Cullaton laces ‘em up in 4-3 Cutthroats loss
For many professional hockey teams, the General Manager and Assistant Coach spend the majority of their time behind the scenes. Making moves, managing the business, and enforcing the system are just some of the tasks involved in the day-to-day.
Rarely does the GM or Assistant GM find his way out on the ice. They prefer to run the show from the back rooms and comfortable offices of the organization. In minor league hockey, this isn’t always the case. For Denver Cutthroats Assistant GM and Assistant Coach Brent Cullaton, the usual workload just wasn’t enough.
Facing the absence of six players, all called up to the Lake Erie Monsters, and the loss of forward Brett Lutes in trade for rookie defenseman Michael Trebish, the Fish found themselves rather thin at forward. Instead of signing a player for just a handful of games, the club looked in-house for some relief.
For the last two games, ‘Cully’ has donned the crest of the team he manages, talking to the ice in order to ensure his club is in good hands. Cully isn’t unfamiliar with the level of play in the CHL either, having skated with the Rocky Mountain Rage during their tenure in the state.
“I talked with Army and we’re in a situation where we didn’t have enough top six forwards to to contribute, to help the team contribute. So he asked me if I’d play and I agreed to play to help the team out,” said Cullaton.
Having had one game to effectively find his feet – and only two practices – Cullaton turned on the jets in his next match, a 4-3 loss to the visiting Fort Worth Brahmas Friday night. The 39-year-old forward had a goal and an assist on the evening, keeping his team in the game for the majority of the match.
“We talked about, before the game, how we need to help the top line. They’ve been doing most of the scoring lately. We wanted to take a little weight off their shoulders and help the team,” said Cullaton. “I felt alright, felt fine with the pace. It’s obviously not enough with the end result but every day I’ll get better and better.”
His first tally of the season came on the breakaway, as he split the defense, blazed into the zone, and burned Brahmas goaltender Kristofer Westblom with a wrist shot. His assist came from flat out hard work as Cullaton beat a check along the boards to force a two-on-one, feeding the puck to Luke Fulghum for the finish.
Unfortunately, the second period point, Denver’s third score of the game, wasn’t enough to help the Cutthroats take the first of back-to-back games against Fort Worth.
“It’s good for us to play in these games and to learn where we’ve got to get to. The work ethic was there. I didn’t mind the work ethic,” said Cutthroats Head Coach Derek Armstrong. “I liked the compete but the fine details will kill you every time.”
For fans of the former Rage, don’t expect a career comeback. Cullaton is on the roster for the short term.
“It honestly depends on if we find a player that will fill the void, then I’ll step down but I’ll play until that happens,” said Cullaton, who is expecting help to return from the Monsters before too long. “That’s ultimately what we’re waiting for. There’s a lot of good players up there that are a lot better than I am right now. So, if they come back I’ll gladly step down.”
“I’m still there to help the young guys and try to make them better and instill confidence in their game.”
The Cutthroats square off against the Brahmas again tomorrow night, finishing off a Pink in the Rink initiative that is raising money to fight cancer. The game will be preceded by a special charity contest pitting former NHL players – including Joe Sakic, Adam Foote, Scott Parker, and even Armstrong himself – against a roster of local police, firemen and personnel.
“It’s all about the charity. All these guys have great hearts and are good people and it’s about giving back. For a cause like cancer, it’s pretty incredible,” said Armstrong. “Hopefully we get some people in the stands and get some money into that charity.”
A ticket to the evening game will get you in to see former some Stanley Cup winners take the ice once more. The charity game starts at 4 pm.
There is also a jersey auction running concurrent to the later game. All proceeds from the auction will also be donated to charity.
What do you think? Going to both games? Excited to see Sakic and Foote lace them up?