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Wick Schozen

Newcastle Tribune - On the Ropes, the Fighters Round Review (GPHM)

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Through the first two games of the regular season fans of the Newcastle Fighters have more questions than answers as the team searches for their first regulation win. After overcoming Stoney Brook in a back and forth game that saw the Fighters give up their lead on three separate occasions. With two minutes left in the third and trailing by two goals the Fighters miraculously tied the game with two goals in 30 seconds to eventually win the game 6-5 in the shootout off of the hat trick tally by Yassine Hutton. 


The following night was much of the same story against the Rocky Mountain House Timberwolves albeit with a less fortunate outcome. Newcastle managed to go up on their opponent on five different occasions, each time pissing the lead down their leg before the Timberwolves put home the first consecutive tallies of the game by one team to win the game 6-5 in overtime. 


In speaking with coach ncik after the game he wanted to reiterate that it’s still early in the season and the only freaking out will be from the media trying to find a scoop. 


“Look both games played out odd. You don’t often see a team manage to drop a league like it’s apart of their gameplay. We’ll make the on ice adjustments and try to find what works best for our group. There’s a lot of new personnel on the ice level and in the press box for this team, we’re all trying to get a feel for our identity as a team.” After almost a year hiatus, this is Coach ncik’s return behind the bench as well as his right hand man, general manager Wick Schozen. After both games Schozen could be found the Ringside Lounge, the bar atop of the Newcastle Ice Dome, but could not be reached for comment. 


Game 1 of season 14 saw fans lay witness to ten players making their debut with the team seven of which are rookies. The Fighters will be skating quite a young team this season. The average age of their starting lineup is only 23. The team’s youth movement is spearheaded by the offseason signings of a pair of 21 year olds, center Raft Bugri and defensemen Louis-Felix Depatie. Ahead of the first game the team announced that Bugri would lead the team as captain this season, with Depatie assisting. 


Recently signed goaltender Belel Langlet, 19, started the first two games of his career. The young goaltender had generated a lot of buzz before agreeing to terms with Newcastle at the end of last season. Langlet was coming off a stellar season in the Finnish junior league when Newcastle selected him with the 4th pick of the first round of the SHL draft in season 12. The following season he forwent his final two years of juniors to turn pro, making great strides in his game in the second tier Swedish league. Yet his first two outings left fans questioning Coach ncik’s judgement to announce Langlet as the teams starter before the season over the teams veteran star goaltender Aziz Fraunholz. 


“The fans are going to voice their opinion,” ncik stated “we have passionate fans here in Newcastle, it’s not lost on my mind that without them I couldn’t make a living doing what I love and my wife wouldn’t be able to spend all my money on whatever pair of shoes or handbag she swears she needs. It’s just I made the call and I’m going to stick with it, if it doesn’t work out I am going to have to answer to them and ownership come the end of the season. Aziz is going to be in tomorrow against Portland and win or lose, Langlet is going the next night.”


Newcastle’s last management group probably listened to the fans a little too much, an example of which would be fan favorite Kola Lukstins, the 29 year old fighter signed to the unmovable 400k three year deal. An obviously risky deal considering he has a bar stool at the Ringside bronzed in his honor. A bit of spine in the coach and general manager could be a good change of pace for a team that hasn’t reached the GHL in seven season’s and has never finished above 7th in the SHL, being relegated twice in that span. 



The Fighters take on Portland tonight in a game where they are hoping to continue to progress towards finding their on ice identity. On The Ropes will continue our coverage right here in the forums until team ownership gets us our own press release. 

(Originally posted April 8th in Game Plan Hockey Manager forums)

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A trade broke on the morning of day 12 which saw the Fighters solidify the depth of their bottom six, but leaves questions about the teams commitment to their youth movement. Newcastle shipped out promising winger Sergey Chadov, 22, along with a pair of black aces in Declan Buzzell and Paddy Cranston. In return Newcastle received the services of a pair of 36 year old forwards Zack Page and Charles E.L Deziel from the Coquitlam Sea Hawks. 


GM Wick Schozen would not go on the record as he was seen leaving the Ringside Lounge. The bartender, who returned in the morning to see Schozen still there, relayed to us that Schozen, in his words, spent the night making sure the deal remained consistently hydrated so to blossom into a transaction. 


Chadov is coming off a season where he put up 7 points in a limited 9 game showing after the front office change of the Fighters, leaving many to expect he could build off of that for a strong year this season. Coach ncik had spoken briefly about Chadov after the Fighters morning skate. 


