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Balanced Scoring Attack has Wranglers Atop RMJHL

By Tom Robinson, 12/14/17, 3:15PM MST


Eleven players are in double figures in points

Joakim Falt had a plan as he got to know the personnel on his new team, the Steamboat Wranglers of the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League.

“I was trying to put two veterans with a rookie,” Falt said. “But, our rookies are so good they can take care of business themselves.”

What Falt found out he had is a roster full of scoring options, capable of being used in many different combinations. It is a point that has been proven as Steamboat has adjusted to injuries throughout the current 11-game winning streak that has the Wranglers on top of the league at 15-4.

The Wranglers have arrived at this point with the type of scoring balance about which most teams could only dream.

Quinny Baker has nine goals, Andrew DeMorat, Donny Nordstrom and Jarrett Sturtz have eight, five teammates have scored six and three more have five to put a dozen players within four goals of the team lead.

The point totals are similar.

Cory Kohut leads with 18, thanks to a team-high 12 assists. DeMorat has 17, Nordstrom 16 and eight more teammates join them in double figures in points.

Those numbers show an incredible amount of depth and balance that have been a major reason for the league-leading record. But they are not the only traits with which Falt is pleased so far this season.

“We’re outworking every team we play,” he said. “That’s how we practice, too.

“We practice really, really hard four days a week. The guys are used to working hard and it really shows in the games.”

Hard work and resilience have produced a winning combination.

“A lot of games, we’ve been behind, but it seems like we’re always finding a way to win games in the end,” Falt said.

Steamboat will be returning from a 20-day layoff from games when it hosts the Colorado Thunderbirds Friday and Saturday. Following that series, they’ll have a shorter break of 13 days for the holidays, and then will resume with one more series of 2017 on Dec. 29-30.

When the Wranglers last played, they came from behind in both wins over the Colorado Rampage.

“We had a lot of veterans injured and not in the lineup, but we found a way to come back and win both games,” said Falt, a native of Sweden who has been involved with USA Hockey as a coach and evaluator at developments camps throughout much of his coaching career.

Nico Hemming and Grant Longtin scored second-period goals while Blue Hildebrand made 27 saves in a 2-1 win in the series opener against the Rampage.

The Rampage took a 2-0 lead more than halfway through the second game, but Nevada White started and ended a five-goal streak to a 5-2 win.

Steamboat finds itself in first place despite not have a single player ranked among the top seven scorers in the five-team league.

Cole Kohut leads the league in goalie wins with 11 and is first in goals against average among those seeing regular playing time at 2.45.

Even with the winning streak, the Wranglers are just four points clear of the Pikes Peak Miners for the lead in the three-year-old league.

“I didn’t know a single thing about the league when I came over,” said Falt, who came to Steamboat from San Diego after having also coached previously throughout the northwest. “The league is way better than what people say.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc

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QUESTIONWho determines if a player is injured, the Referee or the injured player's Head Coach or Trainer? Should the Injured player be allowed to remain on the bench or be required to leave the game?

ANSWER: Since almost all game officials are not medical professionals, USA Hockey instructs them to use their best judgment while determining  whether a player is injured, and always error on the side of caution. Ultimately, it is the decision of the player and team staff to determine if the player should remain in a game. The best an official can do is make note of any "irregular behavior" and bring this to the coach's attention (and it would be very wise to record and file this incident in a summary email report to the Local Supervisor of Officials).


QUESTION: In the offensive zone, is a player allowed to use his hands while the puck is on the ice to hold it for himself (essentially, he covered the puck with his hand and moved it to himself after he fell)?

ANSWERRule 618.a in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,

“Play shall be stopped and a last play face-off shall occur anytime a player (except the goalkeeper) closes his hand on the puck and does not immediately drop the puck to the ice.

A minor penalty for delay of game shall be assessed to any player, other than the goalkeeper, who picks the puck up from the ice with his hand(s) while play is in progress.

A penalty shot/optional minor penalty shall be awarded to the non-offending team anytime a defending player, other than the goalkeeper, picks the puck up off the ice with his hand or holds the puck while play is in progress and the puck is in the goal crease. If this infraction occurs while the goalkeeper has been removed from the ice and prevents and obvious and imminent goal, a goal shall be awarded to the non-offending team.”

The “spirit and intent” of this rule is to keep the puck in play at all times and prevent a player from making the puck “unplayable by an opponent” by covering it.


QUESTIONWhile in Team A’s defensive zone, a player on Team A blocks a shot by a player on Team B. The puck hits an un-padded part of the body and the player immediately falls to the ice with an obvious injury. The official allows play  continue while the injured player lies on the ice unable to move. Team B then gains possession of the deflected puck and proceeds to score a goal. Should the goal be allowed?

ANSWERRule 206.a in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,

“When a player is injured or compelled to leave the ice during a game, he may retire from the game and be replaced by a substitute under the player substitution rules.

When a player is injured and is unable to continue play or go to his bench, play shall be stopped immediately unless the opposing team is in possession of the puck, in which case play shall not be stopped until a change of possession has occurred.

In the case where it is obvious that a player has sustained a serious injury, the Referee and/or Linesman may stop the play immediately."


QUESTION: During a game, a team received their third consecutive penalty and the ref made the team play three players short. I always thought during my playing career that the third player (even though in the penalty box at time of penalty) would not start until the oldest penalty expired or a goal was scored.

ANSWERRule 408.a in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,

“If a third player shall be penalized while two players of the same team are serving non-coincidental penalties, he shall proceed to the penalty bench immediately and may be replaced by a substitute on the ice. However, the penalty time of the third player shall not begin until the first such penalty has expired.”


QUESTIONCan a team forfeit in the middle of a game? We just played a game today and we were winning 3-0. With five minutes left in the third period, the other team got up off the bench and said they were forfeiting. Our coaches and the refs tried to get them to finish the game, but the coach from the other team said our kids were too big.

ANSWERRule 633.a in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,

“With both teams on the ice, after the game has started, a team for any reason refuses to play after being ordered to do so by the Referee, the Referee shall warn the Captain and allow the team 15 seconds to resume play.

A bench minor penalty for delay of game shall be assessed to the offending team who still refuses to start play and if the same team refuses to continue play, the Referee shall suspend the game and assess a match penalty to the responsible Team Official(s).”


The USA Hockey Playing Rules are now available as a mobile device app! Check your Apple, Android, or Windows app store to download this playing rule app free of charge.

Check out the USA Hockey mobile-friendly online rulebook application! Enter into your mobile device’s web browser to gain instant access to the USA Hockey Playing Rules (must have mobile or internet service).

The USA Hockey Playing Rules Casebook and other educational material can be found under the OFFICIALS tab at