On a related note, I ran into former Lumberjacks intern coach Colin Martel in his hometown of Colorado Springs last week. He was good enough to show me and my wife around the Air Force Academy, where his dad Ken coached under longtime men's hockey boss Frank Serratore before heading to Ann Arbor to help lead the National Team Development Program.
Fans of the USHL may know that Serratore has the second-best all-time league winning percentage at .710, behind only former Green Bay coach and current Norfolk Admirals mentor Jon Cooper, whose USHL teams posted a .738 success rate.
Serratore's league connections go even deeper than that, as his son Tom played two seasons for the Sioux City Musketeers and one for the expansion Youngstown Phantoms in 2009-10, where a younger version of myself got a USHL initiation. Martel is also friends with Tom Serratore, who is headed into his junior year at the University of Minnesota.
All of which is a rather circuitous way to say that the hockey world is a small one. That cliche applies even more when it comes to the USHL, a league with a special mission that bonds like-minded people who love the sport, and particularly how it can enhance a young person's life in many ways.
With that, let's take a look at how past and current Lumberjacks have made news recently:
|The 5-foot-11 Tiffels looks to|
pursue college hockey via the USHL.
(As an aside, don't be fooled by the headline of "Cologne goes Canada." Even though the speedy Tiffels was drafted by the Western Hockey League's Moose Jaw Warriors, he is on track to come to Michigan, as you can read at the above link.)
- Our hockey neighbors to the east, the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins, made some news earlier this month when they named former Indiana Ice and Western Michigan University head coach Jeff Blashill as their new leader for the 2012-13 season.
Blashill, who spent last season as an assistant under Mike Babcock in Detroit, also played in the USHL with Des Moines before attending Ferris State University in nearby Big Rapids, Mich. His coaching career began at Ferris State as well; now he joins the aforementioned Cooper in Norfolk as former USHL head coaches now filling the same role with AHL clubs.
|Jim Paek hoists the Stanley Cup in|
1991, making hockey history.
Paek [pronounced PACK] played for the IHL Lumberjacks from 1987-1990, helping the black and gold capture the Turner Cup in 1989. He went on to appear in 217 NHL games for three teams and was the first Korean to etch his name on the Stanley Cup when he won it with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991. He won it again the following season before being traded to Los Angeles and finally Ottawa before finishing his career overseas.
- Not sure how I missed this but new Jacks COO Pat Day got the farewell treatment from Lansing-based MLive.com writer Larry Hook a few weeks ago. Pat, as you'll recall, spent six years as the general manager of minor league baseball's Lansing Lugnuts.
- Lastly, the Lumberjacks' sharp new hybrid primary logo attracted the attention of two prominent national sports websites: Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy blog and the independent Uni Watch Blog. Non-biased viewpoint: I suggest both for their quality content!