By Mike Buskus
Albany Week in Review #18
Trickle-down effect from Devils?
With the news, reported by Sports Network and AP on Monday afternoon, February 4, 2002, that the New Jersey Devils had agreed to terms with veteran goaltender, John Vanbiesbrouck, to return to the NHL club, the inevitable speculation “down on the farm” in Albany is this: who gets the boot in net?
To date, the Albany River Rats have followed a “rotation” system, in which Ari Ahonen and Scott Clemmensen have alternated starts. Though Ahonen is slightly ahead in statistical measures (2.97 goals-against; .913 save percentage, versus 3.11 GAA and .910 save percentage for Clemmensen), Clemmensen has, in the opinion of this writer, been sharper lately. The Boston College graduate did get pulled several weeks back in a “rematch” of the “Frozen Four” against Karl Goehring (late of North Dakota, now with the Syracuse Crunch). However, it was Clemmensen who weathered blizzards of shots in Hartford, facing 48 shots (with 46 saves) and 45 shots (with 40 saves) on successive Saturdays at the Hartford Veterans’ Memorial Civic Center. This past week, Clemmensen earned “first star” in Rochester with his 38-save effort backstopping a 1-1 tie against the Amerks.
While some teams have experimented with a three goaltender system, usually that is a temporary expedient while an out-placement is sought for one of the three. With J.F. Damphousse thus destined to be shipped out of East Rutherford, New Jersey, as soon as the “Beezer” is in game shape, the questi Read more »
The Viking Cup is a traditional tournament of the European Under-18 teams, who square off against
the Canadian university teams or Junior A leagues selection teams. Just like every year,
the Czech Under-18 team takes part in this tournament. The young Czech travelled overseas
already in mid-December, before the Viking Cup tournament they played five exhibition games.
All of them turned out to be wins of the Czech team and so they could feel ready for the
main tourney. That didn’t turn out to be a huge success, the Czechs recorded just one win
in the regular group games and in the quarterfinals they were beaten by the AJHL Junior A
Selects. Bright individualities on the Czech roster were on display again, mostly goalie
Lukas Mensator, defensemen Martin Cizek and Tomas Linhart and forwards Jakub Koreis, Jan
Kubista and Jakub Langhammer. All of them gave their best to the team and could be in the
spotlight also against those older opponents. So let’s have a look how the games were!
Czech Republic – Augustana Vikings 1:5
After the five relatively easy wins in the exhibition games the young
Czechs faced the first Viking Cup opponent. The Augustana University
Vikings team had lots of older players on the roster, some already
reaching their prime at 27. The Czechs had trouble with dealing with
the faster pace of game than in the exhibition games plus they had
two days off before this match. Near the halfway mark of the first
period Lonnie Granley gave the lead to the Augustana team. Read more »
In its policy towards the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the National Hockey League is doing the same mistake as the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev when he tried to implement “perestroika” and “glasnost” some 15 years ago. Gorbachev thought he would reach his objectives by giving the people a little of everything, a little of communism, a little of capitalism and a little freedom. The result was a bit of a mess.
The debate in North American sports media since the hockey season started shows, when one can read between the lines, that the NHL has the same kind of ambivalent feelings towards what should be the biggest show in hockey history. The league wants to be a big part of the show, but not too much. It wants the Olympics to be perceived as something great, but not too great. At least not to the point where it overshadows the NHL All Star game.
The NHL has paid serious money in order to have its logotype integrated with the Salt Lake 2002 logo. Almost every official NHL publication it boasts the Olympic “Hockey Rules” slogan. But when Slovak, German and Latvian players beg to be released for the preliminary round of the Olympic tournament, instead of telling the team GM:s: “Let them go”, the league commissioner looks the other way.
The NHL loves to poach on Olympic ideals, but when a half-injured player declines All-Star game participation in order to be fully fit for the Olympics, a high ranked NHL-official threatens with a fine.
The NHL’s basic problem stems from the fact that North American team sports are not used to i Read more »
QMJHL ALL-STARS LOOK TO WIN ANOTHER HERSHEY CUP
RIMOUSKI – The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League can win its second Hershey
Cup Wednesday night when the QMJHL Dilio Conference All-Stars take on the
Western Hockey League’s Western Conference All-Stars in the third and final
game of the 2002 Hershey Cup CHL All-Star Series.
Game time is 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on RDS in Quebec and
on Rogers Sportsnet.
