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Top Prospects, Top Pressure

by Jeff Bromley
on
The sixth annual CHL Top Prospects game took place this past week and it didn’t fail to live up to it’s accrued billing of the showcase of top major junior players on the continent. Trouble is, it’s only one game. Take it or leave it, this game can have a major impact on where and when a player is taken in the NHL Draft come June in Sunrise, Fla. That’s of course not to say that NHL scouts haven’t done their homework and seen each and every player a couple dozen times but in a nationally televised game against your brethren who are fighting for the betterment of their own draft status, the game does take on new meaning in the eyes of scouts and players alike.

Forty 2001 draft eligible players, two teams, celebrity Coaches Don Cherry and Bobby Orr patrolling behind the bench, this game isn’t any All-Star extravaganza, it’s a stage in which to showcase your skills as a player. Think one game can’t make a difference? Think again. Last year’s prospect game is a clear example. Calgary Hitmen goaltender Brent Krahn going into the game in the draft rankings was ranked highest among goalies, save for number one pick overall Rick DiPietro who didn’t declare his eligibility until after the final rankings were released. But in the overall scheme of the things it wasn’t expected that Krahn would be picked until well into the first round, if at all. An outstanding performance at the 2000 edition of the Top Prospects game in Toronto changed all that. Krahn ended up being taken ninth overall by his hometown Calgary Flames. A surprise to some but to others not surprising at Read more »

Ellsworth having Vezina-like season for Soo Indians

by Derek Berry
on
He might remind you of an Olie Kolzig or a Byron Dafoe and he’s having
one heck of a season in goal for the NAHL’s Soo Indians.

His name is Cam Ellsworth. Remember his name. He’s big (6′ 1″ 200
lbs., to be exact), strong and handles the puck with the finesse of a
fine-tuned NHL goaltender.

Soo Indians’ head coach Joe Shawhan, a former goalie himself, knew he
would have a solid netminder coming into this season and had very few
worries.

“He had a good year last year and he came in ready to play this year,”
says Shawhan. “He has played very consistently and that’s carried over
from what he did last year.”


A RELIABLE PRESENCE

This season, the all-star goalie has a 1.94 GAA with a .921 save
percentage, a 26-5 record and 5 shutouts at the halfway point.

Shawhan says Ellsworth has excellent work habits, that will carry him
far in the future.

“When we came into this season he quickly picked up on what he did the
year before,” says Shawhan. “He did the work that was necessary to do
and it wasn’t all that much. We knew he was going to be reliable coming
in.”

Shawhan says Ellsworth merely had to work on his stance and his
compactness in the net.

Ellsworth himself also knew what he had to do coming into this season,
which basically involved standing tall in the net and staying tough.
The skills were there and still are…this season was a matter of carrying
over the consistency.

“I knew we had a good team coming into the season,” said Ellsworth. “I Read more »

The Weekend Warrior

by Randy Nicholson
on

Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.

The Future: Though the situation on the ice seems somewhat muddled at times this season, the Maple Leafs have established some grand plans for the club’s business operations in the coming years … modeling itself after England’s storied Manchester United Football Club (a sports empire worth about $3 billion CDN) the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment conglomerate has more than tripled its assets during the past three years … the organization currently has plans to add 44 new employees to its staff (bringing the total close to 400) as it implements Phase II of the mid-term business plan … Phase I involved the merging of 2 operations (hockey and basketball) and the completion of the ACC on time and on budget … much effort was also spent in getting the hockey and basketball teams into perennial playoff contention and booking out the new playing facility during the past 2 years … at this time, the Air Canada Centre is the #2 concert venue in North America in terms of gross revenue, just behind the Staples Centre in Los Angeles … last year there were 230 separate events staged at the ACC … the prime sports tenants lead the way with the Maple Leafs being sold out for every game and the Raptors currently representing the NBA’s #3 draw for road and home games combined … satisfied that their initial goals had been met, the MLSE board of directo Read more »

Bolts Bits – Tampa Bay Prospect Update

by Megan Sexton
on

Next up: Dieter Kochan

With the departure of netminder Dan Cloutier yesterday (sent to Vancouver for Adrian Aucoin and a 2nd round pick in 2001), Dieter Kochan may finally get his shot at the big time.

Kochan has spent his career bouncing around various leagues, but has never managed to get a big break. Now, at age 26, he may finally have the opportunity to solidify himself as an NHL goaltender.

