by Jason Cohen
For players, the All-Star game is a vacation and a showcase.
But if you're coaching in it, it's an opportunity to
scout opposing players.
"Guys are here because they're skilled, so you see their
strengths, but you might see a weakness too," Memphis's
Doug Shedden, the Northern Conference coach, said. "Especially
the goaltenders -- it's great to see what weaknesses
they may have in practice."
At the same time, heated rivalries are put aside. Two
weeks ago, San Antonio defenseman Mark DeSantis drew
Austin's ire because of a little rough stuff with Dan
Price; this week he is Brent Hughes' Southern Conference
"Playing against Austin as much as we do, that's a great
honor," DeSantis said.
The Northern Conference won Thursday's skills competition.
Ice Bat Daniel Tetrault hit 87mph in the hardest shot
round, which Fort Worth Brahma Mike Tilson won handily
at 97mph. Brett Seguin helped the South win the accuracy
shootout round by hitting four targets on eight shots,
though Memphis forward Don Parsons took the individual
crown by doing it on five shots. Fort Worth's Kory Cooper
bested Austin's Bryan McMullen and Odessa's Mike Gorman
in the three rounds that featured scorers vs. goaltenders.
NO FUN FOR GOALIES
Being selected to the all-star game is a reward. But
for a goalie, playing in it can feel like punishment.
Last season in Odessa, Austin's Bryan McMullen jokingly
shook his head "no" when Hughes first waved him in for
starter Ken Carroll, who gave up 7 goals.
"I was kind of hiding in the corner there, saying, no,
I don't want any piece of this action," McMullen said.
"You're facing the best forwards in the league. Even
the defensemen are scorers. You're gonna let in a few
goals. You can't let it bust your confidence any."
Ken Hitchcock, the featured speaker at Wednesday's banquet,
said the CHL reminds him of his days coaching junior
hockey in Alberta.
"I feel that the grass roots part of the game is here,"
Hitchcock said. "This is where it's fun, where you don't
make a great living but you coach for the enjoyment,
you coach for the challenge. You and your family have
to make sacrifices every day. I went through those things
15 years ago, so I appreciate what you're going through.
It's good to get back to the world that made me what
MOCK THE HOSTS
CHL media czar Steve Cherwonak got in the banquet's
best verbal jab, after hometown All-Stars Kurt Wickenheiser
and Layne Roland made a late post-dinner entrance. "The
two guys who were out getting beer, what place are you
in?" he cracked. It was the first of many good-natured
shots at the cellar-dwelling Ice Rays.
"It's been a rough season," acknowledged Roland, who
brightened it up by scoring five goals in a single game
last week. "The fans have held in there pretty well
for us, so this is a nice little showcase for them."
NOTE: In addition to the online broadcast from Ice Rays
radio team Mike Modugno and Rick Dames, fans can follow
tonight's action at the real-time scoring site www.pointstreak.com.