Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Post of the Year, Featuring TONS of IceCats!

I'll probably do a yearly recap at the beginning of next year, but for now I figured I'd start the posting of my Christmas goodies. Gotta start sometime...might as well be during 2011!

This first card is a riot. The player is Matt Smith, a seemingly simple enough name:
But throw him into a Finnish League and on a Finnish card and everything turns awesome:I had no idea what any of the words on the back meant, so I looked them up in google translator. And I found the following:
keho - power
ansiot - earnings
kovuus - hardness (heh heh)
luottamus - confidence
NHL - I'm assuming this one means NHL experience?

The card then gives a rating for each thing and adds it all up for ranking points - 177207 in Smith's case. Totally weird. First, I wonder if earnings is his actual earnings. Second...I wonder what the highest score is for this set. Is there some guy with over 1,000,000 ranking points? Thirdly, what are the characteristics even ranked out of? Is there a maximum for each stat? I have no idea. But's an awesome card. Love it.

As for Smith's contributions to the 97-98 IceCats, he had 1 goal, 4 PIM, and a -3 +/- in 4 games after graduating from UMass Amherst. One of the smaller contributions, but hey, he was an IceCat!

Not all the cards were super crazy weird. Here's a typical Upper Deck release of Libor Zabransky:
Zabransky had a much larger effect on the 97-98 IceCats. In 54 games he had 2 goals and 17 assists, with a -1 +/- rating. He also spent 6 games with the NHL Blues in 97-98, garnering one assist.

This next card is from the same set as my Samy Nassreddine card, and features Tyler Willis:
Willis played 24 games with the Cats in 97-98, with 2 goals and 1 assist. More impressive is the fact he had 140 penalty minutes that year. That's an average of 6 per game, which is kind of ridiculous. Willis's career stats across many minor leagues show a similar pattern - the guy simply got a ton of penalties. Definition of enforcer I guess.

Shayne Toporowki is a guy who I had been waiting on a card for since his only relics and autos come in newer Finnish sets. But it was nice to get a card of his from the 90's, back when he was doing it up stateside:
This card features Toporowski in a Maple Leafs uniform, who he played 3 games with in 96-97. Those were his only three NHL games ever. He was 4th on the 97-98 IceCats in games played though with 73, during which he contributed 9 goals and 21 assists.

Bryce Salvador is one of the most successful post-IceCats, as he is currently a defenseman for the New Jersey Devils many years after his IceCat days. I like this card because it's serial #'d ON THE FRONT, which is always awesome to me:
97-98 was Salvador's first season in the AHL at the age of 21. He contributed 10 points over 46 games and was involved in all 11 playoff games as well. He also was a team leaders +13 in +/-, showing his defensive prowess at an early age.

Mike Prokopec is a guy I remember quite well from his Cats days. Though I should say day, since he was only there for the 97-98 season before moving on.
His 97-98 was solid though, with 21 goals and 25 assists in 62 games. That tied him for 5th in points. He was also third in +/- at +6.

Robert Petrovicky is another guy I remember well, probably because he was one of the IceCats best players in 97-98:
Petrovicky played 208 NHL games and is still playing overseas, but he was definitely at his best in the minors. 97-98 saw Petrovicky accumulate 61 points in 65 games, good for second on the team despite missing 15 games while playing with the NHL Blues. Petrovicky also added 7 points in 10 playoff games.

Nick Naumenko played 71 games with the 97-98 IceCats:
I love this card of his because he was a Cleveland Lumberjack! All throughout my undergrad years my fellow students told me about how cool the Lumberjacks were. They were sort of Cleveland's version of the IceCats, so it's cool Naumenko played for both teams.
Naumenko had 46 points with that 97-98 team, tying him with Prokopec for 5th in points.

One of the best seasons of all these guys came from Bob LaChance:
Another foreign card, and one that might have gotten LaChance's stats wrong:
I don't know what SP means, and I guess Str. probably means strength. But I would then also guess that T means goals and A assists. Only thin is, LaChance has 33 assists, not 43, in 97/98. So...maybe it means something different?

Regardless, LaChance's 48 points in 97-98 were good for 4th on the team. In the playoffs he upped his productivity though, scoring 16 points (including 6 goals) in 11 games to lead the team. Pretty damn good.

We're nearing the end, and this next card is crazy huge. I don't know why it uploaded big, but I think it shows off the black eye well, so I'm keeping it that way!
I've been chasing Justin Hocking's autographed card for a while now, trying to get it for dirt cheap (like $2 delivered Ebay). I've been outbid twice, so I may have to buy it in the $3 range, which is okay I guess but I'm a cheapskate sometimes haha. Anywho, Hocking led the 97-98 IceCats in games with appearances in 79 of 80 games. No wonder I remember the guy! He only scored 17 points in those 79 games, as he was more of a defensive contributor than an offensive guy.

It is neat to have Hocking's Kings card by the way, since the Kings were the only team Hocking ever played with in the NHL. He played one total game with no stats - but hey, that's one more NHL game than I ever played!

Last but not least, Derek Diener, featured on a Peoria Rivermen card:
The Rivermen were actually the IceCats minor league team (who knew AHL teams had minor league teams?), so Diener being on the team makes a lot of sense. In fact, when the IceCats left the league in 2005-06, the Rivermen took their place in the AHL, and the IceCats count as part of their history (sort of like the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns).

As for Diener's 97-98 stats, he had 32 games where he scored 7 points. The next season he spent some games with Peoria before a final 39 games with the Cats in 98-99. Then he was out of hockey forever. But hey, at least he got some cool cards!

And that does it for my new IceCats contributions from Christmas! Have a good New Year's Eve everyone, and I'll see you in 2012!

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