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Top goalie performances ring in the new year

01/08/2014, 4:30pm MST
By Tom Robinson - Special to USAHockey.com

Daniel Oordt of the American West Hockey League’s Billings Bulls and Cody Foster of the Northern Pacific Hockey League’s Eugene Generals got 2014 off to a great start with New Year’s Day shutouts.

Oordt made 48 saves to lead the Bulls to a 5-0 victory over the Bozeman Ice Dogs. Bozeman outshot Billings 48-32, but Oordt’s big night produced the victory. The Bulls’ Cody Phillips had two assists and scored a shorthanded goal in the second period to extend Billings’ lead to 3-0.

Foster made 14 saves when the Generals defeated the Tri-Cities Outlaws, 6-0. Connor Hoernlein scored a pair of second-period goals to give Eugene a 3-0 lead, then added an assist in the third period.

One night earlier on New Year’s Eve, Foster made 22 saves and Hunter Hartman scored one goal and assisted on another when Eugene made it through a tougher battle with Tri-Cities to pull out a 2-1, Nor-Pac win.

NEW YEAR’S EVE: There were many junior games around the country on New Year’s Eve, and many included strong goaltending performances.

Cal Petersen matched the United States Hockey League lead in wins with his 16th when he made 32 saves to lead the Waterloo Black Hawks to a 4-1 victory over the Lincoln Stars. The win was the fifth straight by Waterloo (22-6-1). Petersen, a Buffalo Sabres’ draft pick, has stopped 73 of 77 shots while winning three times since Christmas.

Cole Bruns made 29 saves as the Omaha Lancers beat the Sioux City Musketeers 2-1, ending Sioux City’s seven-game USHL winning streak.

Two of the North American Hockey League’s top goalies squared off when the Aberdeen Wings edged the Bismarck Bobcats, 2-1. Aberdeen’s Chad Catt, the NAHL’s leader in save percentage, made 39 saves to outduel Bismarck’s Aaron Nelson, who is second in the league in wins.

Blake Cates made 34 saves for his first NAHL shutout when the Coulee Region Chill blanked the Minnesota Magicians, 5-0.

Also in the NAHL, Connor Girard stopped a penalty shot with 17 seconds remaining to preserve a 3-2 win for the Brookings Blizzard over the Minnesota Wilderness.

Sean Kelley made 41 saves to lead the Gillette Wild to a 5-0 shutout of the Yellowstone Quake in the AWHL.

COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Lincoln Stars scoring leader John Simonson has committed to play at the University of North Dakota next season. Simonson, a 20-year-old from Grand Forks, N.D., has 10 goals and eight assists in 24 games.

Muskegon Lumberjacks defenseman Adam Larkin committed to Yale University. Larkin, an 18-year-old from Clarkston, Mich., has five points in 28 USHL games.

Wyatt Ege, a defenseman for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the North American Hockey League, committed to the University of Alaska Anchorage. The 18-year-old from Elk River, Minn. has six points in 29 games.

Nik Nugnes of the Eastern Hockey League’s Connecticut Oilers committed to the University of Maine. Nugnes, 20, from West Barnstable, Mass., is in the top 10 in the league in wins, goals-against average and save percentage.

ONE-TIMERS: Tyler Vesel matched USHL season-highs for assists (four) and points (five) Friday to lead the Omaha Lancers to an 8-3 romp over the Tri-City Storm. …  Billings posted a 4-3 overtime victory over the Great Falls Americans in a New Year’s Eve AWHL game when T.J. Theodosopoulos scored with 10 seconds left in regulation and Christian Akita added the winner at 1:41 of overtime. … The MHL Red Stars from Russia tuned up for a tour of games against NCAA Division I teams with a 5-4 victory over the Eastern League All-Stars Dec. 23 in Lowell, Mass. … Hu Hikosaka had hat tricks in all three games while Kole Hudson had eight assists when the Topeka Capitals outscored the Sugar Land Imperials 25-6 to sweep the weekend series between the top two teams in the NA3HL South Division.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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A follow-up to Ian Walsh's NHL career-path article (see Stripes - February 2015)

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.

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