They say “Home is where the heart is.” For the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins a homecoming was long overdue, but well worth the wait. After starting the season off in a slump, and starting the season on the road, the “Jr. Pens” finally had their chance to embrace a town which had been anxiously awaiting their arrival. To say it was love at first sight would be an understatement. The home opening game against Kentucky was sold out within an hour after tickets went on sale (Oct. 22nd). Wilkes-Barre had high hopes for this new team, and the Penguins were not about to disappoint them. Victory was inevitable.
Greg Crozier started off the scoring with a power play goal (assisted by Morozov & Bonvie) at 3:24 of the first period. From that moment forward it seemed as though the hockey gods were playing for the Penguins. At one point Kentucky tried to rally back, tying the game 2-2, but failed to keep Pomichter and Slaney from joining their determined teammate, Crozier, on the scoreboard. What better way to say, “Thank you,” and “Welcome Home,” to the fans, than with a 4-2 victory dance.
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Prince George may have come second in the Randy Lindros Memorial Tournament, held Nov. 11- 14 in
Kamloops, but their team speed and relentless work ethic was a pleasure to watch. Kelowna, another very
good team in their own right, won in overtime after allowing the Cougars to claw their way back from a 3-1
deficit in the third period, but it was a couple of Prince George kids who really caught my eye. Paul Brown, a
fourth overall pick by the Regina Pats of the WHL in the first round of this years annual Bantam Draft and
Gary Gladue, a third round selection, taken 46th overall by his hometown WHL P.G. Cougars were standouts
all tournament long and led a well coached, disciplined team to within one goal of the tournament
championship. Speedy and slick passing Mark Nelson and Tyler Scofield were another pair of young
Cougars who stood out but it seemed when the chips were down it was Brown and Gladue that took the
team to the next level.
Paul Brown was a highly touted prospect going into the 99 WHL Bantam Draft and ended up going to the
Regina Pats, who must be delighted with their pick if this tournament was any indication of his talents. In
the five games I attended, Paul totalled 3 goals and assisted on seven others and if it weren’t for goal posts Read more »
Today may seem like a normal day for Kings’ fans, but according to the hype, the greatest player in the history of hockey, Jere Karalahti, will arrive in LA today to lead the Kings to the first of several Stanley Cups. Karalahti is 7’3″ and weighs a svelte 356 pounds. His slap shot has been clocked at light speed and he had 85 goals in 36 games last season. His hip checks have nearly ended the careers of dozens of players and he posted 1,456 PIM’s last year.
While these numbers are false, Jere Karalahti comes to LA amid so much hype that it is difficult to discern fact from fiction. This column will attempt to separate what is rumor and what is truth.
Jere Karalahti was drafted by the Kings with the 146th pick in the 1993 NHL draft. This 6’2, 210 pound defenseman is now 24 after playing in the Finnish Elite League and the hockey World Cups since 93. Much of the hype surrounding Jere came a couple of years ago when Sports Illustrated disclosed that nearly every potential King trade that season hit a snag when teams would demand that this European defenseman be included in any deal. While that may have been true, Karalahti was exposed in the Nashville expansion draft. There are several reasons for that, the most likely is that Dave Taylor made side deals (Marian Cisar and Vitali Yachmenev) with the Predators so they would not take certain players, like Karalahti.
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News And Notes:
It is now the eighth week of the season and the Ice stand with a record of 11-5-4-0 (7-3-1-0 at home and 4-2-3-0 on the road.) The Ice are currently in second place in the Central division and are closing in on rivals, the Calgary Hitmen. The Ice are on a six-game unbeaten streak and have won their last 5 games.
What A Trip:
The Ice became the first Eastern Conference team in history to ever win all three games on the road against Canadian Western Conference teams. (Kamloops 3-2, Kelowna 4-2 and Prince George 6-2.) The Ice have tied their franchise record for consecutive road wins (3) and are unbeaten in their last four road games (3-0-1.)
Green Almost Number One:
Mike Green needs only nine more points to become the all-time franchise leader in career points (154 set by Jay Henderson 1996-1998.) Green leads the team in scoring on the road and also leads the team in plus minus with a plus 13. Green is the all-time Kootenay leader in career assists with 83.
Forward Tyler Beechey still remains out of the line-up with a shoulder injury and Steve McCarthy has missed the last three games with a slight knee strain.
Who’s Doing What?:
Goaltender Dan Blackburn is 5-1-0-0 in his last six starts with a .233 GAA, .910 Save Percentage and has had eight shutout periods.
Jason Jaffray has scored at least one point in his last four games (2-6-8 in span.)
Brad Tutschek scored the game-winning goal against both Kamloops and Kelowna on this last road trip.
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The Kamloops Blazers found another diamond in the rough, drafting Eric Christensen in the sixth round, 101st overall in the 1998 WHL Bantam Draft and the young man, who doesn’t turn 16 until mid-December, is already turning heads with his early season play. The 6’1, 170-pound winger has drawn praise for his awareness on the ice and gritty play at such a young age, leading Barry Trapp of the Canadian World Junior Team selection committee, who was attending a recent Blazer game to scout talent for the upcoming WJC, to shake his head at the unlimited potential of this guy. During an early season game against the Prince George Cougars, Christensen stood out not only for his heads up offensive play, but also for bloodying the nose of 17-year-old Jonathan Parker during a line brawl. This combination of skill and toughness is not often found in 15-year-old rookies in the WHL nevermind a sixth round pick. The Blazers also have the first and second round picks from the same draft in their line up, but Christensen is drawing most of the attention as a potential franchise player.