The inaugural Hershey Cup was won last year by the QMJHL’s two all-star
teams and the league has a chance to make it two for two by winning
Wednesday night’s game, to be held at the Colisee de Rimouski, the beautiful
home arena of the l’Oceanic de Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey
The 2002 Hershey Cup CHL All-Star Series opened up in Ottawa on Jan. 16,
when the QMJHL Lebel Conference All-Stars defeated the OHL East Conference
All-Stars 4-2. Frederic Faucher of the Drummondville Voltigeurs sparked
Quebec with a pair of goals, while Jonathan Bellemare of the Shawinigan
Cataractes added three assists.
Matthew Lombardi of the Victoriaville Tigres and Jason Pominville of the
Cataractes scored the other goals for the winners. Olivier Michaud of
Shawinigan, Jean-Francois Racine of Drummondville and Pascal Leclaire of
Montreal all played very well in the victory before 5,439 fans in Ottawa.
Zenon Konopka of the Ottawa 67’s and Blaine Down of the Barrie Colts scored
for the OHL, while Peter Budaj and Andy Chiodo of the Toronto St. Michael’s
Majors and David Chant of the Barrie Colts played in Read more »
“I was worried about my participation in the Olympics”, Vauclair says when discussing the past few months. To be in Salt Lake City was a big personal goal for the young defenseman. Last summer when he signed a 3-year contract with the Ottawa Senators he made sure there was a clause in it which granted his release for the Olympics in case he would be called up. “Nevertheless I had to keep in mind I might not even would be selected. Coach Krüeger had said, at the end of last season, that he would try not to take any AHL-players in his squad. That was the risk of my move to North-America. Now I can say everything has been going for me but I did work very hard to achieve that.”
Vauclair is having a good season. The change of scenery clearly did not hurt him. In pre-season he competed for a roster spot in the Senators’ trainings camp for a long time. Just one week before the start of the season he was demoted to the minor affliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Vauclair:”I was really hoping I would start the season in the NHL, but I feel very good in the AHL as well now. Grand Rapids is the best team in the league at the moment. I’m progressing and can develop my game here. From Ottawa I get a lot of response on my game, and the scouts are watching every game.”
Without doubt you can say Julien Vauclair isn’t an offensive defenseman. In 269 Nationalliga A games in Switzerland he produced ‘just’ 7 goals and 21 assists. This season in the AHL he collected 14 points (4+10) in the first 46 games of the season. On the team Vauclair is one of the top 4 defenseman and therefor Read more »
February 3rd: Slovakia 4 Switzerland 1
6 Days before the start of the Olympics the Swiss team got beaten big time by Slovakia in Boise, Idaho. Since Ralph Krüeger was appointed national team coach in 1997, Switzerland hadn’t been outplayed like they ere in this game. Slovakia dominated throughout the game and outshot the Swiss 45 to 21. Goalie Lars Weibel stopped 41 shots and prevented an even more dramatic result for Switzerland. At the end of the day the main question was what this game had brought the Swiss. The answer seemed to be that this game would be used for provocation.
On the smaller North-American rink the Slovaks were far more motivated then there European coutnerparts who had only lost to Slovakia once in 6 previous meetings. It was ironical that goalie Weibel was Switzerland’s best player as he’d probably see no ice time during the Olympics as David Aebischer and Martin Gerber will be the first two goalies. Krüeger could be quoted that “not a single player could be happy about today’s performance and that the third period saw not much good from their side. Most goals were due to simple errors and them could be blamed on fatigue. We had expected that though.”
Arriving from Sweden will be goalie Martin Gerber and forward Marcel Jenni along with assistant coach Bent-Ake Gustafsson who will all be avaialble for the second game vs Slovakia. Also Martin Steinegger who was recovering from an injury and had not seen any ice yet is likely to be available.
0-1 16. Conne (Della Rossa Read more »
HF: What has been your biggest obstacle playing at this level of hockey (AHL).
BR: I wouldn’t call it obstacles, but being in and out of the line up has really given me a hard time. That is my fault. If I were doing everything right, I wouldn’t be in and out of the line up as much as I have been. Also, I need to work on my strength and my on ice vision. That has been my major downfall at this level.
HF: In what way has Trent Yawney (head coach) helped develop your skills more?
BR: He keeps telling me to do the little things right, and for the most part he lets me play.
HF: How are you adjusting to this league after playing at the ECHL level?
BR: Adjustment is a huge step, because in the ECHL you have maybe three or four guys that can play at this level. I need to work on passing better, working on my speed and being there at the right time.
HF: How do you prepare yourself for a game?
BR: I have my twenty-minute workout here, (practice) and I grab a bite to eat of chicken or pasta and nap for a few hours. [Laughing] It’s pretty standard, but that is my typical game day.
HF: Any pre-game rituals?