“I’m happy with the return we received. Our issues on the defensive side of the puck couldn’t be fixed with a patient approach in a timely manner.” ncik explained. "Seeing Chadov go is not ideal, we thought he could really make an impact this season, but we are looking at the big picture. We aren’t trying to develop a losing culture here with this team and you have to give to receive.  I’m happy with the two players we are receiving, I like what they will bring to our team both in the room and on the ice.”


This is the first midseason trade Wick Schozen has been able to complete for the Fighters since being named the teams general manager. Fans at the end of last season will recall the report of Schozen standing outside Mountain Lakes Cougars arena in the rain Raniero Grossi to take star center Rushan Shuldeshov with him to the GHL. Schozen would not shed any light on the events of that night but did get a statement across about this mornings transaction


“I'm excited to see what two guys with children can do on a team full of kids."



This all took place after the Fighters were able to capture their first regular season win over the season in a 5-2 victory over the Missanabie Wasps last night. It was the first game this season we got a chance to see how well the Fighters can perform. Newcastle outshot their opponent 29-22, but it was their offensive possession that really set the tone.


“It's nice to finally get a win in regulation.” Captain Rafet Bugri said after the game. “This was our first game we really bought in as a team and stuck to the script, the boys earned their beers tonight.” 


Yassine Hutton opened the scoring two minutes into the first to further his league leading goals total. He later assisted an insurance goal by defenseman Marius Hirt to move back into sharing the league lead in points with Nottingham Panthers defenseman Erkan Finkelstein.



None of the players were aware that this morning's deal had started being worked out by Schozen after the team fell to the Portland Tigers 7-2 the night before. The game exposed the team's glaring lack of defensive support through their forwards it was clear a change had to be made before the season stumbled out of control. The newcomers Deziel and Page will be in the lineup tonight against the Parkville Kinsmen who are still trying to achieve their first win of the season.

(Originally posted April 9th)

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Winning streak snapped, a fight with a strip club bouncer and someone get the man a cigarette

Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. After allowing a short handed goal on the opening power play and then surrendering three unanswered goals to the Nottingham Panthers, the last of which became the game winner in a 5-4 loss, the real disappointment for Newcastle seemed to be in the events after the game. Coach ncik decided he wanted the players to get a good night's rest before tomorrow's game, so the team chose to book a hotel in town. Some of Newcastle's young core chose to use this opportunity to take in Nottingham's nightlife before the bus went wheels up to head towards Timagami the following morning. A night intended to be an escape from hockey clearly went off script. When the beat writers here at On The Ropes came into the office this morning there were reports waiting at our desks about how the young core in reference found themselves bunking up for the night in Nottingham’s County Lockup. 


The group was lead out on the town by defensemen Elvin Finchman and Andre Mcevoy, 23 and 22 years old respectively. Both players, whom frequent the scratch box in the stands, have found a regular shift in the lilineuphile injuries to two top 4 defensemen have sidelined Isaac Crimmins and Marius Hirt. But the trouble for the gang last night (and worrisome for fans) arose in the tag along crew of 19 year olds Ricky Sundvall and Belel Langlet and team baby, last season's first round draft pick, Hektor Langstrom, 18.


Allegedly Finchman got into a scuffle with a bouncer at the Leaning Ladies establishment because he wouldn’t allow the underaged players to enter the club. When the Nottingham Sheriff's department showed up, just like their on ice counterparts showed these Newcastle players earlier in the night, this was not a good night to be a member of the Newcastle Fighters.


"I told them that I’m doing them a favor,” Sherif Pinkee told OTR "a loss to Timagami tomorrow night and they’ll have far worse headlines in the papers than what they’re going to be reading on the bus tomorrow. I can’t imagine management is going to come down on them too hard since there is already a member of management in the slammer for the night.” 


That was not a figure of speech by the Sheriff, the jail bound Fighters found GM Wick Schozen already making accommodations in the Nottingham county jail when they arrived. Schozen was seen leaving the game half way through the third. No one can blame him for that, fans could have witnessed a more inspired performance from a bum claiming he needs money to feed his children while standing outside a liquor store than what was displayed on the ice. Schozen found himself in a similar situation, albeit with a different disagreement of a Nottingham establishments policies.


“Look all I wanted to do was go to the bar, have a drink and a smoke before we blaze the night train to Tamagami.” Schozen left the arena before the announcement was made that the team would be staying in town “Look players don’t smoke on the bus like they did back in the '80s, heck even the '90s. If there’s snow on the ground that means it’s hockey season and if it’s hockey season that means I’m under a lot of stress and riding the buses a lot. I don’t want to be shivering to smoke a god damn cigarette. All I wanted to do was try what the local watering hole had on tap and smoke a cigarette.”


