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ECHL Playoffs Update

by Ron Valerino

Tonight the Johnstown Chiefs and the Peoria Rivermen meet for Game #3 of the Northwest division semi-finals. The Rivermen lead the series 2-0 in the best of five series.

In Game 1 Chad Starling’s power play goal 4:50 into the second period broke a 1-1 tie and lifted the Peoria Rivermen to a 2-1 win over the visiting Chiefs. Eric Schneider scored the lone goal for the Chiefs on the power play. Chiefs goaltender Dany Sabourin made 38 saves, including 18 in the first period. Peoria goaltender Phil Osaer made 27 saves in the contest.

In Game 2 Peoria Rivermen forward Tyler Rennette’s second period power play goal, lifted the Rivermen to a 1-0 win Wednesday night and take a 2-0 series lead. Peoria rookie goaltender Phil Osaer posted his first profession playoff shutout as he made 20 saves. Chiefs goaltender Frederic Deschenes made 28 saves in the contest.

Playoff Notes:

Johnstown Left Wing J.F. Boutin was the 2000 Kelly Cup MVP along with current Rivermen head coach Jason Christie, when the Rivermen defeated the Louisiana IceGators in six games. Boutin had 17 goals and 15 assists in 18 post season games for Peoria in 2000

Dan Carlson led the Chiefs with 3 goals, all game winning goals, and 4 assists (7 PTS) in 6 regular season games vs. Peoria this season.

Rivermen goaltender Phil Osaer is 2-0 with a 0.50 GAA and a 0.979 save percentage in
the two games thus far and going into tonight’s game, Osaer and the Rivermen have not allowed a goal in 107:49

Player assistant coach Bret Myers lead the Rivermen in scoring this season with 34 goals Read more »

Phantoms Update/Weekend Preview

by Al Alven

The 2001-02 regular season will not be remembered as a glorious one for the American Hockey League’s Philadelphia Phantoms. Though the team held the
first place position in the Southern Division for a decent portion of the campaign, a terrible midseason slump temporarily put the team’s playoff
hopes in jeopardy. The Phantoms were able to recover and, with a 4-2 victory over the Norfolk Admirals last Saturday, clinch a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs
for the sixth consecutive season. The team has now reached the postseason every year since its
inception in 1996.

In many ways, this has been an up-and-down season for Philadelphia. The team received typically solid seasons from its veteran players (Mark Greig,
Mark Freer, John Slaney, Neil Little) and steady play from some youngsters (Bruno St. Jacques, Guillaume Lefebvre) this year. On the other hand, there
were some disappointments along the way (Pavel Brendl, Tomas Divisek, Vaclav Pletka), a rash of injuries (particularly to Slaney and fellow defenseman
Brad Tiley) and great deal of player movement. The 2001-02 season saw the Phantoms part with many popular players, including Joe DiPenta, Francis Lessard, Petr Hubacek and goaltending prospect Maxime Ouellet.

Recently, the team welcomed veterans Yves Sarault, Greg Koehler, Jarrod Skalde and goaltender Corey Hirsch (on loan from the Washington Capitals)
for the stretch drive. (Note: Be sure to check this space next week for the “Philadelphia Phantoms regular season report card”)

As they prepare to enter the final weekend of the regular se Read more »

Deadline to sign Balej fast approaching

by Chris Boucher
Josef Balej is arguably the most talented prospect in the Montréal Canadiens’ system. Therefore, the decision of whether or not to sign the young Slovak before the June 1st deadline can only be described as a “no brainer”. There’s just too much talent holding onto that black-bladed stick to lose.

Balej is coming off what is likely his toughest stretch in the last two seasons. The Portland Winter Hawks’ go-to-guy offensively was held to only two assists during a seven game opening round loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds. Balej was Seattle’s main focus in the series, as they keyed on him defensively throughout the seven games.

The Thunderbirds had only to look at the season series between the two teams to realize that stopping Balej was the only way to get by Portland. Balej played in 9 of the 11 games between the two teams this season; he missed two of the meetings with a pulled groin. Through those nine games Balej scored an impressive 11 goals, and added 4 assists; making Seattle’s eventual ability to shut him down in the playoffs even more impressive.

Regardless of Balej’s lack of scoring in the playoffs, he still showed an unwavering desire to work through the dry-spell. He continued to go to the net as the series wound down. He blocked shots, finished checks, and drew penalties throughout the series. Despite what can only be described as a frustrating seven games.

