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Larson Brings Winning Ways To Seals' Roster

CELEBRATION, Fla. - Playing professional hockey is a physically and mentally thing to do for a full time job. Imagine trying to balance being a top notch defenseman while holding down a 40 hour-a-week job.

Brett Larson doesn't have to imagine. He's living it.

Florida Seals Head Coach/ V.P. of Hockey Operations Tommy Stewart and General Manager Bryan Elliott announced today that they have agreed to terms with the veteran defenseman, bringing his talents and winning attitude to the Silver Spurs Arena this season.

"It's going to be a challenge. I didn't plan on playing hockey this year. I was planning on the full time job," Larson said. "I just wasn't ready to quit. I love the game too much."

The 34 year old native of Duluth, Minnesota has a resume that most players would sell their souls to the devil for. Two championships in the WCHL, a collegiate league championship, a championship in Europe and a regular season title and international medals in roller hockey dot the pages of Larson's portfolio. He's played with future NHL stars, played for a former U.S. Olympic hero and was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings (round 11 of the 1990 Entry Draft).

Following a stellar career at the University of Minnesota-Duluth which included a WCHA championship and being named captain during his senior year, Larson struck out for the pro ranks. After a very brief stint in Sweden, he returned to the States and ended up with the Madison Monsters of the Colonial Hockey League where he was coached by former U.S. Olympian Mark Johnson.

His play in Madison led to an opportunity to play in the ECHL with the Louisville Riverfrogs. Then he hit pay dirt when Coach Steve Martinson of the San Diego Gulls called and offered a chance to play out west. Larson's first full season was a championship year for the Gulls.

"Steve is a great recruiter. He knew how to find the right players to fit the right roles," he said when asked what made the Gulls such a success. "He had a knack of being able to find the guys that would fit the roles and were committed to the team winning above their own personal stats. I think we had a team that blended really well that way."

With success in San Diego came more calls. Between 1997 and 2000, Larson spent time with three IHL teams - Utah (twice), Long Beach (twice) and Las Vegas. The experience was great but he didn't really have a full opportunity to shine, playing in a total of seventeen IHL contests during the span.

So back to San Diego Larson went. Coach Martinson was more than happy to have the big defenseman back patrolling the blue lines. In 1999-2000, he had a career best 55 points in 69 games followed by 41 more points in 2000-2001. That led to yet another chance to play in Europe.

After spending the 2001-2002 season in Germany, Larson found a home in Denmark, where he played for three seasons. Then in 2005, he went back to Germany only to have the team fall upon hard financial times. When the team went under, Larson headed to England where he finished the 2005-2006 season with the Basingstoke Bison of the EIHL.

The trials in Germany caused Larson along with his wife Kelly to rethink their plans and they decided to head back to the U.S.

"It was a few different things," Larson said about the decision process. "One was I knew that my hockey career only had a brief time left. We kind of wanted to get focused on settling down and we knew we had to start some careers. We just wanted to get settled down and start focusing on life after hockey."

Larson knew exactly where he wanted to set up shop - in Central Florida - and he had hockey to thank for that. Well, roller hockey that is.

Back in 1996, Larson's teammate Duane Derksen talked him into giving roller hockey a try. The pair played for the Minnesota Arctic Blast in the RHL.

"At the time, I just looked at it as a great summer job," Larson said. "A lot of the East Coast level league guys - ECHL, CHL, UHL - were all playing roller hockey in the summer if they could. You got to play in some nice cities and you got to stay in shape."

When the Minnesota team went bankrupt, Larson's name went into the dispersal draft and he was snapped up by none other than Steve Martinson, who was coaching the Orlando Jackals at the time.

"We had a great team that year (1997). We finished first in the regular season but we ended up choking in the semifinals," Larson said. "I had just a great experience in Orlando. I loved the city and it really planted a seed in my mind about wanting to come back here someday."

So Larson and his wife, with the help of some friends from Minnesota, found a home in Longwood just north of Orlando and began to settle in. Brett signed on with Deltek, a company that works with colleges and universities to develop on-line education programs. Still, the hockey bug was in his blood and there was only one way to cure it.

"A guy I played with in Germany last year, Brian Stacey, played with Tommy earlier in their careers. He had mentioned to me that he knew Tommy so I knew I had that connection when I came down," Larson said about the phone call to the Seals' coach. "Tommy also knows a good friend of mine, Brad Federenko. We played together at Minnesota-Duluth."

