Western States Hockey League

Western States Hockey League: Davis works quickly to get Dallas Snipers up, running for season

Western States Hockey League: Davis works quickly to get Dallas Snipers up, running for season

Aaron Davis hasn’t had much time to prepare for his first season as the head coach of the Dallas Snipers.

He was brought in at the end of June and has had to work quickly to get the Snipers ready for another season in the Western States Hockey League.

The Snipers will play in Game 1 of the entire WSHL season as the home team against the Wichita Jr. Thunder on Friday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Plano (Texas) StarCenter.

“It’s been a short off-season for me because I was hired at the end of June,” Davis said. “The good thing is we had some very talented players returning and I feel like we brought in a good cast of new players. We feel like we have a good mix of older and younger players and that should help put us in a position to be successful.”

The key to making that happen is getting players with a variety of backgrounds on the same page. Davis expects it to take a little time to get everything situated, but he is confident it will get accomplished.

“It’s tough early on because you have guys from a lot of different places,” Davis said. “But we’re going to work hard to get everyone on the same page, and I think that will be helped by the fact that our players have bought into our system.”

The Snipers won only 15 games last season and compete in the rugged Mid-West Division. The league as a whole is tough and Davis is hoping to see his team compete at a high level night in and night out.

“We know it’s a tough league, but obviously we want to win games and have a chance to compete for a playoff spot,” Davis said. “I want to be able to help my guys become better hockey players and teach them as much as possible about the game. My goal is to help them have an opportunity to get to the next level.”


Read past Western States Hockey League articles in our archives:

Defense will be point of strength for San Diego Gulls

Idaho Steelheads coach reflects on Thorne Cup three-peat

Cheyenne Stampede: Coaches load up camp with fruits of long road trip

Cheyenne Stampede: Coaches load up camp with fruits of long road trip

Gary Gill was on the road most of July.

The head coach of the Cheyenne Stampede went on a 26-day recruiting journey that took him through Nashville, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas. He was only home for a couple of days during the month.

The lengthy recruiting trip allowed him the chance to check out the talent available as he looks to fill in the final roster spots. It also added to the build-up of excitement for the season ahead as Gill prepares for his first year as the coach of the Stampede.

“The trip was quite an adventure and I saw a lot of good players. I am getting pretty excited about the season starting up soon,” Gill said. “We have a good core of returning guys and some new players to mix things up. We have good skill players and strong role players. We have set ourselves up to have success.”

With recruiting out of the way, the Stampede have shifted their attention to its upcoming open tryout camp. It will take place Aug. 16-19 in Cheyenne as the team takes aim at finalizing its roster for the Western States Hockey League season.

“We are expecting about 45-60 players at the camp,” Gill said. “The good thing about it being in Cheyenne is that maybe a player or two from the area will come out and make the team. We’re still looking to fill a few defense and forward positions and our plan is to offer contracts to some players.”

The official training camp for the Stampede begins at the end of August and the team will also get a chance to play a few games before skating into the new season.

“We will play a few exhibition games, which will be good for us in terms of preparing for the season, but we’ll open camp by working as hard as possible over the first three weeks of camp,” Gill said. “I’m excited about getting things started. The owners have been very supportive of our efforts to make Cheyenne a team that can be one of the better teams in the league.”

The key to success for the Stampede is playing hard every time they step onto the ice.

“We want to take a step forward and build on what has already been accomplished here,” Gill said. “I want our players to compete at a high level the entire game. If we have players who do that, we are going to be successful.”

E-mail GM@cheyennestampede.com if you’re interested in attending the tryout camp.

Read past Stampede articles in our archives:
Western States Hockey League: Defense will be point of strength for San Diego Gulls

Western States Hockey League: Defense will be point of strength for San Diego Gulls

The San Diego Gulls had an up-and-down season, but still managed to finish with a winning record and earn a spot in the Western States Hockey League postseason.

“We started off streaky this year and weren’t always consistent, but we did have a good season,” said San Diego head coach Craig Carlyle. “We’re focused on improving our consistency for next season. That will be a big key to our success.”

The Gulls expect to be solid from a defensive standpoint next year with most players on that end of the ice returning.

“I have most of my defensemen coming back, and a lot of them will be in their second or third year on the team,” Carlyle said. “We should be very good on defense. The experience they have, especially with the leadership they will provide, will be beneficial to our team.”

One huge void, however, will have to be filled on defense. The Gulls will be without their top goalie, Reed Kinsey, who racked up 751 saves and allowed 56 goals.

“He was one of the best goalies in the league last season,” Carlyle said. “We have big shoes to fill in that spot.”

San Diego tallied 173 goals last season and will have some holes to fill at the forward position. But Carlyle has been focused on the recruiting trail and expects to be in good shape when the season begins.

The offseason has also provided the Gulls with an opportunity to get some extra work in.

Carlyle said his players do have a workout list to follow in the summer months and he also provides them with a chance to get on the ice.

“I try to run scrimmages in the summer to get the guys some competitive hockey time,” Carlyle said. “It’s a good opportunity for them to stay sharp and it helps them get ready for the season.”

Brian Lester


Read past Western States Hockey League stories in our archives:

Idaho Steelheads coach reflects on Thorne Cup threepeat

Fresno Monsters scare league with 12 straight wins

Moose ready to impress new Salt Lake City fans

Cheyenne Stampede: Organization happy to send Baggen, Carroll to college hockey

Cheyenne Stampede: Organization happy to send Baggen, Carroll to college hockey

Success on the ice is a big deal to the Cheyenne Stampede.

