Western States Hockey League

Cheyenne Stampede: Western States League team stays busy preparing for Oct. 18 opener

Cheyenne Stampede: Western States League team stays busy preparing for Oct. 18 opener

Gary Gill believes the foundation for success has been laid for the Cheyenne Stampede.

Well into training camp at this point, and less than a month away from the season, the Stampede are moving forward in their quest to position themselves to be one of the better teams in the Western States Hockey League this season.

“We have put the foundation down, and now we are working on building the house,” said Gill, who is in his first season as the head coach of Cheyenne. “The guys are making progress and doing what they need to in order to be ready for the season. We’re happy with the direction we are going in.”

Cheyenne won’t begin playing until Oct. 18 when it opens the season against the Colorado Jr. Eagles. However, in September, the Stampede did play a pair of exhibition games against Colorado State University.

Gill said several players stood out in those games, including returning players Heath Lantz and Russell Ambruster. He said the games provided his team with a chance to test itself against solid competition.

Both games were close as the Stampede lost 2-1 both times. The second game went into overtime.

“It was a good opportunity to see how we handle game situations as a team,” Gill said. “I thought we had a no-quit attitude in both games. You can practice all you want, but until you get into game situations, you don’t know how guys are going to respond. We did a good job and not only did we see some positives, but we also got an idea of what we need to work on as a team.”

The fact that Cheyenne does not start its season until mid-October is not a concern for Gill. In fact, he is happy his team has extra time to get ready for the year ahead.

“We have more time to get everything set and figure out what is going to work for us and what isn’t going to work,” Gill said. “Everyone is working hard and I’m excited about the potential of this team.”

Having two extra weeks to get ready certainly can’t hurt the Stampede, which is hoping to contend for a league title and playoff berth this season.

“Our guys are very focused because they know what is at stake this season,” Gill said. “We aren’t going to take any team lightly because this is a tough league and you have to show up to play to be successful.”

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.”


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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


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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


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