Western States Hockey League

Southern Oregon Spartans: Coach hopes for advancement all around

Southern Oregon Spartans: Coach hopes for advancement all around

At the end of a season, there’s always time for reflection, introspection and optimism for a bright future.

In terms of reflection and introspection, the Southern Oregon Spartans reached the quarterfinals of the Western States League. In losing two shutout games to the Idaho Jr. Steelheads, they didn’t seem to have anything left after three tough games against the Ogden Mustangs.

“The boys really came together as a group, it’s been a very pleasurable experience coaching these kids,” said head coach Joe Grimaldi. “The team played very disciplined, they were very coachable, they played the systems to the best of their abilities, played them to a ‘T.’

“We don’t play to other teams’ levels, we make other teams play up to us,” said Grimaldi. “They’re winners. They come through in the clutch and I wish that I had that whole team for another year.”

The future is entirely uncertain for the Shamrocks players – and even their coach.

Grimaldi said he may be looking to move up the coaching ranks, just as his players push to play at the next level.

“I’m looking at some North American League and United States League teams myself, if an opportunity presents itself,” said Grimaldi. “This [Spartans] organization has been very good to me. They have a great group of owners who have treated me very well. It’s a first class operation.”

M.J. Melanson, a ’93 forward, led the team with 10 points in five playoff games (all 10 points came in three games). He is one of the group of older players that Grimaldi can certainly see moving on to a college team.

The Montreal native scored 14 points in 12 games after joining the team in early February.

Avik Bordak (47 points in 32 regular season games) and his brother Joe Bordak (29 points in 27 games) should have bright futures. Joe had seven points in four playoff games, while Avik didn’t play in the playoffs due to a late-season injury.

The ’92-born Orland Park, Ill., resident Dan Doyle impressed with 26 points in 38 games. Another ’92, Kevin Edwards, was close behind with 25 points in 24 games.

Forwards Sebastian Romeo (22 points in 12 games) and Taylor McConnell and defenseman Tommy Bennett joined the above-mentioned players and goalie Sean Buckley as “older guys who really brought it on the ice.”

 

Read past stories about the Spartans:Â

First signs of potential shown in new Western States League team

New energy powering defense, forward ranks

WSHL squad can see definitive defensive improvements

Cheyenne Stampede: Wyoming squad tears up Western States Hockey League

Cheyenne Stampede: Wyoming squad tears up Western States Hockey League

Through 21 games, the Cheyenne Stampede marched to a 14-6-1 record in the Western States Hockey League.

Head coach Marty Quarters was pleased with the progress the team has made heading into the 2013 portion of its season.

“We are satisfied with where we are at,” Quarters said. “We had a couple of losses we wished we had back, but we have done a good job of establishing our identity. We want to be a team that plays with speed and attacks while being a tenacious team on defense.”

Offensively, Kevin Rossett scored 16 goals and dished out 12 assists while Noah Eckebrecht and Ryan Demyen came through with 14 goals apiece. The Stampede racked up 110 assists in 21 games and 10 players scored three or more goals.

“Our top two lines are very good and we have pretty good scoring across the board,” Quarters said. “To be successful in this league, you need to be able to roll out four lines, especially against the top teams, and we’re striving to get to that point. I feel like we have a lot of depth and it’s something we want to take advantage of the rest of the season.”

Quarters has liked what he has seen from his defense as well, including the play of goalies Daniel Cepila (21 goals allowed, 295 saves) and Sam Mallory (30 goals allowed, 294 saves).

“Our goaltending has been very good and we are confident having either one out there on the ice,” Quarters said. “Both goalies give us a chance to win and our defense as a whole has improved tremendously. We have been physical and have done a good job killing penalties.”

But like all teams, the Stampede has room for improvement and one area of the game jumps out.

“It’s important for us to get better on the power-play,” Quarters said. “We know how important success on the power play becomes in the playoffs and it’s something we have worked to get a lot better at.”

Cheyenne has confidence heading into the second half of the season

“We want to be more consistent and focus on one shift at a time,” Quarters said. “As long as we continue to play hard and make plays on both ends of the ice, we’re going to have a chance to compete for a playoff spot and a championship.”

New Mexico Renegades: Western States League team stays strong after topsy-turvy November

New Mexico Renegades: Western States League team stays strong after topsy-turvy November

A four-game losing streak. A five-game winning streak. Another three-game losing streak. Two players out, two players in.

What a November it was for the New Mexico Renegades, but they’re still staying competitive in the Western States Hockey League at 9-8-0-1.

“We played some of our best and, at the same time, some of our worst hockey during the winning streak,” said co-coach Cliff Cook.

Over the Nov. 2-4 weekend, the Renegades lost three straight to the Cheyenne Stampede and then lost their first of three games against the Phoenix Knights. The Renegades bounced back to win the next two against the Knights and all three of their games against the Dallas Snipers. Even in the wins against the Snipers, he said the Renegades “backtracked a bit.”

“We carried over our poor play from Dallas and did not play well in Cheyenne, and the results showed,” as the Stampede swept the Renegades again, said Cook.

Player movement was rather helter-skelter as well.

