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Trade Deadline a Seller’s Market in the West

by Jeff Bromley
on

I’m all for the concept of parity that has inundated the Western Hockey League but as far as trade deadline deals, speculation and innuendo goes, she just ain’t what used to be.

In just over a week’s time, on January 14, the WHL’s trade deadline will have past and with the emerging trend of too much demand, not enough supply, this year’s round of poker will have lots of players, all wanting to draw some cards, but few wanting to meet the ante.

Every year the Christmas wish list gets extended a few weeks in the WHL because of the multitude of G.M.’s still searching for that elusive cog that could push their club over the top, put them into contention to make some noise in the playoffs or augment an already powerful lineup. Looking for the bargain deal, most of the gifts this year have been opened early in the season long before the economics of supply and demand had put their prices into the stratosphere.

B.C. Division -In the B.C. Division, where four of the five clubs have a legitimate shot of reaching the Western Conference final, the shopping could be all but done. Teams such as Kootenay, Kelowna and Kamloops have all made deals that are designed to address certain needs. Kootenay and Kelowna both revamped their goaltending situations by adding B.J. Boxma and Shane Bendera, respectively. Kelowna also tinkered with their defensive corps with the addition of former ICE blueliner Jesse Ferguson and Kevin Young out of Portland in October. In continuing the trend of adding former Kootenay players, Nick Marach joined the Rockets in a deal from Vanc Read more »

WJC: Interview with Pär Bäcker

by pbadmin
on

HF: Sweden defeated the Czech Republic 2-1 yesterday, what are your impressions of that game?

Bäcker: We had most of the play but once again our biggest problem this tournament turned up again: scoring. That almost got us in trouble.

HF: How about the performance of team Sweden at the WJC so far?

Bäcker: We are still undefeated so……

HF: In the quarter finals you will meet Canada, who are favourites for gold.

Bäcker: Canada will be a very hard and tough game for us, but so would probably have been all of the other opponents we could have drawn. We will give our best and see what comes from it.

HF: What about your own performance so far at this WJC?

Bäcker: I’m playing an ok tournament so far. I’m satisfied with my own performance.

HF: What are your strengths and weaknesses in your game?

Bäcker: My strengths are my puckhandling and the ability to stay calm on the ice when needed. A thing I need to improve though is my shooting.

HF: You play for Färjestad, currently by far the best team in the Swedish league. What’s it like to be part of that team?

Bäcker: It’s great. Really fantastic. It’s a great club and I’m proud to be part of them at the moment.

HF: Jörgen Jönsson and Mathias Johansson have been selected in the Olympic squad for Sweden. Both are teammates of yours. What do you have to say about it?

Bäcker: That is really great for them and for the club as well of course. Both players are very good players. Johansson and Jönsson are Read more »

A Wheatie and a Hawk Named WHL Players of the Month

by League Press Release
on

Calgary – The Western Hockey League today announced the Players of the Month
for December in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

In the Eastern Conference, which includes the East and Central Divisions,
the Player of the Month is forward Jordin Tootoo of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

The 18 year-old from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut recorded ten goals and 18 points
in ten games during the Month of December including three power-play goals
and two game-winning goals. He helped lead his team to an impressive 8
wins, one loss and a tie for the month.

Tootoo was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

WESTERN CONFERNCE

In the Western Conference, which includes the B.C. and U.S. Divisions, the
Player of the Month is forward Joe Balej of the Portland Winter Hawks.

Balej, a 19-year-old from Myjava, Slovakia recorded 14 goals and 23 points
in 14 games during the Month of December, including ten power-play goals, a
short-handed goal and one game-winning goal. Balej was drafted by the
Montreal Canadiens in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

Joe Balej is also a deserving choice as the Western Conference Player of the
Month for December.

WJC: Interview with Igor Knyazev

by pbadmin
on

Question: During the game against the USA, to some parts of the audience, it seemed that everything was very easy for you today – do you agree with that?

Knyazev: No, it wasn’t such easy! At some time in the second period, maybe, but apart from that, especially at the beginning of the game, it was a quite hard struggle.

Question: In that match you received a two minutes penalty plus game misconduct for a cross check – was it necessary for you to do that, or stupid?

Knyazev: Oh, it was necessary at that time of the game…

Question: You play for AK Bars Kazan in the Russian league, so you are a teammate of the Germn Jan Benda. What do you think about him?

Knyazev: Oh, we have a very good team in Kazan, and Benda is a very good player, so he fits perfeclty into our team.

Question: How do you communicate with him? Does he already speak Russian?

Knyazev: Yeah, he speaks Russian very well, and if there would occur any problem with that, we also could talk to him in English.

Question: You were drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes; are there yet any plans for you when to go there?

Knyazev: Yes, I’ll go there in August.

Question: Do you have a favourite hockey player?

Knyazev: Hmmm….. I kinda like Brian Leetch, but not enough to call him “my favourite player”.

Question: What’s your favourite team in Russia?

Knyazev: Spartak Moscow.

Question: And in America?

Knyazev: Carolina.

Question: Could you also imagine playing in another Eu Read more »

WJC: Interview with Markus Seikola

by pbadmin
on

HF: Today Finland blasted away France by a score of 8-0. How did you experience that game?

