Thursday, October 23, 2014
Raiders Accuse Vipers Of Tampering:
Clouston speaks out on latest Raiders departures
By Jeff D'Andrea
October 21, 2014
Although the Prince Albert Raiders’ start to the season has been far from pretty, it’s not like they are drowning down in the standings as they have a 4-6 record.
But that hasn’t stopped the Raiders from bailing from the pirate ship like they just got attacked by Moby Dick. Within the last month, three members of the Raiders have jumped ship.
The first departure occurred on Sept. 24 when assistant coach Tim Leonard left the team and accepted a job with the Prince Albert Mintos Midget AAA staff that very day—where he won back-to-back Telus Cup championships.
Then on Oct. 16, 18-year-old forward Colton McCarthy quit the team, followed three days later by 20-year-old forward Dakota Conroy, who left the Raiders on Sunday.
On 900 CKBI’s Faceoff on Monday, Raiders head coach Cory Clouston shed more light on the Conroy, McCarthy situations.
Clouston accuses Vernon Vipers of “tampering” with McCarthy
Clouston alleged that the Vernon Vipers, a Junior A team in the BCHL, told McCarthy to quit the Raiders and join the Vipers where he’d get more ice-time and a higher role.
“If that happens in our league, it’s tampering,” said Clouston. “It’s frustrating that as an organization, we gave a player a second chance and the first opportunity he gets to what he felt greener pastures, he takes it. For some reason, it becomes a reflection on us.
“That’s information the general public doesn’t know, but to us, that’s extremely unethical what Vernon did. Like I said, we’ve suspended the player to further investigate what we can do.”
Mark Ferner, Vernon Vipers head coach and director of hockey operations, denied the tampering allegations.
Ferner said that he was in talks with Raiders general manager Bruno Campese, and asked for permission to talk to McCarthy only after McCarthy had left the team and went back home to Salmon Arm, B.C.
“I’ve had conversations with Bruno, the GM there, and my understanding at the time was that Colton had left the team,” said Ferner. “The one thing that I do know is that we don’t own Colton McCarthy’s rights. Certainly, Bruno and I have had those discussions.
“As far as tampering is concerned, those are pretty strong allegations.”
McCarthy started this season as an 18-year-old with the Moose Jaw Warriors, but Warriors general manager Alan Millar wanted to give more ice-time to their 16-year-old forwards in Brett Howden and Noah Gregor. He felt moving McCarthy would remedy that situation.
Clouston said the Raiders added McCarthy so they could send 16-year-old Dylan Williamson to the Nelson Leafs of the KIJHL (B.C. Junior ‘B’) and have an experienced player in the lineup while Tim Vanstone was healing from a lower body injury.
Conroy unhappy with linemates, struggles, Brooks’ departure
Conroy came off a career year with 30 goals and 61 points in 66 games last year, playing alongside Leon Draisaitl. But this year, Conroy struggled mightily out of the gate, with just two points in 10 games with the Raiders despite getting first-line and power play opportunities. Conroy went his last eight games without a point and was -6 on the year.
“Dakota did come to me, and the only concern he had earlier in the year, were his linemates. He wasn’t happy with his linemates,” said Clouston. “We tried different line combinations with Dakota, I guess if I had a fault, and I’m sure a lot of the fans saw it, that I probably played him too much at times for a player who was really struggling, a player who was playing 18-20 minutes… playing on the power play and killing penalties but was still struggling.
“My idea was we needed to try to get him going. We gave him an assistant captain, we chose to keep him and we moved Calder Brooks, that was a huge vote of confidence. To me, the biggest disappointing thing is we tried (but) it was disruptive to the rest of the team, the line combination changing. The last weekend we said ‘enough is enough. We need to go with the line combinations we feel are going to have the most success on, regardless of who’s playing with who.
“Basically, we went to the line combinations before the losing streak and we had an excellent weekend.”
Clouston also added that Conroy’s discontent for his linemates came after the team traded away Calder Brooks. Since Brooks was moved, Conroy did not score a point.
What will the Raiders look like now?
With the two departures, that leaves the Raiders with only 11 forwards—meaning they can’t fill four lines with forwards even when injury-free.
In Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Red Deer Rebels, defenceman Mackenze Stewart moved up to forward to make 12, and Brennan Riddle came off the bench to move onto the third defensive pairing.
Clouston confirmed that ‘Big Stew’ would continue to play as a forward in Tuesday’s game against the Kootenay Ice.
Campese said he’s “on the phone” with other general managers across the league, looking to acquire players but said that can be difficult this early in the year.
“Most teams have only played ten games, teams are still trying to figure out who they are and what they are this early in the season,” said Campese. “Things don’t usually get going here until about games 20 or 30.”