dara Schenck (19U girls) and Gage Redman (16U). Front row, pictured left to right, are Martin Scanlan (12U), Lilian Cassidy (14U girls), Ingrid Cassidy (10U girls), Jack Freitas (10U), Max Schlumberger (12U), Stella Scanlan (10U girls) and Tim Schlumberger (14U). Photo/Cathy Miller Images
COLORADO AMATEUR HOCKEY ASSOCIATION
CAHA deaf and blind hockey clinics hit on all cylinders By Steve Stein
t was a day Kole Mudra and a young man will never forget. Mudra is a 6-foot, 225-pound center for the 20U Pikes Peak Miners of the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League (RMJHL). The young man is a student in his early teens at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind in Colorado Springs Their paths crossed Sept. 7 at a free hockey clinic for the blind put on by the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA), Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association (CSAHA) and USA Hockey at the Sertich Ice Center in Colorado Springs. Several Miners players and coach Nick Harper were among the volunteers. Mudra was paired with a student who had never skated and could barely speak English. His native language is Mandarin Chinese. "We didn't have much of a conversation when he was getting his gear, but you could tell how excited he was to be there," Mudra said. The language barrier soon was taken down by a school staff member who used the Google Translate device on her phone. A 10-minute session on the ice for Mudra and the student had its ups and downs. "The kid held onto me for dear life, with all his might," Mudra said. "I got a good workout." After falling a few times, including once hard on his rear end, the student decided that was enough ice time.
For about 20 minutes after they left the ice, Mudra and and the Pikes Peak Wolves women's team. There also were student talked and the student worked on stick-handling American Sign Language interpreters. with a beeper ball. Washington (D.C.) Wheelers blind hockey team captain "I was worried that I didn't do a good job, but I found out Craig Fitzpatrick and goalie Doug Goist flew in solely for later the kid didn't take off his (clinic) T-shirt for five days," the blind clinic as did Jeff Sauer, coach of the U.S. national Mudra said. "I really enjoyed working at sled hockey team, former University of the clinic. I'm so glad I was able to help Wisconsin coach and a 2014 inductee that kid experience hockey." into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, for There were 18 participants in the the deaf clinic. clinic. A free hockey clinic for the deaf Donley said several heart-warming and hard of hearing was held Sept. 19, stories emerged from the clinics. For example, Donley said a few participants in also at the Sertich Ice Center. That clinic the blind clinic who didn't get on the ice had 52 participants. heard the Zamboni before the session Each clinic was for participants age and wondered what it was. eight through adult. Most of the par"The Zamboni driver gave them an inticipants in each clinic were from the depth description of the purpose of a ZamSchool for the Deaf and Blind. boni and what it looks like," Donley said. "We're beyond thrilled with the turnA participant in the deaf clinic got outs," said Doris Donley, CAHA vice autographs from Tigers U18 AAA playpresident of adaptive hockey. "We had ers on his T-shirt after taking a tour of the no clue what to expect." Word of mouth played a huge role in team's locker room at Sertich Ice Center. Then there was this story from the the deaf clinic turnout. Only three participants had signed Justin Vickers from the Tigers AAA Hockey blind clinic – former Colorado College 18U team helps out one of the 52 particup for the deaf clinic before the blind ipants during CAHA’s free clinic for the player Brandon Straub and his brothclinic was held. After the blind clinic, the deaf and hard of hearing on Sept. 19 at er, Brian, played with their father, who is number for the deaf clinic jumped to 52 the Sertich Ice Center in Colorado Springs. blind, for the first time in 30 years. Photo/Photo/Michael These won't be the last blind and in about 24 hours. Besides the Miners, CAHA and USA Hockey, volun- deaf hockey clinics in Colorado Springs. "Will we do it again?” Donley asked. “Absolutely.” teers came from Tigers sled hockey and 18U AAA teams
On Top of the Mountain Aspen Junior Hockey continues longstanding tradition of hockey on the Western Slope By Matt Mackinder
ack some 40 years ago, all it seemed anyone needed to play for the Aspen Junior Hockey (AJH) youth program was a stick, skates and a copy of Time magazine. Yes, times have changed. The AJH organization started in 1972 with John McBride at the helm. A Princeton University graduate and former member of the U.S. Men’s National Team in the 1960s, McBride also played for the Aspen Leafs semi-pro team that attracted fans on weekend nights at the Ice Garden. “When John had kids old enough to play, the senior team basically turned into a group of coaches and they started getting kids playing the game,” said AJH executive director Shaun Hathaway. “Then in 1972, they hopped on a plane and went to their first tournament in Denver. It’s been going ever since. John remains a huge supporter of the program – he’s got grandkids in the program now – and so it’s pretty special for him to see how it was when it started, when they were basically using magazines for shin pads, to where it is today. “It’s such a big difference.” Fast-forward to 2013 when Hathaway assumed his current role and AJH continues to be a valuable asset to the Aspen community. “I came in three summers ago and had a very supportive board that is pro-growth and pro-improvement, a perfect fit for me,” said Hathaway. “They asked me to submit a 100-day plan and within those 100 days, we achieved our plan, and have grown tremendously since then – there’s a laundry list of things we’ve been able to achieve in my three years, now going on four.” Three years ago, AJH had no Midget team, two
The Aspen Leafs celebrate the inaugural Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League championship last spring at Cadet Ice Arena on the campus of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Bantam teams, two Pee Wee teams, two Squirt teams, a Mite program, and girls 12U, 14U and 19U teams. For the 2016-17 year, 19 teams are part of AJH, including a Tier II 14U girls team and a 20U entry (and defending champions) in the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League (RMJHL). “When you look at our numbers and what we have to draw from – our population up here is under 7,000 and when you count the whole valley, we’re less than 15,000 – it’s phenomenal,” Hathaway said. “We’ve created some excitement in this town and we’ve also been able to partner with other organizations. I think one of our best achievements this season is the start of a joint program with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club (AVSC). Athletes registering for this program get two nights a week on the ice and two days a week of instruction on the hill. We’re trying to get this sort of cross-training going where the skiers become better skiers by being on the ice and vice versa.” This season, Hathaway was also able to secure the coaching services of Blake Hull (Bantam A) and Dayn Belfour (Pee Wee A), both individuals with solid backgrounds and both sons of Hockey Hall of Famers (Bobby Hull and Ed Belfour). “Retaining coaches can become a challenge, but we’ve been fortunate to have 6
Colorado Rubber Hockey Magazine
