The Donnybrook - January 14, 2020
Facts, Gossip & Rumors From College-Bound Hockey
A Weekly TJHP Feature
A little old school Junior hockey situation in the WSHL around the first of the year as Oklahoma City Blazers' owner Gary Gill relinquished possession of the team after Christmas and the league has officially taken over operations of the franchise.
The WSHL has named longtime Blazers head of off-ice officials Rick Gowin as General Manager. Head coach Ty Smith was relieved of his duties and the WSHL promoted assistant coach Daniel Armstrong as his replacement.
Gill has been working with the Columbus River Dragons of the Federal Hockey League this year. Word is that Gill is just plain-old out of operating funds, which can happen in Junior hockey if leagues don't secure promissory notes and cash deposits upfront.
Bishop Kearney (BK), a private high school in suburban Rochester, N.Y., has announced it will be adding an academy-style 15U and 16U boys program for the 2020-21 season. The boy's program will be part of Legacy Global Sports (LGS), which started a successful academy-style girls program at BK in 2014.
LGS is also the partner in the South Kent Selects Academy (SKSA) program in Connecticut. BK has announced that Doug Holewa will head up its new boy's program. He is the former SKSA director who stepped down as the director of the SKSA program last October. Prior to his time at SKSA Holewa was with the New York Islanders, Lake Superior State University, the New Jersey Rockets junior program and the U.S. Marine Corps.
According to Holewa, BK has had more than 50 visits and/or serious inquiries in the three weeks since the program was announced on Dec. 24.
The Chicago Steel owns the only streak of note in the USHL as they have run their consecutive win total to 11 while building a lead in the Eastern Conference. The Steel have not lost since Nov. 29 when Muskegon claimed a 6-4 victory over the Steel.
There is not a current losing streak in the USHL greater than two games. The Steel has a six-point lead over second-place Team USA, with three games in hand, and a league-leading 51 points.
The Austin Bruins own a 10-game undefeated streak which has jumped them to second-place in the Central Division, six points behind Aberdeen. The Midwest Division-leading Fairbanks Ice Dogs have an eight-game unbeaten streak.
The Odessa Jackalopes, who made a coaching change last week, have dropped 16 straight games and are mired in last place in the South Division. Odessa last won Nov. 15 over Corpus Christi, which also made a coaching change last week.
The Islanders Hockey Club owns the longest winning streak in the NCDC at five games, which has helped them move up to seventh place in the 13-team league.
The Rochester Monarchs are winless in their last nine games and have a solid hold on last place with two wins and seven points, 17 behind the 12th-place New Jersey Rockets. The Monarchs last win was Dec. 14 in overtime vs. the Connecticut Jr. Rangers.
The Boston Junior Rangers have won 14 in a row and have jumped into first place in the highly competitive New England Division of the EHL. Head coach Rich DeCaprio’s team started the season 1-2-0 but have not dropped a contest since Nov. 11 when the Little Flyers bested them 7-4.
The North Carolina Golden Bears, who are reportedly folding or leaving the EHL next season, have dropped 26 in a row and stand at 1-29-0 on the season. The Bears were reportedly on the chopping block for a rare mid-season removal by the EHL Board of Governors back in September, but a Sept. 26 victory over the Connecticut Chiefs staved off that action. The Bears have not won since, and by all accounts operate professionally. It is an example of (a) how hard it is to succeed in pay-to-play Juniors, especially if a team is the farthest geographic outlier – like the Bears -- and the league is highly focused on the Boston metropolitan area – like the EHL.
EHL PREMIER STREAKS
The New Jersey 87s has put together an 11-game winning streak to leapfrog the Little Flyers into first place in the Mid-Atlantic Conference. Their last defeat came Nov. 11 at the hands of the Railers by a 2-1 margin.
The New York Bridgemen have lost 15 in a row and last tasted victory Nov. 10 by a 2-1 margin over the Walpole Express. They are in last place in the five-team Mid-Atlantic Conference and trail the fourth-place New Jersey Renegades by 16 points.
The Wausau River Wolves have lost 18 straight games and have only scored nine goals in their last 10 contests. They last won Nov. 9 by a 7-4 margin over the Milwaukee Power. The Long Beach Sharks have put together a 13-game winless streak and are in last place in the Northeast Division, which is the NA3HL's weakest division by a long shot.
The Granite City Lumberjacks lead the league with a seven-game win streak, which has only allowed them to keep pace with the first-place North Iowa Bulls in the West Division. The Bulls have their own six-game streak going and lead the 'Jacks by two points.
USPHL PREMIER STREAKS
The New Hampshire Junior Monarchs and Hudson Havoc share the longest winning streak in the USPHL Premier at five. This is a little more evidence of the relative parity in the Premier Division, which is large in both numbers, geographical spread and variance of culture in which teams operate. As pointed out last week, the USPHL Winter Showcase, in which the majority of Premier teams nationwide participated, featured 63 of 90 games decided by three goals or fewer.
The Connecticut Nighthawks have dropped 12 in a row and have only scored 16 goals in that time. Sunday's game was a 16-1 drubbing at the hands of the New York Aviators during which they dressed 12 skaters and one goalie. They last won Nov. 15 with a 4-1 decision over the Rochester Monarchs during the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase.
USPHL ELITE STREAKS
The Charlotte Rush have reeled off 12 wins in a row but still trail the first-place Richmond Generals by four points in the South East Division. The Rush have two games in hand over the Generals. Charlotte last lost when the Generals came to town Nov. 23-24 and swept the Rush by scores of 4-0 and 6-1. Mark your calendars for Feb. 8-9 when these two teams square off in Charlotte. Not to be outdone, the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes are on a 6-0-1 run and are in third place in the division, four points behind the Rush.
The Atlanta Mad Hatters have dropped seven in a row but remain in third place in the Florida Division. They last won December 13 by a 4-3 margin over the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes.
No big surprise the El Paso Rhinos have the longest winning streak in the league at 10, which has helped them open a 32-point lead in the Mid-Western Division over second-place Oklahoma City.
The Cold Lake Hornets have dropped into a tie for last place in the Provisional Division standings with nine straight losses.
Jeff Nygaard is the editor of The Junior Hockey Podcast. He covers Junior and college-bound hockey as a traditional “beat,” in addition to breaking news stories during the course of the year.
He has a vast amount of experience on the business and organizational side of the sport as a former owner-operator of two Junior organizations and two youth clubs and has served as executive director or commissioner of the Eastern Hockey League and the United States Premier Hockey League.
A Fergus Falls, Minn., native, Nygaard grew up playing for the Fergus Falls Youth Hockey Association, Fergus Falls High School, Fergus Falls Community College and North Dakota State University programs.
He can be reached at email@example.com for questions, story ideas, and anonymous tips.