The Blog is back from the break, so let's get started with some notes that will begin to catch us back up on what's up with Alaskans and Alaska-connected folks in the pucks world.
--For starters, check out this flattering story on Alaska Jr. Aces forward Lane Bauer (also of Dimond High), who is with his comp team at the prestigious Mac's tournament in Calgary this week -- he has committed to UAF, but it seems he has generated much interest from both the Western Hockey League and the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
--Speaking of high school stars, in this case a former one in past West goaltender Blake Mendenhall, the 2010 state Player of the Year -- all Mendenhall, 20, did recently in the Western States Shootout, a showcase in Las Vegas for Western States Hockey League teams, was bag an empty-net goal to seal a 4-2 victory over Fresno. Career highlight in an enormous way. Hey, he's pretty good at his regular responsibilities for the Idaho Jr. Steelheads too -- 18-1-0, 2.34 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and four shutouts. Idaho is a ridiculous 26-1-0 under former ECHL Idaho bench boss John Olver, and is 14-0-0 on the road. Consider this jaw dropped on all the above fronts.
--Forward Jordan Smelker of Anchorage, a junior at Rensselaer, is spending this week at the U.S. Women's National Team camp in Blaine, Minn. In school, she owns 7-5--12 totals in 18 games this season and career totals of 27-31--58 in 87 games.
--Couldn't help but notice for Alaska Aces defenseman Russ Sinkewich, traded earlier this month to ECHL Gwinnett for winger Chris Clackson, racked his first goal of the season Thursday night in a 5-3 win over visiting South Carolina. That snapped Sink's ECHL goal drought of 37 games dating back to last season. South Carolina's Hunter Bishop, the forward from Fairbanks, had one goal and two helpers in that game to give him 14-15--29 totals in 30 games.
--And UAF picked up a recruit in goaltender Davis Jones, who plays for Nipawin in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Jones, 20, who will join the Nanooks next season, is 14-8-4 with a 2.67 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.