NAHL South Training Camp Preview – Amarillo Bulls

The NAHL South as a division has undergone wholesale changes this offseason. The division has grown to seven teams with the addition of the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and four new head coaches will be looking to make their mark. There is a decided CHL slant with past CHL markets of Amarillo, Odessa, Corpus Christi, Rio Grande and Lone Star having made the move from minor pro to the ranks of junior hockey.

 

The NAHL South has long been considered the toughest division in the league and from the looks of things this season will be no exception. If statements made by new coaches coming into the division play out, they will only further the NAHL South Division’s reputation as the Black-n-Blue division.

 

John Becanic who has had two previous coaching stints in the NAHL will be replacing Justin Quenneville behind the Corpus Christi bench. Becanic knows what he is getting himself into. “In the South, every night you have a worthy opponent. And that makes you a better team,” Becanic told the Caller Times. “The Topekas, Amarillos and Texases, they should make us better. We should be a better team every time we play them. We shouldn’t cringe every time we see them on the schedule, we should be looking forward to it. We will learn to embrace the hard.”

 

Joe Coombs who will be coaching the new Rio Grande Killer Bees took it even one step further in remarks to the Rio Grande Valley Monitor. “We want kids that hate to lose and want to battle,” said Coombs. “If that means hitting somebody or blocking a shot or, quite frankly, losing their teeth because they had to get in a fight then that’s what’s going to happen.”

 

Over the past ten seasons the NAHL Robertson Cup Champions have come from the South Division seven times and last year was no exception as Amarillo raised the cup after defeating the Wenatchee Wild. Look for the rough and tumble South Division to make another run at post season glory. Over the next week we will take a look at each team in the South, their roster movements and what you can potentially look for going into training camp.

Amarillo Bulls

 

The Amarillo Bulls are the defending NAHL Robertson Cup National Champions and will  need to reload if they are to make a run at another cup. Coach Dennis Williams will have to replace a lot of fire power going into the season due to the large number of players moving to the NCAA. In addition Assistant Coach Rocky Russo has moved on to the Philadelphia Little Flyers of the East Coast League.

 

The saving grace for Williams is that both goalies from last season are eligible to return. Paul Berrafato who has committed to Holy Cross University for the 2014/15 season led the NAHL in Wins with 33 and Goals Against Average at 1.66. His .928 Save Percentage was good for fifth in the league. Colin Delia was no slouch between the pipes either grabbing 11 wins including three shutouts. Both goalies will have to step up again this season to keep Amarillo in the hunt for a second cup win.

 

Nine of the Bulls 14 forwards from last season will be moving on to NCAA college programs add Mike Davis who was selected in the USHL draft to the mix and Amarillo is in dire need of offensive firepower going into training camp. This was a very balanced offensive attack during their championship run with seven players having at least 40 points on the season. If Davis sticks with Dubuque, Amarillo will potentially have only one of those seven players in camp.

 

As bad as things may look on offense, the blue-line is just as depleted. Connor Frey is the only member of the defensive core who could return for this season. The Bulls allowed only 118 goals against last season, by far the best in the league. They will be hard pressed to repeat the feat this season with little veteran presence on the back end.

2012/13 Roster Potential returning veterans shown in Bold.

Player

 P  

 GP  

  G  

A

 Pts  

 +/-  

 PIM  

Comments
Mike Davis

F

59

28

31

59

+48

54

Drafted by Dubuque of USHL
TJ Sarcona

F

54

20

37

57

+42

77

Niagara University signee
Gage Christianson

F

53

18

33

51

+28

38

Committed to Milwaukee School of Engineering
Ryan Cole

F

57

24

26

50

+34

68

Moving to D III Trinity College
Tyler Deresky

F

58

20

26

46

+31

70

Bentley University
Blake Roubos

F

55

19

25

44

+23

41

Lawrence University
Omar Mullan

F

55

15

27

42

+43

149

5′ 9“ 175 / 1993
Matt Sieckhaus

F

53

12

27

39

+25

49

5′ 9“ 175 / 1993
Brady Ferguson

F

54

10

21

31

+20

58

Robert Morris University
Hampus Gustafsson

F

35

10

17

27

+26

21

Merrimack College recruit will play alongside brother next season
Tyler Gernhoffer

