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Twine tending twists - Junior Hockey News

Published: Monday, 18 Jun 2012
By: Randy Russon

It's never easy being a goalie. In fact, it's no easier making a team to begin with, especially at the junior level where there are so many goalies of similar age trying out for so few available spots.
Anthony Stolarz is an example of a goalie who tried out for multiple teams in the United States Hockey League and Eastern Jr. Hockey League before finally latching on with the Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League just prior to the start of the 2011-12 season.
Not only did the 6-foot-5 Stolarz make Corpus Christi but he became its starter, attracted the attention of pro scouts and is rated fourth overall among all North American-born goalies heading into this weekend's National Hockey League draft.
The problem with most goalies going to junior tryout camps is that unless they have already been drafted or tendered by the team in question, coaches are often unwilling to take a chance and make a commitment.
Take the weekend open camp of the USHL's Des Moines Buccaneers for instance.
I talked to a Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association coach who scouted the Des Moines camp and he told me that in his opinion, Chris Truehl was "easily one of the top two goalies in attendance."
But Truehl, a 1993 birth year and virtual unknown who played in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League with the Soo Eagles last season, did not make it to the final day of the Des Moines camp despite, in the words of the D1 coach, that "he looked really good and outplayed both Nick Ellis and Trevor Gorsuch."
Ellis, though, got a pass from the Des Moines coaching staff because the Buccaneers took him in the second round of last month's USHL entry draft. And Gorsuch, who was a backup with the Michigan Warriors this past season, most likely earned a longer look than Truehl because he played in the NAHL in 2011-12 and not the NOJHL, which does not have as high a profile among D1 coaches and scouts.
The 6-foot-3 Truehl might take solace from the fact that Gorsuch didn't make Des Moines either while keeping in mind that a goalie doesn't have to play in the over-rated USHL to get a D1 scholarship.
Stolarz, to be sure, can serve as an example to a kid like Truehl who hopes to play somewhere in the NAHL this coming season after putting up good numbers with the Eagles in the NOJHL during the 2011-12 campaign.
In fact, Truehl might have even improved on his tidy 14-3-1 record, .907 save percentage and 3.31 goals against average with the Eagles if he hadn't started so many games against the powerhouse Soo Thunderbirds, who went on to win the NOJHL and Central Canada titles before losing to the stacked Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Jr. Hockey League and their four NHL draft picks in the Royal Bank Cup national championship game.
Still, Truehl is hardly a lock to earn a goaltending position with the Eagles, who have left the NOJHL and will play in the NAHL this coming season.
That's because not only did the Eagles inherit goalies Kyle Laslo and Zach Nagelvoort after buying the erstwhile Traverse City North Stars franchise but they have tendered Tyler Marble, who has a D1 commitment from the Lake Superior State Lakers. The Eagles also want to take an upcoming tryout camp look at rookie Nate Gay, a highly-touted, 6-foot-5 puckstopper out of Ohio.
Ah, the life of a goalie trying to move up and play at a higher level.
However, it should be noted that while it's custom for most junior hockey teams to carry two goalies, there were NAHL teams that went through five and six twine tenders during the 2011-12 season before settling on two.
To be sure, Michigan Warriors, Janesville Jets and Springfield Jr. Blues all rostered six goalies during the 2011-12 campaign while the Kalamazoo Jr. Wings used five.


posted Jun. 18th, 2012 - 12:18pm
Randy Russon says:
The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League wrapped up its summer general meeting on Saturday with the league moving forward with a number of changes for the upcoming 2012-2013 season.

One of the hot topics was the status of the Sudbury Cubs franchise. On Saturday the league approved the sale of the franchise to Sudbury businessman Mike Mooney who purchased the club from Bill Scott recently.

Mooney, who played in the NOJHL in the mid-80's with the Rayside-Balfour Canadiens, will re-name the club the Sudbury Nickel Barons and has hired Oscar Clouthier as the club’s general manager.

