The 1999-2000 United States Hockey League season was one to remember. The league welcomed two new teams in the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, formerly the North Iowa Huskies and the Sioux Falls Stampede, who in their first season took the league by surprise taking 2nd place overall in the regular season. Dan Ellis of the Omaha Lancers posted an impressive 11 shutouts in a 34-win campaign. Peter Sejna of the Des Moines Buccaneers tallied an amazing total of 94 points in 58 games. This season by far saw more balance in the league than ever before. There was no easy win. Each night there was a battle for 2 points and most night’s games went down to the final buzzer. Here is a recap of the season for each team in this top notch Junior A Hockey League.
1. Green Bay Gamblers:
The Gamblers won the coveted Clark Cup as the playoff champion defeating the Waterloo Black Hawks, Des Moines Buccaneers and the Twin Cities Vulcans on their way. They would lose in the National Junior A Championship game to the same Vulcans. Green Bay played a hard nose style of hockey. With solid defenseman such as Jeff Finger, Dan Calzada and Dan Boeser, they were hard to beat. Green Bay’s defense would only be part of their dominating play this year with strong forwards as Aaron Smith, John Eichelberger and Brett Engelhardt. Not to be outdone was goalie Jure Penko who played consistently night in and night out. Green Bay put on a show every game as they earned another championship banner to hang in the rafters at the Brown County Auditorium.
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Welcome to a new installment of Future Watch. Featuring Tim Hambly, a star high school defenseman in Minnesota. Hambly, a White Bear Lake native is one of the top high school defenseman in Minnesota. He is a offensive defenseman with good vision and soft hands. Hambly is very effective at getting the puck out of his own zone and is a sound one on one defender. Physical play is something he needs to work on. With continued hard work in the weight room he should be able to put some more bulk onto his 6-0 165lb frame. After playing in the prospects tournament in Toronto for the Minnesota Blades, Hambly also competed in the Minnesota Model Camp. The biggest event of his summer was the Select 17 festival at St. Cloud. Hambly played solid hockey and got some exposure playing in front of college scouts all over the country. Hambly is considering any offers from Yale, Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota, St. Cloud State, Wisconsin, or North Dakota. Overall, Hambly is one of the top defenseman in Minnesota and is looking to lead his high school team to the prestigious Minnesota State Tournament.
Unless you’ve been a Capitals fan for about five or six years, you would think that Nolan Baumgartner is just another minor league defenseman that never made it. To those following the Caps in 1994, Baumgartner was the potential cornerstone of our defense corps and future star. After four years of minor pro without breaking through to the NHL full-time, it seems that he won’t live up to the expectations heaped upon him. Since he is a Free Agent this off-season, it may be time to consider letting him leave to continue his career elsewhere.
Earlier this season, Washington GM George McPhee traded away Alexandre Volchkov and Jaroslav Svejkovsky – first round picks from 1996. Capitals fans were outraged, and they wondered how he could give up on two good, young players. Last month at the Entry Draft, McPhee dealt 1995 first-rounder Miika Elomo to Calgary. Although many fans were skeptical about the deal, they didn’t take it as hard as the previous trades. McPhee has been able to make those trades without losing face because it was David Poile who drafted those players and tabbed them as future stars. Now the time has come to part ways with Baumgartner, even though he was once seen as a “can’t miss” prospect.
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University of North Dakota Junior defenseman Mike Commodore has made it
official. He’s moving on to the NHL. The 42nd pick overall a year ago by the
New Jersey Devils, Commodore put his signature to a three year deal on
Friday (7/14). The two time WCHA All-Academic team member will be scheduled
for rookie training camp August 1st.
Meanwhile, Dany Heatley, the NHL’s No. 2 draft choice, announced that will
return to Wisconsin rather than join the Atlanta Thrashers. Heatley decided
during a visit to Atlanta to return to college rather than turn pro,
Thrashers spokesman Tom Hughes said. The 19-year-old left winger paid his
own way but did visit Thrashers facilities and meet with team officials,
Hughes said. Heatley does not have an agent, thereby keeping his NCAA
eligibility. The Thrashers will retain his rights should he join the NHL
next year. Heatley scored 28 goals and assisted on 28 others during his
freshman year. He was the rookie of the year in the Western Collegiate
The Atlanta Thrashers have agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Andreas Karlsson, according to Don Waddell, vice president and general manager for the team. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Karlsson spent the majority of last season with the Thrashers, tallying 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 51 games. In 18 matches with
the Orlando Solar Bears, Karlsson registered five goals and five assists for 10 points.
The 24-year-old forward has represented Sweden in international competition on three occasions in his career. He skated in five matches as a
member of the World Championship Team in 1995 and was a member of the 1994-95 Swedish Junior National Team that won the bronze medal. He registered two goals and two assists for four points in seven games.
Karlsson was also a member of the under-18 team that won the gold medal at the 1992-93 European Junior Championships, tallying four points (one
goal, three assists) in four games.
The 6-3, 200-pound center has recorded 118 points (57 goals, 61 assists) in 229 career matches with Leksand over seven seasons in the Swedish
Elite League. The native of Ludvika, Sweden, was originally selected by Calgary in the eighth round, 148th overall, in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. Karlsson was acquired by the Thrashers in a trade with the Calgary Flames following the 1999 NHL Expansion Draft.
