It has been far too long, but TWIAP is back for another thrilling hockey season. Hockey you say? NHL arenas may be dark right now, but there is still plenty of action going on in ice rinks across North America and in Europe. The Avs primary affiliate is off to a strong start despite its inexperienced goaltending. There isn't a hotter team right now than the Kamloops Blazers (WHL) and an Avs prospect is playing a huge part. Another Avalanche prospect is set to participate in the upcoming Subway Super Series. More news and notes in the season premiere of TWIAP!
The Lake Erie Monsters are off to a 5-3 start under new head coach Dean Chynoweth. The biggest question for Chynoweth and the organization was the inexperience of goaltenders Sami Aittokallio and Calvin Pickard. Aittokallio is 2-1 after three starts with a goals against average of 3.04 and save percentage of 0.892. Pickard has a 3-2 record, including two shut-outs, to go along with a goals against average of 1.98 and save percentage of 0.935.
The club currently has a couple of point per game scorers in Michael Sgarbossa (3, 5) and Thomas Pock (2, 6). Fortunately, the scoring has spread amongst other players. The Monsters have at least nine players with five points and their power play is currently running at 24.3 percent (eighth best in the league).
The club will be tested over the next few weeks with seven road games; starting this weekend with games in Peoria, Milwaukee, and Rockford.
In the Western Hockey League, the Kamloops Blazers have remained relatively unscathed. The club has won 15 of 16 games; with their lone loss coming in a shoot-out. Leading the way offensively for the Blazers is JC Lipon, an undrafted player who would have attended Avs training camp if not for a certain lockout. Lipon leads his team and league in scoring with 39 points. Right behind him is Avs 2012 seventh round pick, Colin Smith, who has 38 points. Another Blazer, Tim Bozon, has 29 points and is the third leading scorer in the WHL.
Smith was named WHL Player of the Week for October 15-21. Lipon won the award the two weeks prior. Both players received another honor as they were named to the Team WHL Roster that will participate in the Subway Super Series next month. Also named to the team is Saskatoon Blades defenseman Duncan Siemens.
The college hockey season is now in full swing with Yale having participated in the annual Ivy Shootout this past weekend. Yale tied Dartmouth 2-2 in their opening round game, but succumbed to the Big Green in a shoot-out 2-0. In the third place game on Saturday, Gus Young and the Yale Bulldogs earned a 3-2 win over Princeton.
Michigan is off to a 3-2 start after splitting a weekend series with the Miami RedHawks. With increased ice time over last season, Luke Moffatt has three assists on the season. For Minnesota, they earned a 1-0 victory over Canisius on Sunday to improve to 4-1 on the season. There was much consternation in Gopher land over the graduation of Kent Patterson, but Minnesota's goaltending has thus far held up. Nathan Condon has a goal and four assists so far on the season.
Next week, a review of the Monsters start to their lengthy road trip. A look-in on action from the OHL and WHL. More news on college hockey and an update on Denver's newest minor league team. Until next time!