The Rangers continued to downsize their roster by sending veteran AHLer`s Kenny Gernander and Brad Smyth to Connecticut for reassignment. Moments after the Rangers announced prized rookie Mike Mottau would attend camp on a tryout basis after a call from Glen Sather. For Mottau he will be on ice with the Rangers in Rye on Wednesday and will likely play against Atlanta and Milan Hnilinka later this week. Sather commented that negotiations are tough when you have never seen a guy play…so this will be the chance for Mottau to shine and earn a spot. Mottau has added 11 pounds to his frame since the start of the 99-00 season at Boston College and looks more and more like a NHLer. Mottau will compete not only for a roster spot but a contract which may be a lot for a rookie to handle on one plate.
Competition for the final spots on defense remain between Dale Purinton (1 game-NHL), Jason Doig(NHL -Rangers) and Tomas Kloucek. All three would rather develop in New York than Hartford. While Purinton brings personality, a physical presence and some skill, Jason Doig, who struggled in scrimmage brings a hard shot, size and some offensive ability… Kloucek does nothing great… but almost never makes mistakes. This will be interesting up until Game 1, year 2000-01.
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Where did we leave off last year? Something about a tough season for the Brandon Wheat Kings. Funny, I did not see it that way. What I saw was the exciting possibilities of the next year. Through all the losing, injuries and fan anger, if one looked objectively at the quality of the young players of the Brandon Wheat Kings last year, they would have had the same wait until next year attitude.
Simply put, Brandon’s best players was their young players. I was amazed at how such a young and undersized team competed and never quit in spite of all the obstacles. Furthermore, if the ordinary fan understood even more depth and talent was still not here yet, but a 15 or 16 year old playing Midget or Tier 2 junior somewhere else, they would have been quietly excited like I was.
Here is an overview of that talent I knew was on the way:
Let’s start with those that didn’t even make it to preliminary season roster.
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When the Kootenay ICE won the 1999-
2000 WHL championship and
represented the league at the Memorial
Cup last spring, they essentially did the
unexpected. If there is any drawback to
be found with winning a championship
banner it is that what was once the
unexpected suddenly becomes the
expected. Yes they were a great club at
the opening of the last season but there
weren’t a whole lot of people that made
the club their pick to go to the big dance
in Halifax. That tag was
unceremoniously dumped in the lap of
the Calgary Hitmen. And we all know
how that turned out don’t we? This
year, guess who gets to carry the
ominous title? That’s right, the
Kootenay ICE. Add to that the selection
of the Kootenay ICE by the Hockey
News publication as the number one
ranked junior club in the CHL and you
can begin to see where high expectations
develop. Alas, fools and their
expectations are soon irrelevant of
course because that’s why they play the
As the Kootenay ICE get set to open
their season against the Calgary Hitmen
in the Pengrowth Saddledome this
weekend there are still many questions
to be answered and stories to be told as
the ICE embark on the their 10-game
odyssey to start the season.
Roster Update – The ICE scaled down
their roster to 28 players still in camp
this past week as Cranbrook native 19 yr
old Kevin Livingston was sent to Trail Read more »
Like most teams, the Blues carry a roster of 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goaltenders. From the 38 players left in camp after yesterdays cuts, there are 15 cuts left with the exception of the two defensemen who will be replacing the injured Marc Bergevin and Todd Reirden.
There is all but one forward spot locked up as thirteen players on the current roster would have to clear waivers if they were to be sent down to
the minors. The Blues can’t afford losing any of these players for nothing and trades could open more spots but for the time being, there is one remaining forward spot. This spot may be filled by one of, Derek Bekar, Reed Low, Ladislav Nagy, Chris Murray, Andrei Podkonicky, Jame Pollock or Reid Simpson. Because of the need of toughness up
front and lack there of on the current roster, it will likely be one of Simpson, Murray or Low. All three players have two-way contracts, and well, these three will likely go down to the wire.
On Defense, the battle got even more interesting for the young prospects with the news of Reirden and Bergevin being out for extended periods. It is
almost guaranteed that Dale Clarke and Darren Rumble will soon be assigned to Worcester, leaving Vladimir Chebaturkin, Alex Khavanov, Jaroslav Obsut, Bryce Salvador, and Mike Van Ryn to fight over the final three spots. A recent addition to that list is 1999 1st round pick, Barret Jackman, who began skating with the team yesterday. His finger has healed sooner than expected and although he is a week behind the rest, he Read more »
With Calgary midway through their preseason schedule, some candidates
gunning for the big club have been impressive. With only a few positions up
for grabs, Flames staff have some tough decisions to make.
Stillman, Savard, Shantz, Wiemer, Wilm, and Bureau are all listed
centres. However, Shantz and Wiemer have been experimented on the wing.
Tkaczuk has played well in his games, improving on his two-way game, but
hasn’t been a standout. Another year in Saint John wouldn’t hurt Tkaczuk. The
story is a little different when talking of Marty Murray. In his two games in
Toronto and Ottawa, Murray was impressive. Faceoffs were dreadful last year
for Calgary and Murray has been outstanding in that category. Playing on a
line with Iginla and Saprykin, Murray was the playmaker, while Saprykin and
Iginla where the snipers. If Murray’s play continues he just may have a spot
with the team.
There is a little more room on the left side. Nazarov, Lindsay, and
Lowry all are sure fires for Calgary. Saprykin, Elomo, Botterill, Cowan,
Varlamov, and Roche all fighting for a spot. Of all names mentioned Saprykin
is the most impressive. In Calgary’s first game against Montreal, Saprykin
netted a pair of goals in a outstanding outing, helping the Flames to a 4-2
victory. In the second tilt against Toronto, Saprykin had another solid
effort, playing with Murray and Iginla. A game Calgary should have won. Coach Read more »
Imagine you are 17 years old again. You are the first-round draft choice of one of the most storied franchises in all of professional
hockey. You have just been named rookie-of-the-year for the championship club in your league. You are being told right and left, that you have
immense talent and are a “can’t-miss” prospect. When you are 17, all of this “stuff” might just go to your head a bit and affect you in a way
which may be detrimental to your vivacity.