Schozen found himself taken in when he refused to oblige the bars no smoking policy and wouldn’t leave the premises until he finished the beer he had purchased. 


“I just think as a society we’ve lost touch with our values.”




With last nights events making headlines for all the wrong reasons it’s hard to pay attention to the fact that the Fighters put together a string of three strong victories to get their season rolling in the right direction.


After their win against Missanabie, the Fighters managed to sneak by Parkville with a 4-3 win with a tally by star center Rushan Shuldeshov at the 9 minute mark of the third period to hold on for the victory. Returning home the next night they handed a statement 6-1 victory to the Hawkeye Animals. The win appeared to be a sign that things were starting to come together for the Fighters. One game and a night that never got further than the sidewalk has really shaken the grounds of that optimism.



Newcastle plays Tamagami tonight looking for a strong response to their performance both on and off the ice. I don’t believe it’s a stretch to assume that they won’t be booking any hotel rooms after the game.

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Rookie Report


The recent 6-5 shootout win against the Bakersville Bears marks the 12th game, putting us one-fifth of the way through the season. With the Fighters currently icing seven rookies, On The Ropes will be reviewing the progress of the kids throughout the season. This first installment we are taking a look at team Captain Rafet Bugri. We sat down with Bugri to dive into the numbers at the start of his career, talk about how the season is shaping up so far and expectations moving forward.


Rafet Bugri, 21y/o, C, 4G 9PTS -2


Rafet Bugri isn’t being sheltered by Coach ncik out of the gate in his first season with the Fighters. While the offense hasn’t come in buckets to begin his campaign it has been there in spurts while drawing the toughest defensive assignments. The 21 year old leads all forwards in ice time at 17:30 minutes a night while matching up against the opposing teams top line. Currently slotted between fellow rookie Ricky Sandvall and forward Charles E.L Deziel, their line has acted as the buffer to open up the scoring for players down the lineup. 


“I take a lot of pride in being responsible away from the puck.” Bugri said. “Coach has made it clear what the expectations are every time I come over the boards and I just want to perform the best I can in the role I am given.” 


While Bugri has accepted his shutdown role and intends to excel in it, there is still an obvious learning curve he has to climb. For starters he has been limbless in the faceoff circle posting an abysmal faceoff percentage of 22%, something he stresses is a priority in developing. On top of that his 5v5 goal differential currently sits at minus-2, which could simply be the product of a young forward facing the leagues elite. Yet as one of the teams go to players on the teams penalty kill, which ranks 5th in the league, Bugri has shown he has what it takes to perform on the defensive side of the puck.


“Obviously my numbers aren’t looking glamorous right now, but to be honest that’s not where my focus is. I don’t care how I look on paper when I leave the ice, I just want to make sure I leave the arena with the win. I think we are starting to come together as a unit, starting to buy into the systems Coach ncik has implemented. We’re headed in the right direction.”


With bringing in a new GM and coach at the end of last season, fans wondered where the team is heading. Newcastle has never had a culture of winning in their locker room but that is something Bugri said is changing.


“I’m confident that we can come in and get the win every time we take the ice. This isn’t a team from years past, from management to the prospects everyone coming in has the right mentality. No one on this team is satisfied with where we are at to start the season. It doesn’t matter how well I play, I’m not going to accept losing, if you are ok with losing you’re a loser and we don’t have room for losers on our team.”





The Fighters continue to tread water in the middle of the pack. They have their final three games coming up against the teams they haven’t faced yet and then they’ve hit the quarter mark of the season. The first fifteen is always a strong measuring stick for teams to look at where they are at. For Newcastle it looks like they’ll have to evaluate where they are lacking if they want to continue to push forward towards a successful season. The alternative is that they’ll commit to the process, get a good read over the course of a season on what kind of team they have and we’ll have to sit a watch what direction management wants to take the team. 

(Originally posted April 13)

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What to make of the first quarter of the season


The season is now a quarter of the way through. Management and fans alike can now look into their crystal ball to try and predict how the season will unfold now that every team has played each other once. Here at On The Ropes we think crystal balls are dumb. Hockey is random and hard to predict, but since upstairs is raining shit on us to boost numbers in readers and subscriber we’re going to give it the old college try with some hot takes. 




