Under the Hood: Dallas Snipers
2018-2019 Finish: Mid-Western Semi-Final
Standings/Record: 22W-26L-1OTW-2OTL (4th MW)
(Photo by Michelle Holcomb, Dallas Snipers Photographer)
The Dallas Snipers are trying to break the threshold from being an “overlooked” team to a Thorne Cup contending team.
Well, the Snipers are on their way to achieving that coming off their best season in team history last year. Dallas reached 22 wins, an unprecedented number in their win column, almost double from 2017-2018.
They lowered the amount of losses from 38 to 26, saw an increase in goals from 175 to 202, and a decrease in goals-against from 353 to 227.
The chip on their shoulder has always been elimination by an eventual champion. The Snipers were ousted in 2016-2017 by the Wichita Jr. Thunder, and were booted the last two consecutive years by the El Paso Rhinos in division semis.
As reported on SnipersHockey.com, the team is concentrating their defensive initiatives in lowering their goals-against even more. The Sniper’s defense was able to lock it up for the greater portion of the season and also combined for 139-points.
All in all, there were a lot of positives to draw from the conclusion of last season leading into this season. The Snipers will look to build on their much-improved defense while also relying on a core group of offensive players to hopefully yield a deeper postseason run in 2019-2020.
They will have to do it without their top three scorers Jasa Jenko, Eric Eaton, and Igor Litvinenko—they all cracked 50-points.
Head Coach Aaron Davis asserted that the Snipers are eager to see how their returning D-core will respond with more expectations this year. Davis will be looking for higher consistency from the team in general.
“It’s tough to play three games in a weekend,” Coach Davis said. “There’s always a game where we come out slower than others. I think if we can keep the course and play within our system we can do better. Every game matters specially this year with teams being able to miss playoffs.”
(Photo of Domeika by Michelle Holcomb, Dallas Snipers Photographer)
Of the returning defenders, Davis named Arvidas Domeika, Gasper Konc, and Alexander Heiskanen to be more relied upon than they were last year. Konc and Heiskanen are returning for their second season, while, Domeika is coming back for a third.
Domeika will likely take the initiative among defenders bringing multi-year experience in the league and division. Domeika registered 11G-12A-23Pts. but also was a catalyst to physicality. Domeika adds size standing at 6’4” 200-pounds and complements well with 6’2” Gasper Konc who also returns.
Konc is coming back for his second season and also helps offensively. He amassed 14G-15A-29Pts. in his first year, plus another three postseason points. Both Domeika and Konc also have WJC experience having represented their home countries in the international tournament.
Starting with the aforementioned skaters, Davis is hoping to continue the downward trend they have seen in the goals-against column.
Finding newcomers to gel with the current system and crop of returners influences depth in trying to synchronize all four lines. Coach Davis believes that Jesper Lundqvist, Dmitri Kahlin, and Alexei Sirotenko are prime examples of newcomers that fit right in.
Lundqvist comes from the Börlange HF system in Sweden. He has been with the organization since 2013-2014 and made the jump from their J20 Elite level to the Snipers this season. The 20-year-old forward brings a mature mentality to the table with a season as the assistant captain for his J20 Elite squad. Though his impact is not seen on the score sheet it can be felt by the team and Coach Davis affirmed it.
A pair of forwards from Ukrain, Kahlin and Sirotenko, are joining the squad and already impressed Coach Davis. The two forwards played for MHK Dynamo Kharkov in their home country. Kahlin posted 8G-11A-19Pts. and Sirotenko finished with 7G-7A-14Pts.
“They just need to get used to that small [North American] ice,” Coach Davis said. “It’s kind of quick, there’s a big difference, you know, they come from Europe with big ice and more time.”
A No. 1 goalie has yet to be solidified and the coaching staff will use these next two weekends to determine which goalie can begin to inch forward. The Snipers have announced the signing of Albin Klockare and the return of Brady Weiss.
(Photo of Weiss by Mark Mauno, WSHL Photographer)
Klockare also comes from Börlange HF of the Swedish J20 Elite league. Like Lundqvist, Klockare has spent the entirety of his hockey career with the organization. He played in 11 games last season and held a .891 SV% through 11 games.
Weiss is going on his fourth season with the Snipers but will be anxious to gain ground only surpassing ten games in a WSHL season once. He was primarily a back-up in his last season but the 20-year-old may have a shot at being the starter depending on the next few weeks. Weiss took a break last season and didn't play in the WSHL.
Alexander Aleshkin backstopped the majority of games last season but his return hasn't been announced. (Aleshkin has been announced to return subsequent to the release of this article/ Updated 09/26/19).
The team will set out to play smart, intelligent hockey. There won’t be aimless individuality as opposed to smart individuality. Coach Davis believes that if players take it upon themselves to make a play happen, they need to have an agenda, or a plan, and not just improvise.
“I want to be hard working and smart,” Coach Davis said. “Everyone can fly around and do things but if you do it the smart way, I think you will have a better chance of winning some of those ‘tired games,’ specially in the third period.”
“Of course we want to be a Thorne Cup contender,” Coach Davis said. “We have been doing better over the last few years. Our division is pretty tough but if we can be in the top four I think we would be in good shape to go into playoffs.”
The Dallas Snipers will be the first team to officially start the regular season along with their opponent, Pueblo Bulls. The Snipers and Bulls will take to the ice this Friday through Sunday in what will also be the Bulls’ first ever WSHL regular season game.