Belleville GM Brad Vaughn’s latest moves seem to have elevated the Bulls to serious contender status for the OHL crown this year. Newcomers Jason Spezza and Michael Mole, both ex Ice Dogs, have been heavy contributors to Belleville’s current 7 game winning streak. Mole has been in net for all 7 wins and Spezza has 15 points in the last 5 games, including 7 points in last nights 9-2 romp of the Sarnia Sting.
The latest win brings the Bulls record to 26-18-2-1 for 55 points, one point behind Ottawa in the East. Belleville is now 2-0 on their 5 game stint away from home due to the Nokia Cup Ontario Curling Championships taking up residence in the Yardman Arena. The Bulls get their biggest challenge tonight as they face the OHL’s top team, the Plymouth Whalers. They return home for a game against the London Knights on Feb. 9.
Belleville also got a chance to shine on TV as they played in CFMT’s game of the week against the Oshawa Generals. The Bulls crushed the Generals 8-1. If not for a slight mental lapse by Mike Renzi, Mole most likely would have earned his first shutout of his OHL career. In preparing for a face-off outside Belleville’s zone, Renzi took his glove off to adjust some equipment, not a wise move in today’s fast face-off OHL. The puck was dropped and squirted into Belleville’s zone. Renzi’s man, Mike Minard, took off on a breakaway and put one between Mole’s legs at 14:34 of the 3rd period. Mole did earn his first shutout during inter-league play against the Victoriaville Tigres as the Bull
The 2001 NHL Entry Draft was one of the deepest drafts of talented players in a long, long time. Many scouts believed you could get just as good of a player at 30th overall that you could at 15th overall. The entire draft was filled with a large group of highly skilled youngsters, with Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk, now a budding star with the Atlanta Thrashers, topping the list. When the topic was brought up among scouts concerning a power forward by the name of Garth Murray from the Regina Pats of the WHL, most said he could go anywhere from late in the first round to the end of the third round. Apparently the Rangers shared this opinion, having ranked Murray 29th overall on their list of available players. After trading down in the third round, swapping the 74th overall pick to the Minnesota Wild in return for the 79th overall pick and a fifth rounder, the Rangers’ scouting staff were very pleased to see Garth Murray still available at pick number 79. They wasted little time selecting Murray, a 6’2 206 lbs. forward who potentially could become the physical second liner that they are lacking. After the third round came to a conclusion, the Rangers had to feel pretty excited after being able to select three of the players they had ranked in their top twenty-nine.
Scouting Service – Mid-Term NA Ranking
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Team: Toronto St. Michael’s Majors
Birthdate: Dec. 13, 1984
Hometown: Kitchener, Ontario
Weight: 185 lbs
· Was St. Michael’s 2nd round pick in the 2000 OHL draft
· Klein is considered to be a top prospect for the 2003 NHL draft Read more »
Flames Forward Marc Savard has seen his entire season become mired in controversy. All seemed to be going well for Savard in Calgary going into the season, but he’s had a dismal year up to this point; he’s had a clash with the system the team plays; disgruntled over being bumped of star player Jarome Iginla’s line, and has constantly quarreled with coach Greg Gilbert. Savard is an offensively gifted player on an offensively starved team, and he should be a tremendous part of the group, but he’s not. Now its up to GM Craig Button to decide whether its worth it to keep Savard and try to resolve the situation, or deal the most marketable of your expendable players to help shore up extremely the poor depth up front.
Four games into the season Savard was kneed by Detroit winger Darren McCarty, and sustained a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup for six weeks. In his absence Iginla was paired with Craig Conroy and the two, along with Roman Turek, carried the team to a 13-2-2 start. When Savard came back, the team started to slump. It was unsure what do with Savard, because of the success Iginla and Conroy had enjoyed.
Eventually, Iginla was primarily kept on Conroy’s line and Savard was forced to play with less talented linemates, and saw his
production drop accordingly. Last year Savard enjoyed a career year, scoring 65 points, but his shortcomings, namely poor defensive play, were overlooked. Savard was a +12 last season, but his lack of commitment to the defensive game really came under scrutiny this year now that he has only 18 points in 33 games. In Read more »
SYRACUSE CRUNCH NEWS
LWer Mathieu Darche has been called up by the Blue Jackets. Darche, one of the most prolific scorers in CIAU history, has tallied a Crunch-high 16 goals in 35 games this season. In his previous stint with the Jackets, he managed one goal in seven games.
