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USHL Update – Des Moines Buccaneers

by Jason Shaner
on
The 2000-2001 season has been a roller coaster of ups and downs for one of the most storied franchises in the USHL. The Des Moines Buccaneers hoist a number of banners in the stadium that is called by many as the “Madhouse on Hickman”. Des Moines is coming off a 4th place finish last season after being the dominant team in the league the prior several years. Some Buccaneers fans may have considered last season a down year for the team. This season there was much concern about how the mighty Bucs would turn out. Several new faces took the ice and early on Des Moines struggled to get things going. It appeared they may take another step down in the league until some key transactions and top-notch goaltending has taken this team back to where they feel they belong. Currently Des Moines is 24-14-2 good for 50 points. That gets them 4th in the rough and tumble Western Division but good for 5th in the USHL overall in the playoff standings. The Buccaneers are chasing their archrival Omaha Lancers along with the Sioux Falls Stampede and league leading Lincoln Stars in the quest for home ice advantage. Currently the Buccaneers are one of the leagues hottest teams as they recently had a 7 game winning streak put together. That streak was capped off with road wins at League leading Lincoln and over 2nd place Sioux Falls.

On the offensive side Des Moines had a lot to replace. Losing scoring champion Peter Sejna last season along with rookie of the year Troy Riddle Des Moines had a lot of questions to answer. Des Moines definitely got the season off slo Read more »

The Lewiston Rocket?

by Nicolas Gaudreau-Dupuis
on

After only one year of existence, the Montreal Rocket has accumulated a deficit of 800,000$; and the low attendance has put pressure on the owners to find alternatives. The Montreal Rocket is currently in negotiations that would allow them to move in the Molson Centre, something the president of the team, Mario Messier, has called a “last resort” change for the franchise.

Junior Hockey struggles in Montreal
The
Montreal Rocket is not the first QMJHL located in the Montreal area that is having difficulties with attendances and survival. Previous teams located in
Verdun, Laval or Longueil all had similar problems in the past, and none of
them has survived to this day. If the Montreal Rocket cannot redress the situation
in the Molson Centre, they could be forced to move to a new location. Since
the last QMJHL expansions have developped most available markets in the province
of Quebec and in the Maritimes, the franchise could go south of the boarder.

The Lewiston Rocket? Read more »

The Weekend Warrior

by Randy Nicholson
on

Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.

A new angle on the Lindros stalemate: Veteran hockey writer Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun (January 29th) offered an interesting solution to the Lindros deadlock this week … he hypothesized that the Maple Leafs might obtain Eric Lindros for as little as two first-round draft picks … this price would be based upon an offer sheet that starts relatively low but increases with the number of games played … the Leafs could put together a contract paying Lindros $1.4 million a year for three years … bonus clauses that would pay him $1 million for every 10 games and $600,000 at the end of the season would also be included … the total package represent a total of $10 million over a full season – but with only the base salary guaranteed … under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement, this would be a legal contract … although a team is forbidden from starting at $10 million and working down, there is nothing that prevents starting at $1.4 million and working up … the attraction of this arrangement is that, because the guaranteed salary in the deal is relatively low, the compensation required is correspondingly small … at the $1.4M level, the Leafs would have to surrender only two first-round picks instead of the five usually needed to acquire a player of Lindros’ calibre … the catch, of course, is that the Flyers would have Read more »

Coyotes Update: Catching Up On Some News

by Brandon LeBourveau
on

- Czech defenseman Robert Schnabel was released by the Coyotes earlier this month at his request. Schnabel was struggling a lot this season and wanted a change of scenery. He will now be playing for Timra of the Swedish Elite League.

- The Future Considerations sent to Vancouver in return for Brad May this summer was announced a couple of days ago. The Coyotes will send a 3rd round pick in the 2001 Entry Draft to the Vancouver Canucks.