After being promoted up from the BHL after finishing second last season the Panthers are again steering their titanic vessel towards the iceberg that is promotion. The Panthers are currently holding down first place in the league after going 8-0-0-2 in their last 10 games. Ranking 2nd in both goals for and least goals against Nottingham has put together a roster that isn’t waiting to be able to compete in the SHL. 


In speaking with general manager Peter T before the season, he told us that developing his core was their main focus after being promoted. Now he could have just been modest in his response or maybe he couldn’t have expected the team to play this well after promoting. The Panthers boast a deep lineup, their top three scorers spanning across three separate lines and they currently have the top offensive defenseman in the league in Erkan Finkelstein. This spread of talent has created a lineup that is a hard matchup for opposing teams and while they only have one other top 20 scorer outside of Finkelstein, they still have the second highest goal total. 


Nottingham is currently icing a lineup where a commitment to the defensive side of the puck is the driving force behind their offense. With a team that is built to it’s system, this roster can presumably withstand some mid season injury woes that are bound to occur and still position themselves in the top 2 where the players can watch the playoffs from a beach in Mexico while they await their promotion cheques to clear.





Only 11 points separate the Rocky Mountain House Timberwolves in second place from the Minnedosa Nighthawks in 10th. That’s a difference of four wins give or take from top to bottom, meaning that over the next quarter there is going to be a lot of movement in the standings. To further demonstrate how close the standings are together, from Stoney Brooke in 3rd place to Bakersfield in 7th, there is only a single win separation. The playoff picture is a dog fight, but with so many teams still in heavy contention, having a rough quarter leading into game 31 can end all playoff hopes. 


If we use goal differential as a tool to find separation within the pack we can see a clear top four and a remaining bottom six that will be take the fight onto the street for the final playoff spot as the 6th seed.


(2) Hockey Mountain House +16

(3) Stoney Brook +17

(4) Newcastle +14

(5) Timagami +7

(6) Mayfair +6

(7) Bakersfield +15

(8) Portland +7

(9) Tionaga +2

(10) Minnedosa -7



The top three appear to hold placings true to what you would expect. Bakersville find themselves in 7th place, although only 1 point from being tied for fourth. 


A few indicators have emerge from this. With the season being so early on many teams in this group are merely over or under performing. Timagami and Mayfair are right on group average for goals against but find themselves with the lowest goals for total of the top seven teams in the league by a margin of about ten. Unless their offense can increase their production they are going to see themselves fall below Bakersfield over the next quarter. 


Our Newcastle Fighters find themselves fourth in our elite four bracket of goal differential. This is clearly due their 2nd worst goals against total in the league. If they were in the group average of goals against their differential would be up to +21. On the other spectrum, if their league leading offense starts to slow it’s pace and the teams defense doesn’t correct itself, they will find themselves in a free fall down the standings. 


Lastly, Minnedosa and possible Tionaga can be categorized as the pretenders of the group. Minnedosa is both well below group average in goals for and is bottom five in the league for goals against. Tionaga on the other hand fall below group average in goals against, actually conceding the second lowest amount of goals in the league, but their offense is going to have to find a way to pick up some slack. Tionaga averages 28 shots against and their starting goalie is posting a respectable .902 save percentage, but any dip in his play and the team just doesn’t have the goal support to overcome nights where their starter falters. 




After the now infamous Leaning Ladies Scandal after the Fighters round 7 game against Nottingham, the Fighters have been walking the straight and narrow. Partly due to a curfew that Coach ncik implemented while playing games at home and the team is yet to stay in a hotel on the road since the incident. Instead opting to ride the bus through the night to the next location. General Manager Schozen has not been as hands on to prevent further mishaps as the teams coach has been. 


“One more fuck up and I swear to god I’ll send them to Hawkeye.” Schozen told us in a recent sit down. Naming Hawkeye as they are last place with the best relegation odds. “If you have a one way contract I’ll buy you out and make sure no team outside of the French Hockey league will touch you. Players don’t like me smoking on the bus? You wont see a shift until you’ve finished your pack from intermission.”


Since the return of Mirius Hirt and Isaac Crimmons, the front men for the Leaning Ladies night out Finchman and McEvoy have found themselves back in the scratch squad. 


“He won’t even let us go near the spread of food in the press box. The old man was in the lockup as well that night, I can’t believe he is going to talk down to us.” That was Finchman after his first game since being taken out of the lineup. He’s since found himself on the trade block and hasn’t been allowed to speak to the media. 


