Thursday, September 02, 2010

A hockey Revolution in Battle Creek


Changes happen on a yearly basis in junior hockey and that was never more evident recently in the Central States Hockey League when the Grand Rapids Jr. Owls’ franchise decided to cease operations.

However, an ownership group from Battle Creek quickly swooped in, purchased the franchise and will play the Owls’ schedule this season as the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution, an organization that also has a professional team in the All American Hockey League.

The transfer of ownership literally happened overnight.

“We found out through a friend of ours on August 23 that the Owls had decided to cease operations,” said Battle Creek owner Bobby Clouston. “I called (CSHL president) Jim Rufo right away and started the whole process. Jim was an amazing help along with (Grand Rapids owner) Jerry Barber. The whole thing went very smooth and we are truly, truly excited to be a part of the CSHL.”

Nick Bet will coach the Jr. Revolution and when asked how he sees his squad fitting in this year, his response was nothing short of confident.

“I know that the CSHL is the premier Tier III Junior A hockey league in this country and I don't hope just to fit into the league,” said Bet. “I hope to run a standout organization that treats the players well and can place a competitive team into the league year after year.”

Clouston also praised the CSHL and said when the opportunity arose where he could have a team in the league, he jumped at the chance.

“In regards to the CSHL, I have followed it for years,” Clouston said. “We couldn't believe we might have a shot at getting involved. I have known (Metro Jets owner) Butch Wolfe for many years and Jeff Bond, the former coach of the Motor City Chiefs, and I are great friends. I have been to many CSHL games and have been blown away with the level of play.”

In Battle Creek, Bet’s hiring was a typical “no-brainer” for Clouston and the rest of the staff.

“We absolutely know that we have the right guy,” beamed Clouston. “We have set a standard in Battle Creek with our pro team and it will carry down to our junior team that we do everything first-class and Nick Bet fits exactly into our mindset and our goals asa n organization. Nick has been intimately involved with our organization for over a year as a player at the pro level and he knows how we operate and he is willing to carry that out with his junior team. Nick is energetic, optimistic and very knowledgeable about the game and we feel lucky to have him as our coach.”

As a player, Bet played four years of professional hockey, one with the Battle Creek Revolution and parts of three seasons with the Flint Generals of the International Hockey League. He also skated one year of NCAA D-I hockey with Robert Morris University and played five years of junior hockey – three in Ontario with the Petrolia Jets and two out east with the Boston Jr. Bruins.

As a coach, Bet seems to be bringing a level of intensity to the ice.

“My coaching style is to have fun, combative practices with a lot of battling and game situations,” said Bet. “My in-game style would be hard forechecking, putting a lotof pressure on the defense of the other team, and hitting hard all night with a strong emphasis on team defense.”

How will that translate to wins and losses? Both Clouston and Bet have an idea.

“Our team goals for this upcoming season are to run an organization that kids want to play for and parents feel comfortable sending their kids to,” said Clouston. “We also want to win. We feel we have a great coach who knows the game and is very good at recruiting. We want to be a force on the ice and whomever we play they know they are going to have a game opponent every time we touch the ice.”

“My expectations for this season are very high,” added Bet. “I expect to have a winning team and am aiming for a minimum of 25 wins. I also expect to make the playoffs and make a run at the league championship. I hope to move as many players to the next level of hockey as fast as possible, assuming the player is ready to make the jump. Moving up players to the next level of hockey will be my No. 1 priority.”

Goaltenders Rueben Medrano and Karel Popper will be the backbone of the team. The Battle Creek defense will be anchored by Tyler Allen and key forwards will be Maxim Norsov, Radney Ritchie, Brett Menton and Jordan Sabatino.

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