Archive for December, 2009

Prough Named As Lone T-Devils All-Star Representative

December 31, 2009

(ECHL PR) PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL on Wednesday announced the starting lineup and roster of the American Conference team for the 2010 ECHL All-Star Game presented by Reebok Hockey and brought to you by Toyota and the City of Ontario.

The 2010 ECHL All-Star Game presented by Reebok Hockey and brought to you by Toyota and the City of Ontario will be hosted by the Ontario Reign at Citizens Business Bank Arena and played on Jan. 20, 2010 while the 2010 ECHL All-Star Skills Competition will be held on Jan. 19, 2010.

There are 11 rookies on the American Conference and 19 of the 21 players are making their first appearance in an ECHL All-Star Game.

There have been 58 players from the All-Star Game who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League, including 33 since 2002 when the lineups began having players who coaches felt were prospects to move up to a higher level.

American Conference Starters
G – Todd Ford, South Carolina (24 gp, 16-6-1, 1 shutout, 2.88 GAA, .910 save pct.)
D – J.C. Sawyer, Toledo (28 gp, 12g, 16a, 28 pts)
D – Zach Tarkir, South Carolina (26 gp, 4g, 12a, 16 pts)
F – Justin Donati, Elmira (29 gp, 14g, 30a, 44 pts)
F – Ben Gordon, Reading (28 gp, 16g, 24a, 40 pts)
F – Jacob Micflikier, Florida (16 gp, 9g, 23a, 32 pts)

The starting lineups are determined in voting by American Conference coaches, team captains, media directors, broadcasters and media members. Coaches also submitted the top prospects from within their conference to determine the final roster with each of the 12 teams having a representative.

The third class will be inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame on Jan. 20, 2010 during a luncheon ceremony at the Hilton Ontario Airport, the official host hotel of the 2010 ECHL All-Star Game presented by Reebok Hockey and brought to you by Toyota and the City of Ontario. The featured speaker at the ECHL Hall of Fame luncheon will be Hockey Hall of Fame member and Los Angeles Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille.

Tickets for the luncheon are $40 each or a table with seven tickets can be purchased for $250. The Ontario Reign is offering a special ticket package that includes a tickets to the ECHL Hall of Fame luncheon, the All-Star Skills Competition, the Fan Fest at Dave & Busters and the ECHL All-Star Game for only $75. To purchase tickets visit or telephone the Ontario Reign at (909) 941-7825.

Kelly Cup champion South Carolina has two starters with goaltender Todd Ford and defenseman Zach Tarkir as well as rookie goaltender Braden Holtby and rookie forward Nikita Kashirsky. It is the second All-Star selection for Ford, who played for the American Conference in 2005 at Reading, Pa. Ford, who is currently on loan to the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, is 16-6-1 with a shutout and leads the league with 16 wins, 1,416 minutes and 690 saves. Tarkir, who is currently on loan to Lake Erie of the AHL, has 16 points (4g-12a) in 26 games. Holtby, who is under contract to the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and currently with Hershey of the AHL, is 7-2-3 with a goals-against average of 2.95 and a save percentage of .911. Kashirsky, who is currently on loan to Springfield of the AHL, leads ECHL rookies with 17 goals and is tied for the lead with five game-winning goals while his 30 points in 33 games tie him for second.

Florida is represented by starting forward Jacob Micflikier, rookie forward Brandon Buck and defenseman A.J. Thelen. MicFlikier, who is under contract to and currently called up by Albany of the AHL, has 32 points (9g-23a) in 16 games and is tied for third with 12 power-play assists and tied for fourth with 15 power-play points. Buck, who is under contract to Houston of the AHL, has 17 points (8g-9a) in 24 games. Thelen, who is currently on loan to Rochester of the AHL, is tied for third among league defensemen with four power-play goals and tied for fifth with seven goals while his 15 points in 26 games tie him for 20th.

Elmira has a pair of rookie forwards with starter Justin Donati and Maxime Gratchev. Donati leads the ECHL with 30 assists and 44 points while his 12 power-play assists and 18 power-play points are tops among rookies and his six power-play goals tie him for third. Gratchev is tied for second among league rookies with 30 points while his 17 assists tie him for third and his 13 goals tie him for fifth.