There was an air of disbelief in late March last season when it was announced that the virtually unknown goaltender from the UHL would start in goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Just one day after being signed by the club, Kochan was left seeing stars, literally. He was pulled 15 minutes into the 1st period, after being shelled by the Stanley Cup Champion Dallas Stars and allowing 3 goals on 6 shots. Kochan was replaced by Cloutier 7 minutes into the 1st period, but re-entered the game at 2:00 of the second when Cloutier went down with a knee injury. He performed well in the second half of the game, only allowing one additional goal.

One week later, Kochan came back to redeem himself. He replaced Zac Bierk, and stopped 30 of 31 shots to help the Bolts to a 5-4 win over Boston.

So far this season, Kochan has appeared in 7 games with the Lightning, including two spectacular performances against the Colorado Avalanche. His 2.08 GAA and .933 save percentage is one of the best in the league.

Tampa Bay General Manager Rick Dudley told the Tampa Tribune after the Cloutier trade, “We’re going to give Dieter Koc Read more »

Sabres Report: Centers of Attention

by Ken McKenna
on

This article will be the first in a series devoted to mid-term progress reports of all the Buffalo Sabres’ prospects, with each article covering a different position.

There are many NHL GMs who stress the importance of being strong up the middle. While Buffalo has been able to draft or acquire some solid talent for the center position in recent years, they have had trouble landing a top-flight pivot who can create offensive opportunities for both himself and the players around him. This isn’t to say that Buffalo doesn’t have some help on the way in their prospect ranks, but it is definitely a position that will need to be addressed in the near future.

Topping Buffalo’s list of prospects at the center position is Kingston Frontenacs star Mike Zigomanis. Mike had an excellent 99-00 season, and he has so far followed up with an equally fine first half to the 00-01 campaign. Ziggy is currently the Frontenacs leading scorer with a total of 60 points (31G, 29A), a point total that places him in the OHL’s top 20 scorers. His goal total has him tied for 6th in the OHL in that category, with 6 of those goals coming on the power play, 2 in shorthanded situations, and 2 markers being game-winners. Mike has been honored as both Player of the Week and Month in the OHL (November), which was no doubt a factor in his being named to the OHL’s Eastern Conference All-Star squad. Zigomanis also was selected to play for Canada in the WJC, which was noted in a previous article.

Kingston is currently in the thick of the Read more »

Slovenian Report: Andrej Hebar

by pbadmin
on
Andrej Hebar is a 16-year old kid who dreams of playing in the NHL one
day. And, unlike most, he just might get his chance. Andrej is a
first-year forward with the Frolunda Indians of the Swedish Elite U-18
league, and he is one of the most spectacular players in the league. He
might not be the biggest guy there, but he plays like he is, wearing his
heart on his sleeve. He’s only 5’10” and 155 lbs, but is still growing.

His father, a former goalie and now a coach in Slovenia, is 6’1”, and
Andrej is expected to be just as big.
Hebar is a natural goal-scorer, with 12 in 12 games this season, and he
plays a gritty style for a guy his size. He doesn’t shy away from the
physical stuff, and puts his body on the line to make a good play. His
biggest asset thought, is his blistering shot. He is also a fast, smooth
skater, and a decent, if not spectacular, passer.
Andrej was the final cut at Slovenia’s WJC U-20 camp in December. Had he
made it, he would have been by far the youngest player on the team.

Instead, Andrej has already locked up a roster spot with Slovenia’s U-18
team, which will play at the U-18 WJC (div.II) in Lithuania in March.

His good play with the Frolunda U-18 team prompted his coaches to try
him on their U-20 team, and he got his first chance to play in late
January, before going down with the flu.
Unlike other Slovenian players who play at home, Andrej is under the
constant watchful eye of NHL scouts and is a lock to be selected in the
2002 NHL Entry Draft.

