Player Profile: Dan Drane

Welcome to this week’s player profile interview, we had the honor of sitting down with FHL veteran and current Husky Dan Drane. Dan thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.

Thanks for having me.

Dan you’ve been in the league a long time now, you’ve taken on many different roles playing both forward and defensive positions, had a successful career as a “backup” goaltender, and even took a year off to be a full time referee. What has been your favorite role to play in the league and how much has the league evolved since the days at the old Franklin court? 

Your right, I do feel like I’ve done a bit of everything.  I have to admit that I do enjoy aspects of everything I’ve done, but my 2 favorites have been getting the opportunity to referee FHL games is still enjoyable.  That said, it can be quite frustrating as a referee to deal with the near constant complaining.  I get it, we miss things, and we don’t miss calls on purpose…. Also, I really enjoyed last year as a stand in goalie.  I was far from good, but there was something fun about it.

Although you’ve come close a few times including a very emotional championship series vs. the Crosby’s you’ve never won the FHL cup – the Huskies currently sit at 3rd place but have won 3 of the last 4 games, do you see this team as it stands as a serious contender to win it all this year? Vegas currently has them at a 25% chance to win it all and virtually a guarantee at making the playoffs.

Our team truly is solid.  We have 2 great centers, in Ryan Mains, and Shane Lucas, do everything guys who are constantly in motion and finding themselves in the right places.  Grant is one of the best natural playmakers that I’ve seen in a few years.  His instincts and his quick release shot can be devastating.  Finally, Joey Neutrelle has been on fire over the last several weeks.  He seems to be playing with a confidence that he will not be scored on, it’s easy to play in front of a guy like that.  In short, I like our chances, and I’ll take these guys with me as far as the road leads.

I’m sure over the years you have had some memorable moments in the FHL, any moment in particular that sticks out to you? Maybe a team or player you played with? 

There are so many great memories, that it’s hard to pin down to just one.  All of the physicality at the original dek was fun. Whether it was guys going over the fence behind the goal, or diving headfirst into the building were just exciting to be a part of.  I’ve played with some great players, but probably none more special to me personally than Bill Seaman.  Day in, day out, Bill was probably the best overall defender this league has seen.  And to perform at this age, it was cool to see.  I know that my body won’t let me play into my old age, as he did, but it’s a goal.

A few years back you won the good guy of the year award, your always seen on the bench coaching and talking up your team – is that leadership something that has come with your years of experience and how do you get your voice to be heard on a very vocal Husky team?
I’ve played team sports my whole life, and I appreciate that each person has a role, whether it’s as a top line player, or the 7th defenseman.  I try to be whatever the team needs me to be, I feel like I’ve never said no when a team needed me to do something.  I realize that I’m in the twilight of my career, and as such, I need to take a different role.  I just try to lead by example.  Some guys, you can yell at, some guys you need to reinforce the positives after each shift.  The key to being heard is to know your audience, and most importantly to be specific.  Talk about one thing at a time, and the information becomes digestible.

Final question, this is the final year of your contract you’re on ice game has shown no signs of slowing down, what does the future hold for Dan Drane?

I’ll keep going as long as someone keeps drafting me.  When the game has completely passed me by, I hope that the league will allow me to serve in some capacity, as a Referee, or some other role that is yet to be defined.  I enjoy the competition and whatever it takes for me to stay around the game, I’m willing to do.

Quick Hitters:
Favorite FHL player of all time: Bill Seaman
Favorite FHL team of all time: The Jets, with Zac Campbell, Barca (on skates), and Mark Fetsko (on skates).  They were a force.
Toughest player to play against: Tom Simpson hands down.
Toughest goalie to play against: Dave Kwolek
Favorite NHL Player: Ulf Samuelson
Favorite Sports team: Ohio State Football

Thanks for the opportunity to tell my story, and most importantly, thanks to every person who has been a part of the FHL, you made, and continue to make this a great experience for all of us.  God Bless the FHL.

