The Bighorns have made several changes over the past off season, mostly due to some of their central core of players moving to college or to the higher level of junior. Despite losing several key veterans, this year’s lineup features a few returners, along with some solid young talent.
Returning this year for the Bighorns are Bryan Fiol, Ryan Parkhouse, Michael Sullivan, Evan Smith, Austin Buckholz, Kevin Kassulat, Mark Palacios and local favorite, Wyatt Winfield. According to Head Coach, Scott Cunningham, these veterans will be counted upon early to provide the team with a much-needed scoring punch. “There’s no doubt that these guys will be expected to produce for us, especially early in the season. With a young club, we will need our veteran leadership to step up.”
Also adding some veteran flavor to the ‘Horns are a variety of players who have junior experience with other clubs, who ventured to Helena with thoughts of a successful season. Alex Dewitz (Rochester Ice Hawks), Jake Ryan (Boulder Bison), Trey Flesch (Southern Oregon Spartans) join imports Brandon Rumble (Cumberland Blues) and Balasz Goz (Miskolc, Hungary) to round out added veteran experience. “The veterans we added came here to accomplish something, said Cunningham. “With the youth we have in our lineup, they will have to contribute every night as we enter the season.”
The new young faces to the Helena lineup should offer fans a glimpse of what players like Zach Maxwell, Cody Hess and Ryan Sutliffe once were before they became stars in the capital city. Logan Hawgood (Kamloops Storm), Levi Blom (Marquette Electricians), Thomas Emery (Motor City Chiefs), Kyle Martin (Barrington High School) and Brian Skiilicorn (LA Selects) bring mobility and speed to the blueline. While they may take time to mature into their Bighorn Alumni ahead of them, they should provide a solid presence in their own zone.
Up front, Colin Perley (Seattle Jr. Admirals), Kai Wilkins (Seattle Jr. Admirals), Mason Wade (Bellingham AAA), Damon Hanson (Kent Valley AA), Beau Ricketts (Las Vegas Storm) & Marcus Treizenberg (Seattle Jr. Admirals) will battle through some first year jitters, but should progress into contributing players throughout the season.
Between the pipes, rookie goaltender, Jett Salinas (California Heat) will battle for playing time with Flesch. Salinas is no stranger to championships as he captured the USA National 16U title with the Heat last season.
With a real mix of veterans and youth, this year’s Bighorns squad is unlike many that fans in Helena over the past few years. “Sure, we are young and we will experience some growing pains,” said Cunningham. “Guys like Maxwell started here young and grew with us over 4 years. These guys are no different. They are capable of accomplishing good things.”
Catch all of the Bighorns road games on the AWHL TV network. Log on to www.helenabighorns.comto see all 48 regular season games via the Internet.
-PRIDE & PASSION-