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Hot, hazy, humid, hockey - Junior Hockey News

Published: Thursday, 5 Jul 2012
By: Randy Russon

I can handle the heat, even when today's humidex reading is expected to hit 41 degrees C., which equates to 105.8 degrees F. What makes the hot, hazy, humid conditions easier to take is knowing that's it's only about two months to the start of junior hockey season. 
Michigan Warriors are on the look for a new associate coach following the departure of John Hamre to the Coulee Region Chill to be its coach and general manager.
Warriors coach-GM Moe Mantha will no doubt receive a flood of phone calls and e-mails from interested applicants. And I would expect that Mantha will have some sort of communication with former Port Huron Fighting Falcons coach-GM Bill Warren.
Warren was named the North American Hockey League's coach-of-the-year after leading Port Huron from last place in 2010-11 to the North Division title and a berth at the Robertson Cup national tournament in 2011-12 only to depart the Fighting Falcons over issues between him and owner Maribeth Hayes.
I sent Warren an e-mail this morning and asked him if he had talked to Mantha about the possibility of joining the Warriors staff. Warren said he hadn't as of yet but in reading between the lines, I am thinking that there will at least be discussions.
Warren works full-time for the City of Port Huron and managed to combine that with his dual duties with the Fighting Falcons over a season-and-a-half.
The commute from Port Huron to Flint for Warriors practices and home games might not be that much of an issue for Warren as the two Michigan towns are separated by a little over 60 miles of interstate highways. 
At any rate, Mantha and the Warriors have an opening on their coaching staff and Warren is available.
As they say in the radio business: Stay tuned.
It was only last week that Michelle Bryant and her husband Kevin Bryant completed the purchase of the Coulee Region Chill from previous majority owner Mark Motz.
But I am thinking that the Bryants had to be rather sure the sale would go through more than a month ago.
That's because I was told more than a month ago by a very good source that Coulee Region was on the verge of changing ownership and if/when it did, John Hamre would be leaving his position as associate coach of the Michigan Warriors to become coach and GM of the Chill.
Which is exactly how it played out.
Soo Eagles are working on playing host to a pre-season exhibition series that would include at least one other team from the NAHL plus the Elliot Lake Bobcats and/or Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
To be sure, I know that Elliot Lake coach-general manager Ryan Leonard has contacted Eagles hockey boss Bruno Bragagnolo about wanting to face off in a game or two.
From an NAHL standpoint, I'd like to see coach Eric Ballard bring his Fresno Monsters this way.
To be sure, it would be a long haul. But how often does a team from northern Michigan get to play host to one from California? And how often does a California team get to play hockey 50 miles north of the Mackinac Bridge?
Besides, Ballard is a northern guy, from up in Minnesota near the Canadian border, and he just might be persuaded (with a little $$$ as incentive) to bring his Fresno squad to the Soo.
Come on Eric, give Bruno a call. You and the Monsters will love the Pullar Stadium experience. 
And you and I can go out for that beer we've talked about via -email. As long as you are buying, of course.


posted Jul. 5th, 2012 - 9:53am
Hurd Applegate says:
Yes but Randy...would Bruno & the Soo Eagles risk losing a game to Elliott Lake or the Thunderbirds? Imagine the egg on the face of John Bosboos and Jerry Fraser if the Eagles lost to an NOJHL team? The Eagles wont dare take a chance IMHO.

posted Jul. 5th, 2012 - 11:28am
Tony Prito says:
Bill Warren would be the perfect choice for the Warriors and just imagine the rivalrey with Port Huron!

I wonder if the Coulee Region Owner is as hot as the Port Huron Owner??? (Hey just curios thats all!)

posted Jul. 5th, 2012 - 11:35am
John Trenchard says:
By Paul Costanzo
| Times Herald

Steve Shannon said the Port Huron Fighting Falcons were looking for the best overall players this past weekend at their open camp in Mount Clemens.

