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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Back in the saddle...

Cleaning out my inbox after a long weekend...

Golf tournament to assist NOJHL teams...

Former Coquitlam Express forward Jeff Martens is shifting college loyalties, moving to the UBC Thunderbirds...

North Bay Skyhawks coach Kevin Kerr is wasting no time trying to move up in the coaching ranks, though I think he could pick a better UHauL franchise than the Flint Generals...

The Helena Bighorns are wasting no time this summer, signing six from the Las Vegas showcase...

Also wasting no time is former Bighorn broadcaster Arch Ecker, who helped get the Santa Fe Roadrunners some much-needed off-season ink last week. The Albuquerque Journal is a paid registration, so here's the article below...

Hockey Team Is Making Long-Term Plans

By Will Webber - Journal Staff Writer

Life these days is good for the Santa Fe RoadRunners organization.

In stark contrast to the team's two previous seasons in the City Different, the North American Hockey League franchise is on stable footing financially and is able to make long-term plans.

That being the case, head coach and general manager Scott Langer suggested this week that the team is well ahead of the curve in preseason preparation. Compared to the club's previous years in Santa Fe, this summer has been a welcome relief both on and off the ice.

"I don't mean this in a bad way, but last year we were really scrambling to put a team out there," Langer said, referring to a tumultuous offseason in which the team nearly folded before being sold to a group of local businessmen.

The RoadRunners were eventually sold again toward the end of the 2005-06 campaign, one in which the team stumbled out of the gate before narrowly missing the playoffs with a late-season surge.

Things have gotten better since. Langer was recently named to the dual role of coach/general manager, and this week the team hired a full-time marketing coordinator. Having that stable foundation, Langer said, makes all the difference for what should be a better team­ and better product­ in 2006-07.

"It makes such a big difference in the tryouts to have a team that doesn't have things going on off the ice like we did (the last two years)," Langer said. "It makes a difference in the team's reputation and with the caliber of players you're able to attract."

The RoadRunners set the tone by conducting a successful tryout camp in Somerset, Wis., June 22-24. Langer said 140 players were in attendance, and the team was able to take a look at some of the Midwest's premier talent, including goaltenders and a number of free agents from the NAHL's failed franchises in Bozeman, Billings, and Helena.

"It's become a recruiting battle to get those guys," Langer said of the players from the three aforementioned clubs. "Their top guys are players every team in the league is after, including us. They're all free agents."

A year ago, the RoadRunners scheduled and subsequently canceled two summer tryout camps because of the problems in the team's front office. By the time things settled down, the lone camp Langer was able to put together was basically an impromptu tryout late in the summer. Fewer than 50 players showed up.

As the team gears up for next weekend's second workout in Chesterfield, Mo., Langer and assistant coach Mike Earhart are expecting the talent pool to be at least as deep as the one in Wisconsin.

"We need players," Langer said. "With so few vets coming back, we have holes to fill everywhere. We've got major spots to fill up and down the roster."

That's especially true between the pipes, as the search is on for solid goaltending. But, Langer said, that's not the only place the team needs help.

The team will need to find proven scorers as the top offensive threats­ the franchise's all-time leading scorer, Corey Stark, and former team captain Brandon Vossberg­ have gone onto the college ranks.

"We lost those guys, plus some high-end defensemen," Langer said. "But, for once, we've been having a summer of active recruiting, and it has really helped."

That said, all signs point to a bright future for the team's third year in Santa Fe.

With three fewer teams in the league and stability on the home front, Langer said the RoadRunners promise to be better than the team that started last season so slowly.

Comments on "Back in the saddle..."


Blogger WCharles said ... (11:40 AM, July 05, 2006) : 

Good news about some stability for Santa Fe. Despite the problems of last year, most of us here in the South Division expected more given the talent the Roadrunners had returning.

This news portends for a more competitive SF team from the start, and that just means that the South Division will remain as a highly competitive and exciting division.

And "welcome" to the Alaska teams to the division.

I'm ready for September already. Go Wildcats!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:39 PM, July 17, 2006) : 

werent they 7-5-2 against you last year? Didnt you start in first place and end with the wheels falling off?

good luck this yr


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