Yorba Linda Yowlers MLD team thread Topic

Yowlers Season 5 Preview
Looking back, season 4 was definitely a mixed bag for Yowler fans. The regular season saw the team start off strong - the same squad that had iced three consecutive 100+ point seasons arrived, re-armed with new, high-priced talent, and came out of the gate fast. Something went awry, however.
Star RW Butch Tarnojeff underperformed and was sent to the minors after 19 games. Other scorers like Markus Levy and Chad Clemente went cold. Even Sparky Clemons was far from his usual commanding self. The team went into a dive, largely fueled by an almost total inability to score. The squad finished with 157 goals - fewer than two per game and 21st in the MLD. Only the outstanding play of two-time Vezina winning goaltender Anton Boucher kept the Yowlers out of the cellar. They managed 82 points and a 7th place berth in the playoffs.
Once the playoffs got rolling, however, it was a different story. The Yowlers used their playoff experience to advance to game seven of the 2nd round - where they lost to eventual champions the Gotham City Knights.
"I think it really says something for our squad," began coach yog when contacted for this article, "Nobody gave the Knights a tougher ride in the playoffs than we did. That team had the magic all season long, and if you look at their trip through the playoffs, we were really the only team that gave them trouble. After a terrible regular season, our guys really came together."
An optimistic viewpoint, considering the near-invisibility of key offensive players like Levy, Tarnojeff, and Ashburn?
"No. No, not at all. All three of those guys you mentioned played great defensively. We're satisfied with their performance. That doesn't mean everybody is blameless, but we're going to keep those evaluations internal."
So what happens next? Season 5 is only days away, and some big changes are in store.
"Well, first of all, you look around the league and you can see which teams have really been planning for season 7. Henderson I've already talked about, but Okanagan, Roswell... there are several teams that know what they're doing. You have to constantly bring in fresh blood or you're going to get destroyed long-term. "
What personnel moves can we expect, then?
"Going back to my last point... it's a tough call, but we've reached the point in the MLD where you just have to start cutting players to bring in new talent. We've let go four guys that have been with us since season 1. Not just benchwarmers, either. We want to send our heartfelt thanks to Charles Soluntausta and Pit Dolfva! Those guys combined for almost 120 goals for our team over the last four seasons, and unfortunately... it's just a numbers game. Somebody had to go to clear space for rookies, and their production had just tailed off recently. We also let go of Marty Franttsi and Petteri Puurunen - guys that hadn't played much, but had been solid contributors when they did get in."
Four out... tell us about the four coming in?
"Well, let me start by saying it was a really tough draft. We picked up some kids that are all projects - no home runs here. We've got a couple of new defensemen we're excited about. We used our first two draft picks for 'em. Ralph Voorhees is a sneaky, speedy, skilled defenseman out of the WHL. He's only 5'10", but he can skate like the wind. He's had a history of injuries, though. We really like his talent level. If he can stay healthy, he'll be a big contributor.
"Our second round pick was a big D-man named Paul Lawton, also out of the WHL. He's pretty much the opposite of Voorhees. He's 6'4" and tough like a rock. He's solid defensively, but his skating and puck skills need work. We're confident we can teach him those things, however. Both he and Voorhees are going to play the full season for us.
"We also got a couple of forwards, with our third-round pick and Yorkton's second-round pick. Both of them are big question marks, and may-or-may-not stick with us for the season. One's Finnish and the other's a Slovak, so we're bringing world hockey to Yorba Linda.
What about the dreaded "w" word? Which Yowlers can we expect to NOT see this year?
"After thinking about it long and hard, we've decided that we're going to have to do it quite a bit. Not what you guys want to hear, I know... but the simple reality is, if we don't, we won't have enough guys to play in seasons 7 and 8. We have to have time to bring new players in and get them ready, and that means some veterans will be in Anaheim Hills for most of the season. So we're warehousing eight players."
"Jeezus, calm down! Yes, eight. Levy, Clemente, Wester, and Tarnojeff up front, and Fulton, Strauss, Vantanen, and Walden on the blueline. It's going to be tough, but we fully intend to put a competitive product on the ice every night. We're still going to have Sillanmaki, Moorehead, and Ashburn on the ice every night. Sparky is still going to be there. And with Boucher in net, we feel we have a chance to win every night. Yes, we'll give away some points, but overall we think we can still make the playoffs and give the fans good value for their season-ticket dollar. And believe me... we'll make those points back with interest in later seasons when our top players are slicing through everyone else's paper-thin defenses!"
Anything else Yowler fans can look forward to?
"Well... I do have one other word for ya... Torpedo."
The puck drops on season 5 in just a few days. Yowler season tickets are still available in the nosebleeds. Two season tickets in section 702, an annual parking permit, and a free box of kleenex for each game are only $1500. Call now.
4/12/2007 6:33 PM
Yowlers re-trade RW Hosio
Earlier today Yowlers GM yogsloth executed a minor trade with the newly-relocated New York Pussycats franchise. Frequently-traveling RW Lars Hosio was put on a cross-continental flight to the opposite coast in exchange for little-used reargard Skene Nevari.
"Last season we re-aquired Lars from the Aliens after he fell out of their plans. We felt we could really use him back in our lineup as a defensive forward, especially since we thought there was a high probability we would rest one or both of our other top defensive forwards (Wester and Lemieux). For whatever reason, however, it just really wasn't clicking the way we hoped."
Defenseman Nevari has been on the Pussycats roster for several seasons, but has only managed to log one full MLD season for retirement purposes.
"Skinny is a solid young defensive prospect that we feel can develop into a 4-6 guy for us. He's not a real puck mover, and he's got a bit of a penchant for untimely penalties, but he's really smart and plays the body. We feel he can be taught to play within his limitations and can become a solid two-way guy over time."
Reached by cell phone as he was being dropped off at John Wayne International Airport, Hosio had little to say:
"Yeah, I'm a little disappointed. Between Yorba Linda and Roswell I never had to play in cold weather before. But I'm looking forward to it. I'm still young - I've only played 2 MLD seasons - and I get to go to a team that's rebuilding under new management. Hopefully I'll get some good ice time and be able to teach some of those punks how to backcheck."
Stay tuned for the upcoming Yowlers mid-season report.
4/25/2007 2:39 PM
Yowlers mid-season report
It's amazing how time flies. Here we are, already halfway through season number 5 in the MLD, and fortunately for the Yowlers, they find themselves back in a familiar position: on top of their division.
At the halfway point the Yowlers are sporting a 26-13-3-2 record, good for 57 points. That puts them not only ten points ahead of Okanagan in the division, but only one point behind the resurging Wynadotte Hurons for the President's Trophy.
We spoke to coach yog to learn a little bit about the Yowlers turnaround.
"I really think our improved record this season comes down to two things: Our best players are playing like our best players, and we've had key contributions from new players at key moments."
The Yowlers "best players" in question certainly referring to futurer HOF-ers Sparky Clemons and Anton Boucher, and all-star RW Russell Moorehead.
