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Jackets Farm Update

by Aaron Vickers


For even more information on the Syracuse Crunch, visit

Forward Mathieu Darche has been named the Syracuse Crunch’s HG Insurance/K&K Insurance AHL Man of the Year. The award honors the player that is judged to have made the greatest commitment to his community and charitable organizations throughout the course of the 2001-2002 season. Good Job!

Goaltender JF Labbe was named one of the AHL’s 2nd Team All-Stars. He was the only Crunch member to be named an all-star.

The Syracuse Crunch have signed C Randy Murphy to a PTO(Professional Try-Out). Murphy, 29, was second in scoring on Elmira of the UHL with 69 points in 68 games.

Also signed to a contract was RW Jack Baker, 21, who was signed to an amateur try-out contract. Baker appeared in 38 games for Boston University, recording 28 points, and 63 PIM.

Credit for statistics
Copyright by SportsTicker, Fish Pier, West #1, Boston, MA. 02210 (617) 951-1379 Read more »

HF’s Interview with the Sabres Norm Milley

by Ken McKenna

The Buffalo Sabres in recent years have built up solid depth at the right wing position via trades and good drafting. Some of this talent is already on the Buffalo roster, but there are still a couple of good prospects in the pipeline. One of those prospects, Norm Milley, is currently playing for the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

Norm was selected by Buffalo in the 2nd round of the 1998 NHL Draft, one of three 2nd round picks the Sabres made in that draft. The Toronto native starred for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL, where he spent four seasons prior to turning pro in the summer of 2000. Milley set or tied several team records in Sudbury, and finished his junior career as the second-leading scorer in Wolves history. While the gentleman one point ahead of Norm on Sudbury’s scoring list (Jamie Matthews) may not be familiar to a lot of hockey fans, the two names directly after Milley’s, Ron Duguay and Mike Foligno, should be a little more recognizable to long-time NHL followers.

Milley turned in a solid first season in the AHL last year, earning Rochester’s Rookie of the Year award. His second season with the Amerks got off to a bit of a slow start, but Norm has come on in the season’s 2nd half to remind the organization why he was a high draft pick. Milley’s strong play recently earned him his first call-up to the NHL, where he picked up his first NHL point.

I had a chance to interview Norm following a recent Amerks practice. Below is a transcript of that conversation, with my questions being designated with the initials HF, and Norm’s answers being denote Read more »

2002 AHL All-Rookie Team Announced

by League Press Release

SPRINGFIELD, MA . . . The American Hockey League announced today the 2002 AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted on by AHL players and media in each of the league’s 27 cities.

2002 AHL All-Rookie Team
Goaltender – Michael Leighton, Norfolk Admirals
Defenseman – Ron Hainsey, Quebec Citadelles
Defenseman – Barret Jackman, Worcester IceCats
Forward – Tyler Arnason, Norfolk Admirals
Forward – Andy Hilbert, Providence Bruins Read more »

Q&A with Carlo Colaiacovo

by Ken McKenna

HF: As far as this season is concerned, Erie is on its way to a division title. How has this season been compared to the previous one?

CC: Well, this year has been a season of ups and downs. We started off great, then hit a bit of an injury bug to some of our star players. Then Christmas time came around, we got all of our guys back, made a big trade at the deadline, and we just started to turn things around from there. We’re finishing off the year with a 10-game winning streak, leading to another division title for the 3rd year in a row, so we’re finishing strong the way that you want to.

HF: As far as your season goes, are you personally satisfied with what you have done, or do you feel like there are things that you need to work?

CC: Obviously, there are a lot of things I need to work on, especially if I want to play at the next level, which is my ultimate dream. This year has been a lot of ups and downs for me, also. I’ve been struggling at times; but then again, I’ve been at the top of my game. Going in to the playoffs, I want to find the top of my game again. It’s coming along very well, right now, and me being a big leader on this team, I’m going to be looked at to contribute in any way possible. Whether it’s scoring goals, making a big hit or a big play on defense, it’s what I have to do to be a leader on this team. I’m willing to take the role of doing anything it takes to win so our team can be successful.

