|Alameda's East Bay Jawz Battle to First-Place Tie|
Published: Friday, 18 January 2008 21:03
New pro roller hockey club has successful start to season
East Bay Jaws courtesy photos
Looks like ice: The East Bay Jaws are top in the Pacific Division with just a third of the season under their belts.
With just under a third of the Pro Inline Hockey Associations regular season completed, the East Bay Jawz find themselves in first place of the Pacific Division, tied with San Jose.
With a 4-4-2 record the Jawz are content with their start to the season but feel there's plenty of room to grow.
The team has progressed consistently since the start of the 32-game season on Dec. 1, according to team coach Mike Baldwin.
"I think we can get a lot better. We've played very well to this point but still have another level we can reach before the playoffs," Baldwin said.
The playoffs are still a long ways off with the completion of the regular season in late April. The top three teams from the Pacific Division will play off with the goal of moving on to the divisional and conference champions from the Rocky Mountain, Southwest and Midwest divisions.
The winner then moves on to face the best team in the Eastern Conference in a seven-game series for the league title.
But the team feels they still have enough to focus on in the present. CJ Gamble, one of the Jawz captains and leading scorer, agreed that the team has to remain focused on the immediate future.
"We're just focusing on this week and the Sacramento Saxons right now. The playoffs are a long ways off and we need to just take things week to week. One thing that I've learned from playing in the league for so many years is that the teams who are playing the best at the end of the season usually do the best in the playoffs," he said.
Gamble knows firsthand how the PIHA playoffs can be different than the regular season. Gamble captained the record setting Pittsburgh Bandits (Pennsylvania) last season to a 30-2 regular season, only to fall in sudden-death overtime in the divisional finals to the Harrisbug Lunatics, a team the Bandits were perfect against during the regular season.
The East Bay pro and minor squads will face off against the Sacramento Saxons at the Davis Indoor Sports Center Saturday night.
The Saxons are currently in last place of the Pacific Division but will be looking to turn their season around at home.
The Jawz minor team has played especially well since a nearly disastrous 0-6 start. With three straight wins and better goaltending, the Jawz minors are creeping their way back into the playoff hunt.
Coach Bill Molett thinks it was just a matter of time before the minor Jawz broke through.
"We always knew we had a strong group in the minors. We just couldn't get the breaks for the first few weeks of the season but the guys have really found some good chemistry in the past few weeks," said Molett.
Home fans will have to wait a few more weeks as the Jawz return home to the Alameda Bladium on Saturday, Jan. 26, to face off against the Northern California Mustangs.
For more information, visit www.thepiha.com.