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Thursday, November 17, 2005

American Hockey League Western Conference, Western Division predictions

As I finish the final installment of the scouting series, on all the AHL teams in the Western Conference, Western Division., it is time, I think to take a look at the season so far. I found this posted in the Connecticut Post under the Sound Tigers Weekly Column (11/17/05)

1. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton — Who'll slow these guys down? 2. Grand Rapids — Hudler, Manlow off to torrid starts. 3. Houston — Aeros, on hot streak, play their 20th game tonight. 4. Portland — Yet another Dineen coaching career off to a nice start. 5. Manchester — Monarchs have picked up steam. 10. Bridgeport — Sound Tigers getting everything going. 27. Binghamton — Denis Hamel has a great week: Sens still just 2-2 in four games. 26. San Antonio — Can Yanick Lehoux lift them? 25. Philadelphia — Phantoms were reeling until Binghamton came to town. 24. Chicago — Unfamiliar spot for the Wolves. 23. Albany — Rats had dropped five in a row going to banged-up Lowell Wednesday.

Pretty interesting perspective. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has lovely fans, a great team and what I think of as the most hated management in the league. But, you can disagree. It would be a treat to see them come to the Midwest for a game this year, but it is not to be. Browse over to the AHL stats site and look at how dominating they are in virtually every category. To top the stats, the WBS team is set to receive Marc-Andre Fleury from Pittsburgh. Did you see his play on OLN on Wednesday? Damn fine win against a Philadelphia team that looked a lot like the Calder Cup champion last year. Damn sea garbage may just win the Cup this time.

The Aeros in number three? I think the most talented team we play is Omaha. But, I don’t expect Omaha to be much of a factor in the Western Conference, Western Division. The Knights team is full of amazing talent. I think they are failing this year due to a lack of experience on the AHL team: there are no experienced players to help the players bind together, to help the younger members grow.

Peoria has been fun to watch from afar. The coaching staff is fresh and the team has lots of young talent. The two enforcers, the natural rivalry with St. Louis that exists with Chicago… This team will test Milwaukee for which team we love to hate more… Okay, I still hate the Penguins more, but that’s me.

Milwaukee faces a rebuilding year. The players there are getting older in a very young league. Surprising to say that, huh? The Rampage… I’m continually surprised that we lose to these guys. My prediction, last place for the Rampage this year. Iowa won’t fare much better. The future of hockey in the corn state is still up for grabs, though the team is currently outdrawing the Rivermen and the Aeros.

In short, I don’t expect the Wolves to end up on the bottom at the end of the year. Iowa and San Antonio, alone, will cushion our fall in the West. And there are such wonderful hockey towns as Bingo, Syracuse and Cleveland too, who will fall before we do.

Peoria has been a great addition to the West and I’m looking forward to years of heated rivalry with the Rivermen. The Aeros, always tough, they seem to be looking at a great year. The Sads, well, like us, a year to rebuild and struggle.


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