a core group of coaches that remain excited to be giving back to the kids,” said Hathaway. “It’s certainly tough when you’re not a parent and you’re young trying to make it a go up here. Aspen is an expensive place to live and many young, wouldbe coaches have to work three jobs to survive instead. Having Blake and Dayn here, I feel like sometimes I should just go buy a lottery ticket.” Another aspect of AJH that appeals to families is the cost to play for the organization. “We subsidize 60-70 percent of our program through donations and sponsorships,” explained Hathaway. “We try to keep our fees feasible. On average, we’re about $1000 less than the Front Range teams and we feel that we provide a superior product than what some of those other programs are providing. Part of setting the right fees and not relying so much on donations becomes a balancing act where if fees get too high, parents look for alternatives, other sports or activities to go spend their money. And there’s such a small pool of athletes up here that you can’t afford to lose very many.” One family that Hathaway said is the model for what AJH is about is the Doremus family – Andrew and Jeanne and their five sons, Ryan, Tyler, Daniel and twins Jack and Willy. “Andrew started playing here in the 1970s when the program started and when he was raising his family, he had five boys that came through the program,” Hathaway said. “Now, they’re all great athletes, great skiers and being here in Aspen paid their way. Their hard work – they used what they were learning and put it to use. They are all a shining example of what our program here is all about. (More on the Doremus family on Page 7.) “With a couple local players on our junior team, we’re starting to see that right now. Charlie Van Allen was a kid that scored the winner in our championship game last season and is now a leader on this team. He’ll be a kid playing college hockey some day. It’s just another example Aspen native Daniel Doremus developed in the Aspen Junior Hockey program and served of keeping that torch moving.” as a captain at NCAA Division I University of As for the Leafs junior team, Hathaway Denver during the 2013-14 season. Photo/Lacey said that came about in a roundabout way Den Hartog to solve a nagging problem within the organization. “We lose a lot of kids to Denver and kids are convinced at a young age that if they don’t leave Aspen that their career is over – there is no way they can develop up here.” Hathaway said. “They think you have to be on the ice seven days a week, 365 days a year if they want to make it to the NHL – kids are sold that. It’s simply wrong and it doesn’t follow the USA Hockey American Development Model (ADM) at all. The junior team is to keep kids here in the program through their senior year of high school and then get a year or two of post-graduate hockey and get exposed to colleges. It’s also for the 17-year-old kid that doesn’t want to go pay the AAA bucks and stay here and play 20U hockey and still get that same level of exposure. The RMJHL certainly provides more opportunities for kids in the mountain towns and strengthens the Midget programs on the Front Range. It keeps the Aspen kids local and opens doors for other kids as well.” It also never hurts when to win a championship in the inaugural year. “Always makes things much easier for Year 2,” quipped Hathaway. With all the growth and success AJH has endured, how much higher can Hathaway raise the bar in Aspen? “Bringing in the head of Finnish youth hockey (Finnish Ice Hockey Association manager of youth hockey operations Kalle Valiaho) this season to exclusively work with our program for six months – not sure how much higher I can raise the bar,” admitted Hathaway. “The key will be to follow through on what we’ve built to ensure we continue to execute at a world-class level and take advantage of the things that are in front of us. “That way, we can have a 10-year plan and not a 100-day plan. I think it starts with the Mites, the eight-year-olds. Look at them in 10 years and tell me how much they’ve achieved. That will be the proof of our success.”
ASPEN JUNIOR HOCKEY For Doremus family, Aspen Junior Hockey helped open doors By Matt Mackinder
ometimes in life, all that’s needed is one opportunity, that one break to make everything come to fruition. Andrew and Jeanne Doremus and their five sons – Ryan, Tyler, Daniel, Jack and Willy – call Aspen home and each boy developed with Aspen Junior Hockey (AJH) in their youth days. Andrew Doremus was an original player in the Aspen organization in the 1970s under founders John McBride and Pete Whitemore and played through his high school years. Eventually, all four kids played the game, with Daniel skating at NCAA Division I University of Denver from 2011-15, Tyler at Skidmore College from 2008-12 and Jack now in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Sioux Falls Stampede before going to DU for the 2017-18 season. Willy ended last season with the Aspen Leafs 20U team in the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League (RMJHL) and Ryan was a multi-sport athlete, lettering in seven sports in high school, and now runs the AJH house program. “Once the boys started playing, I started coaching,” said Andrew. “It’s about giving back. My firm belief is to stay and play at home. Travel during the season is key to building friendships and my family has developed lifelong friendships through hockey. We never forced the kids to play – we just facilitated travel.” Jeanne noted that seeing all the boys play hockey and face adversity in one way or another made them stronger, more mature individuals. Seeing them leave home to play higher levels of hockey made her stronger, too. “I have toughened,” she said. “I didn’t want to put my concerns on something they wanted that much. We just supported them – they needed to live out their dreams. It all started with Ryan and with all the boys, it was just another sport, but they stuck with it for many reasons. “We learned to let the boys fight their own battles – there was total balance. And confidence is key. Boys knew they had our support. “AJH is the framework that started it all – they wouldn’t be where they are today without it.”
WEST COAST RENEGADES
Renegades restructure, bring on Imonti as new director By Matt Mackinder
ome people see the word “restructuring” as one that has a negative connotation. The West Coast Renegades (WCR) AAA youth organization sees it as a fresh start with fresh ideas and a new set of goals. Recently, the Renegades hired David Imonti as the program’s new hockey director. Imonti is currently a partner with 37 Hockey, an agency that he co-founded that represents hockey players and coaches throughout the world. Imonti, working with Renegades’ attorney and director of business operations Fred Wilner, was responsible for bringing Kevin McClelland to the organization to coach the 16U AAA and 18U AAA teams this season. Wilner is also former president of the Utah Amateur Hockey Association. “We are all excited about the next phase of development for WCR,” Wilner said. “When David Imonti and I spoke to Joe D'Urso last summer, it was immediately clear we all share the passion and see the potential for hockey growth in Utah. In the coming months, we will expand our joint ventures with other local Utah hockey organizations.” This season, the Renegades will roster all of the Cedar City teams and mentor them toward becoming their own affiliated organizations. In his role, Imonti will be responsible for all of the hockey operations, including working with the coach-
ing staff, helping to bring in players and most important- member. We admire his zeal, enthusiasm, hard work ly, helping to place the players into higher level hockey and big personality. As such, this portion of our orgaprograms when they are ready to leave the Renegades. nizational changes were extraordinarily difﬁcult and not “I think the main attraction to the Renegades for me done without a lot of deep thought, consideration and was the amount of potential the organization has,” said prayer.” Imonti. “From the coaching staff, to our facilities, to the With Imonti, he gets wide-eyed when thinking about support staff put in place by (owners) Joe and Lisa the growth potential for the game in Utah. D'Urso, everything has been put in “You’re starting to see some playplace to make the Renegades one of ers from Utah play at the professional, the best clubs in the country, and it's NCAA, and junior levels, which shows my goal to make strides towards realizthe potential within the state's existing player pool,” explained Imonti. “In my ing that potential in the coming years.” opinion, I think getting kids to stick Originally from San Diego, Imonti with hockey is the key to growing came to Utah in 2003 to play at Wethe sport within the state, especially ber State University. After graduating during the transition from Bantam to in 2007, he played professionally in Midget hockey.” North America and Europe before Imonti said he also wants to crereturning to Utah to marry his wife, ate scholarship programs, as well as a Brooke, in 2009. From 2011-13, mentorship program between the Pee Imonti was an assistant coach with the Wee, Bantam and Midget age groups Western States Hockey League’s OgDavid Imonti den Mustangs. and those players from Utah who have Prior to naming Imonti to his post, the Renegades advanced to higher levels in hopes of offering some announced “with great regret and sadness” that former guidance and motivation for those who might be quesdirector of operations Adam Bartholomay has left the tioning their future in the sport. “I think if we stick to the plan and continue to put organization. “Adam has been with WCR from the very start and the right pieces in place, the rest will take care of itself,” was integral in helping us bring the opportunities for said Imonti. “With all we offer, I really think there is no good Tier I hockey to Utah,” said Joe D’Urso. “Lisa and comparison and those involved with hockey within the I have often referred to Adam as a nephew or family state will soon realize the same.”
