Heading into the 2001-02 NHL season, Thrasher fans had two reasons to be both excited and concerned. Those two reasons were Dany Heatley (#2 in 2000 NHL draft) and Ilya Kovalchuk (#1 in 2001). Both were highly touted by scouts and management as potential superstar caliber players. For an offensively challenged team like Atlanta this was welcome news. On the other hand, fans had reasons to be concerned about each player’s development. The club’s other first round pick Patrick Stefan (#1 overall in 1999) had shown limited offensive flair in his first two injury plagued seasons. Some wondered whether the 18 year-old Kovalchuk might be better off returning to Spartak for another year before submitting himself to the rigors of a NHL season. In addition, Thrasher’s GM Don Waddell tried to keep expectations low by saying that each would need to work hard to score 20 goals in his rookie season.
Fast-forward forty-one NHL games later and it is clear that the club made the right decision to play both of these top prospects this year. Both players lead the NHL rookie scoring race and were named co-rookies of the month for December. Heatley (16-18-34) and Kovalchuk (17-16-33) also lead the team in scoring by a considerable margin, given the slow start of veterans Ferraro and Hrkac. The two rookies have produced have produced 34% of the team’s goals at the halfway point. Even more impressive is the fact that their numbers put them in the company of established star players such as Elias, Fedorov, Hossa, Nolan and Guerin. GM Waddell and Coach Fraser have repea Read more »
Matt is a skilled winger that isn’t afraid to go to the net and work the walls, taking the hit to make the play. Has an accurate shot and knows how to find open space in the offensive zone to make use of it. Solid two way play and ability to make things happen should open the eyes of NHL scouts. One NHL scout was heard to say, “this kid has the potential to score some goals and if he gets bigger and stronger, will be a solid prospect”.
Matt isn’t as pleased as he’d like to be with the start of this season, he’s been hampered with a groin and hip flexor injury, which he had treated over the Christmas break and with it feeling much better, hopes it will let him get back playing his gritty, offensive game.
Hockeys Future: Last season you had a pretty solid year with 24 points as a sixteen year old rookie, how do you think it went?
Matt Girling: It was okay, it could have been better.
HF: This being your draft year, what expectations did you have?
MG: I plan on having a strong season, showing consistency and not getting hurt or anything and just getting drafted.
HF: What were your goals for the year as far as points?
MG: Put up some great numbers, a lot more than last year, probably sixty points or so and just have a great year.
HF: How do you think its gone so far and what areas of your game do you think need to improve?
MG: The first half of the season I don’t think I was that consistent and I need to be, which will help my game. I’ve had a bit of a leg injury and it’s getting better, Read more »
Dimitry Afanasenkov (6.5) If Ramzi Abid can up his scoring in Springfield, why can’t
Nikita Alexeev (7.5) Proving to be more of a project than anticipated. Might have had a
semi-regular spot had it not been for Jimmie Olvestad.
Evgeni Artukhin (6) Size & speed will eventually get him in the line-up, lack of offensive
talent will relegate him to a checking line.
Henrik Bergfors (4.5) Mr. Irrelevant seems to be making very relevant steps in the right
Mathieu Biron (7) Getting decent time in the NHL due to injuries.
Josef Boumedienne (6.5) Stuck in a traffic jam, but has seen decent time because of
Anton But (7.5) Won fastest skater at a recent all-star exhibition and dominated in the
Read more »
Two games; two wins; four points
Since the first of the year (hey, the loss in Syracuse on New Year’s Eve was last year’s news), the Albany River Rats have played two games at home. They won them both (Manchester, 5-1; Hartford, 6-5).
Though still in the league’s cellar, along with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and while still 14th in the 14-team Eastern Conference, at least the Albany River Rats got off to a good start for the new year. On Friday last, the very respectable Manchester Monarchs came into town, adorned in their royal purple jerseys. The Monarchs scored first, but had no answer to five consecutive Albany goals.
