From now until the season starts, we will be taking a quick look under the hood of each team. From players leaving, to new signings, we will preview each team based on what coaches and players have to say.
2018-2019 Finish: Western Division Finals
Standings/Record: 31W-16L-3OTW-1OTL (2nd Western)
(Photo by Kiel Maddox, Fresno Monsters)
The Fresno Monsters haven’t been to the Thorne Cup since the 2013-2014 season. Over the last two seasons, and under the guidance of former coach Kevin Kaminski, the Monsters found themselves at Thorne’s doorstep.
In 2017-2018 they were swept by Long Beach in the Division Finals. Last season the Monsters came even closer winning Game 2, but, ultimately dropped Game 3 in lopsided fashion. They haven’t been able to clear the Long Beach Bomber hurdle that has impeded them in the Western Division Finals.
The Monsters’ physical game is never lacking and will need to make a showing this season to continue their winning ways in the West. The landscape looks more ideal for Fresno who enters the season as the top team based on last year’s finish.
But there is one caveat in that Kevin Kaminski parted ways with the organization.
Fresno has named three-time FHL champion, Trevor Karasiewicz, as the new bench boss to lead the team back to the heights of 2013-2014. Coincidentally, that was the same season Karasiewicz was named FHL Coach of the Year.
Coach Karasiewicz doesn’t expect to veer away from the path that Kaminski layed out and will use what’s been given to him to go even further.
(Photo from FresnoMonsters.com)
“It’s going to be good we have a lot of guys coming back it’s going to be a good situation here,” Coach Karasiewicz said. “I think we’re going to be a competitive team. You do your backgrounds on everybody that played last year, and we’ve been skating, so you can kind of see who the go-to guys are.”
The Monsters will embrace the physical game as well. “We’re going to crash and bang bodies. It’s going to be fun hockey to watch. Like I said every shift, every day or game, it’s going to be hard work.”
Coach Karasiewicz wants nothing less than a blue collar, hard-working team that won’t let up.
Fresno boasted a variety of scoring threats, both defensively and offensively, but the return of Petr Philippov is one to highlight. Philippov showed to be a speedy forward with a skilled set of hands that, in his first year on the team, became the leading scorer with 33G-42A-75Pts. His finish has him tied for sixth among the entire Western Division. He added three more goals during the WSHL Playoffs.
(Photo of Philippov by Aaron Provencio, Fresno Monsters)
It is worth noting that Philippov had a multi-point game in almost every series last season. The Monsters are hoping he can bring the same consistency this season considering none of the Western Division players who finished ahead of him are coming back. (As of team announcements on 9/18.)
Zack Turpin will likely reach 100-games played with the Monsters this season and is returning for his third and final season in the WSHL. His experience is one that will further manifest itself as leadership. In 50-games last year, Turpin recorded 12G-17A-29Pts.
“It is a great organization that has given me an opportunity to succeed,” Turpin said. “Fresno Fans are the best in the league and it is where I want to be.” (FresnoMonsters.com)
(Photo of Turpin, Right, by Kiel Maddox, Fresno Monsters)
Turpin already has leadership qualities being a returning assistant captain. His production more than doubled, with the ‘A,’ from his first season to last year. It won’t be a surprise to see Turpin awarded a captaincy role pending on any decisions made with the next returner.
Ty Wright is another assistant captain from last year who has inked for 2019-2020 and will be relied upon, specifically by the defensive core. Wright is also coming back for his junior year in the league being a blue line presence for the Monsters since 2017-2018. Like Turpin, Wright is within punching distance of the 100-game milestone with the Monsters. Wright tallied 4G-13A-17Pts. in 46-games last year.
“Both [Turpin and Wright] those guys are returning guys who have been here for multiple years and will be leaders on and off the ice,” Coach Karasiewicz said.
Notable New Signings
Coach Karasiewicz was adamant in saying that Narek Aleksanyan could be a go-to guy in his first season with the Monsters. Over the previous two seasons, Narek played in the QMEAA and then the QMAAA for the Collège Notre-Dame Albatros.
Narek was a point-per-game player in 2017-2018 scoring 33-points in 30 games. He took a slight dip in production last year, in the QMAAA, but that didn’t deter Karasiewicz from branding him as an imperative piece to the operation.
Nick Leech had a stint in the WSHL with the Cheyenne Stampede in 2017-2018 scoring 6G-7A in 35-games, and has signed with the Monsters. Leech will be turning 19-years-old in Dec. and can potentially pan out to be a multi-year returner for the Monsters being a local to the city of Fresno.
With the Stampede, Leech found twine versus the Wichita Jr. Thunder, Ogden Mustangs, Casper Bobcats, Superior Rough Riders and the Utah Outliers. He did not return for last year’s season but finally made his way back to the league and to a new division.
Tomas Ocovsky can pan out to be a powerful defender for the Monsters. The 6’1”, 209-pound Slovak comes from the DME Hockey Academy and has experience playing in the USPHL Premier/Elite with 22 games between the two leagues.
(Photo of Mathews by Aaron Provencio, Fresno Monsters)
The Monsters will have to count on a new tandem of goalies with Max Karlenzig and Tyler Mathews not returning. The two were possibly the best duo in the Western Division—Karlenzig culminated with 17W-8L and a .908 SV% while Mathews finished with 15W-6L-1OTL. Though Karlenzig was in his second season with Fresno, Mathews impressed in his first season holding a .906 SV%.
Mathews had a praiseworthy game versus the Long Beach Bombers putting up 59 of 62 saves to snag the win last Jan.
Karlenzig has pursued an opportunity with the Topeka Pilots of the NAHL and Coach Karasiewicz does not expect Mathews to return.
Although Coach Karasiewicz has to start from scratch, with the goalies, he isn’t worried about securing the position. The Monsters have announced, so far, two new goalies to compete for a No. 1 spot—Nathan Girard and Rodrigo Sacristan.
Internal competition for the No. 1 spot is at an all-time high but the arduous season will determine if Fresno has the same stopping power in net as last year.
More news and details to be released by teams as the 2019-2020 season approaches. Stay up to date with the latest and complete Fresno Monsters news by going to https://www.fresnomonsters.com/