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Spezza Rolling Again

by Bill Thompson

The St. Michaels Majors are an excellent defensive hockey team but on this night the hometown Belleville Bulls tore into them for 9 goals. Peter Budaj played the 1st and 3rd periods and Andy Chiodo played the 2nd as the Major’s coaches tried to stop the bleeding anyway they could. The Bulls offense is potent and is assisted by the international size ice surface at the Yardman Arena. The Majors on the other hand use their size to their advantage at their home rink in Toronto, which is no bigger than an average living room but that size was ineffective against a strong Bulls team that dominated every aspect of the game including the physical side.

Michael Knight and Dan Growden were the most active Bulls players throwing their weight around, the latter nailing Michael Gough with a textbook hip check that sent Gough off for the rest of the game. Belleville’s captain Matt Coughlin had a less than stellar game on the blueline but redeemed himself with 2 decisive fight wins in coming to the aid of teammates. David Clarkson played with a lot of tenacity, as he seems to be gaining more and more confidence as he gains more valuable experience. He also created scoring chances with some nifty moves in the offensive zone.

The energy and flow are stymied in the small rink and the Majors have geared their team to take advantage of this. They have 10 players listed at over 200lbs and they use this size to clog up the ice and make it almost impossible to create breakout chances. The Majors have the best home record i Read more »

Jackets CHL Prospect Update

by Aaron Vickers


Western Hockey League

Shane Bendera – G – Kelowna Rockets
Bendera’s play has not affected his play since moving to Kelowna from Red Deer earlier in the season. In 27 games with the Rockets, Bendera has posted a 2.64 GAA and a .906 SV%. In total this season, Bendera’s numbers are slightly better, with a 2.46 GAA and .909 SV% in 47 games. The bad news is that Kelowna still only sits in 4th in the BC Division with a 28-25-10-5 record, and with have to play some better hockey to launch themselves deep into the postseason.

Ben Knopp – RW – Kamloops Blazers
Knopp has finally adjusted to his new Blazer linemates, and I’m positive that the Kamloops coaching staff could not be happier. During my hiatus, Knopp has played 14 games, registering 18 points. He now sits at 40 goals and 77 points (40-37-77) in 73 games. His plus/minus is the stat that impresses me most since last update, where he has improved 13 GF, and now sits at +5, the highest its been all season. Knopp leads the Blazers in goals and points, but sits 3rd in points-per-game. The top two spots for that category go to 2002 draftee Scottie Upshall and LA Kings prospect Jared Aulin

Kiel McLeod – C – Kelowna Rockets
McLeod has finally come of his pulled groin which left him sidelined for longer than Rocket fans would have liked. He’s managed go play in 7 games since the last update, playing in only 41 of 68 games for the Rockets this seaso Read more »

Albany Week in Review

by Mike Buskus

By Mike Buskus

Albany Week in Review #22

Rough road.

The road woes continue. Despite support from about 80 members of the Albany River Rats Booster Club, who made the trip to Portland, Manchester and Saint John (New Brunswick), the Albany River Rats failed to win a game on their recent road trip. The Rats took an overtime loss in Portland (3-2), tied in Manchester (4-4), and were soundly defeated at Harbour Station in Saint John, New Brunswick (6-2).

The current road troubles bring the winless streak away from home to ten games, the second time this season that the River Rats have traveled 10 games in a row without a win. The earlier winless on the road streak ran from October 5, 2001 (the season opener in Providence) to December 1, 2001. The current streak, of equal length, started on January 26 and, at the moment anyway, continues. Only the Cleveland Barons (at 11 in a row without a win) and the Hershey Bears (same number) have had worse road winless streaks this season. However, it is the second time this season for the Rats in the winless-in-ten situation.

The game in Portland went into overtime thanks to a late third-period goal by Steve Guolla (his 21st, leading the team). Jiri Bicek had opened the scoring early in the first, but a pair of Portland goals gave the Pirates the lead. With only seven seconds left in overtime, Trent Whitfield of the Pirates got his second of the night, to send away the Rats, 3-2.