Seikola: We had a difficult start but after the 2nd goal things started to work and was easily ours.

HF: What can be expected from team Finland for the rest of the tournament?

Seikola: Succes, haha. No to be honest, it will be very hard to get a good result here. All the teams in the quarter finals are very strong and there’s no clear favourite. USA, Canada, Czech Republic, they all can win gold.

HF: Are you satisfied with your own performance so far at this WJC?

Seikola: A little bit, but it could be better, but that’s all I want to say about it.

HF: When did you start playing hockey?

Seikola: When I was 6 years old in Laitila.

HF: What broguht you to the game of hockey?

Seikola: I also used to play baseball and athletics but when I had to choose I liked hockey best.

HF: Who is your favorite player?

Seikola: Jyrki Lumme

HF: What are your favourite teams in the NHL and in Europe?

Seikola: In the NHL the Toronto Maple Leafs in Europe TPS Turku.

HF: How do you see your future. You were drafted already. Do you have plans to play in North-America?

Seikola: Right now I don’t want to think nor talk about that. I am here to play the WJC with team Finland and that is what is important now.

HF: What are your strengths and in what areas your game needs improvement you feel?

Seikola: My strengths would be my puckhandling and my play on the power play while skating is Read more »

WJC quarter-final games recap

by Ivana Paulova
on

Written by Ivana Paulova and Robert Neuhauser

Quarter-final games

Slovakia – Switzerland 2:3

Defense wins championships. A clear motto of the playoff contests.
Including the quarterfinal match Slovakia-Switzerland. The beginning
of the game was quite nervous and both teams were waiting for
mistakes of the opposing side. The Swiss players were slightly
better in the first minutes and created some chances because
they played better in the offensive zone. The first Slovak quality
chance was really huge. Tomas Kopecky went on a lone breakaway
but 17-year old goalie Tobias Stephan could make a save on his
backhand deke. Minutes later Tomas Jasko, a 2002 prospect, had
nearly the same chance but the pass he should receive was out
of Jasko´s reach and he couldn´t corral this puck. The Swiss
team was playing shorthanded twice but their defense worked well
and the Slovaks didn´t have any quality chances. Overall the
Slovaks were more skilled and handled the puck better, but the
Swiss grit and a willingness to play physical payed the dividends
and they were more than equal opponent to the Slovaks.

It was clear that the team which will score first will have a big advantage. Both teams
tried hard, Frantisek Skladany went for a two-on-one breakaway but Skladany couldn’t lift
the puck over Stephan. Read more »

WJC semi-final games recap

by Ivana Paulova
on

Written by Robert Neuhauser and Ivana Paulova

Semifinals

Switzerland – Canada 0:4

1st Period

no scoring

2nd period

26:04 CAN Ott (Stoll) 0:1 SH
32:27 CAN Cammalleri (Sutherby) 0:2
33:35 CAN Sutherby (Ott) 0:3

3rd Period

58:28 CAN Ott (Schultz, Popovic) 0:4 empty net

The Swiss team wasn’t expected to be a big trouble for the
Canadian squad, as the Canadians faced the fourth team of the other
group. During the first minutes the Canadians have put the Swiss
under pressure and their rebounds were very dangerous. The
Swiss played defensively and created chances mostly on powerplays.
Emanuel Peter and Sven Helfenstein had breakaway chances but the
score didn’t change.
It changed at 6:04 of the second period. Jarret Stoll caught a bad
Swiss outlet pass and passed the puck to Steve Ott, who scored
the first goal.
Between 68 seconds in the middle of the second period it was
decided about the winner. First Mike Cammalleri scored his
seventh goal at this tounament and then Steve Ott showed his skating
skills when he won a race with a Swiss defenseman, failed to
deke Stephan, but Brian Sutherby picked up the rebound and finally
scored. Read more »

Raider’s Greg Watson is on a Roll

by HF Staff
on

Greg Watson, a front-line power forward for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League, is on a roll.

After a slow start to his Western Hockey League season, Watson has exploded to produce 18 goals and 15 assists for 29 points in 27 games.

The slow start wasn’t a problem to his team because he was still playing with heart and determination, said head coach Wade Klippenstein.

“Offensively his numbers weren’t what he wanted them to be but I still thought he was playing hard and reasonably well.”

With a hat trick on Nov. 20 against the Swift Current Broncos and then another on Nov. 28 against the Medicine Hat Tigers, Watson took his point tally to 26 points in 26 games.

After counting two goals and one assist for a three-point game Nov. 30 in Calgary against the Hitmen (a 5-4 overtime loss), the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Watson said he might have found his groove.

“I’m starting to get the feel,” the Calgary native said. “I finally found a pattern of sticks I like and things are just bouncing my way right now.”

The WHL also recognized the streak of points and Watson was awarded Player of the Week after recording eight points in four games in the week ending Dec. 2.

After going 0-11-1-2 on the road at the start of this season, Watson guided the Raiders to their first road victory of the campaign.

Despite his Raiders being out shot 32-31, Watson had a five-point night with a trio of goals and two assists to lead his team to a 6-2 win over the Tigers.

Klippenstein can see Watson warming up and Read more »

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