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Albany Week In Review

by Mike Buskus

By Mike Buskus

Holiday week

The Albany River Rats enjoyed a holiday, of several days duration, following Saturday night?s 3-2 overtime victory over the Providence Bruins. It was the first time this season that the Rats emerged victorious when trailing after two periods (1-14-1).

The overtime game-winning goal, notched by Joel Bouchard, came on a 2-on-1 break featuring Bruce Gardiner setting up Bouchard. It was only the second overtime victory (Syracuse was the other) in twelve contests this year to go to the extra session.

The week began on the road in Hamilton, at Copps Coliseum. In the Rats? most offensive outburst in 20 minutes this season, Albany scored five times in the first period and took a 5-3 lead into the first intermission. Two periods later, the Rats emerged victorious, 8-6, to score the most goals since last spring when Albany scored 8 while hosting the Bulldogs at the Pepsi Arena.

For Albany fans who remember Walt Kyle?s Bulldogs as being a particularly stingy and cautious defense, this year?s Hamilton team is different. The Bulldogs led the league, through games played on December 22, with 125 goals, or 3.91 per game. For an Albany team that was at the bottom of the league (2.33 per game), the 8-goal outburst in Hamilton may have revived the confidence of some players who had not scored.

At Copps Coliseum, Albany collected two of the three stars, with defenseman Mikko Jokela garnering third star (1G; 2A) and forward Christian Berglund bagging first star (2G; 1A). Mike Rupp (1G; 2A) scored for Read more »

World Under 17 Championships

by Andrew Bourgeois

Michael Bartlett scored the winner early in the third period as the defending champion United States opened the world under-17 hockey challenge with a 5-4 victory Saturday over the Czech Republic. Western Canada joined the U.S. atop Pool A with a 9-0 victory over Germany. Ryan Getzlaf scored two goals and assisted on another to pace Western Canada past Germany. Chad Klassen, Jesse Fischer, Stefan Meyer, Mark Olafson, Nigel Dawes, Josh Froese and Stewart Thiessen also scored. Rejean Beauchemin got the shutout as Western Canada outshot Germany 50-23.
Also in Pool A is Quebec.

Ontario opened Pool B play with a 13-1 romp over Atlantic Canada, and Pacific Canada defeated Finland 7-1. Nate Horton scored three goals and Jeff Carter, Jamie Tardif and Luch Aquino added two each in Ontario’s rout of Atlantic Canada. Brad Richardson, Anthony Stewart and Dylan Hunter also scored. Andrew Gordon had Atlantic Canada’s lone goal late in the first period as Ontario held a 50-20 advantage in shots. David Brown got the win in goal for Ontario.
Mitch Bartley scored two goals and assisted on another to lead Pacific Canada past Finland. Tyler Czuba, Marc Connors, Colin Fraser, Cam Cunning and Ryan Stone also scored. Kim Nabb had the lone goal for Finland, midway through the second period, making the score 3-1. Also in Pool B is Russia.

Five Canadian regional teams, along with the U.S., Czech Republic, Germany, Finland and Russia are competing in the annual tournament. The 5 Canadian teams are divided in 5 different regional teams and they take on a full fledged European and US Read more »

Tuomo Ruutu World Junior showing will bring Blackhawk fans smiles

by Bill Placzek

While watching the preliminary round of the 2002 World Junior Tourney, I found myself with the distinct feeling that the Canadian entry was going to win first seed as their play over Russia and other competition was dominant. Two LA prospects, small centre Mike Cammalleri and Rw Jared Aulin along with the likes of Jason Spezza, Steven Weiss, and top two 2002 projected draft picks Rick Nash and Jay Bouwmeester were methodical, smart players who were able to penetrate with scoring chances while never sacrificing defense.

Their game against Team Finland, led by Ruutu, Mikko Koivu, and top five pick number one ranked goaltender Kari Lehtonen showed Canada could be dominated. Ruutu was the main cog at both ends of the ice, with a fine continued performance that have to bring smiles to the Hawk fans everywhere.

Could we trust that Mike Smith and his penchant for Europeans over North Americans was correct this time, when the Hawk “farm” was desperately in need of a future stopper? Compounding our second guessing is the fact Blackburn showed enough to the New York Rangers to keep him around as an 18-year-old back-up and continues to excel at the major league level.

Will Ruutu be a bigger impact to the Hawks? At this point, it would be pure speculation as Tuomo Ruutu must do his military service and will not get a chance for possibly 2003-04 season.

The things we can say are what we see: He is a dominant player at World Junior, a head above the rest. He went where he wanted and did want he wanted to. He was force inside the team game.

Read more »

Zetterberg Enroute to Stardom

by Peter Westermark

Young Henrik Zetterberg led Timrå offensively last year when his newly
promoted team surprised and finished ninth in the Elitserien, a 12-team
league. This year, the points have been harder to come by both for
Zetterberg and his team. Timrå is currently last in the league with only
five wins after 33 games, and they are trailing 11th place Linköping by
eleven points. After coming off a point-a-game campaign last season, the Red
Wings prospect has a disappointing five goals and 14 assists in 32 games.
Still, Zetterberg was among the players named to the Swedish Olympic team,
and few hockey people are surprised.

