World Junior Championships
- Jamie Lundmark had a solid first game for team Canada, notching 2 assists in a 9-0 killing of Belarus. He skated on a line with Dany Heatley, who had 2 goals, and Mike Cammalleri, who was the star of the game as he netted 3 goals. Lundmark also picked up a minor penalty during the game and had 1 shot on goal. The next test for Lundmark and team Canada will be tomorrow against team Finland.
- Pavel Brendl has 1 goal in two games so far for the Czech Republic. His goal came in the second game, a 9-1 win over Kazakhstan, and happened to be shorthanded. Brendl is tied for first in the WJC tournament with Stanislav Chistov, a top 2001 prospect, and Pavel Duma, both whom are playing for Russia, with 1 shorthanded tally. Brendl also has 7 shots on goal, 2 penalty minutes and is a +2 in the 2 games so far. He is being counted on to score a lot of goals during the tournament.
- Sven Helfenstein has picked up where he left off at last year’s WJC, dominating the opposition. Helfenstein has 1 goal in 2 games, while getting 4 shots on goal. He missed a penalty shot against team Russia, which could have given team Switzerland a win instead of a 3-3 tie.
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It is a situation that seems to be accepted as commonplace. A star player approaches the end of his contract and the former team is poised to trade him before he leaves for nothing. Ray Borque, Mark McGwire, Wayne Gretzky and Mike Piazza are a few of the sports legends that have been in this situation and now Rob Blake of the Los Angeles Kings is the latest player to join the list. Like the others, Blake has postured himself as caring so much about the organization that he is going to sacrifice himself by taking a trade to another team so the Kings will have something to show for all his years of service. Blake’s cavalier act will not include signing an extension though, virtually eliminating any chance of acquiring any quality players in return. I for one am tired of this trend that holds franchises hostage for the wishes of one player. Despite these feelings, history has shown that the Kings need to sign Rob Blake.
Los Angeles has seen two of these exact situations. Wayne Gretzky left the Kings for St. Louis and the Kings made what was considered a blockbuster trade for his services. Prospects Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson, Patrice Tardif and a first round pick, who became Matt Zhultek, came to the Kings for the Great One. Only third line winger Craig Johnson remains, with no remaining compensation for any of the other players. A third line center for the greatest player in NHL history is not what franchises are built on. The Los Angeles Dodgers also traded Mike Piazza and have seen the franchise stagger ever since.
The Kings claim the mone Read more »
Prospect Note: 2 Pens prospects will be participating in the 2001 WJC tournament starting on Tuesday. Konstantin Koltsov for Belarus and Tomas Skvardilo for Slovakia. As well, Pittsburgher RJ Umberger is on the US team.
Junior Player of the Year 12/4 thru 12/10
Peter Hamerlik (Kingston)- 3 games, 2-1, 2.33 GAA, .923 SvPct
Jeremy Van Hoof (Ottawa)- 1 game, 2 PIM
Darcy Robinson (Saskatoon)- 3 games
David Koci (Prince George)- 1 game, 2 PIM
Joel Scherban (London)- 2 games, 1 goal, 3 assists
Tomas Skvardilo (Kingston)- 3 games, 2 PIM
Steve Crampton (Moose Jaw)- 3 games, 2 assists, 6 PIM
Shane Endicott (Seattle)- 3 games, 3 goals, 2 assists
Jan Fadrny (Kelowna)- 2 games, 1 goal, 2 assists
Michel Ouellet (Rimouski)- 3 games
Player of the Week
Ouellet 30 (4)
Hamerlik 23 (2)
Endicott 14 (2)
Fadrny 13 (2)
Crampton 10 (1)
Junior Player of the Year 12/11 thru 12/17
Peter Hamerlik (Kingston)- 1 game, 0-1 16.36 GAA, .571 SvPct (11 mins played)(attending Slovak WJC tryout camp)
Jeremy Van Hoof (Ottawa)- 3 games, 1 assist
Darcy Robinson (Saskatoon)- 1 game
David Koci (Prince George)- 4 games, 4 PIM
Forwards: Read more »
On Saturday, December, 23rd, the Czech Under-20 team left for Moscow to defend the championship title, which he won last season. Some of the players from that team are already NHLers, some play in the Extraleague and three of them returned to compete for gold once again. Tomas Duba, Michal Sivek and Vaclav Nedorost dream of being two-time WJC champions. When you look at this years squad, you can see that their dreams may not be impossible.