McEvoy on the other hand may have saved his spot on the fighters. His strong play while being in the lineup as an injury replacement really gave him a chance to showcase his value. Still in good age at 22, his demeanor since the incident demonstrates he probably won’t make the same mistake twice. 


“I don’t want to be on Mr. Schozen’s bad side. He’s had a beer with everyone that’s everyone in hockey at least once. The people he knows… It can derail you’re career. I’m just going to play hard when called upon and keep my head down for the most part.”


That was McEvoy after yesterdays win. He was in the lineup an extra game after Fincham was scratched. Did he receive the same cold treatment as Finchman when he got to the press box?


“Mr. Schozen threw a sandwich down in my lap after grilling Finchy. There was only butter on it, no meat or condiments, but I think it was a good gesture. I think that was his way of saying ‘kid you messed up, just don’t do it again’”


Good observation, because if that ‘again’ ever comes… After my sit down with Wick Schozen, I left there with the feeling that if I ever report something he doesn’t like, he’ll find a way to have me doing write ups in France until my fingers or lungs give out.


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Newcastle stumbles into second half of the season


Plagued with injury and regressions from offensive talent leading the charge the Newcastle Fighters struggled through the second quarter to create some angst amongst fans heading into the second half of the season. Compiling a record of 7-1-3-4 in the second quarter and holding 4th place wouldn’t leave many fanbases disappointed. Yet the Fighters have a team worthy of competing for promotion, all the while watching the gap between them and the top two seeds widen.


Through the second quarter the Fighters failed to make up for games lost in the first 15 that could be chalked up to early season woes.

“Too many games thrown away against teams below us in the standings.” Coach ncik told reporters after the team fell to Tionga in a shootout in their round 30 matchup. “We’re not going to use injuries as an excuse, our team is deep enough to over come that. It comes down to everyone buying into their role, being accountable for what happens when they’re on the ice. We didn’t see enough guys step up in the first half.”


While Yassine Hutton, the teams leading scorer with 21 goals and 36 points, continues generate the second most points and lead the league in goals. He’s no longer performing at the same pace that had him at a 7 point separation between him and the player in second, he’s dropped to a point below the league leader. This is understandable though. he was scoring at nearly a 1.5 points per game pace. But in the second quarter he dropped below a point per game pace. We stated in our last issue that any decline in the Fighters offensive production will see the teams win percentage regress as they are 14th in the league in goals conceded. 


Goaltender Belel Langlet is finally starting to settle into his role of starter that Coach ncik thrust upon him, some believing to be prematurely. After having over a 4.00GAA and a save percentage of .831% in the first quarter he has improved his numbers to 3.05GAA and a .888% save percentage. Still not where the team needs his numbers to be to offset their bottom feeding goals against total but an improvement none the less.


The 30th game of the season saw the debut of center 33 year old Francois-Olivier Sullivan, acquired from Valleyview for youngster Lucas Warholm, fan favorite enforcer Kola Lukstins and a prospect. The loss of 21 year old Warholm is a head scratcher for fans led to believe the team is committing to the process of building a contender through an influx of young talent. 


“Basically a deal came across my desk that I feel will help us win games.” GM Wick Schozen explained. "The bottom line is Warholm wasn’t getting the job done, his potential down the line I didn’t feel was high enough to offset the performance he was putting forth on a nightly basis. He didn’t pass the five threshold and that made him expendable.” 


What is the five threshold? Schozen elaborated that in player assessment, if the small errors, the missed plays hardly noticeable to the untrained eye, are still evident after five beers the player isn’t performing well. I don’t think these are the kind of innovations fans were expecting when Schozen was hired, but at the very least the team is surrounded with high expectations after finishing 11th last season. Whatever Schozen is doing, the standard has been raised for this organization. 


Fans wan’t be happy about the departure of Kola Lukstins though. A favorable player to the old management regime never found a foothold with the new decision makers. Failing to crack the lineup for a game so far this year Lukstins spent most games on the statuesque barstool, bronzed in his honor in the the Ringside Lounge. Ringside owner Angelo Dundee voiced his disapproval of the deal. “I think what Schozen is forgetting is that this team is engrained in the community. Fans here ride the highs and lows along with the team. My finances ride that same rollercoaster. Sure Kola might have been overpaid but heck, it all went into the Ringside, I saw Kola as the Fighters way of investing in the community and this move is directly going to affect my business. I think their more to this deal than just hockey.”


