Former Cornwall Ace, Mike Hurlbut, to be inducted into Rochester Americans Hall of Fame

000471218While the Aces of yesteryear seem to have taken place years ago, I often find myself searching for players who stuck out when I kid in the stands watching them. Players like Aaron Miller, Serge Roberge, and Rene Corbut just to name a few. However another player who was watch and an all too familiar name popped up on Twitter over the weekend.

Massena, New York native Mike Hurlbut played in the Frozen Frontier game in Rochester, New York which featured Buffalo Sabres alumni squaring off against Rochester Americans alumni. Hurlbut is an alumni of both teams but suited up for the Americans. As an added bonus, it was announced that he will be inducted to the Rochester Americans Hall of Fame, class of 2014.

After a successful collegiate career with St. Lawrence University, Hurlbut was drafted by the New York Rangers in 1988. After bobbing around between both the NHL and AHL for a few teams, he found himself in the Seaway Valley suiting up for the Cornwall Aces for two seasons. He was a pivotal asset to the Aces in capturing two division titles.

Hurlbut retired in 2002 with 29 career NHL games under his belt with the New York Rangers, Quebec Nordiques and Buffalo Sabres.

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Sean Pronger’s Journeyman, The Life of a 4th Liner

Unfortunately I’ve been a little under the weather lately and it doesn’t seem to be letting up; hence the lack of posts. However, while not being able to be feeling up to par to manage some interesting pieces, it’s given me the chance to do a lot of reading. So I figured hey, why not a book review.

I first heard of this book about 8 months ago. I had just gotten out of surgery and was bedridden for a long time with pretty much nothing to do. I had gotten into the habit of tuning into Jay Onrait and Dan O’toole’s weekly podcast and one week the “special” guest happened to be Sean Pronger.

1297346026824_ORIGINALPronger, (the lesser known Pronger at that), was promoting his new book, “Journeyman – The Guy Who’s Seen Everything In Hockey“. He was recalling a couple of stories in it; how he was traded to the New York Rangers and got to be on a line with Gretzky during his last year. (There’s a huge and hilarious story behind it. It’s not on a line you would think.) and how Ray Ferraro thought Steve Duschesne was everything that was wrong with the Los Angeles Kings in the late 1990’s.

So motivatied with this information, I finally got around to picking it up last week. Now, I do a lot of reading, no joke. Most of it is either biographies or serial killer dramas and most biographies are hockey related. I must say that this is one of the BEST hockey books I have read in such a long time.

Of course it’s about Pronger’s life of being the dreaded 4th liner and journeyman of the NHL. For those of you who don’t know what a journeyman is, it’s constantly being sent up and down between leagues, being traded (he played 29 games in an NHL season between 3 team. Yeah.) and all the ins and outs and frustrations tied with it.

Nobody ever thinks of the 4th line. What’s always going through their minds. Are they gonna be sent down today? Will do good enough to get a promotion on the squad? Will they be considered a healthy scratch? Should they start packing their bags? Everything that runs through a player’s head in these circumstances are covered in this book and that’s what makes it great to read. It’s about the other guys.

Pronger is very humourous and pokes a lot of fun at himself which makes it very great to read. The book flows at an even pace but after every chapter, you’re always captivated to read more and find out which team (or league….shoutout East Coast…) he got sent to next.

If you’re not a reader but at least a hockey fan, do yourself a favour and pick this up. It gives you a lot more respect for the grinders on our favourite teams.

Brampton Beast announce AHL and NHL affiliates

BramptonBeastThe Brampton Beast are the newest addition to the Central Hockey League and today was monumental in the team’s newly constructed history. The city of Brampton is now affiliated with an American Hockey League and National Hockey League team.

The Beast announced that they signed a one year contract and will be the feeder team to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman expressed his excitement in partnering with the Brampton Beast and knows the talent that will be developed will be extraordinary. A strong developmental system in place is the key to success.

The Central Hockey League is venturing into Canada for the first time this year. The city of Brampton is excited for the opportunity to showcase their hockey talent to one of the best leagues in North America. The Beast are now the fourth CHL team to be associated with an NHL team. The Allen American are affiliated with the Dallas Stars, the Arizona Sundogs are affiliated with the Phoenix Coyotes, and the Denver Cutthroats are with the Colorado Avalanche.