"When I got down here, I just knew I missed hockey too much," he continued. "So I figured I've got these connections to Tommy, I'll give him a call and I did."

Stewart was impressed enough by what he heard to make Larson a deal.

"I would say that at this point I've got a lot of experience and I come to play hard every night. I've always been a very consistent player," Larson said when asked what Stacey and Federenko might have told Stewart. "I'm just a smart, steady player that he can count on."

"I've never been extremely flashy or overly exciting or anything like that," he added. "I'm just a defenseman you can count on every night who moves the puck well, gets it to the forwards and is also good in the locker room. They've told him I'm a winner."

Larson's schedule with Deltek is flexible enough to allow him to take time for practices and he will be available for every home game. The road games are another matter. Larson said he will be able to make about half of the away contests.

"It's definitely going to be tough because I'm too competitive to not be there," he said. "I know I'll certainly want to be at those games but on the other hand it's the agreement we've come to. This is only way I can really play at all so it's better to make 75% of the games than none."

Larson is very much looking forward to playing for the Seals and feels that the SPHL is a great place for veteran players to teach the younger ones.

"That's kind of why I like it," Larson said. "I do have that experience as a player/assistant coach. I know the guys have, from what I've heard, a lot of respect for Tommy but I also think that it's always nice to have some older guys who can help the younger guys develop."

"Being there for them when they're going through their struggles in their first year of professional hockey or maybe even their second," he continued. "Just letting them know what I've been through, things like that. That was kind of a draw for me actually to come to a league like this because I can definitely help with their development."

Larson is also looking forward to helping the Seals grow within the community.

"I've actually talked to Bryan (Elliott) the general manager and Tommy about volunteering. I'd love to help in any way," he said. "I'm somewhat active in the community already. To me, it's important to help the team succeed. I definitely want to be a part of the community side of it."

"For me, it's a little bit more important," he added. "I'm living here full time."

The Florida Seals are currently in preparation for the 2006-2007 SPHL season. The Seals return to the Silver Spurs Arena is only days away. Florida Seals will begin their season at home on October 27th vs. Huntsville at 7:35pm. Season ticket packages and corporate sponsorship opportunities are currently available. For more information please call the Seals at (407) 343-7825 or log on to www.floridaseals.com.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Ice Bears Sign Defenseman Aaron Hockley

The Ice Bears are pleased to announce the signing of 6 ft3 inch 215 pound defenseman Aaron Hockley. Aaron played at the University of British Columbia from 2002-2005.

According to Head Coach Jim Bermingham," Aaron is a big player who skates well and has good vision; he makes a good first pass and has very good hockey sense. I think Aaron will be a great fit for our smaller ice surface here in Knoxville."

The defending SPHL champions now have 8 defensemen coming to training camp. The Ice Bears play a pre-season Exhibition Game @ the Coliseum, Friday, October 20th vs. the Huntsville Havoc @ 7:30pm. ALL TICKETS ONLY $7.00! Good seats are still available, call 525-7825.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Lord Stanley's Cup in Fayetteville

The Fayetteville FireAntz of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) announced today that the Stanley Cup will be at the Cross Creek Mall, in the Food Court, on Tuesday, October 10th from 4-7pm. This event is brought to you by Beasley Broadcasting.

In attendance will be FireAntz players Rob Meanchoff, Josh Welter, Tyler Perry, Chris Ferguson and Derrick Byfuglien. Also, The Heat and Anthony the Ant will be on hand to promote the upcoming 2006-07 FireAntz Hockey Season.

"Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League, said that a lot of people didn't think that hockey could work in the Carolinas but it's been proven that hockey does work in this region." FireAntz General Manager Kevin MacNaught added, "I completely agree with Mr. Bettman. Hockey has worked in this region and the Stanley Cup being in Fayetteville is a great opportunity for fans of hockey in this area to join the FireAntz and see sport's most famous trophy."

The FireAntz begin their 5th Anniversary season on October 27 as they host the expansion Richmond Renegades. The club encourages all fans to wear black shirts or jerseys on Opening Night as the FireAntz are "Back in Black" in 2006-07. The FireAntz Opening Weekend is brought to you by Flow Mazda. Call the FireAntz office at (910) 321-0123 for more information.
 

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Steve Howard Signs with Cottonmouths

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Head coach Jerome Bechard announced today that Steve Howard has signed with the Columbus Cottonmouths as a defenseman for the 2006-2007 season.

