Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 14

Antler Banter is back once more on a Wednesday, and we actually have Manitoba Moose news! Honestly, tonight's Moose news is pretty solid considering that there hasn't been much from the local AHL club's front, so we're going to talk a little about that. We'll also discuss an award for one of the AHL's best play-by-play man, a piling of signings, and an interesting article from a St. John's paper, The Telegram, on the up-coming season for the IceCaps. I'll also drop a little news about a developing story from the HBIC Headquarters that may interest a few people in regards to the Moose as well. That will be discussed near the bottom, so hang on tight as we move this edition of Antler Banter!

Road Trip South

The announcement from the Manitoba Moose this week was all about preseason games as the Moose announced they will tangle with Central Division foe Iowa Wild on October 2 and 3 in Grand Forks and Fargo, North Dakota! Of course, those games are two weeks out from the home opener on Thursday, October 15, so it will be interesting to see who suits up for the Moose in these two warm-up games.

Honestly, the fact that we're talking about Moose games has me excited. I was a huge Moose fan when they were in town, and I am looking forward to the second version of the Moose as they take the ice this season. Getting to see the Moose play at Ralph Englestad Arena in Grand Forks will be amazing, and I'm psyched for the game in Fargo at Scheels Arena. Of course, UND plays at the Ralph while the USHL's Fargo Force play at Scheels Arena, but for two nights the Moose and Wild will rock these two barns!

Anyone up for a road trip? And hey, Ottawa, how about boosting that Canadian dollar for us Moose fans? It should be a beauty trip south if you can make it!

New Affiliate

The Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose announced on Friday that they have affiliated themselves with a new ECHL club after the Ontario Reign jumped to the AHL this summer. The Jets and Moose will partner with the Tulsa Oilers this season! Tulsa finished last season with a 37-29-3 record before being ousted by the eventual Kelly Cup champions in the Allen Americans in the opening round of the ECHL playoffs.

Jason Christie, who played 88 games with the Moose, will coach the Oilers for the upcoming season, worked with current Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff while with the Chicago Wolves, and was the head coach of the Ontario Reign last season while the Jets were affiliated with the Reign. There's also a historic tie to the Jets for Tulsa as the Oilers were Winnipeg's primary affiliate from 1979 to 1982!

Welcome back, Tulsa, and we're glad to have you aboard!

Best Chatter Award

Congratulations go out to Brendan Burke, play-by-play man for the Utica Comets, who brought home the James H. Ellery Memorial Award for the 2014-15 season. The James H. Ellery Award is given to a member of the broadcast media for outstanding media coverage of the American Hockey League annually. Burke, the Comets' vice president of operations as well as their radio guy, did outstanding work this season that saw him as part of the broadcasting crew for the 2015 AHL All-Star Weekend!

Honestly, Burke wears a number of hats while traveling with the team as well. He's in charge of all of Utica's media relations and game operations, and coordinates all team travel for the Comets. Giving him the James H. Ellery Memorial Award should be one of many awards Brendan Burke can put on his mantle if he continues his excellent work in the AHL!

Reign On

The Ontario Reign re-signed centerman Kris Newbury to a one-year deal on Monday. Newbury has been a bit of a nomad in his hockey career, suiting up with St. John's Maple Leafs, Toronto Marlies, Grand Rapids Griffins, Hartford Wolf Pack and Connecticut Whale franchise, Adirondack Phantoms and Hershey Bears in the AHL while playing NHL games with Toronto, Detroit, the New York Rangers, and Philadelphia since being drafted by the San Jose Sharks in 2002.

At 33, Newbury will be relied upon for his veteran presence and leadership in Ontario, but the fans may take a liking to him for a different reason. Newbury is 21st all-time in AHL penalty minutes with 1710 penalty minutes, and he's never been afraid to drop the mitts when asked. Newbury is a good signing for the Reign for 2015-16.

Swede Home Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks announced today that they had re-signed defenceman Viktor Svedberg to a one-year deal. Svedberg played 49 games with the Rockford IceHogs last season, recording three goals and eleven assists. The 24 year-old will start the season once more with Rockford as he starts his second season as a professional in North America.

I'm not sure that the Swede will ever be a regular NHL defenceman, but he certainly is hard to miss on the ice when he's out there. Svedberg stands 6'8" tall! He's more of a stay-at-home defenceman who uses his angles well to take players off the puck, and he plays a very no-risk style of game. For the IceHogs, he'll fit the bill in terms of keeping his own zone neat and tidy. While it normally takes taller defencemen to develop, Svedberg could be another Chara if he ever happens to fill out! He'll get that chance in Rockford once more this season.

Fresh IceCaps

The St. John's IceCaps have undergone a number of changes this off-season as they moved from Hamilton, Ontario to Newfoundland, introduced new uniforms, and are getting acclimated with their new home. One of the men involved in those changes, head coach Sylvain Lefebrve, spoke to Robin Short of The Telegram about his team and this upcoming season.

"It's tough to say if we'll mirror the big club," Lefebvre said. "But having said that, we're starting to see the results of the Marc Bergevin era with the players coming in. It's very exciting." Included in the "new players" looking to crack the roster are Mike McCarron, Nikita Scherbak, Zach Fucale, and Tim Bozon. This is a team that has a little bit of size, a lot of speed, and some dynamic skill up and down the lineup.

The IceCaps will not be push-overs in the AHL, and the fans in St. John's will certainly appreciate the effort that baby Habs will show. While winning the North Division won't be easy, there's a good chance the new-look IceCaps could finish ahead of teams like the Utica Comets, Toronto Marlies, and Syracuse Crunch if they can take care of business in their own division. I like what the Canadiens are doing in St. John's with the IceCaps, and expect them to be in every game this season.

What's Teebz Up To?

I mentioned at the top that I might be doing something crazy, so here goes nothing. Tomorrow evening, I'll be down at MTS Centre for an audition with the Manitoba Moose. I was chosen as a finalist for the Moose's in-game host position!

I know some of you will laugh at that while dreaming up various barbs to toss my way if I am the successful candidate to wander the concourse and chat with fans, but I'm really looking forward to this opportunity. As I stated above, I loved Moose hockey when it was here the first time, and I'm already psyched for the new season of AHL hockey.

All I ask is for a few good luck wishes, and, if I'm not chosen, to not rip me too much on here or social media. I plan on giving everything I've got in this audition, so we'll see what happens in the coming weeks!

That's all for tonight on Antler Banter, kids! We'll have more AHL news next week, and possibly a major announcement if I somehow navigate my way through this audition! For those who do wish me good luck, thank you! I totally appreciate it!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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