Sunday, October 13, 2013

Team Leadership, Who Makes The Cut, & Game Recap

The Allen Americans put on a great event yesterday with the first ever intrasquad game and skills challenge. It was called the "first annual" which implies this will be an ongoing event. I hope so even though the advantages of having a preseason game with another team can't be underestimated as it is difficult to assess players physicality when the players are told not to finish their checks as was the case last night.

Here are my thoughts on the night:


The announcement of the team leadership (Mike Berube Captain, Darryl Bootland & Jarret Lukin Alternates) last night during team introductions caught me by surprise as I assumed it would happen later in camp or maybe not until the season started.  With so many experienced guys on the team with leadership roles in the past, this team will not lack for leadership on the ice or in the locker room. With the selection of Berube this team now has four players that have been captains in the Central Hockey League (Berube, Lukin, Rouleau with the Brahmas, Tetrault with Wichita).

Richard Matvichuk said it best, "Mike Berube is the perfect choice. He is a winner, he has great respect in the room and he will do a fine job as team captain."

As luck would have it, the first in depth interview I am doing this year is with Mike Berube. I had a chance to sit down with Mike on Friday after practice for over an hour to talk family, hockey & leadership. Will try and have his story posted in the next week.

A great guy and a great leader! Congrats Mike!

Yup, that's our leader."Follow me boys!" photo courtesy of


A couple of comments on the skills challenge. The first is don't ever take my predictions to heart as I thought the Navy team (Tetrault, Lachance, Micks, Kerbashian, Lavoie, & Hendrikx) was the big favorite and they did not do well. In my defense I assumed Tetrault would be in the hardest shot (he has been clocked at 98 mph) and Lavoie would be in the fastest skater (he is fast and would have handled the tight turns around the net). The skills challenge is a perfect example why I don't bet on anything.

Here is a recap of the skills challenge courtesy of the Allen Americans:

Skills Competition
Saturday’s Fan Fest started with a skills competition.  The players split into four teams to compete in four events: fastest skater, hardest shot, shooting accuracy/rapid shot and breakaway challenge. 
The competition started with a one-on-one race around the rink to determine who the fastest skater was.  Corey Tamblyn took home the title, followed by Spencer Asuchak, Jarret Lukin then Mackenzie Micks.   Afterwards, the goalies took to the ice.  Bryan Cook skated against Bryan Pitton with Pitton diving across the finish line with the win.
One player from each team then participated in a hardest shot competition, in which they each took three shots.  Tyler Ludwig recorded the fasted shot at 94 mph.  Ross Rouleau and Trevor Hendrikx tied for second with a 93 mph shot, followed by Peter Cintala clocking a 92 mph shot. 
Team White won the rapid shot competition with Matt Robertson and John Snowden notching four shots total.
Lastly, the teams competed in a breakaway challenge.  The grey team took away the win with the white team coming in a close second.


The intrasquad game was a game of contrasts. While the veterans played hard they also had some fun entertaining the fans while for the guys trying to make the team it was all business. The game was definitely more intense than practice and while everyone was warned about not finishing checks it was obvious that some of the younger guys wanted the coaching staff to know that they were physical players. Even though final rosters are not due until Thursday, training camp ended last night and starting Monday it will be team practice. That means either last night or today (Sunday) most of the non contracted players will be released. With Phil Fox out the final roster could be 20 players. So come Monday there will be somewhere around 20 players at practice. If you do the math that means four or five of the non contracted players should still be with the team.

Some of the younger unsigned players that stood out to me who might have a chance to make the team include:

Charles Lachance - Charles had a goal and an assist playing with Matt Robertson and Darryl Bootland. Robertson also had a goal and an assist and has done well in camp but his size (5' 9" 160) will keep him from making the team in my opinion. Lachance on the other hand is 6' 2" 195 lbs and took every opportunity last night to let the coaches know he was going to play physical. He is just coming out of college (University of Wisconsin - Stout) where he led his team in penalty minutes the last three years.

- Chad Thibodeau - Chad has been flying under the radar a little bit in camp but I noticed in the third period last night he seemed to get more ice time at defense. He has a real advantage of being able to play both defense and forward like Drew Daniels and Garrett Clarke did last year. If the coaches decide Peter Cintala or Kirk Byczynski are not the answer for the seventh defenseman you might see Thibodeau on the ice Monday. Chad is coming out of junior hockey (Ontario Hockey League) and is a 20 year old. He is 6' 1" and weighs 201 and would be another tough, gritty guy to add to the mix.

- Corey Tamblyn - Corey had a great play on the lone goal by the white team as he came down the wing and went around the defense and made a great pass to Spencer Asuchak at the goal mouth. He also won the fastest skater in the skills challenge. Tamblyn to me is the reason training camps are important for players to get a chance. He is a third year pro with some ECHL games (34) and SPHL games (25). He is not real big (5' 11" 182 lbs) and his stats don't jump out at you. But he has worked hard in camp and made everyone take notice. With Fox on injured reserve it might be an opportunity for Tamblyn to show if what he has done in training camp can carryover to game conditions.

- Eric Levine - Eric looked great in goal last night from what I could see. He was a late addition to the training camp roster and comes with a great resume from Robert Morris University. Good size for a goalie (6' 3''), great stats in college and academic all conference honors along with a good training camp give Eric a real shot at making this team. Hope we see him on Monday. The real question is whether the coaches go with two experienced pro goalies or has been done most of the time in the past go with one experienced goalie and one rookie. If they go with just one experienced goalie Brad Fogal would get the nod from watching him at training camp.

So on Monday at practice (if it is not announced sometime today) we will know who is on the team. Well not really. In addition to putting a team together based on the players in training camp there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes recruiting top players that may be getting cut from other teams. So the guys on the ice on Monday should not feel too comfortable as you can be assured there will most likely be a surprise late player signing. This happens every year and no reason to believe it  won't happen this year.

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