"You got it. Sparky is playing as well as he ever has. He's just a dynamo out there - he never seems to get tired, and he never takes a shift off. This guy is the Bobby Orr of the MLD. Boucher has been fantastic this year as well. You look at this guy, and you think, 'man, he's small [Boucher is only 5'8"], his glove hand is not the quickest I've ever seen, he goes down too early... there's no way this guy should be an elite goaltender'. But you know what? He gets the ****ing job done. Nobody wants to stop that puck more than Anton. He wants to kill it and eat it for breakfast like Ted Nugent ****ing shooting squirrels with a longbow."
"And what can you say about Rusty? [Moorehead] Something lit a fire under his ***. We let him know in no uncertain terms that his contribution last season was unacceptable, and as you can see, he has responded in a big way. When he plays on top of his game, he can dominate. This seasion we've seen a lot more of the Rusty we traded for, and a lot less of the Rusty that barely knocked in ten goals last year."
In fact, Moorehead finds himself at the top of the MLD goal list with 18 goals. "I can't tell you what a relief it's been," he said over the phone when contaced at home, "Thank Buddah whatever was wrong last year is over. I can't even tell you what it was. It's not like my hands fell off or my family was killed or anything. For some reason, I just could never get into a groove until the playoffs." What is perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that Moorehead is doing it without his usual center, Markus Levy. "Yeah, it kinda sucks that Markus is the minors this year. On one hand, you understand that the team can't have twenty people retire all in the same season, so some players have to redshirt. It still blows when an elite guy like Levy is toiling in the MLDML. [Minor League Dynasty Minor League] I've been playing with a bunch of different centers, but it's really working no matter who I play with."
In terms of new players, nobody has had a bigger impact that defenseman John Sleeman, acquired last year from the Chilliwack Bruins. At the time he was traded to the Yowlers, Sleeman was tearing apart the minors with 50 goals in only 40 games. This followed a long, strange oddessy of victories and letdowns.
"In season 1, things were great. We won our division, and we were one win away from making the conference final. Our team was accused of being sloppy, but man, were we having fun. I was always a big scorer in junior, but even I wasn't expecting to nail fifty goals. I have to admit, by the end of the season, when fifty was in sight, I pretty much stopped playing defense altogether."
In fact, Sleeman finished with a -26, 2nd worst on the team. His extreme popularity with the fans made him such a hit that he felt he could shrug off criticism from the coaches.
"By the second seasons, things got a lot tougher. Offense all over the MLD was dying - we went from a run-and-gun league to a tight defensive league almost overnight. I was still trying to do everything, though! I still managed 26 goals, but the team missed the playoffs. It was a tough year." Despite leading the team in scoring and improving his plus/minus to -17, Sleeman found himself taking the brunt of the blame for the team's poor performance. "I thought I improved my all-around game that year, but it seemed like every time there was a really bad goal, or a sloppy goal against, I was on the ice. As much as the fans loved me in season 1, I was getting booed in season 2."
The third MLD season was nothing short of a disaster for Sleeman. The Bruins improved as a team, but Sleeman only lasted 27 games, 3 goals, and a mind-blowing -26. "I pretty much stopped caring. When everybody blames you for everything, every mistake you make is just magnified. I fell apart. I was trying so hard to score that big goal to prove to everyone that I could still play, that I just wasn't playing D at all. I got sent down early, but honestly, it was the best thing that ever happened to me."
Season 4 saw Sleeman play most of the season in the minors, where he re-found his scoring touch and re-dedicated himself to playing defense. Although he wasn't terribly impressive in his brief callup to the Yowlers, he arrived in training camp for season 5 ready to play. An excellent pre-season earned him a starting position, and his great play (including a selection for the all-star game) have kept him playing big minutes. Not only is he a more complete player offensively, picking up plenty of assists, but he finds himself near the very top of the league plus/minus leader board!
"It doesn't hurt playing with Sparky!" laughed Sleeman. "That guy makes it really easy. I can jump into the play and know that he's going to cover me. If anything, I'm shooting the puck more than ever, but between the two of us, we always manage to get back to cover the man."
Also worth mentioning amongst the new players are several rookies. Pauli Ermakov has found a new commitment to D, so he's finally playing his first full MLD season after being one of the Yowlers' biggest scorers in the season 1 playoffs. Harry Soininen, acquired from Yorkton in the offseason, started the season on fire with 8 assists in his first 14 games before suffering a torn calf muscle. Fellow rookies Ralph Voorhees and Paul Lawton have both been solid on the blueline, with Lawton leading all rookie blueliners in goals.
"That's just amazing," Lawton related before a recent practice. "I don't really consider myself to be an offensive defenceman. I've always played a more physical game. For some reason, the puck's just going in!"
With this early success, the Yowlers are anticipating a big finish to the season. "It's great to see so many new faces but continue our success," said coach yog, "It really shows the depth of our organization that we're able to keep winning even with our best players being warehoused."
"Prowler Yowler" tickets are still available. Just steal them from your local box office.
6/12/2007 2:01 AM
Yowlers All-Time Trades Recap
During the extended break between MLD seasons 5 and 6, GMs around the league are no doubt performing extensive analysis of their rosters - strengths, weaknesses, and needs to be addressed. When that happens, trade winds inevitably blow. We thought we would spend some of this time off, sit down, and review the Yowler trades thus far.
1) (C) Markus Levy and (D) Hib Talanen to Roswell Aliens for (RW) Russell Moorehead and (D) J.C. Forssell
Scenario: Levy's off-ice problems during season two were well-documented. A change of scenery was deemed in everyone's best interest, and he was sent packing along with unused enforcer Talanen for top-line winger Moorehead and prospect blueliner Forssell.
Results: Levy never clicked in Roswell and returned to Yorba Linda later that year. Talanen saw only spot duty for the Aliens before earning a full-time job in Kingston, where his pugilistic talents were better appreciated. Other than a disappointing season 4, Moorehead has been excellent for the Yowlers, winning the Richard trophy in season 5 and helping the team to a cup win. Forssell remains in the Yowlers system, but has never earned a full-time position, and is unlikely to see anything resembling a top 6 position any time soon.
Verdict: Yowlers. Both teams won a cup as a result of this trade, but Moorehead continues to pay huge dividends.
2) (D) Herb Sortanen and (RW) Lars Hosio to Roswell Aliens for (C) Markus Levy and (D) Florent Veseloff
Scenario: The 2nd part of the prior trade saw Levy checking out of the Extended Stay in Roswell and coming home. After scoring only 3 goals in Roswell (including 2 in his final game), he came back with prospect blueliner Veseloff in tow. His trade price remained high, however, as it cost the Yowlers top-four defender Sortanen and defensive specialist Hosio.
Result: Sortanen continued to blossom as a top defenseman despite some recurrant injury issues. Hosio turned in a strong season in Roswell before losing his spot in the lineup to younger players, and was eventually traded back to the Yowlers. Levy turned his game around back in Yorba Linda, winning the Selke trophy in season 3 and providing strong defense in his new role as a checking forward. Veseloff, like Forssell before him, never earned a full-time spot with his new team and was granted his unconditional release prior to season 6.
