Opening night Previews:
Lazers vs Yeti
Rumor has Jeremy Lee working Monday night, which definitely wont help the Lazers chances any. These 2 teams played 2 overtime games last season, with each team winning once. Lazer team captain Dakota Gasbarre was kind of hoping for a play in game against them last season because of the exciting games they played in the regular season. Imagine what kind of game that would have been with a playoff spot at stake?
The 2 teams appear to be in a little different direction going into opening night. The Yeti look even stronger after picking up Derik Day and keeping everyone else from last year’s team. The Lazers had a bit of a tough offseason losing some speed, youth, and veteran leadership. Nate Galentine wont be a part of the league this season, while Luke McMinn and Jake Kline moved onto different teams. The Lazers will look to a couple new guys in Cameron Cooper and Curtis Johnson to step in and make contributions. They also added Tony Benanti who should be able to help once he gets a little more hockey in him.
Who will the Lazers turn to, to play goalie Monday night? Dakota Gasbarre played pretty well in net on opening night last season, but losing his presence on the court will certainly add more attention to Brandon Reiter. Can Reiter do enough offensively to keep the Lazers in the game? There is a chance the Yeti will have team meetings surrounding him Monday night if Gasbarre has to play in net. The two teams will start out the 18th season of xhl hockey on Monday night at 6 p.m.
Xtreme vs Knights
On paper, it would not be a surprise to see these two teams playing against each other 4 months from now. This will only be one game of 14 regular season games plus playoff games, which it appears certain both teams will take a part in the expanded 6 team tournament in August. For now, both teams will try to work their way towards getting confident for when it matters most. These 2 teams played a couple of exciting, low scoring games last season. What better way for two playoff caliber teams to see where they stand then playing against each other on opening night.
The Xtreme lost Henry Deible, but have added Kevin Smith. The good news for the rest of the league is that he wont be around as much in the regular season. The knights appear stronger as well with the addition of Jake Kline. Losing Henry Sutter is tough, but they were able to fill his void pretty well by picking up Todd Schickling. Monday night’s game could come down to which goalie plays better, Todd or Clint. Can the Knights take advantage of Xtreme team members Chad Walter and AJ Cebulskie not playing much hockey in the offseason? No matter the outcome, both teams look set for more games in August when it matters most
Colonials vs Renegades
President of the XHL vs President of SRHL. The Colonials have been around since the league’s existence back in 2001 and will look to 3 peat this season. They will get a good test Monday night against one of the XHL’s new teams, the Renegades. They may be new to the XHL, but they are anything but new to playing hockey. We have seen what guys like Denny Stinchcomb and Josh Clontz are capable of and heard what some of the other guys can do. Neither team is familiar with each other, which makes for an interesting game in itself. The Colonials tough offseason was salvaged when Jerred Amick and Luke McMinn decided to come on board. Both will be looked upon to step up to replace important players from last seasons championship team that included Mark Pisarcik, Phil Mace and Kevin Smith. Both McMinn and Amick played a key part in helping the Red team upset Team Gray and Team Black in the winter league playoffs, along with Renegade team member Denny Stinchcomb. The game could come down to which goalie makes a bigger save, Josh Clontz or Tim Herman. Colonial team captain Bob Anderson put the League together in Brockway back in 2001, while Joe Spencer brought hockey back to Brockway not that long ago. Both will lead their respective teams this season. No matter the outcome Monday night, it looks like both these teams are set to make some noise this season.
Vikings vs Mayhem
As much as I am looking forward to the first 3 games, as president of the league, this is the game I am looking forward to the most. Aside from the Renegades, we already know and have seen what a lot of guys can and cannot do. The Vikings and Mayhem will each be bringing a lot of newer, younger players to the league, which is exciting for the future of the XHL. On paper, this season looks to be a challenging season for both teams. The Mayhem will be led by Peach Caltagarone. As stated in his interview, Caltagarone hasn’t put the most successful teams together, but has seen some of his teammates, going from the Pompeii brothers to Clint Lingenfelter from playing on some losing teams to some of the league’s better teams now. The Pompeii’s each have a championship on their resume while Clint Lingenfelter looks set to be on a championship team this year with the Xtreme. The Mayhem will bring 5 rookies to the team, Nic Cebulskie, Trenton Bembenic, Levi Miller, Zach Puhala and Jim Dennison. All appear to have bright futures in the league and having a season to play together should benefit all of them.
The Vikings were the last team put together before the April 2nd deadline. Like the Mayhem, this team will have a lot of rookies as well. Mike Farcus will lead the team. Rookies will be Jake Foradori, Spencer Forsythe, Isaac Cherico and Derik Pierce, along with newer players in goalie Rich Wood and Brett Trithart. While neither team will be considered a favorite to compete for a playoff spot this season, a lot of the guys have bright futures in the league if they decide to keep playing on. A lot of xhl guys who played on losing teams before now have championships on their resumes from developing skill and playing nice roles on their respective championship teams. A lot of these guys will hope for the same. For now, it will be fun watching these 2 teams compete 4 times during the season and hopefully most, if not all, will get better and come back to the xhl for many seasons to come.
Good luck to all teams Monday night!!