Dundee might not be wrong there. Many close to the team know Schozen likes to drink alone. He’s claimed a booth in the back corner of the Ringside. The booth covered in game sheets and has a phone line that cuts across the bar leading to a landline mounted on the table that Schozen’s assistant directs calls to when he leaves his office to ‘nurture his ideas’. But often times Kola will be found in the Ringside at times parallel to Schozen, it’s not a stretch to believe that might have disgruntled Schozen. 


“Look this is a hockey move. Did I dislike Kola? Sure. I mean the man was a gin drinker and he sweats. Does anyone like a gin drinker that sweats? The answer is no. This is a hockey move that had other incentives involved. The only fallback I see the revenues of the Ringside Lounge might be cut in half. If that’s the case I’ll do my part to support the community"




For the most part, our predictions from our first quarter issue have held strong. Stony Brook, Bakersville and Nottingham are slotted 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Falling into place after them are Newcastle, Timagami who remained in 5th, the surging Tionaga squad that has seen their goal differential climb from +2 at the quarter mark to +18 at the conclusion of game 30 and Rocky Mountain House on the outside of the playoff bracket but still tied at 51 points with Tionaga. 


If Coach ncik can find a way to clean up the Fighters on the defensive side of the puck the team is still well positioned to climb the standings with their league leading offense. Although the old homage that defense wins championships is a lesson that Newcastle may have to learn the hard way if they can’t get it together.

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So you want to promote to the GHL?


With 45 games down and the final 15 remaining the top six look to be a lock in the SHL. Over the final 15 the top four teams will jockey for seeding trying to gain guaranteed promotion to the SHL while the remaining two will look to gain home ice advantage. 


From the looks of it, this seems to be the most even the SHL has been since the Montmorency Waterfalls (now Queenston Yellow Jackets) placed first in season 9 with 128 points and only 35 regulation wins. First and second seed Nottingham and Stony Brook could realistically both hit that win mark in the next seven games. Although season 14 is abnormally close. Bakersville and your Newcastle Fighters are breathing down the neck of the top two seeds. Bare minimum isn’t going to cut it this season. 


The Fighters put together their best quarter so far this season with a record of 10-1-1-3. If they were to continue to improve on that, making sure to gain points against the three teams above them while seeing favorable losses for the occur, promotion is within reach. The fans want to see Newcastle tussle with the best in the top league, but Coach ncik is keeping expectations grounded.


“We’ve seen a lot of success so far this season. A complete 180 from where this franchise was when I was brought in, but the biggest positive I’ve witnessed is the growth this season. That has to be our main focus, making sure that we are improving as an organization. We can go on a tear over our final fifteen games and a promotion would be fantastic, but that is not the priority. Making sure that our team is heading in the right direction and building a sustainable competitor is crucial to what we are trying to achieve.”


After anointing Belel Langlet the team’s starter at the start of the season Coach ncik took some heat when Langlet failed to perform. Since then Langlet has been the backbone of the team. While is numbers still are not stellar (partly due to his rough start) he’s been the main reason the team has remained in contention for a top two seed.


Throughout the lineup players have been able to step up after earlier season hot streaks from players such as Yassine Hutton and Kyrylo Andreikiv went cold. 19 year old Ricky Sandvall has put up 29 points through 44 games in his rookie season, earning the leagues first star last week. Captain Rafet Bugri has returned to strong form after missing 6 games with a lower body injury in the midst of the third quarter. 


Wick Schozen has had a second phone installed into his Ringside Lounge booth in preparation for the final weeks before the trade lock kicks in before playoffs. We’ve witnessed on numerous occasions Schozen dual wielding the phones trying to put deals in place and keeping lines open with GM’s around the league. 


“It’s crunch time. If I catch even a whiff of a deal that can put our organization in the right direction, the GM on the other line is going to have me in his ear night and day.” Schozen relayed to us in between sips of his whisky neat. “If Pete over in Nottingham wants to beef up his team for a promotion push and can offer us something that will benefit us more than our position in the standings can, well then I’m going to be on a first name basis with his family. I’ll be calling him at dinner time to see how the deal is progressing and if I need to tell him to put his wife on the phone because she’s cooked meat loaf for the third time this month and I feel that that’s hampering the progress of our deal, I’ll tell her she’s going to need to expand her horizons on the stove.”



Through the final 15 the Fighters will find out if they are spending another season in the SHL, the final prospect rankings will be released and our fans can begin to argue over beers on who the team should take. If that interests you make sure to attend the Ringside Lounge Prospect punch out on the final day of the regular season. In this two day event fans will lay their initial bets on who the team will target in the draft. All winnings will be payed out at the conclusion of the season 14 draft at the ‘15 round draft party’ to conclude the punch out. 

