Thursday, October 31, 2002
The ITC Power Poll jinx never fails. Of course, the CHL's last undefeated team has only played four games, as Austin rarely skates on weekdays (never at home).
The new league website is finally here. Go play.
Ok, altogether now: BOOOOOOOOOUUUUSH! BOOOOOOOOUUUUSH!
If it's (almost) November, it must be time for roster shake-ups. El Paso has cut Tommy Bolduc and brought back Derek McKinlay. Jason Fricker heads to Fort Worth from OKC, and the Brahmas also get Matt Mullin off IR. Laredo has a new Norwegian player, Morten Ask (leaving Sandis Girvitch on the Bucks roster for all of 2 days). And to make room for Quebec league scorer Sebastien Thinel, Odessa let go of Charlie Daniels, who really ought to change his name to Chuck (bet he's never heard that one before).
The Bats fine-tuned as well, replacing Jaroslav Kresac with Mike Olynyk and Kevin Fournier with Scott McCallum. McCallum is an ECHL refugee whom Brent Hughes has been talking to since camp, while Olynyk, the last guy cut before the season, could evolve into a fan-favorite do-it-all third-liner. Kresac's plight was similar to Dominic Forget's -- to justify his presence on the second line, he had to put up numbers. For defensive play, Olynyk is a better fit. Not to mention that last Saturday in Amarillo, Shawn Legault had a two-point night in Kresac's place.
Guess everyone's feeling ornery of late. A 20-game suspension in the UHL. An all-out brawl in the British Superleague. Two ECHL coaches looking for each other in the parking lot.
Then of course, in Lubbock, a goalie fight in front of schoolchildren. That should ensure the CHL some great new fans for years to come (seriously). And give Jure Penko credit for keeping up the shutout. I seem to recall Jonathan Forest doing the same for Bryan McMullen a couple of years ago, after Mully went with Jason Renard (He lost. McMullen, I mean).
"We had a game in Amarillo where we weren't 6-0 better than them, they were just over-pumped up, made some mistakes, and we capitalized," Lubbock coach Bill McDonald told me a week ago. Maybe he was wrong.
They didn't win, but Tulsa still showed pluck tonight, getting back into a 4-1 game before Bossier tacked on a penalty shot goal. If Unger's boys can get that sixth win this weekend, it will come a full month sooner than last season...Anybody see where Kory Baker got to? I can think of several CHL teams who could make use of his services.
I can't tell you if the Blazers traded the right goalie, but in answer to this question, when a team has three of 'em, they won't often do better than futures or an unsigned player, especially when you have to factor in not just the perceived value of the player, but cap, rookie and vet restrictions, as well as overall team make-up. And don't make too much of the notion that Sauter runs a charity placement service for former Blazers. Winning coaches take advantage of their status to lure more (and better) players into camp, and stockpiling rights and futures is good business.
Also, listing Tulsa as a bad place to play, especially for a former Blazers goalie, doesn't really wash right now. Should be a good one Saturday eh? The other big divisional supremacy clash is that night at the Igloo, where the IceRays hope to usher in a new era for the Corpus-Austin rivalry. Or rather, they hope to start the rivalry -- the Bats are 33-13-1 in the all-time series. Hughes will usually admit -- after the fact -- that he's happy with four points when the Bats play three-in-three, but I think he plans to wake up undefeated Monday. Losing to Wichita is not acceptable, Saturday sets the tone for the whole season (just look at Bats-Iguanas last year), and Hughesy certainly doesn't want to see his old assistant win on Sunday (Suggested inflammatory pep-talk fodder for McRae: "I's seen it with my own two eyes: Austin hasn't had a power play since March!").
Of course, Al Sims has other plans -- especially after losing Thursday.
Hayley Wickenheiser suggests the ECHL might be too tough and claustrophobic for her, which is fair enough, given she plays the international game. But apparently, there's a chance she'll sign on with Port Huron. Hey, she can't float around anymore than Jason Firth, and she's just as dominant for her level. Still, if publicity's the goal, the CHL should have grabbed her when it had an in.
The latest salvo in the battle of 2004, courtesy of Gary Selig... On the other hand, Toronto columnist Mike Ulmer blames the South. But unfortunately, raw attendance figures aren't the issue, and comparing Calgary's fan support to Carolina's is kind of like comparing the Mets to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Better Marty Turco learns this lesson now, not in April...Good news for Dave Babych. Bad news for teams and doctors and insurance companies (like they aren't causing enough trouble already)... Is there any way to get the San Angelo city fathers elected to the El Paso County Commisioner's Court?
NHL All-Star balloting begins November 1... Think Rod Brind'Amour and Keith Primeau will have more points than Big E all season? I can only hope. That said, I really do wish nothing but the best for Boucher.
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