In Manchester, at the new Verizon Arena, pairs of goals by Richard Rochefort and Jiri Read more »

Czech goaltending prospects: Marek Schwarz

by Robert Neuhauser
Quality goalies don’t grow on trees. First you have to recognize the talent and then develop
it patiently into the future diamond. Only then you can from a kid make the next cornerstone
of your franchise. The best of them compete for a NHL job and often became the stars of the
senior national teams. One of the biggest talents to come out from the Czech goalie developmental
system can be Sparta Praha midgets standout Marek Schwarz.

Marek was enjoying first a non-hockey childhood like millions of other kids, he didn’t seem
to be on the beginning of a hockey career at all. He just liked sports, that was it. Sons
of hockey coaches or players often make their first strides immediately after the first normal
steps and have hockey all around them. Not Marek Schwarz. None of his relatives played hockey
and a career in pro hockey wasn’t one of Marek’s first dreams. He laced up the skates in the
small Czech village Piskova Lhota for the first time, he was regularly visiting his granddad
there. And one day he took him skating on a frozen pond. Marek was a quick student and soon
he was capable of making all the skating moves and turns.

He started attending elementary school in his native city Mlada Boleslav, the ‘Czech Detroit’.
The well-known Czech car factory Skoda is based there and almost nobody knows the city for
hockey. Only for cars. Even if most of the kids start playing the game when they are about
five or six, not Marek. His time didn’t roll around until he was eight years old. By this time
kids often have two or three years of experience with organ Read more »

Boxma burns Blazers

by Jeff Bromley

If there were any reservations left about the Kootenay ICE goaltending capabilities they can be put firmly to rest. B.J. Boxma is doing just fine thank-you very much.

That reality was never more evident Wednesday night as the twenty-yr-old Free Agent turned aside 26 shots and shut-out the Kamloops Blazers 2-0. The victory kept the slim hopes of Kootenay catching the Blazers for first place in the B.C. Division alive as the magic number for Kamloops remains at two Blazer wins and/or ICE losses for the division pennant.

The shutout, Boxma’s fourth of the season and third in the last two months reaffirmed the fact that the reserved goaltender seems to be getting steadily better between the pipes as the season wears on. Better not in the aspect of ability, Kootenay fans will remember well of the Swift Current Broncos’ edition of B.J. Boxma that beat the ICE in the seventh game of the Eastern Conference semi-finals last season, but in the department of confidence. Confidence in himself, his abilities and perhaps most of all, in his teammates around him. And in turn, their confidence in him.

It started at the beginning of a topsy-turvy season says Boxma. One that will no doubt be filled with even more peaks and valleys. “When I started the year in Swift Current I got off to a bad start. I didn’t have a lot of confidence,” said Boxma. “When I got traded my confidence went down even more. I was thinking ‘why did they trade me? Am I doing that bad?'”

“Lately it’s been going really good. I’ve had a lot of confidence and the team’s played really well in fron Read more »

Unheralded Rookie Makes Early Impact

by Chris Kitching

When the Minnesota Wild signed left-wing Pascal Dupuis as a free agent on
September 18, 2000, they knew they were getting a hard-nosed winger who
would one day provide them with the two-way defensive style they apply.

Little did they know, he would deliver so soon.

In his rookie National Hockey League season, Dupuis has adjusted comfortably
to the NHL level after spending the majority of last season in the
now-defunct International Hockey League with the Cleveland Lumberjacks.
Dupuis, who saw action in four games with Minnesota a season ago, recorded
19 goals and 24 assists with Cleveland.

Heading into training camp in September, the 22-year-old’s chances of making
the team were seen by some as very slim. The Wild had an abundance of depth
on the left wing, but with a potential season ending concussion suffered by
Cam Stewart during the pre-season and several players shifting positions,
room on the roster opened up for Dupuis and he has taken advantage of a
golden opportunity.

