Dog Caller - Arizona Sundogs vs. Wichita Thunder 1st Round Playoff Preview

Arizona Sundogs salute their fans as the team heads into the playoffs - Valerie Haugh

In the opening round of the 2012-2013 Ray Miron President’s Cup Playoffs, the Arizona Sundogs will face the Wichita Thunder.

The Opening Round is Best of 7 and the schedule is as follows; all times are Arizona time (MST);

Arizona Sundogs vs. Wichita Thunder
Game 1 - Thu., Mar. 28 - Arizona at Wichita, 4:35pm
Game 2 - Sat., Mar. 30 - Arizona at Wichita, 5:05pm
Game 3 - Tue., Apr. 2 - Wichita at Arizona, 6:05pm
Game 4 - Wed., Apr. 3 - Wichita at Arizona, 6:05pm
Game 5 - Sat., Apr. 6 - Arizona at Wichita, 5:05pm
Game 6 - Sun., Apr. 7 - Arizona at Wichita, 3:05pm
Game 7 - Wed., Apr. 10 - Wichita at Arizona, 6:05pm

By the Numbers

Arizona finished the season in seventh place with a 32-27-7 record. The Sundogs scored a total of 180 goals, allowed 185 goals, collected 1,026 PIM, had a home record of 17-12-4, and an away record of 15-15-3. Arizona won 7 of their final 10 games, and got points in 9 of those 10 games.

Wichita ended the season in second place with a 39-19-8 record. The Thunder scored a total of 240 goals, allowed 182 goals, collected 1,106 PIM, had a home record of 25-6-2, and an away record of 14-13-6. Wichita won 7 of their final 10 games.

Season Series

Arizona faced Wichita three times this season with a 2-0-1 record. The Sundogs have an all time record of 6-6-2 against the Thunder. In the three match-ups this season, two of them went to shootouts, with each team winning one of those contests. Arizona scored 8 goals in regulation during those contests and allowed 7 goals against.

Special Teams

In the first two games of the season series, the special teams were almost a non-factor. The Sundogs had a total of 20 penalty minutes on 10 infractions, while the Thunder totaled 6 minutes on 3 infractions. Wichita capitalized on one power play opportunity, while Arizona was unable to score with the man-advantage. The final regular season match-up was a different story however with the Sundogs totaling 15 minutes on 6 infractions and the Thunder racking up 33 minutes on 11 infractions. Arizona would score twice on the power play that night and Wichita once.

Playoff Rosters

A= amateur BU= Emergency Back-Up Goaltender PIR= Playoff Injured Reserve

Arizona Sundogs
Head Coach: Scott Muscutt

Forwards (11): Jason Morgan, Jeff Kyrzakos, Cody Purves, Chad Nehring, Derek LeBlanc, Kevin Petovello, Kip Brennan, Ron Meyers, Johan Ryd, Kevin Baker, Sébastien Geoffrion

Defensemen (7): Kirill Tulupov, Mario Larocque, Keith Wynn, Zach Firlotte, Karl Linden, Chad Langlais (PIR), Matt McCready

Goalies (2): Adam Russo, David Brown

Player to watch: Chad Nehring led the Sundogs in both goals and points for the majority of the season, finishing with 33 goals and 24 assists.

Starting Goalie: This is a hard decision. Russo came into the season as the presumptive number one, but Brown stepped up and forced nearly equal playing time. Russo went 17-11-6 on the season, with a 2.54 GAA and a .912 SV%. Brown went 15-15-1 on the season, with a 2.69 GAA and a .910 SV%. Brown played the final three games of the Sundogs' regular season, winning them all and posting franchise record back-to-back shutouts in the final two.

Wichita Thunder
Head Coach: Kevin McClelland

Forwards (11): Neil Trimm, Ian Lowe, Les Reaney, Chad Painchaud, Aaron Boogaard, Dustin Donaghy, R.G. Flath, Todd Griffith (PIR), Erick Lizon, Matt Robinson, Matt Summers, Greger Hanson

Defensemen (6): Nathan Lutz, Jon Madden, Dave Inman, Travis Wight, Kevin Young, Andrew Martens

Goalies (2): Torrie Jung, Kevin Regan, Grant Rollheiser (BU)

Player to Watch: Neill Trimm led the Thunder with 76 points, 35g/41a.

Likely starting goalie: Jung has been the clear-cut number one in Wichita. He went 24-7-4 on the season, with a 2.66 GAA and a .899 SV%.

