Expansion Dayton Demonz Making A Statement Early On
The record shows that Marc LeFebvre picked up one assist in the six games he played for the Louisiana IceGators of the Southern Professional Hockey League after he left his head coaching position with the Federal League's 1000 Islands Privateers last February.
LeFebvre, a 30-year-old native of Kanata, Ontario, Canada, who says he left the Privateers due to "internal conflicts within the team" returned to the FHL in August as the head coach of the expansion Dayton Demonz who were originally called the Devils before changing their name on September 27, 2012.
LeFebvre actually wound up picking up much more than one assist in Lafayette, Louisiana. He also picked up Jason Hill and Brayden Metz, currently (through the end of November, 2012) the top two scorers in the Federal League with 31 points each.
"It was like a recruiting trip for a month for me," said LeFebvre of his experience with the IceGators.
The coach, who had a 27-8-2 record with 1000 Islands, and his two high scoring forwards have helped catapult the Demonz into first place with 36 points in their first 15 games (three points are awarded for a win in regulation time, two for an overtime/shootout win and one for an overtime/shootout loss) making them the second straight FHL expansion team to get off to a fast start after the New Jersey (now Williamsport) Outlaws did so last season on their way to a title. Williamsport is second in the standings through 18 games with 28 points and the Privateers (26 points) are third through 16 games.
"I can't complain. It's been a dream start but it's a marathon, not a sprint. There's a lot of hockey to be played," said LeFebvre, who played his share of professional hockey across nine seasons including four years in England's EIHL (Elite Ice Hockey League), a year in France and one in Holland split between the Geleen Smoke Eaters and the Zoetermeer Panthers in 2010-11.
LeFebvre certainly can't complain about his league-leading scoring. Hill, a 28-year-old, 5-10, 195-pound native of Niagara Falls, New York has 11 goals and 20 assists and is +12 through 15 games. He also has four game-winning goals so far.
"I expected him to be our best guy when I signed him. He was third in scoring in the SPHL last year," said LeFebvre.
Hill scored 17 goals and 59 assists in 48 games and was +4 with 81 penalty minutes for the IceGators.
The 22-year-old Metz, a 6-0, 185-pound center from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada scored 23 goals and added 34 assists in 56 games with 14 power play goals for the IceGators last season as a rookie to finish eighth in SPHL scoring. Metz has 13 goals, 18 assists and is +9 in 15 games for the Demonz.
"He led all SPHL rookies in goals," said the coach who won two championships playing for the Sheffield Steelers in 2003-04 and 2004-05 in England.
Dayton's scoring (91 goals in 15 games) does not stop with Hill and Metz. Ahmed Mahfouz, who scored 119 points (37 goals, 82 assists) in two years with the Akwesasne Warriors and Jesse Felten who had 57 goals and 62 assists (118 points) in two years with the Aviators in Brooklyn have both contributed.
Mahfouz, 23, from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada has put in 13 goals and added 13 assists in the 13 games he has played through the end of November and is +13 with two game-winners. Felten, 26, from Cashton, Wisconsin has nine goals and 10 assists in 15 games and also has a pair of game winning goals. He is +7.
Another excellent scorer, Mike Hoban from Medfield, Massachusetts, who was called up by the Fort Wayne Komets of the East Coast League on November 15, 2012, was returned to Dayton 11 days later. He had no points in the five games he played for the Komets but has scored eight goals in the 10 games he has played for the Demonz, adding seven assists.
The Demonz (25.81) were second to Williamsport (25.86) in power play percentage and third in penalty kill percentage (81.63) behind the Privateers (90.12) and Cape Cod (87.80) with the Outlaws (81.25) a close fourth as of the 29th of November.
Goaltender Gerry Festa, 28, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada was Dayton's first call up of the year on November 13, 2012 going to the Central League's Bloomington Blaze where he has played in six games to date with a 3-2 record, a 3.86 goals against average and a .896 save percentage. He was 6-1 with the Demonz yielding three goals per game with a .924 save percentage.
Jeff Rose, a 26-year-old goaltender from Canton, Connecticut has done well replacing Festa. Rose is 5-1-1 with a 3.45 goals against average and a .913 save percentage following Dayton's 4-3 loss to the Outlaws on November 29, 2012.
Asked if his main job was to win championships or send guys up to the next level, LeFebvre said, "Both. This is a blue collar town. They haven't had a winning team in years. I want to bring them a winning team and send guys up."
LeFebvre had his last playing experience with the IceGators and knew his future in hockey was behind the bench.
"I wanted to get to the NHL. That's everybody's goal but you have to be realistic," he says. "There's a time of your life where you have to make tough decisions. Not playing was one. The next step was the coaching side of things."
It's a long way from Dayton to the National Hockey League. It's also a long way from Europe where he played most of his professional hockey back to North America. LeFebvre is used to the distances.
Perhaps, with another timely assist along the way, the dynamic, young coach may get to the NHL after all.
Federal Hockey League Stories from December 4, 2012
- Expansion Dayton Demonz Making A Statement Early On - Dayton Demonz
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