Thankfully the regular season was rewarding rather than frustrating for the 20-year-old right winger. He set career-highs in goals (51), assists (41) and points (92 Read more »

Trinec won Czech Midget Extraleague

by Robert Neuhauser
In early April, there is the final series of the Czech midget Extraleague on the schedule. The
playing scheme is the same as in the junior Extraleague and the playoff games in both leagues
are played the same day. Like in juniors, the regular season consists of 38 games. The 20 teams
are divided into two Groups, called A and B. Group A is for the teams from the western cities
of the Czech Republic and Group B for the eastern ones. During the regular season every team
meets opponents only from their own group. The top 6 teams in every group create then two
Final groups. During the Final group teams meet opponenets only from the other Final group
and play them twice – home and away. Once the Final group games are finished, the top four
teams from every Final group create four quartefinal pairs and from then now it is a regular
playoff, with quarterfinal and semifinal series and the championship series. Read more »

Swiss 2002 Draft Eligible Players’ Stats Overview

by Joeri Loonen

More info on these players can be found on the Switzerland country page on Hockeysfuture.

Patrick Bärtschi F (EHC Kloten)

Regular Season: 25 4 4 8 8

Playoffs: 11 2 2 4 2

Lukas Baumgartner D (EHC Kloten)

EHC Kloten Juniors: Stats unavailable as of yet

Romano Lemm F (EHC Kloten)

Regular Season: 0 0 0 0 0

Playoffs: 11 5 2 7 0

Tobias Stephan G (EHC Chur)

Regular Season: 23 0 0 0 2 3.32

Playouts: 10 0 0 0 0 3.63

Florian Blatter D (HC Davos)

Regular Season: 3 0 0 0 0

Playoffs: 0 0 0 0 0

Thomas Nüssli F (Rapperswil-Jona)

Regular Season (EV Zug): 19 2 1 3 8

Regular Season (EHC Basel/Kleinhüningen, Nat.Liga B) 15 3 1 70

Playouts (Rapperswil-Jona): 5 1 1 2 2

Emanuel Peter F (EHC Kloten)

Regular Season: 39 1 7 8 14

Playoffs: 3 0 0 0 0

Cyrill Bühler F (EHC Kloten)

Regular Season: 1 0 0 2

Playoffs: 0 0 0 0

Matthias Schoder G (ZSC Lions)

Regular Season: 3 0 0 0 0 2.53

Regular Season (GCK/Lions, Nationalliga B): 30 0 1 6

Playoffs: 0 0 0 0 0

Playoffs (GCK/Lions, Nationalliga B): 2 0 0 0 0

2002 Kings System- A Huge Step

by Tony Calfo

The 2001-2002 season has brought prosperity for the Kings both in the system and on the NHL level. The Kings were able to do some key things that they have not been able to do in year’s past-

1) The Kings were able to develop some top prospects that they acquired in trades and from drafts. Alex Frolov has emerged as a potential NHL star and Jared Aulin, Yannick Lehoux and Mike Cammalleri have all had seasons that have pushed them into the legitimate prospect category. The Kings have also seen defense prospects Joe Corvo and Tomas Zizka emerge as potential NHL defensemen as soon as next season. Add the improved play of Jens Karlsson and the Kings system is deep heading into a draft where they have a first round pick and two first round picks the following year.

2) The Kings were able to develop their own affiliates in Manchester and Reading. The Monarchs have been a monumental success. All of their prospects have been able to develop under their own coaching and the team has been successful as well. The franchise is a hit in Manchester and the players have prospered there.

3) The Kings were able to dip into the system when needed and were the beneficiaries of some positive results. When enforcer Ken Belanger went down, they were able to call on Kip Brennan and new fan favorite Ryan Flinn who combined to give the Kings the punch the Kings were missing for much of the season. In fact, their inspired play lit a fire under Ken Belanger who has played his best hockey since returning. When Eric Belanger went down the Kings were able to go to Brad C Read more »

Hockey’s Future Interview with Jay Bouwmeester

by Mark Fischel

Jay Bouwmeester, an excellent young defenseman from the Medicine Hat
Tigers of the WHL, took the time out of his busy schedule to conduct an
interview here at Hockey’s Future. Bouwmeester anchored the Tigers’ defense
for the past two seasons, scoring 14 goals and adding 39 assists for 53
points in 61 games this past year, including 44 penalty minutes. Projected by
many to be the top selection in the 2002 Entry Draft, some have labeled the
Edmonton native as the next Bobby Orr. Although comparing a 17 year old to an
NHL legend is a little too premature, Bouwmeester has NHL scouts drooling
over his potential.

