The new USHL season has already begun and the early season action is as
action packed as ever. This season the league welcomes two new teams
although they are not new franchises to the league. The Chicago Steel
join play this year after playing in Fargo the past few seasons as the
Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks. The Tri-City Storm also debut this year.
The Storm were formerly known as the Twin Cities Vulcans. Last season
the Vulcans won the Junior A National Championship after finishing 2nd
in the playoffs to the Green Bay Gamblers. They will be out to defend
their title for sure. As will Green Bay who will look to add yet
another division title and playoff banner to their impressive history.
Several star players have left and several more have taken their
places. Below will be a look at each division, the team’s outlooks in
the order I predict they will finish and some of their rising stars who
will take them there.
1. Green Bay Gamblers -
The Gamblers are not as strong as they may have been in past years but
until someone knocks them off their roost, 1st place is theirs. The
Gamblers do have some major players returning this season. Gone are
offensive wizard Aaron Smith and defensive wild-man Jeff Finger but the
Gamblers still have plenty in the cupboard. Luke Stauffacher will lead
the way on the offense but Ryan Moderson and Alan Swanson bring USHL
experience and the offensive know-how the Gamblers will use. These
leaders will work their fresh faces into the offensive flow as was done
to th Read more »
As the Sharks started their 10th season, there were areas that were unquestionably keys for the Sharks if they were to succeed. By far, the two most important areas were getting the free agents signed, and the improvement of young players such as Patrick Marleau, Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Scott Hannan. Of those two objectives, the first was accomplished successfully, with only Owen Nolan out opening night. However, the jury is still out on the development of the younger players.
The first two games of the year, Patrick Marleau looked more out of place than he did last year. There were times when he literally stood there and did practically nothing, while his opponents were whizzing past for scoring chances or turnovers. However, after those first couple games, Marleau has improved a great deal.
Since then, Marleau seems to have taken on a new attitude towards his game.
“The key is to keep the intensity up and play level high,” said Marleau after nearly connecting on several chances vs. Boston, and scoring once.
In that game he scored a bit of a fluke goal, but created many more chances that were either saved, shot wide, or hit the post. The biggest difference is that he’s creating chances that he wasn’t creating last year. He’s using his speed and natural ability to if nothing else, get the puck deep in the offensive zone. He may not get a point, but it’s often his work that is paying off in the long run of a 60-minute game.
One could make a case that Marco Sturm has been the unsung hero of this young season. While his numbers don’t j Read more »
More WCHA action took place this past weekend. The Minnesota Gophers
continued their winning ways in a sweep of Minnesota-Duluth. Michigan Tech
pulled off one of the biggest upsets in this early season by beating
defending national champions, North Dakota in Grand Forks 5-4. The Sioux
came back to win 5-2 to split the series. Wisconsin swept Minnesota
State-Mankato in two one goal games. In non-conference action Denver played
Boston College tough but couldn’t come away with a victory as they fell 3-2
in both games. St. Cloud State defeated Bemidji State 3-1 and 7-0 in a home
and home series. Alaska-Anchorage swept in state rival Alaska Fairbanks.
Minnesota wasn’t able to put the Bulldogs away on Friday night as freshman
goaltender Adam Coole played a stellar game in his debut. However, Saturday
was a different night. The Gophers dominated the play in every aspect.
Erik Westrum continues to look like one of the best players in the country
and an early season Hobey Baker candidate. The one question mark involved
with Westrum and the Hobey Baker is his dirty play. Many will remember last
season’s kicking incident as a negative but this kid can play.
Michigan Tech, are they better than last year’s dismal campaign? We’ll wait
and see, but from the looks of it they seem much improved. Maybe they can
continue to build and hope for the best as they will need to add more skill
players if they want to get to the level of North Dakota on a consistent
basis. If Paul Cabana and Matt Ulwelling can continue scoring Read more »
On the ice, Kootenay ICE forward Brad Tutschek is used to facing his opponents head on, with his trademark toughness, grit and attitude that have made him a stalwart in the ICE
lineup since he joined the club via a trade from the Medicine Hat Tigers in 1996. Now, the gritty center is battling two opponents he has little or no control over. Father time and the
specter of a nagging shoulder injury that is taking longer than expected to heal.