Huskies, Mustangs complete trade

Week 8 Box Scores

1st Star: C Metzinger
3-0, 3 Shutouts, 3 SVS to 0 GA in SO
2nd Star:
E Fetsko 1 G, 2 Shootout Goals

3rd Star:
J Zelena 0-3, 2 Shutouts, 1 GA

1st Star:
G Wolfe 1 G (OT Winner), 1 A

2nd Star:
J Neutrelle 3-2, 2 Shutouts, 3 GA, 3 SVS to 0 GA in SO

3rd Star:
M Olsavicky 2-3, 3 Shutouts, 3 GA, 2 SVS to 1 GA in SO

Player Profile: Zack Siniawski

In this week’s player profile, we finished out our captains series with,Moose headman Zack Siniawski. Thanks for taking the time to meet with us Z. 

 It’s an honor to be here. 

 First off, with former commissioner John George having retired his Crosbys, the Moose are now the longest tenured organization in the FHL, and you are the longest tenured captain. Do you feel that being the most experienced captain gives you an edge? 

 Ya know, coming into this year, the other 3 captains totaled more than 20 combined years of FHL experience... So I don't know that it's much of an advantage being the longest tenured team, however it is something that I am proud of. Over the years it has been a thrill to watch so many FHL members grow as hockey players and as young men. The skill gap has closed since our great league's genesis and it's not because of lack of top-tier talent, but the rest of the league has caught up. Hockey is alive and well in Munhall. 

 The Moose always seem to be one of the “heaviest” teams in the league, and this year is no exception. Have you found it difficult to maintain a physical style in the midst of the league office abolishing hitting? 

 Yeah, ya know, over the years we do tend to come away with bigger bodied teams. Eliminating hitting was and is right for the league but there are plenty of ways to gain an advantage physically without hitting... whether it is gaining position in front of the net or owning possession by boxing out... winning loose puck battles, tying guys up defensively. It doesn't take much watching a Saturday game to see that there is a healthy amount of physicality. 

 This offseason the Moose lost their longtime franchise player Jason Kortz to retirement, but were able to replace him with another all-time-great in Tony Bonacorso. While they are both tremendous talents, their playing styles are very different. How do you think that transition has gone thus far?

 Well there’s no replacing a Jason Kortz. His combination of talent, work ethic, and compete level only come along once in a generation…. That said, now we’re lucky enough to have yet another generational talent in Tony Bonacorso. He has the ability to score from anywhere on the ice and creates so much room for his linemates. Bono has picked up our system so quickly and is always in the right spot, both defensively and in the offensive zone. Toner has the compete level and want-to that we look for in our scouting and player development. I think the transition has been great. 

This season you have taken on the responsibility of heading the league’s officiating office along with Mustangs captain Sean Lyons. Many people around the league have voiced concerns over you holding this position, due to your penchant for trying to buy calls. Do you feel any pressure to change the way you play your game?

 Many people around the league huh? Care to name any names? (chuckling…) No but, uhhh… whatever it takes to win, eh?.. I do want to thank Sean for doing a tremendous job in reffing almost every week. But uhh, yeah, ya know, there are times where you take a hit from behind or a high stick and want to make sure the referees know it, so I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been emphatic a few times - maybe because I’m half Italian (chuckling)… Every team has guys that lobby for calls. But there is a big difference between buying a call where a foul existed and acting out a phantom penalty. The second you get caught faking a high stick or something else phantom, you lose some credibility with the league and the refereeing committee especially. 

 Alright, last one. Your netminder Jamie Zelena has had a strong start to his contract year, and he hasn’t been shy about wanting a big payday. Are there any talks of an extension going on, or could he be available at the deadline as a high-priced postseason rental? 

 Well, first off I want to let Moose fans around the world know that we are committed to bringing home Lord Franklin’s Cup this year so there will be no renting of players. Just as we have in the past, we will spend to the cap. That said, Jamer has been the biggest reason we have been able to jump out to a strong start and our organization thinks he gives us the best chance to win now and in the future. We think he is the best goalie in the league and a fantastic locker room guy. Thankfully, with the latest CBA I don’t have to worry about contract negotiations until June. I’ll reserve any other compliments until after that. 

