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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Visiting the Indiana Ice

If there is one thing I will reveal about the Caps Degenerate, it is that for the time being I am in the state of Indiana.

Most people in this fine state care a little bit more about Butler's return to the NCAA Men's Basketball Final than Jason Chimera's OT winner vs. Columbus or Alex Ovechkin's OT winner vs. Buffalo.

When one relies on sports bars to watch the Capitals, one is in Indiana, and the Final Four is on, one will not be watching the Capitals on TV.  

Such is life for now.

In fairness to the Hoosier State, once the NCAA Basketball season ends and the NHL playoffs begin it becomes a lot easier to find a hockey game on TV.

Contrary to what one might think, however, there are indeed ties between Indiana and our dear Washington Capitals.  For example, former Caps defenseman Ken Klee was born in Indianapolis.

More relevant to today's team, the state is home to the USHL's Indiana Ice.  Both Caps defenseman John Carlson and prospect forward Stanislav Galiev have spent a season with the Ice.

Carlson played the 2007-2008 season with Indiana and racked up 12 goals and 31 assists and was plus 11.  He even had a goal in Indiana's playoff series against the Chicago Steel.

That season, the Ice went 39-15-6 on its way to winning the regular season Eastern Division crown.  

But, as you can tell by my reference to one playoff series, the team was upset in the first round of the USHL playoffs by Chicago.

John was drafted that summer (2008) in the 1st round, 27th overall by the Caps. Instead of going to UMass-Amherst he played a season with London (OHL) and Dale Hunter.  

And well, you know the rest.  

Something about a Calder Cup or two with Hershey, a WJC winning goal, and being in the running for the NHL's rookie of the year this season..........

Stanislav Galiev played with the Ice the season after Carlson's appearance (2008-2009).  And well, the Indiana Ice won the whole damn thing. That's right, that season the Ice was the USHL's Clark Cup Champion.  

Galiev went 29-35-64 in 60 regular season games and 5-4-9 in 13 playoff games en route to the title.  Like Carlson, he too was a plus 11 in the regular season.

Rather than come back to Indiana, Galiev jumped to the "Q" (QMJHL) and joined the Saint John Sea Dogs for the 2009-2010 campaign.

That season, Galiev suffered a dip in production, only tallying 15 goals (though he did have 45 assists and 60 points).  But the Sea Dogs made the QMJHL finals before losing to Moncton.

Galiev was drafted by the Caps last summer in the 3rd round.  And this season, he went 37-28-65 in 64 regular season games with the Sea Dogs.

Saint John just plowed through Cape Brenton, sweeping the Screaming Eagles 4-0, en route to the 2nd round of the QMJHL playoffs -- which start this upcoming Wednesday.  


Last Wednesday (March 30, 2011) the Ice coaching staff was kind enough to host me at their morning practice to share a few memories of Carlson and Galiev.

Given that the Ice was about to hit the road to finish their regular season and are gearing up for this year's USHL playoffs - I thought it was very nice of them to spare the time with me.

The Ice's current head coach is Charlie Skjodt (pronounced "Scott") and he was also the head coach when John Carlson played with the Ice in 07-08.

But he took a break before resuming his coaching duties (you know, like Joe Gibbs). So, he was not with the team when Stanislav Galiev played with the Ice.

In Skjodt's place, Ice Assistant Coach Brad Lutsch was gracious enough spend a few minutes with me to discuss Galiev.

I have condensed the two interviews into one subsequent post, but they both have some interesting things to say.

Hope you enjoy!

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