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Crunch Overcome Bad Bounces, Hang On to Down Phantoms

by Jeff Parzych

Why should the playoffs be any different? All season long the prevailing characteristic of the 2001-02 Syracuse Crunch has been their ability to overcome adversity. They have been faced with a myriad of obstacles and time after time they have triumphed over every impediment.

Saturday night’s contest at the War Memorial between the Crunch and the Philadelphia Phantoms would prove to be no exception. This time Syracuse would be faced with trying to regroup after seeing their two-goal lead evaporate in a span of eleven seconds thanks to a couple of ill-fated bounces of the famed War Memorial end boards.

Drawing from their past experiences, the Crunch never panicked. They would circle the wagons during the second intermission; score early in the third to regain the lead and hang on to down the Phantoms 5-3.

The Crunch, right from the drop of the first puck, were playing like a team on a mission. It was a perfect example of the term “playoff style hockey.” They started with Jeremy Reich’s hit along the boards against Mark Freer less than ten seconds in and continued with their tenacious play throughout the game’s opening minutes.

“Our game plan was to come out in the first five minutes and really try to bring it to them. We wanted to get the puck deep and finish our checks.” stated Crunch center Blake Bellefeuille. “We did that in the first period and that really picked up our team momentum.”

Bellefeuille’s play in the opening period would do more than pick up momentum; it would give the Crunch their first lead. On a well executed bre Read more »

Flyers recall Brendl for regular season finale

by Al Alven

The Philadelphia Flyers announced on Saturday night that they have recalled right wing Pavel Brendl from the American Hockey League’s Philadelphia Phantoms. The move was made immediately following the Phantoms’ 5-3 loss at Syracuse in Game 1 of the Calder Cup quarterfinals.

Through three AHL playoff games, Brendl leads the Phantoms (and the league) with four goals and one assist for five points. He will likely play today in the Flyers’ regular season finale at Long Island, then be returned to the Phantoms for Game 2 at Syracuse on Wednesday.

Brendl’s three-game playoff outburst has been a pleasant surprise for the Flyers organization. After a lackluster regular season, the pressure was on the 21-year-old prospect to perform in the playoffs. To this point, he has been the Phantoms’ best player in the postseason.

Most did not expect to see Brendl back in the NHL this season. The wildcard in last summer’s Eric Lindros trade with the New York Rangers, Brendl surprised the Flyers with a terrific training camp. He made Philadelphia’s opening night roster after leading the team in scoring during the exhibition season (nine points in six games), but was ineffective in seven games. His only point came in the form of a fluke goal at Washington (Oct. 20), when Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolzig misplayed a dump-in from center ice.

After his demotion to the Phantoms in November, Brendl was largely inconsistent. Though he showed flashes of potential, his numbers were rather disappointing. The Olomovac, Czech Republic native tallied only 37 points (15 goals, 22 as Read more »

Hartsburg and Emery Named All-Stars

by Brad Coccimiglio

The Ontario Hockey League has announced the 2001-02 season ending All-star teams and 2 members of the Soo Greyhounds have been named to the 1st team. Greyhound goaltender Ray Emery and team coach Craig Hartsburg were recognized by General Managers in the OHL for their outstanding seasons.

Hartsburg, back in the OHL after coaching stint in the NHL, is in his 1st season as coach and General Manager of the Greyhounds and helped the team to a 33-point improvement over their 2000-01 total. Hartsburg, who coached the Guelph Storm in his other OHL stint, won the OHL’s Coach of the Year award while with the Storm and is once again in the running for
the award and is considered to be a front-runner. Hartsburg turned a team that wasn’t expected to contend into one that was in contention for the OHL title until the last week of the regular season.

Ray Emery had an extremely strong season and is in the running for the Red Tilson Trophy as the Ontario Hockey League’s Most Outstanding Player. Emery was on of the busiest goaltenders in the Ontario Hockey League appearing in a league high 59 games and nearly 3500 minutes of action. Emery also found himself in the top 5 in 3 major goaltending categories. Emery ranked 1st in wins with 33; 4th in Goals Against Average (2.73) and 4th in Save Percentage (.914).

