Under the Rock

By Steve Gandour

LEAFS BANK ON CENTOMO

With the recent injury to Curtis Joseph, the Leafs have reached deep into their pockets and pulled out a relative unknown to take over with the parent club. Sebastien Centomo came on high recommendations from St. John’s coach Lou Crawford . . . and has impressed many in the Leafs organization by literally leaping up the ladder this season of prospect talent.

Sebastien Centomo was an undrafted junior player from the QMJHL. He earned a contract with an impressive tryout at the Leafs rookie camp. The Leafs assigned Centomo to the Memphis River Kings of the Central Hockey League for the start of this season.

Sebastien had a dominant start to the season in the CHL. In November, Centomo posted a perfect eight and zero record, with a 95.3 save percentage and sparkling 1.58 GAA. He was awarded Goalie of the Month honors in November, and named starting goalie for the Northern Conference in the CHL All Star Game. Centomo left Memphis with a record of 16 wins and one loss in 19 starts for the River Kings. He boasted a .934 save percentage and 2.09 GAA during that stretch.

Centomo played for Canada in the Spengler Cup and went a perfect two and zero in the tournament. Included in the two victories was a huge victory over the Finnish Turku team where he held the Finnish players to two goals on twenty-nine shots in a four to two victory. Leaf scouts were so impressed by Centomo that when Tellqvist continued to struggle . . . Sebastien got the call up to try his luck at the AHL level. Since the call up, Sebastien has posted a very impressive 2.39 GAA, .932 save percentage and an eight and four record for the Baby Leafs.

Sebastien Centomo is a standup goalie, he is known for his good reflexes and great communication with his defense when on the ice. Lou Crawford called Centomo a very calm and cool goaltender who never panics even in tough game situations. Centomo has been consistently reliable at each new level he has faced. However, as anxious as Leaf fans are to embrace a new rookie, we must look at this for what it is. Centomo is not Curtis Joseph. He has not even played a single NHL game. He will be Schwab’s backup, and only until the Leafs can talk a team into removing the noose they feel they have around the Leaf GM’s neck.

It is a big step from the AHL to the NHL . . . and Centomo has not really had a chance to get a feel for the AHL, though he has had early success. It will be fun to watch this kid see some ice time, but don’t count on him to steal a spot and suddenly stick with the club. Sebastien would be the first to admit he knows he is a temporary fix for the present.

COAST TO COAST AND ACROSS THE POND

Jason Sessa – South Carolina Sting Rays (ECHL)
Jason, the Leafs fifth round choice in 1986, was traded this week by the Sting Rays to Dayton for defenseman Matt Desrosiers and winger Jeff Boulanger. Jason had recorded nineteen goals and thirty-four points in fourty games for the Rays this season.

Michael Knoepfli – Cornell Big Red Div 1 (NCAA)
Mike continues to develop slowly in his first year at Cornell. Mike plans to remain on at Cornell for a few years before going pro. His stats this season currently read 26 games; 4 goals; 4 assists; 8 points.

Regan Kelly – Providence College Friars (HE)
Regan’s six goals continue to lead the Friars defense in scoring this season. Regan has shown incredible development since joining the Friars, and is a long term prospect the Leafs are anxious to watch develop. His stats this season are currently 35 games; 6 goals; 10 assists; 16 points.

Jamie Hodson – South Carolina Sting Rays (ECHL)
After two great back to back performances for the Sting Rays, South Carolina coach Rick Adduono named Jamie Hodson starting goalie again over previous starter Jody Lehman.

Peter Metcalf – Maine Black Bears (HE)
Peter has had a superb senior year breakout for the Black Bears. Peter has exploded with thirty- five points in thirty-four games this season. He has practically doubled his career output in half as many games. Great numbers made even better when you consider he is a defenseman.

Pierre Hedin – MoDo (SWE)
Pierre has made it clear that he would rather stay on in the MoDo league than make the move to North America next year. It is expected that Pierre may never make the move to North America.

This column will appear every Thursday and will focus on Leaf prospects in North America below the AHL level and on those in Europe. Comments, as always, are welcome.