Verdict: close, but edge to Yorba Linda. Sortanen is a key (and underappreciated) player for Roswell, but Markus Levy is a fan favorite and key leader in the locker room.
3) (D) Dirk Kleemola, (RW) Clayton Lipponen, and (LW) Igor Alikoski to Yorkton Milllers for (RW) Butch Tarnojeff, (D) Rey Perto, and (LW) Harry Soininen
Scenario: Yorkton made a key star player available... and the Yowlers stepped up to the plate to execute the blockbuster. With the Millers deciding to focus their offense on sniper Al Tavast, they were looking for some key playmakers to feed the star winger the puck. Former 100 point man Tarnojeff was deemed expendable, and was sent to Yorba Linda alongside prospects Perto and Soininen. In return, they received passing specialist Lipponen and blueliner Kleemola, who had been second on the Yowlers in assists the prior year.
Result: Lipponen had a rough start, but has turned into the top playmaker for Yorkton. Kleemola is arguably the Millers' top bluleliner, and earned a season 5 warehousing as they prepare for the future. Alikoski never played a game before being dealt and released later tha year. Despite all the fanfare, Tarnojeff never managed to catch on with the Yowlers. A solid performance during the season 5 cup run leaves some hope, however. Perto made little impact in the few games he played before being dispatched to the Chilliwack Bruins. Soininen played very well during a limited stretch for the Yowlers before suffering a significant leg injury that ended his season.
Verdict: Millers. Tarnojeff may yet turn it around, but for now, this trade has been all Yorkton.
4) (RW) Bryan Aardman to Roswell Aliens for (RW) Lars Hosio
Scenario: Part III of the Yorba Linda/Roswell saga. Hosio had turned in one solid season for the Aliens, but was no longer being used. Prospect Aardman was judged to be at the very bottom of the Yowler forward depth chart. A swap seemed to be an even risk for both squads.
Result: Aardman has developed into a solid second-line player for Roswell, scoring 21 goals in season 5. Hosio barely made a blip, failing to provide the defense he was known for. Eventually he was dealt to New York in another minor swap.
Verdict: Roswell. Both teams took a gamble, and it has paid off handsomely for rammers' squad.
5) (D) Rey Perto to Chilliwack Bruins for (D) John Sleeman
Scenario: Former all-star Sleeman had self-destructed for the Bruins in season 3 and was buried in the minors. Perto had shown flashes of talent with Yorba linda, but was too far down the depth chart to earn full-time minutes. Both squads decided to try a swap with great hopes, but little expectations.
Result: Perto's solid play has earned him a full-time position with Chilliwack, although the team struggled in season 5. Sleeman could not earn a position when he was acquired, and was a last-minute substitution on opening night for season 5. He went on to finish in the top-10 in the league for +/- and won the Conn Smythe trophy as the Yowlers won it all later that year.
Verdict: Yowlers, and not even close. Both teams took a gamble, and Sleeman radically exceeded anyone's wildest expectations.
6) (RW) Lars Hosio to NY Pussycats for (D) Skene Nevari
Scenario: The Hosio Experiment had failed in Yorba Linda. The Pussycats wanted a defensive forward, and were willing to part with depth defensman Nevari.
Result: Neither player has made much of an impact. Hosio's confidence continued to erode as he was a deplorable -8 in 10 games for the 'Cats, while Nevari remains deep down the depth chart on the Yowlers' squad.
Verdict: Wash. If one of these players steps in to produce in the coming seasons, there may be a more solid verdict - but in the mean time, this was purely a depth trade and of little consequence.
6/27/2007 3:16 PM
Yowlers Begin Season 6 with Surprise Trade
On opening night against the Valhalla Vikings, the Yowlers raised their 2nd MLD Cup banner. One player that was not present, however, was Richard trophy winner and team MVP Russell Moorehead. In a surprise move, Yowlers' coach and GM yoglsoth announced before the game that Moorehead had been traded back to his original team, the Roswell Aliens.
Before we begin to critique the deal, however, let's look back at last season:
Beginning season 5, the Yowlers made the decision to warehouse 8 of their top players - a decision that did not sit well with fans. Levy, Clemente, Wester and Tarnojeff up front, and Fulton, Strauss, Vantanen, and Walden on the blueline. As it happened, they also rested Tomas Sillanmaki - one of the team's leading goal scorers from seasons 3 and 4. Through careful drafting and coaching, the youth-laden team still managed 98 points and the best record in the conference.
"You really have to thank a few key players," began coach yog when contacted for his analysis, "And it starts with the goaltending. Anton Boucher was once again magnificent... and Mal Pokela, at times, was even better. No team gets anywhere without goaltending, and we got it in spades."
Of course, everyone wants to know about the turnarounds for Moorehead and Sleeman. "I know you've already written a ton about both of those guys, so I won't re-hash it all, but obviously, between the two of them they pretty much carried the offense all season. Nights when they weren't at their best, we got big contributions from some of our younger players."
Anyone in particular?
"Odie Romu is a name everybody needs to remember. He had a really slow start to his career. We drafted him in the mid rounds somewhere... I can't even remember what it was... and he only managed 8 goals in 82 games in season 3. He came to us as one of those raw, talented, but unpolished kids you hope can put it all together. Season 3 he played on our 4th line, didn't get any special teams time... he spent the entire year just learning the game. Season 4 came and he had a setback. He didn't come to camp with the right attitude. He thought just because he played all 82 his rookie year he was guaranteed a job. It doesn't work that way. A year in the minors really taught him what he needed to fix mentally. Shooting, passing... we can teach that. We can't teach heart and desire, and that's what he came to camp with last year. His numbers still weren't jaw-dropping, but his all-around game just evolved faster than those blue monkey things in that s****y movie with the X-Files guy. He's going to be a big part of this team."
So let's talk about season 6. First thing, of course, is the trade. How do you trade your team MVP, the guy who led the league in goals, right after winning the cup?
"Well, it's not easy by any means. I don't want anybody to think that we don't know Rusty's value. He has been an incredibly important part of this franchise, and we value every minute he gave to us. It's our respect for Rusty as a person and a player that actually led to the trade. After the cup, Rusty came to me and we had a great heart-to-heart. He knows that he only has one season to play. Roswell was really a place where he grew up as a person. He turned pro there, he was a fan favorite, he still has family there... he expressed a desire to return if possible. Now that he has a cup, he feels he wants to play his final season back where he started. We were able to grant him that wish."
Tell us about the deal!
