A few hours before the Vancouver Giants began their third pre-season game out at Queen’s Park Arena in New Westminster, I spoke with Scott Bonner, GM, about the organizational plans for the newest team to enter the WHL. A laid-back gentleman, Bonner was warm and relaxed but at the same time candid, and left me with the impression that he was pulling together a wealth of hockey knowledge that had worked collaboratively in formulating a solid game-plan for the full development of the club.
The first order of business for these Giants under Bonner’s tutelage was to put an entertaining product on the ice. He pared it down to bringing together a close-knit group of young players—no bad apples need apply—that realized they are privileged to be playing in the best under-20 league in the world, and who are going to buy into Head Coach Milan Dragicevic’s proven approach: hard work every night.
If the first local pre-season game held earlier in the week at the South Surrey Arena against the Kamloops Blazers—one that they won 6-5 with 16 seconds remaining in OT—is any indication of what is in store for the fans, the Giants will indeed satiate all appetites for some earnest, never-say-die hockey.
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HULL, Quebec – The four-team 2001 NHL prospects tournament began on Wednesday at the Robert-Guertin Arena just outside of Ottawa. The Ottawa Senators defeated the Florida Panthers 5-1 by scoring the game’s final five goals. RW Josh Langfeld and LW Alexandre Giroux each scored a pair of goals for the Senators. C Mike Green tallied the lone Panthers goal. G Davis Parley made 27 saves for Florida, while G Ray Emery stopped 15 shots for Ottawa. The Senators held a 32-16 shot advantage. Ottawa was 1-for-11 on the power play.
The Panthers failed to score on all five of their power play chances. Florida played the final two periods of the game with just four defensemen after D Vladimir Sapozhnikov (right shoulder injury) and D Michel Periard (headache from hit from behind) left the game due to injury. RW David Morisset, acquired from the St. Louis Blues in a trade for RW Scott Mellanby last February, was named the player of the game for Florida. He registered an assist and eight hits in the game. The round robin tournament will continue on Thursday with the Panthers taking on Montreal at 4:30 PM. Ottawa faces off against Phoenix in the late game at 7:30 PM.
FIRST PERIOD: C Mike Green opened the scoring just five minutes into the contest connecting on the Panthers second shot of the game. Morisset recorded an assist and a team-high four hits in the period. Ottawa tied the score on a shorthanded unassisted goal when Giroux tallied with 11:01 gone in the period. The Panthers outshot the Senators, 8-6.
SECOND PERIOD: Ottawa scored the Read more »
This season’s training camp at Lake Placid, NY is an all-out battle of men hungry for jobs and a place in that “dream” game. There is almost nothing more pure in the world. The situation is set up for a fall of three, but here we have the tale of five goalies.
First, there are five capable people in the mix, though some are greener than others.
Echoes of Philadelphia’s import Roman Cechmanek are waived at us through the media. Dusan Salficky is the first guy since Tommy Salo was exiled to Edmonton to bring international experience in net for the Islanders. This slippery net-minder played the typical Czech sprawled out style, and was 10th overall with 2.63 goals against, after 52 contests in the Czech Republic Extraleague. At 27, this Long Island hopeful is a big question mark. He raises the bar significantly.
The first to feel this could be Rick D. He had his fair share of bumps and bruises last year in white, blue and orange. Considering the company that has been invited to camp, one has to believe that Rick D. will be ushered intentionally to their minor league affiliate. Though he was impressive most of the time, his weak 5-hole and concentration lapses are signs of needed seasoning.
Stephen Valiquette has been a pleasant surprise, though he could be viewed as a long shot at the moment considering his competition. Stephen is a large man at 6’5”, and obviously keeps himself light at 212 pounds. Islander fans in general like this guy as he represents the hard Read more »
The 1999 draft offered solid depth of Russian, Belorussian and Kazakhstan-born prospects. Although there was no clear-cut future superstar from Russia, plenty of players with unlimited potential were drafted. Youngsters like Koltsov and Kuleshov all offered exceptional pure offensive skills, though neither showed signs of performing consistently. It is safe to say that GM’s crossed their fingers and swallowed hard before each selection.
Out of the few well scouted names, Denis Shvidki suffered a recession in value. Previously a potential top-10er, Denis fell to number 12 at draft time. Konstantin Koltsov and Mikhail Kuleshov were surprise selections in the eyes of many. Although neither displayed great finishing ability to compliment their raw skills, the two stickhandlers became potential first-round jackpots. Giant Alexei Semenov showed little on-ice results up to the draft, but was swapped largely due to his size and toughness.
The consensus opinion among the General Managers was, “let’s wait 2 or 3 years and then we’ll see”. Ironically enough, 2+ years later, many teams are still waiting for progress from some members of the 1999 draft class. Hopes are still high on many fronts, but thus far results have not been astounding.
