By: Joey Battaino
After a 23-32-5 campaign and a quick first round exit of the playoffs at the hands of the Port Huron Fighting Falcons, expectations were high for the brand new cast of characters that made up the 2012-13 edition of the Michigan Warriors hockey club. Since the trade of defenseman Derek O'Flynn, the Warriors have only four remaining players from last seasons roster. (Martin Gruse, Brad Pizzey, Luke Fiegl and Trevor Gorsuch) But before we chalk this year up as a disappointment, already (some have) lets take a look at the Warriors first seven games and break them down.
In the 10th annual NAHL Showcase, the Michigan Warriors played the top two teams in both the West and the South division. Wenatchee, who beat the Warriors 3-0, are 8-0 to start the 2012-13 campaign. Texas, who beat the Warriors in day 1, 7-1 is 5-0 this season. Topeka (5-0-1) suffered their only loss of the season to the Warriors in a shootout on day 2. And Fairbanks, who beat the Warriors, 5-4 is second behind Wenatchee in the West division.
Many will read this post and say that i'm a typical P.R spin artist who will do anything to make my team look good. Well, you'd be right. But also remember that this is my personal blog and I don't have to spin anything. Take a look at Massey's Ratings (the same guy who scores the BCS) Yeah, he does it for the NAHL, too. According to Massey, even after a game with the Soo and two with the Johnstown Tomahawks, the Warriors strength of schedule ranks 3rd in the 24 team NAHL Statistically, only Bismarck (Central) and Springfield (North) have had a tougher go through the first month of the regular season.
Injuries: Every team gets them, not every team gets four of them in the first game of the season. Brad Pizzey and Sean Reynolds both sustained separated shoulders. Reynolds has since returned. Pizzey is still on the shelf. Top forward Jon Farkas came down with Mono of all things, and Luke Rendino was sidelined with a rib injury. There's no time table for when Farkas or Pizzey will return to the lineup but when they do, it is the certain the Warriors will have a much easier time scoring goals. The Warriors have made having the man adavntage look about as easy as quantum physics. Their 1 for 26 start on the PP this season has them looking up to see bottom to start the season. This is a category Jon Farkas will help immensely in. His knows for the net was obvious last season, even when it was overshadowed by the god-given skills of players like Sean Murphy and Eric Rivard last season in Traverse City. Brad Pizzey is a stocky forward who "Plays the game the right way" He's not a afraid to get dirty in the corners, through a big check, and he'll even score you a few goals. His game is something the Warriors are lacking right now. It's energy.
Long story short, the Michigan Warriors will be fine this season. Look for an above .500 team, who gets in the playoffs, and hey, for the first time since year one of the franchise, a team that's not afraid to mix it up. The Warriors are 5th in the eight team North division in PIMS. The Warriors have a nice mix of talent with players like Brock Labelle, Zach Szajner, Jake Hopfner, and A.J Marcinek but also provide some snarl from players like Zach Mudge, Garret Prochazka, Paul Sorenson, and Martin Gruse. And for only $7 a ticket, you get one hell of a show at the Perani Arena & Event Centre.
This is my personal blog and in no way reflects the opinions of the Michigan Warriors, the NAHL, or any of it's franchises.