PICTURE PERFECT The Colorado Rampage 18U AAA captains pose for the camera before a recent practice at Monument Ice Rinks. Pictured, from left to right, are Ethan Osburn, Karl Zodda, Ben Barrett and Riley Buller.
The West Coast Renegades' 14U AAA team will be led on and off the ice this season by team captain McKay Pond (left) and alternate captain Isaac Brickey.
The Boulder Bison Bantam AA won the 2016 Rocky Mountain Regional Silver Stick championship 2-0 over Littleton on Oct. 9 at the Ice Centre at the Promenade in Westminster. Photo/Scott Cattelino
The Foothills Flyers Pee Wee AA won the 2016 Rocky Mountain Regional Silver Stick championship 2-1 over Littleton on Oct. 9 at the Ice Centre at the Promenade in Westminster. Photo/Scott Cattelino
During a recent photo shoot at the Sport Stable in Superior, youth players Noah Vanover (left, RoughRiders Green) and Minor Coons (right, Boulder Hockey Club Blue) posed adorably on top of a net, much to the delight of the photographer. Photo/Anne Hanson
The Colorado Rampage 12U squad gathers outside the Apex Center in Arvada on Oct. 7 just prior to taking the ice and playing in the Silver Stick Regional tournament.
Salt Lake City native and Colorado Rampage graduate Garrett Metcalf starts his NCAA Division I career this season with the University of Massachusetts-Lowell (Hockey East) Photo/UMass Lowell Athletics
The Colorado Springs Tigersâ€™ 16U AA Black team gathers at the Joy Burns Arena before their first game at the Denver Pioneer Classic last month over Labor Day weekend. Photo/Andrea Alldredge
Jeremy Swayman, an Alaska native who played the 2015-16 season with the Pikes Peak Miners' 18U AAA team, began the current 2016-17 campaign with the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede. Photo/USHL
Regis Jesuit High School won the 2016 Rocky Mountain Regional Silver Stick Midget Minor AA championship 5-3 over Boulder on Oct. 9 at the Ice Centre at the Promenade in Westminster. Photo/Scott Cattelino
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Colorado Rubber Hockey Magazine
Rampage 15U team hitting the ground running in T1EHL play By Steve Stein
o far, so good for the Colorado Rampage 15U AAA team in the first year USA Hockey has made the age level a national program. Coach Marc Boxer's club won only four of its first 10 games in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL), but went 3-1 in a league showcase from Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in Troy, Mich. "We're starting to develop a team identity," Boxer said. Andrew Sherman, Rampage board chairman, thinks he's found the perfect coach for the team. "Marc has a nice way about him with kids and parents. He has a really good demeanor," he said. "He keeps everyone informed about what's happening with the team in a weekly email." Another positive, Sherman said, is Boxer's "incredible relationships with junior hockey and college coaches." "When Marc shows up at a tournament or showcase, he's almost a celebrity. He knows everyone," he said. "It takes a lot of work to build up that many relationships." Boxer has been coaching hockey for 20 years. His resume ranges from youth to college (Michigan Tech) to the pros (Memphis River Kings of the Central Hockey League). He's been involved with USA Hockey national teams and player development since 2003 and has been director of junior hockey for USA Hockey since 2011. After a one-year hiatus from coaching to recharge, he said, he was given the opportunity to coach the new Rampage 15U AAA team and he jumped at the chance.
A big draw was a chance to coach his son, Jack, who kids," Boxer said. "On the other hand, while I try to give played for the Rampage 14U AAA team last year. everyone ice time, everyone needs to be accountable, stay Having a father coach his son is always an interesting focused, and buy into what we're trying to do." dynamic. Boxer experienced it himself in the 1996-1997 Most of the players on the Rampage 15U AAA team season when his father, Herb, coached the River Kings. are from Colorado. Others come from New Mexico, Utah "Mostly, though, I've watched father-and-son coach- and Wyoming. and-player relationships from a disThe roster also includes skaters tance," he said. "You have to keep McClain Beaudette, Miles Breneverything in perspective and treat all ner, Nicholas Cimino, Quinn your players the same, although I do Connolly, Soren Cooley, Richard ask a little more of Jack at times. It's Flores, Keaton Foy, Alexander important to be transparent with no Gomez, Lucas Helland, Lachlan agenda. Every player needs praise Henderson, Jake Jensen, Cadan and a little push at times." LeValley, Ryan Malensek, Jayden Boxer said his coaching philosoNieman, Carter Rapalje and Patphy doesn't involve a lot of structure. rick Ryan and goalies Jackson He wants his players to learn to react Broussard and Evan Crawford. to what's happening on the ice. Boxer was born in Dallas, Tex., "It's not good for a player to overand began playing youth hockey in Hancock, Mich. think things â€“ it can cause stress and After playing for the Des Moines distractions," he said. Head coach Marc Boxer has led the Colorado And that could affect the No. 1 pri- Rampage 15U AAA team to early-season suc- Buccaneers of the United States ority of each coach of a youth hockey cess in September and October within the Tier 1 Hockey League (USHL) from 198991, he went on to a four-year career team: skill development. If a player has Elite Hockey League. a good skill set and is determined and passionate, there's a at Miami (Ohio) University and played professionally in the East Coast Hockey League and Central Hockey League good chance he'll continue to move on.â€? Coaching 15-year-olds offers unique challenges. At this and in Germany. He was an assistant coach with the Rivage, players are transitioning from adolescence to becom- er Kings from 1998-99 and at Michigan Tech from 19992001 before serving as manager of youth hockey at USA ing a young adult. "It's important for everyone to remember these are Hockey from 2003-10.
