AHL’s Southern Division Report

By Al Alven

AHL Southern Division Report

This week’s version of the AHL South Report will be
slightly condensed, as we are currently working on
next week’s season preview specials. The scheulde will
go like this:

Monday (Oct. 1): Hershey Bears Preview

Tuesday (Oct. 2): Norfolk Admirals Preview

Wednesday (Oct. 3): Philadelphia Phantoms Preview

Thursday (Oct. 4): WBS Penguins Preview

In this article, we’ll briefly cover the major
happenings in the week that was for the Bears,
Admirals, Phantoms and Penguins…

Hershey Bears Update

Earlier in the week, the parent Colorado Avalanche
sent six players back to Hershey. Forwards Kelly
Fairchild, Jordan Krestanovich, Steve Moore and
Yevgeny Lazarev, defenseman Jeff Paul and goaltender
Phil Sauve all rejoined the Bears’ training camp. On
Wednesday (Sept. 26) forward Matt Herr arrived in camp
as well, on loan from the Florida Panthers. Herr spent
time last season with the Washington Capitals,
Portland Pirates and Philadelphia Phantoms.

Potential Bears still competing for roster spots with
the Avs include: forwards Mikhail Kuleshov, Vaclav
Nedorost, Radim Vrbata, Brian Willsie and (Hershey
captain) Brad Larsen, and defensemen Rick Berry, Bryan
Muir, Jaroslav Obsut, Alex Riazantsev and Pascal
Trepanier.

Center Yuri Babenko skated for the first time this
week since suffering a groin pull on the first day of
scrimmage play at Colorado’s secondary camp in
Hershey.

Hershey finally plays its first preseason game of the
season tonight. The Bears will faceoff against the WBS
Penguins in Wilkes-Barre at 7:05 p.m. The team will
host the Penguins and Phantoms at Hersheypark Arena on
Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Norfolk Admirals Update

Thirteen prospective Admirals were assigned to
Norfolk in the past week by the parent Chicago
Blackhawks. On Saturday (Sept. 22), the team shipped
forwards Mike Souza, Ajay Baines and Shawn Thornton,
and defensemen Marty Wilford and Dmitri Tolkunov to
Virginia. Two days later, forwards Casey Hankinson, Ty
Jones, Nathan Perrott, Reto Von Arx and Valeri
Zelepukin, defenseman Rumun Ndur, and goaltenders
Craig Andersson and Michael Leighton arrived in
Norfolk as well.

Norfolk will not play its first preseason game until
tomorrow night. The team will travel to Voorhees, NJ
(Flyers Skate Zone), to play the Phantoms at 7 p.m.

Tonight, the Admirals will host an intrasquad
scrimmage, dubbed the “Blue and White Game,” at the
Norfolk Scope at 7 p.m. All proceeds from the game
will be donated to the United Way Attack On America
Relief Fund, established to assist the victims and
families of the recent terrorist attacks. Norfolk
Mayor Paul D. Fraim and Councilman Randy Wright have
been named honorary coaches for the game.

Philadelphia Phantoms Update

On Saturday (Sept. 22), the Phantoms took their
second straight preseason game from the Albany River
Rats, a 3-1 decision before an closed house at the
First Union Center (immediately preceding a Flyers-NJ
Devils exhibition contest). Rookie J.F. Cauron
continued his strong play, notching his third goal of
the preseason. Mark Freer and Kirby Law also scored
for the Phantoms. Maxime Ouellet continued to shine,
stopping six of seven shots in the first period. He
turned aside 19 of 20 shots the previous night in a
Flyers exhibition against the NY Islanders.

It continues to look like Pavel Brendl won’t be
starting the upcoming season with the Phantoms after
all. Not only has the 20-year-old Czech right wing
been a surprise for the Flyers thus far, he’s arguably
been their best player in the preseason. Brendl has racked up eight points (three goals, five assists) in just four preseason games with the Flyers. With his
addition (still not official), the Flyers’ roster
looks to be set for the upcoming season.

Today, the Phantoms assinged six players to the
Trenton Titans. Forwards J.F. Caudron, Patrick Leahy
and Allain St. Hilaire, defenseman Mike Colgan, and
goaltender Dan Murphy were officially sent to the
Phantoms’ ECHL affiliate.

The Phantoms have two games remaining on their
preseason schedule. Tomorrow night, they will host the
Norfolk Admirals at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees,
NJ at 7 p.m. On Sunday, the team will travel to
Hershey for a 6 p.m. affair with the Bears at
Hersheypark Arena.

WBS Penguins Update

In a pair of fight-filled contests, the Penguins lost
their first two preseason games of the season to the
Syracuse Crunch. On Tuesday (Sept. 25), the Pens
dropped a 4-2 decision to the Crunch in Wilkes-Barre.
The game featured a total of 267 penalty minutes (159
for Syracuse, 108 for WBS). Both WBS goals were scored
by right winger Jason MacDonald. In the rematch on
Thursday (Sept. 27), the Pens suited up 18 players who
are likely to comprise the Wheeling Nailers (WBS’s
ECHL affiliate) this season. This time around, the two
teams racked up “only” 225 total penalty minutes (135
for WBS, 90 for Syracuse), as the Crunch skated to a
4-3 victory at the Onondaga County War Memorial at
Oncenter. Casey Harris, Ken Tasker and Colin Chaulk
notched goals for the Pens in this one.

In a press conference immediately following the
exhibition opener in Wilkes-Barre, head coach Glen
Patrick announced that Jason MacDonald would be the
team’s captain for the 2001-02 season. MacDonald
becomes the fifth captain in team history. He is the
first to wear the “C” since Sven Butenchon was traded
to Edmonton on March 13 of last season. The team did
not have a captain for the remainder of last season,
including its Calder Cup run. Tyler Wright, Steve
Leach and John Slaney have also served as captain in
the team’s brief history.

Tonight, the Pens will play the first game of a
home-and-home series against Hershey in Wilkes-Barre
at 7 p.m. Tomorrow’s preseason finale against the
Bears will be played at Hersheypark Arena, also at 7
p.m.

One final note: as of 5 p.m. this evening, one of the
jerseys that Mario Lemieux wore during last Saturday’s
preseason game with the WBS Penguins had fetched an
auction bid price of $7,700 (on 26 bids) on the team’s
official website. The auction ends on Oct. 1 at 3:41
p.m.