9/18/2012: Hockey Today

— Lots of interesting stuff around the minors and juniors today. There is, of course, nothing to report in the NHL since there’s that whole pesky lockout thing going on. The usual mass exodus of players to Europe continues, but other than that…status quo. It has long been my guess that the season will start with the Winter Classic, and I’ll stick with that here as well.

If that ends up getting skipped, any hope of a season would be in serious jeopardy…

— I spoke to Zack Torquato earlier today for something you’ll see on here tomorrow. A former draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, the 23-year-old played for the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers last season, and lost part of a finger in a horrifying on-ice incident. I’ll have a complete feature on that for you tomorrow.

I’ve also arranged phone interviews with several other players, but I’ll hold off on any names until we actually get in touch.

— The ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays released the rosters for their 20th Anniversary Alumni Game to be held on opening night, but the most interesting name was surely found behind the bench.

Kirk Daubenspeck, the former ECHL and Wisconsin Badgers goaltender, will be the head coach for one of the teams, which features recently retired Calder Cup-winning defenseman Johann Kroll. Daubenspeck was critically injured in a February 2011 car accident on his way to a Badgers game but has made a remarkable recovery since and actually dropped the ceremonial first puck at a Wisconsin game last season.

— The Hershey Bears added forward Jon Kalinski today. The former Flyers draft pick, who appeared in 22 NHL games with Philadelphia during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning late last year and finished out his year with the Norfolk Admirals. The 25-year-old winger tallied one goal and four assists during his NHL stint, and has scored ten goals twice at the AHL level.

In other Bears news, the Capitals announced that tickets for the “2012 AHL Showcase” have gone on sale. It’s basically a fancy way of saying the Bears and Admirals will play on December 6 at Verizon Center.

Additionally, Andrew Carroll, who played in 68 games with Hershey last year, signed with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads today.

“Andrew is a tough player to play against,” said Idaho head coach Brad Ralph in a team release.

“He’ll be one of the hardest-workers in the ECHL, he can make plays in all three zones, and he’ll be a good leader for our hockey team.”

Carroll was a three-year captain at The University of Minnesota-Duluth.

— Garet Hunt, the ECHL Stockton Thunder’s all-time leader in games played and penalty minutes, has returned to the team for a fourth season.

“Getting an opportunity to come back and play for the best fans in the league was too good to pass up,” said Hunt in a release.

“I feel comfortable in Stockton, it’s my second home and every year I play there, I fall more in love with the city. Matt Thomas is a great coach and knowing that a bunch of the guys are coming back from last season should help us with a head start in October.”

Hunt led the ECHL with 248 PIM’s last year.

— The WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes named Graham Hood as their new captain. Jamie Pushor, Dale Purinton and Brent Seabrook are among the notable Lethbridge players to have worn the “C.”

Also, the Kitchener Rangers named defenseman Ryan Murphy as their captain. Murphy, selected 12th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2011, seems ready for the challenge.

“I like to think I lead through example on and off the ice,” he said in a release. “I’m a hard worker at practice. If I can do that all year, I think I can be a good example for our younger players.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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