St. Louis Features North American-Heavy Lineupby Sean Gallagher | November 8, 2014, 1:04 PM ET
Without intending to, St. Louis Spartans GM Sean Gallagher has constructed a mostly North American team for this year's SICHL campaign.
"As always, we use the resources we have to bring in the best players we can," explained Gallagher, "While sometimes we will pass on a player or cut ties with a player that we don't want in our organization for one reason or another, it's never based on a player's country of origin."
The 2014-15 Spartans feature seven American-born players, 11 Canadian-born players and just two Europeans.
The Americans come from five different states, with Wisconsin (Phil Kessel, Madison; Drew Stafford, Milwaukee) and Minnesota (Alex Stalock, St. Paul; Jordan Schroeder, Burnsville) leading the way with two each. Michigan is represented by Ryan Kesler (Detroit), while Kevin Shattenkirk (Greenwich) hails from Connecticut and John Carlson (Natick) represents Massachusetts.
Canada's most represented province is, unsurprisingly, Ontario, with six players calling it home. Half of those players, all forwards, come from Toronto (Michael Blunden, Raffi Torres, Chris Porter) while the Ontario-born defensemen are all from other cities therein (Alex Pietrangelo, King; Kevin Klein, Kitchener; Marc Staal, Thunder Bay).
The next most-represented Canadian province is Saskatchewan, with players from Prince Albert (Adam Cracknell), Regina (Chris Kunitz) and Saskatoon (Darcy Kuemper). Jerred Smithson from Vernon, British Columbia and Eric Fehr from Winkler, Manitoba round out the Canadian part of the roster.
But how is it, being just one of two non-North Americans in this locker room?
"Oh, not bad," said Villach, Austria native Michael Grabner, "They have no idea how to dress and their taste in music is terrible, but they're all pretty good guys. I've learned a ton about rodeos and football and stuff, I guess."
Roman Polak, of Ostrava, Czech Republic, agreed.
"Good hockey players. Good guys. I don't like their jokes because they don't make sense, but still good guys. Good hockey players."