Youngest GM has SteelHounds chasing playoffs



Under Joe Gregory's guidance, the hockey team is striving for excellence on and off the ice.
By GREG GULAS
VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT
BOARDMAN -- At the age of 27, Joe Gregory is the youngest general manager in the Central Hockey League as well as all of professional hockey.
He is one of just a handful of pre-30 year-old general managers in the major professional sports arena. Yet his innovative, cutting edge ideas show that he is well beyond his years when it comes to making money for his owner while at the same time, reaching out to the community with his on-ice product.
The guest speaker at Monday's Curbstone Coaches meeting, Gregory made it known that under his leadership the Youngstown SteelHounds will strive for excellence both on the ice and in the community. The latter is an area where they have taken the lead by volunteering time to many local service-oriented projects.
"Our current group isn't just a bunch of hockey players and coaches," Gregory said. "They are a community-oriented group that is passionate about the projects which they undertake over the course of the season.
"They are a caring group that is most visible to the public once they take their equipment off after a game," Gregory said.
Helped out in Louisiana
When trainer Mike Ermatinger recently approached head coach Kevin Kaminski about the possibility of doing a community-service project on the Louisiana leg of their journey, Kaminski embraced his trainer's request.
The end result on their recent six-game, 13-day road trip; helping as an entire unit to rebuild three houses in the Hurricane Katrina ravaged area of New Orleans.
"They could have spent the entire day off and heaven knows that their legs could have used it after playing a game the night before," Gregory said. "Yet they all chose to work that day and chipped in and helped by contributing valuable time and energy."
The SteelHounds are a inexperienced team in a developmental league that permits four veterans who have 280 plus games of professional experience on each roster.
Gregory says he has unique blend of veterans and newcomers that have clicked in the SteelHounds' second season.
Veterans and fan favorites Jeff Christian and Chris Richards lead the Central Hockey League with 62 and 59 points, respectively.
Both will play in Wednesday's CHL All-Star Game Wednesday in Bossier City, La.
New twist in playoffs
Gregory says the CHL playoffs will have a unique twist this year as 12 teams in the 17-team league will qualify, six from each conference.
The play-off structure features the highest seeded loser advancing to second-round play, although they no longer would maintain their original seeding.
"I have never seen that type of format, but is sure sounds interesting and if the coaches adopted it, then it has to have some merit to it," Gregory said.
Next Monday, Jim Visingardi, a Mid-American Conference football official, will be the guest speaker.
The Curbstone Coaches All-League Recognition Banquet will be Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Youngstown's Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Hall.
The banquet honors the All-Conference teams of the Steel Valley Conference, Metro Athletic Conference, Inter Tri-County League and City Series.
Jon Heacock, head football coach of Youngstown State University. will be the guest speaker while Dana Balash, sports director of WFMJ-TV Channel 21, will serve as toastmaster.
Tickets cost 15 and may be obtained by calling (330)-793-1993.

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