Today we are going to touch on a few subjects to start off the week. After a remarkable 9-1 record in the first round of the North American Hockey League play-offs, I might have been a bit overconfident in regards to the division finals. We will get to that today. We also got a very strong reaction from parents of many Bismarck Bobcats players in regards to the team charging $400 per player for their fitness program. In addition I am going to take a look at the crystal ball and try to make sense of the likely new divisional alignment for next year. Now only if Ken Dennis and New Mexico would pick a hole.
Bismarck (1) vs. Austin (3)
The series will move to Austin this weekend tied at a game each. Bismarck coach Layne Sedevie continues to favor the local boys in the opening weekend of the series. Sell those tickets Mr.Brigl.
My Pick- I like the Bruins in this series and Chris Tok got the coveted road win. Look for the Bruins to sweep in Austin.
St. Louis (1) vs. Springfield (3)
After getting hammered 8-1 on Friday, the Blues bounced back with a 1-0 road win on Saturday. Like I said last week, this series is not going to be easy for the Bandits.
My Pick- I picked Brown's Bandits, but it may just take all five games.
Port Huron (1) vs. Kalamazoo (2)
Bill Warren and his Falcons took both games in Port Huron over the weekend and needs only one win at the K-Zoo to advance to the Robertson Cup. I see that happening on Friday.
My Pick- The Fighting Falcons are well on their way to Texas.
Amarillo (1) vs. Topeka (2)
Topeka was up 5-1 after Jake Lynes lit the lamp early in the 2nd period of Friday night's opener in Amarillo. The Bulls have since trampled Topeka 10-1 (8-6 Friday, 3-0 Saturday) to take a commanding 2-0 series lead to Topeka.
My Pick- I picked the RoadRunners to advance and things are not looking good.
Fairbanks (1) vs. Wenatchee (2)
Trevor Stewart must be cracking up. His Ice Dogs travel to Washington this week with a 2-0 series lead after my rant on Monday.
My Pick- Fairbanks is feeling good and Wenatchee needs to sweep the Ice Dogs at home in order to advance, something they have not been able to do since 2009.
My picks are a combined 5-5 after the opening weekend. Yikes. The higher seeds are 8-2.
Last Wednesday we outed the Bismarck Bobcats and Aberdeen Wings for charging players for the teams' fitness training program. The reaction from the hockey community has been overwhelmingly in favor of seeing Bobcats' owner Thom Brigl's head on platter. Instead, I'd settle for a simple refund for every player over the last five years. We are talking about a number in excess of $50,000.
We got this note from one of the Bobcats player's parents.
I am so glad to read this. I have had to pay Thom Brigl two of these gym fees in the last two seasons.
I thought that the training program was part of the deal for playing in the NAHL. Instead it was charged after the players were already in Bismarck and settled in. Since my son has played for this team I have had to purchase his helmet, which replaced the used broken one given him by the team, a supply of sticks which the owner stated the team no longer supplied, and shoulder pads which the team stated they were out of.
What really upset me the most is when my wife and I traveled to Bismarck and the owner introduced himself to us at a game. As we talked he told me how it was a privilege for the kids to play for his team and how they were there to pack the house and make him money. These are quotes straight out of his mouth, which shocked us.
When asked about colleges, this owner told us it was up to the kids to write to these colleges and get the colleges to come out to these games to watch them. I asked what was the benefit for the kids and this owner stated the exposure we give.
During the season there were many things I objected to. Another incident was players giving out flyers and such promoting the games with their own vehicles and gas money.
I started sending email to the owner about these things and my son has been benched, and appears to be punished, throughout the playoffs.
I have received calls from the coach of the college he will be attending asking why his current coach isn't responding to his phone calls about other players on the team.
I personally can't wait till this season is over and my son gets home. I will never recommend any player from my area to play or even consider this team. It is apparent that the owner is in it for money only. You can hear the owner telling Paul (Teeple) at the intermission of fast hockey games to push tickets for the home games and to tell the fans kids need their support and laugh as he goes away saying fill those stands, it rather amusing.
We the parents have also been told by the owner not to worry about kids going to college and asking kids about colleges, that we are making the kids uptight and they aren't concentrating on winning. This is ridiculous. I sent my kid out there in order to get him exposed to colleges and scouts. The team made promises but the minute we question something our kids are benched. It makes me wonder what else is going on.
If you can help and make things better it would be greatly appreciated. Please knock this dictator off his throne and make it about the kids again.
A concerned parent
Thom Brigl knows better. As a longtime member of the NAHL's Executive Council, Brigl was involved with the establishing of the Tier II criteria. The NAHL will have to make an example out of Brigl, Mark Hammersmith, and the Aberdeen Wings or face a very angry Junior Council in June.
Personally, I hope that the NAHL does nothing because I want to see all hell break loose in Colorado Springs. That is going to be one fireworks show that is not to be missed.
I think that Brigl should break off from the NAHL and form a new league with Hammersmith, Barry Soskin, Jim Cashman, Jimi Simmons, with the Jackass of Jamestown (Michael Ferguson) as the commissioner.
The last time I did this there was a nasty phone call from New Mexico's Ken Dennis telling me to stay out of his bleeping business. That man is dead-set against purchasing airline tickets to Alaska, not to mention the idea of busing his team to California and Wenatchee. In reality, I expect his Mustangs to be quickly relocated away from that possibility.
For this realignment, let's assume that Dennis is going to keep his powerhouse in New Mexico. We are also going to not list St. Louis or Chicago.
We are also going to reduce the number of divisions to three to actually create a somewhat balanced schedule.
West Division (Schedule- 3 HM & HM within Div, 4 at showcase, 8 at-large)
Aberdeen Wings, Austin Bruins, Bismarck Bobcats, Brookings Blizzard, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Fresno Monsters, Kenai River Brown Bears, Minot Minotauros, and Wenatchee Wild
East Division (Schedule- 3 HM & HM within Div, 4 at showcase, 8 at-large)
Coulee Region Chill, Jamestown Ironmen, Janesville Jets, Johnstown (Alaska Avalanche), Kalamazoo K-Wings,, Michigan Warriors, Port Huron Fighting Falcons, Soo Eagles, and Springfield Blues
South Division (Schedule- 4 HM & HM within Div, 4 at showcase, 8 at-large)
Amarillo Bulls, Corpus Christi IceRays, New Mexico Mustangs, Odessa Jackalopes, Texas Tornado, Topeka RoadRunners, and Wichita Falls Wildcats
Top two teams get 1st round byes. 1st Round and Semi- Finals are best of three and played at the higher seed. Division Final is best of five with higher seed getting games 1,2, & 5 at home.
Robertson Cup host gets automatic bid and next three are division winners. If host is division winner, other division finalist gets the host division's slot. Format is three games each with top two teams playing for the Cup on day four.
This alignment, schedule format, and Robertson Cup plan makes a lot of sense. So that is exactly why I expect it to be ignored... again. New Mexico is a mess and could end up anywhere. With that in mind, you can still see that a balanced schedule would work well with fewer divisions.
What do you think?