The Eastern clubs completed their first swing through the West this week. And the results were an unqualified disaster for the East: they combined to go 3-12-1 over the four-game stretch. Even lowly Saskatchewan went 2-2 over that stretch.
Does that indicate that the league’s Western teams are superior? Michigan Gray Wolves coach Martin Delorme thinks so. “In our division, we are used to playing a harder, more physical hockey,” said Delorme. “I don’t think they play quite as hard over there, so it is a shock.”
Anchorage Igloos RW Remi Montrechere agreed with Delorme’s assessment. “To succeed in this division, it’s all about winning the board battles, taking chances, getting greasy goals,” said Montrechere. “A lot of the Eastern teams seem to rely more on flow and set plays, and we’re good at disrupting that flow.”
Naturally, the Easterners weren’t rushing to agree with this assessment. Hamilton Pistols coach Ron Wright pointed out the small sample size. “Anything can happen over the span of four games,” Wright said. “When they came through our arenas a couple weeks ago, we did a lot better. Get back to me at the end of the year and we’ll see who’s better.”
New York Night C Brock Manning also pointed out that travel plays a role. “All the teams out here are pretty compact,” said Manning. “Traveling in the division is no big deal. But go out West, and you’re going from Michigan to South Dakota to Sasktchewan to Alaska. It’s just brutal.”
The one team that had a modicum of success out West was the Washington Galaxy, who went .500 on the swing despite being without injured C J.C. Marais. “I think they could succeed in the West,” said Delorme. “They’re a good team and they play heavy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them play for the championship. Anybody else, it would be a walkover.”