The Colorado Eagles prepare to host their second All Star game

LOVELAND, Colo. – In 2009, Eagles President and General Manager, Chris Stewart, made a creative bid to host the Central Hockey League’s All Star Game. Stewart chose to have the Colorado Eagles act as the competition for a team comprised of the best players selected from all the other teams in the CHL. This format was a rousing success both financially and promotionally. When the opportunity arose for Colorado to host this season’s ECHL All Star Game that same format was chosen for the game. The local fans will be able to show support for their hometown team and the Eagles will provide a competitive game to challenge a team comprised of the leagues best. With the volatility of call ups and send downs in the ECHL the make up of the two teams at puck drop may not be exactly what they appear to be today but for the Eagles there should be four active skaters returning from the 2009 CHL team that easily defeated the stars of the rest of the league. Veterans of the CHL All Star Game winning Eagles set to lead the challenge against the rest of the ECHL’s best will be defensemen Aaron Schneekloth and Jason Beatty along with forwards Steve Haddon and Kevin Ulanski.

Greg Pankewicz

Greg Pankewicz

Assistant Coach Greg Pankewicz who captained the Eagles All Star group in 2009 has retired to work behind the bench and current Eagle Captain Riley Nelson is out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury but both of these talented veterans will be available to share their knowledge with the current Eagles team.
Riley Nelson

Riley Nelson

In addition to the four former CHL All Star vets skating for the Eagles are current roster players; defensemen Arthur Bidwell, Isaac Smeltzer, Collin Bowman, and Jake Marto. The remaining forwards are Michael Forney, A.J. Hau, Norm Ezekiel, Joey Sides, Ray Kaunisto, Dylan Hood, Devin Didiomete, Trent Daavettila and newly signed rookie Matt Strueby. In goal for the Eagles are Kyle Jones and Adam Brown. The league All Stars consist of a good mix of rookies and vets and players from eastern and western teams. Starting for the ECHL All Stars are forwards C.J. Stretch from the Ontario Reign, Casey Pierro-Zabotel from the Gwinnet Gladiators, and Dustin Gazely from the Elmira Jackals, with Chris Huxley from the Ontario Reign and Mike Marcou of the Greenville Road Warriors as the starting defensemen. Starting in goal is Philip Grubauer of the Reading Royals.
Jason Beatty

Jason Beatty

Filing out the roster for the league All Star Team are goal tenders Mike Lee of the Gwinnet Gladiators, and Ryan Zapolski from the South Carolina Stingrays. Reserve forwards are C.J. Severyn from the Orlando Solar Bears, Chris Francis of the Las Vegas Wranglers, Mitch Wahl from the Utah Grizzlies, Willie Coetze from the Toledo Walleye, Francis Verreault of the Bakersfield Condors, Nathan Moon from the Evansville Icemen, Dean Ouellet of the San Francisco Bulls, and Justin Maylan from the Stockton Thunder. Additional defensemen are Taylor Ellington from the Cincinnati Cyclones, Andrew Hotham from the Wheeling Nailers, Daniel Maggio from the Fort Wayne Comets and Wiliam Wren from the Alaska Aces.
Kevin Ulanski

Kevin Ulanski

Coaching the All Star Team are Alaska’s Rob Muray and Reading’s Larry Courville with the Alaska Aces equipment manager Mike Burkhead and Atheletic trainer Brad Frederick from Toledo. Tom Chmielewski and J.M. Mcnulty are the referees and Mike Sheehan and Francis Trempe have been selected for linesman duty for the ECHL All Star Game. In addition to what looks to be a a great hockey game on Wednesday January 23 the previous evening, Tuesday the 22 of January, the Eagles and the League All Stars will participate in a Skills Challenge. There are six different competitions that make up the skills contest: Team Skills Course – combines several different hockey skills, stick handling, passing, shooting and scoring on an odd man rush. The team that completes the set of different skills the fastest wins a point. Shooting accuracy – has players attempting to break four targets situated in each of the four corners of the net. The shooters will have 18 seconds to receive a eight passes and break all four targets. The team that breaks the most targets gets a point as well as the team that has the most accurate shooter with the most targets broken with the fewest shots. Goalie Rapid Fire Challenge – Goaltenders face 2 shooters who have 12 seconds to shoot five shots. The goalie that stops the most shots wins the point for his team. Fastest Skater – Skaters will circumnavigate the rink as fast as they can and the winner earns a point for his team. Hardest Shot – Players each have two chances to shoot the puck as hard as they can into the net. The winner earns a point for his team as well as the team who’s shooters have the hardest shot average also receive a point. Breakaway Relay – Each team has two sets of five skaters. The first five line up at the blue line and one at a time they take the puck and break in alone on the goalie. When they either score a goal or miss the shot they have to hustle back to the line and then the next shooter takes his turn until all five skaters have had a chance then the next set of five has their chance. Each goal counts as one point for the team for a possible ten points for each team. The team that scores the most total points in the various skills contests wins the overall contest.
Steve Haddon

Steve Haddon

* Another exciting event held before the skills contest on Tuesday is a fan fest with a Hockey Hall of Fame display and access to many of the historical hockey trophies will be available for viewing including the the NHL’s Stanley Cup, Vezina trophy, and the ECHL Kelly Cup. Also several Eagle Alumnus are expected to be around signing autographs and mingling with the fans. The ECHL All Star Game will be televised by Altitude Sports and Entertainment (Replayed Thursday Jan 24 at 4 a.m. ET and January 26 at 1:30 p.m. ET), Buckeye Sports Network in Ohio, GCI in Alaska and Time Warner in Ohio. It will be rebroadcast by New England Sports Network Jan 25 at 3:30 P.M. ET and on the NHL Network, check local listings. On the radio in Northern Colorado 107.9 the Bear will broadcast the game live in Wednesday January 23 start time is 7:05. Contact the author/ photographer at terry.sanford@prohockeynews.com Follow us on Twitter @prohockeynews and @t_san

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