"Michael Mooney has purchased the Sudbury franchise from Bill Scott and he will be operating in Sudbury out of the McClelland arena in Copper Cliff,” said NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca.

“It's been a long process as its gone on for a few months and it’s over. As for Bill Scott we thank him for his contribution to junior hockey in Sudbury and we wish Mike Mooney and Oscar Clouthier all the best of luck in the future."

The league also is moving forward with a balanced 48-game schedule for the upcoming season. The league will now play in a single conference and the playoff format includes the first place team getting a first round playoff bye.

The shootout has been taken out as a tiebreaker and will be replaced by a one 4 on 4 5 minute period and another 5 minute period of 3 on 3. If a winner is not determined, the game will finish as a tie.

"You talk to the people in Blind River and Sault Ste. Marie and you were seeing each team, including the Soo Eagles at the time play each other 12 to 14 times so it's really not what the fans want to see and what the players want and I think this is a more balanced approach,” said Mazzuca.

“It's more costly for our teams due to the travel but we figured it was more balanced for the league and for the fans."

The league is also looking at some other innovative changes that they hope will be approved by the NOHA.

"We are trying to be innovative, we are trying to make it more exciting for the fans and its more entertaining for the fans,” said Mazzuca about some of the new ideas on the table.

“We are looking at ways to improve the game on the ice, we are looking at ways to improve the game off the ice with the anti-doping and the concussion programs last season and we are now trying to put a schedule together to get all the league trainers certified for first responders sports medicine course; the same level of training that OHL and CHL teams have."

The NOJHL also has approved a leave of absence for the Soo Eagles franchise which moved over to the NAHL in the off-season.

Commissioner Mazzuca is hoping that franchise will be re-located to another community in Northern Michigan for the start of play in the fall of 2013.

posted Jun. 18th, 2012 - 12:28pm
Tony Prito says:
There must be alot to what Randy writes about the Truhel kid. I keep hearing all good things about this Chris Truhel kid including from Damon Whitten up at Michigan Tech.

posted Jun. 18th, 2012 - 12:55pm
Tony Prito says:
So Gorsuch will probly be back with the Warriors then if he didnt make Des Moines.

posted Jun. 18th, 2012 - 1:18pm
Jack Dodd says:
theres always politics in Hockey and Bulls-it and it sounds to me as though Des Moines is just another shameless example of this.
Randy: if you are saying or suggesting that Chris Truhel is better or just as good as Trevor Gorsuch then he should be able to find a spot in the NA as I would say Gorsuch is pretty dam good. You are right about the Northern League as opposed to the NA as many D-1 recruiters cant be bothered to go up to Northern Canada. Anyways this is a good story about how tough it can be for some Goalies to get noticed . As you say take Stolarz as a example and run with it!

posted Jun. 18th, 2012 - 1:28pm
Randy Russon says:

I have only seen Trevor Gorsuch play via fasthockey.com so I can't really compare Chris Truehl to him. But I have seen Truehl play enough times to say with confidence that he can be a quality starter in the North American Hockey League.

(Also, I will take the word of the Division 1 coach who told me how well Truehl played at the Des Moines camp.)

Even without that, I would be strong in my statement that Truehl has the makeup and ability to be a high-end starter in the NAHL, if not with the Soo Eagles, then hopefully with some other North Division team, i.e. Port Huron or Michigan.



P.S. Northern Ontario is not Northern Canada. Northern Canada is way, way, way up there. Northern Ontario, in my case Sault Ste. Marie, is a mere four-hour drive from Flint, Michigan.

posted Jun. 18th, 2012 - 2:13pm
Hurd Applegate says:
Being that I am an NOJHL "watcher" I seen young Chris Truehl play a half dozen or so times this recent season & every game was against a Soo Thunderbirds team that would have finished 1st or 2nd in most Canadian Junior A Leagues.....tall, agile, plays position very well, needs to control re-bounds a bit better but.....no question at that Truehl can play and can play at a higher level. !!

posted Jun. 18th, 2012 - 4:37pm
Randy Russon says:
From the NAHL.com website:

Warriors forward Ferriss makes NCAA DI commitment to UCONN

June 18, 2012

Michigan Warriors, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), have announced that forward Joe Ferriss has made a NCAA Division I commitment to play college hockey for the University of Connecticut of the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA).

