Revenge, they say, is a dish best served
cold. For B.J. Boxma it is a dish that
will probably taste sweeter, if you’ll
excuse the pun, on ice. Boxma, the
former Kootenay ICE goaltender who
was traded to the Swift Current Broncos
for a third round pick in this year’s
Bantam draft to get the chance at being
a starting goaltender in the WHL,
decidedly had the last laugh on his
former teammates as the Swift Current
Broncos downed the Kootenay ICE 3-2
in the seventh and deciding game of the
WHL semi-finals to take the series 4-3
and move on to face the Red Deer
Rebels in the Eastern Conference final.
For Boxma and the Broncos, the game
was an almost perfect example of how
to win a game on the road in the
playoffs. Even though it was a seventh
game Boxma felt the pressure was
squarely on the shoulders of the ICE. “It
was a hard fought series,” said Boxma.
“We thought they had all the pressure
on them being at home. We just had to
come out and play solid defensively and
capitalize on our chances and that’s
exactly what we did.” In beating his
former club and in the process, beating
his former goal-tending mate in Dan
Blackburn, Boxma has now come full
circle and emerged from Blackburn’s
shadow in proving to everyone that he is
indeed a number one goaltender in the
WHL. “Danny’s a great guy but when
we’re out on the ice we’re enemies,”
said the Edson, Alta. native
affectionately known as ‘Boxer’. “I for
sure wanted to come in and win the
series no matter how many games it
took and I guess I can look back b Read more »
Only 2 are left standing in the USHL playoffs. One mild surprise visitor and the team everyone expects to win it. Can you say drama? Two teams separated by less than 100 miles and neither team likes each other one bit, especially when the Clark Cup Title is at stake. The top seeded Lincoln Stars handled the 6th seeded Tri-City Storm easily by sweeping them 3 games to none while the 4th seeded Omaha Lancers pulled a mild upset in beating the 3rd seeded Sioux Falls Stampede 3 games to 1. Both the Lancers and Stars dominated their series against their respective opponents. Now they face each other, this matchup has definitely got the makings of a great series. The winner not only gets the Clark Cup trophy but they also stamp their ticket to the National Junior “A” Championships where they will compete for the coveted Gold Cup.
The Stars and Lancers are two teams that are stockpiled with talent from top to bottom. On offense for the Stars you have the likes of Brandon Bochenski and Chris Fournier. The Lancers will bring forth Dan Welch and Riley Riddell. All 4 are in the top of the scoring list and each has extraordinary talent. Defensively the Stars have the edge from the physical standpoint but both the Lancers and Stars have very solid defense. The Stars have physical bruisers such as Lee Marvin, Andy Schneider and of course, Nick Fouts. Omaha answers with the likes of Keith Ballard, Jason Krischuk and Bryce Lampman. What all of this means is that we could be in for a stalemate as both teams high powered offenses could be grounded by the Read more »
The Admirals came on Easter Sunday leading the series of QuarterFinals against the Cincinnati Might Ducks 2-1. They captured the “W” Friday thus winning 6-3. Saturday night, despite out shooting their opponents by twenty-five, ill advised passes lack of solid defense and lagging behind in the first rounds gave Norfolk lose 3-4.“ We are fighting for our lives out there,” said Center Geoff Peters who has been 3-0 in the series. This statement became a theme for the next two games and so was excitement.
And for the 2,000 roaring fans they got all their money’s worth. The Admirals came back from three-goal deficit and won the series in overtime 4-3.
Norfolk went to the locker behind by three goals after the first. Within minutes, goalie Michel Larocque had two goals that were both driven into the right corner of the net. What seem to be a devastating first period for the boys in the blue, they returned to their dressing room again after the second with a total of eighteen shots which three goals were capitalized. “Once we got our momentum, things kept going and going. We got the puck in the net and we were rewarded in the second for it,” said Ajay Baines who had an assist on the tying goal. And that reward paid handsomely.