Name: Andrej Hebar
Born: S Read more »

Norfolk Admirals’ unsung hero.

by Corine Gatti
on

Norfolks’Unsung Hero Marty Wilford

“He has been a great surprise this season. His +13 shows he can play well on offense and defense,” said reporter David Winkelsas, of ChicagoBlackhawks.com. So, has there been an unsung hero tucked beneath the wings of the blue and gold? Number 6 may not possess the title or popularity of an Aaron Downey. He doesn’t have the lightning speed of Steve McCarthy, Geoff Peters. But when it comes to tackling defense Marty Wilford has taken the quarterback plunge. What kind of numbers has the Alternate Captain put up thus far in his first season in the AHL? The left shooter in 48 game played, has 5 goals 28 assist and has a dressing of 32 points. The Cobourg, Ontario native has cashed in ten points in his last eight games (two goals, eight assists). He has set a team record with six consecutive game assists. In addition, on December 17, against the Philadelphia Phantoms, and he became the first Admiral record 3 assists in one game. Also, he tore the ice up in the junior league. He accumulated 19 goals 43 assists in his last year with Oshawa, in 1997. “Wilford personifies the typical defenseman. His aggressiveness, no-nonsense, go for broke attitude has inspired his teammates to play through adversity in light of recent call ups including blue line mates Steve Poapst and Steve McCarthy,” said Channel 13, (ABC) Pete Potchowski.

Here’s a brief history on Chicago’s 1995 sixth round (149th overall) draft pick. 1997-98, he enrolled to play 46 games in the ECHL (Columbus) G-8, A-27, PTS-35. Next stop? Indianapoli Read more »

Playoff race heats up

by Jeff Bromley
on
In the NHL, the space of time occupying the latter half of January and the early part of February are known simply as the dog days of the hockey season. No trading deadline is in sight. The All-Star extravaganza of goals is just now behind them. Theoretically, everybody’s still in the playoff race. In the WHL, there aren’t any dog days to speak of during this part of the season. Right now, the only thing canine about the WHL is the dogfighting for position going into the post-season dance With just over five weeks left in the season, it promises to be anything but pretty.

In the Eastern Conference, the race can be best divided into two packs. The big dogs fighting for the conference title and the smaller dogs jockeying and vying for a spot in the post-season party. Unlike last season, when the Calgary Hitmen ran away with the Conference and league title, four teams this year have a viable chance at the crown. Again, unlike last season, it also seems that all four of the top dogs vying for the coveted number one seed in the conference can’t mount any type of sustainable winning streak to lay claim to the crown. Red Deer, Swift Current, Kootenay and Calgary all have legitimate shots at the top seed. Red Deer, currently at the top with 79 points and games in hand over their rivals chasing them in the standings, sits in the driver’s seat for the number one seed. But the Rebels (6-4-1in their last ten games), for all their team strengths in every category, can’t seem to pull away from their adversaries. The Swift Current Broncos (5-4-1 Last10), third in p Read more »

Penguin Prospect Reports

by Erik Johnson
on

Junior Player of the Year 1/15 – 1/21

Goalies:


Peter Hamerlik (Kingston)- 3 games, 1-1-1, 3.87 GAA, .887 SvPct


Defensemen:

Jeremy Van Hoof (Ottawa)- 3 games, 0 pts
Darcy Robinson (Red Deer)- 2 games, 21 PIM
David Koci (Prince George)- 2 games, 0 pts


Forwards:

Joel Scherban (London)- 4 games, 2 goals, 3 assists
Tomas Skvardilo (Kingston)- DNP
Steve Crampton (Moose Jaw)- 4 games, 2 goals, 7 PIM
Shane Endicott (Seattle)- 4 games, 1 goal, 3 assists
Jan Fadrny (Kelowna)- 1 game, 2 goals, 1 assist
Michel Ouellet (Rimouski)- 3 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, 2 PIM


Player of the Week

1st: Scherban
2nd: Fadrny
3rd: Endicott


Standings

Ouellet 38 (4)
Fadrny 28 (4)
Endicott 26 (4)
Hamerlik 26 (2)
Crampton 10 (1)
Scherban 9 (1)
Skvardilo 4
Robinson 1



WBS 3 Stars of the Week 1/15 – 1/21

1st star:

Milan Kraft- Started his stint in the AHL with a 4 goal, 3 assist weekm earning himself the AHL Player of the Week Award. Goals in all 3 games, multiple goal game in the loss to Philly


2nd Star:
Martin Sonnenberg- Benefitted from having Kraft as a linemate as he racked up 2 goals and 3 assists with multiple point games against Philly


3rd Star:
Sebastian Caron- Started only one game, but made it count with 24 save shutout against Philly


Games:
Philly 4, WBS 3; WBS 3, Hershey 1; WBS 4, Philly 0


Standings
Read more »

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