‘I Feel Like a Little Kid’
NHL veteran Iginla still a valuable asset to Avalanche as new season gets underway By Mike Chambers
arome Iginla enters his 20th NHL season — third with the Colorado Avalanche — still looking like a prizefighter in his prime. The right winger’s only body fat is of the essential kind, and his appearance offsets his age, 39, as well as the status of his contract, which expires after this season and could be his last. A future first-ballot Hockey Hall of Famer, Iginla has big plans for himself and the re-tooled Avalanche, which is now led by first-year head coach Jared Bednar. Colorado went 6-0 in the preseason under Bednar’s new north-south system that the organization hopes will lead to more offensive-zone time for Iginla and the Avs’ young elite forwards. "I'm excited about it and I know that, at 39, it's year to year and stuff, but I'm excited as a team,” Iginla said. “I think we can be better. Guys are hungry and everyone has good attitudes. We want to learn, we want to make the playoffs and ultimately win the thing. So yeah, I'm excited – I feel like a little kid.” Colorado has missed the playoffs in the two years Iginla has played with the team. Iginla said he enjoyed playing for former coach Patrick Roy, but conceded that something had to change. “There have been some changes and I think you've already seen that in the preseason,” Iginla said. “It feels like we'll be able to play quicker and there's some things we've simplified. We were going to change no matter what. Having a new coach, it's his
style, his system and it's been giving us some results. Every year it's fun to start, but some years a lot of people don't have a lot of expectations outside of our organization, about being a top team, but I think we can move up quickly. I think there's a lot of talent in here." At Joe Sakic’s celebrity golf tournament earlier this month, Iginla repeatedly said that his ability to play physical
at this stage of his career Jarome Iginla will lead him to success — this season and perhaps beyond. “I want to be better than I was last year,” said Iginla, whose 22 goals in 2015-16 were second on the team, but fewest since his rookie season in 1996-97. “I had a good start last year, a tough middle and a good last quarter. At times, I got away from being grit-
ty or aggressive enough. I’d like to get back to that. I’m not trying to save myself for anything. I want to come back and be physical, a net-front presence and I still enjoy playing a lot. I still feel good. I feel strong. I want to be a part of, first of all, the playoffs, and I feel that we can do that. And once you get there, you never know, but with this group, it’s getting better and better.” During Iginla’s magnificent career, he became the 16th player to reach 600 all-time goals last year and he’s just 14 shy of tying Sakic (625) for 15th. But Iginla appears to be losing speed when the NHL continues to get faster, and that was evidenced by his career-worst, minus-22 rating last season. Iginla led the Avs with 13 power-play goals, but his ice time at evenstrength decreased. He could become a third- or fourth-line forward and power-play specialist this season under Bednar – but most recently he was playing right wing on a line with center Nathan MacKinnon and captain Gabriel Landeskog. “It’s not about getting a certain amount of goals or any of that,” said Iginla. “I want to be part of the playoffs and ultimately, win it.” Iginla has never hoisted the Stanley Cup. And no matter what anyone says about the Avalanche’s chances, Iginla appreciates the opportunity to again shoot for the stars.
Eagles continue to stack blue line for ’16-17 ECHL campaign
Key signings look to bolster Utah attack, keep success going
By Matt Mackinder
By Matt Mackinder
ho says you can’t go home again? That will certainly be the case this coming season for Niwot native Michael Sdao, a steady defenseman who has signed with the Colorado Eagles after three seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL). “Michael is a player whose physical presence will be known to the opposition every time he steps on the ice,” said Eagles coach Aaron Schneekloth. “He’s an imposing figure and he plays with that same mentality. He’s an intelligent player that sees the game well and has a proven track record in the American Hockey League.” A seventh-round pick of the Ottawa Senators in the 2009 NHL Draft, the 27-year-old Sdao registered 54 points and 236 penalty minutes in four seasons at NCAA Division I Princeton University (ECAC Hockey) prior to his time in the AHL with the Binghamton Senators and Rochester Americans. “I’m very excited to be joining the Eagles,” said Sdao. “The Eagles have always had a first-class organization with a winning track record and their new affiliation with the Colorado Avalanche is only going to further that tradition.” In addition to Sdao, the Eagles have also added former ECHL Defenseman of the Year Matt Register, Jake Marto, Denver native Sean Zimmerman and Teigan Zahn to the team’s back end. Register is coming off a season in which he captured an ECHL Kelly Cup championship with the Allen Americans. “Playing against Colorado quite a bit over the last few years, it’s an awesome place to play,” said Register. “The fans in Colorado are so loyal and it’s a really tough place for a team to come in and win.” Eagles general manager Chris Stewart added that Marto, Zimmerman and Zahn “were so vital in constructing what I felt was one of the best defensive units in the entire ECHL last season.” 10
Colorado Rubber Hockey Magazine
ith the best home record in the ECHL over the last three seasons and one of only three ECHL teams to win a playoff series in two straight seasons, the Utah Grizzlies enter their fourth season as a minor league affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks in 2016-17. Utah enters its 22nd season in Utah and 20th at the Maverik Center. As of late, Grizzlies coach-GM Tim Branham has been signing players that are poised to help Utah take that prototypical “next step” in the always-competitive ECHL. In one move, Branham acquired the rights to forward Zac Larraza from the Manchester Monarchs in exchange for future considerations. Larraza, who signed an American Hockey League (AHL) contract with the Ducks organization on Sept. 8, enters his second pro season after totaling 20 goals in 39 games with the Monarchs last season. “With San Diego already signing Zac, it just made sense to acquire his rights,” said Branham. “He is a dynamic player who plays a 200-foot game.” Larraza, a Scottsdale, Ariz., native, was drafted in the seventh round (196th overall) by his hometown Coyotes in the 2011 NHL Draft and was a captain at NCAA Division I University of Denver where he totaled 35 goals and 31 assists for 66 points over four seasons. Veteran goaltender Ryan Faragher is also back in the fold for the Grizzlies, returning for his third campaign in Utah. “We all know what kind of goalie Ryan is,” Branham said. “He steals games. He is the backbone of our team.” Additionally, the Grizzlies have inked defensemen Eric Springer and Tim Daly and forward Mathieu Aubin. Aubin returns for his fourth year in Utah after missing all of last season after sustaining an injury in the team’s final preseason game. Despite being absent on the ice, Aubin was still very visible in the community and assisting Branham in the office and on the bench. He was named a co-recipient of the Grizzlies Community Service Award last season.