The Burton, Mich. native steps in to replace Ryan Aikia as player and assistant coach. Although this will be his debut season as a Snake, he is entering familiar territory. His past career stops include the Macon Trax, the Trenton Titans, and the Hunstville Havoc of the SPHL in the 2004-2005 season. Howard completed last season with the Bakersfield Condors and finished the season with a total of nine points.

"He has some big shoes to fill," stated Bechard about his new assistant coach. "I don't want him to feel any pressure and I expect him to be himself, not another Ryan Aikia. He will accomplish more by being himself."

The season is less than three weeks away! Reserve your season tickets now to receive $28 off the Box Office single-game price. Call the Cottonmouths office at (706) 571-0086 to reserve your seat today!
 

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‘I’ve waited 50 years to see this thing’

Lord Stanley’s Cup has traveled to some strange and exotic places since June 19, when the Carolina Hurricanes took home the world’s most famous trophy.

The Stanley Cup has gone bass fishing on Fall’s Lake near Raleigh. Hurricanes players and managers have taken it to bars, golf courses and the Boston Red Sox clubhouse. It’s been to Michigan, Connecticut, Washington, Canada and many places in between.

Tuesday, it was Fayetteville’s turn to taste the sweetness of North Carolina’s first professional sports team to clinch a championship.

Fans here didn’t disappoint.

complete article
 

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Barracudas Unveil New JaxCudas.com

The Jacksonville Barracudas are proud to unveil their newly designed website, at www.jaxcudas.com. Local consulting firm Geer Services worked closely with the Barracudas' front office on improving upon the site, based on the Barracudas' fan feedback over the past two seasons, and Barracudas' staff ideas and concerns. The result is clean, professional looking site on the surface, but also a site that gives the Barracudas the opportunity to bring the fans closer to the team than ever before.

Some of the exciting new content on JaxCudas.com includes:

- Multimedia Section: The new multimedia section currently supports a cutting edge photo gallery, and currently holds a selection of shots from the 2005-2006 season. As the season progresses, further galleries will be added from games, community events, and event fan submissions! Even more exciting, the multimedia section will also host video, giving fans the opportunity to relive games through video highlights, watch interviews with Coach Allain and their favorite players, and get to know some of the team's personalities!

- Press Release Section: The Press Release section uses XML technology to pull all SPHL news releases from OurSportsCentral.com, who do a fantastic job of compiling the news releases from each team in the league. JaxCudas.com now truly is the Barracudas' fan one-stop for all information concerning the SPHL!

- Events Section: Keep up-to-date on all upcoming Barracudas' events in this section. Listed will be all community appearances including the coach, players, Ice Girls, and of course, Chomper!

- Merchandise Section: The Merchandise Section will feature an up-to-date selection of all your favorite Barracudas merchandise, and allow you to purchase it online! This season's merchandise is still on it's way, so the Barracudas' shop remains under construction, but look for it's opening as the season approaches!

The website is also much more integrated with Pointstreak, so all team scores and statistics will be pulled straight from the source. Look for the players' roster listing to go beyond the statistics that Pointstreak provides, to offer interesting personal information on each player.

The Barracudas thank the fans for their input over the past two seasons, and welcome their comments on the new site. Please email all comments and suggestions to [email protected]

The Barracudas also thank Geer Services, for their partnership in this effort. Please visit Geer Services on the web at www.GeerServices.com, and learn more about the great work that they do.

The Barracudas' first home game of the 2006-2007 season is on Saturday, November 4th, at 7:05pm. For information on Barracudas season tickets or Flex Packs contact the Barracudas office at 904-367-1423, or visit the team's website at www.jaxcudas.com.
 

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Seals Open House October 21

The Florida Seals season is fast approaching and the organization wants to show the fans what they have to offer during the 2006-07 season. Everybody is invited to the Seals Open House and Treasure Hunt, Saturday, October 21st from 1-5pm at the Silver Spurs Arena.

Those who purchase season tickets during the Open House will have a chance to win various prizes or even get their seat for free! It's easy, come to the Silver Spurs Arena, purchase the seat that you want and then open the envelope attached to that seat and see what you have won! As part of the Treasure Hunt, there will be various other prizes scattered around the facility.

The installation of the ice will also be in full process and the Silver Spurs Arena will be the "Coolest Place in Central Florida." Season Ticket Holders and Sponsors will be able to pick up their tickets on that day.

