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Ryder and Puurula surging

by Chris Boucher
on
Most NHL prospects go through ups and downs throughout their development. Therefore timing becomes an important factor in developing players. The key to success is to play well when the opportunity arises. Grab the bull by the horns, as the cliché goes. Michael Ryder and Joni Puurula are both solid examples of players playing well at the right time.

Puurula is a goaltender who plays for HPK in the Finnish SM-Liga. The Montréal Canadiens drafted him in the 8th round (243rd overall) of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The native of Kokkola, Finland suffered from a virus through most of the 2001-02 season, appearing in his first SM-Liga regular season game on January 1st, 2002. He played 9 games from that point through to the end of the season; finishing with an 8-0-1 record, a 2.09 goals against average, and .912 save percentage.

Playing on a strong team with a veteran goalie in front of him, Puurula was expected to watch from the bench as starting goalie Mika Pietila carried the team through the playoffs. All that changed when Pietila went down with an injury. Puurula was thrust into his first SM-Liga playoff action, and looked like a seasoned veteran in the process. To date, he’s played in all 3 of the team’s playoff games. He has a 2-0 record, an incredible 0.80 GAA, and an impressive .964 save percentage; both his playoff save percentage and goals against average lead the league.

The 19-year old was named first star in the first playoff game he appeared in, and won the fair-play award in each of his other two appearances. If we look at the 5′ Read more »

Risers and fallers in Canucks reranking

by Kirk Pedersen
on

Here is a ‘preview’ of sorts which would be leading up to the wholesale re-ranking of the Canucks prospect depth.
Many Canuck prospects have had solid seasons in 2001-02; but several have taken steps backward.

The Fallers

One player who more than deserves to be here is Thatcher Bell. The speedy Rimouski centreman has missed well over half of the season this year for the Oceanic, which has hurt their attack overall. He probably won’t be signed by the Canucks unless he turns in one heck of a playoff for Rimouski, and so far in two games, he has two goals and one assist for three points. Since he’s been drafted Bell has been a rather large disappointment, as all he’s done in the nearly two years since having his name called is get injured, and when healthy; not play up to his ability.

He’s got a lot of the tools to be a solid NHL’er; which include speed, shot, some intelligence, and decent hockey-sense. What he doesn’t have, however; is what will hold him back. He doesn’t have very much size, he doesn’t appear to care too much for the defensive aspects of the game, and his durability can be likened to porcelain.

So, to sum up, he’s easily been the worst of the two QMJHL Canuck picks of 2000. The progress of players such as Reid and Barrett has been excellent, even though Barrett and Reid didn’t really break through until their final year of junior. Bell was one of my favorite Canuck prospects going into the season, and, like the aforementioned Barrett; he’ll probably be looking for a new club to house his rights if he isn’t dealt befo Read more »

Team USA tops Waterloo

by pbadmin
on

Playing three games in a row in the USHL is always a tough order, especially if you have to travel from Topeka, Kansas to Waterloo Iowa overnight only to play the US National Under 18 Development squad a few short hours after returning home. The Black Hawks showed obvious signs of that three game stretch when they took the ice against Team USA, who also had played three games in three nights. The Nationals however, only had to travel from Cedar Rapids and got a good night’s rest.

Team USA got out of the gate quickly getting goals by David Booth and Timmy Wallace 4:33 and 6:33 into the game. Booth’s goal came right in front of the Waterloo net where he was all alone and wristed the shot past Waterloo goalie Jeff Jakaitis. Waterloo looked a bit weary early on but managed to knot the game up with two quick goals midway through the opening period. Ross Carlson scored as he was coming into the offensive zone through a line change. Team USA cleared the puck out and Carlson intercepted the pass and came in uncontested to slap the puck past Timothy Roth. 41 seconds later Aaron Johnson tied the game off a scrum towards the side of the US Nationals net. Carlson tallied his first of three assists on the night. The game didn’t stay tied for very long unfortunately as Brett Sterling received a perfect pass as he was streaking towards Jakaitis and he put it home giving the Nationals the lead once again at 3-2. Jakaitis and the Black Hawks penalty kill were instrumental in keeping the score where it was while two men down late in the opening period. A number of good sav Read more »

Stampede takes advantage of power plays, downs Des Moines

by Jason Shaner
on

Bucs play 20 minutes of hockey and lose 6-3

By Kevin Kasel on 03/23/2002

Saturday night at the Metro Ice Sports Arena in Des Moines, the Buccaneers managed to play only 20 minutes of good hockey falling to the Sioux Falls Stampede by a 6-3 score. The Stampede took advantage of their power plays when they got them, converting on 3 of 6 opportunities.

