Hat Tricks Insider: Training Camp Notebook, Oct. 17

by Jim Cerny

Opening night is on the horizon, Friday at home against the Delaware Thunder, and it looks like the Hat Tricks have settled on their starting goalie. But whether they begin the season with two or three goalies on the roster is still in question.

Frankie McClendon will likely make the start Friday. Rookies Josh Dias and Parker Butler each has impressed in training camp, trying to earn a roster spot.

“I really like all three goalies that we have here,” coach and general manager Billy McCreary said.

McClendon is set to begin his eighth season in the FPHL and second with the Hat tricks. The 29-year-old was 8-7-0 with a 4.26 goals-against average and .889 save percentage in 15 games last season. He came to camp expecting to battle Brian Wilson for the starting job, but Wilson was loaned to Birmingham of the SPHL on Oct. 7.

“Frankie has never had that No. 1 title next to his name in this league, but he’s known to be one of the hardest workers, probably one of the best teammates in the entire league,” McCreary said. “He put in a tremendous amount of work last year and there were times that he was our better goalie. Probably give him the opportunity to go Night One and if he continues to win the net, he wins the net.”

Dias is a 22-year-old from British Columbia, who was expected to play at the University of Saskatchewan this season. Butler is 27 and completed his collegiate career at UMASS-Dartmouth after playing one season for Elmira College.

Can’t count on SPHL reinforcements

Wilson is not the only player attending an SPHL camp whose FPHL rights are held by the Hat Tricks.

Forwards Carter Shinkaruk (Quad City), Dmitry Kuznetsov (Roanoke) and Nick Mangeone (Fayettville), and defensemen Kyle Gonzalez (Macon), Brendan Pepe (Roanoke), John Macdonald (Hunstville) and Alex Kielczewski (Huntsville) are also on loan to SPHL teams.

“Listen, would we love to get some of these guys back? Absolutely,” McCreary said. “But at the same time, we can’t count on that. Plus, we want all of our players to achieve the most success at the highest levels they can.”

Waiting on “Diamond Hands”

McCreary is hoping Daniel Amesbury will arrive in Danbury soon. The defenseman from British Columbia has been waiting on paperwork to come through before he can play in the United States.

The 31-year-old has 788 penalty minutes in 144 professional hockey games. Nicknamed “Diamond Hands,” Amesbury has been King of the Rink in each of the Ice Wars competitions promoted by former Danbury Trashers general manager A.J. Galante.

Another Ice Wars competitor, Cole “The Viking” Johnson, departed training camp to return home to Saskatchewan for personal reasons and was released by the Hat Tricks.