The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


October 19, 2005

Chiefs finalize roster as season draws near

The Johnstown Chiefs opening night roster includes a few familiar faces, a group of Tampa Bay Lightning prospects and a couple somewhat unexpected omissions.

Chiefs General Manager Toby O’Brien and coach Frank Anzalone will carry 20 players, including returnees Joe Tallari, Dmitri Tarabrin and Jean Desrochers at forward, Brett Peterson and Ian Manzano on defense and David Currie in goal.

“This year there were a lot of difficult decisions,” O’Brien said. “We had a very competitive camp. Frank Anzalone did a super job of getting the most out of players and allowing them the forum to show what they had in an intense atmosphere.”

Tarabrin will return for his seventh season in Johnstown after entering camp as a longshot to make a roster that had eight players under contract to either Tampa or the AHL’s Springfield Falcons. Manzano and Currie each are third-year Chiefs.

New Chiefs forwards are Paul Caponigri, Steve Cygan, Zybnek Hrdel, Randy Rowe, John Toffey, Brandon Elliott and Pittsburgh native J.B. Bittner. New defensemen include Ben Wallace, Jeremy Downs, Tyler Kindle, Jay Rosehill and Doug Andress.

Lightning prospect Jon Boutin is a goaltender making his Chiefs debut.

Tough forward Jason Spence returns to the Chiefs for the first time since the 2002-03 season. Spence played for Las Vegas last season.

“Difficult decisions came into play,” O’Brien said. “There is a new collective bargaining agreement, a new ownership structure with a great organization like Tampa Bay involved, and the fact that we had signed some quality players on our own led to difficult decisions. Frank and I did a lot of talking. Together we were able to get players he felt comfortable about coaching and I felt comfortable about having in the locker room and in the city of Johnstown.”

The biggest surprise was the release of veteran forward Dave Stewart, one of the Chiefs’ most highly-touted free agent signings on June 3. Stewart was labeled as a replacement for tough leader Jeff Sullivan, who retired. A former Reading Royals captain, Stewart has 1,858 career penalty minutes in six professional seasons.

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