Manchester featured a skilled veteran first line of Steve Kelly (a former River Rat and New Jersey Devil, now with Los Angeles & Manchester), Dane Jackson and Ted Donato. Bob Carpenter’s Rats matched lines, sending out the checking line of Stan Gron, captain Sylvain Cloutier and Richard Rochefort. The strategy worked just fine, limiting the Monarchs’ top line to seven shots, while keeping them off the scoreboard. The Kelly-Jackson-Donato grouping finished a collective “-6″ on the evening.
With Rochefort, Cloutier and Gron nullifying Manchester’s top offensive unit, the top Albany line of Christian Berglund, Steve Guolla and Brian Gionta went to work. Gionta scored one and assisted on two; Guolla had one of each; and Berglund had a pair of assists. Max Birbraer and Bruce Gardiner also scored for Albany in a one-sided 5-1 victory. In the opinion of Albany Week in Review, this was the Rats’ best Read more »
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Calgary – The Canadian Hockey League and Western Hockey League today
announced the players that will represent the WHL’s Eastern Conference for
The Hershey Cup CHL All – Star Series. The WHL Eastern Conference All-Stars
will host the OHL Western Conference All-Stars. The game will be played on
January 23, 2002 at the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta.
The WHL Eastern Conference All-Stars team was selected by a panel of three
WHL General Managers from teams which had the best record at the 30 game
mark in the 2001-02 WHL schedule. The selection committee consisted of
Brent Sutter of the Red Deer Rebels, Brad McEwen of the Swift Current
Broncos and Kelly McCrimmon of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Brent Sutter of the Red Deer Rebels has been named head coach while Brad
McEwen of the Swift Current Broncos and Dallas Gaume of the Red Deer Rebels
will serve as assistant coaches.
“There were some tough decisions to be made but with the group of players
that were chosen we feel that our conference will be represented very well,
” stated Brent Sutter, Head Coach of the WHL’s Eastern Conference All-Star
The team includes the current top three WHL scorers, Nathan Barrett,
Lethbridge Hurricanes (1st – 68 Pts), Tyler Beechey, Calgary Hitmen (Tied
2nd – 59 Pts) and Matt Hubbauer, Regina Pats (Tied 4th – 57 Pts). Leading
the defence will be Ian White of the Swift Current Broncos, the Western
Hockey League’s leading scoring defencemen with 52 points. Also included on
the team are four members of Canada’s Silver Medal Nat Read more »
INSIDE THE CHL RETURNS WITH NEW EDITION ON FRIDAY
The latest edition of Inside the CHL will be available at the official
website of the Canadian Hockey League, www.chl.ca, on Friday afternoon.
Inside the CHL is a look around the Canadian Hockey League, the largest
hockey league in the world. The show is posted at www.chl.ca. and is also
heard on junior hockey radio broadcasts across the country.
On Edition number 5, host Roger Lajoie previews the upcoming Hershey Cup CHL
All-Star Series of Games, along with the Home Hardware CHL Top Prospects
Game as well. CHL commissioner David Branch is among the guests on the show,
which CHL radio stations are invited to download and use during their
Inside the CHL is produced every two weeks, with the next edition after
Friday’s available Friday, Jan. 25.
WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE
There are five games in the WHL on Wednesday night. Saskatoon is at Calgary,
Prince Albert travels to Lethbridge, Medicine Hat is at Red Deer, Kelowna is
at Spokane and Prince George (8) plays in Brandon.
There were two games in the WHL Tuesday night as Medicine Hat doubled Prince
Albert 6-3 and Portland beat Vancouver 6-3.
At Medicine Hat, Ben Thomson scored two goals and added two assists to lead
Medicine Hat to victory. Joffrey Lupul added two goals and one assist to the
winners’ attack, while Jeremy Colliton had one goal and one assist for the
losers. Sean Connors made 28 saves in goal for Medicine Hat.
At Vancouver, Josef Balej scored three goals to lead Portland to Read more »
It has been quite a season already for the Kings and their system, but despite an average record for the Big Club, the Kings’ farm system has never stood taller.