"Well, it's two deals, really. We sent Russell for Ben Eggan, and then as part of the negotiations, we wound up finishing a second trade at the same time - Zigmund Sychra and a 2nd round pick from us for Scotty Hutchinson. It's pretty much just one trade, though, as the Sychra deal was just an offshoot of the Moorehead discussions. Basically, we're giving up Rusty, the pick, and a young player with lots of potential for two guys that still have lots of time on the clock, but bring untapped potential themselves. Eggan was a big star for Winnipeg before he was dealt to Roswell... Not many guys have scored 60 goals in this league! He never managed to fit in with the Aliens, but we feel he can recapture his offensive form for us. Hutchinson is a defensive forward that we think will work well for us matching up against top lines and killing penalties. Both guys have 3 seasons , so we're actually even on the total seasons exchanged. [Moorehead and Sychra have a combined 6 seasons , as do Eggan and Hutchinson.] We never would have done this deal if Rusty hadn't requested it, but we're happy that we were able to get good value for him. We wish him all the best... except when we play Roswell!"
What other changes can we expect this year?
"The usual... we have some new players to work into the linuep, some veterans will be on the sidelines. We got a couple of wings in the draft... I call them the twins, because I can't tell them apart. Karrman and Stajan. Or is it Starrman and Kajan? I don't know. They're both skilled guys that are going to play every night. We're going to try and go with a little more consistant lineup this season - not frantically trying to get all 35 guys tons of ice time."
"One thing we are going to do is share the goaltending duties a little more. Not only do we have Boucher and Pokela, and our third guy Hanhimaki, but we just drafted another goalie we're excited about. Ethan Fabrell. He's a young kid, but he's athletic as hell and he's got a reputation for being very coachable. We're going to give Anton a little time off and rotate our starters a bit. Look for Boucher to get about 25-30 starts... we really want to give Mal a chance to carry the team, as well as get our other guys some evaluation time."
Get your season seats now as the Yowlers begin their quest for MLD cup #3!
9/2/2007 2:51 PM
Yowlers Announce First Retirements With Honors
Now that season 6 has concluded, teams around the league are announcing their mandatory retirements. As a new regular feature, we will be profiling Yowler players that have fulfilled six seasons of MLD eligibility and are graduating on to the next stage of their careers.
RW Doug Ashburn GP G A PTS
Regular Season 492 102 99 201
Playoffs 79 14 16 30
A quality 2nd-line player throughout his career, Doug Ashburn graduates from the Yowlers with several notable accomplishments. He is one of only two Yowlers to have played every regular-season and playoff game. (The other being team captain Sparky Clemons.) He served as an alternate captain for much of his career, and is perhaps most notable for only having taken three minor penalties in his 571 games (one in the regular season, two in the playoffs). A dependable two-way forward, he finished his career as a +52 in the regular season and a fantastic +27 in the playoffs. He wore #12 throughout his career.
LW Lyndon James GP G A PTS
Regular Season 469 82 102 184
Playoffs 71 6 15 21
Lyndon came to the Yowlers with high expectations as a playmaker after a stellar junior career. As such, he was the only initial Yowler granted a uniform number above 35 as he was allowed to keep #55 from his junior days. Although he never again came close to his career high of 75 points from season 1, he retires as the Yowlers' 4th leading scorer of all time. Like Doug Ashburn, he saw his role shift to a more defensive one later in his career, and finished a fantastic +84. Although he never seemed to play as well in the playoffs, he still made some key contributions to both Yowlers championships.
9/2/2007 3:19 PM
Yowlers Season #7 Preview
Season 6 ended for Yorba Linda in a dramatically different fashion from season 5. After the high of winning their 2nd MLD cup, the Yowlers struggled through an inconsistent, offensively-starved 6th campaign, eventually losing out on the 8th and final playoff spot on the very last game of the season.
Without leading goal-scorer Russell Moorehead (traded to Roswell), and with several other top offensive players (Levy, Clemente, Sleeman) warehoused, Yorba Linda struggled all season to score, finishing with a laughable 152 total goals for. Not even the emergence of new star Odie Romu (career high 28 goals) could make up for the deficit.
"Was trading Rusty a mistake?" responded coach yog to our query, "I can't really say that. Looking at the deal, I still feel we made our team stronger in the long run. There's no doubt it hurt us last year, but there' still this delicate balancing act we have to pursue in the MLD. We didn't really think we could afford to have Rusty retire, and we still have 3 full seasons of Ben Eggan to go."
But Eggan royally struggled in his first appearance with the Yowlers, scoring only 1 goal in 19 games and going a -4. Newcomer Scotty Hutchinson, acquired in the same trade, fared better with 5 points and a +7, but there was no doubt that Yowler fans could not easily forget the offense and flair of Moorehead.
"True, but like I said, we felt we had to do that deal to be a great team in seasons 7+, not just for one year. I can tell you this much, however, we're loading up for season 7. We're going to put the best lineup on the ice every single night."
What? Does that mean no warehousing?
"That's right. You heard it here first. I can't promise this for season 8 or beyond, but we understand our responsibility to our fans. They put up with a lot of uncertainty the last few years as some of their favorite players only played 19 games or less, but not this season. We're going to have our strongest lineup ever out there. We expect nothing less than the President's Trophy. The only slight adjustment will be a continued focus on spreading out the goaltending duties."
Will we not see Anton Boucher, then?
"You'll see him, but probably only about 30-35 starts. We have all the confidence in the world in both him and Mal Pokela, but for the sake of the franchise, we simply must have a younger goaltender step up and prove that he can play in this league. Branislav Hanhimaki, I have to tell you, is on his last chance here. After a fantastic start, he simply has not done what we have asked of him. Either he or Ethan Fabrell is going to have to show us something special this year, or we may have to pursue other avenues to secure goaltending once Boucher and Pokela have moved on."
Will there be any young players in the lineup at all this year?
"We'll have one. We had a really tough entry draft this year. We had already dealt our 2nd round pick to Roswell, so we were really looking at possibly only pulling one decent player out of the talent pool. These drafts really are only about 3 rounds deep at best (ahthough contrary to popular belief, the talent level has been very consistent - they're not getting worse). As it turns out, we're very happy with our first-round pick, Randall Passmore. He's a guy who probably could have gone first overall if some scouts hadn't been scared away by a knee injury he suffered last year in junior. We feel he's fully recovered from that injury, so we don't see any problems. He's a big 6'4", tough-as-nails defenseman that is fantastic in his own zone and has some decent puck skills as well. His nickname in junior was, get this, 'Fido', for being as tough and mean as a junkyard dog. We'll work with him to try and keep his PIMs under control, but we really feel this guy steps into our top 6 right away."
All this has to be great news for Yowlers' fans. Now we'll see if the team can follow up on these lofty expectations.
9/30/2007 12:21 AM
Yowlers acquire winger Metsakangas for playoff push
Just past the halfway point in a confusing season 7, the Yorba Linda Yowlers are getting a reinforcement: top-flight defensive winger German Metsakangas from the Yorkton Millers.
"It's been a tough season so far, no doubt," began Yowlers' coach/GM yogsloth when contacted about the trade. "We've kept our promise to the fans to put the best lineup on the ice every night. We dominated the preseason (going 12-2), but when the season started, we just totally fell flat. Opening 1-5-1 is a tough hole to try and dig your way out of. Since then, we've gone through dominant stretches and stretches where we looked like a junior B team. We felt a strong need to tighten up defensively, and there are very few players as good as German at that task."
