Friday, October 28, 2016

By Lee Samuels

Las Vegas –  Eric Williams’ summertime tryouts at five different NAHL level clubs ended in heartache. No one picked him, not even the NAHL Fairbanks Ice Dogs where he really wanted to play. So Williams, born and raised in Henderson, Nevada, signed with the WSHL Ontario Avalanche. He wore the ‘C’ on his Ontario jersey and had great on-ice presence in a 5-0 win over the WSHL Las Vegas Storm on Friday night at the Las Vegas Ice Center.

Holding back Eric’c NAHL tryout attempts was his age. “I’m 20, my last season of junior hockey. The NAHL teams just said they wouldn’t take a chance on me or have enough space on their rosters,” he said after the Friday night game at the Las Vegas Ice Center. “But I knew the head coach, a great person, with the (WSHL) Ontario Avalanche and this is where I am.”

Eric last played in Las Vegas for a Rob Pallin-coached Las Vegas Jr Wranglers midget minor team. He then played for the legendary Jack Bowkus with an AAA L.A. Jr Kings 18u team which advanced to the U.S. Nationals, then played for the NPHL Wenatchee Wolves and SJHL Melville Millionaires. Somewhere among all of those teams was some shoulder surgery.

“Learned a lot of Rob Pallin and Jack Bowkus. They each took a lot of time with me,” Eric said. “I still keep in touch with Vito (Carlo) of the Las Vegas team. Some Vegas players don’t like me as much so there’s some contact out there on the ice but that is ok.”

So what is the big hockey picture for Eric Williams.

“Have a big season this year with Ontario, then be recruited and play for a NCAA Division lll school. That would be awesome,” he said.

From the Blue Line – After a very long absence from the game, referee Cody Fulwiler made first appearance in years. “I missed the game so much. And with a NHL team coming to town there is much to be excited about.”…..The linesmen were Adam Stio and Jared Joeger…Las Vegas defenseman Jake McKenna had a lot of grit to his game and played very well. He is one of the best defensemen in the WSHL……The Storm’s Vito Carlo snapped off some fiery on-target passes all game long….The game got dicey at the finish with hard checks and a scrap.