Back to the Future 2: The Irritants lead the way

By Stephen J. Holodinsky
After a day of practices and a game day skate, the hopeful future Buds finally had an opportunity to strut their stuff against the rookie squad of the North Carolina Hurricanes. Sporting such luminaries as Josef Vasicek and Jaroslav Svoboda, the visiting side found itself ahead 2-0 just minutes into the second period. The first tally came about because of some bad clearing in the Leaf end and decided timidity in front of the net. Kevin Young sent a floater in from the blueline that handcuffed Toronto netminder Sebastien Centomo and ended up in the crease behind him. Erik Cole simply outhustled everyone to the disc and banged it home.

The second goal came as a result of Allan Rourke starting up ice before making sure the puck was doing the same. A turnover in the neutral zone caught him off guard and gave Brent Kelly two steps on him. Derek Fox fed him the puck and despite Petr Svoboda’s last ditch dive, Kelly was able to put the puck upstairs on Centomo.

That was short lived however. Jonathon Zion made as couple of brilliant “now you see it, now you don’t” moves on his man in keeping the puck in the Carolina zone. He then fired a perfect goalmouth feed to Jonathon Gagnon who onetimed it only to have Fredric Brind’Amour slide across and stone him. The rebound though popped out in front and training camp invitee Ben Ondrus made no mistake in firing it over the sprawling puckstopper.
The tying goal for the Buds was the result of a Carolina turnover at the Leaf blueline followed by a quick Peter Reynolds feed to Mirko Murovic skating down the left wing with Brad Boyes and Jonathon Zion joining him on the 3 on 2 rush. With Zion playing the backdoor on the opposite wing Murovic passed to Boyes and then went to the net. Boyes let a screened shot go that found it’s way behind Brind’Amour after passing through multiple pairs of legs.

Only a short time later persistent mucking deep in the Carolina zone by Luca Cereda, Lance Galbraith, and Miguel Delisle resulted in another goal. The former passed it to the latter, who then skated behind the net and made the wraparound for the winner. After that things got much chippier with Galbraith squaring of against Kevin Bertram and Jacques Lariviere having it out with Richard Spence. The score didn’t change as a result though and, in the end, the Baby Buds had come back from a 2 goal deficit to win 3-2.

The Three Stars

Ben Ondrus – Played a very high energy game, not the biggest, nor the fastest but always around the puck in the offensive zone. He either won his battles for the puck or caused a stalemate. The perfect puckhound.

Ben Ondrus on the development of his defensive skills and his nose for the net: “The last couple of years in junior (Swift Current) our coach (Todd McClelland) keyed our game on defense. I was not really the best defensively going in there but he turned me into a pretty good defensive forward. I’ve always tried to go to the net. You’re not going to score many goals if you don’t go there.”

Peter Reynolds – Played a very solid defensive game, both physically and positionally. Showed very good vision when head manning the puck and did well when he chose to skate with it. His pairing shutout the Vasicek/Svoboda duo.

Peter Reynolds on how much effect the Canada WJC camp on his game and preparing for the Leaf Rookie Camp: “Oh yeah it did, we were skating on Olympic sized ice and Toronto wanted me to skate with the puck more so it got me a little more confident, a little more comfortable coming in. It was kind of a good stepping stone for me to get into it.”

Michal Travnicek – His reputation as a player others don’t like to play against remains intact. First shift was stride, stride, stride, knock someone on their keester. It never stopped after that.

Michal Travnicek on what he needs to show the Leaf brass and what he needs to improve on to make the Leafs: “I have to play tough, that’s the way I can do this. I think the things I can improve are my skating and my play with the puck.”

Others who impressedLuca Cereda – Played well defensively, often bailed out his defensemen when they were trapped behind the net. Could be more physical.

Alexei Ponikarovsky – Used his huge wingspan to the utmost advantage; one man couldn’t separate him from the puck. Needs to work on the offensive aspects of his game.

Mirko Murovic – Almost as rough and tumble as Travnicek, had some chances, nice pass to Boyes on his goal.

Jonathon Zion – Was a true offensive threat from the blueline, showed great creativity