Indeed, Metsakangas comes with an impressive resumé: In addition to wearing the "A", his collection of Millers' hardware includes 2 "Most Gentlemanly" awards, a "Best Defensive Forward" trophy, and even awards for "Most Goals" and "Best Forward" in season 4.
"In fact, even offensively speaking, the guy is a true talent. He actually comes to us with 9 goals this season, which puts him on top of our goals list for forwards!" Coach yog continued: "We feel very fortunate to be able to acquire his services. We really feel that once he has a chance to gel [preliminary plans are for Metsakangas to step directly on to the top line with Scotty Hutchinson and Ben Eggan], we'll be poised to make another run at the cup."
What were the terms of the deal?
"Well, since he has to retire at the end of this season, we were able to rent him from the Millers for a 3rd round pick. It looks like Yorkton is going to miss the dance this year, so their GM drg decided to get what he could. We've also got a plan in place to ceremonially trade him back to Yorkton right after the playoffs so he can officially retire as a Miller."
Any other comments on the season in progress?
"Not many that are printable!" laughs coach yog. "It's been a strange year in the MLD overall. The parity is amazing. other than the bottom 4 or 5 teams that saw some pretty tough retirement issues, you really get the feeling that every team in the league has a shot at the title. It's another reason for us doing this trade - we're looking for any edge we can get. We're not the only squad poking around for playoff rentals, believe me." [In fact, Pontiac completed a trade for Okanagan role-player Willie Chancellor just hours before the Metsakangas trade was announced.] "The good news is that offense has been up around the league - a trend we all hope continues as more star defensive players retire."
"For our own squad, it's been a stranger season that most. Our top 4 goal scorers are all defensemen - including guys that don't ususally bury that many, like Strauss and Kevyn Vantanen."
It's definately been a year for Yowlers' blueliners. Team captain Sparky Clemons and his partner John Sleeman were selected to be the two starting defensemen in the MLD's mid-season All-Star game. Rookie "Fido" Passmore, after a shaky start, has been solid, scoring 14 points in 48 games to go with a +10 rating. Perhaps the only defensman that has struggled is the normally stalwart Kip Fulton, the only full-time player on the Yowlers with a minus rating.
"Kip has had a difficult year, no doubt," related coach yog carefully, "We feel confident that he will rebound, however. We've been relying on Kip for a long time, and we know he steps it up to another level in the playoffs. Some of our other guys have struggled a bit as well, like Junior [center Abe Gates] and Eggan, but overall, we feel like if we can just settle down a bit we can still be a force to be reckoned with. Even if we don't have the regular season we really wanted to have, I don't think there's a team in the league that wants to face us in the playoffs."
Time will tell.
9/30/2007 12:21 AM
Yowlers Announce Next Retimenet With Honors
Now that season 7 has concluded, it's time for the latest retirement notice. The Yowlers have only one player retiring this year, despite season 7's focus on veteran players. (Note that winger German Metsakangas elected to retire as a Miller, so he is not included here.)
LW Gizzy Raskila GP G A PTS
Regular Season 442 65 131 196
Playoffs 67 11 16 27
Gizzy arrived in the MLD with a reputation for being a fast-skating playmaking winger with a solid two-way game, despite his 5'8" size. His first season, he averaged over a point-per-game playing mostly on the Yowlers' 2nd line with a variety of linemates. He also saw duty on the 2nd power-play line, where his smooth passing helped propel center Markus Levy to his franchise-record 10 PP goals. Unfortunately, Gizzy missed significant time that season with a knee injury - an injury that would dog him for years. He missed most of season 2 with that same injury, and it would hamper his effectiveness for most of his career. Ironically, it wasn't until his final MLD season that the knee finally stabilized enough to bring him back up to full effectiveness. He wore #19 throughout his career, in honor of his favorite player, Jim Fox.
11/12/2007 12:57 PM
Yowlers Season #8 Preview
MLD season 7 has wrapped up, the new draft class is in, the retirement banquets have been held, and franchises around the globe are gearing up for season 8. In Yorba Linda, the offseason has seen relatively little shakeup in terms of the roster, but a lot of unanswered questions hang in the air.
"Obviously, getting smoked in the first round is not exactly what we wanted," began coach/GM yogsloth, "Especially not with the talent we put on the ice every night."
In fact, the Yowlers had a reasonably succesful regular season, notching their 4th 100 point season in 7 tries. They seemed to falter down the stretch, however, losing the division on the very last game of the season to the Valhalla Vikings.
"It's almost inexplicible... we had a very up-and-down season all year, but it seemed like we clicked with about 12 games to play. Then it all went to Hell. Maybe that loss to Valhalla took the wind out of our sails. Pontiac was pretty much the one team we did not want to meet in the playoffs. Not just because of the 2000 mile commute - we really struggled against them all year. They were clearly the superior team. Sparky was really the only one who showed up to play."
Team captain Sparky Clemons did, in fact, add quite another impressive season to his resumé. He captured the 2nd Art Ross trophy and 3rd Masterton trophy of his career. He was clearly the dominant blueline player in the league the entire season, and was head-and-shoulders the best player on the Yowlers during their disappointing 6-game playoff run. After their elimination on home ice, the usually upbeat team captain was captured by local news crews smashing up the Yowlers dressing room. He declined to be interviewed for this article. When quizzed about it, coach yog gave a very surprising answer:
"Well... this is very difficult to say, but the fact is that Sparky actually will not be in uniform this season. I can't really say too much, but Sparky cleared out his locker after that last loss to Pontiac. We don't know what his plans are. We haven't had much contact with him. We want him to know that he's welcome back any time, and if we need to wait, or if he needs a psychiatrist like that guy that mooched off Metallica, we're willing to do whatever needs to be done. He's our franchise, and we're willing to reach out to him. I think he's just been really frustrated with the last couple of seasons. Nobody is a more fierce competitor than Sparky, and he doesn't take losing easily."
A serious blow for Yowlers fans. What does this mean for the rest of the roster?
"Well, we're going to see a younger lineup this year for sure. We're not throwing the season by any means, but realistically, our tactic last season of playing 100% veterans is not something we can do every year. Some younger players are going to get a chance to step up, particularly on the blueline. Our forwards will see a good mixture of veteran leaders like Chad Clemente and Toni Wester, along with some younger players we feel are in prime position to take that next step, like Nevin Karrman and Harry Soininen."
"Our blueline is going to be missing its keystone, obviously, but we feel really excited that players like Fido, Skinny, and Bunyon [Randall Passmore, Skene Nevari, and Paul Lawton respectively] are set to move into full-time roles. Plus, and I know the fans are going to love this, but Torpedo [Kaspars Torppela] had a phenomenal year for us in the minors. Everybody looks at the 500 PiMs he put up, but he was very effective in his own end as well. We really feel this is his year. He's incredibly excited - he even said something to me about 'kicking that master-bates guy into next Fobbo day', whatever in the world that means."
