Tyler Beskorowany (Photo credit to Steve Conner)
The Idaho Steelheads announced their season opening roster earlier today and it’s a good one. There are 14 players (out of 23) that have either played in or tried out for the AHL this season. That doesn’t include the 52 games that new Steelheads captain Ben Ondrus has as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Here is the Steelheads roster broken down by position:
Goaltenders: Tyler Beskorowany and Josh Robinson
Defensemen: Gord Baldwin (A), Jeremie Blan, Matt Case, Deron Cousens, Patrick Cullity, Scott Fletcher, John Ryder and Scott Todd
Forwards: Andrew Carroll (A), Jacob Cepis, Justin Dowling, Austin Fyten, Neil Graham, Tristan King, Taylor McReynolds, Ron Meyers, Jake Morley, Ben Ondrus (C), Corey Tamblyn, Mike Towns and Andrew Wright
The Steelheads bring a stacked team into competition this season partially due to the lockout in the NHL. However, don’t forget that every other team in the ECHL will also have the benefit of the lockout. The Trenton Titans just had their starting lineup loaned to them by the Philadelphia Flyers. Not big NHL names, but certainly guys that can play at the AHL level at least.
The Alaska Aces have picked up some legit NHL talent as they have Joey Crabb (50 points in 144 games TOR & ATL) and Brandon Dubinsky (213 points 393 games NYR). Now this is more of the exception than the rule, however, it just goes to show that talent will find a job whether it’s the AHL, ECHL or overseas.
The obvious question is who got the better AHL talent. At this point I think it would be ridiculous to suggest one team over another, but being slightly partial here, I’m going to go with the Steelheads. With the Steelheads are returning 7 players who have played with this team in the past (Beskorowany, Case, Cousens, Cepis, King, Meyers & Ondrus) With the exception of Besko & Ondrus, the other 5 are familiar with each other and should bring some instant chemistry.
Obviously there are a lot of question marks about what will happen when the lockout ends and how quickly will the players pick up new Steelheads coach Brad Ralph’s systems, but for now, I think the Steelheads should be battling for the Western Conference Title come April.
Check back in this spot on a weekly basis to get weekend analysis of the games that were.
Till next week…