In addition, single game tickets will be available for sale. Ensure that you inquire about our great group rates. Use Seals group tickets for your own fund raising activities, your own personal group or employee retention/appreciation.

Head Coach Tommy Stewart, Captain Steve Zoryk and all of your returning favorite players will be on hand (with some new rookies thrown into the mix) to sign autographs for fans of all ages.

The Seals Hockey Academy will hold their first registration during the open house on Saturday. The Academy, operated by Mr. Greg Richard from USA Hockey, offers learn to skate and learn to play hockey programs, youth and adult hockey leagues and specialty class and camps.

The Florida Seals "Ice Girls Team" sponsored by B&W Mobile Auto Detailing Inc. will be there and the "Best Mascot in the SPHL" our very own SEALVESTER will keep the kids jumping!!

Come out and enjoy some Quality Time with the Seal's family.

To reserve your season tickets or find out more about partnerships with the Seals call the office at (407) 343-PUCK or go to www.floridaseals.com. Season tickets for exciting Seals hockey start as low as $285.
 

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Ice Girls Set For 06-07 Season

A large group of young ladies gathered at the Osceola Heritage Park Exhibition Hall. They carried photos, resumes, dance shoes - and a dream.

They all wanted to be part of the B & W Mobile Auto Detailing Florida Seals' Ice Girls squad.

Under the watchful eye of Ice Girls' coordinator Kristin DeCubellis, dance choreographer Jenna Straub, judges and members of the Seals' family, the ladies danced, answered questions and displayed a wide variety of talents. It was all in hopes that they would be selected for either the Ice Girls' promotions team or the newly formed dance squad.

"I think the Seals' Ice Girls are just a huge part of this organization. The fans absolutely love them," DeCubellis said in a post-audition interview. "The Ice Girls are the fans' first impression of the organization. When the fans come in the door, they're the first thing the fans see and the last thing they see when they leave."

Last season, the Ice Girls became an instant hit. Through their appearances in the community and at Seals' games, the ladies were as popular with the fans as the players were. They were the subject of a poster night giveaway, sought after by corporate clients for promotional pictures and signed as many autographs as the guys they cheered for all year.

As the 2006-2007 season draws near, the Seals' organization decided to add an entertainment side to the Ice Girls. This season, they have added a dance component to the squad.

"We're doubling our team. We're looking to have 16-20 girls on the team. They're all going to be Seals' Ice Girls but at least half of them will have the ability to dance," DeCubellis said. "We're looking to have about 10 girls at every game and at least five of them will be dancers. Between one of the periods, they'll come out and dance."

"Both teams are just as important," she continued. "They're both going to be on the poster. They'll both be on the calendar, have the trading cards, all that kind of stuff. We're looking forward to it."

Straub, who has an extensive resume in dance, was tabbed as the choice for choreographer. Her goals for the dancers are very simplistic but steadfastly professional.

"I just want to make sure that this season we are a very professional performance team," she explained. "I want to make sure that we are out there on the ice making sure the crowd is excited and pumped up for the next part of the game. I want the girls out there performing well, smiling and keeping the crowd going."

"We had a lot of awesome girls come out with great personalities. There were only a handful of girls I felt that were really what I was looking for dancing wise," Straub added. "I'm so picky when it comes to girls dancing but we did get a couple of good ones today, which is awesome. I feel like it's going to be a good squad this season."

Dancing aside, the Ice Girls squad is a key tool in the marketing of the Seals' franchise. The job of the judges was to find the right ladies to represent the organization.

"I would first say personality, personality, personality," DeCubellis said. "Our main thing is that we are interacting with the fans. Our number one fans are the children. We love them."

"A huge part is to be able to speak well and interact with the fans. To me that's number one," she continued. "Obviously we are looking for girls who are nice looking. We want attractive girls who are just really outgoing. For me as the director, it is important to have girls who are reliable, responsible and classy. They still can have some sex appeal but to me I want them to remain classy."

Seals' Director of Marketing Rickey Lee Watson, one of the judges for the auditions, understands how important the Ice Girls are to the franchise's marketing plans.

"The main thing I think we were really looking for today was to see if they had a heart and love people," Watson said. "It's about having the charisma and having the personality that's open to the public and very family-oriented and loves children. That's what our league is about. It's a family-oriented business."

"The Ice Girls are very important. They carry the label, they carry the logo and they carry the reputation [of the franchise] out into special events," he said. "Where ever they go, even when they aren't working, they're still a Seals' Ice Girl."

