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
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Alex Vasiliev a once heralded defensive prospect with the tools thought to be NHL ready attended camp unsigned and his rights were traded to the Nashville Predators for a conditional draft pick. Vasiliev showed promise in Hartford scoring 10 goals and adding 28 assists in 75 contests. Vasiliev was an early front runner to NHL promotion but then suffered a less than stellar AHL championship run for the Hartford Wolf Pack giving up many in front of the goal passes and had trouble handling the physical AHL play. This move coupled with the presence of Mike Mottau creates some excitement in the Rangers camp for the final defensive positions. Jason Doig has shown tremendous will in trying to make the team using his 6-3 225 frame and his offensive flare to accomplishing the goal of being a Rangers regular.
Mike Mottau who is in camp on a try out basis has been playing decent hockey but sitting out for so long during camp and not playing for Hartford last season during their Calder Run to the Championships in the AHL may have stunted his development but he is still closer to being a lock than Doig and enforcer Dale Purinton. Mottau played superb 2-way hockey in college and has the tools to make it at the NHL level. Although under 200 pounds he plays like a man 20 pounds heavier but just as quick.
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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
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,
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.
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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 »
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.
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The Buffalo Sabres continued their exhibition slate with back-to-back games against the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets. The Sabres should be excused if they felt that their opponent seemed a little familiar, as Columbus had a total of seven former Sabres prospects/players on their training camp roster.
Those former Sabres still fighting for Columbus roster spots include D Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, RW Matt Davidson, LW Geoff Sanderson, LW Barrie Moore and RW Martin Spahnel. Two former Buffalo prospects, C Brad Moran and D Sergei Klimentiev, were assigned to the Syracuse Crunch this past week. Sanderson and Grand-Pierre are probably locks to make the Blue Jacket roster, while Davidson, Moore and Spahnel are still in the thick of the roster battle with several other players.
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A lot of questions face the London Knights as they begin the 2000-2001 season. One, where are their European imports? They are currently missing in action in Europe. It is still unknown if they will be coming over to play or not. Two, will Joel Scherban and Chris Kelly return from pro camps to play as over agers. Three, will the kids be able to respond to the extra ice time.
The Knights missed the playoffs last year, and to make matters worse, they chose not to deal any veterans at the deadline, as they hoped to make a last dash effort to make the playoffs and then make some noise. They fell short of the mark, and so now a lot of young kids are thrust into roles which time will tell if they are able to fill.
In goal, Aaron Molnar, a 19 year old Colorado draft pick is the number one man. He hasn’t played a lot in the OHL, but that will change this year. He will see the lions share of the work, and will see a lot of rubber. In the home opener he made over 40 saves in a 4-3 win over the Windsor Spitfires. He showed some nice lateral movement in making key saves on the Spitfires big line of Mather, Ott, and Kennedy. He made a lot of nice saves in scrambles, staying low and covering the holes until the Defence could move the puck out. The Knights will need a lot of nights like this from Molnar if they are going to compete.
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The Pens made 2 huge steps today in finalizing their final roster for their opening games in Japan against the Nashville Predators
The most important step was coming to terms with expected #1 starting goalie Jean-Sebastian Aubin. Terms of the contract, which was reported between periods of the Pens/Avalanche exhibition game in Hershey, were not released.
The Pens also made a number of roster moves today that cut the roster to 24 players (one less than they will take to Japan). The 2 biggest surpises were the inclusion of forward Bill Tibbetts and defenseman Josef Melichar (the Pens #4 prospect) on the “final” roster.
Tibbetts certainly has gotten much press this camp so far, little concerning his play on the ice. And the beginning of camp showed that 3 years off the ice can be brutal with regards to your skills. But apparently, he made real strides as camp progressed and will likely fill a 4th line role with the Pens.
Melichar was expected to be sent to Wilkes-Barre at the beginning of camp, but beat out the more experienced Sven Butenschon for the final spot on the roster. By all accounts, Sven had an excellent camp, but Melichar simply beat him out. Butenschon will need to clear waivers before he is sent to Wilkes-Barre.
Also making the team was Calder Trophy candidate forward Milan Kraft. While Milan didn’t have as good of a camp as last year, he was good enough to garner a spot on the roster.
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The National U18 Team is having some early troubles this year. Tonight, they couldn’t put any offense on the board as they netted only one goal. Brian McConnell got the goal on an assist from Bryan Miller. Des Moines had a balanced attact with 7 different players scoring goals. Mike Mantua played solid in the nets for the Bucs. Mantua is playing very well and looks to be one of the best goalies in the USHL this year. Tomorrow the USNTDP U18 Team takes on the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. Expect the National Team to come out of the gates flying and put some goals up on the board. They certainly have the talent, they just need to make some adjustments and everything should be fine.
Next weekend will be a big weekend for the National squad as they face Chicago and Sioux Falls in USHL action. The first week of October they will find out how much they have improved as they take on CCHA teams Michigan State and Western Michigan. This year the NTDP is playing a mixture of USHL and Division 1 and 3 teams.