HF: I noticed that last season you were voted the best defensive defenseman in your conference, but I also noticed that you had 39 points. Do Read more »

Thrashers goaltending depth chart

by Holly Gunning

Thrashers Goalie Depth Chart

Here is how the Thrashers goalie depth chart looks as the 2001-02 season winds down. Note that the numbering reflects the current pecking order, not their future potential.

1. Milan Hnilicka (signed as free agent in
2000) Backed up Rhodes during 2000-2001 season and saw a good deal of action due to injuries. He took complete charge of the starting job in 2001-02 and has been solid in goal, with a .908 save %, about 15th best in the league. Hnilicka has very good international credentials, but is relatively unknown around the NHL. He led the Czech team to gold in the 2001 World Championships and was named to the 2002 Olympic team to replace the injured Cechmanek. Perhaps the most underrated goalie in the NHL, the starting job is his to lose next year.

2. Damian Rhodes (acquired via trade from Ottawa prior to 1999 Expansion
Draft) The #1 goalie first two seasons in name only, he saw little time due to injury. Rhodes played better this year, but once again went down with injury in January 2002 and did not return. He is on the downside of his career. It would not be surprising to see him either traded or bought out of his contract over the summer to make room for younger, more promising goalies.

3. (tie) Pasi Nurminen (2001 draft pick) Drafted as a 26-year-old out of the Finnish League, Nurminen is Read more »

From Finland to Philly? Antero Niittymaki may arrive in 2002-03

by Al Alven

With the NHL trading deadline having passed over a little over a week ago, the hockey world has had ample time to ponder what has unquestionably become one of the league’s biggest annual “events”.

Who were this year’s big winners and losers? What team got the best bargain and which ones made the biggest sacrifices? Which teams are now best equipped to take a run at Lord Stanley’s silver chalice this spring?

While these questions can only be answered over time, one individual quietly emerged from deadline day as a potential long-term winner. If you haven’t heard of Antero Niittymaki, keep the name under your hat. Chances are, you’ll be hearing plenty from him in the near future.

A 1998 sixth round draft selection of the Philadelphia Flyers, Niittymaki became the organization’s top goaltending prospect with the trade of Maxime Ouellet to Washington (as part of the package sent to the Capitals for Adam Oates).

Up until now, Niittymaki’s future with the Flyers had been clouded by his supposed rank on the organizational depth chart. After all, just about everyone in the hockey world had Ouellet listed as Philadelphia’s top prospect at any position. Many still feel that Ouellet is the top goaltending prospect in all of hockey. After an up-and-down season with the Phantoms, all of this is now a mute point (at least from the Flyers’ standpoint).

Now, the doors of opportunity have swung wide open for Niittymaki. All that stands in the way of his North American arrival is his name on the dotted line of a contract.

Surely, the Flyers would lov Read more »

New Coach to Lead the Jr. Blues Next Year

by Ron Valerino

The Springfield Jr. Blues of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) have
hired Chicago native Nick Pollos as their new Head Coach and General Manager
for the upcoming 2002 – 2003 Jr. A Hockey Season. Pollos comes to the Jr.
Blues from the Chicago Flames Midget program where he captured three
consecutive Illinois State and USA Central District Championships as well as
a USA Hockey National Championship in 1999 and a USA Hockey National Runner
Up in 2000.

“I am very excited about the opportunity here in Springfield” says Pollos,
“It’s a great hockey town with great fans. The people of Springfield will be
proud of the team next season and enjoy watching them perform.” The Jr.
Blues will look to rebound from a dismal 2001 – 2002 season. “One of our
goals as a team is to be the hardest working team on the ice night in and
night out. Hard work, commitment and a discipline attitude are not requested
next year, they are expected,” says Pollos, “We want to be a skilled team
and play a complete team game”. The Jr. Blues currently are fighting for the
final playoff spot in the NAHL’s West Division

The Jr. Blues can be reached at 217-525-2589 or by email at

The CHL Daily News: Playoff Edition

by League Press Release

The Toronto St. Michael’s Majors (6) became the first CHL team to advance to
the second round of the playoffs Tuesday night, as the North Bay Centennials
became the first team to be eliminated from the post-season.

