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The Weekend Warrior

by Randy Nicholson
on
Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland
during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations,
commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.

Some Hot – Others Not: The St. John’s Maple Leafs seem well on the way
to erasing the bitter memories of last season … the club has won 4 of
its first 6 starts and is performing well for new coach Lou Crawford …
amongst the large contingent of young prospects on the roster. Alexei
Ponikarovsky and Mikael Hakansson (playing together with Bobby House on
the 1st line) have been the most impressive thus far … Franticek Mrazek,
Jeff Farkas and Adam Mair have yet to begin posting the numbers that are
going to be expected from them (each has 3 points in 6 games) … Michal
Travnicek, though held to 2 points in the early going, has been
finishing every check with extreme prejudice and is quickly becoming a
fan favorite on the Rock … on the backline, minor league vets Nathan
Dempsey, D. J. Smith, Tyler Harlton and David Cooper are all
contributing on the attack and performing solidly defensively as well …
in the absence of #1 goalie, Jimmy Waite, the combination of Mike Minard
and Jamie Hodson has so far been more than equal to the challenge …

Leafs Trivia I: Only 3 Toronto Maple Leafs have ever scored 50 or more
goals during a single NHL season … name all three players (answer below
Whatever happened to) …

Tellqvist Scare: Swedish super prospect Mikael Tellqvist missed 2
starts with Djurgarden last week w Read more »

Sabres Report: The Seattle Sabres?

by Ken McKenna
on
It is common knowledge amongst Buffalo Sabres’ fans that Buffalo maintains their main minor league affiliate in Rochester, NY. A quick perusal of Buffalo’s training camp roster, however, might give one the impression that the Sabres have added a 2nd farm team in the Great Northwest Mecca of Seattle, WA.

The roster of the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL currently sports the names of six players who attended the 2000 training camp of the Buffalo Sabres. Four of the players- LW Barrett Heisten, RW Bret Dececco, LW Tim Preston and D Gerard Dicaire –are Sabre draftees, while defensemen Brennan Evans and Jeff Beatch attended camp as free agent invitees.

The most celebrated of the six players is, of course, ’99 1st round pick Barrett Heisten. Barrett joined the T-Birds following an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate a contract with Buffalo, a turn of events that no doubt made many Seattle fans quite happy. Barrett did not disappoint in his first game as a T-Bird, as he picked up four assists in a 6-5 victory over the Kelowna Rockets.
Read more »

Griffins and Wolves Aim For a Turner Cup Rematch

by Chad Cranmer
on
Last year’s Turner Cup finalists Grand Rapids Griffins and Chicago Wolves both aim to get back to the finals this season, and both have the firepower to do it.
The Wolves return many key players from last year’s championship team, and also have added players such as center Robert Petrovicky and the first overall pick in the NHL goalie Rick DiPietro. The Griffins also return many of their key players as well as receiving top players center Todd White and last year’s top IHL defenseman Mike Crowley from their parent >Ottawa Senators.
Not everyone is back however. The Wolves lost leading scorer Steve Maltais when he signed an NHL contract with the Expansion Columbus Bluejackets. Chicago will be counting center Steve Larouche and new comers Mark Lawrence, a New York Islanders prospect, Petrovicky, and left wing Mike Maneluk, assigned to the team by Columbus, to fill the scoring void left by Maltais’ departure. Right wing Brian Noonan will provide veteran leadership, and Paul Kruse will add muscle to the forward unit.
Glen Featherstone, Kevin Dahl, and Dallas Eakins anchor a corps of blueliners this year that also includes 22 year old Russian Evgeny Korolev who was assigned to the team by the Islanders. Veteran Wendal Young, who helped the Wolves to the Turner Cup last year, will share the goal with DiPietro.
The Griffins lost their all-time leading goal scorer, Michel Picard, goalie Jani Hurme, and forward Kevin Miller from last year’s squad, as well as IHL Coach of the Year Guy Charron, who took a job as an assistant for the M Read more »