Keys to Winning

The chemistry Arizona has shown in the final part of the regular has been nothing short of amazing. As someone who has followed them devotedly since their inaugural season, I can honestly say I have not seen the Sundogs working this well as a team since they won the Cup in their second season. The team is fast, the passes are connecting, and the goalies have both seemed to find their zones. Arizona must keep their composure and stay out of the penalty box. Also, the Sundogs must continue to play for a full sixty minutes. Earlier this season, and in years past, the team has had a habit of taking a period off, but Muscutt has appeared to break the team of this habit and the results have been plain for all to see.

Following are two press releases by the Sundogs' organization. The first one entitle is regarding the team's focus for this playoff run and the second is about a special event for the fans

Whatever It Takes

Heading into the 2012-13 Central Hockey League's, Ray Miron President's Cup Championship the Sundogs have embraced the "Whatever it Takes" attitude.

The slogan "Whatever it Takes" was inspired by Tyler Hallsey a 13 year-old boy that was diagnosed with Pontine Glioma earlier this year, which is a tumor surrounding the brain stem. When Tyler was asked what he thought about his treatment options and how they should proceed, he emphatically said, "Whatever it Takes" and has been living by that motto ever since.

Forward, Pascal Morency was so inspired and moved by this young man's attitude towards life and the obstacles he faces every day, he invited Tyler to a game. That evening the team welcomed Tyler into the locker room and took a few moments to speak with him and really connected with Tyler and his struggles. The entire Sundogs team presented Tyler with an autographed t-shirt that read "Whatever it Takes" which the team proudly wears every day before practice and in the community.

Throughout the season the Arizona Sundogs have been faced with their own unpredictable obstacles and have been able to turn those obstacles into positive experiences. From broken down buses, to mid-season coaching changes and an inconsistent roster the Sundogs have overcome many obstacles this season and continue to forge ahead in their quest to win the championship. "Everyone on the team has the same goal and that is to make it all the way." said General Manager Chris Presson. "It's a very exciting time for the team and the fans right now. This is the first time we've advanced to the playoffs since 2010-11 and this is what all the hard work has been for. The guys are working well together and we all have a common goal and that is whatever it takes".

Playoff Bash

Tim's Toyota Center presents the Sundogs' Playoff Bash, Saturday March 30th. Don't miss the Arizona Sundogs when they go head-to-head against the Wichita Thunder. Tim's Toyota Center will be showing the Sundogs game on every screen in the building from the Jumbo Tron, to the televisions on the concourse, all for your convenient viewing pleasure.

The Arizona Sundogs begin round one of the playoffs on the road against Wichita and Tim's Toyota Center and the Arizona Sundogs are hosting a Playoff Bash watch party, Saturday March 30th. The game starts at 5:05pm Arizona Time and the doors open at Tim's Toyota Center at 4:00pm. With the support of local businesses, the Sundogs Playoff Bash is open to the entire community free of charge.

"We want to create a fun and inviting atmosphere for everyone to enjoy", expressed, Sundogs General Manager, Chris Presson. "Therefore we will have something for everyone all night and most importantly free to the public. This is exciting and we want to share the excitement with our town and our fans".

The Town of Prescott Valley will be hosting an open skate from 4:30-7:30pm on a first come first serve basis. No skates, no problem, everything is free during the Sundogs' Playoff Bash. Gabby's Kitchen will be providing free food, lemonade and ice tea to everyone in attendance. There will be a bouncy house, basketball hoops, slapshot booth and the largest collection of over 100 Arizona Sundogs Jerseys displayed, on the concourse. And outside, there will be an old rally car painted in Thunder colors, available to bash with a sledgehammer.

During the playoffs every year teams come together, whether it be to grow a playoff beard or get a wacky haircut and this season the Sundogs opted for a wacky haircut. Captain, Jason Morgan, Jeff Kyrzakos and Kevin Baker are, all sporting Mohawks and the Sundogs want to include you. Courtesy of Fantastic Sam's you can receive your very own Mohawk haircut, free of charge. Simply go to the Prescott Valley, Fantastic Sam's located near the Fry's Grocery Store this Saturday, March 30th and ask for your free Sundogs Mohawk.

And if that isn't enough, they will be giving one puck to each person for hockey's iconic Chuck-a-Puck, which will take place during the second intermission. Each person will also receive one raffle ticket upon entry and prizes will be given away throughout the evening, but you must be present to win. Raffle items include, gift certificates to Fireside Grill, Garcia's Mexican Restaurant, Gabby's Kitchen, Phoenix Coyotes tickets, PBR tickets and Sundogs Playoff VIP Suite tickets. Current Season Ticket Holders will also have the chance to enter for a special "Getaway" giveaway that will be announced during the game.

Join the Sundogs as they do "Whatever it Takes" to win and show your support for the team by coming out and cheering for your Arizona Sundogs.

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