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Magic Carpet Ride

By frederick61, 07/07/13, 2:30PM CDT


Travis Koepke/Hermantown beats the Duluth Marshall goalie in the Hawks 3-0 quarterfinal win at the Class A state tourney quarterfinal game. Koepke is a tendered player trying out for the Minnesota Magicians.

Note: There will be a series of games played at the tryouts culminating with a Championship game played Sunday Morning, July 28 starting at 10:00 AM.  YHH will post other games times as soon as they are available.

Aladdin started the tale, Steppenwolf turned it into a song, Disney turned it into a ride, and now the Magicians are opening their doors to take Twin City hockey fans on their magical carpet ride only by the end of the 2013-2014 season “you will know them….”

The July 26th weekend is a magic one.  The Minnesota Magicians will hold their final tryout that weekend.  The three day tryout will go a long way in determining the Magician’s final roster.  Fifty five players (borne 1993 to 1996) have been invited to attend the tryouts joining most of the 30 players on the Magicians’ protected list.  All will be competing to make the Magician’s North American Hockey League final roster of 23.

The July 26th tryout will be the last tryout conducted by the North American Hockey League’s new franchise.  Other NAHL teams, the Aberdeen Wings, the Kenai River Brown Bears, and the Minnesota Wilderness (Cloquet based) have all scheduled tryouts in the Twin Cities over the next month.  Tryout dates are posted on the NAHL site.

After the tryout, the Magicians will spend August and the first part of September narrowing their team down to 25 players initially and then a few days later to their final roster of 23 players.

The NAHL league moves fast when it comes to pursuing players.  So does the USHL.  Both leagues have to move fast since they are dealing with junior aged players from all over the USA usually coming from AAA midget, high school, and other similar teams.

The NAHL teams’ rosters turn over every two years or so.  With 24 teams pursuing a 23 player roster each September things get hectic.  That is what makes it fun for the fans.

The process the NAHL uses to establish a team’s roster has evolved over the NAHL league’s 38 year existence.  All 24 teams recruit year round, but each team gets more active as the current crop of senior aged players becomes approachable the first of each year.

Under NAHL rules, each of the 24 teams has to make their initial player decisions before the NAHL draft in early June and submit a protected list of players prior to the league.  The protected players cannot be drafted by other NAHL teams.  This year, the Magicians submitted a list of 18 players that they had tendered or were veterans having played in the league last year.  They drafted 12 more players.

Unlike the NHL draft which essentially locks the player up and allows that player to finish high school, go on to play college hockey, or play elsewhere for a number of years, the NAHL’s (and the USHL’s) two year window accelerates the players, putting players on their rosters into a more professional atmosphere.  It is what YHH calls serious hockey.  After two years most players are no longer juniors and move on.

Once a team decides on a player, they generally will offer them a tender.  A tender is a contract, of sorts, a player signs announcing his intentions to play for that particular NAHL team and that NAHL team only. Once a player signs a tender with an NAHL team, his playing rights belong to that team within the NAHL and he may not be recruited by any other NAHL team. Each team is granted ten (10) tenders – plus or minus any trades – which become active on Nov. 1. Tendered players are not eligible for the NAHL draft.

Most players signed in the NAHL are USA borne; most Magicians signed are Minnesota borne.  The NAHL is focused on developing American borne players; each NAHL team is allowed by USA Hockey to list only up to four (4) imports (non-U.S. citizens) on its protected list (roster) at one time.

The NAHL draft was held early in June this year.  The Magicians, as did all NAHL teams, submitted their list prior to the draft.  Each Club is allowed to protect up to 30 veteran and tendered players.  Few do protect 30.   Thirty minus the number of veteran and tendered players on the protected list is the number of draft choices a club will have (if a team’s veterans + tenders = 22, 30-22 = 8, then Club has 8 picks to get its roster up to 30).

Not all players on as team’s protected list will play for the team.  Some that are tendered will not play, some that are veteran’s will decide to move on because of other offers or for other reasons, and some drafted will not play.  As a result, the June draft does not end the process, but starts the process as the NAHL teams’ tryouts continues through mid-August or so.

At Magician’s final tryout is July 26-28 at Richfield Arena, most of the thirty players on the protected list and the 55-60 invitees will be divided into six teams and the teams will skate regular games.  The tryouts are open to the public and are free.

Players trying out for the Magicians have been invited to tryout.  Some of the other NAHL teams maybe having open tryouts or they still could be willing to tryout unknown (to them) players.

Going into the July 26 tryouts, the Magicians have 12 tendered players that played Minnesota High School hockey last season on their protected list.  By position, they have two goalies, 10 defense men and eighteen forwards listed on their protected list coming out of the NAHL draft.

Magician’s Defense

One veteran Eetu Karvinen (6’0” 165lbs) is from Vantaa, Finland, a city of 200,000 just north of Helsinki. Karvinen is a forward.  He started out last season playing for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in the USHL, moved to Sioux City Musketeers and ended the season playing for the Brookings Blizzard.  Karvinen scored 17 points (6 goals) playing for those three teams last season.