Tell us about this year's entry draft.
"With the second wave of retirements here, the draft is taking on a significance it really hasn't had before. You can really see how important forwards were this year. The only forward that made himself draft-eligible that didn't actually get picked was that kid from Russia with one leg. What was he thinking?"
Who can Yowler fans look forward to?
"We've got two new forwards coming in ourselves. Patrick Yaremchuk is a fairly experienced player... a solid, gritty two-way winger. We're quite happy to add him to the team. We also picked up a crazy kid named Kirby Niemenn. He's a center from the Northwest Territories... He's pretty much been the best player in any league he's been in, but that doesn't mean too much. He lived too far away to get noticed by WHL teams, so he's pretty much been playing against junior-high kids and sled dogs for most of his career. He's a great natural talent, but he has miles to go to learn about defense and what it takes to succeed in the MLD."
A 3rd round pick went to Yorkton in the Metsakangas deal, so the Yowlers didn't really find any other players worth keeping?
"No, nobody that was going to take away a job from one of our top 35 guys. We did say goodbye to J.C. Forssell [Yowlers' longtime journeyman defender, acquired from the Aliens several seasons ago], as both he and the team came to the conclusion he probably wasn't going to step into the lineup anytime soon. We granted him his unconditional release. I understand he's going to get into the sub-prime mortgage market as a telemarketer."
It looks to be a long but exciting season for Yowlers fans, who are unaccustomed to this type of turmoil and drama. Will the younger players be able to keep the Yowlers' tradition of success alive? Or will the unexplained abscence of captain Clemons prove too disruptive? Yorba Linda and the rest of the MLD have all season to find out.
11/14/2007 11:37 PM
Yowlers Season 8 Mid-Season Report
Here we are, 44 games into the MLD's 8th season, and the Yorba Linda Yowlers sit in their familiar first-place position in the Bavis Division. It hasn't been an easy road, however. Roster upheaval led a relatively inexperienced Yowlers squad to start off 5-10-3. Coming off a disappointing first round blow-out at the hands of the Pontiac Firebirds at the end of season 7, things looked decidedly downbeat at the ¼ mark of the season. Since then, however, the team has gone an astonishing 17-3-6. We asked coach yog about the turnaround:
"You know, it just takes time to gel. We started the season with a few veteran players on the sidelines for various reasons, including most of our blueline. When you have guys with little or no MLD experience being paired together for the first time, the timing just isn't there. We've always had a lot of confidence in the guys we have on this team... we knew there would be an adjustment period. We were never worried."
We'll get to the lineup changes in a moment, but can you tell us about some of the younger players?
"Well, you have to start with the goaltending. We've seen an amazing turnaround by Branislav Hanhimaki. He's in his 5th season now in the MLD, playing 3rd string behind Boucher and Pokela. We've tried to give him more starts in the past, but his consistency has always been lacking. This year, he's just taken the ball and sprinted with it. The talent has always been there, but this is really the first time we've seen that mental preparation every night. The guys have a lot of confidence in him now, and that makes all the difference in the world."
What about the musical chairs on the blueline? Only one defender from last season has had a full time role!
"And that has really been the biggest adjustment. We have 6 guys on defense for us this year, none of whom had more than 2 seasons of experience at the start of the season! All of them have been just phenomal, and they all deserve individual recognition. You look at the improvements these guys have had, and it's been amazing. All of them have really developed into legitimate full-time MLD players. Paul Lawton has learned that there's more to life than hammering the puck every chance you get... we really feel he's shown the biggest all-around improvement. Lex Rheume has been with us for quite some time now in a part-time role, but he's really broken through, as has Skene Nevari. Both those guys have really improved defensively. Fido Passmore really struggled early this year, probably more than the other guys, because he had only played with Kevyn Vantanen, one of our very best defensive players. Last year, he could make mistakes and Kevyn would cover for him. Fido struggled in the first few games, but his confidence has increased tremendously in the past few weeks. Ralph Voorhees came to us with a reputation for goals, and last week he nailed down a hat trick! He's also probably been our best all-around defenseman all season. Of course, we can't forget the Torpedo... it's a real shame about his shoulder injury, because I think it's been obvious the improvement he's made to his game. Every team in the league wishes they had a guy like him. Not only is he relentlessly physical, but he's great in his own zone, and he's legitimately intimidating. You watch other teams, and when Torpedo's on the ice, they spend more time watching him than the puck. They're really afraid of him. He brings an incredible element to our team when he's out there."
Is he close to returning?
"Fortunately, he is. He's been skating without contact the past few days, and we should see him back in any day now. We're just waiting for the doctors to give clearance. If it were up to Torpedo, he'd keep playing if his arm were ripped clean out of its socket and sold on e-bay!"
Let's go ahead and finish our quick tour through the roster. What about the forwards?
"Well, it just goes to show that sometimes you really don't know what to expect in the MLD. We are getting the production out of some players we expect it from... Chad Clemente comes to mind... but others have surprised us pleasantly. We really didn't expect much this year from Howie Stajan. Last year he didn't make it into a single game, and he used that as motivation. He doesn't want to play in the MLDML forever. He's really not the most talented natural goal scorer... right now he's grinding out on guts and heart, and we'll take that any day. Scotty Hutchinson deserves special mention as well. He's not leading our team in scoring, but he has been a MONSTER for us in every situation. He's our top penalty killer, he's been a huge factor in the success of our power play, he's just killing it in the faceoff circle, and he's really taken to being a mentor for some of our younger players. Hutch is going to be a coach someday... he's a natural. We were all really excited that the All-Star selection committe was able to look past just his point total and pick him for the squad. It actually shows the overall depth and strength of our organization that he was the only Yowler picked. We've played a team game all year, without any real individual standouts. I do want to give some quick recognition to Bennett Joseph and Patrick Yaremchuk, however. Bennett has really come into his own after years of 4th-line duty, and Yaremchuk has lived up to our expectations so far, coming in as a first-round pick. He's thrived on the power play, and we think he's really got a bright future ahead of him."
Okay, so let's get to the difficult stuff, then. You know what we mean.
*sigh* "Yes, of course, Sparky. Well, we know where he is."
Leksands of the SEL. Eagle-eyed MLD fans spotted his name on their roster a few weeks ago.
"Yes, that's right. He's signed the equivalent of a PTO with Leksands. We've been in contact with him. He's only played in a couple of games with them. It's tough to walk into the SEL in the middle of the season as an import player and pull big ice time. It is a big step up for the MLD, however... it's probably the first significant 'graduation' our league has seen. We've been in contact with him. We know he has an 'out' in his contract that will allow him to return to the MLD if he chooses. The door is still open... obviously, he's our captain and our franchise, and we want him back. We're hopeful we may convince him to come back for the playoffs."
What about other veterans Yowlers fans have grown accustomed to seeing?
