ORLANDO, FL – The holiday season is a time for reflecting and dreaming. The generous souls at The Sin Bin want to help the sometimes battered and bruised squads get into the Christmas spirit, and we are doing so by putting together our annual special wish lists for Santa. If that North Pole miracle-worker can bring at least some of these treats in his sleigh, it will make the New Year bright. We started with the South Division, and this installment takes us to the Central Division. Stay tuned for the North and Mountain Divisions which will soon follow.
A Visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past
The Cincinnati Cyclones are grateful that their wish from last year was granted. They are now playing in the Central Division, where they actually get to face division opponents! Now that the Cyclones are back where they belong, the team has their sights set on one thing: making a splash in the playoffs. The team has done quite well so far this season, currently ranking third in the Central with 31 points, just one point shy of Fort Wayne. The Cyclones historically have done well in the playoffs, having captured championships in 2008 and 2010 and making the finals in 2014. The team is wishing for a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past this year, and if they get this wish, we will see them returning to post-season glory.
More Eye Candy for the Rink and More Twilight Zone Sequences
When it comes to arenas in the ECHL, the home of the Fort Wayne Komets (a.k.a. the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum) takes the cake for colorful ads spread across the ice. Love it or hate it, the rink is an eye full. There’s hardly any room left for additional bling, but maybe some holiday magic can work to free up room for even more sparkle.
And, to accompany the eye candy, we are hoping that Santa will also deliver some additional plays from the Twilight Zone which have already been plentiful this year for the Komets.
Fort Wayne got things rolling during a crazy Thanksgiving Day game against the Toledo Walleye, where the two teams combined a total of four goals in two minutes.
On Dec. 10, fans were treated to another rare spectacle. During the third period of that game, it seemed like Mason Baptista had tallied a goal to take the Komets to a 5-0 lead over the Orlando Solar Bears. But after a lengthy discussion, the referee decided to award a goal . . . but they gave it to Orlando’s Tayler Thompson! The reason? He had scored 45 seconds before the Komets goal but the referee had neglected to call the play dead. So instead of it being 5-0, the score became 4-1.
However, the game that takes the cake for bizarre occurrences occurred the previous day (Dec. 9) when the Komets’ Jamie Schaafsma suffered the indignity of scoring on his own empty net during a delayed penalty. He then got redemption at the close of the game when he put in another empty-netter . . . but this time he did so in the correct goal.
Let’s hope that Santa can keep the magic rolling for the Komets with some additional jaw-dropping strange plays from the Twilight Zone.
A Successful All-Star Game Turnout
The Indy Fuel have the honor of hosting this year’s ECHL All-Star classic. Not only this, but the Stanley Cup will be on hand and NHL legend Wayne Gretzky is set to make a special appearance at the All-Star festivities this year. The Fuel are hoping for a big turnout. A good present for the Fuel would be a box of good luck in being the league host.
The Sin Bin is also hoping that the buzz of a successful All-Star game will turn into more fans for the Fuel heading into the second half of the season. It would help matters if Indy could find the identity and chemistry that has thus far been lacking for the squad. There is a market in Indianapolis revved up to fill the seats if the team can find a way to rebuild its engine.
More Fan Support
With the Kalamazoo Wings being in Michigan and just a stone’s throw away from Detroit, you’d think they’d get pretty good attendance. However, the Wings have an average of 2751 in their over 5000 seat arena. The Wings were a solid team last year, and they are in the hunt this season as well. Hopefully, the fans will start to turn out once Santa spreads the news of their on-ice success.
A Healthy, Stable Roster
The Kansas City Mavericks have been plagued by injuries so far this season. With many players on their roster being on IR, the team is still searching for its identity. While the Mavs may be clinging to fourth in the division, head coach John-Scott Dickson has had his hands full trying to put together lines and figuring out how to assemble the pieces. The list of players who have missed playing time includes Darren Nowick, Dan Correale, Shawn Pauly, Matt Robertson, Troy Donnay, Jordan Kwas and Rocco Carzo. Whew! We are hoping that the holiday season will send some healing to Kansas City so they will be firing on full cylinders when they hit the final stretch.
Sam Warning Clones
The Quad City Mallards seem to be lacking in consistency and teamwork. Right now on the offense it has become too much of a one-man show featuring Sam Warning. The team has scored a total of 49 goals this season, with Warning leading the team both in goals scored and penalty minutes. The Mallards hopefully will be able to turn things around during the second half of this season. Maybe they can clone Sam Warning. Better yet, they are hoping for some additional players to give the team the injection of offense that it desperately needs.
Some Physical Blueliners and a Prepaid Calling Card (Just in Case)
The Toledo Walleye have consistently been among the league leaders when it comes to offensive firepower. While they are not at the summit this season, they are closing in on 100 goals for, which is shows that they still have the guns blazing. To make a successful Kelly Cup run this year, they need to add some defensive muscle to the mix so that they can stand up to some of those bruising Mountain Division teams like the Colorado Eagles and Allen Americans.
If Santa can’t deliver on that wish and they face another playoff exit, the Walleye are hoping for a prepaid calling card as a stocking stuffer. With that in hand, the team’s CEO will be ready to make another lengthy call to the ECHL commissioner complaining about the unfairness of his team being eliminated from the dance.
I would like to thank the members of Team Sin Bin who provided suggestions for this wish list. Dakota Johnson, Anna Headley, and Mark Grainda were especially useful in helping assemble the list for the Central Division.
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