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Newcastle stumbles into 4th place


The regular season for season 14 has come to a close. Stoney Brook and Nottingham have clinched promotion to the GHL with 126 and 123 points respectively. While those seeded 3rd to 6th will battle it out in the playoffs to keep their promotion hopes alive this season and try to rid themselves of the SHL lifestyle that is cheap hotels and seeing their top players wooed away by GHL royalty. 


Newcastle managed to take the 4th seed after posting their worst quarter of the year to close out the season. The fighters posted a 7-0-1-7 record after shipping out first line center Rushan Shuldeshov and top defenseman Marius Hirt to Walkerton Bombastic of the GHL for a second round GHL pick and a prospect. Both players had outgrown the SHL and cap space needed to be cleared to sign Rafet Bugri and defenseman Louis-Felix Depatie. 


Regardless of the failure to clinch promotion GM Wick Schozen sends the clear message that the Fighters are right on course with the plan that the front office has set out. 

“I’m happy with how the team performed this season. We took over a team that finished 11th last season and improved by 9 wins (regulation or overtime), moved up seven spots in the standings. On a management standpoint, I inherited a team that looked to be the work of a guy that drank with the team to much instead of drinking because of the team. This season we took out the garbage, trimmed the fat from the locker room. This is now a team that has a strong core in place, all of which are under the age of 22. There won’t be any cap killers on our books, they were all sent packing. Heck there won't even be the usual suspects disturbing me in the bar. I’m happy with how the roster is shaping up heading into next season.”


It wasn’t a quiet year for the front office. A total of 7 trades were conducted, some to bring in an influx of youth, most to rid the team of age and anchoring contracts. Much of the remaining core from the old regime are on expiring contracts and won’t be resigned. This is truly Wick Schozen’s team, crafted to complement Coach ncik’s system. The team peaked in the third quarter of the season, when they had acquired their long term core and still had Shuldeshov and Hirt among others to contribute before being moved for the longterm success of the team. Simply put Newcastle was the top team in the league from game 31-45. 


“We know our identity as an organization that’s for sure now.” Coach ncik said at the press conference after the final game. “We saw great growth throughout the year from our young core and they were big contributors this year. They’ll be the top players in the league at the start of next season. So instead of having young guys progressing to an elite level, they’ll start the year at an elite level and only get better. We’ve positioned ourselves well for next year.”


While all the excitement is building for next season amidst all the optimism put forward by the team's staff the roster is still not complete for the start of season 15. The team only has three centers signed through next season. Bugri will middle the first line while Sullivan and incoming rookie Nathanael Holt will fill out the bottom six. If the team wants to make a dramatic step forward next season they will need to lock down someone elite to fill that No.2 role. The Fighters benefited from having both Shuldeshov and Bugri down the middle on their top 6, that is a hard one-two punch to replicate, let alone improve upon. 


The wingers look to be all locked in. Sundvall who had 18 goals, 37 points and Langstrom, 15 goals and 26 points, will look to improve upon their rookie campaigns to make up for the departing Yassine Hutton who finished third in league scoring. Primarily replacing Hutton will be Jermaine Laird who comes with a pedigree for putting the puck in the net. Laird will be slotting in on the left of Bugri and Hewitt who found lethal chemistry to close out the season, both being over a point a game since being paired together. 


Offense won’t be an issue for Newcastle next season. They led the league in offensive output the whole season but found that all of their lapses came at the defensive end of the ice. They closed out the year with the 4th most goals against in the league. Belel Langlet looks poised for a breakout year in between the pipes. Even if the team's offense were to regress, if they can join the rest of the top teams in the league in terms of defensive prowess the team will be formidable to contend with. 




The Fighters take on the Tionaga Trolls in the first round of playoffs. During the regular season they skated to a 0-1-1-2 record, losing the regular season matchup. But the playoffs is a new season in itself. The regular season record is thrown out the window and it will come down to who is best over the next three games. Tionaga will quickly find themselves making offseason preparations if they take the Fighters lightly. While Newcastle will need to find a way to step up to perform in a playoff environment, which could be tough for a roster almost full of players that have never experienced the post season.

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Not A Lot Of Frowns In Newcastle These Days



Season 15 has officially hit the quarter mark with the first 15 games completed. The Fighters have come out strong to start the year. Better than strong, their start to the season is their best start in franchise history. Compiling a 12-0-2-1 record so far, the Fighters are 1st place in the league  and don’t have any intention to slow down the the torment they’ve been dishing out against the league.


