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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.

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 »

Game Misconduct: The Worlds Is Not Enough?

by Tony Bryson
on

The World Junior Hockey Championships is always extremely interesting to watch. It’s fun to observe many of the players that will be tomorrow’s stars in the NHL before the big bucks change their love for the game. This year’s tournament has been a roller coaster ride with plenty of upsets and lots of sidebars that have made the action extremely entertaining. Team Canada has found itself in the thick of things and has found an old rivalry against the Russian bear boil over. The players have made this something to remember, in more ways that one.

There have been some excellent performances, and some that make you scratch your head. Some players make you sit straight up when they make a play, and others make you hide your eyes before they play the puck. Because many of these young men have been drafted, or scrutinized to death, certain expectations are placed on these players, sometimes unfairly. Consider that when reading the reviews. They are one person’s opinion of what has been observed in a short tournament, one that is really not long enough to properly gauge a player except to flag him for further scouting, against the best competition possible for the age group of the players in question.

Defensemen

Jay Bouwmeester – The un-drafted Bouwmeester has been in the public spotlight for several years now. He has been touted as the number one pick for the 2002 NHL Entry Draft for three years. If there was a player that had unfair expectations to live up to, it is Jay Bouwmeester. Funny thing is that this kid lives up to them, Read more »

World U17 Championship

by Andrew Bourgeois
on

The Czech Republic got some vindication, Team Quebec jumped for joy and Team Western watched its medal hopes vanish.

That summed up the fifth day of the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge, where the Czechs bounced back from a heart-breaking, disputed setback on Tuesday to play the role of spoiler last night in front of 2,063 fans at the Selkirk Arena.

The Czechs, who protested their 5-4 loss to Quebec on Tuesday but had it thrown out yesterday morning, got four goals from Jakub Sindel — his first of the tournament — in a 7-2 thumping of tournament host Team Western.

Team Western, which finished 2-2 and only needed a win or tie last night to qualify for the playoffs, fell to fourth in Pool A and will play for seventh place today against Team Atlantic in Stonewall at 2 o’clock.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Western forward Stefan Meyer, who had a second-period goal. “For the past games it looked like we came to win, but tonight it looked like we just had no desire to win. That Czech team worked hard tonight and they deserved this win more than us.”

Team Quebec was smiling because its 2-1-1 record in Pool A after a 4-4 draw with Team USA yesterday afternoon landed it in a semifinal tonight (7:30) in Stonewall against Team Pacific, which beat Russia 5-0 last night in Stonewall to finish at 4-0.

The U.S. (3-0-1) will play 3-1 Team Ontario, who blanked Finland 3-0 yesterday, in the other semifinal tonight in Selkirk at 7:30.

Team Western had a 35-25 edge in the shot department, but Czech netminder Vladislav Koutsky made some outst Read more »

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 »

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