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The icemen cometh: Hockey time in Lowell

Lock Monsters get right down to business as the curtain opens on their inaugural AHL season

Tuesday, September 22, 1998

By BARRY SCANLON

Sun Staff

LOWELL -- Put away the suntan lotion. Ignore the 80-degree temperatures. Forget the high humidity.

It's hockey season. Really, it is.

The Lowell Lock Monsters, the newest American Hockey League entry, are officially in business.

Yesterday, with the mercury soaring outside, the Tsongas Arena ice was home to 12 free agents whose dream is to be wearing Lock Monsters uniforms when the season opens Oct. 9.

"I think Lowell is a place right now that's wide open. My goal is to build a solid program that people in Lowell can really be proud of," head coach Frank Anzalone said.

The aspiring Lock Monsters were put through their paces for 90 minutes by assistant coaches Steve Stirling and Paul Jerrard.

"We've been in the building for awhile," said Stirling. "All of the sudden the day is here. There are expectations in the air. We told the kids they're going to be playing in the best rink in the league."

More talent arrived yesterday from Lake Placid, N.Y., where the New York Islanders, Lowell's parent club, began to make roster cuts. Expected to practice this morning with the Lock Monsters are 18 players sent down by the Islanders.

They are: Jason Doyle, Jeff Zehr, Mike Gaul, Jeff Libby, Sean Haggerty, Jason Stewart, Craig Charron, Warren Luhning, Mike Mader, Nic Beaudoin, Vashi Nedomamsky, Ray Shultz, Evigney Korolev, Vladimir Chebaturkin, Steve Valiquette, Mark McArthur, Steve Webb and Mark Lawrence.

"They're disappointed at being cut. But you're going to get playing time, play in the nicest rink in the league and be in a place that wants you. What could be better?" Stirling said.

The players under contract with the Islanders who don't make Lowell's roster will likely play in Roanoke, Va., the Islanders' East Coast Hockey League affiliate and the team Anzalone coached last season.

Charron is a player local hockey fans will recognize. The ex-UMass Lowell standout was one of the top players in the AHL last season and one of the few centers the Lock Monsters have in camp.

"Craig Charron, obviously, we're counting on to have a big season. He's a really good kid, too," said Anzalone.

Anzalone just returned from Lake Placid, where he helped evaluate players. He was impressed with the level of talent in the big club's organization, which the Hockey News has labeled the NHL's best.

"The American Hockey League is a very, very good league. The Islanders are an up-and-coming organization and they're trying to find their way through the forest," said Anzalone.

He expects the Islanders to send Lowell another three forwards and two defensemen before the Lock Monsters' season opener. The Islanders will provide Lowell with 18 players and the Lock Monsters' roster could change up to opening night.

After practicing all week, the Lock Monsters will hold an intra-squad scrimmage at Tsongas on Friday at 4:30 p.m. Practices and the scrimmage are open to the general public.

The Lock Monsters will open their exhibition season on the road, returning "home" next Monday night to take on the Providence Bruins at the Chelmsford Forum (formerly Tully Forum).The icemen cometh: Hockey time in Lowell

Lock Monsters get right down to business as the curtain opens on their inaugural AHL season