The Falcons were able to find 10 skaters and two goaltenders who earned invites to their main camp, which is Aug. 3-5.
“I thought it went well,” said Shannon, the team’s coach and general manager. “I think we’ve got some possibilities of some kids making the team coming out of the (main) camp. When we narrow it down to the number of kids, it’s tough to decide; you’re splitting hairs at the end.
“We had close to 75 kids out there, and some kids it was really obvious due to their age and where they were at in their development, that they definitely were not going to make it. But when you get down to that last number, 10 and two goals, there were some hard decisions to make.”
Shannon said two players who stood out were defenseman Brett Berger and forward Matthew Uvodich.
Berger is a 5-foot-11, 159-pound Trenton native who played this past season with the Chatham Maroons of the Greater Ontario Hockey League. Uvodich is a 5-11, 185-pound Overland Park, Kan., native who had 19 goals and 17 assists a year ago playing for Falcons assistant Michael Gershon and the New Mexico Renegades. Both are 1992 birth years.
Shannon said none of the team’s draftees were at the camp, as they already have been invited to the main camp. There are 46 players, including the 30 the Falcons have protected, who are invited to the main camp, and there will be more.
“At this point, we’re not looking to fill specific roles,” Shannon said. “We’re looking for the best possible player available at this point. We’re looking at kids that can go onto college. They have to have the GPA, good ACT and SAT scores, and the ability to pass the clearinghouse if they haven’t already done it.
“The way I see it, the hockey level and the ability to do that go hand in hand.... Our real role here is to get kids into college.”

posted Jul. 5th, 2012 - 1:15pm
Pete Brownrigg says:
So Hamre was the choice all along dating back to 1 month ago!?!?! This would seem to indacate that the new Coulee Owners might have been stringing Jake Flemming along then. Maybe yes maybe no either way its nice to get the strait goods on this hire.
Thank You again Randy . You obviousley do your Homework!

posted Jul. 5th, 2012 - 1:24pm
Randy Russon says:

I am not suggesting that the Bryants strung Jake Fleming -- or anyone else -- along. I merely stated that I was told by a source more than a month again that when/if the sale of the Coulee Region Chill went through, John Hamre would be hired as coach-general manager. And that's what happened.



posted Jul. 5th, 2012 - 1:56pm
Randy Russon says:
More on new Coulee Region coach-GM John Hamre from the La Crosse Tribune:

By JOEL BADZINSKI | jbadzinski@lacrossetribune.com

Coulee Region Chill showed all the signs of a franchise in trouble this spring.

Ownership looking to sell, an interim coach working to keep things afloat, lots and lots of questions.

Sports fans in the La Crosse area watched this happen before — especially to teams of the indoor football variety — and recognized the bad omens.

That all changed in a hurry.

Local owners Michelle and Kevin Bryant bought the NAHL team from Mark Motz and his partners last week. The Chill introduced head coach and general manager John Hamre and assistant coach A.J. Degenhardt on Tuesday at the OmniCenter.

The city of Onalaska and the Bryants also signed a new lease, which will cover the final three years of the original five-year lease, OmniCenter manager Kelly Hanson said.

Hamre is the Chill’s third coach in as many seasons since the franchise moved from Mason City, Iowa, in 2010. He replaces interim coach Jake Fleming, who took over after Garrett Strot was fired on March 5. Fleming resigned in mid-June.

The Chill, who were one win away from the Robertson Cup tournament in the 2011 postseason, finished 18-35-7 this past season and were swept by St. Louis in the playoffs.

Michelle Bryant said she and her husband, who are operating the team under Coulee Region Hockey LLC, will be hands-off when it comes to the hockey side.

“The coaches will pretty much run the show,” Bryant said. “That’s their area of expertise.”

In Hamre, the Bryants appear to have gotten the right man for the job.

The 43-year-old Roseville, Minn., native has coached at the high school, junior and college levels and came highly recommended by Michigan Warriors coach and former NHL defenseman Moe Mantha.

Best of all for the Chill, Hamre did not seem one bit fazed by the fact that he’s coming in cold with 15 days until the team’s final tryout camp.

The Chill’s final roster of 2011-12 had 18 players eligible to return, led by forwards Tommy Miller, James Hughes, Mac Jansen, Ross Luedtke, defenseman Ryan Jaremko and goaltender Aaron Davis.

Fleming conducted the team’s draft in May and took eight players, including first-round pick Devin Kero, a goaltender from Michigan. The Chill signed 12 players, including Onalaska’s Jesse Tredinnick, to tender contracts.

“You have to learn as much as you can in a short period of time and go in with a very open mind,” Hamre said. “I have no preconceived notion about a player and what he can or cannot do, what he can or cannot contribute or about the talent level coming in.”

Hamre worked with Mantha as an assistant coach with the Warriors last season.

Before that, Hamre coached the Twin Cities prep-school powerhouse Blake School team for nine seasons. He also has coached for the U.S. National Development program and for NCAA Division I programs Princeton, Alaska-Anchorage and Yale.

Oh, and Hamre holds an MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

So why Coulee Region, and why now?

“It’s a franchise in a highly-competitive developmental Junior A hockey league, it’s in a fabulous community and it’s very close to my family and my personal roots,” Hamre said.