TAHOE HOCKEY ACADEMY
Tahoe Hockey Academy ‘ecstatic’ to get season started By Greg Ball
fter months and months of planning, the doors finally opened at Tahoe Hockey Academy last month, and things finally started to seem real when the academy played its first games in late September. Donning its purple and white uniforms for the first time, the team traveled to Winnipeg the last weekend in September and opened their inaugural season in the first WPHL showcase against some of the top teams from the Western United States and Canada. “It was exciting for the boys, and all our hard work was worth it when we saw how excited they were,” said Leo Fenn, the academy’s president and chief operating officer. “Their desire to compete after having spent only three weeks together training was absolutely amazing. It was incredible to see them compete at that level, and it only inspires us to get better at the Academy and provide an even greater experience with greater opportunities for development for these kids.” The team opened its inaugural season with a win Sept. 30, beating Fountain Valley 5-4 in overtime. Tahoe led 2-0 after the first period and 3-0 after the second. They extended their lead to 4-0 in third, but Fountain Valley rallied and tied the game with seven seconds left in regulation. Forward Eric Larsson scored on an assist from Riley Fenn with 1:36 left in overtime to lift Tahoe to its first victory. Larsson totaled two goals in the victory, Jared Shuter scored a goal and Shane Gilbert also
scored. Jack Birecki scored the team’s first goal, walking in on a 1-on-2 and blasting a shot in from just inside the blue line past the goalie only six minutes into the game. Alan Garcia added two assists. On Oct. 1, Tahoe fell to SISEC, an international hockey academy out of Calgary, 4-1. Gilbert scored the team’s only goal, assisted by Jack Tuszynski and Matt Odom. Later that day, Tahoe fell to the Pilot Mound Buffaloes, the host team, in a very physical game by a 6-3 mark. Larsson scored two goals in the defeat and Shuter added another. Zach Dill had an assist, as did Zack Savarise. With a very short turnaround time between games, Tahoe was without three players against Pilot Mound. “The highlight for me was really the heart that this team showed,” Fenn said. “We have 20 guys that have never played together before, from different parts of the country, and in our second game, we had 26 shots blocked. That’s an amazing figure, and in the other games, they were averaging 15-16 blocked shots. These kids were diving to block shots - it’s really amazing how they battled together and refused to give up. The inspiration and the heart that these kids play with is contagious.
We’re very excited about an incredible first effort for a very young team.” More than half the team’s roster is freshmen, so Fenn knows there is room to grow as the season goes on and into future seasons. Tahoe is scheduled to open its Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL) schedule the weekend of Oct. 15-16 with games in Orange County against JSerra and Santa Margarita. The following weekend, they’ll travel west a few hours to the Bay Area for league games against Bellarmine and Orange Lutheran. And the first weekend in November, Tahoe will fly to Chicago to compete in the prestigious Bauer World Hockey Invitational, where they will face teams from all across the United States. “We’re ecstatic about it,” Fenn said. “The first weekend exceeded all our expectations, and now we’re really excited to go play in the ADHSHL and to compete in some great tournaments. The boys were thrilled to get their uniforms and equipment, and it’s really coming together. “It’s great to see the culture developing at Tahoe Hockey Academy.”
2016-17 Colorado NCAA Hockey Preview Falcons primed for encore after surprise 20-win season
Tigers seeking renaissance from fountain of youth
xpectations have changed around Cadet Arena, and justifiably so. That’s what happens when a young team picked to finish seventh by Atlantic Hockey coaches a season ago wins 20 games and comes within a goal of the league championship game. The coaches expect Air Force to reprise its second-place finish to NCAA qualifier RIT. The hunters will become the hunted more weekends than not. “It will be interesting to see how we handle that as a team,” Falcons coach Frank Serratore said. “Typically academy teams operate more comfortably in the role of the underdog and we’re not going to be that.” The Falcons return 88 percent of their point production from 2015-16 and 85.5 percent of their goal scoring. A year after icing a young lineup (just six upperclassmen), Air Force has more experience and seeks to build upon last season. “What helped us last year is there was not a lot of pressure on us to perform,” senior co-captain Johnny Hrabovsky said. “We took advantage of that lack of pressure and played free because there were no expectations to go out and win 20 games. “It’s different this year with all these guys returning.” The Falcons are strong from the goal out. Hrabovsky and junior co-captain Dylan Abood combined for 23 points and anchor a blue line that returns seven viable options. Sophomore goaltender Shane Starrett was a revelation, going 16-9-5 with a 1.92 goals-against average (11th nationally), a .924 save percentage and four shutouts. Starrett (first team) and Hrabovsky (second) were all-AHC picks. Senior co-captain Johnny Hrabovsky The Falcons also boast a deep group of leads a strong core of returning defensemen for Air Force. Photo/Team DMI fleet, defensively responsible forwards. “As forwards we try to play with a take care of your own end first mentality,” said senior co-captain A.J. Reid, who is returning from injury but scored 30 points as a sophomore. “When the forwards are on their game they’re blocking shots, they’re getting pucks out quickly to their linemates, which generates the offense. “We’re not going to go outscore teams so we need to shut teams down first.” The Falcons averaged 3 goals per game last season. Forwards Ben Kucera (15 goals), Erik Baskin (12) and Matt Serratore (10) are the top three returning goal scorers. Rather than be fazed by any pressure, expect the Falcons to supply heavy doses of it. “We’re coming at people in waves,” Frank Serratore said. “In our evenstrength play, you’re not going to see a lot of difference between our first line and fourth line.” Said Abood, “We play within a system but at the same time we trust each other to react, and we tend to react pretty fast. When we’re playing our best we have these team concepts in mind but we’re also playing free, not afraid to make plays and just go trust our instincts. “Nobody needs to be a hero because of the depth we have.”
Nov. 11-12: After three weeks of games against Hockey East foes and a road trip to Omaha, the Tigers open their NCHC home slate vs. typically high-scoring St. Cloud State. Dec. 2-3 and Feb. 10-11: Is this the season the Tigers reclaim the Gold Pan from their rivals up Interstate 25? Both series vs. Denver are home-and-homes. Jan. 27-28: Defending national champion North Dakota makes its only appearance in the state.
By Chris Bayee
Nov. 11-12: The Falcons play host to RIT, which eliminated them in last season’s AHC semifinals in overtime and is picked ahead of them this season. Nov. 25-26: State wars: One night after playing host to Denver, the Falcons take a short bus ride south to play Colorado College. Jan. 27-28: Fasten your seatbelts when a physical Army team marches into Cadet Arena.
