By Cleve Dheensaw
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005
VICTORIA, British Columbia – The biggest sports news in the Stutzel family isn’t brother Mike’s winning goal for the Idaho Steelheads against the Victoria Salmon Kings on Wednesday, but that the IOC has okayed 10K swimming for the Summer Olympics so sister and UVic and Team Canada open-water swimmer Karley Stutzel can start thinking about Beijing.
It wasn’t swimming, but fishing, on Victoria-native Mike’s mind Thursday. And none of that wussy Idaho river stuff, either, as he went ocean fishing off the waters of his hometown. Having bagged a few Salmon on ice Wednesday, he was after the saltwater variety Thursday.
Meanwhile, Nanaimo’s Greg Hornby of the Steelheads was busy meeting family and old pals in the off-day before high-flying Idaho (9-3) and Victoria (4-7-1) renew their ECHL rivalry Friday and Saturday at SOFMC.
Victoria is the lone Canadian team in the ECHL and there’s always a throng of family and friends from all over the Island and the rest of B.C., and often Alberta, hanging around the visiting team’s dressing room after games at SOFMC.
“It’s nice to be back on the Island and this gives the chance for my family and buddies, who haven’t seen me play in four or five years, to do so,” said Hornby, who went from the hometown BCHL junior Nanaimo Clippers to play NCAA hockey at Cornell.
Hornby, who has a science degree from Cornell, plans on returning to the Island eventually to live and work, but he’s enjoying his life right now.
“You get treated really well in this league by the fans and people who run it and you get to visit some fantastic cities in our conference, including Boise and Victoria” said Hornby.
“Most of the ECHL teams are affiliated to NHL teams (Idaho is the farm team of the Dallas Stars) and there are so many call-ups to the AHL. It’s great hockey with many skilled players. You’re playing against some guys who are on NHL contracts. It’s high caliber and I’m really having fun and enjoying it.”
Peninsula and Racquet Club product Stutzel, who played in nine games for the Phoenix Coyotes in 2003-04, concurred. “Most of the guys on our team are good enough to be playing in the AHL,” he said.
That assessment is hard to argue against after the Steelheads filleted the Salmon Kings 5-2 with poise and discipline Wednesday.
Another Idaho player with Island connections is player-coach Jeremy Mylymok, whose family lives here.
Stutzel, who grew up with many of the Salmon Kings players and skates with them during summers, and Hornby, whose dad Noel is a Nanaimo fireman, admitted to some nerves on Wednesday night.
They know what Steve Roberts of the Salmon Kings, another Island-raised player, will be going through tonight when he finally makes his debut after missing the first 12 games because of a dislocated shoulder.
“It’s good to finally be out there doing instead of watching . . . and it’s exciting because just about everybody I know will be here watching,” said Saanich minor hockey product and veteran pro Roberts, playing his first game at home since leaving for the Notre Dame hockey academy in Wilcox, Sask., at age 15.
“I’ll probably be nervous at the beginning but that should disappear after the first shift.”
It sure seemed to for Stutzel, Mylymok and Hornby on Wednesday.
“We have to simplify our game and move the puck and get open,” said Roberts, on the way Idaho stifled Victoria in the series opener.
“Idaho moved the puck right away to the open man when they had it. By contrast, we stood around and our feet weren’t moving. If we start moving our feet and the puck, then we can compete with Idaho.”
The Salmon Kings caught a break when centre D’arcy McConvey, the ECHL leading scorer who had three points Wednesday for Idaho and seemed to be all over the ice, was assigned by parent Dallas to the AHL’s Iowa Stars effective immediately.