Let's begin a Sunday swing in Jamestown, NY and make a pit stop in Flint, MI. And before we're done, we'll tell you how a California kid took a trek up north to the Canadian side of the border at Sault Ste. Marie, ON.
Putting aside any distractions that a potenial change in ownership may be causing, the Jamestown Ironmen tended to business on ice with a weekend sweep of the visiting Wenatchee Wild.
Before above-average crowds of 805 and 844 at Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, the Ironmen showed rigorous resolve with 3-1 and 3-2 wins over the Wild, one of the top teams in the North American Hockey League.
Steered by steely-eyed coach Dan Daikawa, the Ironmen pulled to within four points of the North Division-leading Soo Eagles with the back-to-back wins over the Wild.
Interested observers at JSBA to watch the Ironmen skate to their Friday-Saturday wins was a group that is negotiating with owner Kenji Yamada to take over day-to-day operations of the team as majority shareholders.
Railroad manufacturer Michal Ovsjannikov, accompanied by hockey consultant David Cole et al, has been in extensive talks with Yamada about a potential takeover of the Ironmen, with lawyers from both sides also involved.
With the end of the NAHL regular-season nearing on March 30, sources linked to both sides say it is essential that any deal would have to get done prior to that date.
DENNY AND THE JETS
The pending lawsuit that Dennis Canfield, owner of the erstwhile Jamestown Jets has filed with regards to a lease that he had with Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, would not affect any deal involving the sale of the Jamestown Ironmen, sources with knowledge of the situation told me.
Sources say the Ironmen have an agreement with JSBA that it will assume any and all legal and financial responsibilities with regard to its previous tenant, the Jets, formerly of the Greater Metro Jr. Hockey League.
JR. GENERALS FOR SALE
Flint Jr. Generals of the North American 3 Hockey League are for sale, multiple sources have confirmed.
The ageless Gale Cronk, owner of the Jr. Generals, is open to offers for the NA3HL team that he founded several years ago. The legendary Cronk has been involved in Flint hockey circles for parts of six decades and is considered to be the face of the Eastern Michigan Hockey Association.
The Jr. Generals, who play out of Flint Iceland Arena, are currently in third place in the hotly-contested, six-team East Division of the NA3HL.
The Jr. Generals are linked to seasoned scout Doug Bailey, who has recruited countless players who have subsequently moved on from the NA3HL to the NAHL and the Division 1 and 3, National Collegiate Athletic Association ranks.
David Radke is chasing his hockey dream a long way from home.
Well, a long way from one of his homes, at least.
Radke, a 5-foot-10, 175 pound, 1994 birth year defenceman who hails from the Berkeley area of California, is spending the winter months in Sault Ste. Marie as a first-year player with the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
But Sault Ste. Marie is not new to Radke.
Not only was his father, John Radke, now a California University professor, born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie but the family still maintains a summer home area.
Ergo, it was a no-brainer for young Radke to head north to pursue his hockey dreams, especially with his older brother, Dan Radke, nearby. Dan, a 1991 birth year forward, is in his third season with the Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Lake Superior State Lakers.
"It's a good league," Radke said of the NOJHL. "And I'm playing for a good hockey team in the Thunderbirds."
Despite being a rookie, Radke has developed into a top four defenceman for the Thunderbirds, who are in a torrid race for first place with the North Bay Trappers in the seven-team NOJHL.
"He's a smart hockey player with a lot of skill and he's a really good kid besides. This is a kid who is going places," Thunderbirds coach-general manager Kevin Cain said of the personable Radke.
Before heading north, Radke played major midget hockey in California for the San Jose Jr. Sharks.
"It's a well-run program," Radke said of the Jr. Sharks. "But this is much higher-level hockey up here."
Radke had initially hoped to play the 2012-2013 season in the NAHL with the Springfield Jr. Blues for his old San Jose coach, Tony Zasowski.
"But Tony wanted to switch me from defence to forward and that didn't work out," Radke explained. "I ended up in the Soo though and it's been great."
Radke said he'd like to follow in his older brother's tracks and play at the Division 1, NCAA level.
"That's been a dream of mine for a long time," he related.