Colorado Rubber Hockey Magazine
By Chris Bayee
olorado College’s season was reminiscent of Oreo cookies – sometimes the top and bottom get tossed but the center was sweet. The Tigers started 2015-16 with 13 losses in a run that included 10 games in a row against ranked teams. They finished with 10 defeats in another ranked gauntlet. In between they went 6-6-1 with NCHC victories over Miami, St. Cloud State and Nebraska-Omaha and a tie against eventual national champion North Dakota in Grand Forks. The Tigers have 10 freshmen and 13 sophomores on their roster so the emphasis for them going into the season is clear. “This is about confidence for this team,” coach Mike Haviland said. “If we can get off to a good start and believe in ourselves and each other the talent level is there. We have some guys that can make some plays. “The last couple years it hasn’t gone our way, and winning, like losing, is a habit. … It needs to start early. We can’t start the way we did last year. So confidence is the big thing for me – getting confident and staying confident.” The Tigers’ senior leaders, captain Sam Rothstein and assistant Luc Gerdes, said clearing the hurdles in CC’s way starts with attitude and preparation. “Especially when we put together a few good weekends, there was some momentum going for us,” Rothstein said. “Keeping practices upbeat, having that positivity on the ice, in the weight room and in the locker room before and after practice carries a long way when you play games.” Added Gerdes, “I think we’re trying to set the culture that every day is important and you can’t waste any opportunities, especially in games. We have to play all 60 minutes. That Senior Sam Rothstein, Colorado Colstarts in practice, there’s no days off, no reps lege's active career points leader, will serve as captain for the second year off.” in a row. Photo/Casey B. Gibson The Tigers return 80 percent of their points and 72 percent of their goal-scoring from a season ago, with Gerdes (18 points), sophomore Trey Bradley (16), Rothstein (15) and junior defenseman Teem Kivihalme (15) leading the way. With scoring at a premium, execution is imperative for CC. “We’re not a team right now that scores a ton of goals so we have to play with structure, and we have to play that way in all three zones,” Haviland said. “Our identity has to be winning games 2-1, 3-2. I don’t think we want to get into too many track meets with teams in our conference. When we did play structured, we were a very hard team to play against.” The Tigers have excellent depth in goal in sophomore Jacob Nehama, freshman Alex Leclerc and senior Derek Shatzer (Highlands Ranch). Nehama is the starter, and he is on track to play in October after offseason hip surgery. The defense should be stronger, too. Last season Kivihalme (a Nashville Predators draft pick) played with five freshmen most nights. “A lot of times going into new buildings we were unsure, we didn’t know what to expect,” sophomore assistant captain Andrew Farny said. “The first month or so is a big adjustment period. “We’re going to have a lot more experience, which will help.”
2016-17 Colorado NCAA Hockey Preview Junior forward Tyler Ledford
Pioneers reload in pursuit of another Frozen Four trip By Chris Bayee
an the University of Denver continue its upward trajectory under coach Jim Montgomery? If it does, who will step up to provide offense? Graduations plus the early departures to pros of two-thirds of the Pacific Rim Line (Danton Heinen and Trevor Moore) remove more than 40 percent of the Pioneers’ 134 goals from last season. Sophomore forwards Dylan Gambrell and Troy Terry (Highlands Ranch) should be heavy contributors, and big things are expected from freshman Henrik Borgstrom. Senior captain Will Butcher leads a deep and talented defense. All four are NHL draft picks, with Borgstrom going in the first round in June and Gambrell the second. The Pioneers reached the Frozen Four in April, only to fall to NCHC rival North Dakota, something that remains fresh in the players’ minds. “The way last season ended left a bad taste in our mouth,” senior assistant captain Evan Janssen said. “The bar is set extremely high. You can tell from the pace of practices that we’re at a higher level than we were at this time last year.” The sense of urgency from the team, which has nine seniors (including all four captains), is obvious to Montgomery. “There is a confidence with this group, they know how to get it done because of our seniors,” he said. “Our players expect to have success, and they know the work it takes. “It usually takes five or six weeks to get where you want to be. This group is focused and holding each other accountable. This year feels like it’s the players’ team.” There is a good reason for that; the upperclassmen are taking things into their own hands. “It’s pretty easy to integrate (new) guys Senior captain Will Butcher is a prewhen they see what the older guys do, es- season all-America candidate who pecially when we have so many seniors this scored 32 points last season. Photo/ DU Athletics year,” Butcher said. “They follow that example and it all flows together. “That’s one of Monty’s points this year – this is our year, and he wanted a lot of representation from the senior class.” The Pioneers are strong from the goal out. Junior Tanner Jaillet and senior Evan Cowley (Evergreen) give Montgomery two netminders who finished in the top five in the conference in goals-against average and in the top six in save percentage. Butcher (32 points) anchors a deep and experienced blue line. He is joined by assistant captain Matt VanVoorhis, juniors Tariq Hammond and Adam Plant, and another NHL pick, Blake Hillman. Butcher and Gambrell (47 points) are preseason all-America candidates. Up front the Pioneers have to replace two-time captain Grant Arnold and every-situation standouts Quentin Shore and Gabe Levin. The roster is full of reinforcements, but regardless of who steps in they have adhere to the “process.” “When we’re successful we’re taking the body, winning face-offs, shooting pucks on net, making plays and trusting our instincts – perfecting what we call the process, all the little things that have to come together,” senior assistant captain Matt Marcinew said.
Nov. 11-12: The Pioneers get their only crack at a North Dakota team that knocked them out of the Frozen Four in Grand Forks. Dec. 2-3, Feb. 10-11: Will the Pioneers continue their recent dominance of Colorado College and retain the Gold Pan in this pair of home-and-homes? Feb. 24-25: After spending most of the second half on the road, DU plays host to St. Cloud State in a series that should have NCHC title implications.
icture the Energizer Bunny with great hands you get an idea about Ledford’s game. “His motor, there’s nothing like it,” co-captain Johnny Hrabovsky said. “He has the potential to take the league by storm.” And Ledford (Colorado Springs) is a complete player. “The back side of his game is as good as the front side,” co-captain Dylan Abood said. “I’m really impressed with the way he leads by example.” More helper than finisher, 20 of Ledford’s 27 points last season were assists – up from 16 of 18 Photo/Team DMI his freshman year. Still, there is room for him to grow. “He’s one of those players that’s got the ability to raise people out of their seats,” coach Frank Serratore said. “He’s got that great combination of north-south and east-west speed. He’s very elusive guy. He’s small in stature but he is extremely strong for his size (5-foot-9). “When he’s got the puck on his stick, something’s going to happen. He’s worked hard on his defensive game and decision-making. He’s electric.”
Sophomore forward Westin Michaud
fter three points in the Tigers’ exhibition game in 2015, the then-freshman tore up a knee and missed the entire season. “It was a blow because he had put up some numbers in juniors, and we thought he’d come in and help us last year,” CC coach Mike Haviland said. “He’s stronger this year and is certainly someone we’re going to count on. He’s probably a top-six forward on this team and he’s going to get some power-play time.” Photo/Casey B. Gibson The 5-foot-9, 176-pounder has a nose for the net, and he proved it in 2014-15 when he was a firstteam all-NAHL selection after piling up 73 points (30 goals) in 58 games. “He’s not a pretty skater, but he gets the job done,” Haviland added. “He’s smart, he knows where to go to score.” Michaud could be just what the Tigers (who scored just 71 goals in 2015-16) need to help jump-start their offense.
