Thursday, December 21, 2017

By Lee Samuels

Las Vegas – The big team buses – like Seattle Totems, El Paso Rhinos – were lined up in front of the City National Arena today.  A bus driver from Long Beach said ‘the wind was real bad, shaking everything.” Another driver from Cheyenne said “when we left town it was minus-50 wind chill. And when we get home it will be the same.” The Seattle Totems bus which took a 21-hour journey to get here had a bright red sign reading “Ramblin'” on its front grille.

The WSHL’s famous Western States Shootout is in town but this time is roosted at the City National Arena near the Red Rock Casino with some games across town at the Sobe Ice Arena. There were big crowds for the games today, the fans jammed into the Pro Shop to buy hockey sticks and other items. There were scouts from every team you can think of around the rinkboards to size up prospects for their collegiate teams.

While all of this was going WSHL commissioner Ron White was on the second level in the Coaches Room. There, he smiled and said “all is going well and we just announced we are adding six more teams next season. All of those teams are in Canada. They will play their regular season games in Canada and will come to the Western States Shootout and the post season playoffs of course.”

The skill level, size of top players, skate speed, hockey smartness and goalie play is unreal this season.

“Our Top 10 teams are very, very good,” Ron said. “Very proud where this league is going.”

There are 23 teams. Eighty college scouts are in the house. The WSHL includes 850 players. The league is in its 24th season.

For Ron White, 71 years old, life is good.

“I start each day with a 4.5 mile walk – no matter where I am,” he said. “Feeling great. Excited.”