The Western States Hockey League's Western States Shootout has just wrapped up day three of a very successful event. There is still have a full slate of games set for today and a few more on Tuesday, but overall, we can go out on a limb and declare the event a rousing success.
WSHL Commissioner Ron White and his staff have done a fantastic job organizing and managing the event. Although the Las Vegas Ice Center is twenty minutes away from the official host hotel, the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino, the accommodations and staff at the hotel have been spectacular.
Trying to manage the logistics of a single hockey team can be a hefty task, but doing it for sixteen teams, and the 60 or more college coaches or scouts, is amazing. White has built such a strong relationship with the hotel property, bus operators, and arena, that it makes the job much easier. There is a reason why Las Vegas is such a huge attraction for conventions and meetings, the community gets it when it comes to hospitality and groups.
Now about the hockey, I spent the afternoon talking with a number college coaches about the event, and the level of play. The majority has been surprised by the parity of the teams and number of sure bet prospects.
Milwaukee School of Engineering coach Mark Ostapina is once again impressed with the event. "We have five players on the roster from teams at this event and have been coming here for six or seven years," Ostapina said. "We are looking for high caliber students that also happen to be fantastic hockey players, and have been fortunate to be able to find a number of them here."
Ostapina knows a thing or two about the developmental process.He played college hockey under legendary coach Bob Johnson.
In his 11th season as the MSOE head coach, Ostapina has led the Raiders to three Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association (MCHA) Championships and two Harris Cup trophies. Ostapina has also won the MCHA Coach of the Year award and was a semifinalist for the Edward Jeremiah American Hockey Coaches Association Coach of the Year four times in his career including the 2010-11 season in which the Raiders went 21-6-1 overall and 16-3-1 in MCHA play.
Outside of collegiate athletics, Ostapina is a twelve-time selection to serve on the USA Hockey Select team's coaching staff. During the summer of 2009, Ostapina's Select 17 team won the program wide championship and he was selected to the first ever Select Camp All-Star game, leading his team to a 3-2 victory. He also lectures throughout the country as part of the USA Hockey Coaches Education program.
Ostapina is also not concerned about the WSHL's decision to move their affiliation to AAU. "I am a USA Hockey guy, but I understand that the WSHL did what they felt was in the best interest of their league. There are still eighteen hockey teams and a number of prospects here that we are seriously interested in," Ostapina added.
Park City's wannabe enforcer, James Talmage, who hadn't played since October 30th due to extreme lack of self-control and intelligence that resulted in a lengthy suspension, will now miss the rest of the season after displaying another dose of the same behavior. Talmage, a self-proclaimed future professional toughguy, needs to grasp the simple fundamental aspects of the game before going any further in his career. One coach said it best. "Talmage brings nothing to the table when it comes to actually playing hockey, all he wants to do is fight because some low level minor pro coach told him that is all he should do in order to have a chance to make the pro team."
Telmage instead needs to hang up the skates. If he goes to any minor pro league trying to pull the crap he did on Friday, one of those big boys will simply knock the few remaining marbles out of few head. I have seen more than my fair share of stupid hockey players in my lifetime but have to believe that young Talmage just moved himself to the top of the list. when it actually comes down to the fighting, lets just say that Telmage has a big mouth with a soft head.
What do you think?