Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sioux Falls Stampede 2008-09 Preview

Real quickly, I think I am going to try and do some live blogging for the finals.

The Stampede had a slow start, but came together and became a team to be reckoned with. Their young guys quickly matured to the USHL level and really started to click. The goalie tandem was top notch, and both could return next season.

Key Departures:
Jack Connolly-One of the best players in the league.
Jake Hansen-30 goal scorer.
Eric Springer-Team's best defenseman.
Nick Dineen-One of the best all around players.
Jake Drewiske-Team leader, hard worker.

Goalies (2):
Eric Hartzell (1989) - Emerged as the go to guy.
Max Strang (1989) - Third year guy, so he should be getting some ice time.

Goalie Evaluation:
These two split most of the season, but Hartzell seemed to play more often. They finished very similar in their goals against average, but Hartzell posted five shutouts. There have been some rumors of Strang possibly not returning next season, and I could see that. Hartzell appears ready to guide the team by himself. There are plenty of teams in need of a quality goalie.

Defense (4):
Austin Accetura (1990) - Rarely played, so can't comment much.
Max Grover (1988) - Developed into a solid defenseman.
Gabe Guentzel (1988) - Had a somewhat slow start, but quickly adapted.
Kris Reinthaler (1988) - Big guy, needs to play more physical.

Defense Evaluation:
The defense has some solid returners in Grover, Guentzel, and Reinthaler. They will need some help back there, though, as Accetura is probably still a little raw and shouldn't be relied upon. I have also heard that Guentzel could possibly bolt for college this summer, hurting the Stampede's defense corps even further.

Forwards (8):
Patrick Divjak (1989) - Small, yet very good with the puck.
Jeff Rohrkemper (1989) - Don't remember him, can't comment.
Joe Knoepke (1988) - 4th line guy, didn't notice him much.
Terry Broadhurst (1988) - Developed very nicely, should be a top player for SF next season.
Matt Farris (1990) - Fresh from SD HS, should have a bigger impact.
Dane Walters (1989) - Good penalty killer.
Robbie Vrolyk (1989) - Very fast and good with the puck.
Marc Rodriguez (1990) - Gritty forward, reminds me of a young Dineen.

Forward Evaluation:
Sioux Falls loses some big forwards, but guys like Divjak, Broadhurst, and Vrolyk should be able to step right in and fill those holes. Other guys that could be among the top forwards include Farris and Rodriguez, as they are still pretty young but will definitely benefit from having a year under their belts. Sioux Falls currently has 5 overage kids, so one of them will have to go. If I had to guess, it'd be Knoepke.

Overall Evaluation: B

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