(The Team also announced the signing of Donald Audette, another RFA)
At the age of 66, coach Scotty Bowman will be returning for another season behind the Red Wings’ bench. Bowman’s return, along with the re-signing of veteran defenseman Larry Murphy, could spell bad news for young defensemen Jiri Fischer and Jesse Wallin. With Murphy back, the Red Wings defense reads as follows: Niklas Lidstrom, Chirs Chelios, Steve Duchesne, Larry Murphy, Todd Gill, Aaron Ward, Jiri Fischer, and Jesse Wallin. Throw in a Mathieu Dandenault, and possibly a Yan Golubovsky, and that proves a very deep defensive corps. With so many veterans, you’d expect fatigue and injury alone to fetch some playing time for the likes of Fischer and Wallin, either also very capable of beating out their veteran couterparts for a spot in the every day lineup. But, factor in Scotty Bowman’s affinity for veteran players, and the rumored strong push by Wings GM Ken Holland to sign Unrestricted Free Agent Mathieu Schneider, and you can almost see possible playing time for youngsters like Fischer and Wallin fading into the distance. If the Wings manage to add Schneider to their already deep blueline, Wallin will likely end up wasting away in the AHL for another season, while Fischer watches the big club play from the press box. All and all, not a great time to be a young defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings franchise.
The UMass Lowell 2000/2001 recruiting class was finalized over the last
couple of weeks, and includes a couple of potential big name players. The
Hawks losses from last year include the four seniors, forwards Chris Bell
(9-21-30), John Campbell (7-11-18) and Craig Brown (4-5-9) along with
defender Kevin Bertram (10-8-18). Two players that would have been
sophomores this year, defenseman Andy Wozniewski and goalkeeper Dan
will return to junior hockey for the 2000-2001 year.
So with six spots to fill, the Hawks recruited well to restock each of the
positions that were lost. The big name of this years incoming class is
forward Laurent Meunier, a freshman from Echirolles, France and former
teammate of River Hawk junior forward Yorick Treille. Meunier, 5’11″, 180
pounds, is described by Coach Tim Whitehead as a “very well-rounded
forward.” Meunier, born 1/16/79, spent the last year as a member of the
Leon Lions in the French Elite League. He might have made a name for
himself though at the 2000 World Hockey Championship in St. Petersburg,
Russia this past year. Meunier was the 11th leading scorer in the
Tournament, with a 4-3-7 line in 6 games, even though he was one of the
younger players participating. “Laurent is a top-notch player,” Whitehead
said. “He skates well and is very smart with the puck. I can see him doing
lot of things for us.”
Forward Peter Hay (Weyburn, SJHL) was the first player signed by Lowell for Read more »
The Atlanta Thrashers have agreed to terms with forward Dmitri Vlasenkov, according to Don Waddell, vice president and general manager for the
team. Vlasenkov’s rights were acquired from the Calgary Flames along with Hnat Domenichelli on Feb. 11, 2000 in exchange for Darryl Shannon and Jason Botterill. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Vlasenkov, 22, led Yaroslavl and tied for fifth overall in the Russian Hockey League with 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 38 games last season. He also led the club in playoff scoring with seven points, tallying three goals and four assists in 10 games. The 5-11, 185-pound left wing has spent the majority of the last five seasons with Yaroslavl, amassing 40 goals and 31 assists for 71 points
in 168 games. He has also played for Yaroslavl’s division two team. Vlasenkov led the 1998-99 club with 11 goals and tied for fifth in scoring, registering 16 points in 41 games. The native of Olenigorsk, Russia, was originally selected by the Flames with their fourth choice, 73rd overall, in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.
It may be a vacation for many including players, families and many others but not quite a vacation for the likes of Larry Pleau. Pleau has been very active throughout the summer and the following is a recap of his moves thus far.
The first bit of news was the announcement to some veterans that they would not be a part of the blues future. These players included: Center Bob Bassen, Right Wing Stephane Richer, and Defensemen Dave Ellet and Rudy Poeschek. It was also made clear that minor leaguers Jim Campbell and Derek King would not be offered contracts and would become unrestricted free agents.
Next was the signing or releasing of the 98 draft picks. For junior draft picks, you retain their rights for two years after the draft, for European draft picks, you retain their rights for four years after the draft and for college players remain your rights until their college eligibility is up. In keeping with the rules, no decision had to be made at this time on defensemen Christian Backman, Andrei Trochinsky, Yvegeny Pastukh and John Pohl. For the remaining players in the system the blues elected to sign only defensemen Matt Walker of the Kootenay Ice of the WHL. For others, Maxim Linnik, Brad Voth and Brad Twordik were all released. Along with the 98 draftees, 21 year old James Desmerais was not given a contract and became a free agent, he was selected in the final round of the 99 draft.
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Nick Beverly off to the Windy City: Leafs Director of Player Development, Nick Beverly, left the team this week in pursuit of new challenges with the Blackhawks (Late note: Director of Pro Scouting, Joe Yannetti has also left to join the Hawks)… Nick is said to enjoy a very close working relationship with Chicago’s de facto General Manager, Mike Smith… Beverly, a respected executive, will be missed… perhaps more importantly, the Maple Leafs lately can’t seem to keep a management team intact for more than a year or so… expect Toronto to move slowly in securing a replacement as Pat Quinn and Bill Watters remain on hand to conduct all necessary business… 30-year-old Mark Hillier may be in line for expanded responsibilities… former Flames execs Al Coates and Nick Polano are also said to be interested in coming to Toronto… these options are all very viable ones as Hillier is widely regarded as a rising star in the Leafs’ front office and Calgary, under the guidance of Coates and Polano, has quietly built one of the league’s very best player development programs…
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