Ferriss, 19, who is a native of Novi, Michigan, was the second leading scorer on the Warriors roster in 2011-12, which was his first in the NAHL. Ferris (6’1/180) appeared in 59 regular season games and scored 41 points (14 goals, 27 assists). He also had two points in four playoff games.

“My goal has always been to play college hockey and get an education, so I am thrilled to make this commitment to the University of Connecticut,” said Ferriss.

Ferriss started his NAHL career on a hot note, scoring five points in his first three games at the NAHL Showcase. Ferriss said he learned a lot in his first year thanks in large part to Michigan head coach Moe Mantha.

“You definitely learn that you have to play at both ends of the ice and that you have to be responsible every second of every shift,” said Ferriss. “Moe also taught us that we have to make practices count and to take care of ourselves off the ice and do the little things to improve as a player and as a person.”

Ferriss was also selected to participate in the 2012 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament back in February in Troy, Michigan as a part of the North Division team. He had a very successful event, scoring three points in three games and was also a +3.

“Being invited to Top Prospects was huge for me personally,” said Ferriss. “It was a great experience from start to finish and was cool playing with guys that normally are your opponents. There was a lot of talent on display in front of a lot of scounts, so it made you want to really play well and not leave anything out there. I played well and I think that had something to do with the opportunity to play at the NCAA Division I level.”

“We at the Michigan Warriors are very excited and happy for Joe,” said Warriors head coach Moe Mantha. “He came in as a first year player and really made an impact from the start of the season, showing he was ready to play at this level. As the season went along, he really improved his play without the puck, which ultimately was one of the reasons he is realizing his dream of playing college hockey.”

The UCONN Huskies, who compete in the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA), are under the direction of head coach Bruce Marshall, who is in his 24th season. UCONN went 16-19-4 in 2011-12 before being knocked out of the AHA quarterfinals by Air Force.

posted Jun. 18th, 2012 - 4:51pm
Tony Prito says:
This is good for Joey Ferris a big strong kid who play's with a lot of heart.

posted Jun. 19th, 2012 - 12:35am
Jon Hart says:
Taken from www.goicerays.com

"CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – The list for IceRays goaltender Anthony Stolarz keeps getting bigger each week. He can now add a new accomplishment to that list after being the only current NAHL player to be invited to the 2012 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp.

The evaluation camp will take place in August in Lake Placid, N.Y. The players that are attending will be showcasing their skills for a chance to be on the U.S. National Junior Team that will take part in the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Dec. 26, 2012-Jan. 5, 2013, in Ufa, Russia.

Stolarz attended the NHL Combine in Toronto and ranked high in several categories. He will also travel to Pittsburgh, PA this upcoming weekend to take part in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Several activities will take place inside Lake Placid's Olympic Center from Aug. 4-11, includes practices, intrasquad scrimmages and international games against both Sweden and Finland.

This past season for the IceRays, Stolarz posted a .920 save percentage and a goals against average of 2.84. He also was named by the NAHL to the 2012 U18 Selects team that played in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament.

The Lake Placid Olympic Center was home to the 1980 Olympic Winter Games where the United States of America captured the Gold Medal."

Anthony Stolarz summer just keeps getting better. Just the thought of possibly getting to watch him play on TV over the Christmas holiday is surreal, and hopefully even one day in the NHL.

Keep up the good work Randy we appreciate the attention you are giving Anthony, especially down here in Corpus Christi.

posted Jun. 19th, 2012 - 6:44am
Randy Russon says:
Good post, Jon. Thanks.



posted Jun. 20th, 2012 - 4:45pm
Randy Russon says:

JUNE 20th, 2012

The North Bay Jr. Trappers bolstered their junior hockey organization today with the appointment of Tim Clayden, acting in a dual role as the team Director of Operations and as the Club Chairman of the Board, overseeing the organization both on and off the ice, including player acquisitions, OHL Affiliation Agreements, NOJHL league matters, City Contract negotiations and the position will also be responsible for improving the Trappers relationships with North Bay’s minor hockey association’s and the University Men’s ice
hockey team.