Toronto defeated North Bay 5-2 Tuesday night, winning the best-of-seven
Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference opening round series in four
consecutive games. As a result, there are now 45 teams still alive in the
fight to join the host Guelph Storm at the 2002 MasterCard Memorial Cup May
18-26 in Guelph, Ontario.

It was the final OHL game in North Bay, which has been home to the
Centennials for 20 years. The team was recently sold to a group that will
transfer the team to Saginaw, Michigan next season.

Tuesday night was a busy night in the CHL playoffs as 17 games were played.
Details on all of the games are listed below.

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. First round playoff action in all three leagues
will be completed by April 3.

Wrap-ups from all of the games are included daily, along with that day’s
schedule of games.

Starting April 3, a special MasterCard Memorial Cup section will also be
available at the official website of the CHL,

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,, daily right up until the 2002 MasterCard Memoria Read more »

Florida’s Little Big Man, Byron Ritchie

by Mark Fischel

It is widely recognized that when it comes to the issue of size for hockey players, the larger players seemingly get more consideration over the smaller players. For a time in the mid 90’s, large skilled players were in vogue as the “Legion of Doom” was carving their way through the Eastern Conference, and general managers were looking for the next “Big” player.

While a player of Eric Lindros’s size and skill are always coveted, sometimes it is the smaller guys who make just as much difference on their teams. Guys like Steve Sullivan, Paul Kariya, Ray Whitney, Theo Fleury , and Sergei Samsonov all play big games in contrast to their smaller stature.

Another small player is starting to make his presence felt on the Florida Panthers is Byron Ritchie, and he too has never taken into consideration the negatives toward the small players.

“I never had a problem with size being an issue, and as long as a guy like me isn’t intimidated by the bigger players. I don’t even think the size is really an issue.” Ritchie said, “For instance, Doug Gilmour of Montreal. He isn’t a big player but he has had an awesome career and he is one of the feistiest players in the league”

On January 16th, the Panthers made a trade with the Hurricanes in acquiring defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh and center Byron Ritchie, giving Florida the puck-moving offensive defenseman they have been searching for since their inception. For a player originally drafted in the 7th round of the 1995 draft by the then Hartford Whalers, the first time being traded was a new exp Read more »

Rebels Take Strangle Hold

by Dustin Nielson

The nation’s top team is now one game away from a first round sweep of the
Lethbridge Hurricanes. Once again Mikhail Yakubov led the way for Red Deer who
came away with a 5-2 win over the Canes in game that surprised me in
several ways.

First surprise, the Hurricanes let the Rebels do exactly what they hoped they wouldn’t
do by hopping out to an early 2-0 lead. Koopmans looked shaky in the early going but settled
down as the game went on. The Canes were able to get their
composure back when Jeremy Jackson buried a powerplay goal before the period
ended. The Hurricanes held an edge in shots after one frame and looked to
be in all right shape entering the second period.

Second surprise, the ref in tonight’s game was absolutely brutal. I’m not sure if
that should be much of a surprise, from what I have been hearing officiating
all around the WHL playoffs has been questionable. Tonight’s ref, Agnew, missed
a couple of blatent high-sticking calls in the second. Within minutes of
eachother Jeremey Jackson and Ryley Layden both had to leave the ice with
cut faces from the sticks of Rebel players. On both plays the high-stick was
clearly seen by over 3000 pairs of eyes except for the two
that could do something about it. This led to the second period being completed
with constant booing from the fans and more physical play from the players.

Surprise number three, Tomas Kopecky can chuck the knuckles. With frustration
mounting on the Hurricanes side Detroit draft pick Tomas Kopecky dropped the
mittens with Colby Armstrong of the Rebels. Armstr Read more »