Bigger and stronger.
That's what Toledo Storm management is hoping for with a flurry of roster moves yesterday, just three games prior to the end of the East Coast Hockey League's regular season and the start of the Kelly Cup playoffs.
Toledo has released center Sam Katsuras, placed center James Patterson on the seven-day injured reserve list and reached into Ontario's college and junior ranks for three new skaters.
A 5-9, 160-pounder who was one of Toledo's hottest players in the first two months of the season when he had 13 points in 17 games, Katsuras hadn't scored a point in his last 11 starts. Overall, he totaled 10 goals and 21 assists in 63 games.
Patterson, Toledo's leading scorer with 96 points, will get a break as Storm coach Dennis Holland looks at three new faces.
Expected to play tonight in Trenton, N.J., are forwards Jeff Petrie and Chris George, along with defenseman Chris Cava who made his Toledo debut Wednesday against Johnstown.
Petrie and George were teammates at the University of Western Ontario the past four seasons. The team captain the past three seasons, Petrie was an all-Canadian selection during the 1999-00 campaign. The center has scored 44 goals the past three years along with 77 assists in 104 games.
George, a 6-4, 227-pound winger, was a ninth-round draft pick of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche in 1995. He played in the Ontario (Junior) Hockey League from 1994-97 where he showed a willingness to fight and finish checks. He also played two contests in the American Hockey League for Hershey in '96-97.
His best college season came in '99-00, when he had 12 goals and 20 helpers.
Western Ontario won the Ontario University Association Western Conference title this season, going 21-3.
Backliner Cava spent this season with Kitchener of the OHL, where he had six goals, 15 assists and 153 penalty minutes. He has averaged nearly 200 PIM's a season in junior hockey and is 6-0, 200 pounds.
Attempts to reach Storm general manager Pat Pylypuik and Holland for comment on the moves were unsuccessful. Both were out of town.
Earlier in the week, Pylypuik did say management felt the team needed to get grittier for post-season play.
Last week, the Storm added centers J.J. Hunter and Dave Cameron to the roster. Each has one point in three games.
League rules require playoff rosters to be submitted no later than 1 p.m. on Monday.
Toledo currently resides in fourth place in the ECHL's Northern Conference with 81 points and road games remaining tonight, tomorrow in Johnstown and Sunday in Wheeling.
Fifth place Roanoke, which has 80 points, has starts remaining tonight in Richmond and at home tomorrow versus Wheeling.
The Storm and Express will meet in a first round best-of-five playoff series beginning next week. Still to be determined - which team will have home-ice advantage. The club which finishes in fourth place with the highest point total earns home ice advantage.
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