 Ok, now just some quick hitters to finish up: 
 Favorite FHL player: Buddy Doyle 
Favorite FHL team: I mean, come on. The Mighty Moose of Munhall 
Toughest player to play against: Tom Simpson 
Toughest goalie to play against: Jamie Zelena Favorite 
NHL player: Sidney Crosby Favorite sports teams: Pens, Steelers, Pirates, Panthers

Week 7 Box Scores

1st Star: Jesse Lyons
1 G, 3 A

2nd Star: Bob Pellegrino
 1 G, 1 A
3rd Star: Jimmy Phillips
1 G, 1 A

1st Star: Shane Lucas
1 G, 1 A
2nd Star: Ryan Mains
1 G
3rd Star: Joey Neutrelle
3-0, 3 Shutouts

Player Profile: Andrew McDonald

In this week’s player profile we had the privilege to sit down with Pirates captain Andrew “Amac” McDonald, Andy thanks for taking the time in your busy schedule to talk with us.

As always, thanks for having me. 

Let’s jump right in to it, this is your first season back as a captain after being selected first overall in 2014-15 by the Jukes and franchised last season by the Tigers, what if anything did you miss about being a captain? 

The main thing was trading - its always fun making moves to hopefully better your team. Another thing I missed the most was starting the team with me. I get to pick who plays with me, around me, and on my team. Other than that, being a captain is a stressful job - you have to make sure you have a goalie showing up, and enough players to field a team each week. 

The Pirates are off to a slow start this season currently sitting in 3rd place with a 2-4 record and a -9 goal differential, you’ve been overheard telling your players to “keep your phones on” has there been any thought of a shake up or is it something you think can be resolved as the season moves along?

I know the Pirates have the talent to win ballgames. Losing is frustrating. Any time we lose there are thoughts of what would make this trade better. My team knows whats expected of them, and if they don't meet standards, they're gone. They know that. So to answer your question - its up to the players currently on the roster whether or not there will be a shakeup in Pirate City. 

Talk about your team’s offense, if you look at the league leaders in goals, assists, and points it’s almost all Pirates.

We're the best offensive team in the league today, hands down. Some have called us the "Golden State Warriors of the FHL", where we try to outscore teams. The league leaders page on the website doesn't lie. This team has a well mixed group of passers, shooters, and talent. 

The FHL has a few talented family duos in the league such as Tom/TT Simpson, Nick/Zack Siniawski, and Jamie/Mark Zelena to name a few, tell us what it’s like to have your brother Roy on the same team as you. Do your prefer playing against him or together?

I prefer playing against him, because he is a lazy hockey player. I consider coaching him a challenge - sometimes he needs a fire to be lit to motivate him to use his legs. Just ask former Bulls captain, Shane Lucas. He saw it first hand for multiple seasons. Sure, he's a great hockey player and that's shown with 5 goals and 7 assists, but I'll take some of the credit on that - I make him look a lot better than he is, and that's been happening for 26 years now.

It’s hard to believe but the FHL has been around for 11 incredible seasons and you’ve represented many teams along the way, is there a particular memory that stand out to you during this time? 

I was coming down the right wing on what seemed to be a 2 on 2 rush. I look up, see my brother, Roy, stepping up on defense to try to stop me. In stunning fashion, I deke and put the ball between his legs, glide right by him, and go top shelf glove side on the goalie. Probably the best feeling I've had playing hockey. I'd take a dogging and looking good over a win any day of the week, especially on my brother. 

You have had the honor of hoisting the cup one time in your very successful career, how hungry are you for a second one and is there added pressure on you to get another one?

I'd rather win FHL MVP.

Time for some quick hitters:
Favorite FHL player: Andrew McDonald 

Favorite FHL team: I dislike them all. Even my own.

Toughest player to play against: Nick Siniawski

Toughest goalie to play against: Jamie Zelena, its pretty tough to play against a guy knowing he is going to swing his stick at me when I score on him. 

Favorite NHL player: Tom Kuhnhackl

Favorite sports teams: NBA: Kings;
EPL: Tottenham Hotspur;
MLB: Pirates;
NHL: Penguins;
WWE: Enzo and Big Cass

Favorite FHL photographer: Jamie Zelena is the best in the business.

