Tuesday, May 31, 2011
But it shouldn't surprise me that the weeks go by like days. We've been very busy here at the friendly confines of the L.C. Walker Arena, from the top to the bottom of our staff. Arena Manager Neil Hawryliw and his staff of magicians are transforming the arena every day. Everyone on the Jacks' staff is working as hard as possible to parlay last season's success into even greater seasons to come.
The Jacks had a phenomenal draft, and the coaching staff and many members of the front office staff are laboring day and night to make sure the upcoming camp is executed as well as possible.
Before camp gets here, you'll notice a brief hiatus from me, as I'll be getting married to my best friend, Kayla Bunge, next Friday, June 10. That should further explain why time has been flying by, as we both enjoyed our respective "sendoffs" from single life this past weekend and also were treated to an amazing wedding shower. It marked the fourth weekend in the last six weeks that we've traveled back to Wisconsin. It's starting to feel like a commute.
Back to the immediate, there will be some very exciting news coming out tomorrow. So be sure to pick up your copy of the Muskegon Chronicle and stay tuned to muskegonlumberjacks.com to read all about it.
Until then, I hope you're doing what I'm doing and stopping to smell the roses no matter how busy life gets.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I've been on the phone with all 14 of the Jacks' draft choices and, nearly without fail, they've all made it very clear as to what they'll be doing for the sparse amount of time they have before camp opens on June 13.
Even the biggest draftees (see 6-foot, 195-pound power forward Tyler Heinonen and the equally hulking forward A.J. White) know that they'll need to pull out all the stops in the weight room and on the stationary bike to put themselves in position for success.
"I'll be in the gym every day getting ready," said the Jacks' 19th-round pick Omar Mullan, who led Belle Tire's Midget Major team in scoring last season with 54 points in 39 games.
Mullan had to sweat out the draft until he was selected in the last round, but the moment he got the good news, it was time to get down to work.
He, like many other Jacks draftees who took part in the Muskegon Winter Showcase, had the privelege of scoping out the Jacks' state-of-the-art weight room, as well as being briefed on the intense strength-training program Jacks Assistant Coach Dave Noel-Bernier has in store for those who make the 23-man roster.
Anyone selected by the Jacks recognizes the style with which the team plays. Just ask Heinonen, and he'll talk your ear off about how eager he is to play under Jacks Head Coach Kevin Patrick.
Is it mid-June yet? While I want these upcoming stars to have ample time to get prepared for camp, I simply can't wait to see them compete. Their confidence can be overwhelming.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
I had to check in and find out how things are going in Topeka, Kansas, where the North American Hockey League's round robin-format Robertson Cup Tournament is taking place.
What prompted me to catch KP right after breakfast was a name that keeps showing up in the round-robin games - Tayler Munson.
The Jacks drafted Taylor, a Fairbanks, Alaska, native who is currently tearing it up for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, in the 18th round of the 2010 USHL Entry Draft.
Evidently Munson got the memo that the Jacks' skipper would be in attendance, as he scored twice in a 4-2 win over the Flint-based Michigan Warriors last night. His second tally, which came just a shade under eight minutes after his first, proved the game-winner.
Munson and his Ice Dog teammates rallied from down 2-0 to move to 2-0 in the tourney.
Munson has 11 points on six goals and five assists in 10 total playoff games after amassing 48 points on 18 goals and 30 assists in 53 regular-season games. He posted an astounding +19 rating in the regular season.
Patrick's time might never be more precious, as he and the Jacks prepare for the 2011 Entry Draft, which takes place on Monday, May 16 at 11 a.m. (ET) and can be viewed right here on our blog.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
We had our final radio show at Racquets Downtown Grill last night, one week after the Jacks' inaugural season in the United States Hockey League wrapped up.
For real? Was that really just one week ago? *Consults calendar*. Wow, that is in fact the case.
The past week seemed to last forever compared to the weeks during the season. Suddenly there was no opponent to prepare for, no stats to crunch and no practice to dissect in the afternoons.
Now that I've properly dealt with my mild case of separation anxiety, it's time to address the pressing question that was brought up numerous times at Racquets last night - which players will be returning for a second season in Muskegon?
Many more certainties will come to light over the next two weeks, as we approach the 2011 USHL Entry Draft. It will be held on Monday, May 16, and you can watch the Jacks announce their selections right in this very blog. We'll also have a bevy of videos, including conversations with current Jacks about their draft-day experience last season.
But I digress. Back to the task at hand.
Jacks Head Coach Kevin Patrick and his assistant, Dave Noel-Bernier, along with the rest of the Jacks' brass, have a challenging task to tackle. They'll need to submit a preliminary protected list for the entry draft. So they'll need to have a pretty good idea of who they'll have back in the fold for Year 2 and draft accordingly.
There are a number of guys I'm all but certain we'll get to see in Jacks gear again. Man-child Mark Yanis, all of 6-3, 215 pounds, will undoubtedly win a job at tryout camp in mid-June. The same should go for the powder keg that is Jordan Masters. I expect to see Carter Foguth, Travis Belohrad, Travis Walsh and Matt DeBlouw return, and big Mike Moran will also battle for his job at the camp. He certainly started his audition early and quite convincingly when he triggered the Jacks' surge in Game 3 against Cedar Rapids with his one-sided knuckleduster.
There are a few Jacks who, for lack of a better way to put it, are at the mercy of the college to which they're committed. Exhibit A is Casey Thrush, who is committed to the University of New Hampshire. UNH likely will return a stocked roster, stocked just enough that they'll wait a season to bring Casey into the program. Not such a bad thing for Casey, who'll have another season to develop with the Jacks and - in this broadcaster's prognostication - become a USHL superstar. He's got the goods and, if he were to return and develop for another season here, would hit Hockey East with immediate top-two-line potential.
Another interesting case is Jacks captain John Parker, who could attend a number of universities but is waiting for the right offer. Could you imagine having back both Thrush and Parker, two of the hardest-working guys in the USHL? Spooky good.
There are a number of situations like the aforementioned players'. Will Michigan State bring Matt Berry into the fold to help their program that didn't have its best campaign last season?
But there are a number of guys we're certain we won't get to see in the Jacks' crest next season. Let's take a moment to congratulate these young men and wish them the best of luck. Ryan Misiak, the Jacks' leading points-getter in their first year, will be tearing it up for Mercyhurst College in the fall. Isaac Kohls and roomie Chris Lochner will both be Purple Eagles at Niagara University. Another pair of roomies, Mike Conderman and Micki Mihailovich, are bound for UMass-Lowell. In all likelihood, Brendan Woods is Bucky-bound, as he's heading for the University of Wisconsin. With Charlie Taft's recent commitment to Colorado College, I can't wait to track the box scores and do the Alumni Report as they'll clash in the WCHA next season. Speaking of reunions, Jaycob Megna will join his "big" brother Jayson in heading to the University of Nebraska-Omaha this fall.
And, of course, our featured guest on the radio show last night, Alexx Privitera, is headed back (near) home. He'll attend Boston University in the fall and be about 3 1/2 hours away from home. He talked a lot last night about just how excited he is for college, but jumped all over the opportunity to talk about how much he'll miss fair Musky. And the feeling is downright mutual.