At the height of their roll through the first 15 games the Fighters were riding on a 12 game point streak on top of their 7 game win streak. They currently rank first in both goals for and against, 2nd in penalty killing and 8th on powerplay. The power play being the outlier, but when you are scoring so effectively at 5on5, a power play that is finding it’s grove can be compensated for.




This is the kind of start that the Fighters management and coaching staff where promoting at the conclusion of last season. The core had been established and management had supplemented the lineup around them and all they had to do now was play. GM Wick Schozen is adamant that they expected this result all along but that hasn’t stopped him from enjoying the show just as much as the fans are.


“I’ve been drunk for fifteen straight days. That’s half a month. That’s how well we are playing right now. I’ve done my part, I tore down this team, built it back up and then decorated it from the most instinctual depths of my think box. This team is like a big shiny new tower standing in the middle of Newcastle with everyone stopping to admire it. I’ve had to switch to beer because I was getting so incoherent that I couldn’t effectively keep the day to day running smoothly so we could go enjoy the show at night. Heck I almost traded Belel Langlet to Portland on a laundry deal.”


There are two things to clear up from Schozen’s excerpt , the first is for those who don’t know, a laundry deal as when a team acquires a new washer for usually a bubble player. Let’s hope Portland were at least offering a washer/dryer combo in the fleecing they proposed. Secondly, Wick Schozen isn’t alone in being sucked into reveling in the success. The Ringside lounge is almost considered 'exclusive’ at this point of the season. With the teams success, Ringside owner Angelo Dundee has velvet roped off Schozen’s booth so the head architect can drink undisturbed. In the 3 hours before the game and all hours after, the Ringside has lines that have required him to recruit boxers from his old days as a boxing coach to step in for crowd control so nothing gets out of hand. 


While Billy Beans, a local burrito shack introduced a promotion after signing on as one of the teams sponsors. When the Fighters score 5 or more goals, everyone leaving the area can claim a free burrito coupon. So far the count is at 3 games fans have been rewarded. But in another 4 games the Fighters had put 4 goals on the board and the crowd shifts from cheering on event during the game to chanting “BILLY BEANS! BILLY BEANS!” We’ll make sure to find a statistic to how many free burritos were consumed by the end of the season.




While praise can be handed towards Schozen and Coach ncik for what they have done since coming in, it would be all for not without players stepping up. So fittingly the Fighters young core has blossomed into its own this season. Rafet Bugri leads the forward core with 17 points in 15 games. Defenseman Louis-Felix Depatie has been quieting critics who were skeptical of the financial commitment made to him this off season. His 11 points through the first 15 rank him in the top three for points by a defenseman league wide. Lastly the biggest impact made from teams core has been goaltender Belel Langlet. Coach ncik was berated at the end of last season for running with Langlet. Well in a season the was mainly for growth and shoring up the roster the games lost because of allowing Langlet to develop have paid off. The 20 year old has a .944sv%, 1.98 GAA and is boasting a record of 8-0-2-0, still yet to play a game without earning a point. 


Yet with all the progress made, you’d be hard pressed to have found a single player in the weight room so far this season. With a short playoff stint and a heavy training camp the team has been relaxed in teams of their work outside of games. It’s not something that Coach ncik seems overly concerned with. 


“Right now we can let it slide. It’s early in the season and while you want to always be getting better, with the way we’ve been playing we’re ok with simply maintaining where we are at. If we continue to push for a promotion, as the season rolls on we’ll shift our focus to building for next season and have everyone back to elevating their game. But for the time being there is no point putting to much focus on it. Our training facility is locked shut and unfortunately Wick Schozen misplaced the keys while… ahh, going through his daily routine. So even if we wanted to put the boys to work, for the foreseeable future it’s out of our hands until the keys turn up.”


“ This happens all the time.” Wick said “Honestly I’m a big believer in just accepting that the universe has some influence. The powers at be are working behind the scenes to locate the keys. Honestly I’m going to walk into my booth one day at the Ringside and I’ll hear them rattle beneath the cushion when I go to sit down. That’s usually how things turn up, no use breaking a sweat looking for them or yelling at the sky.”



The Fighters are back in action tonight facing off against the Minnedosa Nighthawks to start the second quarter of the season. We’ll be back with our mid season write up and until then make sure you have a designated driver leaving the rink or start looking for cheap gym memberships burn off your now frequent trips to Billy Beans. 

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