BR: [Pausing] I can’t say that I do, unless I score a couple days in a row and than I try to remember what I did or what skate I put on first that day.
HF: Who are your heroes off the ice?
BR: My father and mother. Without them I wouldn’t be here. As a kid, they would be up with me at five o clock in the morning for practice. Read more »
Krys Kolanos has graduated according to Hockeys Future prospects rules
#1 Jeff Taffe – Minnesota Gophers (26 GP, 22 G, 15 A, 37 P, 16 PIM, -1)
Taffe has had a career year so far as his production from last year has almost doubled. One problem with Taffe is his defensive game is not as strong as his offensive game and he needs to become a better 2-way center. Taffe was one of the key components in the Keith Tkachuk trade and his status is unknown to whether he will try to make the Coyotes roster as of next year or stay in College for his senior season.
#2 Martin Podelsak – Lethbridge Hurricanes (32 GP, 12 G, 20 A, 32 P, 29 PIM, +9)
Podelsak has adjusted well to the North American ice style since he came over to North America in the 2000 CHL Import Draft. Podelsak 2-way game has improved greatly this year. Podelsak is also starting to use is 6’5” frame to his advantage. Podelsak’s future will most likely stay in the juniors for one more year before attmpting to transfer over the to NHL.
#3 Jason Jaspers – Springfield Falcons (40 GP, 17 G, 10 A, 27 P, 35 PIM, +3)
Jaspers is having a great year so far and has even earned a recall with the Coyotes, which he registered a point in three games played. After the Coyotes made the Lewtoski trade, it has opened a door for Jaspers who plays almost an identical style as Lewtoski did. Jaspers will have a shot at making the Coyotes although he will stay at Springfield next year at all likelihood.
#4 Peter Fabus – Dukla Trencin (22 GP, 12 G, 8 A, 20 P, 59 PIM, +12)
F Read more »
Lowell remains in first in the AHL’s North Division with 63 points, 3 ahead of Manchester. The Lock Monsters pulled off an impressive 4-3 win over the Monarchs yesterday, then beat Providence 3-1 today while Manchester lost 5-0 to Portland.
Florida is in 5th place in the ECHL’s competitive Southeast Division with 54 points, 7 points behind Greenville.
Updates for all of the Hurricanes’ prospects are provided in the tables below. The statistics are for the games played since the last update (up to Feb. 1st).
As can be seen, Zigomanis, Svoboda, MacDonald and MacNeil continue to be solid contributors for Lowell while Heerema and Ritchie lead the team offensively each and every game. Moss and Pelletier continue to provide a stellar goaltending tandem for the Lock Monsters. Apparently, Ritchie was loaned back to Lowell after being traded to the Florida Panthers and spending some time with the big club.
In the collegiate ranks, Bayda and Fast are key pieces of the North Dakota and Michigan State offences while Malec, Newman and Surma are putting up some offensive numbers in junior. Due to his lack of play, it is unclear whether Daniel Boisclair is injured or was traded from Cape Breton to another QMJHL team.
Everblades goaltender Randy Petruk has the distinction of being called up directly from the ECHL to the NHL. This past week, with the Hurricanes playing in nearby Tampa Bay and Tom Barrasso out with an injury, Petruk got the call to backup Irbe. His solid season is apparently being noticed by the top brass.
The Czech Under-17 team has left a very solid impression at the previous World Hockey
Challenge in Manitoba. The players are in their second year of international competiton
and some of them have already played their first games in the Czech senior Extraleague.
It is obvious that just like every year, Czech hockey will have representation among the
top prospects for the respective draft, this time 2003 or 2004. The top Czech 1985 born players
have already made their presence felt, especially the “great line”, consisting of forwards
Vojtech Polak – Petr Vrana – Ivo Kratena. Those three keep terrorising the opposition and
draw some comparisons to the line Jaromir Jagr – Robert Reichel – Robert Holik twelve years ago.
So let’s have a look at the brightest 1985 born Czech players (I included also players
who play regularly for the Under-18, but due to their birthdate are still eligible to play
for the Under-17 team)!
Jakub Cech – the Havirov goalie broke into the senior Extraleague this season and his start
made some people turn their heads. Cech plays with a suprising portion of maturity and poise
for a 16-year old goalie in the league, where most goalies are around thirty. He plays a mix
of butterfly and stand-up style which is highly effective. Cech has a very good control of
first shots and is also succesfull against rebounds. Uses his blocker and glove well and
is extremly tough to beat on the high side. He has a good size and covers the net and plays
the angles well. Cech plays with lots of confidence and can keep the t Read more »