(Photo: bramptonbeast.com)
(Photo: bramptonbeast.com)

After Brampton’s OHL team, the Battalion took leave to North Bay earlier this year, the Powerade Centre was left empty. The Beast are looking to fill that arena with passionate fans across the GTA. This is another great opportunity for Canadian hockey fans to see the future of the NHL right in front of their very own eyes.

The Brampton Beast started off their inaugural CHL season October 18th where they host the Arizona Sundogs.

Utica Comets Start To Take Form

The brand new AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, the Utica Comets, are starting to have their roster take shape.

UticaCometsThe President of the team, former NHL goaltender Robert Esche, announced last week that they had signed right winger David Pacan. Pacan spent last season with the San Antonio Rampage and the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones. Pacan notched 52 points in 57 games with the Cyclones. A native of Ottawa, Ontario, and a CJHL alumni, I’m sure he’s glad to be a bit closer to home this season.

Another impressive signing saw 2011 Memorial Cup champion goaltender, Mathieu Corbeil climb aboard. As a member of the Saint John Sea Dogs, Corbeil lead the way to a QMJHL championship in 2012. Corbeil spent last year in the Central Hockey League with the Missouri Mavericks.

(John Negrin. wiki.)
(John Negrin. wiki.)

On defence the Comets picked up John Negrin. Negrin spent last season between the Lake Erie Monsters and Chicago Wolves. Negrin has spent time with 4 AHL teams and has played in 3 NHL games with the Calgary Flames. He brings plenty of experience to this newly formed club. Another notable defenceman signed to the 2013-2014 is former London Knight, Sascha Guimond.

The Utica Comets franchise was formerly the affiliate for the St. Louis Blues in the form of the Peoria Rivermen. Former NHLer Travis Green is set to head man the team for the upcoming season. The Comets will be playing out of the North Division which feature Canadian teams, the Toronto Marlies and Hamilton Bulldogs. The Lake Erie Monsters and Rochester Americans round out the strong division.

The full American Hockey League schedule will be available sometime in August. Hockey season is just around the corner.

Brand New AHL Team: Utica Comets

There is a brand new team gearing up for the 2013-2014 American Hockey League season and that team is the Utica Comets.

UticaCometsBack in March, Canucks Sports and Entertainment bought out the Peoria Rivermen and was looking to move a farm team for Vancouver closer to home. Looking at Abbotsford to rival the Heat, the brass seemed keen on that location. However they decided on Utica, New York and the Utica Comets were born. Their colour scheme and jerseys will mimic the green, blue and white of the Vancouver Canucks. I don’t know if it’s just me but I think they could have done a lot more with the logo. I find it looks too much like a soccer one but I digress.

Former New York Islander and Toronto Maple Leaf, Travis Green has been hired on as their first franchise coach while Sacha Guimond is the first to sign on as a defenseman. You can trace back the history of the franchise all the way back to 1932 when they were then known as the Quebec Beavers. This is the second time an AHL team will call Utica, New York home. The Utica Devils who were affiliated with New Jersey were the first in the early 90’s.

Not all is lost for hockey fans in Peoria, Illinois though. The Peoria Rivermen who were an affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, will be playing out of the Southern Professional Hockey League this season with a complete overhaul of colours and logo. The SPHL is a league located in the southeastern United States.

Q&A With Former KHL Enforcer Jon Mirasty

mirasty-yablonski-590x445Jon “Nasty” Mirasty is one player you’d rather have on your team then to be playing against him. In his 10 year professional career which has seen him play all over the globe, he has racked up a total of 2571 penalty minutes.

Case in point: He’s not one to be messed with.

Jon Mirasty is a native of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan and got his start in the WHL. He turned pro in 2003 with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL and the legend was born. I was intrigued by his style and his brief foray into the MMA world.

March Hockey: You’ve played in numerous leagues but the one I’m most intrigued by is the KHL. How does the game over in Russia compare to that of North America?? Different atmosphere??

Jon Mirasty: Russia was a great experience. The game is a lot different. You play on a bigger ice surface which opens things up. On the physical aspect, guys there shy away from the rough stuff. Instead of booing, fans whistle. You don’t know if they are cheering for you or against you. It was very hard for me because I love to fight, and there I’d get into only 4 or 5 fights a season. All in all, it was a great time!

MH: I’ll ask right off the bat too, who’s the toughest guy you’ve ever fought?

JM: The toughest guy I ever fought is a pretty hard question to ask. I’ve fought so many guys that were very tough in different ways. Memorable guys that stand out to me would be guys like Steve MacIntyre, Derek Boogard, Jeremy Yablonski. I have to admit, Steve Bosse hit pretty hard too! But like I said, all the guys I fought were pretty tough and I respect them for doing one of the harder jobs in the game.

MH: You’ve spent some time in the LNAH. How does that league compare to other ones you’ve played in? Do you think it’s changed since you’ve left?

42JM: I had a great time playing in the LNAH. Obviously the skill level wasn’t on par with the KHL or AHL, but I feel that a lot of people under estimate the league. From what I remember, there were some very good players, along with some very tough men. I love old school hockey but sometimes the fights/brawls got a little carried away. It was a very exciting league where fans got a little bit of everything. I haven’t played there in over 6 years so things may have changed.

MH: Growing up as a kid, who was your biggest influence on your game and why?

JM: A lot of people helped me get to where I got, but the biggest influence would have been my dad, Gary.

MH: Any chance will see you in an MMA ring again?? What was that experience like??

JM: MMA was awesome. I have a lot of respect for those athletes. It is completely different than fighting on skates. I did not prepare properly and was not ready to compete. It takes a lot of devotion and time to train. With my new business adventures, I doubt I’ll have the time to ever attempt to compete again. I will train though.

Jon-Mirasty

MH: If you could play (or fight haha) against anyone, past or present, who would it be and why??

JM: I’ve had great battles against many guys and would look forward to doing it again against any one of them. Let my son put a few years on, and maybe I’ll try him.

Flashback Friday: Cornwall Aces

Cornwall_aces_logoGrowing up, the Cornwall Aces were a staple for me and many of my friends. Plenty of nights and Sunday afternoons were spent inside the Ed Lumley Arena cheering on such beloved names as Mike Hurlbut, Josef Marha, Jon Klemm and Aaron Miller just to name a few. A friend and I used to heckle the opposing teams but we learned our lesson when one player shot a puck into the crowd and hit a girl in front of us. We zipped our mouths after that.

Affiliated with the Quebec Nordiques and later the Colorado Avalanche, the Aces were a powerhouse team capturing two division titles in their 3 year history.  I’d also like to say they had a hand in molding future Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup Champion Stephane Yelle as well.

snowThere are quite a few former Aces who have gone on and thrived in the NHL. Jocelyn Thibault, Todd Warriner, Janne Laukkanen and current GM of the New York Islanders, Garth Snow just to name a few. Former goaltender Jean Francois Labbe has actually returned to Cornwall to head coach the Cornwall River Kings of the LNAH.

With mascots Wild Thing, and Half-A-Deck, the Aces provided a fun environment for families to take in a game and spend the night. Prizes and memorabilia were given out at every game and I wish I still had my Wild Thing T-shirt.

It’s sad when a team leaves town. The Aces became dormant after they left but were brought back to life in the form of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. At least the two banners that hang from inside of the Ed Lumley Arena will keep them alive.

Being An Away Fan In The Opposing Team’s Arena

Unless you’re the Ottawa Senators (cause banning Toronto fans into the Crappy Tire Centre can’t be too far behind.), fans from the opposing team in that evening’s game might be scarce. Sure there might be a couple of fans who live in town or a few might make a road trip down but there a few things to consider if you decide to head down this road.

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1. Don’t Be A Drunken Loud Mouth Idiot
mad_hockey_fanThis is just asking for it. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen away fans lose their mind and get into people’s faces when their team scores only to be heckled even worse by the home fans surrounding them. Being a loud mouth in general is stupid but in certain arenas, this isn’t taken too lightly. Sit down, shut up, fist pump and scream a couple “Woohoo!” if you must but relax. You’re a visitor. (Toronto fans in Ottawa disregard this as I actually think it’s funny.)