11th overall: Oleg Saprykin. LW/C. 6’0, 190. 1981-02-12. (Calgary Flames)
Plus: Saprykin plays a fearless, intense style of hockey. A great skater, he has great hands and first-line scoring potential. Oleg doesn’t shy away from contact and is sound at both ends of the ice, as indica Read more »
HULL, Quebec – The four-team 2001 NHL prospects tournament continued on Thursday at the Robert-Guertin Arena just outside of Ottawa with the Montreal Canadiens defeating the Florida Panthers 2-1. Florida attempted to rally from a 2-0 deficit and dominated play in the second half of the game. LW Josh Olson tallied the lone Panthers’ goal with 0:19 seconds remaining in the second period. He was assisted on the play by D Lucas Krajicek and D Paul Elliott. Florida registered 26 shots on net in the final 30 minutes of the game. Montreal goaltender Olivier Michaud was named the Player of the Game for the Canadiens as he stopped all but one of those shots.
Florida’s Player of Game G Billy Thompson made 27 saves. Florida killed off all seven Montreal power plays. The Panthers only had two power play chances. Florida outshot Montreal 35-29. With the loss, the Panthers record drops to 0-2-0 in the tourney. The round robin tournament will continue on Friday with the Panthers taking on Phoenix at 4:30 PM. Ottawa faces off against Montreal in the late game at 7:30 PM.
FIRST PERIOD: Montreal RW Marc-Andre Thinel scored the lone goal of the first period at the 15:29 mark. Florida’s Thompson was solid stopping 10 shots. The Panthers were outshot by the Canadiens, 11-7.
SECOND PERIOD: After falling behind 2-0, the Panthers battled back with a goal in the final minute of the period. Sustained pressure in the Montreal zone resulted in a goal with just 0:19 on the clock as Olson connected on a scramble in front. He was assisted o Read more »
Long Island’s “Big Valley”: Stephen Valiquette
Stephen Valiquette has been bounced around in the past, but this year he won’t be going anywhere but Bridgeport or Long Island.
Stephen Valiquette was not always Islander property. He was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 8th round (190th overall) of the 1996 Entry Draft. At the time of the draft, he had been playing for Sudbury of the OHL. Over a four-year period, he posted a record of 41-52-10 with 7 shutouts until he was traded midseason (1997-1998) to Erie. With a much better Erie squad in front of him, Valiquette was able to post a 16-7-3 record with 3 shutouts in 28 games.
Not taking into account the Sudbury team that Stephen played for, the Kings were not impressed enough by the young goaltender and chose not to new his entry-level contract. Seeing the potential in the lanky netminder, Mike Milbury and the Isles stepped in and signed Stephen to a 3 year contract in 1998.
Assigned for the 1998-1999 season to Hampton Roads of the ECHL, Valiquette posted 18 wins (including 1 shutout) in 31 games there. The combination of the trading of Tommy Salo, Felix Potvin being injured and Marcel Cousineau being called to Long Island to back up Wade Flaherty, necessitated the moving of Valiquette to Lowell of the AHL. At Lowell, Stephen absorbed a loss in his only appearance for the Lock Monsters.
During the 1999-2000 season, Stephen must have felt like a yo-yo. He bo Read more »
Plenty of New Faces for the Farm
The Islanders have recently signed or extended training camp invites to a number of players. In addition to looking at some of those players, I’d also like to take a quick look at Cory Stillman. Again I have to give credit to Islanders CEO Charles Wang for green-lighting Mike Milbury to increase payroll and organizational depth. It cannot be overstated how important it is for the Isles to have good depth on their farm teams. This affords them the ability to not rush youngsters into the NHL.
Having the Bridgeport SoundTigers as their primary affiliate and the Trenton Titans (shared with the Philadelphia Flyers) as their ECHL affiliate, the Isles will have two solid organizations to let their players develop. With the added responsibility of being the parent organization for a new AHL team, the Islanders and Mike Milbury have jumped right into stocking that team.
It is evident that some of the players signed or invited to camp are earmarked for the SoundTigers. In order to keep that franchise a healthy, viable and profitable organization many players are brought in to provide minor-league level experience and firepower. I am not saying that none of these players has a shot at making the Islanders team, I’m just saying that with the amount of quality talent available to the Isles, it is conceivable that many experienced players may end up on the Tigers or Titans. This isn’t a bad thing. These players can make the team very successful and everyone knows t Read more »
As Paul Lynch sat in the stands at the National Car Rental Center
during the 2001 NHL Entry Draft and listened to 137 names called
without hearing his own, he couldn’t help but feel a little despair.