Thomas Delaney (6’2” 192lbs) played defense last season for White Bear Lake, scoring 25 points (8 goals) in 25 games.  Delaney is one of the 12 Minnesota high school players the Magician have tendered and he will be at the tryout, but Delaney is also trying out for a USHL team.  Another high school defense man is TJ Samec (6’2”).  Samec played on the St. Thomas Academy Class A State Championship team last March that has beat Hermantown (with Travis Koepke-another Magician tendered player) in the championship game.  Samec scored 18 pts (4 goals ) last season for the Cadets.

Joey Kleven (6’3” 210lbs) defense man from Prior Lake has been tendered.  Kleven scored 19 points for the Lakers last season.

Defense man Charles Curti (6’0”) played three years for the Mound/Westonka varsity.  In his senior season, Curti put 35 points on the board in 25 games.  Curti is a tendered player who is also trying out for a USHL team.  Draftee Logan Von Ruden/Northfield (31 points) will be trying out at defense.  Von Ruden could return to play his senior year for the Raiders’ high school team.

Defense man Derick Kuchera (5’10” 162lbs) and his brother Nick played for Eagan on the Wildcats state tourney teams and played last season for the Wanatchee Wild (the Wild franchise was moved this year from Walla Walla WA to Hidalgo Texas and has been re-named the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees).  The Magicians made a draft day trade for the Eagan twins trading their #1 pick overall and a 2014 tender to the Killer Bees.  The Killer Bees drafted Jimmy Roll, defense man from the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers.

Derick played 50 games for the Wanatchee Wild last season scoring 12 points.  Nick (5’10” 166lbs) played 50 games also for the Wild at forward scoring 23 points.

Kyle Gonzalez is a June draftee of the Magicians.  Gonzalez played for the Cleveland Jr A team last season.  One of the Magician’s draftees this spring is defense man Martelle Morgan.  Morgan played high school hockey for the Minot Magicians.  Morgan may end up going from one Magician team to another.

Magician Goalies

A second veteran, goalie Bryan Nies (5’10” 185 lbs), played for the Bismarck Bobcats in the 2012-2013 season posting a 11-7-3 record in 24 games with a 2.48 GAA and a save average of 0.940 percent.  The second goalie, Jordan Moran (6’3” 180lbs), played for Prior Lake last year posting a 15-9-0 record with a 1.69 GAA and a save average of 0.910 percent.

Magician Forwards

Mario Bianchi/Holy Angels (skated four seasons for Holy Angels scoring 183 points including 75 goals), and Colin Hernon/Jefferson (skated three seasons for the Jags scoring 92 points including 58 goals), and Alex Funk/Rochester Lourdes (skated four seasons for the Eagles scoring 170  points including 86 goals) would appear to be the core of what could be a high scoring set of Magician forwards, but they will be pushed by those trying out.

Matt Colford/Breck scored 60 points last season for Breck and led Breck into the Class A State Tourney only to lose to Hermantown and Koepke.  Koepke, Colford, and Funk made the state tourney all-tournament team last March.  Colford skated well in the Elite League last year playing for Team Northwest (Velocity).

The Magican tendered an interesting duo out of the Moorhead’s Class AA state tourney team, Nick and Tony Uglem.  Tony has been the Spuds #1 scorer the past two years; Nick did not trail by much.  Together the two players scored 144 points (68 goals) in 75 regular season games.  Two drafted players, Adam Johnson/Hibbing and Cole Bjugson/Roseau will not be trying out for the Magicians.  They have USHL tryouts and most likely will return to play their senior year for their high school teams.  Johnson led the Bluejackets in scoring the past three years and scored 188 points (82 goals) in 98 regular season games.

Jeff Flicker (6’1” 180lbs) who played for the Hudson Crusaders last season is another interesting pick.  Flicker started last season playing for Brookings in the NAHL and ended the season playing for the Crusaders out of Hudson WI.

Where is Red River High School?  Most would think Texas and forget there is a Red River (north).  Red River High School is in Grand Forks and Brady Bernhardson is a three year product of North Dakota high school hockey.  He will be an interesting player to watch at the tryouts.

Tryouts for NAHL teams will continue to happen throughout the summer in Minnesota (check the NAHL web site for schedules).  The NAHL teams continue to search which is why the Magician management believes that their location will succeed-access to a steady, stable, number of hockey players.

YHH will do follow up stories and post the Magician roster when it becomes set (it will never be final, there will also be some change).  By early September, the Magicians’ roster and all NAHL teams’ rosters have to be set; first to 25 players and then 23 players shortly after.  Then the fun begins with the eleventh annual NAHL Showcase held at the Super Rink September 18-22.  All 24 NAHL teams will open their season playing three league games in five days in front of scouts (and they do get a large number of scouts attending).  The Minnesota Elite League plays games there as do the top Midget U18 and U16 teams such as Little Caesar’s.

Scouting is not just for the older players and focused on college scouts.  College scouts will be there, but the NAHL and USHL scouts will attend beside others.

At the Showcase, it is hockey on 6 to 7 rinks, from 9 AM to 10 PM daily.  Some guy won a hot dog eating contest over the Fourth of July weekend by stuffing 60 hot dogs or so into him in 30 minutes.  YHH wonders if there is a record for the most hockey games seen in a 5 day period.  If there is, it would have to have been set at the Showcase.

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