If you enjoy watching minor league sports for entertainment, one never knows what athlete is going bridge his footprints from the minor league to the professional level of play.
Meet, Vern Fiddler, who is currently on a professional tryout with the Norfolk Admirals. His name is starting to pop up in the hockey circles, as one who will start make his mark in the future. The reason is his speed and his ability to get the puck in tight corners. However, the 21- year-old center does show his inexperience, with over zealousness and uncertainty on the ice. But after 33 games in the AHL, he has accumulated 13 points after his departure from the ECHL Roanoke Express earlier in the year.
Fiddler, an Edmonton Alb., native posted 27 goals, 28 assists in the ECHL this season and was named to the 2002 ECHL All-Rookie team this month. The future remains inchoate for many inspiring athletes, even with the right package, but Fiddler agrees, that determination is the key to make it to the NHL.
HF: Tell our readers about your transition from the ECHL to Norfolk.
VF: It has been good for me because of Trent Yawney. He is giving me a chance and I am taking advantage of that.
HF: How was your first day on the job?
VF: Yea, I was nervous, but you have to get over it. I did not know anyone that was tough, except for Quintin Laing, whom I played with in the Junior League.
HF: Compare Locker rooms from this league from the ECHL.
VF: In the ECHL, guys are winding down their careers and for a paycheck. Here you are playing to get to the NHL. I Read more »
Team toughness, or a lack thereof, seemingly has played a role in the Buffalo Sabres’ fall from playoff contention this season. A steady exodus of gritty players, including the likes of Mike Peca and Doug Gilmour, has left the Buffalo lineup a little short of the spirit and leadership necessary for success in the NHL.
While Buffalo may not have many prospects that have the combination of skill and grit found in players like Peca and Gilmour, they do have youngsters in the organization that could provide enough toughness to keep Buffalo’s opponents on edge in the years to come. One of those prospects, LW Andrew Peters, is currently filling the role of enforcer for the Rochester Americans of the AHL.
Peters was the first of three 2nd round picks the Sabres made in the ’98 NHL Draft, where he was drafted with the pick acquired in the deal that sent Pat Lafontaine to the New York Rangers. Andrew spent most of his junior career with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, but was moved to the Kitchener Rangers during his final junior season following a dispute with then-Oshawa coach George Burnett.
Peters’ main claim to fame in juniors was his fighting ability, as he amassed 452 penalty minutes in his 3-year OHL career. Andrew also showed flashes of skill during his draft year, but that part of his game has gone largely unfulfilled since that time. The St. Catherines native saw limited ice time during his first season with Rochester, but has steadily played a larger role this season, flashing the pugilistic skills that Read more »
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
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
CALGARY, AB – The CHA’s Director, Scouting Barry Trapp, Canada’s National
Under 18 Team Head Coach Mike Pelino in collaboration with the Canadian
Hockey League announced the 22 players that will represent Canada at the
2002 IIHF World Under 18 Hockey Championship from April 11-21, in Slovakia.
Canada’s 2002 World Championship Under 18 Team is comprised of players under
18 years old (born in 1984) whose teams are not playing in either the CHL,
Junior A or collegiate playoffs. Seventeen of the 22 players named to
Canada’s Under 18 Team are eligible for the 2002 NHL Entry Draft to be held
in Toronto in June, 2002. All 22 players come from the Canadian Hockey
League, including 9 from the Western Hockey League, 7 from the Quebec Major
Junior Hockey League and 6 from the Ontario Hockey League.
« Canadian hockey has had a great start to 2002 with gold medals for the
men’s and women’s teams at the Winter Olympics and a silver medal at the
World Juniors,” said Pelino. “Canada’s Under 18 Team hopes to make the whole
country proud once again at the World Championship.”
Canada will be taking part in the IIHF World Under 18 Championship for the
first time ever in 2002. The IIHF World Under 18 Hockey Championship mars
the second event of the season for Canada’s National Under 18 Program. In
August, 2001, Canada’s National Under 18 Summer Team won a gold medal at the
2001 Six Nations Under 18 Cup in the Czech Republic.
The 2002 IIHF World Under 18 Championship in Slovakia will feature 12 teams.