The young Czechs played two exhibition games before the WJC. In the first game, they defeated Pardubice junior team 6:2, when Vaclav Nedorost was the first star with 2 goals. The CHL players already made their presence felt when Radim Vrbata and Martin Erat scored their markers, Pavel Brendl was left off the score sheet. The second game was a game against a mixed team of Pardubice juniors and seniors. Pavel Brendl scored in the first minute of this game and Radim Vrbata gave the Czech juniors a two-goal lead five minutes later, but the game turned out to be a 3:3 tie. The Under-20 team looked quite in shape in those games, CHL scorers kept their pace and the defensemen looked ready for the big time. Only one thing I worry about is that the Czechs have no exhibition game right before the WJC starts and have to wait for their first game on December, 26th, and spend time only with practices. And let’s take a look who will spend that time!
Tomas Duba (HC Sparta Praha) – Tomas was the second goalie behind Zdenek Smid last year and this experience will help him a lot as he’ll be the starter this y Read more »
Jamie Lundmark had another excellent effort this afternoon, notching 2 assists in Canada’s 5-1 win over Sweden in the second of two exhibition games played between the two teams.
Lundmark has been centering a line with Dany Heatley, the 2nd overall pick in the 2000 draft, and Mike Cammalleri, who is eligible for the upcoming 2001 draft. The line has been using it’s great speed and great forecheck to win the loose puck battles and turn quickly to offense. Lundmark has played the role of set-up man, assisting on 5 of Canada’s 11 goals in the two games against Sweden. Not many people have heard of Cammalleri, who plays US College Hockey and therefore does not get the attention that Canadian Major Junior stars do. Scouts say Cammalleri should be available towards the late 1st/early 2nd round of the 2001 draft, and I would love it if the Rangers select him. However, so far his strong play have caught a lot of scout’s attention.
On another note, the goaltender for team Sweden happened to be Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers 7th round selection in the 2000 Entry Draft. Lundqvist has been given the tag “will be the best goalie to come out of Sweden”, but this season he has not been playing like it. In my opinion, he ranks 3rd as of now in Sweden behind Mikael Tellqvist (Toronto draftee) and other Rangers draftee Johan Asplund. As for the game, Lundqvist was shaky. He allowed 3 goals on Canada’s only 3 shots in the first period. He was not dominant, and hasn’t been at all this season. He started off the year with Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League, but when they signed Pat Read more »
With the number one draft pick from the 2000 NHL Entry draft, Ricky DiePietro between the pipes, Team USA will have a building block for this year’s club. Six other returnees are also back for a run at the gold. We will breakdown the offense, defense, and goaltending on this year’s team.
Offense: Five players are back to lead the offensive attack. Andy Hilbert from the University of Michigan is back for his 3rd tournament and must provide leadership and scoring. Jeff Taffe, Team USA’s leading scorer from last season, is also back. Look for him and fellow Minnesotan Troy Riddle to play together. They have worked very well together throughout the year for the Golden Gophers. Other returnees include Connor Dunlop, Brett Nowak, and John Sabo. R.J. Umberger is a newcomer to watch for. Excellent play at Ohio State earned Umberger the number one ranking by the CSB among college eligible players for April’s NHL Entry Draft. Troy Riddle will be counted on to use his wicked speed and finesse to antagonize opponents. Other forwards who will be looked upon to score are Jon DiSalvatore, Marc Cavosie and Kris Vernarsky. This group of forwards should be able to skate with the high flying Czech’s and Swede’s in Group A. Team USA wants to play an up tempo style of play, which shouldn’t be a problem with the speed this team possesses.
Defense: Anchoring the defensive unit is first round draft pick in last year’s draft, Ron Hainsey, from the University of Mass-Lowell. Having only one player with experience at the World Juniors some teams cou Read more »
The IHL’s best will converge on Chicago on January 15th to take on the defending Turner Cup Champion Chicago Wolves. The all-star roster was announced last week with a breakdown of three players from each of Grand Rapids, Manitoba, Cleveland and Orlando. Milwaukee and Detroit were able to submit two players apiece. And, Houston, Cincinnati, Utah and Kansas City round out the selections with one participant each.
In goal for the all-stars are Frederic Chabot of Houston, Mike Fountain of Grand Rapids and Johan Hedberg of Manitoba. Chabot has been solid for a Houston squad that has been quite inconsistent so far this season. Fountain has been the catalyst in the Griffins success and leads the league in GAA and wins. Hedberg has been dynamite for the Moose and amongst the league leaders in wins throughout the year.