Scouts had predicted and Lynch himself expected to hear his name by
the third round, at the very latest. The young Massachusetts native
was forced to wait until the fifth round before hearing the words
every young hockey player dreams of: “With our pick we select…”
“I expected and was told I would go third, possibly higher, and when
it didn’t happen, it was hard,” Lynch explained. “I knew during the
season when I tore my knee, it would have a big effect on where I was
going to go.”
Now Lynch is a man on a mission. The mission: to prove his value. He
has spent the summer working out at Mike Boyle’s gym, where Tampa Bay
Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier has been diligently training
through out the off-season. He has also spent a good deal of time at
Lightning Special Skills Coach Paul Vincent’s camp. While Lynch’s
skating surely doesn’t need improvement, he is looking to fine-tune
other areas of his game.
Most young players growing up in Boston dream of being the hometown
hero at local schools, but not Lynch. He chose the University of
Maine over both Boston College and Merrimack.
“I didn’t want to get distracted by anything near the city,” Lynch
explained. The serious hockey atmosphere set by head coach Shawn
Walsh lured Lynch to Maine. “He is a great guy who tak Read more »
Name, Team, Height, Weight, Hometown, Birth Date
Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Pittsburgh, 5'11, 176 lbs., Montreal, PQ, 7/17/77
Nick Boucher, Dartmouth (ECAC), 5'11, 175 lbs., Cobble Hill, BC, 12/29/80
Sebastien Caron, Wilkes-Barre (AHL), 6'1, 160 lbs., Anqui, PQ, 6/25/80
Brandon Crawford-West, Texas (NAHL), 5'11, 185 lbs., San Diego, CA,
Tomas Duba, Sparta Praha (Cze. Jr.), 6'0, 176 lbs., Prague, Czech
Petr Hamerlik, Kingston (OHL), 6'2, 180 lbs., Skalica, Slovakia, 1/2/82
Johan Hedberg, Pittsburgh, 5'11, 180 lbs., Leksand, Sweden, 5/5/73
Craig Hillier, Wheeling (ECHL), 6'1, 183 lbs., Cole Harbour, NS, 2/28/78
Joel Laing, Wheeling (ECHL), 5'10, 185 lbs., Maryfield, SASK
Mika Lehto, JyP HT Jyvaskyla (Fin.), 5'11, 172 lbs., Vammala, Finland, 4/12/79
Brant Nicklin, Florida (ECHL), 6'0, 175 lbs., Salmon Arm, BC, 9/19/76
Robbie Tallas, Chicago, 6'0, 163 lbs., Edmonton, AL, 3/20/73
Brendan Buckley, Wilkes-Barre (AHL), 6'2, 196 lbs., Boston, MA, 2/26/77
Drew Fata, Toronto (OHL), 6'1, 211 lbs., Sault Ste. Marie, ON, 7/28/83
Andrew Ference, Pittsburgh, 5'10, 190 lbs., Edmonton, AL, 3/17/79
Brian Gaffaney, St. Cloud State (WCHA), 6'5, 205 lbs., Alexandria, MN, 10/4/77
Hans Jonsson, Pittsburgh, 6'1, 202 lbs., Jarved, Sweden, 8/2/73
Darius Kasparaitis, Pittsburgh, 5'11, 212 lbs., Elektrenai, Lithuania, 10/16/72
David Koci, Prince George (WHL), 6'6, 216 lbs., Prague, Czech Republic,
Janne Laukkanen, Pittsburgh, 6'1, 194 lbs., Lahti, Finland, 3/19/70, Y
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The Manitoba Moose announced that the Columbia Inferno will be Manitoba’s East Coast Hockey League affiliate for the 2001-2002 season. It is the first time in Moose history the club has had a ‘AA’ affiliate.
The Moose/ Canucks will supply up to four players to the Inferno. The agreement means that the Moose will have access to Columbia players for injury replacement and it is expected that the Moose will also invite a number of Columbia’s independently signed players to Moose training camp in September.
“We are thrilled to be affiliated with Vancouver Canucks and the Manitoba Moose,” said Inferno head coach Scott White through a Columbia press release. “Both clubs are top-notch organizations, and fans in Columbia will have the opportunity to see a number of future NHL prospects.”
The Inferno are an expansion franchise in the 29-team East Coast Hockey League. The team plays out of the Carolina Coliseum (6,231) in Columbia South Carolina. The Inferno will play in the ECHL’s Southeast Division in the Southern Conference.
AROUND THE AHL
The Utah Grizzlies have lost their home with the 2002 Winter Olympics in town. The Grizzlies will play their last game at home at the E Centre on January 19 and will not return home until Febuary 28th. The Grizzlies will play 17 consecutive road games in 40 days.
Center Bobby Brown and left wing Jason Shmyr have signed with the Houston Aeros. Brown had 25 points in 58 games for Houston last year, while Shmyr had 308 PIM in 57 games for Utah and the AHL’s Portland Pirates.
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