Friday, January 2, 2009

Report Card: Green Bay Gamblers

Team Record: 16-7-2

Total Points: 34

Goal Leader: C.J. Lee, William Rapuzzi - 11

Assist Leader: Reed Seckel - 18

Points Leader: Reed Seckel - 26

PIM Leader: Chris Crane - 67

+/- Leader: Dalton Speelman - +13

Wins Leader: Reid Ellingson - 11

Coach Jon Cooper used his first two picks on players returning from the college ranks. Lots of people scratched their heads, but it turns out that Cooper knew exactly what he was doing. Reid Ellingson has been their workhorse so far this year, playing in 20 games and posting a 11-6-2 record. Steve Summerhays has been able to step in and provide some quality goaltending as well. Steve has a record of 5-1-0, with the lone loss coming at Sioux City. Ellingson was a former futures pick of the Chicago Steel before he decided to accept a scholarship offer from Northern Michigan and bypass the USHL. Things didn't work out and Ellingson wasn't playing like he had hoped. Now he's in juniors getting that valuable game experience and will head back to Northern Michigan next fall.

Chris Saracino has been one of Green Bay's most reliable defenseman this season. I've seen a giant improvement from last season at the Fall Classic, and that's what this league is all about. The Gambler defense as a whole doesn't look like they put up a ton of points, but they are all solid players that are good at keeping the puck out of their zone and net. Taylor Johnson returns and he is a very solid player that seems to go unnoticed all too often.

Up front, Mike Forney has been a force. Injuries have derailed so much of his career, it's great to see him showing everyone what he is capable of. C.J. Lee and rookie William Rapuzzi lead the team in goals, with 11 each. C.J. Lee is in his third season, and I believe he was recently named team captain. I've liked what I've seen from C.J. over his time in the USHL and won't hesitate to call him a quality player. Rapuzzi is a speedy forward that has a knack for the back of the net. Anthony Hayes has been quiet so far this season, but he really looked improved at the Fall Classic and even looked quicker on the ice. I feel he will get going before too long and surpass his point total last season by a good margin. Dalton Speelman has been a nice surprise. He was a draft pick of Sioux City's, but was cut from tryout camp. He was awesome in the shootouts, going a perfect 5 for 5, but it didn't translate during the games. Green Bay added him and he has done nothing but surprise, posting 13 points and leading the team in the +/- category.

Team Grade: A-

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