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Dopita turns down Panthers – a possible NHL star will not be discovered

by Robert Neuhauser
on
On September, 7th, 2000, was the game over. On that day Czech star Jiri Dopita signed a two-year contract with HC Slovnaft Vsetin of the Czech Elite league. Good news for National team coach Josef Augusta, bad news for the Florida Panthers staff. The negotations lasted for four months, no conclusion. The Czech National team captain stays at home. Panthers assistant coach, Czech Slavomir Lener, knows what they have lost. Lener tried hard to change Dopita’s mind (he found a good school for Jiri’s son) and guaranteed him a roster spot. Not to say, it was the center position next to superstar Pavel Bure, the famed Russian sniper. Not every player would be able to support Pavel. Jiri would. A great leader, Jiri is a superb mix of size (6’4”, 210 lbs.) and skill. Nearly 32 years old, Jiri is a mature player with lots of experience, who could easily play 5-6 years in the NHL. Regarded as one of the top players not playing in the NHL, Jiri is excellent in playing in front the opponents net from where he scores a lot of goals. He is a feared checker, almost unable to be knocked off the puck, and is a king along the boards. Jiri, nicknamed “Dopi” uses his size well and is one of the strongest players in Europe. He can hold two opponents only with his arms. You can see, he is a power forward, but highly skilled. Posesses great passing skills, very good vision and is confident. Vsetin center has respect in the locker room, is a natural leader and leads by example. He simply seems always to see a way how to get the puck into the opponents net or how to make a great pass. Read more »

Matt Bradley’s Long Journey: From His First Skates To A Professional Contract

by Rich Herles
on
Every day we read in the newspaper, or see on TV, some professional sports person getting an outrageous contract for playing his chosen sport. I agree that it seems out of line that somebody should be paid millions of dollars a year to play a kid’s game, while the majority of the work force has to grind out a living day in and day out.
As we hear about these sports/entertainment millionaires, we should remember that for every multi-million dollar contract there are thousands of players who are just making what we might consider a good living. With the help of Matt Bradley, I would like to take you on a journey. We will take a look at how this young man went from his first pair of skates in his backyard in Stittsville, Ontario, Canada, to a professional hockey contract with the San Jose Sharks.
Matt started skating at the age of 4. “I started on skates with 2 blades on each of them. I was pretty much just walking on the ice. That’s how both of my sisters, Cassie and Paula, and myself all learned how to skate. As I started to get a feel for the ice I moved to the one blade skates. I remember seeing pictures of how bent my ankles were. My ankles weren’t strong enough, but that’s how you have to learn. You start taking small steps, then you are walking around on the ice, eventually you glide a bit and then one day you suddenly start skating around.” As you can see Matt already had an interest in hockey. Read more »

Blues leave four unprotected

by Chris Irvine
on
The Blues are fortunate in having a very deep team consisting of mostly young players, under the age of 25. The four players that were left available are forwards Chris Murray, Pascal Rheaume, Stephane Roy and netminder Dwayne Roloson.

Murray, 25, was signed as a unrestricted free agent by the blues this summer to add toughness up front. He was recently assigned to Worcester of the AHL along with Dwayne Roloson. Both players were really brought in to make things a little more competitive in training camp this fall.

Rheaume, 27, is the most likely candidate to be lost in the waiver draft. He played in a limited number games last season due to shoulder surgery. He was likely going to be cut from the current roster to make room for the likes of Reid Simpson, Reed Low or Ladislav Nagy.

Roy, 24, played last season with the Quebec Citadelles of the AHL. Roy was originally draft by the blues back in 94.

Look for Rheaume to be taken by an expansion team and well this could make things a little easier for Larry Pleau by having another team make a cut for him.

The blues roster is now down to 28 including the injured Bergevin and Reirden. This roster must be down to 23 players by Monday so this weekends games should be exciting as the rookies in camp will be giving it their all in the hopes of landing a spot on the final roster which begins play on October 5th in Phoenix, Arizona.

