Belleville’s Incredi-Bull Season

By Bill Thompson
Welcome to the end of the regular season report for the Belleville Bulls. It has truly been an incredi-bull season as the media likes to say. Picked by many prognosticators to come last in the very tough eastern division, the Bulls stepped up and took their first ever division title in their 20th year. With the departure of Jonathan Cheechoo, Justin Papineau and coach Lou Crawford for the AHL and then the trading of Cory Campbell (Memorial Cup MVP – 1999) at the beginning of the season, it looked bleak for the Bulls to say the least. However, little did people know, the Bulls head scout Floyd Crawford and his subordinates had stocked the team with young talent over the past couple of years.


THE SUPRISES

I am proud to say I called Wellwood a superstar last year when I first saw him play. He just takes control of the game in the offensive end and the result has been an OHL scoring title in his second year in the league. He beat Jason Spezza (the #1 prospect for the upcoming NHL draft) by 2 points, 118 to 116. Randy Rowe was an overager this year and he made the most of his final year in the OHL, tying a 16-year-old Bulls record with 64 goals. This guy has NHL tools, but needs to get a little more feisty on the ice. The other sniper on the bulls top line was Branko Radivojevic who put on some weight since last year and up’d his point total by 30 points. I believe we will see him in a Colorado Avalanche jersey in the near future. The second line also played well with young Matthew Stajan centering Nate Robinson and Mike Renzi, which gave Belleville another scoring threat. Second year players Adam Paiement, Cody McCormick and David Silverstone (probably the most popular player in Belleville) made up the third line, which was extremely effective at pounding the crap out of the other team with huge hits every night.

On defense, David Cornacchia played extremely well, he has great speed and really started to play physical at the end of the season. Mid-season addition Dan Growden helped the depth on defense, he plays similar to Cornacchia but is not quite at his level yet. Matt Coughlin added some much needed toughness on the blueline this year and Malcolm Hutt improved by leaps and bounds over the season to become very solid.

Finally, the two most pleasant surprises for the Bulls this season were Jan Chovan and Paulo Colaiacovo, the goaltenders. Chovan came via the import draft and immediately stole time away from Campbell who then asked to be traded, which paved the way for Colaiacovo to be called up from the Port Hope Clippers. Together they managed to help the Bulls set a team record for fewest goals allowed in a season at 224, bettering the old record of 239 (97-98).

The Bulls will start the playoffs on Monday March 26 against either Kingston or Barrie. It is expected that Chovan will start in net as it appears he has recovered from a hamstring injury against Oshawa a few weeks ago. Radivojevic is expected to play as well although he was hobbled with an apparent leg injury against Peterborough on Thursday night.


OTHER NOTES

  • Eric Ostrander has been sent back to the AAA Quinte Red Devils after getting the call to back-up Colaiacovo when Chovan went down. He saw no action.
  • Chovan came back against the Petes in the last regular season game and looked good in relief of Colaiacovo.
  • Wellwood’s OHL scoring title is the first by a Bull since Dave MacLean in 84-85.


    REGULAR SEASON AWARDS (my picks)


    MVP- Kyle Wellwood –
    held the first line together with great passing and vision.


    Most Improved – Malcolm Hutt –
    stopped trying to make outstanding plays every time and started to just do his defensive job, very well.

    Best Defenseman – David Cornacchia – once he started to play physical, became one of the best defenseman in the league. Great skating and passing ability.

    Rookie – Jan Chovan – came in and challenged for #1 job in net and ran with it. Very quick and plays angles well, made himself a top 10 goalie in North America.

    BULL RANKINGS (my scouting system)
    Wellwood, Kyle
    Radivojevic, Branko
    Rowe, Randy
    Chovan, Jan
    Robinson, Nathan
    Renzi, Mike
    Colaiacovo, Paulo
    Cornacchia, David
    McCormick, Cody
    Hutt, Malcolm
    Silverstone, David
    Stajan, Matt
    Jacobsen, Michael
    Brown, Andrew
    Paiement, Adam
    Efthimiou, Brad
    Dmytruk, Rob
    Growden, Dan
    Policelli, Nick
    White, Alex
    Coughlin, Matt
    Deveaux, Andre
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    COMPLETE SCORING STATS 00-01
    NO.NAME   GPG   APTSPIM
    97 Wellwood, Kyle  6835  8311824
    37 Radivojevic, B  61   34  7010477
    18 Rowe, Randy   6364  3810230
    77 Robinson, Nate  6632  376957
    9  Renzi, Mike   6728  285698
    5  Jacobsen, Mike  6316  345024
    43 Cornacchia, Dave689   3746104
    6  Hutt, Malcolm   688   202848
    14 Stajan, Matthew 579   182727
    8  McCormick, Cody 667   1623135
    25 Paiement, Adam  589   101950
    2  Policelli, Nick 624   1418176
    24 Growden, Dan   584   131730
    16 White, Alex   526    81419
    17 Silverstone, D  654    711202
    4  Coughlin, Matt  63   1   1011151
    13 Deveaux, Andre  583    6965
    10 Brown, Andrew   602    6851
    19 Efthimiou, Brad 481    780
    44 Dmytruk, Rob   411    1227
    30 Chovan, Jan   390    220
    23 Orr, Blake   110    1112
    1  Colaiacovo, P   320    110
    23 Ostrander, Eric  00    000
    37 Olden, Jesse    10    002