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Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Favorite Spots to Grab a Bite in the North Division

By: Joey Battaino

When you're a broadcaster on a trip with the fellas, you can only prep and gather content so much before there is a bit of down time. Sometimes you might take a dip in the hotel pool or have an "off the record" with coach, but even then, a mans gotta eat. Today I take you around the North division and tell you my favorite spots to snag some grub.

For breakfast, it has to be Frank's Place in beautiful Sault Saint Marie. Frank's is small diner located on Portage right across from the Soo Locks. The people there are great. The breakfast spread is unbelievable and always fresh. French toast and pancakes or fresh fruit, if that's your forte. All you can eat buffet style, so you always get your money's worth, at least I do. You go ahead and try to get between Coach Mantha and the sticky buns from Frank's, I wouldn't do it.

Pre-game meal is a special time for the players, coaches, and myself. Players chat it up before the game, in a final moment before they lay it all on the line for 60 minutes. Coaches talk about final lineup adjustments. Who's in and who's out? What goalie should we go with tonight? For me, it's a chance to revisit some notes I have before the game. Pre-game meal is important for the broadcaster because this is our chance to avoid the dreaded, "Concession stand food" With the departure of Jamestown, I will take you to Janesville, WI and the, "Like Grandma used to make" taste of The Italian House. This has been the host spot for the Janesville Jets for as long as I have been in the league. The restaurant embraces it's relationship with visiting teams by having all the players sign a plate from the restaurant, and hanging it up on the wall. Now me, being full blooded Italian, may be a tad biased, but this food is the closest I've tasted to Olga's (my grandma) pasta. The chicken parm sandwiches are excellent as well. No need for a concession stand trip after a meal at The Italian House.

There you have it. If you are even in Janesville, WI or the Soo, make sure you check out these locations when you need to replenish. Enjoy.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Michigan Warriors Off-Season Update

By: Joey Battaino

The NAHL draft is complete, the tender list is filled, and it is almost time for main camp at Flint's Iceland Arena. Yes, another season of Warriors hockey is drawing near. After last seasons disappointing finish, the Warriors look to have the roster that could return them to their glory days of 2010-11.

Lets start with an injury update on Zack Szajner. I exchanged text messages with Szajner about a week ago. He had just taken his first skate since he tore a muscle in his groin on March 15th in Janesville. All signs point to Szajner being ready for camp on July 16th.

Warriors draft pick D David Hopfer (94) is participating in Muskegon's open camp, this week. Making that team could be a blessing for Hopfer, as the Warriors are set to return all seven defenseman from last season. However, defensive depth is not something the Warriors have had in the past two seasons. The coaching staff is very high on Hopfer and will certainly give him playing time, if he earns it.

The one guy that I can't wait to see play is Scott Cuthrell. Sure, the numbers are gaudy (88 points in 46 games last season in Cleveland) but the question that everyone wants to know is will he be able to have that same success at the tier II level? Most tier III players don't, however I don't think the Warriors coaches are banking on 50+ points from Cuthrell this season. Returners like Colin Larkin, Connor Lyons, and Zack Szajner will help carry the scoring load along with a maturing A.J Marcinek, and a healthy Brad Pizzey.

I'll have updates for you throughout the off-season. Thanks for reading!