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Interview with Mikko Koivu

by Robert Neuhauser
on

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
on
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 »

Interview with Beat Forster and Severin Blindenbacher

by Joeri Loonen
on

Switzerland is drawn into a group along with Canada, Finland, Russia and France. ´83-born Player Beat Forster plays on Switzerland´s top line which also holds New York Rangers´ prospect Sven Helfenstein. Severin Blindebacher is skating on the 2nd line and is paired up with 84-born Tim Ramholt of ZSC Lions. Both players were so kind to answer some questions right after the game vs Canada today.

HF: Switzerland had a big win over Finland on the first day. Did that surprise you?
B: In hockey everything is possible and we took our chances well and scored some important goals at the right time in the game. Our defense was also very solid which helped us getting this good result.
F: This was a big game for us so we were ready for it. Our solid defensive play helped us getting this result.

HF: What did you expect for today´s game vs Canada?
B: We tried to defend tightly and were hoping we could score some goals to get a good result from this game.
F: We hoped we could win this game so we would be top in our group, but we realized Canada is a very strong team, not only techincally but also physically.

HF: Switzerland lost 6-1 today, what you feel went wrong?
B: Our defense was not ready for this game and against a good team like Canada with top offensive players it will kill you. Read more »

Swiss WJC player report

by Joeri Loonen
on

Tobias Stephan:2002 draft eligible Stephan who got a 17-save shutout in the first game against Finland played well in the game vs Canada as well despite finding the puck behind him 6 times. This was mainly due to a fatigued Swiss defense in the third period. Stephan prevented the Candians to go into double figures with some excellent saves. The EHC Chur goalie was especially quick with covering up rebounds and closed his legs in time to prevent 5-hole goals. He
wasn’t to be blamed for any of the Canadian goals in the game and Switzerland know they have a more than safe goalie in their net for the rest of the tournament.

Rene Back: This EHC Chur defenseman logged a lot of ice time on the first line and played well for the first two periods were he showed his capabilities
as a physically strong defenseman. Back was delivering hits allover the place and gave the Candians forwards a hard time setting up plays in the offensive zone

Beat Forster: The Phoenix Coyotes prospect showed himself as a physical presence as well along with Back on the Swiss first line defence. Forster won’t score many points but is steady on his feet and uses his body well.

Thibaut Monnet: Speedy forward that needs to add some strength. He is to become a top sniper in the Swiss league, but hasn’t been drafted. He didn’t have
a great game today, depsite scoring Switzerland’s only goal, mainly because of the physical power the Canadian defense had.

Andreas Camenzind: Captain of team Switzerland and he showed today that he deserved to be so. He showed lea Read more »

OHL Mid-Season Review

by Brad Coccimiglio
on

The first half of the OHL season produced some surprises and changes but for the most part it gave fans an idea that anything can happen in the OHL. Here’s a team-by-team review of the first half of the OHL season. (Note: Teams are listed in order of the standings)


Eastern Conference

1. Barrie Colts (35 Games Played, 21-10-4-0 record, 46 points)

The Colts are rebounding from an off-season and have been playing well this year. The Colts have played well enough to put themselves in a position to bid for the Memorial Cup. Goaltender David Chant has the lowest Goals Against Average in the OHL with a 2.09 mark. He has come on in the latter part of the first half and could be a threat in the Colts goal come playoff time.

2. Peterborough Petes (37 Games Played, 16-12-5-4 record, 41 points)

The Petes entered the break having gone 2-6-2 in their last 10 games but suffered an overtime loss in North Bay to move 1 point ahead of Ottawa the East Division. Greg Chambers and Eric Staal have been key to the Petes success and have put up solid numbers in the first half. They will need to continue their solid play through the rest of the season.

3. Toronto St. Michael’s Majors (36 Games Played, 19-11-6-0 record, 44 points)

Goaltenders Peter Budaj and Andy Chiodo, despite being involved in trade talks almost all season, have put up solid numbers as the Majors continue to play good hockey. With Budaj holding the 2nd best GAA in the OHL at 2.37, goaltending will be the key to any second half suc Read more »

Western Hockey League – Standings and Scoring Leaders

by HF Staff
on

WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE – STANDINGS AND SCORING LEADERS



Eastern Conference GPWLTOTLGFGAPtsLast 10Streak

East Division

Regina Pats 3921113413096498-1-11T Brandon Wheat Kings34211102127105447-3-03W Moose Jaw Warriors41162041125140374-5-11L Prince Albert Raiders37132013119150306-4-02W Saskatoon Blades37112042101134281-8-11W

Central Division

Swift Current Broncos38231032140113516-4-01L Red Deer Rebels 3621105011988473-6-13W Lethbridge Hurricanes36181260132107423-5-22L Calgary Hitmen 36171810135139357-3-01L Medicine Hat Tigers40152311141181325-5-01L