"Well, with our blueline, after the pounding we took last season, we knew we had to give these younger guys a chance. We're facing some pretty tough retirement circumstances back there, so we had to sit most of our top guys. Next season we'll see a better mix of veterans and younger players. With the forwards, we were also trying to get some of our rookies some good ice time. Every single rookie on our roster has registered 20 games this year. That means that guys like Levy, Romu, Eggan, and Tarnojeff... guys that have had a lot of success and have been around since season 1... could take the year off. We really think it will make us stronger in the long run."
The rest of the season promises to be an eventful one for Yowlers fans. Will the younger players continue to play at a high level? With captain Clemons return? What will the playoff roster look like? Will there be any personnel moves, coach yog?
"It's always possible. You never know when teams will decide they're out of the playoff race... what players will become available... we'll be looking, but I'm certainly not promising anything."
If there are any moves upcoming, you'll read about them here first. Good luck to coach yog and the rest of the Yowlers squad!
12/11/2007 9:49 PM
Yowlers make trade, say goodbye to veteran
Today, the Yorba Linda Yowlers said goodbye to veteran defenseman Kip Fulton, sending the stalward blueliner to the Winnipeg Jets for winger Cameron Weibe. We contacted all of the interested parties to get their thoughts.
"There's no doubt that there's a bit of sadness in our organization today," Yowlers coach/GM yogsloth told us, "Kip has been a huge part of the success of this franchise since the inception of the MLD. This trade in no way reflects any dissatifaction we've had with him... I think his play this year filling in for Torpedo shows just how dominant he can still be. It's simply a product of the rules of the MLD. Kip has only one season to play, Weibe has three. Like many teams out there, we're facing some serious retirement issues in the next few years, especially amongst our forwards. We wish we could hang on to Kip forever, but the practical reality is that you just can't do that. The emergence of our younger D-men has opened the door for us to adjust our depth a little bit. We're quite happy with this deal, and we wish nothing but the best for Kip as he closes out his career in Winnipeg."
Tell us about Weibe.
"This is a kid that has been surviving on guts and desire. You look at his skillset, and you think that maybe he's not a top-end talent, not a top-end offensive player... but it's hard to argue with results. He's improved his game dramatically in each of his three seasons. He comes in right away as one of our top three goal scorers this year. He's the type of winger that goes north to south, up and down every game, and bangs in the garbage everybody else leaves behind. He won't dazzle you with stickhandling skills too often, but he has what you can't teach- pure, unadulterated desire. He's tough to move from in front of that crease, and he's always wacking away. We think he'll fit in well in a 2nd or 3rd line role, maybe a little bit of time on the 2nd unit of the power play. We'll see how it works out, but we're certainly glad to add his grit. There are also a couple of draft picks switching positions - basically we add another first rounder this year for a first or second before season 10."
Fulton arrived to the Yowlers after a four-year career with his hometown Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. Although passed over in the NHL draft, he put up impressive numbers at both ends of the ice. He was originially scouted for the MLD as a potential franchise defenseman, capable of scoring goals and defending his own zone with equal skill. Originally paired with future hall-of-famer Sparky Clemons for his first four seasons, he flourished. He leaves the Yowlers as the franchise's all-time leader in +/- at a staggering +205. He holds the single-season mark at +72, and was never less than a +3 in any single season. He managed over 80 goals in his Yowlers career despite sparing use on the power play. He is also among the franchise's all-time leaders in games played (460) and PIM (126).
Recent seasons saw Fulton used less and less, as warehousing became rampant in the MLD. In season 7, his last complete season, he struggled on the Yowlers' third pairing as John Sleeman usurped Fulton's normal spot next to captain Clemons. His 12 games this season have seen a true return to form, however, as he potted 5 goals while playing over 20 minutes per game.
"It's a sad day, you know, but it's exciting too," related Fulton as he slowly packed skates, sticks, and yo-yos into his equipment bag. "There's no doubt I'm going to miss it here in 'The Land of Gracious Living'. Two championships, lots of great games, lots of great times... I really grew up here in Yorba Linda."
What do you think of your new squad?
"Well, there are some great things ahead. Obviously, Winnipeg is a great franchise. They've been extremely competitive the last couple of seasons and they're just as good this year. I can't wait for my chance to bring a cup to that city. They've waited so long. The Lacroixs are a great hockey family, and I'm really looking forward to fitting in. Plus, Winnipeg is pretty close to where I grew up, so it will be nice to be close to family. Of course, moving to Winnipeg in the middle of f***ing December leaves a little to be desired, but hey - you can't have it all."
When contacted via cell phone at the airport, new Yowler Weibe expressed some mixed feelings:
"Well, obviously, if you're going to get traded, it's hard to complain about going to Yorba Linda. Not only do they always seem to put together a competitive team, but I just looked it up on my blackberry... it's 15 degrees [59 F] out there today! I'm wearing shorts! Still, it's really hard to leave Winnipeg. I was really kind of caught by surprise. It will be a little bit of mental adjustment to get used to not being a Jet. I love this team. Maybe someday I'll come back, maybe like, as an assistant coach or something. I guess we'll see. But in the meantime, I've already got an appointment at the tattoo shop to get my Yowler tat. Maybe I could get him riding on top of the jet I've got on my chest, what do you think?"
12/18/2007 11:39 AM
Captain Clemons returns
The Yorba Linda Yowlers today called a surprise press conference to announce the return of team captain Sparky Clemons. Clemons, clad in his jersey with the "C" prominently displayed, took the podium first and read a brief statement:
"Hello everybody. To get started, I would like to thank the Yowlers organization for making this possible today, and all of the fans who sent me so many e-mails and cards while I was in Sweden. It's really for the fans that I'm announcing my comeback. They say you don't really know what you've got until it's gone, and that was certainly true in my case. After two seasons of frustration and losses, I made the decision last summer to pursue a career overseas in an attempt to work on my bid for an NHL tryout. While I was somewhat succesful, I simply did not have the joy and happiness that I get from playing in the MLD. I have Leksands and will come back to the Yowlers organization, effective tomorrow. I have already spoken extensively to coach yog and my teammates, and I am confident that I will be able to step back in seamlessly. I would like to pledge to all of the Yowlers' fans, and to my teammates, that I will not step away from this team for any reason until I have exhausted my MLD eligibility. Addtionally, I will not be taking any salary for the rest of this season. The pro-rated amount of my salary that I would have been paid will instead be donated to the "Yo-Yos From Yowlers" charity, to bring fun recreation and cheap entertainment to disadvantaged youth throughout Orange County. Thank you."
Next us was coach yog, who immediately opened the floor to questions from the throng of reporters:
How did you manage to convince Sparky to return?
"Well, I really think Sparky answered that best himself. It was never a contentious thing. He's got NHL dreams, and we had to allow him a chance to get closer to that goal. At this point, you know, he wasn't getting tons of ice time in Leksands [Clemons nodded at this point], and returning to the MLD really seems like his best chance at that right now. A few more trophies in Yorba Linda, and there's no doubt in my mind the NHL will come calling."
With the success the Yowlers have been having this year, who sits to make room for Sparky? Won't that destroy your fragile chemistry?