Emery’s strong play this year earned him a 3-year contract with the Ottawa Senators who selected the Cayuga, Ontario native in the 4th round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

Bruins 2002 Draft Preview: 1st Edition

by Shane Walsh

The 2002 NHL Entry Draft appears to be the weakest since 1996. There are some players like Jay Bouwmeester, Rick Nash and Kari Lehtonen who will have decent futures in the NHL, but mostly the 2002 draft class is a complete crapshoot; more so this year than in seasons past. It will be interesting to see which players don’t sign and re-enter the draft that could be good potential investments down the road. The Boston Bruins have one possible re-entry; 6’5” Forward Chris Berti of the Erie Otters (OHL). The Bruins will announce their first selection somewhere between 25-30 depending on the outcome of the regular season and the Stanley Cup finals.

The Bruins traded away their 3rd round pick to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for Winger Marty McInnis. At the trade deadline, Mike O’Connell traded away the Bruins 6th round pick to the Florida Panthers for Defenseman Jeff Norton. The Bruins may also lose a late round pick to the Dallas Stars as part of the future considerations for acquiring the services of Benoit Hogue earlier in the season. The Bruins do pickup the Phoenix Coyotes 5th round pick as part of the Andrei Nazarov trade and any other compensation picks that have yet to be awarded.

The prime question that needs to be answered is what do the Bruins really need most?

The answer is Centers!

Boston will likely choose the best player available on the board when they make their first selection. It’s anyone’s guess as to who that player could be at this point. With drafts such as these, som Read more »

OHL Announces Coaches Poll Results

by Brad Coccimiglio

Toronto–On Tuesday the Ontario Hockey League announced the results of their annual coaches poll.

The poll allows coaches to recognize players within their conference in a number of different categories. The top three players in each category
are recognized by the league.

Coaches, who only voted for players in their own conference, were not eligible to vote for players on their own team. Players received 5 points for a 1st place vote, 3 points for a 2nd place vote and 1 point for a 3rd place vote.

A number of players in each conference were recognized in multiple categories. In the Western Conference, Erie centre Brad Boyes was tops in 4 categories. Boyes was recognized as the Smartest player, Best Playmaker, Best Stickhandler as well as Best on Face-offs. His teammate in Erie, Cory Pecker was recognized as Most Dangerous in Goal Area as well
as Best Shot. Other Multiple winners in the West include Soo Greyhound defenceman Trevor Daley who was named Best Skater for the 3rd year in a row and Fastest Skater for the 2nd straight year as well as Dennis
Wideman who was recognized as the Most Improved Player and having the Hardest Shot. Read more »

2001-02 OHL All-Star Teams Announced

by Brad Coccimiglio

Toronto–On Thursday the Ontario Hockey League announced the 2001-02 All-Star teams as were selected by the General Managers around the OHL.

The Erie Otters were well represented as 4 Otter members were selected. Brad Boyes and Cory Pecker were both named to the 1st team, defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo was named to the 2nd team and head coach
Dave MacQueen was named to the 3rd team.

Also selected to the 1st team alongside Boyes (last year’s Most Outstanding Player) and Pecker, who scored 53 goals in 56 games this season were Belleville forward Nathan Robinson, who led the OHL in scoring with 110 points. The 1st team defence pairing includes Erik Reitz of Barrie and Mark Popovic of the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors. Soo Greyhounds goaltender Ray Emery and coach Craig Hartsburg round out the 1st team.

The silver medal winning Canadian National Junior Team was well represented as 6 members were selected as Boyes, Popovic, Colaiacovo join, fellow World Junior teammates Steve Ott of Windsor, Rick Nash of London and Jason Spezza of the Belleville Bulls.

General Managers around the OHL voted on the teams and were not permitted to vote for players on their own team. Players received 5 points for a 1st place vote, 3 for a 2nd and 1 for a 3rd.