To make room for Darche, RWer Robert Kron has been sent down by the Jackets. Kron has managed two goals and eight assists in 43 games for the Jackets.
As of Friday, January 25th
Credit www.theahl.com for statistics Read more »
Jackets CHL Prospect Update
Western Hockey League
Shane Bendera – G – Kelowna Rockets
Shane’s numbers have come back down to earth somewhat after posting insane numbers in his first 5 games with the Rockets. His 1.38 GAA with the Rockets has dropped to 2.29 GAA, which would still be good enough for third in the WHL. His SV% is now a tidy .919, also good for 3rd in the Western League. However, his play in net has yet to translate into a big winstreak for Kelowna. Bendera has posted a 5-4-3 record with his new club. Bendera also had the distinction of being named to the WHL Western All-Stars for the Hershey Cup.
Ben Knopp – RW – Kamloops Blazers
Ben has got rolling somewhat as of late with his new mates. On the season he now has 25 goals and 47 points (25-22-47) which places him 2nd in team scoring. However, Knopp has played more games than anyone on the Blazers team, and has played 15 more than Scottie Upshall who also has 47 points, on 22 goals. Knopp still sits in the negatives in regards to plus/minus, with a –12. He continues to adjust with his new linemates.
Kiel McLeod – C – Kelowna Rockets
McLeod, like teammates Shane Bendera and Chuck Kobasew, was also named to the WHL Western All-Stars for the Hershey Cup. There is an interesting piece up at the Rockets Official Website in regards to McLeod, which you can check out here: http://www.kelownarockets.com/newsletter/jan/index.html
McLeod currently sits 5th Read more »
Many fans caught a glimpse of this 16-year old (Moscow) Dynamo at the recent U-17 challenge. Russian prospect Alexander Ovechkin is making a lot of noise in the scouting community, as many consider him to be the early favorite for the 2004 NHL draft.
Born on the 17th of September, 1985, Ovechkin missed 2003 eligibility by a thread (or a couple of days to be exact). His on-ice intelligence and pure game-breaking ability makes one question the validity of his birthdate. However, there is no mistake; this phenom will not be property of an NHL team for more than 2 years.
He has drawn comparisons to Ilya Kovalchuk, last year’s first overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. And rightfully so, considering that Ovechkin is getting regular icetime with the Moscow Dynamo of the Russian Superleague (the top hockey league in the country).
So far in 10 games, Ovechkin has collected 2 goals, 3 points and has earned a first star honour in a recent match.
Alexander has fit in perfectly with his fellow ‘Dynamites’, playing on the line with Raviil Yakubov and Alexei Tereschenko. A right winger, Ovechkin has demonstrated maturity and poise beyond his years, earning praise from critics, fans and coaches alike.
Ovechkin’s 7 goal, 20 point performance (in 13 games) in the Russian 1st division earned him the call-up to the top club, where he has surprised many by consistently piling up the points.
Alexander is a big, balanced skater whose Read more »
For every dark cloud, there’s a silver lining, goes the old saying. After a bittersweet silver medal performance at the World Junior Championships three weeks ago, Jarrett Stoll’s silver lining isn’t much compensation for what he considers a dark cloud of losing the gold medal game to Russia. Even being named both WHL player of the week (Jan. 13-19) and a WHL Western Conference All-Star selection was little solace for the still simmering emotions.
Improving on the bronze medal performance a year earlier by Canada in Moscow, the captain of the 2002 national junior squad had the unenviable assignment of accepting the silver for his teammates. As team leader, it was one of the more difficult duties he had to perform. “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in hockey,” said Stoll after arriving back in Cranbrook after a week’s vacation at home in Saskatchewan.
Although an experience of a lifetime and the country’s best result in four years, the second place finish still leaves a bitter taste in Stoll’s mouth. So much so that some three weeks after the end of the tournament the Yorkton native still hadn’t seen the now infamous overhead T.V. shot of the Russian goaltender Serguei Mylnikov purposely pushing the net off it’s moorings with less than twenty seconds remaining as the Canadians buzzed around the net in a wild flurry looking for the tying goal. It’s an offense that should’ve warranted a penalty shot and could’ve turned silver into gold for Canada. “The Russians getting the medal and taunting us the way they did and the way the game ended Read more »