Previewing the NAPHL: HC Dallas
August 27, 2015
Over the course of the next two weeks, the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) is proud to feature a new series that will preview each of the 38 teams in the NAPHL for the 2015-16 season. Each day, leading all the way up to the first event of the season at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN, the league will feature a different organization and take a look at both their teams.
Hockey Club Dallas (HC Dallas) took a big step forward last season and both 18U and 16U teams were competitive in the NAPHL. A year after rebranding from the Texas Tornado to HC Dallas, the club is one of only two USA Hockey Tier I sanctioned youth associations in the state of Texas. HC Dallas boasts teams playing from the Squirt A level all the way up to the Tier I 18U level. HC Dallas is very fortunate to have former NHL players as their head coaches at the 18U and 16U level in 2015-16.
HC Dallas 18U
Last season was a successful one for the HC Dallas 18U team, which gives the club some optimism for this season. The team established themselves as one of the best eight in the 18U Division and qualified for the Gold Division playoffs. During the course of the regular season, the team put together a 13-9-2 record. Leading scorer Peter Hatton ended up with 32 points (6th in the NAPHL) and also signed an NAHL tender in the process. The team was also very competitive in the playoffs. After losing their opening game, HC Dallas fell to Esmark in a shootout and then beat eventual champion New Jersey in overtime, but failed to advance to the Semi-Final stage. For the 2015-16 season, Jon Klemm, who coached the HC Dallas 16U team last season, moves up an age group to coach the 18U team this season. Klemm is a veteran of almost 800 NHL games and spent his career on the blueline with the Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings. He has won two Stanley Cups with Colorado in 1996 and again in 2001. “I am fortunate because there are some guys that were on the 16U team with me last year who have moved up the 18U team, so that takes out some of the guess work in those instances,” said Klemm. “With only two players born in 1997 and the rest in 1998, we probably will probably be one of the youngest 18U teams in the NAPHL this season, but along with that comes opportunity and some enthusiasm and kids that want to learn and get better. It is exciting for a coach that they want to get better. We do have some good size and skill and if they buy into our structure and systems, I think we have a very good chance for success with a young group of guys. We just want to be competitive and be in every game we play in this season.”
HC Dallas 16U
The HC Dallas 16U team went through its struggles last season, mainly because the team had a hard time scoring. In 20 league games, the team scored just 28 goals during the regular season, which ranked at the bottom of the NAPHL 16U Division. The strength of the team lied in the team defense and goaltending. The team competed well in the Silver Division of the 2015 NAPHL playoffs and won a game in the post-season and several players advanced to higher levels of hockey. After coach Jon Klemm moved up to the 18U team this season, the 16U team found a new head coach in Tony Curtale, who is well known in the NAHL family. Curtale, who was the first American taken in the 1980 NHL Draft, is recognized as one of the premier developers of young talent in North America. He has won seven NAHL Robertson Cup National Championships, including four with the Texas Tornado. Curtale led the Texas Tornado winning 40 or more games and a division championship in each season from 1999-03, both NAHL records. During his tenure, Curtale led the Tornado to four NAHL Robertson Cup Championships between 2001 and 2006, adding a fifth in 2011-2012. Curtale and the Tornado set an NAHL regular season record for wins with 48 in 2003-2004 and an expansion record for wins with 42 in 1999-2000. “I think we are going to be pretty good. I like playing an up-tempo style and utilizing player’s strengths and not making them something they are not. I think on the whole, we will have a good skating team,” said Curtale. “I think the big difference is that I want us to compete on a National scale and most important, want to develop kids to move onto the next level. This age is so important to mold a player and get him the right situation to be successful. Having been involved for many years in the NAHL, I can safely say that the 16U level in the NAPHL is one that NAHL coaches have a high regard for and it is important to make sure the players understand that path of development,” continued Curtale.
Next up in Previewing the NAPHL: Lockport Express 18U