Registered: Nov 2008
Posted March 26th, 2009 01:34 PM IP
Local fans anxious for Junior B hockey team
By Scott Williams • Journal staff • March 26, 2009
There will be no shortage of options for local hockey fans looking to take in a game during the 2009-10 season.
Stevens Point Area Senior High and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point men's program will be playing at K.B. Willett Arena.
The Pacelli High School boys hockey team will join the Pointers women's hockey team at Ice Hawks Arena.
And let's not forget the Point/Rapids girls high school hockey team that plays some home games at Willett.
Now you can add the Central Wisconsin Saints, a Junior B team that will make its debut in the Great Lakes Hockey League this fall.
"I know for a fact, a lot of kids who finish high school hockey are not ready for Junior A," said SPASH coach Mikhail Salienko, who played with Des Moines, a Junior A team in the United States Hockey League, before joining UW-Stevens Point.
"For those kids, Junior B is the way to go, and this will be better than having them go to teams far away from their parents and family members. Some kids need a year or two to get prepared for Junior A."
Players ages 16 through 20 are eligible to compete in the Junior B league.
Former SPASH players Kyle Smith and Kyle Heck are examples of players who weren't ready to give up on their hockey dreams.
Smith eventually landed with a Junior B team in the eastern part of the country, while Heck made a Junior stop in Michigan before moving on.
"I think it's great. Any time there is an opportunity for kids to continue playing the game I think it's a good thing," said Dan Heck, the father of Kyle who served on the board of directors for Portage County Youth On Ice.
"Some kids just need a few years to get (hockey) out of their system before they go to (college)."
Players can sign tender forms with a Junior franchise, giving that team exclusive rights.
In addition, a 10-round draft will be held May 9 in Chicago for players all over the country to help teams fill out their 25-player rosters.
"If you want to play Division III hockey, you've got to play Juniors somewhere. You've got to be noticed somehow," said Pacelli coach Rusty Mitch, who might have a candidate in his son, Michael.
The PUCK at the bottom of the bag