Toledo has starting defenseman J.C. Sawyer and rookie forward Maxime Tanguay. It is the second All-Star appearance for Sawyer, who played for the American Conference in 2008 at Stockton, Calif. He leads ECHL defensemen with 12 goals and 28 points and is tied for third with 16 assists while his five game-winning goals are first among defensemen and tied for the overall lead. Tanguay is second among league rookies with 19 assists and tied for second with 30 points and 13 power-play points while his nine power-play assists tie him for third.

Representing Reading is starting forward Ben Gordon, who is currently on loan to Toronto of the AHL. Gordon is third in the league with 40 points and tied for fourth with 24 assists in 28 games.

Gwinnett will be represented by rookie defensemen Drew Paris and Sam Roberts. Roberts leads all rookie defensemen and is fourth overall among league defensemen with 20 points (7g-13a) in 29 games while Paris is tied for ninth with 18 points (7g-11a) in 29 games.

Representing Cincinnati will be rookie goaltender Jeremy Smith and rookie forward Matt Pierce. Pierce is tied for second among league rookies with 14 goals and is tied for third among rookies with six power-play goals while his 23 points in 28 games tie him for 10th among rookies. Smith is 8-6-1 with a shutout and is sixth in the league with a goals-against average of 2.65.

Charlotte will be represented by rookie forward Matt Schepke, who has 17 points (7g-10a) in 28 games.

Johnstown will be represented by forward Connor Shields, who is tied for the league rookie lead with seven power-play goals and tied for fifth with 13 goals while his 26 points in 30 games tie him for seventh.

Representing Kalamazoo will be forward Rick Cleaver, who is currently on loan to Syracuse of the AHL. He ranks seventh in the league with 34 points (13g-21a) in 26 games.

Trenton will be represented by Jeff Prough, who leads the team with 10 goals and ranks third with 18 points in 23 games.

Representing Wheeling will be Mitch Ganzak, who was named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team in 2008-09. He is tied for third among league defensemen with 16 assists and tied for fifth with 19 points in 32 games.

The past seven ECHL All-Star Games have generated more than $1 million each for the local economy as guests, players, coaches and fans occupy hundreds of hotel rooms and spend three days in the host city.

The game has been available live on the NHL Network the last seven years as well as being broadcast on multiple regional networks. The audio broadcast has been carried on XM Satellite Radio as well as being available in all ECHL markets.

The Stanley Cup and the Patrick J. Kelly Cup will both be on display throughout the event, marking the 10th time in the last 11 years that the NHL championship trophy and the ECHL championship trophy have been displayed together at the All-Star Game.


Game 32: Post-Game Thoughts

December 31, 2009

— To be clear, Dave Caruso is NOT the reason Trenton lost that game.  In fact, he kept them in it.  But, in a one goal game, the second goal he gave up is a glaring one.  And I do think he was outplayed by John Murray.  Murray made some absolutely dazzling saves, and he simply was not going to get beaten low.  His legs were amazingly quick, and he made a few saves he had no business making.

— There’s been a lot of criticism of both Rick Kowalsky and Vince Williams, and I think a good part of that is misguided.  Rick and Vinny can’t hold these guys hands out there and help them find the back of the net.  This is a young, inexperienced team that’s essentially learning the pro game on the fly for the most part.  It shows.  But ultimately, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the players, in my opinion.  Rick will rarely call out guys by name, but some of the guys on this team have been very disappointing.  Where’s Kory Nagy been?  Kyle Kucharski’s been inconsistent.  Brett Wilson hasn’t brought much after a strong start.  Tim Kunes has cooled off, too.  Even Jeff Prough is struggling.  Someone needs to step up.  With that said…

— This team badly, badly needs a veteran presence.  Badly.  If it’s Jim Henkel, it’s Jim Henkel.  In my opinion, it should be, but that ship seems to have sailed if he hasn’t returned by now.  But if it isn’t, they need someone who can step in and essentially serve as a third coach.  While I don’t doubt Killer and Vinny’s skills as coaches, I think that given the makeup of this team — loaded with young guys — they could greatly benefit from playing with a veteran or two on the ice during games as opposed to practices.