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Another potential first rounder from the Czech Republic is Vaclav Nedorost, a rising star in Czech Hockey. Playing on the Czech under 18 National team, Vaclav is showing scouts all over the world the skills that he possesses and is definitely making a name for himself. Vaclav is an excellent skater with the solid ability to handle the puck at top speed. One of the attributes that Vaclav has shown is his great hockey sense despite his tender age. He is able to slow down the game to allow himself more time to distinguish what to do with or without the puck. A finesse player who has great hands, Nedorost certainly does not shy away from the physical play; in fact he thrives on it. He is a hungry player who constantly wants to better himself as a player.
At 16 years of age, Nedorost has already played 7 games in the Czech Extra league, which is the top division in the Czech Republic. He garnered 2 assists playing against much older players. This is something that rarely happens to have someone so young playing at such a high level.
Nedorost will certainly be a top pick in the 2000 draft and we will follow him throughout the year to see how he is reacting to the pressures of being a top pick.
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Many surprises have taken place a little over a month into the 1999-2000 OHL season.
There are the usual surprise teams that have made early surges into the top of their division
and there have been the teams that were predicted to be strong contenders that slipped to the
basement. But the biggest surprise that has taken place that has fans around the province taking
note is the production of the league’s rookies early in the season.
Usually, teams this early in the season tend to lean on their older, more experienced
players to get the team on the right track and to help the younger players adjust to the league.
This OHL season has been somewhat of an exception as the rookies have stepped up and have become
the players that team relies on in the late stages of a close game. In most cases, these players
have delivered. Derek Roy, the 16 year old rookie for the Kitchener Rangers, is currently leading
the league in rookie scoring and is also leading his team. This is common in the league, where
the leading scorer for the team is a rookie. It represents a strong future for the league and
many great players on the horizon.
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The player referred to by some as simply “The Bear” played for the St.
Albert Saints from 1981 through to 1983 and judging by his stellar career
both on and off the ice it almost seems like the Alberta Junior Hockey
League mission statement was written for him.
It states in part, “Our League supports its players through assistance in
their academic, athletic and personal lives throughout their pursuit of
Berezan has certainly excelled both athletically and academically. He spent
parts of ten seasons in the NHL, appearing in two Stanley Cup Finals. He
also took advantage of the scholarship he achieved through hockey and is now
an accomplished financial advisor with Nesbitt-Burns in Calgary.
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After a month of nearly horrible hockey for the New York Rangers, it is grading time. Being the New York Rangers, this will be short as there are few rookies. So we will add grades to some other players as well, most of them 2nd year and those in the AHL, at Hartford.
Mike York 5.10 170 (USA)
York has taken full opportunity of being the No. 2 center by default. York possesses a nice touch, hard shot, and never say die work ethic. York has played well through the first month of the season, and is entrenched at No. 2 but receives No. 1 center minutes. York, now on a line with Adam Graves and Theo Fleury, has only helped bring up the play of the two struggling veterans. As of now, Mike York is the top center on this New York Rangers club.
Kim Johnsson 6.01 188 (SWE)
Johnsson came in to the camp as an unknown commodity. Being the last pick in the draft, Johnsson went out to prove something. He played as Sweden`s best defender at the World Championships in Norway catching the eye of General Manager Neil Smith. Johnsson still makes the rookie mistake, but has shown that he can hit, skate and pass. A solid team player, Johnsson has moved steadily up the depth chart and is more valuable than anyother Rangers defender this side of Brian Leetch. Johnsson plays like a seasoned veteran and if he is kept in New York through these worried times, he will be a top NHL defender. At this point, Johnsson is the best Rangers’ defenseman in my book. He needs about 15 pounds to his frame, but that will come.
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If the Saints are in the lead in the dying seconds of a hockey game, you can be assured that Kris Liber will be on the ice.
Liber, 19, is one of the top defensive forwards in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He is a premiere faceoff man, a tenacious penalty killer and an agitator. If the AJHL kept track of hits as a statistic like the NHL does, Liber would without a doubt be among the league leaders.
He stands at 5-foot-7 and weighs in at 170 pounds but plays six inches taller and 30 pounds heavier.
“I really enjoy my role. Give me penalties and I’ll kill them,” he said last season.
Liber became a fixture on the St. Albert Saints hockey club at the start of the 1997-98 AJHL playoffs and hasn’t looked back since. He played the majority of the 97-98 season with the Maple Leaf Athletic Club (Midget AAA) and had 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists) in 32 games. When the AJHL playoffs started up the Saints took the opportunity to put Liber on the roster. It was invaluable experience for Liber as they went on to win the AJHL Championship and play in the Doyle Cup-the annual playoff between the best of the AJHL and BCHL-against the Surrey Eagles.
“It was a great experience when I got picked up by the Saints,” he said. “They treat you like gold. It was an unbelievable feeling to even go to the Doyle Cup.”
Liber lists the victory in seven games over the Fort Saskatchewan Traders in the AJHL championship as his favourite moment as a Saint to date.
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