Up front are Peter Bartos and Christian Matte of Cleveland, Mark Beaufait and Yves Sarault of Orlando, Martin Cibak and Nils Ekman of Detroit, Vadim Sharifijanov of Kansas City, Todd White of Grand Rapids, Brian Felsner of Cincinnati and John Purves of Utah. Bartos has been an offensive gem with the Lumberjacks and Minnesota during his call-ups while Matte has made a successful transition from the AHL to the IHL and leads the league in goals with 16. Beaufait gets the nod despite missing a fair amount of time with an injury due to his stellar offence in the early going. Yves Sarault has been consistent and earned a recent call-up to Atlanta. Cibak and Ekman are both young, talented aces for the Vipers and lead their attack. Sha Read more »
Hockey’s Future Interview with Serge Payer
Nearing the halfway point of this NHL season, one of the surprises has been the abysmal start of the Florida Panthers. While there are many reasons for this poor outing so far, most notably a startling amount of injuries that have decimated the team and have never given the Panthers a full roster of healthy players.
Maybe one of the small benefits of a team stricken with this many injuries, is the chance for the unexpected. Having a player get called up to fill in sometimes gives the coaches, management, and most importantly, the fans the opportunity to see a player exceed all expectations and beat all the odds of making an impact in the NHL.
One of these players is Serge Payer. Signed as a free agent in late 1997, Serge was expected to spend time this year in the UHL, but an incredibly strong NHL pre-season turned the heads of Panther brass and Serge was sent to start his professional career in the AHL Louisville Panthers.
What is remarkable is the road that Serge took to get to this point in his early career in the NHL. Jennifer McCarthy of Hockey’s Future AHL report recently did a profile of Serge on her web-site http://www.pantherbytes.com/louisville.html
which is a highly recommended read, as well as a good source for Louisville Panther news.
Recently, I got the chance to sit down with Serge Payer on the day of the Colorado game, and it was apparent during the interview that Serge is in this “I still can’t believe” phase over the realization that he Read more »
The Rangers announced today that goalie Mike Richter will be sidelined for the Rangers next 2 games (23rd vs. Nashville and 27th vs. Carolina) because of an undisclosed injury, and Vitali Yeremeyev has been recalled from Hartford. In my opinion, Richter is not injured at all, but just needs some rest. The Rangers were likely to rest him in their next 2 games anyway, but I guess they decided to bring up Yeremeyev to get a look at him over the next week or so.
Yeremeyev, a 25 year old Kazakhstanian goalie who was selected in the 11th round of the 1994 Draft, has played OUTSTANDING with the Hartford Wolf Pack in 11 games this season. Yeremeyev has posted a 1.65 GAA, .951 Save%, and 2 shutouts. The ironic thing is that this is from someone who started the season struggling with the ECHL Charlotte Checkers (Jason Labarbera is the starter there now), as he posted a 4.23 GAA in only 5 games.
Playing excellent is not anything new to Yeremeyev however. In his last 3 years in Russia, Yeremeyev posted superb numbers. He had a 1.23 GAA with 7 shutouts in 26 games in 99/00 with Dynamo Moscow of the Russian Elite League. The two previous years before that he posted a 1.80 GAA in 19 games with CSKA Moscow of the Russian Tier 2 league, and a 1.16 GAA with Yaroslavl of the Elite league in 16 games. Yeremeyev got teared apart on the National stage though. He was the starter for team Kazakhstan in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. He allowed 28 goals in 7 games, en route to a 5.76 GAA. Yeremeyev can’t be blamed for most of the goals however, as Kazakhstan is not known Read more »
The 2000-2001 Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are a much improved yet very similar team from last year. The RoughRiders, who are in their second year of existence after being moved from Mason City, Ia, have made a name for themselves in the USHL as being an aggressive, gritty team who always plays 110%. Last year Cedar Rapids was given the task of playing the first half of the season on the road where they did poorly. As the second half began they served notice that they were becoming a good hockey team. This year the RoughRiders got a “normal” schedule and after a rocky start are playing arguably some of the best hockey in the USHL right now. Cedar Rapids is tied for 2nd place with Waterloo in the Eastern Division. In their last 10 games they have had some impressive wins including two road wins at perennial power Des Moines and a home victory over the league favorite Lincoln Stars. Here is a breakdown on some of the individual leaders for the RoughRiders through the current Christmas break.
Offense - The RoughRiders are not well known for their offense but they do have a couple of stars. Darren Partch is the leader offensively and is one of the league leaders in the scoring. Partch has 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points and leads the team in scoring. Partch is the kind of player who is in the right place at the right time and can kill you with precision passing. Gerry Hickey returned to Cedar Rapids after a spectacular season last year. So far Hickey has 8 goals and 9 assists for 17 points but he has an astonishing 120 penalty minutes. Tha Read more »