— Both Chris Lamoriello and Neil Smith were in the house last night.  Lamoriello was in the locker room post-game.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Game 32: Post-Game Quotes

December 31, 2009

Here’s how it went down in my post-game chat with Trenton Devils head coach Rick Kowalsky:

Q: Another tough loss for you guys, I guess what can you really say after that one?

Kowalsky: “We’ve got to bear down and score goals.  We only gave up two.  It’s not like we didn’t have chances.  I don’t know why we can’t find the back of the net.  I thought at the end, towards the second half of the third period, we were trying to get too cute.  We haven’t done that all year.  We’ve just got to find a way to score some goals.  If we sat here and said we didn’t have any chances, I’d be really disappointed.  It’s just frustrating.  We’re getting the chances, and it’s just not going in.”

Q: Johnstown seemed to be the one team you guys could rely on beating this year.  Is it more frustrating to lose to them given how things had gone earlier this year against them?  And what was the difference between this game and the last three?

Kowalsky: “I thought they played well tonight.  Obviously, their goaltender played well.  The power play’s got to…we don’t score on the power play, and that can be a game breaker.  It was tonight.  These guys have just got to find a way to bear down when they have chances and find a way to score goals.”

Q: You’ve talked a lot about the young guys needing to step up this season, and Combs did come through with a goal for you tonight.  But overall, are you seeing enough out of the young guys as a whole this year?

Kowalsky: “Well, I just think right now every loss is so frustrating because we’re trying to play catch up and trying to get some momentum.  We’re trying to take a couple steps on the weekend and one step back today.  We felt coming in that we really needed to win.  It’s frustrating.  I’m not going to sit here and say those guys aren’t frustrated.  Like I said, the guys got chances.  Chance after chance after chance.  It doesn’t go in.  I don’t know.  I wish I had the answer.  Why we were not able to score…the power play’s one thing, but the chances we had five-on-five, it’s just not going in.

Q: Harder’s released, Henkel’s not back, T-Kell is out…is there somewhat of a void in veteran leadership on this team with some of the younger guys who need to get it going?

Kowalsky: “I don’t know that I’d say that.  I think these guys have an opportunity.  I think these guys are playing.  Eves and Kell will come back, but I think it comes down to consistency and doing the same thing every night regardless of whether you’re scoring or not.  Like I said, I think there’s guys here who have a history of scoring.  Ginand, Combs, even Vokes was the leading scorer at Brown last year.  It’s a different game, the pro game.  These kids have to realize it’s not going to be easy and keep plugging away.  The only thing I can say is maybe to potentially change personnel on the power play and stuff like that.  We’ve got to find a way to score goals.”

Q: Is the power play the key to turning this team around?

Kowalsky: “Well, it can win you games.  We had opportunities tonight.  Specialty teams are so important, and we ended up killing two 5–on-3’s, and that could have been the game there, it wouldn’t have ended up as close as it was, obviously.  The power play has always been a big part of what we’ve done here.  We’ve got to score at least a goal a game, depending on how many power plays you get.  Tonight, that’s the difference.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Game 32: Photo Gallery

December 31, 2009

Ryan Ginand

Justin Coutu

Kris Mayotte, sporting a brand new mask

John Murray

Chris Poli

Jeff Prough

Brett Wilson


Tony Zancanaro

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Trentonian Game Story

December 31, 2009

Check it out here.

Also, here’s a post-game chat the T-Devils’ Dan Altano did with Jack Combs…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Seven Straight Home Losses

December 31, 2009

I’ll have my post-game stuff posted tomorrow from this latest mess.  I’m out and don’t have my laptop around, so it’ll have to wait.  A big point that Rick Kowalsky made after the game is that this team had plenty of chances, but they’re just not finding the back of the net right now.  And it’s simple, but he’s right.  They had plenty of real quality chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net.  Murray looked absolutely amazing at times for Johnstown.  Caruso let in a stinker and it turned out to be the difference.  Something I focused on in my Trentonian story, which you can read online in a little while — I’ll post the link when I see it — is that another goalie stood out in a T-Devils game, and it never seems to be the guy wearing the T-Devils jersey.  It’s part indictment of the Trenton goaltending, and part indictment on the Trenton offense, in that they tend to make some goaltenders look a little better than they actually may be.

