Western States Hockey League

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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Western States Hockey League: Idaho Jr. Steelheads out to defend title, nothing less

Western States Hockey League: Idaho Jr. Steelheads out to defend title, nothing less

The Idaho Junior Steelheads have won the last two Thorne Cup championships in the Western States Hockey League.

This past season, the Steelheads knocked off the Dallas Ice Jets for the championship. They earned a 3-2 win in the first game and grinded out a 6-5 overtime victory in the finale.

Building on that kind of success is not easy and head coach John Olver is doing what he can to put his team in position to contend for another title. The Jr. Steelheads begin their 2012-13 regular season with a two-game stand against the Seattle Jr. Totems on Sept. 28-29 at their home Manchester Ice and Events Centre in McCall, Idaho.

“We only return seven players, so we had to do a lot of recruiting in the offseason,” Olver said. “It’s been a very busy summer. We have been to a lot of camps and we feel like we were successful with the recruiting process. Only time will tell.”

What Olver does know is that when a franchise has success, players want to be a part of it and are willing to embrace the high expectations that come with it.

“Players want to be on successful teams and have a chance to win a championship,” Olver said. “They want to follow in the tradition of past teams. It gets tougher to do each year because every team wants to knock you off. We have to be ready to go every time we step out on the ice.”

The key to maintaining the success is linked to bringing in the right players. Olver said he has about seven or eight players from Europe that have the potential to make an impact this season.

“They could be our X-factor players,” Olver said. “They have the skills to be very good players. It’s just a matter of doing it in this league. Our goal is to bring in players who have the talent to play at this level and the work ethic to succeed here. If players work hard, good things will happen.”

Brian Lester