Sorry for getting such a late start on this but its been a pretty busy day here in the office plus the season starts for some tomorrow.
We have a few more previews left so we will roll those out even throughout the weekend.
Our latest preview features the Sioux Falls Stampede. Here’s a glance:
Sioux Falls Stampede (2010-11: 34-20-6; lost in the Western Conference Finals)
Coach: Kevin Hartzell
Who’s Gone: Christian Isackson (Minnesota), forward; Connor Reilly (playing this year in Penticton/committed to Minnesota), forward; Ryan Reilly (playing this year in Penticton/committed to Minnesota), forward; Kyle Rau (Minnesota), forward; Ryan Jacobson (Brown), forward; Dominic Zombo (Nebraska-Omaha), forward; Andrew Prochno (St. Cloud State), defenseman; Brent Darnell (Michigan State), forward; Zach Kamrass (UMass-Lowell), defenseman; Clark Cristofoli (Ohio State), defenseman; Jordan Oesterle (Western Michigan), defenseman; Juho Olkinuora (Denver), goaltender; Daniel Doremus (Denver), forward; Nolan Youngman (Alaska-Fairbanks), forward; Sam Coatta (Union), forward.
Who’s Back: Austyn Young (Minnesota-Duluth), forward; Stephon Williams (Minnesota State-Mankato), goaltender; Matt Van Voorhis (Denver), defenseman; Bryan Moore, forward; Joseph Lordo, defenseman; Mitch Hughes, forward; Tomas Pastor, defenseman.
Who’s new: Dan Carlson (played last season at NTDP/committed to Minnesota State-Mankato), forward; Kyle Rankin (played last season at Kanata (CHL Tier I)/committed to Princeton); Reed Whiteside (played last season at Trenton (MI-HS)/committed to Bowling Green), defenseman; Justin Selman (played last season at Des Moines/committed to Michigan), forward; Evan Moore (played last season at Green Mountain Glades), defenseman; Charlie Lindgren (played last season at Lakeville North (MN-HS), goaltender; Eric Brenk (played last season at Moorhead (MN-HS)), forward.
What’s Going On: Even though they didn’t make the Clark Cup Finals, Sioux Falls had one of the best seasons in the league last year. They were consistently near the top of the standings and were commonly one of those teams that others did have a hard time. The Stampede got scoring from every line and had the right amount of edge to them to be a power. Then when the playoffs came they were just about lights out until they faced Dubuque and even then, it wasn’t like they just rolled over.
So you can imagine why this wasn’t the greatest off-season. Sioux Falls was set to lose talent like Isackson and Rau to college but was set to replace them with the likes of someone like Mario Lucia along with adding defenseman Mike Reilly. Then all of a sudden, Penticton became the hot spot for a variety of reasons and all three Reilly brothers plus Lucia headed to British Columbia leaving the Stampede without much to rumble about.
How Sioux Falls handles this season will be interesting because this is a team that needs to find scoring. Its top six scorers from last season are gone and altogether it is more like nine of its 10 top have left. Young is going to be the guy who will most likely have to fill that role as he scored 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) for the club last season. Then there’s defense as well. Van Voorhis is one of three returning defenseman, which means they’re going to be pretty young and inexperienced at the blue line too.
But here’s the optimism. Sioux Falls has a lot coming in. For starters, the team acquired Carlson on Wednesday so there’s a sizable, experienced forward that could pay dividends immediately. Another guy is Selman, who spent last season with Des Moines so that’s already two incoming forwards with league experience to bolster a squad with seven returning players. Rankin, a Canadian, could also be a guy to watch as he scored five points (all assists) in the Fall Classic and last season had 73 points (22 goals, 51 assists) playing for Kanata last season. Defensively, the guy for the future should be Whiteside, who was a second-round Futures draft pick. His 2010-11 season numbers could not be found but previous seasons suggest he’s an offensive-minded defenseman, which could come in handy. Then there’s the goaltending situation. Williams should be fine but if not, the Stampede has Lindgren, who if he stayed in high school probably would have won the Frank Brimsek Award for the best senior goaltender in Minnesota. Here’s what you need to know about Lindgren. He steals games like his name is Madoff and if Beyonce is a hustler this kid’s a gangsta.
Sioux Falls will be young but scrappy and should be decent this year. Playoffs are very much possible in what’s shaping up to be a soft Western Conference when compared to the East. Whether or not they return to the Conference Finals, well, that remains to be seen.
Friday’s Preview: Tri-City Storm