It’s hard to describe a team as rebuilding when you have Brandon Reiter and Dakota Gasbarre on it, but the Lazers may have had the toughest offseason of all the returning teams. Both playoff games against the eventual champion Colonials last season went right down to the final couple minutes, but soon afterwards, team captain Dakota Gasbarre acknowledged that Nate Galentine and Luke McMinn wouldn’t be returning. In addition to that, Gasbarre was offered a job out of state that had Jake Kline wondering if there would be a Lazer team this season. It turned out that the Knights offered Kline a roster spot in amongst the speculation and Kline decided to accept it. On a good note, their main player, Brandon Reiter, decided to stay put despite rumor having him being offered roster spots on other teams. Also returning will be Lauren Dodd, who has showed a lot of improvement in between the summer league and the end of the winter league. Dodd also played a nice role in her winter league team’s championship. Ryan Johnson will be returning as well, but has played very little hockey in the offseason and will only be available every 2 or 3 weeks. Team captain Dakota Gasbarre had his hands full trying to find guys to fill the void, but he was able to pick up a couple of young players with good potential in Cameron Cooper and Curtis Johnson. Johnson and the Chiefs had a frustrating season last summer, but he was the consistent goal scorer on the team. Now being surrounded by veteran players could help him reach a higher level this season. Cameron Cooper has not been able to play hockey for a while due to offseason surgery, but him and Johnson seemed to have had good chemistry when playing alongside one another before. Just Last Saturday, the team was able to pick up Tony Benanti who should fit in well once he gets a little more hockey under his belt. Jeremy Lee will be returning in net. At times, he has showed that he can carry the team, but like most goalies, he has gone thru some tough times as well. Some have counted the Lazers out this season with the talent they have lost, but we know that Dakota Gasbarre will have the guys ready each and every night. A lot of talent and leadership may be gone, but the determination is still there. They will be put to the test right away when they face the Yeti on opening night and it wont get any easier when they play the Hooligans the following week. A 3rd straight playoff appearance wont be easy, but the league has expanded the playoffs to 6 teams this season.
2017 saw the Yeti sneak into the play in game on the final night of the regular season. 5 days later, the team beat the Knights again to earn a best of 3 series against the Xtreme. Even though the team got swept against the Xtreme that only saw them register 9 shots in the 2nd game, there was plenty to be happy about. Game 1 of their series against the Xtreme could have gone either way and they led for close to half of game 2 despite only registering 9 shots on goal. They didn’t really have the one standout guy, but out of all the teams in the league last season, they probably played the best together. They will be the only team returning the same players as last season, and to make things even better, they have added the one standout guy they needed to take them to the next level in Derik Day. The team will also consist of Dan Fatula, Greg Mohney, the Pompeii’s, Jarrod Currin and Mike Jacobson. All of them played well together last season and each had their moments of chipping in big goals. With Day now in the mix, the team will be looked at as a favorite to make a deep run in the playoffs this season. Team leader Adam McKinley already has a couple championships in 2018 (Randy Carlson and Winter League). Could he add another championship in August? There are no weaknesses and they have the league’s most proven goalie. With 6 teams going to the playoffs this season, it would be hard to believe the Yeti wont be one of them. Expectations will definately be higher than a year ago. The team will open their season against the Lazers on April 23rd.
Despite losing to the colonials last August, the Xtreme were probably the xhls best story last season. Dave Jewell and Joe Bussard left their respective teams from the season before to form their own team. What made their season most impressive is that they succeeded without stacking the team around them, but made them all better in the process. Tyler Stitt is improving more and more each session. Jon Zimmerman gives it his all night in and night out. Up until winter league, Brandon Bauer was becoming one of the leagues most improved players, but a back injury forced him out of action for the rest of the winter and wont be able to play this season. The team has picked up AJ Cebulskie to take his spot. He certainly couldnt have asked for a better group of guys to surround him for his first season. Chad Walter hasnt been around for a while, as he too is battling back injuries, but he will be on the squad for another season. He definately fits in very well with his teammates. Henry Deible wont be returning, but perhaps the biggest free agent move was Kevin Smith switching from the colonials to the xtreme. Luckily for the rest of the league, he will only be around part time, but will probably be around more when it matters most. With Smith, Bussard and Jewell, its pretty safe to say the Xtreme will be favored to win in August. Goalie Clint Lingenfelter was asked to play for the hooligans, but decided to stay put when he learned of the team probation. He may not be too busy when the big 3 are surrounding him, but he will definately be a big determining factor in the teams success this season. A nitemare vacation last August is now behind him. The team will get a nice test on opening night against the Knights. With 3 of the League’s best players and a good supporting cast, it would be surprising not to see the Xtreme playing on the last night of the season just like last year, only this time, the results may very well be different.
