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Is this the end for Kootenay?

by Jeff Bromley
on

It’s the end of March and playoff fever taken hold around the Kootenay’s. Unfortunately, it’s become more of an illness rather than a euphoria to both the players and their fans.

Left untreated, this condition will prove fatal.

The Prince George Cougars shocked the Kootenay Ice, their fans and just about anybody but themselves after walking away from the Cranbrook Rec/Plex this past weekend with 4-1 and 3-1 wins respectively, and a 2-0 lead in their WHL Western Conference quarter-final. Facing the prospect of returning to the Prince George Multiplex for three consecutive games, the Cougars will be looking to wrap the series on home ice. Cougar head coach Ed Dempsey, who’s charges failed to win in either of the two occasions at the Rec/Plex during the regular season, including a lopsided 10-4 drubbing the last time the club visited the Key City, was more than satisfied at the two wins.

“We were looking for two solid efforts on the road and that’s what we got,” said Dempsey. “It was nice to win the first one and it gave us an opportunity for another strong effort in the second game.” Dempsey was guarded against overconfidence against the suddenly sputtering ICE and was quick to warn about complacency in the playoffs. “Let’s give some credit to our opponent, these guys have the most goals of any team in the WHL (second to the Medicine Hat tigers actually), you don’t do that without talent and they have some absolutely gifted forwards led by Jarrett Stoll. If we’re going to have any hope at all we better be able to look after our own end or you’re going to Read more »

Simon Gamache after one year pro

by Holly Gunning
on

Gamache was a star in the QMJHL. He finished as the top scorer of the in 2000-01 with 184 points in 72 games. He was named the 2001 Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year, as well as the 2000-01 QMJHL MVP and MVP of the 2001 QMJHL playoffs. He led his team to the Memorial Cup finals. And most impressively, he beat Mario Lemieux QMJHL’s playoff point record with an amazing 57 points.

Despite these very impressive numbers, Gamache was drafted in the 9th round in the 2000 Entry Draft. Thrashers GM Don Waddell said after the draft that the only reason he fell so far was because of his size, but it is hard to tell if this is the real reason, since Waddell speaks well of all his prospects, even the ones who are longshots. Even if Waddell saw something lacking in his game, he is unlikely to state that publicly.

The question on everyone’s mind is: will Simon Gamache make it to the NHL?

Gamache has good hands, vision, and passing skills. He’s high energy, and exciting to watch. His greatest gift is his ability to put the puck in the net. On the other hand, he’s small, listed at 5’10”, 180 pounds, which does not automatically preclude him from succeeding in the NHL, but unlike some other small players like Paul Kariya or Steve Sullivan, Gamache may lack the speed to compensate for his size.

First Pro Season
Like many players before him, Gamache’s success in juniors has not translated into immediate success in pro hockey.
Read more »

Haydar shines at UNH

by Brian Roe
on

The bigger prospects in the Nashville Predators system, Adam Hall (6’3″), Dan Hamhuis (6’1″), Brian Finley (6’4″) and Andrew Hutchinson (6’2″) are all prominent names in the Preds future. There is, however, a saying that good things come in small packages, an adage that is personified in the form of another Nashville prospect, and University of New Hampshire star, Darren Haydar.

The hockey gods have certainly smiled on the University of New Hampshire Wildcats this season. The #1 team in NCAA Division I hockey boasted an often times unstoppable offense, as well as two senior goaltenders that have played very well. Next week, UNH will make an appearance as one of the finalists in the NCAA’s Frozen Four hockey tournament, where they will open against the Maine Black Bears in a rematch of the Hockey East championship game. UNH won that previous confrontation, 3-1.

Perhaps the main reason for New Hampshire’s success this season is their leading scorer, vocal leader and captain, Darren Haydar. Haydar (22, 5’9″, 165 lbs.), who wears #20 for the Wildcats, is the leading scorer in the nation. In 39 games so far this season, the Milton, ON native has 31 goals and 43 assists for 74 points, an offensive explosion that comes on the heels of back-to-back 41-point seasons. His breakout season has not gone unnoticed, as he is a finalist (and favorite) for the Hobey Baker Award, t Read more »

Denver Pioneers Season Review

by Christa Moore
on

At the end of last season the DU Pioneers immediately began to prepare for this season. The only thing they could not prepare for was the unknown and it was the unknown that ended a fantastic year. Having played only one team from the CCHA this year, (Bowling Green) it was difficult to gage how strong the Michigan Wolverines would be. Did their 27-10-5 record reflect that of an elite team or simply the best team in the CCHA? Was UM’s physical style of play capable of stopping DU’s speed? Would DU’s fantastic defense be able to match up with some of the NHL’s future stars? How could any building be louder then the Xcel Center, packed with 18,000 Gopher fans like they faced the weekend before? Would sitting out for over a week on a bye, while Michigan had just played the night before be a blessing or a curse? By beating 3 teams in the Hockey East conference earlier in the season, did this mean DU could also dominate the CCHA? Of coarse all these questions have now been answered. Here’s a look back at DU’s final game and an exciting season.

Saturday March 23, 2002 Last Saturday, the Pioneers faced the largest crowd to ever watch a college hockey game in the state of Minnesota. Since they were playing the Minnesota Golden Gophers, it was difficult to find any support for DU in the entire building with the exception of a few converted St Cloud fans. The most important part of this game was scoring the first goal to take the 18,000 plus vocal fans out of the game. Some how the Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, with less than 7000 fans seemed ju Read more »

The Leader of Traverse City

by Jessica Haskin
on

The Traverse City Enforcers are making a drive for the playoffs, and with their win on Sunday the 24th they are in the last playoff seed, three points ahead of the Downriver Bombers. What all teams needis a player to lead them into and through the playoffs. They need a player who is willing to lead by example and give everything he has to win. Do the Enforcers have such a player in their captain, Matt Barnhardt?

The 22-year-old Barnhardt, is on the small side for hockey standards at 5-foot-11, 175 lbs. He’s a full-blooded Mohawk Indian from the small town of Tyendinaga, an Indian reservation in Ontario where he grew up with his siblings.

“I’ve got a younger sister who’s in grade nine and I’ve got a older brother who’s twenty-six? I don’t know… I haven’t been home in five years. Just been moving around playing hockey, baseball, all sorts of stuff. Busy man.”

Yes, he is a busy man, besides playing Junior A hockey he holds a job.

“Yeah, I’m working at American Eagle. I did a year of college, graphic design. It was when I played last season for Rayside (Rayside Balfour Sabrecats of the NOJHA), they paid for my college so it’s something.”

College was the one thing he might have done different in his hockey career.

“I don’t know if I would have changed it but I think about it every now and then. I had two full scholarships for division 1 to go to Clarkson or St. Lawrence and I was picking between them. Then the OHL called me and said I was going to get drafted to Sudbury and where I grow up OHL is huge. I look Read more »

Nashville Signs Pair From Michigan State

by Brian Roe
on

The Nashville Predators announced that the club has signed defenseman Andrew Hutchinson and winger Adam Hall from Michigan State University of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Andrew Hutchinson, 22, was originally Nashville’s 4th round draft choice (54th overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. Hutchinson is a 6’2", 197 lb. defenseman from Illinois.

Adam Hall, 21, was the Predators’ 3rd round draft choice (52nd overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. Hall is a 6’3", 206 lb. forward from Michigan.

Both Hutchinson and Hall will report to the Milwaukee Admirals, the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators. Both players were seniors this season at Michigan State, who was recently eliminated from the Division I NCAA tournament.

 

 

 

 


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 »

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