F

48

9

17

26

+17

31

5′ 11“ 190 / 1995
Clint Carlisle

F

32

16

9

25

+21

31

Will play at West Point in 2013/14
Carter Penzien

F

28

9

3

12

+4

12

6′ 0“ 185 / 1993
Dan McNamara

F

21

3

9

12

+8

20

St John’s University
John Rey

D

54

8

30

38

+47

101

D I Robert Morris University
Geoff Fortman

D

56

7

21

28

+39

64

Signed with Canisius College
TJ Sherman

D

58

6

20

26

+38

12

Trinity College along with Cole
Tyler Rostenkowski

D

56

4

19

23

+31

23

US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs
Garret Peterson

D

51

3

15

18

+29

91

Army Black Knights recruit
Joe Grabowski

D

48

2

16

18

+34

96

Off to Ivy League’s Princeton
Connor Frey

D

45

5

12

17

+21

58

5′ 11“ 180 / 1993

W

L

OTL

SO

GAA

SV%

Paul Berrafato

G

33

3

5

2

1.66

.928

6′ 0“ 180 / 1993
Collin Delia

G

11

2

2

3

2.26

.899

6′ 2″ – 180 / 1994

 

In the NAHL entry draft Amarillo selected four forwards and one defenseman.

F – Mitchell Vandenburg 5′ 11“ 183 / Honeybaked U18 / 25 points on 15G + 10A in 31 games.

F – Brendan McGuire 6′ 5“ 203 / Pembroke Lumber Kings / 21G + 23A in 51 games for the Plano, TX native.

F – Davis Boyer 5′ 8“ 168 / Sarnia Legionnaires / Point + per game with 18G + 38A in 40 games played.

F – Mason Boh 5′ 11“ 181 / Colorado Thunderbirds / 43 points in 40 games on 19G + 24A.

D – Ben Jentsch 6′ 1″ – 190 / Apple Core / 6G + 14A for 20 points in 44 games played.

 

We have identified four of the Amarillo tenders for the coming season. Again the focus was up front with three forwards and a defenseman. Two of the forwards were with the Anaheim Jr Ducks of the NAPHL last season. The other is coming down from the Cornwall Colts of the Canadian Central Hockey League. On the defensive side Amarillo reached into the NA3HL’s champion North Iowa Bulls.

F – Elijiah Barriga 5′ 11″ – 185 / Anaheim Jr Ducks U16 / Played in 26 games with 16G + 27A for 43 points.

F – Max McLain 5′  7“ 165 / Anaheim Jr Ducks U18 / Goal per game with 22G + 16A in 22 games.

F – Roman Ammirato 5′ 8“ 150 / Cornwall Colts / 53 points on 21G + 32A in only 39 games.

D – Ron Lindgren 6′ 1″ – 195 / North Iowa Bulls / 5G + 24A for 29 points in 44 games and a +48 rating.

 

Though it may look like an uphill battle for Head Coach Dennis Williams, he has been through this before. Over the past three seasons the Bulls have moved more than 30 players on to the college ranks. Every year looks to be a rebuilding year for Williams, but with his track record of scholarships he has no lack of players looking to don an Amarillo Bulls sweater. I expect nothing less this season. Following the conclusion of the Bulls main camp, Williams was a bit cautious with his assessment noting the youth of the incoming team. “It’s going to take us 90 days to get to where we want to be in terms of player development, and to work with them because there are so many new guys coming out of the great midget programs,” Williams told NAHL.com. “It’s a different jump once they get to junior as the pace is faster and the players are bigger.”

 

Tomorrow we will take a look at the Corpus Christi Icerays who finished fourth in the division last season.

Topics: Amarillo Bulls, NAHL South Division, Preview, Training Camp

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