Western Conference

B.C. Division

Prince George Cougars352193213093475-4-11L Kamloops Blazers34211012133109455-5-01W Kootenay Ice 38191630138121414-6-03L Kelowna Rockets 36141723123123333-7-05L Vancouver Giants369232 2107171224-6-01W

U.S. Division

Spokane Chiefs 39221232127113494-4-21W Portland Winter Hawks35171233137117405-4-11L Tri-City Americans37161830122135353-6-11W Seattle Thunderbirds36102321106157234-4-22L LEADING SCORERS Player, Club GPGAPts+/-PIMPPGSHGGWGGTG Barrett, Nathan, LET362433576529351 Kopecky, Tomas, LET3221284916587121 Balej, Josef, POR33262248122212220 Jo Read more »

WJC games recap – Day 3

by Ivana Paulova
on

Written by Ivana Paulova and Robert Neuhauser

Another playing day in Pardubice and Hradec Kralove ended by disappointment for Czech players.
Czechs lost to Slovakia 0:1, USA tied with Sweden 2:2, Canada beaten Switzerland 6:1 and Finland
won over Russia 2:1. Team Canada is performing extremly well where as young Czechs are still
struggling. You can read more about each of these games in our report.

Group A

Czech Republic – Slovakia 0:1

33:12 SVK Kopecky (Pohanka, Velebny) 1:0

Czech team started the game with offensive pressure which was due to a high number of Slovak fouls.
But the Czechs were not able to take advantage of three five on three power plays. Goalie of the Slovak
selection Peter Budaj had a great day and thanks to his unbelievable saves none of the Czech 45
shots ended in goal, Peter Budaj’s comment: “The whole team performed really well, we all
promised to work for the team and we were able to do it for the whole game. It was probably the
best game in my career and I’m happy that it was heplful for the team”
. The only goal of the
game was scored by Tomas Kopecky who performed really
well and he appears to be in a great shape at this tournament. On the Czech side Ales Hemsky was
awarded the best player and he responded to the game: I think we played well but didn’t
have luck on our side. We didn’t score so we couldn’t win. During power plays we missed
explosiveness. We were a bit nervous as well”
. He had couple of good opportunities but did not
manage to score Read more »

Centennials On The Move

by Brad Coccimiglio
on

After 20 years, the city of North Bay is losing their junior hockey franchise.

The announcement was made this morning at an 11 a.m. news conference. Centennials co-owner has sold the team to a Saginaw, Michigan group that is headed by Wren Blair and Richard J. Garber.

Garber is the owner and president of Garber Management Group, which operates Garber Buick as well as seven other car companies in Michigan, Illinois and Florida.

Through their first 15 home games this season the Centennials have reportedly lost around $5000 per game and over the past several seasons have lost more than $200,000 per season. The team was averaging 2,298 fans per home game through the end of November. Only the Kingston Frontenacs, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors and Brampton Battalio have averaged less fans per game.

The Centennials will play out of the 6,000 seat Saginaw County Event Center next fall. The arena underwent a $14 million American renovation project recently as well.

This isn’t the first time that the Centennial franchise has been sold or re-located. The franchise entered the OHL as the St. Catharines Blackhawks in 1973-74, then moved to Niagra Falls before the 1976-77 season before moving to North Bay in 1982-83.

New co-owner Wren Blair had initially attemted to bring an expansion OHL franchise to the city of Saginaw but was turned down. The city was reportedly on a list of possible sites for the OHL to expand to but when Blair attempted to bring a franchise to the city the OHL was not yet ready for another expansion.

Blair has been involved i Read more »

HF Chats with Hawks prospect Mikhail Yakubov

by Jonathan Litterine
on

Red Deer Rebels center Mikhail Yakubov was selected 10th overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. This is his first year in North America. He previously played for Lada Togiatti in Russia.

Hockey’s Future: What were your thoughts about being drafted by such a classic team like Chicago?

Mikhail Yakubov: I was just happy to be selected, it really didn’t matter which team.

HF: Many Russians stay at home in Russia and play before trying to crack an NHL roster, why did you come over to North America?

MY: I signed with Chicago and they sent me to Red Deer, they felt I would get more playing time.

HF: How so enjoy playing in Red Deer?

MY: It’s been a lot of fun, the team is good and I get to play a lot. The long road trips are tough though.

HF: Being that this is your first season in North America, how has the lifestyle adjustment affected you?

MY: It’s been a very easy transition. The lifestyle in Canada is a little different than Russia but not that much.

HF: What do you feel the strongest/weakest parts of your game are?

MY: I’m not really sure. I’m always trying to improve both offensively and defensively.

HF: The Blackhawks never even interviewed you prior yo the Draft because they didn’t think you would be there at Number 10, were you surprised they selected you?

MY: I didn’t try to guess who would take me. I just figured I would go in the first round and that’s what happened.

HF: You had Read more »

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