HSE - Washington Post B (perks)

Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Subscriber Services | 928 Media Lab | Real Estate Search | Galleries | Obits | Yellow Pages | TV Listings | Contact Us
The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : sports : sports September 15, 2014


12/27/2012 9:57:00 PM
TOP SPORTS STORIES OF 2012: #4 - 'Dogs down, but not out
Months after Pietroniro's firing, Sundogs still in rebuilding mode
Les Stukenberg/The Daily CourierOn Feb. 27, 2012, the Arizona Sundogs fired original head coach Marco Pietroniro. Since that time, the team has gone 14-24-4.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
On Feb. 27, 2012, the Arizona Sundogs fired original head coach Marco Pietroniro. Since that time, the team has gone 14-24-4.
Doug Cook
The Daily Courier

In late February, Arizona Sundogs management fired coach Marco Pietroniro, who had been the Prescott Valley-based Central Hockey League franchise's first and only lead mentor, during the middle of the club's sixth season on the ice.

The move may have signaled the Sundogs' last stand in the Grand Canyon State months before the team embarked on the most critical season of its existence in 2012-13.

Both Pietroniro and his assistant, one-time Arizona star Chris Bartolone, were dismissed and replaced with coach David Lohrei after the Sundogs limped out of the gate in 2011-12 and became a mediocre sub-.500 squad.

Whether it was bouts with injuries, one-goal losses, a lack of team continuity and chemistry, questionable officiating or bad luck, the Sundogs struggled mightily, and attendance suffered at Tim's Toyota Center.

Four years removed from capturing its first and only Ray Miron Presidents' Cup trophy under Pietroniro in 2008, Arizona finished the 2011-12 season with the league's worst record at 19-38-9 and as the seventh-place team in the Berry Conference.

The Sundogs started the campaign with a 1-3-1 mark at home and didn't recover.

At the CHL All-Star Break in mid-January, Arizona was tied with the league's now-defunct Laredo (Texas) Bucks for last place in the Berry with 26 points. By mid-season, Pietroniro had traded away touted forward David Nimmo and starting goalie Levente Szuper and brought in some younger players in hopes of igniting a spark that never materialized.

"Obviously when the coaching staff decides to make changes, they think they're making it for the better, and you respect that in bringing in good players," former Sundogs goalie Scott Reid told the Daily Courier near the end of last season in late March. "I don't know what happened."

Despite Arizona's problems in the first half of the 2011-12 season, many Sundogs players remained confident that their team could climb back into the playoff race in the campaign's final months.

But Arizona's fortunes didn't change, even with Lohrei in the fold.

Before last Christmas, the Sundogs were just two games under .500, but the ship quickly started sinking.

The Sundogs could not find any comfort, as they finished the season with the league's worst home record of 11-17-5 and its worst away mark of 8-21-4.

Several injuries to key players, including former high-scoring forwards Craig Macdonald and Daymen Rycroft, haunted the club.

Ex-Arizona defenseman and team captain Tyler Butler, the lone player on the 2011-12 roster not to miss a game, said injury woes coupled with some players Pietroniro brought in at the beginning of the season who underperformed, cost the team a shot at rebounding.

"We've been playing with a short bench," Butler told the Courier in late March. "We work hard, though. I don't think that's changed."

However, more importantly, the Sundogs couldn't pull out the close games. Arizona lost nine overtime contests and succumbed in a majority of the 30-plus one-goal tilts in which they were involved.

"We were in so many games, and if we win half of those ones that we lost or lost in a shootout, we're probably talking playoff time again," Butler said.

In 2012-13, the Sundogs got off to a promising start with an almost completely revamped lineup.

Nonetheless, Arizona went on a slide earlier this month, losing seven straight from Dec. 2-15 before rebounding Dec. 18 with a 6-3 come-from-behind win at the Missouri Mavericks.

Through Dec. 19, the Sundogs owned a 10-13-4 record (24 points), which put them in eighth place in the revamped 10-team Berry Conference.

Arizona has not posted a winning record in any of the past four seasons - and the 2011-12 campaign was the most trying of them all, as attendance at its 33 home games dwindled to an average of 2,507 fans in the 5,100-seat Tim's Toyota Center.

Sundogs co-owner Brad Fain tried to ease fans' tension earlier this fall when he said that he's committed to the franchise's growth and wants it to remain in Arizona.

But he didn't mince words.

"I would say it's a critical year. From our ownership, we've been in this two years. There's been improvement in the fan base going each year, and it's trending in the right direction," Fain told the Courier before the 2012-13 season started.

"But we need to make a bigger step this year. We understand the business better than we ever have, and I think we've got the best team that we've ever had in the front office."



Related Stories:
• TOP SPORTS STORIES OF 2012: #1 - Bruise Brothers
• TOP SPORTS STORIES OF 2012: #2 - Brady's Magnificent Month
• TOP SPORTS STORIES OF 2012: #3 - Row Riders
• TOP SPORTS STORIES OF 2012: #5 - 125 years young & strong
• TOP SPORTS STORIES OF 2012: #6 - Community saves a season
• TOP SPORTS STORIES OF 2012: #7 - Tradition Turnover
• TOP SPORTS STORIES OF 2012: #8 - Separate Ways


    Recently Commented     Most Viewed
Letter: People select, reject facts to support bias (18 comments)
Prescott Valley Event Center trial looms (15 comments)
Column: Local Muslims prefer peace, privacy (40 comments)
Column: White House doesn't care about US workers (13 comments)
NACOG helps in fight for 'living wage' (15 comments)




Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. The email and phone info you provide will not be visible to the public. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to 1300 characters or less. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit your comment entries to five(5) per day.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   


Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
HSE- Rants&Raves
HSE - Sports Desk 300x219
HSE - SPORTS FACEBOOK BUTTON
Find more about Weather in Prescott, AZ
Click for weather forecast





Reader Poll
Reader Poll

Bigger September swagger:

Please select one:
Angels winning 10 straight
Dodgers blast 2nd-place Giants 17-0

View Results


Quick Links
 •  Submit site feedback or questions

 •  Submit your milestone notice

 •  Submit your letter to the editor

 •  Submit a news tip or story idea

 •  Place a classified ad online now

 •  Browse the Yellow Pages

Find It Features Blogs Milestones Extras Submit Other Publications Links
Classifieds | Subscriber Services | Real Estate Search | Galleries | Find Prescott Jobs | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Contact Us
HSE - Cookie Contest

© Copyright 2014 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Daily Courier is the information source for Prescott area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Prescott Newspapers, Inc. Prescott Newspapers Online is a service of Prescott Newspapers Inc. By using the Site, dcourier.com ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Prescott Newspapers Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info, Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2014 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved