Battle for Turner Cup down to Four Teams
The IHL’s Eastern and Western Conference Finals are now well underway. There could, potentially be a rematch of the Chicago-Grand Rapids final that we witnessed last season as both teams are still alive and well. Let’s take a look at the match-ups and quickly summarize how each team advanced.
In the East, Grand Rapids swept Cleveland aside in four straight games. The Griffins, the IHL’s top team this season continue to ice a lineup that consists of a nice blend of youth and veteran talent. Chris Neil and Petr Schastlivy consist of the former while David Oliver, John Gruden, Todd White and Kip Miller have all spent a decent length of time in the NHL.
The Orlando Solar Bears carried their momentum from a solid second half of the season to roll over the Cyclones in five games. They are a very offensive-minded group that relies on league-MVP Norm Maracle to provide a solid final line of defence. Top players are Curtis Murphy, Todd Richards, J.P. Vigier, Hugo Boisvert, Brian Pothier and Jarrod Skalde.
The Solar Bears won the first game of this series 4-3 in triple overtime. The Griffins then rebounded with a 4-2 win in game two. And, Orlando bounced back for a 5-3 win in game three. The series now switches back to Grand Rapids for the next two games as arena booking conflicts called for a 1-2-2-1-1 format rather than the usual 2-2-1-1-1. Expect Mike Fountain to redeem himself in game four after a poor showing in game three and look for the Griffins to take this series.
In the We Read more »
Colorado College Forward Justin Morrison plays a lot differently than his namesake which is currently a Canuck, Brendan. He put up good numbers in his final season of NCAA eligibility, and is still unsigned. The Canucks should make a push to sign Justin before the Draft. ETA: 2004, probably on some other team.
Ryan Ready is a very hardworking youngster whom the Canucks have had in their system for two years. A former Belleville Bull, Ryan is making himself into a pretty decent two-way player down in Kansas City. His skating still needs some work, and he’s not much of a scorer, but he’s a good player in his own end, and can lend a hand in killing penalties. ETA: 2004, on some other team, if not, a high-end career minor-leaguer.
Josh Holden was expected to be a 50-70 point scorer in the NHL when he was drafted. That all looks like a pipe dream now. In fairness, he’s had a lot of injury problems, and has been a steady scorer in Syracuse and Kansas City, but, he still qualifies as a disappointment, because of his inability to stay healthy, and his inability to hold down a job in the NHL. He doesn’t figure into the Canucks’ mix anymore. ETA: This year, or never, as a Canuck.
Pat Kavanagh impressed in the playoffs. He showed vast improvement over his first season in the minors by doubling his point output, and adding fourteen more goals, swelling his season total to twenty-six. In the NHL playoffs, he was understandably nervous, but didn’t make any glaring errors in his limited ice time. He was mostly showcased in pena Read more »
The Memorial Cup is just around the corner and the OHL champion will soon be decided. For the second year in a row the Plymouth Whalers will fight for an opportunity to represent the OHL in the tournament while the Ottawa 67’s will look to make their second appearance in 3 years in the prestigious tournament.
Before we start anything here’s a look at the schedule for the series:
Date Home Visitors
Sat. May 5 Plymouth Ottawa
Sun. May 6 Plymouth Ottawa
Thurs. May 10 Ottawa Plymouth
Fri. May 11 Ottawa Plymouth
Sun. May 13 Plymouth Ottawa
Tues. May 15 Ottawa Plymouth
Wed. May 16 Plymouth Ottawa
Now that that’s settled let’s break down the match-up:
OFFENCE: Both teams feature a number of high scoring players that can break open a game at any time. Ottawa features defenceman Jon Zion and forward Joe Talbot while the Whalers counter with the likes of Damian Surma, Stephen Weiss and Kris Vernarsky. With those types of players on each side there should be no shortage of offence for this series.
DEFENCE: Plymouth’s defensive corps were bolstered when the Whalers added Ryan O’Keefe from Barrie. This will be O’Keefe’s second straight appearance in the finals. The Whalers also boast NHL draft prospect Cole Jarrett and Libor Ustrnul. On the Ottawa side Jonathan Zion is always a threat.
GOALTENDING: The Whalers are backstopped by two time OHL goaltender of the year runner-up Rob Zepp. Zepp had a solid season and backu Read more »
The Canucks’ youngsters at forward are a bunch of young stallions, some of which will be put out to stud in trade offers, but others, will shine through, still others, will probably, sadly, never make it to the NHL.
The top Canucks forward prospect is none other than big Russian centre Artem Chubarov. He will be a very good NHL’er, once he can shake that injury bug. He still needs a bit of seasoning at the minor league level. He needs one full season at Manitoba this upcoming year, then in 2002-03, he should start making his big step towards the two-way prowess which originally attracted the Canucks to him. He has been a point-a-game man in the minors, in only a small amount of games, but he has gotten a point per game average. Maybe he can get on a streak in Manitoba next season, and be one of the first Canuck call-ups in 2001-02.
The Canuck prospect with the most offensive talent, is arguably Brandon Reid. Getting him so late in the 2000 Draft has proven to be an outright steal for Burke. He should spend at least one year with Manitoba in the IHL, helping him get acclimated to pro hockey slowly, not rushing his development, and hopefully his offensive talent could carry over. If he was a few inches taller, he would have been a first-rounder in the 2000 Draft. He also played very well for the Canadian squad at the 2000 World Junior Championships, getting a point a game for the Bronze medal-winning Canadians.
Jarkko Ruutu. Ruutu is constantly all over the ice, throwing big hits, agitating players, drawing penalties, scori Read more »
Go Big or go home. That was the order
of the day for the Kootenay ICE as the
WHL held their 12th annual Bantam
Draft at the Pengrowth Saddledome in
Calgary this past Thursday. In this years
draft, held for players born in 1986 and
who will be at least one year away from
playing the WHL, there wasn’t the hype
of any one player who would
immediately set the league on fire like a
Jay Bouwmeester or a Steve McCarthy
but rather an even keel of possible talent
spread throughout the early rounds. For
the Kootenay ICE, there was a theme
set throughout the draft, size. There was
a conscious effort to increase the club’s
dimensions and even though these kids
are one or two years away from
attempting to make an impact and still
have those years in which to fill out – the
message was clear – almost to a player,
size was a factor.
Finding themselves picking eighteenth
out of nineteen WHL club’s, Director of
Player Personnel Roy Stasiuk was taken
a little off guard when still waiting at
number eighteen was Jeremy
Schenderling, a highly touted prospect
playing for the Western Canadian
Bantam Champion Langley AAA
Eagles. Consequently, the ICE
immediately made the 6’1″, 170lb
Langley product their first overall pick.
“This might sound like a bit of a cliche,
but we honestly couldn’t believe that our
first round pick, Jeremy Schenderling
from Langley was still available at
number eighteen. We had him rated in
our assessment of the Bantam Draft in
the top three, so we are extremely
pleased at landing a player of Jeremy’s
caliber, Read more »
With little or no fanfare from any major hockey publication this crusader has left a mark upon the Western Hockey League and his opponents. It’s interesting to note that over the last two seasons he has produced solid numbers and has the respect around the league but because he was not drafted in the first couple rounds he receives no credit from other cicles.
Underestimated and underappreciated seems to be Christians call to arms and it will be very suprising if he is not ranked in the top fifty prospects overall by the middle of next season.
Nominated for two awards this year with first being the Player of the Year in the WHL along with Justin Mapletoft and Defenseman of the Year up against Matt Kinch of the Calgary Hitmen. If Christian wins best Defenseman of the Year he along with fellow future teammate Alexie Semenov will have taken two out three leagues in the Canadian Hockey League in that respect.
If by chance Christian does come away with both awards his stock should rise as dramically as Jani Rita’s did this season after the World Junior Championships.
It may seem like one small step for Alexei Semenov of the Sudbury Wolves by moving up from Defensive Defenseman of the year in 1999-2000 and taking the top prize this season but nothing is small when your 6’6″.
A tower of power on defense this season he seems eager to bring on the challenges the next level will bring him. His well rounded play and shear dominance over his opponants in his own zone made the decision by the General Managers of the Ontario Hockey League to give him this award easy.
However the voting was close with the top three vote getters with 54-46-32 points respectivly. The trio was quite impressive considering he beat out Rostislav Klesla whom was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets 4th overall last year, rounding out the top three was Jon Zion whom plays for the Ottawa 67′s. It may turn out that Alexei a second round pick of Edmonton’s in 1999 may end up being the steal of the draft.
Some of the past winners read like an All Star ballot with Dennis Potvin winning two years in a row back in 71-72 and 72-73. With most receintly the additions of Al MacInnis in 82-83, Chris Pronger in 92-93 and retired Bryan Berard with a double as well in 94-95 and 95-96. If the progression continues he may one day in the distant future be considered on par with some of the names mentioned above.