Cotton Kings Year in Review
ANOTHER SEASON IN THE BOOKS
The Lubbock Cotton Kings closed their seventh season with a 27-31-6 record and unfortunately missed postseason play. It was a season of up and downs for the Kings, as they never won more than four games consecutively, but also never lost more than four games consecutively. Some of the inconsistent play was led to injuries, as only four players played in all 64 games this season. Here is a look at some of the storylines that made this season what it was for the Kings:
SO LONG SIR LANCE
Lubbock Cotton Kings goaltender Lance Leslie closed his 12-year pro career at the conclusion of the season, bringing an end to Lubbock's most storied goaltender in franchise history. The Dawson Creek, BC native played in his final game on March 25th at the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum and the game was his 300th appearance in a CHL/WPHL game, marking him as the third goalie ever to accomplish the feat behind Rod Branch (388) and Tony Martino (321). Leslie's career concluded with a 241-173-54 record and a 3.15 GAA with a 90.1% save percentage and 17 shutouts in 496 games. His Cotton Kings numbers included an 81-53-17 record, a 2.74 GAA, 91.1% save percentage and 7 shutouts in 160 games.
REMEMBER THE ALAMO
The Lubbock Cotton Kings do not have any formal affiliations with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League but they built a relationship with them through several transactions between the two clubs. In February, Kings defenseman Jason Beatty became just the third Cotton Kings member ever to receive an in-season call-up. Beatty joined the Phoenix Coyotes top affiliate for five games before returning to the Kings roster. In the last week of the regular season, Beatty returned to the Rampage and is still on their roster. Also during the final week of the season, San Antonio assigned John Zeiler to the squad, which was the first time in Kings history they have ever had a member assigned to the squad from an AHL club with no prior experience with the Kings. Zeiler was an impact in the four games appeared with the Kings, as he had a pair of goals registered in their win at Oklahoma City on March 24th, including the game winning goal. He returned back to San Antonio at the close of the season.
THINK OUT OF THE BOX
Despite ranking second in the Southern Conference with 57 major penalties, the Lubbock Cotton Kings were the second most discipline team in the Central Hockey League with an average of 19.5 penalty minutes per game. Also, even though rookies Matt Macdonald (49) and Nolan Brown (48) ranked second in third amongst rookies in the CHL in minor penalties, the Cotton Kings had the fewest minor penalties in the league (462).
The Cotton Kings co-led the CHL this season in obtaining standing-points when trailing after two periods of play. In a statistic that was co-led by Lubbock, Colorado and Oklahoma City, the Cotton Kings were able to gain 5 wins and 3 overtime losses when trailing after two periods of play. Five of the eight contests in which the Kings completed the task were at home, which led the CHL.
Rookies made their presence felt with the Cotton Kings this season. Kyle Nosan, who turned pro from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, finished the season as one of four Cotton Kings that played in all 64 games this season and he ranked fourth in the CHL in rookie scoring with 43 points (14g,29a). His 29 assists also ranked fourth among CHL rookies. Other rookies among the top 20 in CHL rookie scoring were University of Denver product Jon Foster and University Wisconsin-Stevens Point's Mike Brolsma. Foster finished 14th in rookie scoring with 31 points (17g,14a), while Brolsma ranked 20th with 27 points (13g,14a). Brolsma also co-led CHL rookies with 4 shootout goals, while Foster ranked tied for third with 2. Foster ranked third among rookies in shots (199) and Brolsma tied for fourth in game winning goals with 4. Rookie defenseman Matt McNeely out of RPI led CHL defensemen in shorthanded goals with 2.
The Central Hockey League announced their 05/06 CHL "Man of the Year" award and for a second consecutive season the honor was handed to Lubbock Cotton Kings forward Paul Fioroni. The award is presented annually to the CHL player adjudged to have best exemplified strong leadership qualities on and off the ice, while making significant and noteworthy humanitarian contributions to his community.
Fioroni, a 29 year-old sixth-year Cotton King, founded the 24 Foundation two seasons ago and each season it has not only contributed to those in need, but it has helped save lives. The 24 Foundation raised over $30,000 for South Plains area folks in need last season and this season it has raised over $20,000 through various fundraising efforts that will continue into the offseason. The prime focus of the funds raised this season by the 24 Foundation aimed at three areas of emphasis. All three areas were directed towards children, with two of the areas directed towards children with medical needs. Jayde Garcia, a two year-old daughter of Chris and Lori Garcia, has a mutated gene called Factor V Leiden, which forced her to encounter a stroke at birth. The stroke caused brain damage, which is requiring extensive therapy and preferred treatment at UAB Civitan International Research Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. The 24 Foundation has raised funds to assist in the travel for Jayde's treatment. Another child with a medical concern the 24 Foundation aided is two year-old Canon Perkins. The son of Drew and Chandra Perkins, Canon was diagnosed with a glycogen storage disease type-4 and required a liver transplant. The third emphasis for the 24 Foundation this season was to assist the Lubbock Youth Minor Hockey Program with funds to assist ice availability and equipment needs for financially challenged youth individuals.
The 24 Foundation obtained donations through a myriad of fundraising programs, including $1 "24 Foundation - Giving Back" wristbands. The primary events conducted by the 24 Foundation were a Casino Night and a Bowl-A-Rama. Other activities included a special jersey auction and a raffle for a truck from either All-American Chevrolet or Frontier Dodge. The truck raffle was conducted at the close of March and the winner of the truck was Roger Wolcott. Paul Fikes and Walking X INC finished second and third in the drawing and they each received prize packages.
The honor for Fioroni is his second in consecutive seasons and it stands as the third time in the last four seasons that a Kings member has received the award in the last four years. Anthony Donskov was the first Kings member to receive the honor. Donskov founded the league-wide "Caps for Courage" program to assist ailing children with cancer during the 02/03 season.
Team awards were handed out prior to the Cotton Kings last home game of the season and the awards were based on voting conducted by Cotton Kings players. Here is a list of the awards:
MVP - Bobby Brown
Most Improved Player - Josh Anderson
Rookie of the Year - Josh Anderson
Mr. Cotton King - Stacey Bauman
Defensive Player of the Year - Stacey Bauman
Offensive Player of the Year - Nolan Graham
OAKLEY CHL GOALTENDER OF THE WEEK - LANCE LESLIE (WEEK 4)
OAKLEY CHL GOALTENDER OF THE WEEK - BRETT KOSCIELNY (WEEK 21)
SHER-WOOD CHL GOALTENDER OF THE MONTH - BRETT KOSCIELNY (NOVEMBER)
END OF THE YEAR AWARDS
CHL MAN OF THE YEAR - PAUL FIORONI
TEAM LEADER IN TOP 3 STAR HONORS - BRETT KOSCIELNY (#1s - 4 #2s - 4 #3s - 4)
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