Brad Tutschek is a twenty-yr-old forward this season and him, along with teammates Dion Lassu, Dean Arsene and Mike Comrie are all subject to WHL rules stating that any team is
only allowed to carry three overage (twenty’s) players on their roster after the November 1st deadline. With the exception of scoring sensation Mike Comrie, one of Arsene, Lassu or
Tutschek will be traded by the Kootenay ICE by this Wednesday or sooner to accommodate the league overage rule.
In a perfect world, it is a decision that ICE Director of Hockey Operations Bob Tory would probably rather not make. For Brad Tutschek, the problematic shoulder injury and the fact
that he hasn’t see any action yet this season has kept the power forward from making Tory’s decision that much harder. “Obviously it’s nerve racking, it has been from day one. I knew
that I probably wouldn’t get into any games before the deadline, if any. I try not to think about it much but whatever happens it will be the best for the team,” said Tutschek.
The training, the therapy, the practices and the inability to get back into the lineup ar Read more »
New faces, more ice time, more regular players and several NHL
prospects. It is a leit-motive of this season. Due to the special model
of Slovak Elite league – Extraliga (no team will relegate) a lot of
young and gifted players could show their skills on senior level. We
could see about 30 juniors on Extraliga yet. Some of them play regularly
(10-13) and the other ones only from time to time.
HKM Zvolen has very strong roster and the juniors are in difficulties to
play on first team like in last season. Its juniors play only on the
farm (on Division 1) and junior teams. However young goalie Peter Sevela
(16-10-83, 5’11″ 149 lb, G) has recorded unusual curiosity. He has
played just several periods on Zvolen team while joined his team-mate
and the oldest player of Extraliga Robert Pukalovic. Robert was born in
Oct. 28, 1960 and Peter is 23 years younger.
Slovan Bratislava sticks to its traditions and omits junior players.
Just two kids got the chance to play in several games but usually only a
few shifts – Radoslav Sloboda (07-11-82, 6’2″ 195 lb, D) and Oliver
Maron (30-09-83, 5’11″ 160 lb, D).
SKP Poprad uses three juniors who play regularly. No doubt Tomas Surovy
(24-09-81, 6’1″ 191 lb, C) is the best Slovak junior playing in Europe.
Complete player, good hockey sense, very valuable in power plays as well
as in penalty killing games, solid skater, very strong on his skates,
good stickhandler, passer and scorer. He is pretty dangerous for
goalies. Lukas Hvila (30-11-81, 5’8″ 173 lb, RW/C), smallish winger is
pretty go Read more »
Well, as we all know Pavel Brendl did not make the New York Rangers this
season and was sent back to Calgary of the WHL for another year in juniors.
Despite his unwillingness to go back to juniors and play with kids, Brendl
reported to the Hitmen anyway and he has been on fire since his return.
Brendl has 11 goals and 4 assists (15 points) in 6 games, which leads
the Hitmen in scoring. He is currently 4th in the WHL in goals, but if he
played in every game like the 3 players ahead of him (Konstanin Panov with
12, Layne Ulmer with 19, and Mike Comrie with 21), he would be the leading
scorer if he kept up this pace. The biggest highlight of his season so far
probably came a couple nights ago when he scorched Jamie Lundmark’s Moose Jaw
Warriors for 4 goals in the 3rd period to help the Hitmen to a 5-2 victory.
(However, Lundmark did not play in that game and has still not played a game
with the Warriors yet as he is sitting home waiting to be traded.) Even
though Brendl is starting off great with the Hitmen, lots of people
(including myself) are wondering if it was the right decision to send him
back to juniors..