When all of the dance steps were finished, all of the interviews conducted and talents displayed, the judges had a very tough decision. Here are their choices for the 2006-2007 B & W Mobile Auto Detailing Florida Seals Ice Girls:

Avola, Nadine
Beinkampen, Laura
Boroski, Ashley
DeCubellis, Kristin
Dickerson, April
Fuchs, Julie
Gayday, Anna
Haydu, Jessica
Hofmann, Anne Marie
Luxe, Ashleigh
Lopez, Erika
Martin, Audra
Montella, Deana
Stauffer, Rachel
Straub, Jenna
Walker, Caitlin

(The full squad will meet for the first time on Sunday, Oct. 15 at 1 P.M. Kristin will contact each member via email with location information.)

Even the Ice Girls' corporate sponsor, Buster LaFauvre of B & W Mobile Auto Detailing, was impressed with the auditions.

"There was a lot of good talent out here today. There were a lot of good dancers and ones who will be good on the promotions team. I 'm looking forward to a very good Ice Girls squad this year," LaFauvre said. "The talent was awesome. I'm very happy to be sponsoring the girls. I think it's going to be a great season."
 

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Barracudas Announce Schedule for First Week of Training Camp

The 2006-2007 Jacksonville Barracudas hopefuls will take the ice for the first time on Tuesday, October 17th. New Barracudas Head Coach Rick Allain and General Manager Gilles Richard will hold team physicals on Monday, October 16th, followed by a team meeting that evening.

The on-ice sessions on each day will run from 10:00 am until 12:00, and will be held at Skate World, at 3605 Phillips Hwy. As such, each session will be open to the public, so it will be the first chance for fans to get a look at their new team.

On Friday, October 20th there will be two on-ice sessions, 10:00 am until 11:00 am, and again from 3:00 pm until 4:00 pm. Both sessions will be open to the public.

The first week of camp will end with an exhibition game in Florence, South Carolina against the Pee Dee Cyclones, on Saturday, October 21 th. For more information on the game, please visit www.peedeecyclones.com.

The Barracudas' first home game of the 2006-2007 season is on Saturday, November 4th, at 7:05pm. For information on Barracudas season tickets or Flex Packs contact the Barracudas office at 904-367-1423, or visit the team's website at www.jaxcudas.com.
 

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Seals Announce Training Camp Schedule

Florida Seals Head Coach/V.P. of Hockey Operations Tommy Stewart and General Manager Bryan Elliott today announced plans for the team's upcoming training camp set to begin next week.

The camp, which runs from October 16 to October 26, will take place at The Ice Factory in Kissimmee. Following an orientation session on October 16, the players will take the ice for skating drills starting Tuesday, October 17. The sessions are scheduled as follows:

Tues. Oct. 17 - 10 AM-12 PM
Wed. Oct. 18 - 10 AM-12 PM & 2 PM-3 PM
Fri. Oct. 20 - 1 PM-3 PM
Sun. Oct. 22 - 10 AM-12PM & 2 PM-3 PM
Mon. Oct. 23 - 10 AM-12PM & 2 PM-3 PM
Tues. Oct 24 - 10 AM-12 PM
Wed. Oct. 25 - 10 AM-12 PM
Thurs. Oct. 26 - 10 AM-12 PM

There will be no sessions on Thursday, October 19 as the team will be in Columbus, Georgia for an exhibition game against the Columbus Cottonmouths that starts at 7:30 P.M. Saturday, October 21 will consist of gym work in the morning followed by meeting the fans at the Florida Seals' Open House and Treasure Hunt at the Silver Spurs Arena from 1 P.M. to 5 P.M. Opening Night for the Seals is Friday, October 27 versus the Huntsville Havoc at the Silver Spurs Arena.

All skating sessions are open to the public so Seals' fans are encouraged to come out and watch as Coach Stewart prepares the team for a run at the President's Cup.

Additionally, the team is seeking volunteers to help with breakfast meals during the camp. Each day of skating, the team would like to serve the players a Continental-style breakfast (cereal, toast, bagels, fruit, milk, juice, etc.). Volunteers are needed to help provide the food and to cook and serve the meals. Meal time is set for 8 A.M. to 9 A.M. each skating day.

Anyone interested with helping out with the "Breakfast Brigade" or wanting more information about helping out can call General Manager Bryan Elliott at (407) 343-PUCK (7825).
 
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