The former OJHL 1st Vice Chairman & OJHL Executive Member for the past 7 years has decades of Junior ‘A’ Hockey experience that include working with the North Bay Skyhawks for the first 3 years of their existence as a silent Founding Member while helping the club capture 3 consecutive NOJHL championships.

“It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that you can continue to work in the great game of junior hockey and get home for dinner every night,” stated Clayden. “It is also very exciting to once again be a part of the NOJHL and North Bay junior hockey family. It’s a great game with so many great people associated with it. The Trappers have assembled a fantastic team off the ice in President Chris Dawson, VP Dean Pauli, CFO Billy Hummel and Assistant GM Randy Blake, all faces that have been good friends of mine for many years already and there’s not a better Head Coach in the game today or one that puts his players and their dreams first and ahead of all others than Head Coach Tom McCarthy. We have lot’s of work to do and I look forward to getting started with so many good people already on board”

“Timing is everything and the timing is very exciting as the NOJHL has quality leadership with Commissioner Mazzuca and Mr. Sequin at the helm. The NOJHL has never been positioned better. I very much look forward to working with Commissioner Robert Mazzuca and each league partner with a “league first mindset’ and in doing our part to provide what we hope is truly only a positive junior hockey experience of a lifetime, one that we trust our players will always cherish, and our fans enjoy.” added the Trappers newly appointed Chairman of the Board / Director of Operations.

President/GM Chris Dawson believes Clayden will also bring more stability to the franchise. “He is a longtime friend and mentor of mine and it’s truly an Honor to finally work hand in hand with Tim,” said Dawson, who will remain as President/GM of the hockey club.

“Tim helped (VP) Dean Pauli and I when we re-established the Trappers junior hockey program 2 years ago and his experience will truly be an asset when it comes to player recruitment and his off ice knowledge in the world of junior hockey make Tim an immediate asset to our team.”

Trappers Vice President Dean Pauli is very familiar with Clayden as the two worked together with the North Bay Skyhawks, Port Hope Predators and Trenton Golden Hawks of the OJHL. “I have worked together with Tim over the course of ten seasons of junior hockey and I am excited that he has finally come home to rejoin the Trappers,” said Pauli. “Tim is very knowledgeable, respected and connected within the (CJHL) Canadian Junior Hockey League. He brings passion and dedication to the Trappers and wants to win, which no doubt will carry over to the staff and our players alike, we are all very excited to get re-started."

Junior Trappers head coach Tom McCarthy was recommended to the Trappers by Clayden as the two are good hockey friends that had also worked together 2 years ago with the OJHL Trenton Golden Hawks.

"We 'The Trappers Family' are very fortunate to have Tim’s experience and hockey knowledge returning to North Bay,” said McCarthy. “Tim wears his passion for junior hockey and his hockey team up front and second to none and at a professional level, putting the interest of his team and our good character kids and their dreams first. The key to working with Tim is that he gives each player a commitment to work just as hard off the ice as our players do on, in helping our kids get to the next level. I look forward to working with Tim again as our relations are old reaching as we aspire to mutual goals, with the best interest of our players first. What a pleasure for a Head Coach it is to know that another in our organization is working for his team just as hard as his player’s do each day'. I'm very excited and grateful to share the same approach to the game with another true hockey man, there is no doubt the Trappers fans have some very exciting seasons ahead!”

posted Jun. 20th, 2012 - 4:51pm
Randy Russon says:
June 19, 2012 Contact: Alex Kyrias
Director of Communications & Marketing

2011-12 another banner season for NAHL college commitments
Over 170 current and former NAHL players committed during this past season

FRISCO, TEXAS –The 2011-12 season has been a banner year for college commitments for players in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). Traditionally, the NAHL’s NCAA college commitment list exceeds the century mark every year, and this past season was no exception.