Hamre repeatedly used the term “development” when talking about his coaching style. If that sounds familiar, you might be a La Crosse Loggers fan.

When Loggers manager Andy McKay was hired in the fall of 2007, he talked about the parallel goals of developing talent and winning games.

Five seasons later, McKay has a 181-125 overall record, two division titles and has helped scores of college players move on to the pros, the most prominent being Chicago White Sox All-Star pitcher Chris Sale.

“If you use the bridge analogy, players in the NAHL are on a bridge trying to get from that Midget, high school level to college hockey,” Hamre said. “I’ve coached at Division I, at the national level, at the high school level and I’ve worked in development camps for 15-, 16-, 17-year-olds.

“Regardless of where you are on that bridge, if you’re truly a developmental coach and passionate about coaching and competing and helping players get to the next level, this is an opportunity to fulfill that work.”

Michelle Bryant said she received a large number of quality resumes for the coaching job. Hamre’s jumped out at her. Once the Bryants interviewed Hamre in person, it was just a matter of working out details.

“He’s the real deal,” Bryant said.

posted Jul. 5th, 2012 - 4:20pm
Devin Guertin says:
Yes! Monsters should definitely go!

posted Jul. 5th, 2012 - 5:42pm
John Bosbous says:
HURD- There is always somebody trying to stir up trouble, As Bob Johnson would say ITS A GREAT DAY FOR HOCKEY!

posted Jul. 6th, 2012 - 6:38am
Randy Russon says:
Tom Rudrud Named Wenatchee Wild Associate Head Coach

WENATCHEE, Wash. - Wenatchee Wild head coach and general manager Bliss Littler announced today that Tom Rudrud has been named the team's associate head coach.

Rudrud spend the last two seasons in Independence, Mo., working with the U18 and U16 Tier 1 Russell Stover programs. Prior to that, he spent nine seasons in the USHL, eight of which were as an assistant under Littler.

"Tom brings a wealth of experience to the position," Littler said. "He is a good teacher, a good recruiter and a good team player."

Rudrud was an assistant for the USHL's Topeka Scarecrows from 2000 through 2003 before moving on to serve in the same capacity with the Tri-City Storm for five seasons. Rudrud served as head coach of the Storm in 2008-09.

"The Wild are a pretty rich organization, as far as the success they've had in the past," Rudrud said, "and I look forward to helping coach Littler and the Wild continue their success."

Rudrud began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Mankato State University. He earned his first assistant position in 1986 at Ferris State University, his alma mater. After seven years as an assistant at Ferris State, Rudrud moved on to a 3-year stint as an assistant at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

In 1996, Rudrud began a 4-year stay in the NAHL as head coach and general manager of the Danville Wings (1996-1998) and Grand Rapids Rockets (1998-2000).

A native of Bloomington, Minn., Rudrud was in Wenatchee over the weekend for the tryout camp at the Town Toyota Center. More than 115 players took part in the event, including some returners from last year's team and most of the team's 2012-13 tenders.

"I thought it was a very good camp," Littler said. "We were happy with the returners and the tenders from this past winter."

While it was beneficial for returning players and tenders, the camp was most useful for the many free agents in attendance who were auditioning for a roster spot.

"We were able to evaluate a lot of players. Most were free agents coming in trying to make the team, and we definitely had a few that were impressive," said Littler, mentioning that several players from the camp were invited to the Wild's main training camp, which will begin on Aug. 20.

The Wild's last tryout camp will take place July 13-15 at Ice Ranch in Littleton, Col. There are still openings for the camp. Log on to www.wenatcheewild.com for registration information.

posted Jul. 6th, 2012 - 9:18am
Jack Dodd says:
Hot hazy humid NAHL North Division perdictions for 2012/13 Season.
1st - Kalamazoo
2nd - Port Huron
3rd - Johnstown
4th - Janesville
5th - Michigan
6th - Springfield
7th - Jamestown
8th - Soo

posted Jul. 6th, 2012 - 9:31am
John Trenchard says:
1. Port Huron 2. KZoo 3. Johnstown 4. Michigan 5. Janesville 6. Springfield 7. Soo Eagles 8. Jamestown.

posted Jul. 6th, 2012 - 10:20am
Stephen Heisler says:
Oh boy, this is going to stir a hornet's nest

posted Jul. 6th, 2012 - 10:23am
Randy Russon says:
Do not understimate the Soo Eagles is all I will say at this point.

