Canada takes note

The Memorial Cup – the finals of major junior hockey – is taking place, and Orange County’s own Mitch Wahl has helped the Spokane Chiefs advance there. Wahl, a potentially high draft choice in next month’s Entry Draft, is prominent in this Globe and Mail article.

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One thing leads to another

Interviewing current NHL players is relatively easy. During the season, they follow a fairly routine schedule and the access to them is pre-determined.

Finding former players or players from Southern California whose careers didn’t advance to that level is a whole nother story. And an interesting one at that.

In my research, I’ve happend across a few Web pages packed with valuable information, some of it valid, some of it exaggerated about players from California. The real work is in getting to the bottom of these stories.

For example, was Mike Lampman born in Canada or California? Where did he play his youth hockey? Is he relevant to the book? Where is he now. These all were questions I sought to answer Tuesday. Lampman enjoyed an NHL career in the 70s, and yes, he did play hockey in California growing up. Finding him required a lot of persistence, but thanks to the Internet I was able to find him.

The irony of it is that he is a business man in Hawaii of all places. Not a bad deal – play hockey in your youth and then live in Hawaii, eh?

Stay tuned for more on Mike and other blasts from the past in coming posts.

It’s a small, small world

Another lesson in how tight the hockey-playing community is.

During the early part of my hockey-covering days, back in Green Bay, WI, I sometimes filled in for our Junior A hockey writer. One of the players on the Green Bay Gamblers at the time was Tom Preissing, now with the LA Kings after a couple seasons with the San Jose Sharks and one with the Ottawa Senators that culminated in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Tom played collegiately at Colorado College, where his roommate for a time was Noah Clarke, who happens to be the first California-born and -trained hockey player to play for the LA Kings.

Upon re-introducing myself to Tom during a late-season visit with the Kings, we talked a bit about college hockey. His assistance in tracking down former teammates, such as Noah, has been invaluable. Noah, in turn, has done likewise, continuing to expand the horizons of the book by introducing me to more people in the California hockey circle.

All I can say is thanks boys, you’re piling up the assists in my book