The Colorado Eagles of the Central Hockey League kept busy in
their first offseason, signing a handful of players who are
expected to step in and provide physical play and bring stronger
defensive skills to the 2004 Northern Conference Champions.
The Eagles’ offseason took flight in June as they re-signed one
of their most skilled younger forwards, Karlis Zirnis. The
lightning-quick Latvian was the rookie scoring leader in the CHL
last season, playing a vital role on the power play. He had 23
goals and 37 assists and played in all 62 games for the Eagles.
“It’s great to have our Rookie of the Year candidate back,” said
Eagles head coach Chris Stewart. “Karlis brings speed and skill to
the ice, and he is a class act off the ice. We look forward to him
contributing more to the Eagles this year than he did last
The Eagles also signed developmental player Sean Robertson at
center. Robertson, a 6-foot, 195-pound native of Kelowna, British
Columbia, spent the last five seasons in the Western Hockey
League’s ‘A’ circuit after a successful four-year stint with the
University of Calgary.
The team captain of two years was named to the Canada West First
All-Star team after he was the individual scoring leader and the
second overall scorer in his conference.
“Sean will make an immediate impact – we are very excited to
have him here in Colorado,” Stewart said. “He brings a lot to the
ice. He plays with grit, and we expect him to be a key face-off
man. Most of all, Sean is a solid two-way player.”
Colorado College Tiger standout and left-winger Jesse Heerema
was also signed to the Eagles’ roster this summer.
“I had the pleasure of watching Jesse play four years at
Colorado College,” said Eagles President and General Manager Ralph
Backstrom. “He is very skilled offensively and will be a valuable
asset to the Eagles roster.”
On July 8, the Eagles received news that 12-year veteran Phil
Crowe would be retiring from his professional hockey career in
exchange for becoming the director of player development. The
6-foot-2-inch, 217-pound assistant coach/forward for the Eagles was
an instrumental leader on and off the ice.
“I am very excited at the opportunity to work with and teach the
young guys,” Crowe said. “Getting involved in the coaching side is
something that I have wanted to do for some time now. It’s good to
move on and I appreciate the opportunity that I was given here with
August kicked off with the signing of another college star,
defenseman Bryan Vines. The 6-foot-2-inch, 212-pound native of
Oakville, Ontario, played five seasons with the University of
Denver Pioneers before turning professional and joining the Ice
Dogs of the East Coast Hockey League (the NHL’s AA league).
Vines appeared in 155 games with the Pioneers, tallying 34
points and 72 penalty minutes. Teammates with Eagles defenseman
Jesse Cook for four seasons, Vines was a team captain in 2001-2002
and provided leadership on a strong DU blue line.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity,” Vines said. “I have
heard nothing but good things about the Eagles organization.
Colorado has become a second home to me. I can’t wait to play in a
new facility, and I have heard the fan support is outstanding.”
The Eagles kick off their second season in Northern Colorado at
the Budweiser Events Center with two preseason games on Oct. 15 and
16 against the Tulsa Oilers. The Eagles will be playing another
64-game schedule, with 32 home games at the arena in Loveland.