Russia captured the 2001 Championship on April 22, Read more »
ALL FIRST ROUND SERIES DONE IN CHL PLAYOFFS
The first round of the playoffs are now complete in all three leagues of
Canadian Hockey League as the road to the 2002 MasterCard Memorial Cup
The Western Hockey League’s second round match-ups are now all set and the
Ontario Hockey League’s second round has begun. The Quebec Major Junior
Hockey League’s second round begins Friday night.
In each edition of the CHL Daily News (Monday through Friday) right up until
the conclusion of the CHL playoffs, the playoff results of all three CHL
leagues will be included. Second round playoff action in all three leagues
will be completed by April 17.
Wrap-ups from all of the games are included daily, along with that day’s
schedule of games. Heading into Thursday night’s play there are now 24 teams
alive in the hunt for the 2002 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
Starting April 8, a special MasterCard Memorial Cup section will also be
available at the official website of the CHL, www.chl.ca. The MasterCard
Memorial Cup takes place May 18-26, 2002 in Guelph, Ontario.
The complete playoff schedules of the three leagues are listed below. Be
sure and follow all of the CHL playoff action at the official website of the
CHL, www.chl.ca, daily right up until the 2002 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE
There are no games scheduled in the WHL Thursday night.
The Brandon Wheat Kings (7) became the final WHL team to advance to the
second round as they defeated the Saskatoon Blades 2-1 in game seven of
their opening r Read more »
Adrian Foster, sidelined since mid February and for the first 4 playoff games, showed why the New Jersey Devils drafted him in the 1st round of the 2001 draft. The Wheaties acquired Foster at the trade deadline by dealing Richard Muller to the Blades. Foster averaged a point per game this season with 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 27 contests.After trading victories in the first four matches, the series was evened at two apiece. It was not until game 5 when Foster made his return to Wheaties. In his first game back, he contributed right away with a power play goal, although they ultimately lost in overtime 3-2. The main reason for his acquisition was to add a dynamic offensive force that would also help their power play unit. Although he did not score a goal in game 6, he did, however, pick up two assists, both on the power play. This set up a one game, winner takes all showdown. With the score deadlocked at 1-1 and only 6 and a half minutes to go, Foster beat Garnett for the game and series winning goal.Many believed that Foster was overrated and should have more points than what he has. In 3 playoff games, Foster has 2 goals and 3 assists, including the series clincher. Before his return to the Wheaties, the team scored a total of 7 goals in 4 games. After his return, the team scored a total of 8 goals in 3 games. There have been a lot of comparisons to Muller as well because of the fact that it was a one player for one player deal. In the full 7 games, Muller was held pointless and carried a plus minus rating of -1.Next Read more »
INTERVIEW WITH JONATHAN GAGNON OF THE ST. JOHN’S MAPLE LEAFS!
By Steve Gandour
Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Jonathan Gagnon currently of the St. John’s Maple Leafs. Jonathan was tearing it up in the CeHL with Memphis when he got called up to St. John’s.
HF: Growing up, who would you say was your biggest influence in becoming a hockey player?
JG: My parents! They were really big hockey fans growing up. They never really pushed me, but they were fully supportive each step of the way. They encouraged my love for the game. I remember growing up in Montreal and watching Hockey Night In Canada. I knew even at that young age that was what I wanted to do, and they fully supported me.
HF: What was the best advice you ever received from your parents, or any coaches or friends along the way?
JG: That would probably be from my parents. They told me to just keep it a game, and that is how I go into every match, work hard, play hard but have fun too.
HF: Growing up in Montreal, should I assume the Canadians were your favourite team to watch?
JG: Yeah! I was a big fan of Montreal growing up. However, as I got older I became a Pittsburgh fan. I was awestruck watching Mario Lemieux play, he is one of the greatest ever to play the game. The fact that Mario was a french-Canadian also inspired me further. Every kid in Montreal idolized Mario.
HF: How did it feel being drafted by the Leafs as a young Canadians fan?
JG: It was a great feeling. Toronto is still close to home for me, and being a Canadian it was Read more »