In the first period, Sioux Falls outshot Des Moines 16-10 and where it counted led 3-0 on the scoreboard. Sioux Falls went 2 for 4 on the power play in the 1st period. Sioux Falls 1st goal was a rebound left lying around that the Bucs were unable to clear that Eric Przepiorka was able to bury. Jacob Micflikier got a one-timer feed from the USHL’s leading scorer, Thomas Vanek to give the Stampede the 2-0 lead. Marty Sertich then converted on the power play to give the Stampede the 3-0 lead heading into the 1st intermission.

In the 2nd period, someone flipped a switch on the Bucs. Des Moines, who outshot the Stampede by a 18-9 count in the period, controlled things on the scoreboard where it counts to tie the score 3-3. Chris Collins got the Bucs on the board first by putting home a rebound on the power play. Keith Boyer got a gift as a clearing attempt hits one of the linesmen and the puck stays in the zone, Boyer came in and goes top shelf to bring the Bucs within one, 3-2. With about five minutes left in the period, Luke Irwin got a shot that flipped over Stampede netminder Kellen Briggs to tie things up at 3 a piece.

Four minutes into the 3rd, Jason Moul found himself with a w Read more »

After The Smoke Clears (Part II)

by HF Staff
on

Last year at this time the talk was all about the bodies that were flying around the Western Conference, as there were a couple big moves that shook the world. Colorado airlifted Rob Blake in from Los Angeles on their way to the Stanley Cup at the cost of Adam Deadmarsh, Aaron Miller, Jared Aulin and David Steckel. The Kings used the first two players to get themselves to the Conference Finals. St. Louis traded a bucket of youth for Keith Tkachuk. San Jose landed Teemu Selanne. This time however, most of the fireworks happened in the East. That said, there was still enough wheeling and dealing to go around. Here is the second part of this two part series, this time focusing on the Western Conference. Each team is given a mark 1 through 10 with 10 being excellent. In case of a tie, the teams are listed in alphabetical order.


COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
What They Got: Jaroslav Spacek, Jamie Allison, 2003 2nd , 4th Round Pick
What They Lost: Lyle Odelein, Jamie Pushor, Blake Sloan Read more »

A Chat with Adam Munro

by Bill Placzek
on

Holding two number one picks in the 2001 draft, Hawk G.M. Mike Smith chose to pass on Rangers rookie Dan Blackburn in favor of Tummo Ruutu with his #9 overall selection.

While sitting at the draft as it reached the middle of round one, I wasn’t the only one feeling that the Blackhawk’s lack of depth in goal might lead to a ‘tender taken with the second first rounder. But all indications were that goalie might be Jason Bacashihua
would be the guy if a goalie was picked. He played for the Chicago Freeze, in a northwest Chicago suburb, and was rated a late first rounder.
He was in fact picked by Dallas a few picks before the Blackhawks picked.
The Hawks made Adam Munro their pick, surprising Adam and his Dad as much as the rest of us.
Was he a back up choice, or was it Tretiak’s high scouting marks that bumped him into the first round?
A big goalie, Adam presently progressing in the AHL.
Here is Ken McKenna’s interview with Adam:.

Q&A with Adam Munro.

By Ken McKenna.

Hockey’s Future : We’ll start with this season. Erie is on its way to another division title. How do you feel about the teams’ chances of going to the Memorial Cup?.

AM:I feel like we have a good enough team to do it this year. Last year we had a lot of skill, but I don’t know if we had the character there. This year, I think we’ve got a lot of experience from last year, we’ve got a lot of guys back. We probably don’t have as much skill, but a lot more character on this team this year than we did la Read more »

A Long Wait for the Show

by Chris Kitching
on

The moment many Minnesota Wild fans waited for since June’s entry draft
arrived on Wednesday night, a little longer than they had originally hoped,
but just as pleasing.

