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Top Czech Under-17 team players: Vojtech Polak

by Robert Neuhauser
It didn’t happen very often in the history of Czech hockey that a line would be so dominating
on the international junior stage like the Vojtech Polak-Petr Vrana-Ivo Kratena line. Young
guns of the late 80’s Jaromir Jagr, Bobby Holik and Robert Reichel also formed a great line
and the three 1985 born blue-chippers draw many comparisons to them when speaking about
their level of skill. The scorer of this line and the most offensive player is the right
winger Vojtech Polak, the current captain of the Czech Under-17 team.

Vojtech Polak had ‘hockey player’ written all over him since he was born. Just like many stars of the
past and future he was born in a hockey family. His dad, also of the name Vojtech Polak, is
a respected youth coach and the current coach of Karlovy Vary’s 5th grade team. Just as the
little Vojtech could walk, he also became his first pair of skates and his dad laced him the
tights up for the first time. So it came that already at the age of two years Vojtech Polak
took his first strides. He was born in the small city Ostrov nad Ohri, but lives his whole
life in the famous spa city Karlovy Vary and at the local rink he also learned how to keep
balance on his skates. The little kid was very talented, when he was four, Vojtech was already
a solid skater for his age, took the stick into his hands and touched the black piece of
rubber for the first time. His hockey career began very early, at the mere age of four Vojtech
Polak was admitted into the Karlovy Vary’s pre-novice cathegory and also played his first
game. From the very first gam Read more »

Denver Pioneers Season Review

by Christa Moore

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

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

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
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

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

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 »

Stampede takes advantage of power plays, downs Des Moines

by Jason Shaner

Bucs play 20 minutes of hockey and lose 6-3

By Kevin Kasel on 03/23/2002

Saturday night at the Metro Ice Sports Arena in Des Moines, the Buccaneers managed to play only 20 minutes of good hockey falling to the Sioux Falls Stampede by a 6-3 score. The Stampede took advantage of their power plays when they got them, converting on 3 of 6 opportunities.

In the first period, Sioux Falls outshot Des Moines 16-10 and where it counted led 3-0 on the scoreboard. Sioux Falls went 2 for 4 on the power play in the 1st period. Sioux Falls 1st goal was a rebound left lying around that the Bucs were unable to clear that Eric Przepiorka was able to bury. Jacob Micflikier got a one-timer feed from the USHL’s leading scorer, Thomas Vanek to give the Stampede the 2-0 lead. Marty Sertich then converted on the power play to give the Stampede the 3-0 lead heading into the 1st intermission.

In the 2nd period, someone flipped a switch on the Bucs. Des Moines, who outshot the Stampede by a 18-9 count in the period, controlled things on the scoreboard where it counts to tie the score 3-3. Chris Collins got the Bucs on the board first by putting home a rebound on the power play. Keith Boyer got a gift as a clearing attempt hits one of the linesmen and the puck stays in the zone, Boyer came in and goes top shelf to bring the Bucs within one, 3-2. With about five minutes left in the period, Luke Irwin got a shot that flipped over Stampede netminder Kellen Briggs to tie things up at 3 a piece.

Four minutes into the 3rd, Jason Moul found himself with a w Read more »

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