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Houston Happenings

by Chris Kitching

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

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 »

Jackets Junior Prospects SIR(Pt 1)

by Aaron Vickers

Jackets CHL Prospect Season In Review

Part One: Western Hockey League

Shane Bendera – G – Kelowna Rockets
At the beginning of the season, who could’ve conceived that Shane Bendera would not be suited up in his familiar colors of the Red Deer Rebels. Instead, Bendera was shipped off to Kelowna midway through December. In 30 games with his new squad, Bendera played respectably, but did not put up the amazing numbers we saw earlier in the year from his Red Deer days. In Kelowna, he managed a 13-9-8 record with 2.61 GAA and .907 SV%, still very respectable numbers. While with Red Deer, Bendera put up better numbers. Through 20 games, he managed a 2.28 GAA and a .918 SV%.

All in all, the acquisition of Bendera by the Rockets did exactly what the organization hoped it would, and that is land the Rockets a playoff birth. This is where Bendera shines, the playoffs. It is no secret that Bendera craves the big game, and even lead his former Rebel teammates to the Memorial Cup last season. The fans of Kelowna hopes he can do the same for their squad when they face off against the Kamloops Blazers in the first round of the WHL Playoffs.

Ben Knopp – RW – Kamloops Blazers
Ben Knopp was another Blue Jacket prospect dealt this year, and although it took him some time to connect with his new linemates, once he did, his productivity increased dramatically. Knopp, who was acquired from Moose Jaw, finished the season with 44 goals in 78 games. He averaged more than a point Read more »

Portland vs. Seattle – Mismatch or Miracle Waiting To Happen?

by Michael Conkey

There’s only one thing better than seeing two rivals battle it out in a game during the regular season…

Seeing two rivals battle it out in a playoff series.

The I-5 rivalry will heat up yet again when the Portland Winter Hawks play the Seattle Thunderbirds in game 1 of their WHL 1st round series on Friday. Portland has had a decisive edge in this series, winning nine games, losing once in regulation, losing once in overtime and getting one tie against them. Portland has outscored Seattle 55 goals to 35 goals in the 12 game series. With all this as evidence, it’s clear that Portland should have absolutely no trouble with the Thunderbirds, right?

Realistically, the Hawks should take this series as long as they come to play. But lets not forget, this is the playoffs. There are no definites in the playoffs. Just take a look at last year, and you’ll see how unpredictable the playoffs truly can be. Seattle was the sixth seed in last year’s Western Conference playoffs, back when they only had six teams in the West. They played the first seed Kelowna Rockets in the first round, and subsequently beat them. This gave the Hawks the bye in the second round, as they were the highest seeded team to make it past the first round. This year, however, there are no byes. With the addition of two teams to the Western Conference, there are 8 teams in this year’s playoffs, and no byes will be given to any team. Portland finished 3rd overall in the West, but they’ll play Seattle in the first round because the first round matchups are divisional.

These teams are not Read more »

Albany Week in Review

by pbadmin

Albany Week in Review #24

Trade deadline: Devils’ swaps; no Rats involved

Tuesday, March 19, 2002 was trade deadline, at 3:00 pm EST. The Devils swung a pair of deals by that time, neither involving River Rats. Stephane Richer, right winger who was part of the Devils’ 1995 Stanley Cup championship team, was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 7th round draft pick in next year’s (2003) entry draft.

The bigger deal involved the Dallas Stars. Pivot Jason Arnott and right winger Randy McKay were dealt in the final minutes before the trade deadline. In exchange, the Devils acquired centers Joe Nieuwednyk and Jamie Langenbrunner, both members of the Stars’ 1999 Stanley Cup championship team. The Devils also surrendered a first round draft pick to the Stars. No minor league players were involved in either deadline deal today.

Defenseman (now assistant coach) Kinnear honored

In the year after he retired due to injury, Geordie (“Champ”) Kinnear was honored by the Albany River Rats. An original member of the team, a member of the 1994-1995 Calder Cup championship team, a four-time selectee for the AHL All-Star Classic, and three-time captain, Geordie Kinner had his #4 jersey unfurled from the rafters at the Pepsi Arena on Saturday night.