Here’s how the teams shape up:

1st Team

RW–Cory Pecker (ER)
C–Brad Boyes (ER)
LW–Nathan Robinson (BELV)
D–Erik Reitz (BAR)
D–Mark Popovic (TOR)
G–Ray Emery (SSM)
Coach–Craig Hartsburg (SSM) Read more »

The Cub Report: Q&A With Chris Berti

by Shane Walsh

Welcome To the Second Edition of the Cub Report. In this segment, we’ll look at Bruins prospect Chris Berti.

Chris Berti
Erie (OHL)
6'5", 215 lbs.
Left Wing, Shoots Left
Born: Oct 6, 1981 in Scarborough, On

The only Canadian born player selected by the Bruins in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Chris Berti missed his first training camp that year due to a torn MCL in his knee. He was traded in January 2001 from the Sarnia Sting to the Erie Otters for Riley Moher. Last fall was his first appearance at training camp. He made a good first impression at the rookie tournament in Kitchener, Ontario.

A good skater for a behemoth player, Berti is versatile and can play all 3 forward positions. An obstinate hitter and fierce competitor, he will earn his way to the NHL by his intense physical play. A true teammate, he always puts the teams’ needs above his own interests. Some nights he plays like a scorer and other nights he’s a monster on the ice. He needs to simplify his game and focus primarily on physical play. He has the potential to be a legit NHL heavyweight if he realizes his true potential and remains focused. He needs to bulk up his 6’5″ frame.

Hockeysfuture correspondent Ken McKenna caught up with Berti for this exclusive interview.

HF: How do you feel about your progression from the beginning of the season? Do you feel like you’ve improved your game since then?

CB: I think my game has improved a little bit. I’ve gotten more oppo Read more »

Phantoms Reg. Season Report Card

by Al Alven

The Philadelphia Phantoms wrapped up their sixth season of existence in the American Hockey League on Sunday night in Hershey. A largely up-and-down campaign, the 2001-02 season saw the Phantoms finish with a 33-27-15-5 record (86 points), good for eighth place in the league’s Western Conference. As the team prepares for its preliminary playoff series with the ninth-seeded Rochester Americans, now is a good time to take a look at the individual player performances from the regular season.

The following article rates each player’s season performance with a letter grade. Included are players who either finished the regular season with the Phantoms or who remain a part of the Philadelphia Flyers organization at the current time. The ratings are done in accordance to usual grading standards (using an A+ to F scale). In this analysis, grades range from A to D+.

Note: Some players simply haven’t played enough games with the team to warrant a full grade rating. Thus, these players have been given an incomplete grade (I). If a player who has been given an incomplete grade has made a notable contribution (or lack of one) to the team in his short time with the Phantoms, he is given a secondary grade. As an example, Greg Koehler has only been with the Phantoms for 22 games, but he has already become an important member of the team in that time. Therefore, his grade is I/B.


Management: A Read more »

Q & A with Danny Bois

by Ken McKenna

Q & A with Danny Bois

By Ken McKenna

HF: First, let’s go back to your draft day (2001). How was it to have your name called? Obviously, a lot of guys go there who are disappointed when their name isn’t called, but yours was.

DB: I didn’t expect to go on the first day. I was the last pick in that session, so I was ready to leave when they called my name. So, having my name called then was really neat.

HF: You were there with your family?

DB: Yeah, a couple of aunts and my parents.

HF: Who were your role models in the NHL?

DB: (Mario) Lemieux was always my favorite player. Even though I don’t play like him, he is still my favorite player.

HF: Are there any players you model your game after?

DB: I don’t, but people tell me I play like Mike Keane, Rick Tocchet, and those guys. But I don’t try to be like them, I just go out and play my game.

HF: So, you’d be considered more of a grinder, then.

DB: Yeah, I’m not really much of a dangler or anything like that. I’m really more of a power forward.

HF: What parts of your game do you do well that make you a NHL prospect?

DB: One-on-one battles, big hits, getting good, quick shots off in front of the net. So, things like that.

HF: Do you feel that your game has improved this season?

DB: I was sick for a while, but after that I did OK. I don’t know what it was, but I couldn