"What, are you from the Pontiac paper? Jeez! No, we don't think there will be a problem. Obviously, our defensemen have played tremendously well. None of them deserve to sit. We've been practicing Torpedo at wing, a position he's played a few times in the minors, and it seems like it can work."
Are you happy to have your Captain back?
"What are you, an idiot? Next question!"
What changes will be made among the forwards, then?
"Well, at the same time Sparky comes back, we have a few warehoused forwards eligible to start play. We're going to take a long, hard look at who has really earned a spot on our playoff roster this year, and make some decisions. We haven't set a final roster yet, but I can tell you some people are probably going to be happier than others. We have such an incredibly deep team that we just can't play everybody. There will be some surprises, too. Thanks everybody for coming, we have some practices to get in before the changes tomorrow!"
12/20/2007 5:59 PM
Yowlers Announce Next Set of Retirements With Honors
Season 8 has concluded, and the Yorba Linda Yowlers are proud to announce the next two retirements-with-honors:
RW Chad Clemente GP G A PTS
Regular Season 512 128 113 241
Playoffs 105 20 24 44
One of the original high-flying Yowlers from Season 1, Clemente earned the admiration of fans for his hard-nosed, mucking style of play. A top garbage goal scorer, Clemente earned his paycheck within 10 feet of the opponent's net. A significant shoulder problem in season 1 that caused him to miss 18 games was the only injury of his career. Clemente served as as assistant captain on and off throughout his 8 seasons with the team. His 241 points place him 3rd all-time in franchise scoring, behind only Sparky Clemons and Markus Levy. He wore #7 his entire career.
C Toni Wester GP G A PTS
Regular Season 530 88 84 172
Playoffs 105 24 20 44
No player in the history of the franchise has scored as many playoff goals as Toni Wester. Not bad for a man who earned his living on the 3rd line and usually played all two minutes of every Yowler penalty kill. A two-time winner of the team's "Defensive Forward of the Year" award, Wester retires as the franchise leader in short-handed goals with 5, 2nd in games played with 530, 4th in +/- at an impressive +151, and 3rd all-time in franchise penalty minutes with 167. He wore #23 throughout his career.
1/21/2008 12:36 PM
Yowlers Season #9 Preview
So, so close. That's the bittersweet feeling that permeated the Yowler locker room at the close of the cup finals. After essentially dominating the first three rounds and winning game one of the finals against Chilliwack, the Yowlers suddenly found themselves unable to break through against the impenetrable Bruins defense. The team managed only 7 goals in the remaining five games, with only a brilliant 22 save shutout performance by Ethan Frabrell in a 1-0 win in game 5 giving Yorba Linda fans reason to cheer.
"It's very tough, of course," said coach yog when asked about the emotional letdown, "We're all here to win a cup. People think, 'oh those OC yuppies, they already have 2 cups, what do they need with another one?' But what they don't realize is that over half the guys on our squad didn't have a cup win! That's how much our roster has turned over since season 5."
A total disaster, then?
"Well, no, of course you can't say that. I think we probably exceeded people's expectations this year, especially considering that we were without our franchise player for ¾ of the season. Chilliwack just played a flawless game for most of the series. This was certainly not a case of us saying we made this mistake, made that mistake... the Bruins earned that cup. Every game was close, and they just were amazing. They had an answer to everything we came up with. Congrats to coach bremrio - you guys were fantastic."
A couple of top Yowlers are retiring. Will this have a big impact on the upcoming season?
"Yeah, Clemente and Wester were huge parts of our franchise. Every team in the league is going through this, where great guys, fan favorites, top guys are having to hang up the skates. It's pretty much the only consolation when you lose key guys like those two. We've also said goodbye to Harry Soininen. He had a knee injury that just wasn't getting better, and it kept cropping up over and over. We'd like to thank him for his service as well, and we wish him luck in the future."
Tell us about the young players coming in.
"We're pretty excited. We had the opportunity to add several young guys, and we're pretty high on all of them. Our theme this year seemed to be 'potential'. None of the guys we added will be able to step in and be a top player right away, but we think all of them have the potential to be stars on our team in seasons 11+.
"Our first round pick was a local kid from Santa Ana named Javier Moreno. He's really a great human-interest story. His family doesn't have much money, he's only been playing competitive hockey for the last 4 years. He's got a great work ethic, however. He's eager to learn. He'll step in right away as a checker, and hopefully his roll will expand with time.
"We had a first round pick from Winnipeg as well. After a little more negotiating, we were able to land a kid named Walter Schanin. He's a defenseman with a lot of offensive talent. He's pretty raw, but our scouts saw huge potential in him. There were a lot of more MLD-ready D-men out there, but we think the sky's the limit for this kid. He'll spend the year in Anaheim Hills gaining experience, but we definitely see him quarterbacking our power play in a few seasons.
"We also got another guy from a non-traditional market, something we seem to specialize in. Peanuts McGuillicutty is a kid from Ireland. He's basically the best player on the island by a mile. When we were first scouting him, we were amazed at his skating. Playing against inferior competition, his strength and defense aren't where we'd like them to be, but we're confident he can work on that. Interestingly, we found out during the pre-draft interview that 'Peanuts' is actually his real name! We had always thought it was just a nickname. What were his parents thinking?
"Finally, we have Chris Ryan. This is a guy with great talent, huge offensive talent, that has been overlooked his whole junior career due to injuries. Shoulder, knee, tongue... this guy has sprained every part of his body. There's no denying his natural talent, however. If he can put it all together and stay healthy, he'll be a home run. He'll probably spend the year in Anaheim Hills as well, but he may get a callup."
MLD fans have come to grudgingly accept warehousing. Last season saw several top players sitting out, as well as both of the team's top goaltenders. What can we expect this year?
"Well, with the goaltending, I think it's pretty tough to argue with that decision. Our young stoppers dominated at times! We're over the moon about both Branislav and Ethan. Actually, this season, we're sending both of those guys to train in Europe. They both have really, really long futures in the MLD. We're making sure we have top-notch goaltending for many years in the future, and although both of them want to be here, they understand the situation. Anton Boucher is going to make his swansong this year, and we're going to get him all the starts we can."
Is this related to the rumours of impending rule changes for goalies?
"Well, not really. This was part of the plan from the beginning. Anton is a Hall-of-Famer in the making, and we're going to get every save out of him we can. Looking at other positions, for forwards, we're going to see a really young squad. We simply must find goalscoring up front. Last season Howie Stajan really broke through, and this year we're going to need to see that kind of thing from some other guys. With guys like James and Clemente retired, and Levy, Hutch, etc. all close, some of the kids have to grab that brass ring. They're going to get that chance. Our blueline will look a little more veteran this year, but that's partly because some of our younger defencemen that have developed so well are moving into that stage of their careers. We think we'll have another fine squad on display for season 9. We've averaged 103 points per season since we joined the MLD, and we'll be going for another 100+ season this year."
Thanks to coach yog for the interview. We'll see you... on the ice!
1/23/2008 1:57 PM
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