I don’t know how much you can learn from dominating a league mostly made
up of kids 2-3 years younger than you night in and night out. I still believe
the Rangers made the wrong choice. They should have kept Brendl on the team
and let him get 3rd or 4th line ice time. Look what happened with Joe
Thornton in his rookie season. He spent the whole season on either the 3rd or
4th line, and got to Read more »
Fans of the Ottawa Senators have probably asked themselves several times who this 2000 3rd round pick (the 87th position) is. let me introduce him to you. He is a guy named Jan Bohac (6’2″, 198lb) a former player of
the Czech team Slavia Praha. He has a phenomenal work rate and is a very
assiduous player. You may say his physical as well as psychological
aspects are ideal for a central player in the NHL. He is said to be a
bit slim, so putting on weight should also bring more confidence to his
Like many hockey players he started at an early age. He was born in
Tabor a town in the south of the Czech Republic. At the age of 15 he was
faced with a big decision: either he could play for Ceské Budejovice
(Vaclav Nedorost plays there) or he could go to Prague. What a choice!
But he made it!
After deliberating for two days he made the move to Prague. Now he is a
confident and mature player; with development he may well be a future
Jan did not even go to Ottawa for the training camp because of an
agreement made between Slavia and Ottawa. The reason was very simple.
Jan is still very young with little probability of making the first team
so his only choice would be playing lower league in North America or
returning back home. Here it becomes complicated because Ottawa wanted
him to improve his style of playing and not to learn the new style of
North America, so he stayed at home. But in the Czech Republic the
season starts in the first week of September so he would miss out about
8 rounds and it would be hard for him to make Read more »
The NHL has seen a lot of family connections in its history, from the
Sutters to the Hunters, from high draft picks like Brett and Eric
Lindros or Pierre and Sylvain Turgeon. There is another family looming
on the horizon, the Jarrett family. Cole and Pat are brothers, aged 17
and 16 respectively. There is also cousin Blair a third round pick of
the Ice Dogs in last years draft, currently toiling in Tier 2 Junior and
draft eligible for 2003.
Cole and Pat have a lot in common.
They both play on the point on their teams’ first power play unit
They play with a blue chip prospect for NHL 2001 draft, Stephen Weiss
and Jason Spezza.
They were first round picks of their OHL teams.
Cole saw a lot of ice time as a 16 year old, as will Pat this year
They play on teams known for their drafting (one for a good job, the
other, well not so good).
So who are they? Cole is a key defenceman on a solid Plymouth club. He
played regularly last year on a team that surprised everyone and made it
to the OHL final. This year they are expected to contend again and make
it to the Memorial Cup. Cole is partnered with a 16 year old rookie,
and they play together even strength, on the power play, and short
handed. Cole is a total package type of guy, well rounded with no big
time faults or big time strengths. His skating is pro material, but not
stellar. He plays on one of the stingiest teams in the league
defensively, and so his defensive duties are aided by waves of
backchecking Whaler forwards. He won’t get Read more »
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.
Some Hot – Others Not: The St. John’s Maple Leafs seem well on the way
to erasing the bitter memories of last season … the club has won 4 of
its first 6 starts and is performing well for new coach Lou Crawford …
amongst the large contingent of young prospects on the roster. Alexei
Ponikarovsky and Mikael Hakansson (playing together with Bobby House on
the 1st line) have been the most impressive thus far … Franticek Mrazek,
Jeff Farkas and Adam Mair have yet to begin posting the numbers that are
going to be expected from them (each has 3 points in 6 games) … Michal
Travnicek, though held to 2 points in the early going, has been
finishing every check with extreme prejudice and is quickly becoming a
fan favorite on the Rock … on the backline, minor league vets Nathan
Dempsey, D. J. Smith, Tyler Harlton and David Cooper are all
contributing on the attack and performing solidly defensively as well …
in the absence of #1 goalie, Jimmy Waite, the combination of Mike Minard
and Jamie Hodson has so far been more than equal to the challenge …
Leafs Trivia I: Only 3 Toronto Maple Leafs have ever scored 50 or more
goals during a single NHL season … name all three players (answer below
Whatever happened to) …
Tellqvist Scare: Swedish super prospect Mikael Tellqvist missed 2
starts with Djurgarden last week w Read more »