Sophomore forward Jarid Lukosevicius
prolific scorer in junior, Lukosevicius found himself most often on Denver’s “crash line” during the 2015-16 season and he proved up to the task. “He brings some grit, but he’s pretty skilled,” senior assistant captain Evan Janssen said. “He likes to get under guys’ skin on the other team. Every chance he gets to take the puck hard to the net he’s not afraid to do that. You need guys who will do that.” Opportunity – in the form of a spot on one of Photo/DU Athletics DU’s top two lines – knocks for the sophomore this season. “He brings energy and he’s hard to play against,” Pioneers coach Jim Montgomery said. “He has a high-end offensive side to his game, and he’s on the verge of breaking through. He has a hard and accurate shot.” Another trend DU would like to see continue: The Pioneers won every game Lukosevicius scored in last season.
Mustangs to leave WSHL for new Tier I CHL starting in ’17-18 By Matt Mackinder
eginning with the 2017-18 season, the Ogden Mustangs will leave the Tier II Western States Hockey League (WSHL) for a brand-new Tier I league, the Central One Hockey League (CHL). The CHL, like the WSHL, will be under the auspices of the Amateur Athletic Union’s (AAU) United Hockey Union (UHU) and will begin next season with six franchises currently competing in the WSHL – the Casper (Wyo.) Coyotes, Colorado Jr. Eagles, El Paso (Tex.) Rhinos, Oklahoma City Blazers, Springfield (Ill.) Express and Mustangs. For Mustangs coach-GM Jake Laime, he sees numerous positives to the new league. “We always want to deliver a quality product to the fans and supporters in Ogden,” Laime said. “When you look at the hockey profession as a business, running a team is a lot more than the entertainment factor. The better the player, often times the more rewarding the experience. The skill sets and individual talent level will improve. The CHL is a free league, meaning it’s not tuition-based. Players do not have to pay. It will allow us to recruit a level of talent that is, and has been, frequently deterred from the tuition-based pay-to-play model.” Laime said he can see the league gaining steam as time passes. “The league needed to differentiate itself from the WSHL,” said Laime. “Canada has Tier I and Tier II junior,
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USA Hockey has Tier I (United States Hockey League) and Tier II (North American Hockey League) junior and now the UHU has Tier I and Tier II junior. We are not the USHL. Our goal is to keep the league small and competitive, focusing on quality rather than quantity. I’m sure we will all experience some growing pains and it’s a big venture, but we are very confident in our partners’ abilities. Will we see future NHL guys? Time will tell.” At a recent CHL Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas, the league operations manual and all other internal documentation
that had been under review was approved and adopted. The most important topic of conversation surrounded the process of selecting the 2017-18 rosters for the CHL in which a twophase draft system was adopted. Phase I of the draft is exclusively for those athletes participating in an AAU-UHU sanctioned league in the 2016-17 season, while Phase II of the draft will be exclusively for those players attending league pre-draft events.
If a player does not participate in a pre-draft event, they will not be eligible to be drafted. All other players may be signed as free agents at the conclusion of the draft process. In Ogden, there is talk that the Mustangs may potentially still operate a WSHL team on top of the CHL team. “We are working through logistics regarding the second team,” Laime explained. “We experimented with it last season using the Western Prospects League as a small feeder system and feel that we are capable, but it will all come down to the product and staffing. We will have more news regarding both teams soon.” Still a year away, Laime is chomping at the bit to see what the CHL will bring and explained why he thinks the CHL will be a hit. “I think the CHL will be successful because we have a group of committed owners, coaches and general managers that have put in the time to learn the business and dedicated themselves to not only a quality venue and product, but also a quality standard that we can hold ourselves to,” Laime said. “With the no-pay model and the ability to attract top talent from around the world, we have an advantage over any other league in North America.”
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ROUGHRIDERS COLORADO SPRINGS AMATEUR HOCKEY RoughRiders’ 16U AAA standout Tigers’ 16U AA Black team finding Morrison commits to Air Force right chemistry equals success By Chris Bayee
By Matt Mackinder
onathan Morrison’s good year keeps getting better. The Rocky Mountain RoughRiders’ 16U AAA defenseman jumped onto scouts’ radars this summer by playing well at the USA Hockey Select 16 Festival and then the 2000 birth year committed to the Air Force Academy (Atlantic Hockey) on Oct. 9. “I’m very excited,” he said. “It was a big draw for so many reasons – the education, the benefits the service offers.” Morrison is from Eagle and began playing hockey for the Vail Mountaineers. He came down the hill to play AAA at age 11 and has been with the RoughRiders since his 14U season three years ago. “Air Force is an unbelievable opportunity for him, not only in hockey but for his life,” said RoughRiders director of hockey operations Derek Robinson. “It’s a big decision for a 16-year-old, but he and his family did their research.” At 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, Morrison is still growing, but one aspect of his game already stands out. “His skating ability, first and foremost, is his biggest strength,” Robinson said. “He’s really worked on his defensive game, and has the ability to jump up into the play to contribute on the offensive side. “Not only is he a really good representative of our hockey club, but Jonathan and his family have trusted the process. There’s even harder work to put in now to develop further.” “The club has great coaching, and the coaches always set you up for success,” Morrison added. “I’ve gotten great exposure, and they’ve helped me develop in all aspects of my game. I’ve matured a lot playing for the RoughRiders.” Morrison, who has lived with billet families in the Denver area since he was 13, also was quick to thank them. “Without them, this opportunity would not be possible,” said Morrison.
or some teams, playing six games in five days can be an inconvenience, but the Colorado Springs Tigers 16U AA Black team prefers to use a situation like that as a measuring tool. The Tigers started the season playing in the Denver Pioneer Classic over Labor Day weekend, losing in the championship finals to the Foothills Flyers. Tigers coach Mike Greene took the loss and turned it into a positive. “With that many games in a short period, you will have some ups and downs and see what you have to work with moving forward,” said Greene. “We know now where we need to be.” Greene added that as the season progresses, the coaching staff has “very high expectations for this group.” “We will work hard, have fun and get better,” said Greene. “Early on, our chemistry is as good as I have seen in my 20-plus years of coaching. The players are having fun at practice, games, off-ice workouts, and are working really hard. It doesn't matter what they are doing – they enjoy being around each other and are willing to battle for each other.” Greene’s team includes five players that were selected to this past summer’s USA Hockey Rocky Mountain District Camp in Salt Lake City – Sam Feamster, Alex Enegren, Tylor Greene, Nick Darrow and Corbin Cockerill – and said he also feels confident with the team’s goalies in Eric Buchholz and Addison Zeich. Assistant coaches Dave Feamster and Jed Snyder are “great teachers of the game,” according to Greene. “We have 11 players from our Bantam AA last year on this team and they have welcomed the new guys in and it’s about this team, not last year’s teams or where you’re from,” Greene said. “Our captains (Feamster, Greene and Adam Alldredge) have done an amazing job making sure that everyone is having fun, working hard and are accountable.”