Since August 1, 2011, a total number of 171 players that played in the NAHL this past season or were an alumni of the NAHL from last season, committed to an NCAA school in 2011-12.

Of the current 171 total players committed, 117 committed to NCAA Division I schools, while 54 players committed to NCAA Division III schools. A total of 146 players who played in the NAHL at some point during the 2011-12 season committed to NCAA schools, while 25 players, who were NAHL alumni, committed while playing in other junior leagues. The final number from the 2011-12 season will be even higher as commitments are certain to escalate in the coming weeks as schools continue to lock in on more top talent the NAHL has to offer.

“What may be the most gratifying from a league standpoint is that the number of commitments continues to increase each season and most importantly, the majority of players are making those commitments while playing in the NAHL,” said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “It is a testament to the hard work of our student-athletes, the level of play we are currently at as a league and the ownership groups and coaching staffs, who have provided the players with the opportunity for success.”

Of the 28 teams that competed in the NAHL during the 2011-12 season, the Amarillo Bulls boasted the most commitments to date with 13, 10 of which were Division I commitments. The Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Wenatchee Wild had the second highest totals with 11 players respectively headed to NCAA schools.

Amarillo Bulls head coach Dennis Williams said that having 13 players commit to NCAA schools this past season is something that the organization places a high priority on. “Our goal as coaches should be to move these players onto the next level and we as an organization take great pride in having over half our team commit to NCAA schools this past season,” said Williams. “I think the NAHL has a great tradition of providing an outlet and a platform for that opportunity and paving the way for our student-athletes.”

Williams, who coached at NCAA Division I Bowling Green State University prior to his arrival in the NAHL in 2010, said that one of the main priorities for NAHL players moving onto the next level is that they arrive to their respective college programs ready to make a difference. “NCAA teams are looking for a student-athlete who is mature, can handle the rigors of both school and hockey and who can come in right away and make an impact on their team,” said Williams. “I think one of the benefits of the NAHL is that that the players who move onto college hockey fit that description, are more prepared and have more experience.”

Michigan Warriors head coach Moe Mantha, who has previous coaching experience in the OHL, ECHL, AHL and USNDTP, said that getting an opportunity at the next level takes hard work on everyone’s part. “A lot goes into developing a player so he is ready to take that next step. There is a lot more to hockey than just being a goal scorer… teams are looking for guys who have an all-around game, who work hard, who have good hockey sense and positioning, and who have good character. We as coaches are trying to teach them all those things, typically within just a 1-2 year timeframe.”

One of the continued reasons for the rise in commitments, besides the skill and ability of the players in the NAHL, is exposure events like the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. With each passing season the event seems to become bigger, better and generate serious interest from scouts. Along with the NAHL Showcase, it has become one of those ‘can’t miss’ events that players are seeing the direct benefits of.

A perfect example of one of those players was Gabe Levin, who spent the past two seasons playing in the NAHL for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Following his participation in the Top Prospects Tournament, Levin, who finished second in league scoring with 90 points in 2011-12, made his commitment to the University of Denver in the WCHA. “Top Prospects was a great experience and a thrill to know that you are playing in front of so many scouts. You are not only playing to get yourself noticed, but your teammates as well, so there is a lot on the line,” said Levin. “It was a great opportunity for me and the rest of the guys there. I think it just added to the overall experience of playing in the league and getting me ready for the next step in my hockey career.”

About the NAHL
The NAHL, the only USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II Junior league boasting 24 teams from across North America, prides itself on the social maturity and skill development of student-athletes ages 16-20 with aspirations of advancing to collegiate and/or professional hockey. To date in 2011-12, over 160 NAHL players have committed to NCAA schools. Famous alumni of the NAHL include: Stanley Cup Champion and Conn Smythe/Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller and Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. For more information, visit www.nahl.com.

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