One of the team’s top scorers, Luc Fournier “had to go back to California,” said Cook, and goaltender Joey MacConnell moved up to the Osoyoos Coyotes, out of British Columbia, who play in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

MacConnell played 10 games for the Renegades, posting a .921 save percentage, good for fifth in the league at the time of his signing up north.

Talk about consistency – MacConnell, in his first three games with Osoyoos, had a .922 save percentage, along with a 2-1 record. The KIJHL is a regular feeder for the British Columbia Hockey League and other Canadian Jr. A leagues and the major junior Western Hockey League.

While those two players exited the Renegades’ locker room, two others came in. Josh Burger has been with the team from the beginning, but missed nearly all of November’s games. He was due back in action for the team’s Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 series against the Boulder Bison.

He had six points in his first seven games and hopes to continue that pace.

Additionally, the team also brought in Tucker Gilliland, a ’95-born Michigan native who came in to challenge Tyler George.

The Renegades have some big league action coming up, including the Dec. 18-21 WSHL Shootout. Their seven games in December could help them move up in the Mountain Conference.

“We have said all along we have the toughest division in the WSHL and I think that is playing out as expected with the top four teams right there together,” Cook said.

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Western States Hockey League: Fresno Monsters scare league with 12 straight wins

Western States Hockey League: Fresno Monsters scare league with 12 straight wins

The Fresno Monsters won their first 12 games of the Western States Hockey League season and are one of only three teams still unbeaten in league play.

Head coach Bryce Dale said, in late October, that the early success is linked to team chemistry.

“The camaraderie we have in the locker room is excellent,” Dale said. “The guys are out there playing for each other and they have embraced our philosophies. They have also worked very hard.”

Captain Nick McKee has played a key role early in the success of the Monsters’ offense, scoring 14 goals and 26 points in 12 games.

Fresno Monsters,Western States Hockey League,WSHL,Bryce Dale,USA Junior Hockey

Assistant captain Justin Plate has struck for eight goals and 21 points in 12 games to help pace an offense that has punched in 73 goals.

“We have been successful offensively because we play very fast and that style creates scoring opportunities,” Dale said. “A lot of our guys want to go on and play college hockey, and to do that, you have to be able to play fast. The players push themselves hard on the ice.”

From a defensive standpoint, the Monsters were third in lowest goals against with 31. Brenden Manquen allowed only 12 goals and racked up 76 saves during the unbeaten stretch. Justin Hubert and Corey Foster saw time in goal as well and gave up a combined 19 goals.

“Our goaltending has been one of our strengths,” Dale said. “But the key to our success in goal has been how well our defense has played. We believe our defense, from top to bottom, is the best in the league.”

The Monsters have been one of the better teams in the league since joining the WSHL and they are hoping to contend for a title again this season.
Dale said he expects his team to stay on the right track as it heads deeper into November.

“We have to keep working hard and play as hard as possible,” Dale said. “We still have improvements we need to make, but as long as we play our best every night, we are going to be fine.”

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New Mexico Renegades: Western States League keeps busy before late league start

New Mexico Renegades: Western States League keeps busy before late league start

The New Mexico Renegades will kick off their 2012-13 season in the Western States Hockey League over the Oct. 12-14 weekend.

Many teams across the country got started a good month before that, but the Renegades continue to train and bond, as well as continue to build up the team.

“We’re excited to get started and I know the boys are sick of practicing and competing against each other,” said co-coach Cliff Cook.

The team made the 56-mile drive across mostly open desert to Santa Fe for “a special practice and scrimmage” at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center.

“The Santa Fe RoadRunners were a member of the North American Hockey League from 2004-2007 before the team was moved to Topeka, Kansas,” said Cook. “Much like the Renegades, the Santa Fe RoadRunners got their start in North Richland Hills, Texas, originally named the Lone Star Cavalry. Santa Fe is no stranger to top-flight junior hockey.”

The players and staff have also been keeping busy with some “housekeeping items.”

The Renegades recently worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Rio Rancho to help build a new playground, and with the City of Rio Rancho to help clean up the city.

“We worked with the city on its ‘Toss No Mas’ project to help clean up Rio Rancho streets of trash and debris,” Cook said.

September was another busy month of signings for the Renegades. Most of the signings were on the offensive side.

“We are close to finalizing things here. Our roster is coming together better than we could have imagined,” said Cook.

Josh Burger comes out of the Alliance AA program where he was a point-per-game player. Burger is a ’93 from Rowlett, Texas.

Also joining the Renegades at forward are Matt Marcin, Zach Comfort, Jordan Smith and Wyatt Watkins.

The Renegades were still working on building their defense in late September, but the addition of Zach Lovelace, a ’94 from Wasilla, Alaska.

Alumni update: Matt Uvodich is with the Port Huron Fighting Falcons and he had a pair of assists in six games to start his North American Hockey League season. He was with the Renegades from 2010 through 2012.

Players wanted: The Renegades continue their preseason preparations with daily practices at Blades Multiplex Arenas. There are a very limited number of roster spots still open for the right players. Contact co-head coaches Cliff Cook 817-690-9486 and John McCreary 315-570-8418 for more information.

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