OHL Preseason Top 15

by Bob Chery
on
The OHL is off and running for the 2000-01 season, and as usual
I will be monitoring the progress of the players eligible for
the
2001 NHL Draft. This years crop already has one very high-
profile name, a few prospects that went straight to National
Junior Camps and by-passed younger National Teams, and as a
whole seems to have more depth when compared to the 2000
draft-class. Here’s a pre-season look at the Top 15 Prospects,
as
well as some other names to keep an eye on.

1. JASON SPEZZA C – Mississauga : No surprise here. As the
season progresses knocks against his skating will be heard. He
won’t get many breakaways but make no mistake about it, once
in the offensive zone he is a goal-producing machine with a
special talent level.

2. STEPHEN WEISS C – Plymouth : There may be some
perceptions that perhaps Weiss benefited from playing with top
notch line mates such as Tomas Kurka, but if anything it was the
other way around. A creative, highly skilled center with good
wheels, puck-handling ability, and vision.

3. MARK POPOVIC D – St. Michaels : The new captain of the
Majors, Popovic put up an impressive 40 points last year and
would be close to a point-per-game this year if his supporting
cast was better. He is improving his play in his own end of the
rink, and it remains the one area needing continual improvement.
Offensively he has all the tools.
Read more »

Making a case for the Rebellion

by Jeff Bromley
on
The rivalry is dead, long live the rivalry.
Two different games, two different
cities, two entirely different results. The
Kootenay ICE opened the 2000-01
WHL season in Calgary and Red Deer
this past weekend and on the surface,
things are definitely not as they seem.
The season opener in Calgary was a
textbook display of the offensive
powerhouse the Kootenay ICE could be
this season. Perhaps lending credence to
the pundits, polls and prognosticators
that have the ICE pegged to be the
number one club in the WHL this
season. The result? A 7-2 dismantling
of the Calgary Hitmen. In the tilt the
next afternoon against the Red Deer
Rebels in the Central Alberta city,
someone obviously forgot to inform the
Rebels on the ICE’ coronation as
preordained favorites. Lending further
belief that perhaps preseason predictions
and prognostications are better left to
astrologists and fortune tellers, the
Rebels served notice that they will be a
force to be reckoned within the WHL’s
Central division this year with a 4-3
decision over the Kootenay ICE.
The Hitmen however, was not exactly a
replica of the powerhouse club that has
been evident in the last few seasons as
the line-up was devoid of WHL
experience as six major contributors to
the Hitmen powerhouse of the last few
seasons were still away at NHL camps.
Missing in action were Matt Kinch,
Pavel Brendl, Sean McAslan (injured), Read more »

News from the Rock

by Randy Nicholson
on

Maple Leafs remain unbeaten in preseason.

The St. John’s Maple Leafs improved their record to 2-0-0 in the preseason with a 5-4 overtime victory against the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday. Bobby House (2G,A) and rookie, Alexei Ponikarovsky (G,2A), led the club with 3 points each. Other goal scorers for St. John’s were David Cooper and Chad Allan. Jason Sessa had a pair of assists in the win. Mike Minard played the entire game for St. John’s, stopping 27 of the 31 shots he faced. The Maple Leafs led 3-2 after the first period and held a 4-2 lead after two periods. St. John’s also outshot Hamilton 44-31. Referee, Mike Hasenfrantz, handed out 112 minutes in penalties, including 57PIM to the Maple Leafs and 55PIM to the Bulldogs. Overall St. John’s was 2 for 13 with the man advantage, while Hamilton went 4 for 14.

* St. John’s outshot Hamilton 18-4 in the second period of Friday’s game.

* Bobby House and Alexei Ponikarovsky lead the club in preseason scoring with 3 points each.

* David Cooper has scored in both preseason games for St. John’s.

* There were 3 fights in the Hamilton contest, including 2 involving Jacques Lariviere.

* Lance Galbraith leads the team in penalty minutes with 14.

