When the National Hockey League Florida Panthers sent David Lemanowicz from their Carolina affiliate to their Colonial League club in Port Huron, Mich., the intent was to give the 20-year-old goaltender who hadn’t played much a taste of action.
Lemanowicz got a mouthful in his first week. Last year’s WHL all-star netminder with the Spokane Chiefs landed in the middle of a hot regional rivalry.
The Port Huron Border Cats and the Flint Generals - separated by an hour’s drive - played three straight games last week. Lemanowicz took the loss in the first game but came back Thursday night to stop 45 of 47 shots in Port Huron’s 4-2 win at home.
Forty-seven shots allowed is a Border Cats club record.
The next night in Flint, a line brawl erupted. Everybody paired off, including goaltenders and coaches.
Eventually, when the goalies headed to the penalty box, fans were tossing debris on the ice.
“Lemanowicz picked up something and tried to throw it back in the stands, ” said Border Cats spokesman Sean Krabach. “I couldn’t see what he threw but I know empty cups don’t fly very far.”
One Border Cats player did reach the stands with a projectile, probably a water bottle.
Still, it might have gone down as just another hockey night in northern Michigan until a fan hopped over the plexiglass near the visitor’s bench. A Border Cats player, Savo Mitrovic, reached the man on the ice while security was arriving on the scene. Mitrovic, the club spokesman said, tried to hit the fan.
“He landed between me and my goalie,” Mitrovic explained. “Who knew what he had in his hands?”
What Mitrovic has on his hands is time, at least until the league office details the length of his suspension.
Also suspended were coaches Rob Nichols of Flint and Dave Cameron of Port Huron.
Lemanowicz, ejected from Friday’s 3-0 loss, was also suspended. Initially it was announced as an indefinite suspension. Turns out the suspension was brief.
After the Border Cats - minus their goaltender - were on the road Sunday morning for a game in Dayton, the league office informed them that Lemanowicz wasn’t suspended after all, Krabach said.
Great, except Lemanowicz wasn’t on the bus.
It’s tough being sent down but if Lemanowicz was bored by inactivity in Greensboro, N.C., it appears that Port Huron is a potential cure.
They’ll challenge the Chiefs
Three draft-eligible Spokane 17-year-olds - defenseman Brad Ference, right wing Ty Jones and center Derek Schutz - are scheduled to play in the Feb. 12 Canadian Hockey League Top Prospects game in Toronto. The three Chiefs were chosen by NHL clubs and the central scouting bureau.
Schutz, out with a shoulder injury, may not recover in time to play. If he does, the worry is that Schutz may be off his game. With so much at stake - a player’s stock in the draft could move up or down in the game at Maple Leaf Gardens - Schutz may have to pass.
Also questionable is Jones, who suffered what was described as back spasms after being taken hard into the boards in Sunday night’s loss to Prince George.
Ference’s stock has risen this season to where one WHL coach suggests that he could be among the top 10 picks in the June 21 NHL entry draft.
Former Chiefs goaltender Marc Magliarditi adjusted quickly to his Jan. 24 trade to the Red Deer Rebels. The 20-year-old netminder is 2-0 with his new club, with a 2.00 goals-against average. Magliarditi rejected 26 of 27 shots in a 2-1 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings, then slapped away 34 of 37 in Red Deer’s 6-3 thumping of the Medicine Hat Tigers… . The Chiefs are second in the league in attendance with a 7,822 average. Only Portland (8,127) is a better draw… . The Chiefs are beginning to talk about what it would take to bring the Dec. 26-Jan. 4 World Junior Tournament to Spokane the next time the U.S. hosts it, in the year 2000… . Looking ahead, Spokane writer and sports buff Paul Delaney is working on a history of hockey in Spokane. Release of his book, titled “Saturday Nights Were Special,” is to be timed to the arrival of the Memorial Cup tournament in Spokane in May of ‘98… . When Lethbridge center Mark Smith began the week on suspension for a kneeing incident, Lethbridge players had missed a league-high 30 games with suspensions… . The Tri-City Americans, the Chiefs’ next opponent on Saturday night in Kennewick, are 9-4 in the second half of the season. The Ams have won four straight at home, inspired by defenseman Zenith Komarniski, the WHL West Division player of the month… . Eastern Conference player of the month is Regina’s Derek Morris.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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