It was ironic that the ceremony, in which his number was “honored” (displayed, but not “retired”), came against the Providence Bruins. Several years back, he broke a bone in his hand in a fight against the Bruins after a melee broke out in front of the Rats’ Read more »

The CHL Daily News

by League Press Release

Raiders to Select First Overall in 2002 WHL Bantam Draft

The Bantam Draft Lottery was held this afternoon at the Western Hockey
League office in Calgary, Alberta and a Prince Albert Raiders’ ball was
drawn, giving the Raiders the first overall pick in the 2002 WHL Bantam
Draft. The second selection will be by the Vancouver Giants, and the third
selection will be by the Vancouver Giants (transferred from the Medicine Hat
Tigers). The 2002 WHL Bantam Draft will be held in Calgary on May 2nd,

Following is the order of selection for the 1st round of the Bantam Draft.

1) *Prince Albert
2) *Vancouver
3) *Medicine Hat (Van)
4) Seattle
5) Saskatoon
6) Moose Jaw
7) Tri-Cities
8) Lethbridge
9) Calgary
10) Kelowna
11) Prince George
12) Spokane
13) Portland (Leth)
14) Kootenay (SC)
15) Kamloops
16) Regina
17) Brandon
18) Swift Current
19) Red Deer

* Indicates via lottery.

Following is the order of selection for the 2nd and all further rounds of
the Bantam Draft.
Note: Traded selections in the 2nd round do not show.

1) Vancouver
2) Seattle
3) Prince Albert
4) Saskatoon
5) Medicine Hat
6) Moose Jaw
7) Tri-Cities
8) Lethbridge
9) Calgary
10) Kelowna
11) Prince George
12) Spokane
13) Portland
14) Kootenay
15) Kamloops
16) Regina
17) Brandon
18) Swift Current Read more »

2001-2002 WHL Playoff Preview

by League Press Release

The 2001-02 Western Hockey League regular season was a smashing success. Record smashing, that is.

A season in which geographical realignment was the big story, the WHL topped the 2.5 million mark in attendance for the seventh straight year, finishing with an eye-popping 2.95 million to eclipse last year’s total of 2.7 million.

With the help of the popular Vancouver Giants, who were a huge hit at the gate in their first season, an average of 4,250 people watched Western Canada’s top junior hockey players compete each night. Other success stories include the Kamloops Blazers, who topped 200,000 for the first time in their history, and reigning Memorial Cup champion Red Deer Rebels, who played to a 99-per-cent capacity at the Centrium.

The addition of the Giants led to some division shuffling and the creation of an all-United States grouping, and an all-British Columbia Division, less travel and more intense play brought about by the rejuvenation of some heated rivalries.

It all makes for some interesting first-round playoff match-ups starting Friday.

In the West, the Western Conference’s top team, the Portland Winter Hawks square off against nearby Seattle Thunderbirds in a best-of-seven that opens at Portland’s Rose Garden. The Winter Hawks, led by 51-goal scorer Josef Balej, were 6-0 at home this year against the Thunderbirds, the WHL’s most penalized team.

Last year at this time the Winter Hawks had to travel into B.C. to start the playoffs against the Prince George Cougars while the Thunderbirds did likewise against the Kelo Read more »

The Home Stretch: A Look at the Rangers Prospects

by Michael Theodore

Here’s a report on the Rangers prospects. Some continued to be pleasant surprises while others were disappointing, but all in all this is still a solid system despite some of the Rangers deadline dealings.

Jamie Lundmark has made great strides since the beginning of the year. His awareness on the ice is perhaps what has made the greatest improvment over the season, which allows him to better use his skills to his advantage. There’s whispers about him being a bust but it’s not fair to say just yet. While Lundmark would best be served to come to camp with the greatest physical and mental preparation possible, the Rangers understand he is a work in progress. Lundmark didn’t adjust immediately to his added bulk over the summer and at times it looked as if he added too much a la Christian Dube, however in time he seemingly made the necessary changes and has played a very encouraging second half of the season. Lundmark needs to concentrate better on his positioning with opponents so that they don’t steam role over him, and if he can make this necessary change he could be an effective two way center. If he doesn’t though, he’ll have a very difficult time making the jump to the NHL.