But, in any event, I’ll have Rick’s quotes and some photos and so on for you tomorrow.  Sorry for the delay. 

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Game 32: Pre-Game Notes (Updated)

December 30, 2009

Not a whole lot going on here.  The only news I have is Chiefs related, actually.  Carter Lee, native of Brick, New Jersey, is a late addition to the Chiefs lineup and will be wearing #26.  Moises Gutierrez is no longer with the team.

UPDATE — Trevor Kell has been placed on the 3-day IR, and Slavomir Tomko has been added from the IR.

I’m on Trentonian duty for the evening, so I’ll have all the obligatory post-game quotes, photos and so on after the game.  If you guys want to discuss the game in the comments, be my guest…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

POLL: Who Should Be The T-Devils #1 Goalie?

December 28, 2009


December 28, 2009

So, I owe you guys a few things.  First off, I owe you videos from the shootout from the first Cincinnati game.  Now that I have my new laptop, Google and anything associated with it works again, which it inexplicably did not for the last few weeks I had my old laptop.

So here are those…

R1: Jeff Prough

R1: Dustin Sproat

R2: Jack Combs

R2: Matt Pierce

R3: Tim Kunes

R3: Scott Reynolds

R4: Kyle Kucharski

R4: Maxime Lacroix

R5: Trevor Kell

R5: Mark Van Guilder

R6: Brett Wilson

R6: Hans Benson


OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to last night’s game.  First off, give the T-Devils credit for putting a decent crowd in the building.  It wasn’t all Royals fans, either.

Second, Trevor Kell is day-to-day and Dan Eves will be out a week or possibly longer according to head coach Rick Kowalsky.  No word on what’s going on with Kell, but Eves got cross checked by Dwayne Zinger during the Cincy series and is believed to have suffered an injury to his ribs.  It is unrelated to his previous pectoral injury.

I always find it odd that Kowalsky seems to be less critical in a loss than he is in a win.  I didn’t agree 100% with his assessment — which you hopefully read in the paper — that he didn’t have a problem as a coach with the way the team played over two periods.  I didn’t think the D had a great game overall, and simple little discipline stuff like Justin Coutu’s boneheaded interference penalty less than a minute into the game are glaring examples of that.

Some quotes from Kowalsky:

“There’s a reason (Reading)’s in first place, they can score.  Look at who scored for them tonight.  They’re not first or second year guys, these are six…look at Labelle, I think he’s been in the league four years.  He’s a mucker who finds ways to put it in the net.  They have a veteran squad, and they’re a tough team to beat.  We’ve played well against them, but they just seem to have our number.”

“We’re going to need some young guys to step up.  Jack Combs has been playing well, I’d like to see him shoot more.  Jeff Prough’s been scoring as of late, he’s a streaky-type guy.  Chris Poli, he’s 100 percent health-wise, but he’s not 100 percent in game shape or timing wise.  Ryan Ginand, I think he’s just starting to get the form.  Hopefully he’s a guy who steps in here, but again, he’s a rookie.  If we’re going to do what you’re talking about (going on a run like they did last year) it’s going to take those guys.”

(When asked if it’s an open competition for the number one goalie spot) “Yeah, for sure.  We’ve got to win.  David was good last night, and Gerald…the first one’s through traffic, but the third one, I think he’d probably want back.  Obviously, the fourth one’s a one-timer from about eight feet.  We need to win hockey games.  You may potentially see a stretch where one guy takes the bull by the horns here.”

All right, what else do I have? Hmmm…

Here’s a few photos from last night’s game…

Andrew Engelage, who I thought looked really strong through the first two periods…

Chris Poli.  For anyone who gets the paper, I don’t write the captions…

Brett Wilson

And finally, if Santa is still employed…I wouldn’t mind some floor seats to Carrie Underwood’s appearance at the SNBC in March.  Just sayin’…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Sunday’s Game Story

December 28, 2009

You can read the gamer in the Trentonian here

It got tweaked a tiny, tiny bit…but the original played a little more towards Trenton never having the lead in the game, etc.  That’s why the lead is as it is.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT