The New York Bobcats beat three South Division opponents during the Eastern Hockey League’s Thanksgiving Showcase Friday through Sunday in Tewksbury, Mass. to extend their winning streak to four games and move into the Central Division title race.
The Bobcats moved over the .500 mark for the first time this season and closed the gap on the second-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights to one point with a game in hand.
Center Corey Kennedy was honored as the league’s Defensive Player of the Week for his play on faceoffs and as a penalty killer while going plus-3 and helping the Bobcats allow just three goals in three games.
The New Hampshire Junior Monarchs also won three games with the help of a shutout by goalie Brenden Cain.
The Eastern Hockey League will have a Christmas Showcase Dec. 20-22 in Simsbury, Conn.
METRO SHOWDOWN: The Metropolitan Junior Hockey League’s top two teams met in Richmond on Saturday and went to a shootout that the host Generals won 2-1 over the Boston Junior Rangers.
The Mullen Division-leading Generals have the most standings points in the league while going 18-4-0-2. They got 31 saves from Tucker Murphy and a decisive shootout goal from Cameron Durham.
Mike Robinson made 37 saves for the Francis Division-leading Rangers, who are 17-1-0-2 for the league’s best winning percentage.
TOP SCORER: Lane King continues to pile up assists to separate himself from the pack as the top scorer in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound, 20-year-old is a forward for the Great Lakes Division-leading Marquette Royals. King has scored in all 23 games since a scoreless opener and has 11 goals and 52 assists. He has at least four assists five times.
TOP GOALIE: Austin Brihn, the American West Hockey League’s leading goalie statistically, made 34 saves Saturday to lead the Helena Bighorns to a 9-0 shutout of the Yellowstone Quake.
Brihn has a 1.73 goals-against average and .942 save percentage for the first-place Bighorns. He has split time with Alex Lazarski throughout the season, including each playing four games in the current eight-game winning streak. In Brihn’s four games during the win streak, he has stopped 105 of 109 shots.
USHL LEADERS: Zeb Knutson had five goals and three assists in three United States Hockey League wins by the Sioux Falls Stampede. Knutson scored the game-winning goal Nov. 27 on his league-leading eighth power-play goal in a 3-0 win over the Lincoln Stars. He assisted on all three goals Friday in another 3-0 win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
The 19-year-old Minnesota State University, Mankato recruit from Sioux Falls then became the first USHL player in the Tier I era (since 2002) to have a pair of four-goal games in the same season. He added an assist to the four goals in a 10-4 win over Team USA.
Knutson is on a seven-game scoring streak with 16 points during that time to move to fourth in the league in points (28) and second in goals (17).
Waterloo Black Hawks goalie Cal Peterson won three games in 72 hours, including his first shutout of the season with 21 saves Friday in a 3-0 win over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Peterson, a 2013 National Hockey League draft pick by the Buffalo Sabres, moved into a tie for the USHL lead in goaltending wins with 11.
COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: The United States Premier Hockey League Premier Division’s top goalie, Sean Lawrence of the Boston Junior Bruins, has committed to Quinnipiac University. The 18-year-old from Granite Bay, Calif. is 18-4-2 and leads the division with a 1.88 GAA and .940 save percentage. Quinnipiac reached the national championship game last season.
Lawrence’s teammate, forward Brian Bowen, has committed to the University of Vermont. The 18-year-old from Littleton, Mass. has 12 goals and 12 assists and is plus-14 in 27 games.
Cooper Marody, a forward with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks, has committed to play at the University of Michigan. The 16-year-old from Brighton, Mich. is tied for second on the team with 16 points in 23 games.
Cedar Rapids defenseman Charlie Curti has committed to defending NCAA Division I champion Yale University. Curti, a 17-year-old from Mound, Mich., has three goals and eight assists while going plus-5 in 19 USHL games.
Will Johnson, a forward with the North American Hockey League’s Minnesota Magicians, has committed to the Air Force Academy. The youngest player on the Magicians at 17, Johnson, from Santa Barbara, Calif. is second on the team with six goals in 23 games.
ONE-TIMERS: Walpole Express goalie Kyle Shapiro scored a goal in an exhibition game against the New England Wolves that was part of the EHL Thanksgiving Showcase. … David Carle is leaving his position as assistant coach of the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers Jan. 1 to become a University of Denver assistant, replacing Steve Miller, who is leaving to prepare for his new role as head coach/general manager of the Madison Capitols, a 2014-15 USHL expansion team. … Michael Bigelbach assisted on the game-winner in two of three wins and scored in all three games as the Minot Minotauros extended their NAHL winning streak to six games. … The Central Division-leading Peoria Mustangs have won 14 straight and are now tied for the second-best record in the North American 3 Hockey League at 20-5.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
For the last 15 years, Ian Walsh has crisscrossed the United States as an NHL official. In this Part 2 of our conversation with Walsh, the 42-year-old Philadelphia native fielded a series of questions discussing life on the road, his conditioning schedule, mentors, on-ice struggles, the evolution of the game and advice for aspiring officials.
USA Hockey: How do you think you've been able to maintain all of the officiating success you've had over the last 15 years?
Ian Walsh: I believe one of my strengths as an official is my work ethic. I come to the rink every night ready to work hard and give 100 percent. I also believe I am very coachable, and when I'm offered a suggestion for improvement, I try very hard to implement that advice into my game.
USAH: What is your conditioning schedule like during the NHL season? How about during the off-season?
Walsh: During the season, conditioning work is more about maintaining what you built up over the summer. The workouts aren't as intense but you must continue to take good care of your body. Game-day workouts usually include a 30-minute bike ride or a couple miles run at the hotel gym. I also like to do some core work and light strength training on top of that.
The weather in Portland is amazing in the summer, and I prefer to be outside and on my road bike. I usually get in about four days a week of riding outdoors to help build my endurance and strength. I try to play hockey a few days a week as well to help work on my skating.
USAH: When did you realize you finally had cemented your career as an official? What was that feeling like?
Walsh: I don't know if you ever get that feeling. Every night is a different challenge in our league. It is a hard, hard league to officiate. The scrutiny of every call, every goal, ever non-call is such a challenge for all of us. The best players and coaches in the world expect us to perform at such a high level every night, and we have to be ready for anything that comes our way. It’s a privilege to be on the ice in the NHL, and I think that is something no official takes for granted.
USAH: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as an official?
Walsh: Being chosen to participate in four Stanley Cup playoffs is what I'm most proud of. It’s an incredible honor to be selected and that’s the goal for every official each year. Also, being part of the team that was chosen to represent the NHL at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a phenomenal experience and a great opportunity.
USAH: What has been the biggest hurdle/obstacle you've had to overcome in your officiating career?
Walsh: I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that I haven’t had any serious injuries. Other than some bumps and bruises, I’ve been relatively injury-free in my career. The biggest challenge is to be able to bounce back from calls you made that aren't correct. In this day and age, we usually know within minutes after the game if we made a wrong decision. When you make a call that impacts the game, it’s hard on the mind. Unfortunately, we make mistakes and what most people don't understand is that nobody takes it harder than the official making that mistake. Being able to bounce back from a mistake is something all officials must learn to do.
USAH: Who has had the most impact on your officiating career over the past 15 years? What has that person or those people taught you?
Walsh: Nobody has helped me more over my NHL career than fellow referee Paul Devorski. I've worked a lot of games with Paul and we’ve had the opportunity to travel together on the road. As an elite, veteran referee, he has been able to pass down some of his knowledge to me to help me become a better official. Paul is retiring this year, and our staff will sorely miss him.
USAH: How has the game changed, besides speed, since you started in the early 2000s?
Walsh: I would say the biggest change besides the speed of the game would be the use of technology. It is amazing what you see at rink – teams have iPads on the bench, super slo-motion video replays, hi-def video scoreboards, etc. With all that technology, it makes the officials job appear easy. People forget that the official on the ice sees a play one time, in real time, and must make a split-second decision on that play. It often appears quite different when you see a replay in super slo-mo on hi-def after a game.
USAH: What advice can you give aspiring NHL/professional league officials as they progress in their career?
Walsh: I would say make sure you have a backup plan. Making it to the NHL is everyone’s goal, but there are very few jobs available. There are so many factors that go into hiring an official and a lot of those are out of your control. Go and work the highest level available to you. Don't worry about other officials, if you are good enough, the NHL will find you. Also, control what you can control – always work on your skating, know your rules and come to the rink every night with a strong work ethic and a great attitude.