Two things can then happen. When times suddenly turn for the worse, you can look to blame everyone else and develop that
“chip-on-your-shoulder”, continuing to think you know it all.
Or, you can do what Luca Cereda did and do everything possible to turn your game back around.
Yes, it has been well-documented that Cereda had a difficult season last year with his Ambri-Piotta team. “I played more of a defensive role last
year, and obviously, things didn’t go very well. However, I have gotten stronger and a bit bigger. I’m looking to improve my play and get the
game experience which I need”, states Cereda.
You can look into his eyes and you see the seriousness in this talented young man. He is not taking anything for granted and when you watch
him on the ice, you can see the determination which should help to get his game and his career back on track.
During the Maple Leafs rookie tournament, Cereda centered the team’s most productive line, flanked by likely Ottawa 67 teammates, Lance Read more »
The Canadiens’ health problems of a year ago have been the main topic of discussion during training camp. With health should come scoring, and with scoring should come success. But will this hypothetical scoring be enough?
The Canadiens went into the off-season looking to improve on offense. The team averaged only 2.39 goals scored per game last season. Which was actually an improvement from the 98-99 season, when the team averaged only 2.24 goals per game. Then again, scoring was up around the league last season; from 5.3 goals per game in 98-99, to 5.5 goals per game last season.
Jim Campbell and Darryl Shannon, Rejean Houle’s only notable free-agent signing going into the upcoming season, combined for only 5 goals at the NHL level last year. Obviously not the scoring punch Habs’ fans were hoping for.
Based on last year’s numbers, in order for the Canadiens to improve to a respectable 11th place in scoring, they would have to increase their output by nearly a goal every two games. Initially this doesn’t seem like much. But in order for this to happen the Habs would need to add two 20-goal-scorers to last year’s roster. That’s without taking into account the 16 goals that Turner Stevenson and Shayne Corson combined for last season.
Unfortunately, the only way that the team could achieve this “goal”, is if every player on the current roster matched their career-highs in goals scored. Read more »
The 2000-2001 Under-20 teams schedule brought the five national teams to Omsk, Russia, first. The Czech republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia and Sweden participated in the tournament, held in the first week of September. The home Russian fans had to be delighted as the very strong Russian squad captured the victory. The Russian team full of possible NHL stars prepares for the home WJC in December/January and their attitude to this tournament was quite serious. The win came after a strong showing, but the Scandinavian teams (Finland and Sweden) looked in a good shape, too. It’s not easy to say, but the Czechs lost their first three games and only in their last game they swept Slovakia, 5:0. As a result, there was a fourth place. There is only one tournament left before the WJC comes round, so it’s time to change something. The Czechs are the last U-20 world champion and they want to defend this title. But not with the play they showed in Omsk.
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It’s not a suprise that a former Quebec League goalie is pushing for a spot in the nets for the Pens this year. It is suprprising, however, that his name isn’t Aubin. While JS Aubin is battling team management for a new contract, Sebastian Caron has been making the most of his opportunity to get plenty of game time in early this preseason. After an excellent 30 min, 31 save performance in the preseason opener against the Blue Jackets, Caron followed that up with a solid 18 save performance against the defending Cup champion New Jersey Devils in Wilkes-Barre on Sat. While the Pens are expected to sign a goalie or 2 within the next week or so, that isn’t stopping Caron from doing everything he can to be on that plane to Toyko to start the season with the Pens.
The Pens, however, would like Caron to play a full season for AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before he competes for a job on the NHL roster in 2001-02. But given his performances so far this preseason, they won’t have any problem using him as needed.
Caron, a 3rd round pick in 1999, was the most valuable goaltender in last year’s Memorial Cup tournament, leading his Rimouski Oceanic to the title.
Pens rookies lose to Devils
The Pens rookie squad lost 6-2 to the Devils rookies on Sat in Wilkes-Barre. Dylan Gyori and Alexei Kolkunov scored for the Pens.
Pens make roster moves
The Pens sent the following players back to their respective junior teams.
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The Portland Winterhawks went from Memorial Cup Champions to WHL lightweights in two seasons, yet looked solid in front of their hometown crowd Friday night. Three seasons after winning the Junior Hockey’s most coveted prize, and many painful losses later, this year’s Winterhawk team may surprise the WHL’s elite teams with a fresh and inspired effort. After losing the team’s tremendous leadership core of Brenden Morrow, Andrew Ference and others to professional hockey, Portland seemed to lose the intensity and commitment required to play their tough 72 game schedule last season. As with all great organizations however, management made the necessary changes in coaching, nurtured their draft picks, and now look close to regaining the form that made them Canadian Hockey League Champions.
The 2000-2001 Winterhawks will be under the youthful reigns of former Hawk defenseman Mike Williamson. Coach Williamson took over for Harold Snepsts towards the end of last season in the midst of various communication problems between Coach Snepsts and the players. Williamson did an excellent job to right the ship and leave players motivated for their summer workouts. In August, GM Ken Hodge and Williamson together selected Troy Mick to be Assistant Coach of the Winterhawks. Coach Mick will provide this year’s Hawks with veteran leadership as well as a winning attitude.
Here’s the quick notes on the game Friday night, September 15th, at Memorial Coliseum between the
Portland Winterhawks and the Tri-City Americans . . .
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