ICE snare two in historic Home opener weekend

by Jeff Bromley
on

W. P. Kinsella once wrote, “if you build it, they will come.” We built it and they came, in droves. In a scene reminiscent of an arena setting in Spokane or Calgary, the Kootenay ICE held their two inaugural home opening games this past weekend at Cranbrook’s brand new Recreational Complex and, to put it mildly, it was an unqualified success. Two consecutive sold-out crowds of 4301 were treated to two exciting and dramatic hockey games that seemed to play themselves out to an unofficial script that every hockey team opening a new home would be overjoyed to occur -wins. A 5-3 victory over the Regina Pats on Friday and a 4-3 nailbiter decision over the rival Calgary Hitmen on Saturday seemed to be icing on the cake for the many thousands of fans who took in the games over the weekend. “Incredible”, “fantastic” and “wow” were just some of the many superlatives mentioned by the visiting fans. “It doesn’t seem like were in Cranbrook” said visiting patron Tina White, “It feels like we’re in Calgary not Cranbrook, this place is really great”. For majority ICE owner Ed Chynoweth, the weekend was the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people. “It was certainly a tremendous weekend. Personally the building is just total outstanding. Everything about it is major league and to start it off with a pair of wins is an added bonus,” said Chynoweth. For Chynoweth, the opening of the Rec/Plea was the payoff for a lot of people, most importantly the fans of the Kootenay ICE, “I couldn’t help but think when I was out at center ice for the openi Read more »

Flyers Minor League Report

by Bill Meltzer
on
The AHL and ECHL seasons are underway. Here are some updates on the whereabouts and first week performances of some of the Flyers more notable minor league players.

Tomas Divisek: Out with a separated shoulder. The latest word is that he will be out until midseason.

Francis Lessard: Recovering from a broken jaw; has lost a good deal of weight. Still not ready to return to the lineup.

Roman Cechmanek: The Philadelphia Phantoms are basically a waystation for Cechmanek. The Czech Extraleague and national team veteran was sent to the Phantoms because of the outstanding preseason play of Maxime Ouellet. He will remain in the AHL until the Flyers figure out what they are going to do with him– bring him up, trade him to another NHL team, or let him go home. He has nothing to prove in the American Hockey League, except perhaps that he can handle the small rink game. Cechmanek is scheduled to be paid $1 million this season- $300,000 of which have already been paid in a signing bonus. If the Flyers keep him all season, they are responsible for the full $1 million, even if Cechmanek were to agree to spend the year in the AHL. Cechmanek, however, is under no obligation to play for the Phantoms. His contract allows him to return to his Czech team, Vsetin, at any point (with Vsetin then becoming responsible for the balance of his salary).
Read more »

Leaving home…Final Part

by Robert Neuhauser
on
Well, the puck is dropped and now we know who left the Czech Republic to hone his skills in the CHL. It’s time for the last part of this series, but first let’s summarize a bit.

All of the 11 players featured in the first two parts chose to play in the CHL. I’m sure they won’t regret it as it looks like they have adjusted to the Canadian juniors quickly and are playing significant roles on their respective teams. (just like Toronto’s Frantisek Lukes, the St.Mike’s could hit the jackpot here!) Watch those players play and you’ll see that they can look forward to being drafted at the next NHL Entry Draft. So what about the rest of the list?

Good-sized sniper Martin Vymazal is now a Red Deer Rebel, along with former Plzen’s ELHD league star Ladislav Kouba. Vymazal proved he has a nose for the net when he recorded 21 goals in 28 games for Vsetin in the ELHD and was 21G + 6A in those games. Kouba was even better with 48 points (28G + 20A) in 29 games, that number of games played was enough for him to claim the team’s second-best scorer title. Both are offensively gifted wingers, 2001 eligible.

The new Oshawa General Ladislav Kolda was the best scoring defenseman for ELHD league champion HC Ceske Budejovice. 2002 eligible Kolda (born 10-16-1983) claimed two ELHD titles before leaving for the OHL. The former Under-16 and Under-17 teams member is a mobile defenseman with an offensive gift.
Read more »

2000-2001 Stars Prospect Outlook

by Keith Riskey
on

We’ve all managed to suffer through another painful summer without ice hockey, but finally it’s time to dust off the ol’ beer stein and armchair, kick back, and get ready for another (thankfully) long NHL season. As expected, this year’s Stars roster is burgeoning with new players – quite a few of them young prospects who could have an impact in the NHL this year. Summarized for your perusal, are some of these players we may see during the 2000-2001 season and some thoughts.

