Social Scoop 2: Northwest Rosters Taking Shape

by Steve Casson

In part two of the social scoop, let’s look at three additional teams that have announced their player acquisitions in the Northwest Division, as squads prepare for a run at a Thorne Cup Championship. Here’s a look at Southern Oregon, Seattle and Bellingham.

Southern Oregon Spartans

After losing almost 200 points with the departure of the Chris and Cameron Seto, new Spartans head coach Dennis Creighton along with former NHL defenseman and assistant coach Laurence Sacharuk started by bolstering the blue line with several acquisitions before continuing their search for offense.  

Matej Valicek returns on the blue line for the Spartans. The 5’9”, 175-pound defenseman from the Czech Republic had three goals and nine assists with Southern Oregon.

Peter Toth a 6 foot, 185-pound defenseman from Hungary has joined. Toth played for The Ontario Hockey Academy last season. He scored three goals and 12 assists in two seasons with OHA.

Defenseman Noah Kozack from Saskatchewan, Canada is a 5'11", 175- pound defenseman who last played with the Regina Silver Foxes of the Prairie Junior Hockey League. Kozak had a goal and 6 assists in 29 games.

Ty Traynor comes from the Midland Flyers in the Provincial Junior Hockey League. The 6'3", 185-pound defenseman from Tiny, Ontario, Canada will play his final junior-eligible season with the Spartains.

Harrison Hunter is a 6’1”, 190-pound defenseman who played last season at the Banff Hockey Academy where he won the team MVP award. 

Goaltender Krystof Holub has been signed to play between the pipes for Southern Oregon. The 20-year-old from Czech Republic decided to come to America after winning the DHL Junior Extraliga Championship last season with HC SKODA PLZEN.

Offensively, the Spartans have resigned Harmen Vining. The 19-year-old forward was acquired at the trade deadline last season from the Vancouver Rangers. Vining, a 6’1”, 180-pound forward, played 40 regular season games compiling 5 goals and 17 assists with a playoff goal. 

Former Tulsa Junior Oilers forward Miroslav Smid is now a Spartan. Smid scored 14 goals and 14 assists in 51 games for Tulsa last season. The 19-year-old from the Czech Republic is a 5’9”, 182-pound forward who will be playing his second season in the WSHL.

Hunter Havice adds speed and points. He scored 19 goals and 18 assists in two seasons with the Aspen Leafs in the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League (RMJHL).

Christian Ward hails from the NA3HL having played with the Missoula Junior Bruins posting 27 goals and 22 assists. The 5’8”, 150-pound forward is playing his first season in the WSHL.

Nolan Willoughby played with Aspen in the Rocky Mountain junior league where he posted 14 goals and 24 assists. The 5'11", 185-pound two-way forward is from Eugene, Oregon having played his minor league hockey with the Portland Jr. Winterhawks.

Kalem Nohnychuk is a 5'9", 170-pound center from Alberta, Canada who played last season with the Prince Albert Mintos in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Nohnychuk has his best season in 2015-16 scoring 14 goals and 9 assists with the Regina Capitals of the SSMHL.

The Spartans have signed Austrian forward Lachlan Shumak. The 6’3”, 195-pound former Vancouver Ranger had 2 assists and 47 penalty minutes in 11 games with the club.

Jakub Mecir, from the greater Metro Hockey League, joins the Spartans. A native of the Czech Republic, the 6'2", 194-pound, right-handed defenseman scored 9 goals and 15 assists in 37 games along with a goal and 10 assists in six playoff games.

Keegan Randell returns for the 2017-2018 season with Southern Oregon. The 6-foot, 207-pound two-way player and Saskatchewan native has notched 7 goals and 8 assists the past two seasons.

Seattle Totems

The term “Break a leg” is sourced in superstition about wishing someone good luck before they go on a theatrical stage. But for rookie Jimmy Frey, it’s a term he didn’t want to hear last season.

Frey returns to the Totems after a broken leg, suffered against the Valencia Flyers, in what was   to be a promising start to the season. He had three assists.

Forward Cam Gross is back. Gross led Seattle in goals with 22 during his rookie season. The Seattle native also had 11 assists in 42 games with the Totems.

Goaltender Johan Strömstedt, who was the backbone of Sweden’s Väsby J20 team for the past seasons, will press for a starting role with Seattle. Strömstedt had a 2.82 GAA and .895 save percentage the club.

Denis Kozev joins Mark Revniaga as the only players from Israel in the WSHL and they’re both with Seattle. Kozev played for the U18 and U20 Israel National teams as an assistant captain then 32 games with Billings of the NA3HL. The defenseman from Nahariya, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, scored two goals and five assists with the Bulls.   

Revniaga, who was the captain of both the U18 and U20 Israel National teams, scored 29 goals and eight assists in 21 games. Revniaga also had 11 goals and eight assists in 2016-17 playing for Point Mallard in the NA3HL.

Other players back with the Totems include Tom Ignatovich, who played with team Israel at the U20 World Championships. The center from Haifa, Israel scored four goals and 18 assists last season with Seattle.

Daniel Nomerstad is back after scoring 13 goals and 13 assists in 2015-16 with Seattle along with Mitch Hunt, who was the WSHL’s most penalized player with 243 penalty minutes in 2016-17. Hunt still managed 18 goals and 18 assists.

One former Totems player has moved on to college. Alex Rubin, now with Division 1 Missouri State, notched an assist in his second start with the Bears. He also had two goals in preseason games against Oklahoma City.

Bellingham Blazers

Holding opponents off the scoreboard is one of the keys to coach Mark Collins’s strategy as it would be for any coach.

Getting a solid two-way defenseman is an added touch to a young Blazers roster with the acquisition of Gustaf Kumpula. The Swedish blue liner played last season with Vanersborgs J20 HC.

Vital pieces of this year's team will be a set of returning players including Dane Halstead and Tommy Steven, who had 20 goals and 23 assists last season. Both will take a larger leadership role with the Blazers.

Both were instrumental in earning a playoff berth to the WSHL Thorne Cup playoffs with a victory over Seattle.

Spencer Vockel and Jamahl Eakett are both late-season pickups last year who will also be given more responsibility during the 2017-18 season.

Simeon Smith is back. He spent much of last year injured but hopes to get back to his 2015-16 form having scored 25 goals and 38 assists.

Follow Steve Casson for your Northwest Division news all season (@websportsradio)

Photo courtesy of Marc Mauno