Baby Leafs News and Notes

By Kevin Kelly

Leafs get Harold Druken for Christmas but is he the
answer for Baby Leafs woes?

The St. John’s Maple Leafs, desperate for some
Christmas cheer after 15 losses in their last 20
games, got a nice Christmas present from Toronto with
the claiming of St. John’s native and former Canuck
Harold Druken from the Carolina Hurricanes. Druken was
almost immediately sent to the St. John’s Leafs for
conditioning. Unfortunately, the fans at home may have
to wait a little longer to see him in the Blue and
White as his conditioning assignment ends before the
Leafs return home to St. John’s after a nine game road
trip and the future of the 23 year old is unclear.
Druken would have to clear waivers again before he is
sent back to St. John’s, and it’s not known if another
team may claim him. Most observers however believe the
addition of Druken is to benefit the Baby Leafs, not
just on the ice but also at the gate, where the teams
slump sees a smaller crowd at Mile One than usual
these days.

The Leafs recent games:

December 12th-Hamilton 3, Leafs 0.

Ty Conklin made 29 saves and the Leafs bad luck streak
continued despite a relatively solid effort. The Leafs
had quite a few chances to score early as Brad Boyes,
looking more like a star every time he sets out on the
ice, hit a post and was robbed by a glovehand save by
Conklin, Aaron Gavey missed a two on one and Bob Wren,
despite a great deke effort failed to get the puck
past the netminder. Jani Rita, Tomas Plekanec (with an
assist from Bonavista native Michael Ryder) and
Fernando Pisani tallied the goals for Hamilton. Brad
Leeb sat out the game with a suspension while Chris
Chartier (heel), Nathan Barrett(ankle), Robb Pahlahnuk
(finger) also were scratched. Josh Holden who did play
got served with a game misconduct after the forward
got in a fight with Chad Hinz and didn’t have his
jersey tied down. The win put Hamilton in first place
overall in the AHL. Leafs goalie Mikael Tellqvist made
32 saves in the loss.
Three Stars:1) Conklin 2) Tellqvist 3) Michael Ryder

Tuesday December 10th- Hamilton 5, Leafs 4.

This game should have been a win for the Blue and
White but the faithful at Mile One were bitten thanks
to two late goal bites by those pesky Bulldogs in the
final 2:15 of the third as the Leafs fell 5-4. Benoit
Gratton’s tally with 36 seconds left on the clock got
the victory after the Leafs were up 4-3 with less than
three minutes in the third. Leaf goals were by Brad
Boyes (a pair), Luca Cereda and a shorthanded tally by
Aaron Gavey. Dwayne Hay had a pair of assists for the
Leafs along with Alex Ponikarovsky. Fernando Pisani,
Jani Rita, Jarret Stoll, and Francois Beauchemin
tallied the other Hamilton goals. Mikael Tellqvist
played his first game in a while after suffering a
neck strain The Leafs sent Jamie Hodson back to
Greensboro after the contest, but Hodson will play for
Canada at the Spengler Cup tournament. Only 3,889
attended the game, the lowest attendance for a hockey
game at Mile One ever. Three Stars: 1) Gratton 2)
Boyes, 3) Tony Salmelainen

December 7, 2002 Pirates 7, Leafs 3.

This game, friends, was ugly from the get-go, thanks
to some defensive lapses by players that should know
better. Anders Eriksson had another turnover for a
goal, as it was his third direct turnover in three
games that allowed a goal against. Trent Whitfield was
Wayne Gretzky on this night with 2 goals and four
assists while Andreas Salmonsson had five assists
against the Leafs, who should have been buoyed by the
late second victory over the Pirates the night before.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, Aaron Gavey and a Penalty shot
goal by Bob Wren (the first for the Leafs since Brian
Wiseman did it in 1999)were the only offence the Leafs
could muster against this Pirate ship. Sebastien
Centomo made 31 saves and the Pirates tallied five
powerplay goals on seven opportunities. That doesn’t
do much for the PK stats.

December 6, 2002 Leafs 4, Portland 3 (OT)

The best win of the season? Probably. The weather
outside was frightful as 30 cm of snow blanketed the
oldest city in North America, but 5,442 Leaf fans felt
delightful as Brad Boyes scored with 0.3 seconds left
in OT as the Leafs defeated Portland 4-3. The Leafs
came back from a 3-0 deficit to win the game and
snapped a three game winless streak. Jamie Hodson
started the game in goal for the Leafs but was chased
after allowing 2 goals on the Pirates first two shots
by Matt Pettinger and Trent Whitfield . Former Leaf
draft pick Mark Murphy also tallied for Portland
before the Leafs comeback ensued. Brad Leeb was the
offensive catalyst with a pair of goals and Jay
Harrison tallied the other Leafs marker. Leafs captain
Craig Mills returned to the lineup in the game after
missing 10 games with a broken finger. Sebastien
Centomo got the win for the Leafs in goal.

Leafs news:

The Leafs recent World Junior night was a success, but
there was a bit of a booboo. Dwayne Hay, a recent
addition to the Leafs lineup was completely ignored,
even though he did play in the World Juniors for Team
Canada. Leafs who were honored included Brad Boyes,
Brad Leeb, Jay Harrison, and Craig Mills.

Is Druken the answer for the Leafs recent woes?
Perhaps, but the answer should be on defence where the
Leafs have given up the most goals by any AHL team.
Despite that fact, the problem isn’t goaltending, but
defensive lapses that have cost too many games.

Former St. John’s Maple Leaf and (former Hab first
rounder )forward Terry Ryan, Jr. has retired. The 1st
pick by the Habs in 1995, the Mount Pearl,
Newfoundland native Ryan never fit in to the Habs and
no other team wanted him after his contract dispute
with the club alienated him from the Habs brass. He
did play in Fredericton, the Leafs, the Utah Grizzlies
and a few other minor league teams here there and
everywhere. He ended his career with the Cincinnati
Cyclones, with dreams of NHL stardom never panning out
and the designation by the Montreal Gazette as one of
the worst first round picks ever by the organization.

Bravo to former Leaf Nathan Dempsey for a four assist
night recently with the Blackhawks. Meanwhile, another
former Leaf Mike Eastwood was claimed on waivers by
the Hawks from the Blues organization. Ok, the Hawks
have former Leafs Dempsey, Shawn Thornton (in
Norfolk), Ryan Vandenbusche, and now Mike Eastwood.
Former Leafs bench boss Al MacAdam is an assistant
coach with the organization. Hmm, is Buddy the Puffin
next to be drafted by the Hawks?