With over 23 home victories in the regular season, home ice has been a problem in the last three games. But with their come from behind win over the Ducks, Norfolk has proved that they will not go down with out a fight. Mark Bell cashed in two of the three goals and defense arose out of sleep. “We were down by th Read more »
For many Kings fans in Southern California, Eric Belanger was just a prospect that people heard about from the local drivetime radio guy. Belanger was the answer to any question about the Kings farm system, even after injuries put his future as a King in doubt. Now, as the Kings have shown some life in the playoffs, Belanger is listed among the reasons for the Kings resurgence.
Eric Belanger was thought to be the playmaking center that the Kings wished for. He was a point-a-game plus as a junior and his skill was talked as he rose through the Kings farm system. Then a series of bizarre injuries and illnesses caused many to consider his slight build (6’0, 177) and his bad luck a precursor to a lack of durability. When Belanger finally resurfaced in Lowell last season his start was unspectacular at best. As Belanger got back into playing shape and his injuries were healed, he showed a new side of his game- a side that would take him to the NHL.
In camp last fall, the Kings saw the new Eric Belanger. Not the playmaking center but rather a hard-nosed, two-way center who could handle the puck and even deliver checks. Belanger’s versatility got a quick workout. In a one-month period, he was the Kings first line center, Lowell’s second line center, a healthy scratch for the Kings to the checking center alongside Stu Grimson and Ian Lapperriere.
Ever since the opening month, Belanger has been a mainstay in the Kings lineup. Belanger finished the regular season with 21 points in 62 games and was a +14. He saw time on all special teams a Read more »
The building of a strong defensive corps is a never-ending job for a NHL GM. Having a solid group of defensemen coupled with good goaltending will virtually ensure that a team will be competitive in most every game, but getting the right mix of players is truly a challenge.
The recent draft history of the Buffalo Sabres is a perfect example of the difficulties of assembling a solid, cohesive defensive unit. In the NHL drafts of 1989-1999, Buffalo used their top pick in the draft 6 times to select a defenseman (Kevin Haller, Phillipe Boucher, David Cooper, Denis Tsygurov, Jay McKee, Dimitri Kalinin). Of those 6 picks, only McKee and Kalinin have shown better than average ability at their position, with Kalinin being a rookie this year. The only other player from that group to log substantial time in the NHL is Kevin Haller, who would probably qualify as a journeyman defenseman.
Of course, the blueline contingent is rarely built with top draft picks, alone, as a team can find good defensive talent in the later rounds of the draft. This is true in the case of the current Sabres’ defensive group, as Alexei Zhitnik (LA-4th Rd., ’91), Jason Woolley (WAS- 4th Rd., ’89), Richard Smehlik (BUF- 5th Rd., ’90), and Rhett Warrener (FL- 2nd Rd., ’94) were all selected after the 1st round (James Patrick was a 1st rounder for the Rangers in ’81). What this also points out, however, is that building the defense often means having to go outside the organization to fill in the gaps, whic Read more »
Weekly and Final Season stats with comments.
Peter Hamerlik, G (Kingston)
Final Week- 4 games, 1-3, 3.88GAA, .880SvPct
Final Stats- 56 games, 21-21-8, 3.03GAA, .907SvPct
Peter’s first season in the OHL was a successful one. Shrugging off last season’s struggles, Peter won the starting job early in the season and was playing extrememly well during the middle of the season. Tired late and was less effective. Finished 2nd in the OHL in rookie SvPct.
Jeremy Van Hoof, D (Ottawa)
Final Week- 4 games, 0 points
Final Stats- 65 games, 1 goal, 14 assists, 15 points, +11, 49 PIM
Still unsigned, likely to compete for a spot with the Wilkes-Barre next season.
David Koci, D (Prince George)
Final Week- 8 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, 27 PIM
Final Stats- 70 games, 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, +6, 155 PIM
David was a huge surprise for me this season. Reports out of the draft made him sound as a slow lanky defenseman who needed a *lot* of work before he’d be ready. David came to camp and looked nothing like he was protrayed. Big defenseman that skated quite well. Looked very good for his first Pens camp experience. Played well in his first season in North America. 2nd on the team in +/-.
Darcy Robinson, D (Red Deer)
Final Week- 4 games, 4 PIM Read more »