The Medicine Hat Tigers saw a lot of potential in him from the get-go,
drafting him 1st overall in the 1998 WHL Bantam Draft, ahead of many other
high regarded players such as Dan Blackburn, Duncan Milroy and Matthew
Spiller, among others. A 6’4 214 pound defenseman, Bouwmeester is only one of
four players to play for Team Canada at the Under 20 World Junior
Championship as a 16 year old, the others being Wayne Gretzky, Eric Lindros
and Jason Spezza. Jay will make one NHL team very happy to call his name come
draft day.

Hockey’s Future: When did you realize that you had the talent necessary to even consider becoming a professional hockey player?

Jay Bouwmeester: Probably when I got drafted to come to Medicine Hat, I was drafted pretty high and I played a few games when I was 15. Sorta realized than, if I keep working on it and maybe give it a shot.

HF: Was this a goal your whole life, or did it Read more »

Thrashers prospect assignments

by Holly Gunning

This is the time of year when GM Don Waddell calls up prospects to the big show and tries to determine the extent of their development by looking at them against other NHLers. He is making “back of the envelope” guesses at what his roster might look like next fall and where the prospects are best suited to play. We at Hockey’s Future can do the same. Below is an accounting of where each prospect played this year, and a “back of the envelope” guess at where they might be in 2002-03. As speculation, it is designed to encourage discussion. Pro players are listed in rough order of where they stand on the depth chart.

Notation: When two levels are listed for a player, the one listed first is where the player spent most of his time. The plusses and minuses indicate brief call-ups or send-downs. For instance, Ben Simon played most of the year in the AHL, but was called up to the NHL briefly, therefore his level was AHL+ for the year.

Read more »

Pardubice won Czech Junior Extraleague

by Robert Neuhauser
The Czech junior Extraleague finally came to the championship battle. Every team, who wants
to compete for the title, muss pass a long way. First there is the regular season, which
consists of the usual 38 games. The teams are divided into two groups, Group A for the teams from the
western cities of the Czech Republic and Group B for the eastern cities’ teams.
Each Group consists of 10 teams. During the regular season the teams meet only opponents from
their own group. The comes the Final group. To this group advance the top 6 teams from every
Group. In the Final group the teams from group A play only the teams from Group B and every
team meets his opponent twice – home and away. Also the Final group is divided into two parts.
After that the top four teams from every Final group create four quarterfinal pairs and then
it is a regular playoff, the games are best of three.

This year the juniors of HC Pojistovna Pardubice fought their way into the finals, where they
had to face the juniors from HC Ceske Budejovice. Pardubice won the junior Extraleague the
last season and now they were hoping on a back-to-back season after they defeated HC Sparta
Praha in the semifinals. Read more »

Albany Week in Review #26

by Mike Buskus

As the season winds down, the Albany River Rats wanted to avoid making history. It is bad enough that, for the second straight year (and only the second time in the franchise’s nine-year existence), the Rats will not qualify for post-season play. But, some American Hockey League records (none to brag about) were up for grabs.

The Rats’ winless streak, dating back to game #53 on February 16, 2002 (when the Rats doubled the Portland Pirates, 4-2), stretched through all of February and almost all of March. When the week started on Monday, March 25, 2002, the streak was 19 and counting. A 3-1 loss at home, against the St. Johns’ Maple Leafs on Wednesday, stretched the count to 20. A 2-0 blanking in Philadelphia (45 saves by Ari Ahonen on 46 shots; one empty-net goal), upped the dubious distinction streak to 21.

For the record (see page 144 of the 2001-2002 American Hockey League Guide & Record Book), the worst stretch of games without a victory belongs to the Pittsburgh Hornets, who played 23 games (between February 3, 1963 and March 27 of that year) without tallying a victory (0-22-1). The 2001-2002 Albany River Rats came perilously close to inking themselves into the record book for that record. For a league with 65 years of history, that would not be an achievement that fans, players or management would want to have their team identified with.

Fortunately, River Rats fans at the Pepsi Arena saw the Rats, back-stopped by goaltender J.F. Damphousse (24 saves on 25 shots) defeated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 3-1, with goals by Brett Read more »

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