Monday, July 27, 2015

It won’t be long now. Recruiting time is over for coach Rob Pallin. He is about to pack up the luggage and take a flight Thursday from home here in Las Vegas to rejoin his team, Sapa Fehervar AV-19 in Hungary. This will be coach Rob’s second season as head coach. At 7 am on a warm morning today, we met coach Rob at Starbucks over on Town Center Drive in Las Vegas.  He ordered his usual, a latte grande in a paper cup. He wore a light blue Toronto Maple Leafs cap, custom sunglasses were clipped to the front of his shirt and an Ipad was at his side.

By Lee Samuels

Since last season coach Rob Pallin has been on the hunt for players, first the defensemen who were high on his priority checklist, then the goal scorers like Chris Francis of Las Vegas who will be off to Hungary to join Sapa Fehervar AV-19 on Friday.

“We’ve got the players we were looking for,” said Rob, whose team won 31 times and qualified for the playoffs. This year, he said, the team goal is to go much deeper in the playoffs.

Here are some of the key new players for Sapa Fehervar AV-19 starting with the heart of the team, the defensemen:

Defensemen

Aaron Brocklehurst

//Aaron was on same junior club with Las Vegas goal scorers Josh Jasek, Adam Naglich and defenseman Justin Johnson with the BCHL Victoria Salsa in 2003-4. Aaron played 4 seasons for St. Cloud State, 3 seasons in Finnish Elite League, 3 seasons in German Elite League.

Ryan Martinelli

//Ryan is 6’5,” 225 and is from London, Ontario, Canada.

Kevin Wehrs

//Played at University of Minnesota

Forwards

//Frank Banham, NHL draft pick of the Washington Capitals

//Judd Blackwater, 35 goals with ECHL Ontario Reign last winter.

// Brendan Connolly, 53 goals last two seasons with ECHL Alaska Aces

// Chris Francis, one of the all-time goal scorers from Las Vegas. Chris was a star players for the WHL Portland Winterhawks, skated 4 seasons with the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers and last season had 26 goals for the ECHL Alaska Aces.

//Andrew Sarauer, a ‘6 4″ forward who can move, best remembered for his explosive play with the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers. Andrew was drafted by the NHL Vancouver Canucks. He has played the last two seasons in Austria.

All are heading to join coach Rob in Hungary.

Rob is on a Luftstanza flight  on Thursday – 7 am to Chicago, connects to Frankfurt, then goes to Budapest.

Rob took a sip of of the good stuff, Starbucks.

“We have a big, big sheet of ice at our home arena which is why we need great skaters,” he said. “We have about 800 seats but we average 5000 or so fans for a home game. The fans get excited, stand and wave flags and are right on top of the ice. It’s a something to see and experience.

He paused, then finished off the latte.

“Can’t wait to get there, actually,” he said.

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Rob and the club will gear up and practice for about ten days, then head for a series of games in Slovakia in mid August.