NAHL South Training Camp Preview Topeka Roadrunners


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, there are also four new head coaches 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.

 

Topeka Roadrunners

 

The Roadrunners are one of only three teams that will enter the upcoming season without a coaching change as Head Coach Scott Langer returns to lead the team. Langer will have to find some scoring touch to replace the top four scorers from last season including Kyle Sharkey who is the teams all time scoring leader. Topeka has something to prove this season. After dominating the Tornado during the regular season running up a 9 – 1 – 2 record, the Roadrunners were swept by Texas in the opening round of the post season.

 

Topeka will miss 92 goals scored with the exit of Sharkey, Gaffney, Andrew and Brossoit. They do have players who contributed last season eligible to return at the forward position with six players who played 36 or more games last season while registering 100 points scored.

On the blue-line Topeka has four of seven defensemen eligible to return. However the three who will be moving on were the top three defensive scorers. Those three scored a total of 71 points on 16G + 55A. Only two of those eligible to return played more than 22 games all of last season.

 

In net, Mackenzie Sawyer put up an 11 – 5 – 4 record as the back up to Spencer Viele last season giving him valuable experience entering camp which should help him step into the starter role. Langer will look to Sawyer to offer the young defense piece of mind to play a little looser knowing that they have a capable man between the pipes.

 

 2012/13 Roster – Potential returning veterans shown in Bold

Player P GP G A PTS +/- PIM Comments
Kyle Sharkey F

59

32

37

69

+23

62

 Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Sean Gaffney F

58

26

40

66

+33

49

 University    of Connecticut
Tyler Andrew F

51

20

23

43

+14

38

 Ferris   State recruit / Indiana Ice pick in USHL draft
Brandon Brossoit F

48

14

21

35

-2

57

 Apr 1992 Birth Date – Aged Out
Tyler Poulsen F

53

13

19

32

+5

51

 5’ 7” – 146 / 1993
Michael Covach F

47

13

12

25

+7

13

 5’ 11” – 195 / 1994
Drew Kariofiles F

54

12

9

21

-1

131

 Off to Johnson & Wales
Tyler Groat F

44

9

8

17

+10

35

 6’ 2” – 160 / 1994
Peter Halash F

36

5

9

14

-4

67

 6’ 0” – 181 / 1994
Ross Luedtke F

40

8

4

12

+5

26

 Signed with Air Force    Academy
Jerad Tafoya F

38

6

6

12

+2

9

 5’ 9” – 180 / 1993
Codey Hansen F

32

4

4

8

-1

192

 Feb 1992 Birth Date – Aged Out
Jake Kamrass F

52

1

6

7

-3

77

 6’ 0” – 170 / 1994
Juraj Kucirko F 21

0

6

6

+7

6

 6’ 2” – 205 / 1994
Mike Gornall F 4

1

0

1

0

2

 6’ 0” – 200 / 1994
Michael Pastor D

59

6

24

30

+27

87

 Jul   1992 Birth Date – Aged Out
Trace Strahle D

57

7

21

28

+9

58

 Moving on to Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Kevin Patterson D

46

3

10

13

+2

69

 Niagara   signee
Patrick Pollock D

58

2

10

12

+1

52

 6’ 1” – 205 / 1993
Luke Veitch D

45

1

8

9

0

64

 6’ 0” – 180 / 1993
Tomas Nechala D

21

2

3

5

+4

18

 6’ 1” – 201 / 1993
Clint Garris D

20

1

3

4

+5

40

 5’ 11” – 180 / 1993
Brogan Rafferty D

1

1

1

2

+2

0

 6’ 0”   – 175 / 1995

W

L

OTL

SO

GAA

SV%

Spencer Viele G

28

9

3

2

2.19

.924

 Wisconsin-Stevens Point recruit
Mackenzie Sawyer G

11

5

4

1

2.37

.912

 5’ 10” – 180 / 1993

In the NAHL Entry Draft, Langer split the selections with the first two picks going to defensemen and the final two being used on forwards. One of the defenders has USHL talent and experience, but was limited to only eight games last season.

D – Christian Meike 5’ 11” – 150 / Washington Little Capitals / 39 games played with 2G + 14A

D – Avni Berisha 6’ 0” – 192 / Ceder Rapid Roughriders / 0 points in 8 games played with USHL.

F -Austin Beaulieu 5’ 7” – 150 / TPH Thunder / 3G + 4A in 12 games played.

F – Ron Greco 5’ 10” – 168 / Team Comcast / 35 games scoring 14G + 18A

 

We have been able to identify only three Tenders. Topeka dipped into the NAPHL for a forward and a defenseman. The third player was inked from the NA3HL.

 

F – Michael Palasics 5’ 10” – 178 / Cleveland Jr Lumberjacks NA3HL / Registered 14G + 20A in 45 games played.

F – Connor Hutchins 5’ 11” – 181 / Pikes Peak Miners NAPHL / Point plus per game with 13G + 19A in just 20 games.

D – Ryan Polin 6’ 0” – 185 / Lansing Capitals NAPHL / 6G + 7A in 22 games.

Scott Langer is a proven leader in this league and always has his team ready to play. This is a quality organization who year after year is in the playoff hunt. There is no reason to expect them to be anything less than a competitive team challenging for a division title.

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