The league had a good problem when seeing a bunch of guys still looking for teams this season. 8 teams went in different directions with their rosters, leaving a team full of free agents left to play. Question was whether or not they wanted to play together with a lot of them not knowing who each other are. While they wont be coming from Minnesota, the Vikings will have guys coming from different areas this season. Mike Farcus has agreed to be the team captain. The team has a nice mix of young guys with potential if they decide to continue on with playing hockey, and they have added a nice veteran to the mix in Chris Anschutz. Anschutz has plenty of experience from playing back in the XHL’s Brockway days. While he will be traveling a good distance to come to Reynoldsville, he will certainly be welcomed back for another season after a brief stint with the Ducks last season. Brett Trithart played for the Ducks last season as well. Trithart was a nice contributor for his team last season and will be looked upon to do the same with the Vikings this season. The team will have plenty of new guys with Jake Forardori, Isaac Cherico and Spencer Forsythe joining the mix. All of them have potential despite only playing one winter or fall league session so far. Just a month ago, a new guy from Reynoldsville by the name of Derik Pierce emailed me wanting to play for a team this season. None of us know who he is yet, but he has a good sports background, as he acknowledged in his interview a couple weeks ago and is optimistic that he will be able to transition into the league this season. The team will probably go thru some growing pains this season, but the reality is that most XHL guys have at one time or another. Some guys on better teams once came from teams with next to no expectations. Some guys who played for last place teams in the past now have championships on their resume. They will be considered underdogs all season, but the league is excited to see new, younger guys coming on board. The Vikings will look to Rich Wood to fill the net. 2 seasons ago with the Aces, Wood showed some flashes of being a solid goalie. He will probably get tested early and often this season. The team will open against the Mayhem on April 23rd.
Like the Vikings, there will be another new team playing in the XHL this summer, but from the sounds of it, this team will have much higher expectations. What Joe Spencer has been able to do for the Brockway League has been very impressive. Their league will see a big growth from last season to this season with over 60 guys expected to play there this summer. The XHL decided to leave Brockway back in 2011. At the time, League President Bob Anderson considered switching his career to meteorologist with all the practice he had from the League playing in Brockway. He spent more time watching the radar than he did playing hockey. The XHL is now able to play hockey all year round and is seeing a great growth in player skill level and competition, but despite not having to worry about the weather anymore, the league still has a lot of special memories from playing in the outdoor environment in Brockway. Spencer decided to bring hockey back to the area a few years back. It’s great to see both leagues coming together to play more hockey. A lot of guys now get the benefit of playing indoors and outdoors. While Spencer may not have enough years under his belt to be a meteorologist yet, its safe to say that he has a nice hockey background for his transition to the XHL this summer. We haven’t seen much of him at Reynoldsville yet, but the league is becoming familiar with Denny Stinchcomb. Stinchcomb recently played a big role in his winter league teams championship. Josh Clontz has played on two successful fall and winter league teams, but fell on the short end in both leagues. He has showed a lot of potential in net. Derrian Matchock has been on some lower level teams in the past, but has scored his share of goals in the process. He will be a nice role player for a team that is expected to make a good showing this summer. The rest of the Renegade roster will consist of Brandon Vollmer, Mike Lehman, Pat Hunter and Ben Rieder. Other than their names, most of the league is unfamiliar with their skill level but rumor has their skill level being top notch. Whatever the case may be, this looks like a team that will make some noise in the XHL this summer. With 6 teams making the playoffs, it’s safe to say that they will very well be in the mix. The biggest question is how they will transition to the new hockey setting. We have seen what a couple of them can do, we will soon find out what the rest can do. The league is very excited to have them as a part of the mix this summer. Expectations are a little unknown, but that will probably change very quickly. The team gets the honor of playing the 2 time defending champions on opening night, but the Colonial roster will be a work in progress for a little while. The League would like to wish the Renegades the best of luck this coming season.