The big news around the Kings’ system is the play of their prospects at the World Junior Championships. The Kings owned the rights to three of the top six point scorers in the WJC’s. Gold Medal winner Alexander Frolov is the real deal and the hockey world seems to know it now. Rave reviews about his blend of smooth skating and power around the net are still coming in. Frolov’s walk-out goal in the final game was huge and started the rally that won the game for Russia. Frolov has the potential to be the impact rookie that the Kings have not seen since Luc Robitaille. Frolov could arrive as soon as next season, which would allow him to play with Jason Allison. The Kings must be drooling at the prospect of pairing a playmaker like Allison with a potential finisher like Frolov. In any case, Frolov is emerging as the crown jewel of the Kings’ system.
Another riser is the diminutive Mike Cammalleri. Cammalleri lead the WJC’s in goals and points and emerged as a leader on Team Canada. Cammalleri is not real big, but is an intriguing player due to his scoring and leadership abilities. Mike’s success at Michigan and the WJC’s has him rising up the charts of Kings’ prospects.
Jared Aulin’s 9 points put him third among the scoring leaders at the WJC’s. Aulin is am NHL caliber player who can play both center and wing. Aulin continues to impress as well and caught the eye of the hockey world.
Read more »
HF: The Russians just beat Switzerland 4-0. What were your impressions of that game?
Ramholt: We started out pretty well against them, but the Russians techically are a very good team. We got this unlucky goal against, which I thought was kicked in and shouldn’t have counted, and that was a mental blow for us. Quikcly after that the Russians scored their 2nd and the game was not in our hands anymore and the Russians dominated.
HF: What about Switzerland’s performance so far in this tournaments. It has been with ups and downs.
Ramholt: We qualified for the quarter finals. That’s what is most important. We played very well against Finland. So far I’ve got a good feeling about our performance.
HF: And what are the expectations for the quarter finals?
Ramholt: We must take it game by game. It’s the only way to approach it really since this will be a knock out round. We just have to give 150% every game since our team is probably the less talented team of the quarter finalists.
HF: Are you satisfied with your own performance so far?
Ramholt: I feel I played well so far. During the game vs Canada I didn’t though, as was the case for more players, but overall I’m satisfied. I always seem to play well at tournaments. You could say I’m a sort of tournament guy.
HF: Why is it that Switzerland always struggles against North-American teams?
Ramholt: I don’t know. It is just a fact. They play a different style and we always have trouble to cope with that. For some players facing a North-American tea Read more »
Leaf Prospect Rankings 11-20
The age of the prospect is taken into account.
11. Miguel Delisle-RW: Almost an afterthought on day one of the 2000 draft, Delisle has come a long way from the temper tantrums that saw him fall out momentarily with 67’s Coach Brian Kilrea and got back with the program and made himself a player. Already NHL big at 6’1″ and 200 pounds, Delisle has very good wheels and his release has been compared to Mike Bossy’s in the past. He could be a bit more curmudgeony in his physical play, but that aside, the kid has a bright future.
12. Ivan Kolozvary-LW: Although he played the middle in the recent World Junior Championships, the Leafs probably see him as an outside burner ala Milan Hejduk, whom he resembles both physically and in the skating department. Although he’s adept with both passing and finishing at speed, whether he’ll ever approach the level of proficiency demonstrated by the Avs forward and whether he can withstand the rigours of the North American game remains to be seen.
13. Jaroslav Sklenar-RW: Possibly did himself a big disservice by checking out of the Ottawa 67’s earlier in the year for HC Kosice of the Slovakian League but is a tall, lanky 6’1″ 172 pound winger with a knack for getting his stick loose in tight spaces around the net. The is also little question about his skating which is quite good but his defense could use some improvement and he’ll need to fill out more. Then again, at 18 years old, he has plenty of time for both.
14. Regan Kelly-D: The pla Read more »