Colorado Rubber Hockey Magazine
Youth hockey growth is exciting, but let’s work together I
’ve been coaching youth hockey in Colorado since 1994 and I have seen the game evolve in our state to a respectable competition level. Over those years, there’s been a lot of positive changes in how we develop our young players, and there’s also been some things we could do Sean Leonard better. First, I’d like to discuss the positive impact that USA Hockey’s switch to the American Development Model (ADM) has had on our younger players. All anyone has to do is take a look at the skills and skating abilities of our younger players to understand the benefits of coaches implementing multiple repetitions and small-area games into their practices. As few as 10 years ago, each association would have a couple really good players that stood out in a group that wasn’t that strong. Now, the core group is becoming strong. Anyone that has read the book “Outliers” and understands the 10,000-hour rule would understand that more efficient practices with multiple repetitions, as suggested by the ADM, is directly correlated with the increased level of skill our players are experiencing.
Along with the ADM, USA Hockey has undergone changes in the past few years regarding body contact. The benefit of teaching proper body contact and body checking techniques has been necessary, as the game has evolved to one of speed and high skill level. It’s no secret that the game is becoming faster with a focus on puck separation and puck possession. Anyone that watched Team North America team compete in the World Cup of Hockey would agree that the younger players are faster and the game is cleaner. When younger players are taught how to correctly execute body contact, their transition into body checking at Bantams becomes easier. The end result of a team that angles properly and checks properly is puck separation and ultimately, more time with the puck which creates more scoring opportunities. The days of open-ice hits, follow-through checking and checking to intimidate are old school and coaches teaching this approach are hindering their players’ development. Occasionally, I will hear the argument that body checking should not have been removed from 12U. What people may not be aware of is the that 12U and younger now fall under the rule of "body contact,” which if taught correctly, still allows for contact through the normal process of playing the puck. If two well-coached Squirt teams play each other, the game should be fast and physical. Last season, I had the privilege of coach-
ing the Jr. Avalanche Pee Wee AA team in the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. All of those games were very physical, but at the same time, they were clean and fast. As a coach, I believe that all levels of coaches are morally and ethically obligated to walk your team through the “Checking the Right Way for Youth Hockey” publication from USA Hockey. As we focus on developing players and building stronger hockey programs in Colorado, we should go back to the basics: ADM, USA Hockey checking guidance and developing players at the correct level. In Colorado, I have seen many AAA programs cropping up, which dilutes the competition and lowers the skill level of the players and teams overall. This system is broken, and does very little to benefit the majority of players and their families relative to the cost, which is often three times higher than a typical travel club. Most people who are knowledgeable about competitive youth hockey would agree that Colorado has too many AAA organizations relative to the pool of talent available. It’s my opinion that the competition level at AAA, high school and AA would all benefit if the Colorado AAA ranks weren’t diluted. Whether it’s ADM, proper USA Hockey checking techniques, or what level our kids should play at, our goal as parents, coaches and directors should be to work together to provide the best possible development program for our state and our country.
Sean Leonard is the head coach of the Arapahoe Warriors' Bantam AA team. Interested in being a Chalk Talk columnist? E-mail Matt Mackinder at firstname.lastname@example.org. 17
Colorado Rubber Hockey Magazine
Position: Forward, Colorado Avalanche Hometown: Calgary, Alberta, Canada Age: 26 Height/Weight: 6-fot-5, 221 pounds Last Amateur Team: University of Denver (then WCHA) Acquired: Signed as a free agent on July 1, 2016 Colorado Rubber: What is your favorite hockey memory growing up? Joe Colborne: Watching the Flames go to the Stanley Cup Finals (in 2004). Personally, probably playing in the playoffs two years ago with the Flames. Seeing the city come together was pretty awesome. As a kid, winning our league in juniors (with the Calgary Kodiaks) both years, second year especially because we won Game 7 at home. That was special. Beating Boston College in our Christmas tournament here (2009 Denver Cup) was special, too. And probably winning the Gold Pan back (in 2009-10) was really special -- seeing â€˜Gwozâ€™ (DU coach George Gwozdecky) getting that jacked up in the dressing room. CR: What advice do you have for a young hockey player and/or their parents? JC: It's got to come from the kid. If the kid doesn't want it and you're trying to force him, you're just going to ruin your relationship with the kid. And for the kid, don't let people say you can't do it. There are people who are going to tell you that you're either too small, too slow or whatever it is. It's a long road and although it sucks at the time, getting cut can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. CR: Who has been the biggest influence on you, on and off the ice? JC: My parents. That's pretty obvious because without them putting in the time and effort and financial responsible that comes with it, none of us would be where we are. Outside of them, I'd say Boris Rybalka, my coach in juniors. He really took me from being a raw, young boy and turned me into a top hockey player ready to move on and do some good things. CR: Other than hockey, what's your favorite sport to play? JC: Growing up, it was baseball. My grandpa was a minor-league pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and my dad was a pitcher as well. I played competitively until I was 14 and loved it. Now, it's golf. CR: Any pieces of your gear that you're particular about? JC: Sticks. I'm crazy with my sticks, always tinkering with them and changes game by game. I'm sure it drives the equipment guys crazy, but I've been like that forever. CR: What are your essential items to take on a road trip? JC: Tooth brush. That's key. iPad, phone charger. Other than that, I'm a real light packer. CR: What is your favorite restaurant in the Denver area and what are you ordering? JC: Probably have to go with Elway's. Hard to find a steak that good anywhere. It was one of the first things I did when I got back here this summer, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. CR: Who was your favorite player growing up? JC: Al MacInnis and then Jarome (Iginla). It was awesome to get to play against (Iginla) and the first time he came back to Calgary after being traded, I was on the other side of the bench. Now that I get a chance to play with him is a really cool story for me. CR: What is the most challenging aspect of playing in the NHL? JC: There's never an easy shift out there. If you let one guy get behind you, it's in the back of your net. Photo/DU Athletics 18
Colorado Rubber Hockey Magazine
- Compiled by Mike Chambers
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The October 2016 Issue of Colorado Rubber Magazine, Colorado's & Utah's Authoritative Voice of Ice & Inline Hockey!