- The pending takeover of the team by an ownership group that includes Wayne Gretzky appears that the deal will get done before the February 15th deadline that current Coyotes owner Richard Burke and hopeful new owner Steve Ellman agreed upon in December.

- The Coyotes had 2 players participate in the 2001 World Junior Championships in Moscow, Russia earlier this month. Sami Venalainen had 1 goal and 1 assist in 7 games for Silver medal winning Finland and Jason Jaspers had 1 goal and 6 penalty minutes in 7 games for Bronze Medal winning Canada. Krys Kolanos was one of the last players cut for team Canada. Many believe that he should have definitely made the team.

2001 USHL All Star/Prospects Game

by Jason Shaner
on

Speed, agility, intensity and courage, those words emulate the USHL player. The United States Hockey League is by far the premier Junior Hockey League and the players prove it every season. Only the top players are selected to participate in the All Star/Prospects game. Not everyone obviously gets a chance to be part of this major event, so the ones that do certainly take advantage of it. This year’s game will take place in Cedar Rapids, home of the RoughRiders. The Cedar Rapids Ice Arena welcomes the opportunity to let their city see the endless talent these players possess. Team USA consists of some of the best talent in the league in the eyes of the coaches. Team World is comprised of the best-imported talent as well as potential NHL draftees. Year in and year out some of the league’s top stars are drafted into the NHL and many more get their wish of a college scholarship and move on to the next level to continue to hone their skills with the dreams of making it to the big show one day. Below is a list of the players who made the rosters of Team USA and Team World.

Team World

Jure Penko Goaltender – Jure has been one of the top goaltenders in the league since his arrival a couple of seasons ago for the Green Bay Gamblers. His tall frame intimidates his opponents and his quick reflexes make him the goaltender he is. So far on the season Jure has compiled an 18-5-7 record with a 2.37 GAA and a .912 saves percentage.

Keith Ballard Def Read more »

New York Islanders Prospect Report

by Drew Bennett
on

Brian Collins (Center, 20)- The Boston University sophomore is having a good
year for the Terriers, in which he has 7 goals, 15 points, and 14 penalty
minutes. The 6’1, 190 pound center has had 5 of his 7 goals on the power
play.


Rick DiPietro
(Goaltender, 19)- The first overall pick in the 2000 draft
recently mad his NHL debut in a 2-1 loss on January 27th to the Buffalo
Sabers. He notched an assist on a Dave Scatchard goal, and showed solid play
during the game. General Manager Mike Milbury said that DiPietro will spend
the rest of the season with the big club. He represented Team USA in the
World Junior Championships and in six games, DiPietro went 5-1 with a 1.33
goals against average and a .927 save percentage.


Justin Mapletoft
(Center, 20)- Mapletoft is having a outstanding year with
the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL. In 47 games, Mapletoft has had 24 goals, 77
points, and 81 penalty minutes. Throughout the season, Mapletoft has been in
the top ten in WHL scoring.


Kristofer Ottosson
(Right Wing, 24)- This year Ottosson is playing with
Djurgardens in the Swedish Elite League. This year Ottosson, in 37 games,
has 16 goals and 36 points, with12 penalty minutes.


Raffi Torres
(Left Wing, 19)- The 5th overall selection in the 2000 draft,
Torres has been lighting up the lamp with Brampton Battalion in the OHL. In
37 games, Torres has 22 goals, 23 assists, for a total of 45 points. After
almost making the pro club out of training camp, Torres is a great candidate
for the Read more »

Rangers Update: Ulmer, Malhotra and Kloucek Sent Down

by Brandon LeBourveau
on

Today the Rangers have announced that forwards Jeff Ulmer and Manny Malhotra, along with defenseman Tomas Kloucek have been re-assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL to get some playing time during the NHL All-Star break. It is expected that all three will be called up early next week.

