***The CHL will be releasing divisional previews leading up to the start of the CHLs 16th season on Friday, October 19th. The schedule for the divisional previews will be the Northeast Division on Monday, October 15th, the Northwest Division on Tuesday, October 16th, the Southwest Division on Wednesday, October 17th and the Southeast Division on Thursday, October 18th.
Coach: Scott Muscutt (8th season, 274-132-45)06-07 Record: 44-14-6 (94 points) 1st Place in the NE Division, Governors Cup Champions (Regular Season champs)
Top Newcomers: F- Darryl Lloyd (had career highs with 17 goals, 26 assist, 43 points and 206 penalty minutes during 2005-06 season with Youngstown); D- Dale Lupul (returns to the Mudbugs after one year absence, had 22 goals and 27 assists last season in the UHL).
Key Losses: Dan Wildfong (the eight-year Mudbug Mr. Everything heads off into retirement from playing and into the trenches of coaching with the Texas Brahmas); Cam and Chris Abbott (the twin-brother combination combined for 49 goals and 59 assists in just 80 combined games played).
Coaches Quote: Even more than the offensive numbers, he brings a work ethic and determination that is going to create offense. (Scott Muscutt on Darryl Lloyd, Shreveport Times -08-14-07).
Overview: Bossier-Shreveport continues to put great talent on the ice and is annually one of the top defensive teams (league-best 155 goals allowed last season). Goaltender John DeCaro (2006-07 CHL Most Outstanding Goaltender) turned heads during AHL training camp in San Antonio in September and is primed for another All-Star season. Darryl Lloyds aggressive, disturbing style should help the process of moving past the memories of Dan Wildfong for Mudbug Nation.
Coach: Kevin McClelland (3rd season, 61-56-11)
06-07 Record: 39-19-6 (84 points) 2nd Place in the NE Division
Top Newcomers: F- Chad Woollard (has 35+ goals in four of last five season, a true scoring star); D- Jason Lawmaster (veteran brings 495 pro games on his resume, can score and adds to team toughness).
Key Losses: Jason Sessa (scored 30 goals last season); Travis Banga (traded in the off-season to the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, the 26-goal scorers gritty style will be missed in Mississippi).
Coaches Quote: "We feel good about the players that we have coming in to camp and that we have a chance to really upgrade our team, but everyone in the league, especially in the Northern Conference, has upgraded." (Kevin McClelland on Northern Conference, DeSoto Times -10-09-07).
Overview: One of CHLs top teams last season due in large part to a great start (10-3-2 through November) will look to jump out to quick start again. Chad Woollard brings big-time goal scoring capability and should be a perfect complement to Louis Dumont. Former AHL goaltender Nick Boucher should push leagues winningest goaltender from a year ago Larry Sterling (31-12-5 during the regular season). Defenseman Derek Landmesser makes power play one of the most feared in the CHL (18.7%, 3rd in league last season).
Coach: Dan Wildfong (1st season)
06-07 Record: Did Not Play Last Season
Players to Watch: F- Blair Manning (has had 50+ points in each of the last eight seasons, tremendous vision and can deliver the puck to the scorers better than most); G- David Cacciola (is 39-10-7 over the past two seasons seeing action with Bossier-Shreveport and New Mexico); D- Craig Minard (solid D-man who is annually among the top in plus/minus).
Coaches Quote: "I thought once I signed one guy, he'd know this buddy, this buddy and this buddy and it would all fall into line. It didn't work that way. Every guy is trying to get as much as they can for a salary. It's really hard to get 18 guys in a $10,000 a week budget. I got my veterans taking less money to play on a better team." (Dan Wildfong on recruiting a team, Star-Telegram -10-07-07).
Overview: The Brahmas have had to start from scratch and head coach Dan Wildfong stayed close to home signing several players he teamed with in Bossier-Shreveport (Blair Manning, Craig Minard and David Cacciola). The Brahmas should have solid goaltending and toughness and if they can become a consistent offensive threat they could be one to watch.
Coach: Kevin Kaminski (2nd season, 34-20-10)
06-07 Record: 34-20-10 (78 points) 3rd Place in the NE Division
Top Newcomers: F- Bryan Lachapelle (had career-year last season with 17 goals, 47 points and 239 PIMs with Tulsa, was acquired in deal that sent CHL MVP Jeff Christian to the Oilers); G- Andy Franck (has recorded 60 wins over the last two seasons in the ECHL with Wheeling)
Key Losses: Jeff Christian (tough to replace 116 point and locker room leadership); Brad Patterson (despite only having 41 points, Patterson may be missed most for his tenacity on the ice and for being a big-game player).
Coaches Quote: It allows us to get through most of our road games right away. I feel that we can take advantage of being home for most of the second half of the season." (Kevin Kaminski on Early Road Schedule, Vindicator -08-10-07)
Overview: The Hounds surprised a lot of people last season with their strong road play (16-11-5 and come-at-you approach). They will need that road-luck as they begin the year with 14 straight games away from home and do not play their first game at the Chevy Centre until after Thanksgiving. Chris Richards will have the chance to steer the ship as the teams player/assistant coach and captain. He scored over 100 points last season and will need to come close to that again to move the SteelHounds to the next level. Defenseman Stephen Margeson (17 goals, 22 assists) had a breakthrough year and if he develops half as much as he did from two years ago he will be a superstar. Goaltender Andy Franck has the tools to be a top tier netminder in the CHL and with Youngstown allowing the fewest shots in the league per game last season (25.8), he wont have to work too hard.