posted Jul. 6th, 2012 - 10:45am
Hurd Applegate says:
Personaly I think that if the Soo Eagles are going to make a financhial go of it in the N.A.H.L. they are going to need the support of hockey fans from the Canadian side in Soo Ontario.
Soo Ontario hockey fans do enjoy the atmosphear of the Pullar Stadium as Randy himself will tell you. Unfortunatly there are those in Soo Michigan who are some-what "Anti Canadian" and that does not help the Eagles at all.
My plan is to check out the Soo Eagles and the N.A.H.L. I just hope that Soo Eagles Management advise's the Arena Staff and such that Canadian dollars can go along way towards paying the bills.
Really in this day and age there should be no such thing as "Anti Canadian" or "Anti Anything" for that matter!

posted Jul. 6th, 2012 - 12:12pm
Tony Prito says:
First of all there is no room in todays society for any person who in this case is Anti-Canadian...

Since we are already making picks for the North Division here are mine:
1st Place: Port Huron.
2nd Place: Johnstown.
3rd Place: Kalamazoo.
4th Place: Michigan Warriors.
5th Place: Soo Eagles.
6th Place: Janesvill.
7th Place: Springfield.
8th Place: Jamestown Ironmen.

posted Jul. 6th, 2012 - 12:36pm
Randy Russon says:

I am a Canadian from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and have never felt anti-Canadian sentiment from staff at Pullar Stadium and certainly not from the Soo Eagles as a team.

As a matter of fact, Eagles coach-general manager Bruno Bragagnolo's top assistant the past few years was Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario resident Dennis Bolton.

Also, it seems to me the Eagles go out of their way to try to please Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario fans by selling beer imported from Canada at their "Eagles Nest" bar that is located within the Pullar.

I can also tell you that the Eagles do want to continue to attract Canadian fans to the Pullar as they move from the NOJHL to the NAHL as team owner Ron Lavin has inquired about advertising with Sault This Week, which is the Canadian-based-and-owned newspaper that I write for.



posted Jul. 6th, 2012 - 1:04pm
Stephen Heisler says:
The key to attracting fans from Canada is the open acceptance of having brown gravy poured over fries. $1 Draft Beers would also bring the frostbacks over by the busload.

posted Jul. 6th, 2012 - 1:25pm
Randy Russon says:

That's gravy AND cheese over fries. It is called Poutine. It's not something I eat. You might like it, though, lol.


posted Jul. 7th, 2012 - 10:26am
Randy Russon says:
Soo Eagles Jr. A. Hockey

AUGUST 24, 2012 Golf Tournament
Four (4) person Teams @ $100.00 a person
Registration - 9:00 a.m. - Tee Time - 10:00 a.m.
Balls will be provided at practice range for warm-up
Fun Card package - $10.00 per player (18 and over)
Hole In One on Rodenroth Motors sponsored hole – win a vehicle
Box lunch provided
Appetizers during silent auction

Bay Mills Resort and Casino has rooms available on August 23rd and 24th.
For Reservations call (906) 248-8236 and mention Soo Eagles Golf Scramble.
Registrations forms are available on line at www.sooeagles,net. Registration forms and payment can be submitted on line, mailed to P.O. Box 1432, Sault Sainte Marie, MI 49783 or to the Soo Eagles office no later than August 15, 2012.
For more information on registration and hole sponsors, call the Soo Eagles office at 906-259-0522.
Wild Bluff Golf Course - 11335 West Lakeshore Drive - Brimley, MI 49715

posted Jul. 7th, 2012 - 11:21am
Pete Brownrigg says:
hi, looking for season ticket information for the Coulee Region Chill.

posted Jul. 7th, 2012 - 8:24pm
David Dell says:
""Warren was named the North American Hockey League's coach-of-the-year after leading Port Huron from last place in 2010-11 to the North Division title and a berth at the Robertson Cup national tournament in 2011-12 only to depart the Fighting Falcons over issues between him and owner Maribeth Hayes.""

im not certain this last bit "...issues between him and owner..." is entirely true...

weve been told here in Port Huron that Coach Warren didnt want to stay involved with Hockey because of his job and having small children at home.

posted Jul. 7th, 2012 - 8:52pm
Randy Russon says:

That would be contrary to what both Bill and Maribeth told me. I will take the word of both Bill and Maribeth. I have no reason to doubt either. There were issues.


posted Jul. 9th, 2012 - 5:19pm
David Dell says:
just saying what was in the paper and we were told coming from the Falcons...

regardless, im ready for the puck drop!

posted Jul. 9th, 2012 - 5:26pm
Randy Russon says:
me too, man, me too.

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* Article disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, Randy Russon, and not necessarily the views of JuniorHockey.com. JuniorHockey.com does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.

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