Ulmer made his NHL debut last night and played on the 1st line with Mark Messier and Adam Graves. Ulmer impressed me a lot with his hard work and great speed. He definitely has the wheels to survive in the NHL. He has good vision on the ice and I can’t remember him making one mistake last night in the Rangers 4-2 win over Montreal. Malhotra has been little-used over the last week, being a healthy scratch in some games. He only got 1 minute and 22 seconds of ice time last night. He currently has 2 goals and 2 assists in 21 games this season.

Kloucek heads back to Hartford with 1 goal in 22 NHL games. I really like this kid and I can see him becoming a dominant force on our blueline for a long time. He’s an extremely strong player. Last night he leveled Montreal’s Eric Landry in center ice, causing Landry to miss the rest of the game. I’m not sure what the injury was, but I think I remember hearing Landry suffered a fractured nose. He was bleeding a lot on the bench after the hit. Kloucek has made a couple mistakes this season, but with more playing time he will improve. He has played with a lot of different defenseman, including a couple of games where he paired up with Brian Leetch. He has currently been playing with Kim Johnsson to form a solid pair. At only 20 years old, Read more »

Coyotes Update: Rookies Making An Impact

by Brandon LeBourveau
on

Three Phoenix Coyotes’ rookies (Ossi Vaananen, Wyatt Smith and Robert Esche)
have played important roles this season and have all contributed greatly to
the Coyotes’ success.

Ossi Vaananen, a tough as nails defenseman from Finland, has likely made the
biggest impact of the three. Drafted in the 2nd round in 1998,
Vaananen currently has 4 goals, 8 assists and 56 penalty minutes in 50 games
this season. He has played great defensively, knocking his opponents down in
front of the net and clearing the crease well. He has also chipped in on the
offense too in some games.

Wyatt Smith, a late round pick in 97, has played well as a role player this
season. The 23 year old center has 3 goals, 7 assists and 13 penalty minutes
in 41 games this season. He has worked hard every night and is an effective
forechecker. He’s more of a defensive forward, so the Coyotes consider any
offense from him a plus.

Robert Esche, a 6th round pick in 1996, has played 13 games this
season and has played really well. He has posted a 5-5-2 record with 1
shutout. He has a 3.30 Goals-against-average and a save percentage of .887
while also chipping in with 2 assists. He has played solid when the Coyotes
decided all-star netminded Sean Burke needed a rest.

All 3 of these players appear to have bright NHL futures some day. I have
taken them all off the top prospects lists and have moved them to the
“Graduated” section of the page.

News and Notes: Sheesh, it’s been a while since I updated this page. I
apologize for this greatly, as I Read more »

Rangers Update: Ulmer Gets His Shot

by Brandon LeBourveau
on

With the current horrible play of the New York Rangers, President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has decided to call up center Jeff Ulmer from the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL.

Ulmer, a 5’11 180 pound center, had 11 goals and 13 assists along with 30 penalty minutes in 41 games with the Wolf Pack. For those of you who don’t know, Jeff was signed as a free agent over the summer, after Ron Low convinced the Rangers management that Ulmer was worth a shot. Ulmer played for Ron Low’s Houston Aero’s last season, and Low liked what he saw. Prior to turning pro, Ulmer spent 4 years at the University of North Dakota, where he totaled 74 points and 132 penalty minutes in 135 games.

At 23 years old, Ulmer is hoping to make an impact in his first NHL game tomorrow night as the Rangers host the Montreal Canadiens. The Rangers are in the midst of a 4 game losing streak, this after a five game unbeaten streak that looked like it could turn our season around. Although some criticize Jeff’s play because he is “small”, there’s no denying his talent. He’s a hard worker, and earns everything that he gets. He never gives up on a play and gives it his all every night. He has good speed and strength, and a decent shot. He will likely see time on the 3rd or 4th line in tomorrow’s game.

In order to make room for Ulmer, the Rangers sent Brad Smyth back down to Hartford. Smyth, recalled a week ago, registered 1 goal and 4 penalty minutes in 4 games. He was a healthy scratch in last night’s 7-2 drubbing by the 2nd yea Read more »