Read more »

Slovak Extraliga Preview

by Daniel Kysel
on
A new season of Slovak Elite league – West Extraliga was started on
September 12, 2000. The West Extraliga (West is the name of sponsoring
company) has eight teams which will compete in 56 games. All 8 teams
will get to playoffs, what is very strange decision in my opinion. After
this season no team will relegate to Division 1 league but two best
teams of Division 1 will promote to expand the Extraliga to ten teams.

A few news of this season:

The winning team earns 3 points, the victory in overtime is awarded by 2
points, the loss in overtime and the tally are awarded by 1 point. Ten
minute overtime is played with 4 players plus goalie after each tie
game.

Slovak Extraliga was bleeding in summer as I mentioned in my previous
article. Too many good players have left for greener pastures. Due to
this reason some teams had to be completely re-built – Slovan, Zvolen,
Trencin, Martin and Kosice. Poprad, Skalica and L.Mikulas did not need
so much to build. Main candidates for playoff final are the richest
teams Slovan and Zvolen. Both teams have played the final in past season
as well. However Poprad should attack the playoff final too. Main
outsiders are Martin and Kosice.

A stupid decision to limit junior players who play abroad on national
junior teams, has brought first bitter fruit. National team U20 lost all
four games on Five nations tournament in Russian Omsk in first week of Read more »

Ohio State Recruits Preview

by Erik Freeman
on
The new recruits are looking to put the “buck” back in Buckeyes. After
a sub-par campaign in 1999-2000, the new Buckeyes as well as the
veterans are looking for a big season in Columbus. Ohio State was
destined to be a national power after a Frozen Four Appearance in
1997-98 and another apperance in the NCAA tournament in 98-99. Last
year everything derailed. Finishing in 9th place in the CCHA. If this
years captain’s practice are any indictication of what’s going to happen
this year, things should be on the rise in Buckeye country. The team
has been working extremely hard in preseason practice as far as
conditioning goes, they want to be ready to go when official practice
starts. As for the recruits, Umberger is the big gun but there is
plenty of others who are looking to contribute. Paul Camponigri, a
small but highly skilled forwawrd netted 61 points in Omaha should help
add scoring to the lineup. David Steckel is more of a steal, wasn’t the
most highly recruited player out of Ann Arbor with the Development
Program but he will turn into a solid role player for the Buckeyes.
Steckel has a great work ethic and should be a effective penalty killer
as well. The incoming defenseman are Doug Andress, Carter Trevisiani,
and Reed Whiting.

Whiting is a walk on who won’t see much action this year. Trevisiani is
an offensive defenseman who should get a chance to see some ice time,
should help out on the power play. Andress is the name to remember Read more »

Soo Greyhounds Training Camp Wraps Up

by Brad Coccimiglio
on
The Soo Greyhounds opened up their 2000 training camp almost a month ago
on August 30th. On the first day came the usual things like player
registration and fitness testing. The second day of camp was reserved
for a team practice. The third day was when the fun really started. With
the 40 players split up into 2 teams the scrimmages got underway.

The first scrimmage of camp produced the most intensity of all the
games. There was plenty of hitting and a couple of fights including one
between 1st round pick Jeremy Swanson and Sault native Jordan Kennedy.

Kennedy was also involved in an incident with veteran winger Ryan
Healy. The incident started when Kennedy had Greyhound veteran Cory
Pecker tied up in his zone. While following the play up ice the 2
exchanged slashes. When the 2 reached the visiting bench they exchanged
punches and that’s when Healy came flying off the bench and blind-sided
Kennedy and began punching him with Kennedy having no way of defending
himself. Healy was then sent home due what the coaching staff called
philosophical differences after the team’s annual Red & White game. The
Healy incident was settled when he was dealt to the Oshawa Generals in
return for winger Shane Fryia.

In the annual inter-squad, won by Team White, 5-2, game there was
little intensity (there was only 1 fight-involving Jeff Richards and
Tyler Barath).

Read more »