Thinel steals show
Jackalope rookie dazzles in CHL all-star tilt
By JASON COHEN
Grenville got four goals. Joe Burton got the hometown
love. But Sebastian Thinel stole the show.
21 year-old Odessa Jackalope, the only rookie in the
2003 Central Hockey League All-Star Game, broke a 1-1
tie with two beautiful first-period goals, then added
a couple of assists as Austin coach Brent Hughes' Southern
Conference squad took a huge early lead, then hung on
for a 10-6 win.
point of these shinny-like exhibitions is to showcase
explosive talent, and Thinel's fancy moves made him
the guy to watch. His teammates were clearly pulling
for the hat trick. They rose from the bench every time
he got the puck, and kept looking for him on the ice.
got us going," Hughes said of the Lafontaine, PQ
native, "He made some great plays, and wasn't selfish.
I think there were three or four times in tight that
he could have shot the puck."
MVP was in the bag. Then Grenville got his second tally
of the night with one second remaining in the second
period, plus two more in the third.
Laredo player/assistant earned himself a pair of watches,
having also won the "hardest shot" skills
competition with a 93 mph reading.
is third in the league scoring race with 59 points,
though he's been slightly overshadowed by teammate Eric
Schneider, who received more All-Star votes than any
other player and would lead the league in scoring if
not for call-ups to San Antonio of the AHL (he trails
Memphis' Don Parsons by six points, with 11 fewer games
netminder Matt Barnes was also a standout player, allowing
just one goal on 16 shots in half a game.
7-1 after two, the North won the final period, beating
Odessa's Mike Gorman five times on 28 attempts. Parsons,
who had two goals on the night, said Tulsa Oilers coach
Garry Unger got the squad going at the second intermission
with a story of his NHL days, "when he played in
Edmonton, back in, I don't know, 1940 or something."
Unger, who also joked that "7-1 is the worst lead
in hockey" during an in-game interview, recapped
1982's "Miracle on Manchester," in which the
Oilers blew a 5-0 lead against the Kings in Game 3 of
a first-round series L.A. went on to win, delaying the
Gretzky dynasty a year.
took a five minute major that cost them the game,"
Parsons said. "After he told us the story, someone
said, 'So you're saying we have a chance?'"
quite, but Burton gave the crowd of just under 10,000
reason to cheer, capping off a 12-shot night with two
late goals. An all-star in 10 of his 11 CHL campaigns,
"Smokin' Joe" is the league's career leader
in goals (519), points (901) and games played (644).
Earlier this year, he skated with the Phoenix Coyotes
in an exhibition game, and is currently fourth in the
league scoring race with 58 points.
has said this will be his final season, though his #19
already hangs in the Ford Center rafters from a previous
"retirement." In a populist gesture, Unger
sent the right wing out to the blue line as a starter,
replacing the injured Hardy Sauter.
probably should have been voted as a starter anyway,"
Parsons said. "He was trying hard. He wanted to
score in his last all-star game. But between you and
me, I don't think this is his last all-star game."
TO PENTHOUSE. The game was especially enjoyable for
players like Wichita's Travis Clayton, Fort Worth's
Chad Woollard, El Paso's Jeff Scharf and San Angelo's
Chris Peach, all toiling for last place teams.
think Peachy was just happy he was plus," Hughes
said of the Saints veteran, who is among the league's
top scorers with 53 points, but dead last with a plus/minus
rating of -40 (and in truth, he was even at the ASG).
Scharf, it was a welcome respite from the troubled Buzzards,
who made headlines all over North America when the team
got locked out of the County Coliseum for non-payment
of rent. The players had to chip in five bucks each
to practice during public ice time.
CHL, hoping to take over the franchise, had picked up
a month of of player salaries, but got outmaneuvered
when owner William Davidson filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
protection, delaying any resolution.
to reports, El Paso coach Craig Coxe has not been paid
since mid-December, and the team has no equipment budget.
Scharf's teammate Russ Guzior told the El Paso "Times"
that some players won't take slap shots, because they
can't afford to break a stick. So naturally, the Southern
players teased Scharf throughout the morning practice,
saying he should head home with a suitcase full of gear.
good to get back to just enjoying the game" Scharf
said. "There's never been a year like this. I'm
so proud of the players I play with -- through all this
adversity we go out and play hard every night. We're
usually a goal short, but we're competitive. 'Coxey''s
been the glue keeping us together."
THE ENEMY. The Ford Center's NHL-worthy scoreboard broadcast
video messages that were mostly friendly taunts.
the next time these other guys come to town, they're
not welcome," Oklahoma City coach Doug Sauter said,
while Barnes, who's 2-0 with two shutouts against the
Blazers this year, said that maybe some day he'd allow
the club to score.
was a theme Parsons also touched on at the press conference,
joking that the North players didn't mind the outcome,
"because maybe if the home team loses, that will
start a losing streak for [the Blazers]."
FAMOUS GUNNER WIT. On the Southern bench, Austin equipment
manager Gunner Garrett was his usual understated self.
did you strain your groin?" he taunted one Northern
player at the face-off after Thinel spun him off his
Bats players were not immune from the abuse: "You
shouldn't have given [defenseman Mike] Gaffney number
4, he thinks he's Bobby Orr," Garrett complained
him, for one night," the coach responded.