Week 6 Box Scores

Mustangs defeat Huskies 3-1

1st Star: Brian Grise
2 Goals

2nd Star: Chris Metzinger
3-1, 1 Goal Against, 3 Shutouts

3rd Star: Jeff Gardner
1 Assist

1st Star: Joey Faiello
3 Goals, 1 Shootout Goal

2nd Star: Andy McDonald
2 Goals

3rd Star: Roy McDonald IV
1 Goal, 1 Assist, 1 Shootout Goal

Player Profile: Jimmy Besterci

In this week’s player profile, we sat down with Huskies captain Jimmy Besterci. Congratulations on winning the 2015-2016 FHL Championship Jimmy, and thanks for taking the time to speak with us.

Thank you so much for having me this week and man it feels good hearing those words, great group of guys last year.

Your title defense this year got off to a rough start. Are you looking to make some changes early on, or do you think your first win last week is a better reflection of this year’s squad?

Obviously we want to make last week's performance the standard not the exception (Mike Tomlin voice). But in all seriousness it has been a frustrating start to the season we already matched our loss total from last season after 4 games and that does make you as a captain start to question things but I think the main issue has been getting everyone together for a few weeks in a row so we can establish good chemistry and I think we started to find it last week with the Bulls line (Shane, Grant, and Steve). Plus the teams out there are so deep this year there is no easy win but I am confident that the Huskies will start playing like last year and be ready to make a deep playoff run.

You’ve always been known as a captain who is willing to move pieces around. Why have you adopted such an aggressive approach in the trade market?

Sometimes i’ve been overly aggressive and it’s cost me but I do believe in always looking to make the team better and if there are guys out there that I think can help us i’ll try to make a deal. Last year we brought in Mitch, Sabo, and Bob Pellegrino and they were difference makers.

Once again you’re the first team to have new threads for this year since you obviously take great pride in your squad's appearance, is there a deeper team philosophy behind that, or is it just about looking good?

I wouldn’t say it’s a team philosophy or has any deeper meaning, we are just lucky to have such a great sponsor who has been really great to us and the league dating back to the Whalers and Ducks era. I do like switching things up every season though this being my 3rd season as captain and we’ve had 4 different jerseys. I guess that’s one of the fun things you can do as a captain plus the guys seem to appreciate them.

Before your tenure as an FHL captain, you were a top flight goaltender in the FHL for years. Do you think that experience helps you in evaluating goalies to draft, and do you ever miss being back between the pipes yourself?
I certainly miss being between the pipes and yes it sure does help with evaluating the goaltending position, I think Joey from his arrival in the league has been poised to be an FHL all time great and he is a guy we have complete confidence in, now we just gotta get him some offensive support so it takes the pressure off him. It’s nice as well because he’s not always demanding big money like Jamie Zelena is. The FHL has always had some solid goaltending going beyond the starters there are plenty of guys out there that can and have stepped in the net in the past and showed potential.

You were able to retain Ryan Mains from last year’s title team by moving up in the franchise draft, and he seems to have taken more of a leadership role on the ice this year. How do you feel about his development as a player and as a voice in the locker room?

I was thrilled beyond words to be able to move up and get Mains, the negotiations between Z and myself went on for days. Mains is such a passionate guy that hates to lose and I think the whole league knows how vocal he is. You have to have thick skin to play with him it doesn’t matter if you play a few shifts a game or you're the captain if he thinks you did something wrong he will let you know about it. That’s his game though and when the reigning regular season/playoff MVP tells you something you tend to listen. I think having a veteran leader like Shane Lucas on the team will only help him grow as a player and leader. I have no doubt one day Mains will be a captain in this league and will be looked at as one of the best to ever have played.

Alright Jimmy, time for some quick hitters.
Favorite FHL player: Blue line partner for the last few seasons, Pat Farrell.
Favorite FHL team: The Moose organization
Toughest player to play against: Sean Lyons
Toughest goalie to play against: Joey Neutrelle, glad he’s a Husky
Favorite NHL Player: Braden Holtby
Favorite Sports team: NHL - Penguins, NFL - Steelers, College - Uconn Huskies & Oregon Ducks.