Right-wing Tony Virta was called up by the parent club March 20 to help fill
the holes created by injuries to forwards Sergei Zholtok and Wes Walz, and
Aaron Gavey’s battle with the flu.

Virta, playing in the first National Hockey League game of his career,
failed to register a point in a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Prior
to his promotion, the 29-year-old prospect had spent all season with the
American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros – the Wild’s primary affiliate.

“I wasn’t nervous, but it was new,” said Virta to the Pioneer Press. “I was
surprised. Maybe it’s because we played Columbus, but there wasn’t much
hitting at all. I don’t know what was happening. There are a lot of young
players in the AHL, and there was a lot of skating and hitting. I just have
one NHL game, and it was against Columbus, so I really don’t know if I know
what to expect.”

In 67 games with the Aeros, Virta has been a pleasant surprise, leading the
team in scoring with 25 goals and 58 points, his first season in North
America after spending the majority of his professional career in his native
Finland with TPS Turku, where he was the Finnish player of the year last
season.

Virta led the team in scoring with 27 goals 60 points in 56 games, while
Minnesota’s first pick in last year’s draft, Mikko Koivu, saw action in 22
games tallying only one assist.

Aft Read more »

OHL Western Conference Playoff Preview

by Jason Ahrens
on

The playoffs begin in the OHL with some teams just happy to be there and others with something to prove. The Guelph Storm enter the playoffs assured of a Memorial Cup berth as they are the host city, while the other 15 teams in the playoffs try to claim the other spot. The Western Conference probably has more roadblocks for any teams with championship intentions, as the Eastern Conference has several teams at the bottom that won’t be much of a threat, not so in the West.

Plymouth vs London

On paper a mismatch, one of the fastest teams in the league vs one of the slowest. A stingy defence against a team that relies heavily on 3-4 guys to carry the load. However, games are played on the ice, and London did fare very well against the Whalers and the Greyhounds on back to back nights late in the season without superstar Rick Nash and Captain Danny Bois. Special teams will be critical, London has numerous players who consistently take stupid penalties and most referees seem more than happy to rule against London when a fracas occurs, due to London’s past reputation. The Knights have an awesome power play at times, especially when leading scorer Mike Stathopoulos gets set up on the half boards, looking to feed Dennis Wideman who has a howitzer from the point.

They need someone to step up on the point and make the basic plays to take pressure off of Wideman, something no one has been able to do this year so far. Also they need to have better plays on the other side of the ice, especially from Nash, who tends to try to force the puck and spen Read more »

Houston Happenings

by Chris Kitching
on

With nine games left on the schedule, the Houston Aeros have picked a bad
time to play some uninspired hockey.

The Aeros (32-25-9-5) have dropped four of their last five games, and now
find themselves in sixth spot in the Western Conference, heading into this
weekend’s two-game set with the streaking Manitoba Moose. Manitoba has won
three in a row, including a 6-0 win over the Saint John Flames on Wednesday
night.

The Aeros, meanwhile, are coming off losses to Chicago and Milwaukee – with
the ugly loss to the Admirals prompting a post-game tirade launched by Aeros
General Manager Dave Barr.

“It was deserved,” said Aeros forward Brendan Yarema to the Houston
Chronicle. “We haven’t been consistent, so we’re kicking ourselves in the
butt and we have no one to blame but ourselves.”

Their uninspired play has led to a shortage of offense, with only nine
goals-for in their last five games, compared to 19 goals-against.

“Offensively, we have to create a little bit more and I think that comes
with passion and a little more hunger,” said head coach Todd McLellan of the
Aeros’ struggle to find the net. “We have to learn how to score ugly. If you
go back through those games when we’ve scored three or more goals, a lot of
them were ugly and we need more like that.”

The Aeros have some critical games ahead, as five of their last nine are
against division rivals, and will play a major role in where the Aeros
finish in the Western Conference.

Roster happenings

While the NHL’s trade deadline passed March Read more »

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