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Old college friends back together with Wolves

by Scott J. Powers, Daily Herald || AHL On The Beat Archive

Being the newcomer isn’t easy. You don’t know anyone. You don’t understand how things are done. You have a lot of questions, but don’t always have the courage to ask them.

Being a Chicago Wolves rookie is no different. The coaches and teammates are new. The system is different. It takes time to adjust to the city. There are the questions about where to live, how to get around and all those details about practice, games and day-to-day operations.

For rookies Joey Crabb and Brett Sterling, that introduction period has been easier to get through than for most. The two entered Wolves camp unfamiliar with pro hockey, but quite familiar with each other after spending the last four years together at Colorado College as teammates and friends.

"I’ve known Crabb for six years now," Sterling said. "It definitely helps the transition. When things get tough around here, I know there’s someone to rely on. Our class did everything together. We were a tight-knit group. You spend so much time together you become a family."

Crabb and Sterling never thought they’d be teammates. Sterling was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the fifth round in 2003. Crabb was selected by the New York Rangers in the seventh round in 2002. After leading Colorado College to a 24-15-2 record and being part of the most proficient power-play line in the nation, they expected to be opponents, not teammates this season.

The two, along with four other friends, traveled to Europe this summer to visit a former teammate for one last hurrah. Afterward, everyone went his separate way.

Sterling signed with Atlanta in July. Crabb never came to terms with the Rangers and became a free agent. On Aug. 31, he agreed to a deal with the Thrashers.

"The way it turned out is unique for them play together," said Colorado College coach Scott Owens. "They had a lot of success here at Colorado College for four years. We had a lot of success because of them."

Sterling, a 5-foot-8, 182-pound left wing, was a big-time goal scorer in college. He ranks third on the school’s all-time goals list and is tied for 10th in points. He scored 31 goals last season and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which given to the NCAA’s top player.

Crabb, a 6-1, 191-pound right wing, is a versatile and physical player. He finished second on the Tigers last season in goals and third in assists and points. He recorded 110 points in his four seasons.

Scott Powers covers the Chicago Wolves and the AHL for the Daily Herald