But so is moving players on to the next level of hockey, and the Stampede have two players headed up the ranks.

Forwards Ryan Carroll and Drew Baggen have both signed with the Colorado State Rams of the American College Hockey Association.

Carroll is from Colorado Springs and played in 89 games in two seasons for Cheyenne, which competes in the Western States Hockey League. He racked up 33 goals and 43 assists during that stretch.

“Ryan is a very hard worker who can contribute offensively to our team,” stated Colorado State head coach Kelly Newton in a press release on the Cheyenne web site, www.cheyennestampede.com. “We look forward to the energy that he brings every night.”

Baggen is from Alaska and appeared in 92 games for the Stampede. He scored 11 goals and tallied 16 assists in two seasons. He was a captain on the team this past season.

“Drew is a good pickup for us,” Newton said. “He will provide a lot of the grit and toughness that we were missing last season.”

Cheyenne head coach Marty Quarters is pleased that both players found a home at the college level and expects a few more to sign with a college team down the road.

“Our goal is obviously to be one of the best teams in the league, but we also want to move players on to a higher level,” Quarters said. “We want this to be a place where players want to play because they know they will get a chance to move on.”

One of the main focuses of the Stampede going forward into the offseason is to put a team together that will be poised to contend for a league title during the 2013-14 WSHL campaign.

“We are going to be hitting the recruiting trail hard, checking out a couple of showcases, and looking for the best players to upgrade our team,” Quarters said. “We have an entire summer to find players and we’re confident we will do a good job.”

Quarters noted that it often feels as if the team works harder in the offseason than it does when the season is in full swing.

As for the type of players the Stampede are looking for, Quarters gave a simple description.

“We want players who want to move up and who have the ability, the drive and the dedication to be successful,” Quarters said. “We also want them to have good character.”

By Brian Lester


Read a past Stampede story from our archives

Wyoming squad tears up Western States Hockey League


Western States Hockey League: Idaho Steelheads coach reflects on Thorne Cup threepeat

Western States Hockey League: Idaho Steelheads coach reflects on Thorne Cup threepeat

Idaho has established itself as the marquee franchise in the Western States Hockey League.

That reputation was solidified Sunday night on the home ice of the Steelheads, who clinched their third consecutive Thorne Cup with a 4-2 win over the Bay Area Seals in front of a sell-out crowd.

Winning one title is tough enough. Winning three is remarkable. Yet, the shock factor isn’t too high as far as Idaho head coach John Olver is concerned.

“The first one surprised me, but we’ve been able to sustain success by recruiting great players,” Olver said. “We had tremendous leadership this year, too, and the character and work ethic of our team is tremendous. It doesn’t surprise me that we’ve been able to stay on a roll.”

The third title didn’t come easy.

The Steelheads led the Seals 3-1 after one period but were only up 3-2 heading into the third period.

Idaho held a 46-29 edge in shots and scored two of its goals on power plays, including one by Filip Kasaly.

Kasaly, the Thorne Cup MVP, finished with two goals and Kirk Van Arkel and Stefan Brucato scored the other goals for Idaho while goalie Blake Mendenhall racked up 27 saves.

The Steelheads opened the Thorne Cup championship weekend by beating Fresno and then beat Southern Oregon twice to punch a ticket to the title game.

Bay Area came into that title game as one of the hottest teams in the league, and the fact that Idaho was able to hold on against the Seals made the championship that much more special.

“It was very gratifying,” Olver said. “It was a very difficult game and Bay Area is a very good hockey team. We have a lot of respect for them. They have been playing really well and it was a victory we had to earn. We had a great crowd and the fans helped provided us with the energy to come out on top.”

Idaho was challenged throughout the game and often found itself trying to kill off power-play opportunities for the Seals.

“It was a real struggle because we played shorthanded for a good part of the night,” Olver said. “It was difficult for us to get into a rhythm after the great start to the game, but we found a way to step up and get the win.”

Of course, Idaho did find a way to make plays when it mattered and was sharp enough offensively to pull away for the victory.

“We showed a lot of determination,” Olver said. “We had some chances and were very opportunistic.”

The Steelheads weren’t bad on defense either, especially with Mendenhall in goal. He played all 60 minutes and turned in one of his best efforts of the season.

“Blake was on top of his game,” Olver said. “He was extra sharp and made some big saves. I thought our goaltending was good all year from Blake and Daniel Selby. Both of those guys have played well. There is no doubt our goaltending is one of the main reasons we were able to be in a position to play for the championship again.”

With the WSHL championship tourney in the books, the Steelheads shifted their attention to the United Hockey Union national tourney in Las Vegas. Olver said he liked the way his team was playing heading into the tourney.

“We are playing our best hockey right now,” Olver said. “To win a league championship is not easy, and we have been able to keep things going in the right direction. The good thing is we’ve stayed healthy for the most part all year and we are excited about the way things have gone for us this year. We are definitely motivated.”

Update: Since this story was printed in the USA Junior Hockey Magazine, the Steelheads have gone 3-0 at the United Hockey Union AAU Hockey Nationals in Las Vegas, Nev. Follow the action here.


Read past Western States Hockey League stories in our archives:

San Diego Gulls enjoy rejuvenation after slow start

Fresno Monsters scare league with 12 straight wins

Idaho Jr. Steelheads out to defend title, nothing less