Garth Murray showed a bit more of a scoring touch then hoped for in his last junior season. Not a natural scorer, Murray topped the 30 goal plateau and averaged over a point per game for the Regina Pats. Murray is the ultimate team player and is a safe bet for becoming an NHL player. He likely needs a season in the AHL before challenging for a spot but he could Read more »

The Great Goalies of the USHL

by Jason Shaner

In the USHL as well as any other league, goaltending is the key element to success. It’s been proven in many a league that you can win with sub-par goaltending during the regular season relying solely on your offense and defense. But if your goaltender can’t make a stop to save his life, it becomes a different story in the postseason. The USHL is a league that is continually broadening its horizons and the level of play continues to get better with each year, as has its goaltenders. It sounds somewhat like a broken record but this season’s crop of goaltenders appears to be one of the best groups to come through the league.

To back up the fact the USHL has sent quality netminders on to the Division I level you need to look no further than players such as Josh Blackburn(Dubuque/Lincoln), Michael Ayers (Dubuque), Darren Gastrock (Waterloo), Matt Carney (Des Moines), Bernd Buckler (Tri-City), Dan Ellis (Omaha) and David Bowen (Sioux Falls). Each of these goalies has made a contribution at the college level. A few have already seen NHL ice. John Grahame (Sioux City), Scott Clemmensen (Des Moines) and Ty Conklin (Green Bay) have all seen action this season in NHL rinks.

Below is the list of the elite in the league this season. All of whom should become names you’ll hear regularly in the hockey world in the coming years.

1.Bobby Goepfert (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders) Read more »

Under The Rock

by Steve Gandour

Name: Markus Seikola
Position: D
Shoots: Right
Height: 6 ft 2 ” (185 cm)
Weight: 185 lbs (84 kg)
Born: May 6, 1982 / Laitila, Finland
Drafted: 7th Round, 209th Overall (2000 NHL Entry Draft)

European League (Regular Season)

TPS TurkuJr. C SM-Sarja96/97410124
TPS TurkuJr. B SM-Sarja97/98200000
TPS TurkuJr. B SM-Sarja98/993621012324
TPS TurkuJr. A SM-Sarja99/009213-26
TPS TurkuSM-Liiga00/01231011016
TPS Turku Jr. A SM-Sarja00/012613720146

European League (Playoffs)

TPS TurkuJr. C SM-Sarja96/97100000
TPS TurkuJr. B SM-Sarja97/98100012
TPS TurkuJr. A SM-Sarja99/0013101-50
TPS TurkuSM – Liiga00/011010150
TPS TurkuJr. A SM-Sarja00/01310100

International Competition

Team FinlandWJC Under-182000714534 Read more »

Pens prospects report

by Marc Lapointe

Kris Beech : Right at the start the pressure was on for the young Kris
Beech. He made the team after a strong camp, was put on a line with “Le
Magnifique” and was THE story in Pittsburgh. There was some Calder hope at
that point, but now that the season is coming to an end, it’s time to ask if
hopes were unrealistic for Kris Beech. When you think about it, Beech was
fresh from the Junior where he played only 40 games due to injury, he had
only 4 NHL games to his resume and he was already on a must-produce
situation. Yes, Beech’s expectations were too high for this season, but it
was part of his development. He learned a lot, played some good games
and showed that he has his place in this league. Here are his main skills : puck control, skating abilities, shot and play along the boards. On the
mental aspect you look at hard-working kid with good hockey sense and vision
of the ice. However, the British Colombia native will need to be more
consistent offensively and he needs to keep working on his game. Hopefully
Beech will come up faster, quicker and stronger for next year’s training
camp. If he does so, look up for him next year and forget about the second
year jinx.

Below is a table which shows the stats of this year’s NHL Rookies
coming from the CHL. These poor stats are encouraging for Beech’s future,
but it’s not a good sign for the Canadian Hockey League to have only 4
graduated in the top 30 rookie leading scorers.

Name           Age   Rank DraftedJunior League/TeamLast Year Stats
           This Read more »

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