2. Do Not Flaunt Your Jersey

Really Rihanna?! Really?! Sigh.
Really Rihanna?! Really?! Sigh.

I’m not saying don’t wear it. In fact, I recommended every fan in every sport to wear their jerseys with pride. Just don’t flaunt it. You’ve already been spotted with it on and mentally noted  as the enemy. For some reason, this is worse in places like Montreal and I hate to it, Boston. Personal story time: A few years ago my cousin, a Leafs fan, took in a regular season game in Montreal. He got up and did the occasional high fives and woohoo’s after every Leaf goal but was very tame. The Leafs ended up winning and on the way out, with him flaunting around his jersey got stabbed in the leg. Yes, it was stupidity on both parts but for future reference, just don’t do this. Granted, some people are just complete morons, hence this video:

3. Do Not Get Into The Home Town Fans Faces

This ties in with statement number 1 and it should be a given. There is nothing worse than know it all idiots who do nothing but rub the score in all game. News flash for you buddy, you’re outnumbered. If you’re gonna debate hockey stats, make sure you know your stuff buddy. Make one wrong move and it’s lights out for you.

4. Respect The Home Town Team

I don’t care how much you hate them. I don’t care how intense this “hatred” is. Respect the home team. You’re in their arena; their home. You’d want to be shown the same respect from visiting fans in your rink wouldn’t you? Furthermore, the players on your team are under just as much scrutiny as you are.

Oh…..and don’t be this guy. Goes for both home and away fans.

weareallcanucks02

Dumb Arena Names Part 2.

Considering the amount of feedback I got from my first piece on Dumb Arena Names, it’s time for the next installment. I think we all agreed as well that the “Canadian Tire Centre” is one of the dumbest names in the NHL. They better come up with some good promotions to make up for that. ANYWAY, onto some more fun!

1. Jobing.com Arena, Phoenix Coyotes.
Jobing.com? Really? A website dedicated to finding you a job? Jobing isn’t even a word! Ironically the Coyotes might be out of them soon. Better start putting up Job offers in Seattle along the boards.

Only in Seattle.
Only in Seattle.

2. Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence Bruins
“Hey guys, wanna go shoot some crueller’s down at the Dunkin’ Donut Center tonight?!” Restaurants should not be used for area names. Especially fast food.  Period. You think the athletes eat that stuff? There’s a minor league ball team that plays out of Whataburger Field and a soccer team that plays out of Pizza Hut Park. No, just….no.

Donuts_and_homer_by_mirry92
Sorry Homer, no donut for you. Unless you’ve got a good glove hand.

3. Gaylord Entertainment Center, Nashville Predators
Thankfully was renamed in 2007. This is just asking for trouble. I know the poor man’s last name is Gaylord, but adding Entertainment right next to it? Yeesh. I hate to think of what he went through growing up.

4. PostFinance Arena, SC Bern, Switzerland
Ok, what exactly is PostFinance? Is it a mix between the mail carriers and accountants?? Or the Finance section in the local paper?? Are they in debt to somebody?? Whatever it is, it’s terrible……and before you have a “post” you gotta gave a “pre”. PreFinance Arena, new home of your Phoenix Coyotes!

5. Mohegan Sun Arena At Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins
My god that’s a mouthful. As you can probably tell it’s named after a racetrack and casino. Nothing like horses and money to promote your hockey team. But I’m probably still bitter that this team is the former Cornwall Aces.

Please Snowman. Come back. :(
Please Snowman. Come back. 😦

Be on the lookout for Dumb Arena Names Part 3. Got some good ones? Drop me a line on twitter and let me know! @MissAMarch

Trash Talk And Mic’d Up In The United Hockey League

Before making the jump to the AHL, the Rockford Icehogs played out of the United Hockey League. This video is pure gold.

Watch Carp, Ontario’s own Jason Ralph try to trash talk Derian Hatcher and Chris Chelios of the Motor City Mechanics. (Lockout season remember?)

Sean Avery was also with Motor City that year. Didn’t see Ralph try anything funny with him.

WARNING: NSFW language.