Graduates:

Richard Jackman: For Jackman, the most highly touted Dallas prospect of the last few years, this is a make or break year. Now an aging prospect, Jackman has been working the past few years on improving his spotty defense and his penchant for making mistakes, as well as trying to accelerate the wind-up on his impressive, yet oft telegraphed, slap shot from the point. Jackman will get lots of ice time this year in the 3rd defensive pairing and on the Stars power play, and he should have enough time to prove that his defensive responsibility is up to snuff and his offensive skills are truly NHL calibre.

Jackman had a fine preseason and his NHL start this year was marred with only a few mistakes (most of in the offensive zone that led to breakaways). But, he has shown alacrity and intelligence in clearing his own zone and his wind-up – though still telegraphed and easily blocked – has managed to take a few opposing players by surprise.
Read more »

LA Kings youngsters start strong

by Tony Calfo
on
The Los Angeles Kings have has a pretty solid beginning to the new millennium. They have shown some flashed of brilliance, particularly on the offensive end. But with poor goaltending, a rookie on the top line, a top defensemen not getting playing time and a holdout, the season’s prospects are far from clear.

Aki Berg has already been scratched more than he has played this season. Granted, all the other defensemen are playing well, but aren’t the Kings better served to develop Aki and sit the older Modry? With Berg signing another one year contract, look for a trade soon.

The Kings are getting some solid play from their younger skaters like Lubomir Visnovsky. He is extremely slight in build, but skates like the wind and positions himself in a manner which allows him to play against bigger forwards. He is also a smart passer and seems to have a knack for knowing when to activate and when to stay back. Eric Belanger has shown some solid play. But he has not shaken the knock against him – he has an amazing game then disappears for the next couple games. If he can stay consistent, he may be a point-a-game player.

Down on the Farm—

Kip Brennan has adapted to the AHL – he has 29 PIM’s in 5 games.

Brian McGratten already has a two-goal game and a date with the AHL. He manhandled a linesman during a fight.

Alexey Volkov lost his first game in Lowell, allowing three goals in the defeat.

The Weekend Warrior

by Randy Nicholson
on

Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.

Back to Mother Russia: Vladimir Kulikov, the spunky little Russian goalie who performed so strongly at last year’s Rookie Camp and then again at the Main Camp this year, has returned home to play for Red Army this season … the Leafs were obliged to try find a job for the late-round 1999 draft pick somewhere in North America after he signed their minimum $40,000 contract offer (one that had been made simply to guard the team’s long term negotiating rights) … unfortunately, he had signed too late in order to be included the Canadian Hockey League’s European Draft … as a 19 year-old, he is too young to play in the minors and as a signed player, he’s ineligible for the U.S. junior league where the Leafs had hoped to place him …
Read more »

IHL: Wolves are Team to Beat

by Parker Neale
on
The games aren’t won on paper; they are contested on the ice.
Therefore, it would be extremely arrogant to announce the Turner Cup
champion for the 2000-2001 season after only a few games have been
played. The only proclamation that can be made at this point in time is
that it is going to be very difficult for opponents to beat the Chicago
Wolves this season as they aim to win their third championship in four
years.

To start off with, the Wolves are oozing with experience from all levels
of professional hockey. There are only three players on the opening day
roster that have never competed in an NHL game; this includes the
youngsters Rick DiPietro, who has only played one year of college hockey
and Peter Nylander, who is playing in North America for the first time.
The third player, defenceman Bob Nardella is a veteran with loads of
professional hockey experience on this continent as well as abroad. The
other seventeen players have played an astounding three thousand, four
hundred and eighty-four NHL games between them. And, twelve of the
twenty players are age thirty or older. Such experience will go a long
way in an IHL campaign.

Up front, the Wolves are able to combine skill and grit. Jesse
Belanger, Guy Larose and Peter Nylander are mainly pure offensive
performers that can deliver on a consistent basis. Neil Brady, Glen
Featherstone, Mark Lawrence and Dan Plante are able to provide a Read more »