Dupuis, one of two rookies with the Wild, now patrols the left wing on the
Wild’s first line with eleven-year veteran Jim Dowd and sophomore sensation
Marian Gaborik, giving Dupuis the opportunity to play his gritty style while
contributing on the scoresheet at the same time. Dupuis is making $350,000
this season, and is ranked 11th in rookie scoring with ten goals and ten
assists in 58 games played, as of March 6.

The Laval, Que. native split his junior career between the Shawinigan
Cataractes and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Majo Read more »

Jackets Farm Update

by Aaron Vickers

For all you JF Labbe fans out there, the Columbus Blue Jackets have announced that he’s been called up to replace injured goalie Marc Denis, who went down with a groin-injury. This is Labbe‘s chance to show Jacket Executives that he could handle backing up Denis next season, and give the Jackets a chance at dealing Tugnutt. Labbe has sparkled in the AHL, posting a 20-14-7 record with a 2.34 GAA and .921 SV%.

Due to the call-up of JF Labbe, the Crunch have announced the call-up of Karl Goehring from Dayton of the ECHL. Also called up was Trevor Ettinger, who saw a previous stint with the Crunch earlier this year.

Jonathan Schill has been relocated to Dayton of the ECHL to make room for call-up Trevor Ettinger.

Under The Rock

by Steve Gandour


Trade talk abounds at the Air Canada Centre. Yet, a couple hundred miles away at the Tullio Arena, the Leafs future star attraction is ignoring all the talk and doing what he does best, playing hockey.

Brad Boyes is in the midst of a career high thirteen game point scoring streak, having recorded twenty-two points in that span. This streak has improved his season numbers to a very impressive thirty goals and seventy points in just forty-one games.

The Leafs top pick from the 2000 NHL entry draft is excited but not overwhelmed by the small taste of Leaf hockey he has had through two preseason camps. He expressed these feelings recently in an interview with Hockey Future’s Reporter Ken McKenna.

“At first, you’re in awe a little bit, but you get over that. You need to get over the awe quickly to try and play well. I’ve taken things from both camps, and hopefully I’ll improve on them next year.”

Brad feels confident in his skating abilities, but is still working on improving that aspect of his game.

“Over the summer, I try to get faster, and I try to get stronger. A lot of people say I need to work on it, and some say it’s not that bad. Personally, I don’t think it’s that bad. I played a bunch of exhibition games this year (for Toronto), and I felt my skating wasn’t an issue. But, every year, every summer, I definitely try to work on getting faster, stronger and quicker.”

Brad has been credited by many scouts as having the best hockey sense on the ice of any OHL player. However, don’t b Read more »

Coyotes News and Notes

by Russell Brooks

It has been a long time since I have done News and Notes. I figured there is enough material to put it in its own article this time.


Jason Jaspers earned his first NHL recall playing in his first game against Nashville and registering his first point, an assist, against the Detroit Red Wings three games later. Branko Radivojevic also earned his first professional call-up to the Coyotes this past week and played his first game against Columbus, which he earned an assist, his first point, on the game-winning goal by Daniel Briere. Overall, 7 Coyotes prospects have made their NHL debut, which include Grenier, Cullen (now Minnesota Wild property), Focht, DesRochers, Jaspers, Radivojevic, and Safronov.

Honors and Awards:

Branko Radivojevic earned AHL Sherwood player of the week honors for the week of February 10th. Radivojevic scored five goal and one assist which included his first his first professional hat trick during that span. Another former prospect, Jean-Guy Trudel was selected to play for the Canadians in the AHL all-star game, which he scored one goal and two assists. This was Trudel’s second consecutive all-star appearance for the Falcons. Josh Blackburn earned honorable mention for finishing as the one of the top six remaining point-getters in the balloting for the CCHA all-conference team.

Injury News:

Fredrik Sjostrom received a concussion on a open-ice hit courtesy of Brandon’s Reagan Leslie. Sjostrom has been out the past week and his timetable to return is uncert Read more »

U20 WJC 2002 Team Russia Player Review

by Eugene Belashchenko



PART II: Forwards

By: Eugene Belashchenko (Special thanks to Robert Neuhauser and a Finnish
observer for their assistance on preparing this article.)



FORWARDSRead more »

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