First of all, observers refuse to put any blame on Zetterberg for his team’s
struggles. “He’s a loyal player and he has assumed a more defensive role
this year,” said coach Peo Larsson who resigned due to the team’s poor start
after four successful years at the helm. “The points will come for him. He
hasn’t performed badly.”

That Zetterberg, who plays centre for Timrå, has a ton of offensive ability
was evident in the last game of the Sweden Hockey Games where Zetterberg
suited up in a more offensive role. He scored four goals against the Finns –
one of them after a beautiful move that gave Swedish fans a déjà vu of Peter
Forsberg’s famous “stamp goal”. Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken
Holland was in attendance and praised his prospect in the Swedish press
right after the game, stating “I think he’s good enough to play in the
Olympics right now.”

Perhaps there’s a personal agenda reflected in those c Read more »

Sven Helfenstein interview

by Joeri Loonen

HF: First of all I would like to thank you for taking time to do this interview. It is very much appreciated. Like last year when Switzerland tied Russia 3-3 in the opening game, Switzerland started well this year again with a 3-0 victory over Finland. What are your impressions of that game?
H: Already early on in the game we noticed Finland was a very strong team and we should worry about playing solid defense first. We took full advantage of our chances which resulted in the 3-0 victory.

HF: What about the next game vs Canada?
H: It was the same sort of game. Again we played against a very strong opponent, but this time we got down 1-0 early on. Then we needed a equalier to get back in the game and we got it when Monnet scored short handed but then we gave up the 2-1 soon after that and that should not have happened. After that we gave away some bad goals due to some sloppy defensive plays.

HF: What is the goal of Team Switzerland at this year’s World Junior Championship?
H: A medal. Of course we are hoping for a gold medal but even getting the bronze medal would be a great performance for us. I have been ended up 4th several times with the national team already, that isn’t bad but it just out of the medals and I really would like to get one this year.

HF: What you personally feel is a realistic goal for this team at the WJC? Read more »

Interview with Mikko Koivu

by Robert Neuhauser

Mikko Koivu, a TPS Turku forward, is one of the brightest prospects
in the Minnesota Wild organization. Selected in the first round
of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Mikko now performs for Finland
at the WJC. Here are his answers at my questions, Mikko was kind
enough to answer them after the game against Russia.

When did you start playing hockey?

I was about five or six when I started playing.

Where was it?

In my hometown Turku, of course. I was born there, began my hockey
career in this city and I live there till now.

Who brought you to the game?

My brother Saku was one of the main forces, but besides him also
my friends influenced me a lot. We were playing hockey games in the
yard and it was a natural thing for me to play hockey.

Who is your hockey role model?

Saku teaches me a lot, he gave me many tips, but Peter Forsberg
is a great player, too. I watch him a lot.

Your favorite team in Europe?

I don´t have to take a long time to think about it. No doubt,
TPS Turku.

And in the NHL?

Another simply question, Minnesota Wild.

Were you happy that Wild has drafted you or would you prefer
to be selected by the Montreal Canadiens?

It would be great to have the opportunity to play with Saku, but
I´m extremly happy to be drafted by the Wild. It´s a great organization
and I think they can build a very strong squad quite soon. I have
my own play and it is good for me that I´m not always connected
with Saku.

When do you think you will be NHL Read more »

A Look Around the Farm Heading into the New Year

by Michael Theodore
With 2002 approaching fast, the Rangers farm system finds itself ranked in the top half of the NHL but not within the top ten. Even though 2001’s first rounder Dan Blackburn has made the jump, the Rags still have half a dozen or so prospects worth mentioning and a few others who are appearing on the horizon and turning some heads. With the exception of several players, many of these kids are still a few seasons away from making any kind of professional noise. It is however interesting to point out that many of them were later draft picks who have been pleasant surprises.

First off we have to start with perhaps the Rangers best player outside the NHL at the moment, Rico Fata. Yes, the same Rico Fata who was claimed on waivers a couple of months ago and yes the same Rico Fata who was taken sixth overall by Calgary in 1998. If people could just put their pre-’98 expectations out of their way for a second they’d notice that Rico Fata is making tremendous strides in his third professional season. Granted he will never be the 100 point center everyone suggested he’d be as a 15-year-old playing in the OHL, but he still has the talent to be an effective two way winger. Despite being two months away from even turning 22, Fata has already double the experience most players his age have. Away from lofty expectations in Calgary, Fata is quietly scoring at a hundred point pace for the Hartford Wolfpack. He’s played every situation, has been solid defensively and has taken the body regularly. He’s been Hartford’s most consistent forward and also one of the AHL’s best over t Read more »

WJC games recap – Day 4

by Ivana Paulova

Group A

Belarus – Czech Republic 1:9

1st Period

00:37 CZE Hudler (Hemsky, Krajicek) 0:1
04:26 CZE Vondrka (Blatak) 0:2 PP
16:35 CZE Skelnar (Bohac, Novak) 0:3
19:47 BLR Hlinkin (Maslenikov) 1:3 PP2

2nd Period

24:24 CZE Blatak (Hemsky, Krajicek) 1:4 PP

3rd Period

48:21 CZE Hemsky (Horava) 1:5
49:01 CZE Chvojka (Sklenar, Novak) 1:6
52:51 CZE Hanzlik (Plekanec) 1:7
53:27 CZE Horava (Hudler, Hemsky) 1:8 Read more »

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