News & Features
When the East Coast Hockey League subsided after a decade in Norfolk. The romance seemed to be over for the Hampton Roads fans and for the region. The golden years of ECHL hockey found a resting place in the pages of history. However, a new chapter with the American Hockey League sculpted a new beginning—not only for the local hockey connoisseurs but also for winger bruiser Aaron Downey.
Last season marked the first year of the AHL Norfolk Admirals and the return of former Hampton Roads Admiral (ECHL) (career total of 20 (G) 19 (A) 39 (PTS) 693 (P.I.M)) from a five-year absence. After his shift with the Hampton Roads Admirals, the Ontario native’s luggage spent a majority of time in Providence (Boston Bruins). Years later, Downey found himself back in Norfolk where it all began. Last season, the Norfolk Admirals opened its doors for the first time and needed an old fan favorite with a big presence on the ice. General Manager Al MacIsaac (Norfolk) insisted that Aaron have a homecoming and Chicago’s Mike Smith signed him as a free agent last August. The right wing recorded a career high in assists (15) and sealed last season with 6 (G) 15 (A) 21 (Pts) 234 (P.I M.). Yet, Chicago had other plans.
With Chicago’s anorexic start last season, morale needed to be fattened on the bench. Noted for his presence in the locker room, Norfolk’s former team captain caught the attention of Mike Smith. And in turn, Chicago sent Downey a ticket last season. Consequently, the ticket was a round trip, but his leadership already made an impression on the Hawks inner circl Read more »
The Calder Corner
Goaltenders get their due
Goaltenders finally got some recognition this week for the Albany River Rats. Not that they have not played well to date, but the team’s record (one win in the first 17 games going into this week) overshadowed the performance between the pipes.
This past week, though, Devils’ prospects Ari Ahonen and Jean-Francois Damphousse both got some notice in the press. Ahonen got his first professional victory in the American Hockey League, as he stopped 38 of 39 shots on Saturday, November 24, 2001 as the River Rats beat the Rochester Americans, 3-1. It was only the second victory in the campaign through 20 games. Ahonen earned “third star” for his efforts.
J.F. Damphousse got his first start in the NHL. Though he took a loss, as the Devils were unable to score against Tampa Bay’s Khabibulin, Damphousse made 20 saves on 22 shots. One of the goals was a power play marker; the other was a rebound shot. Media reports gave Damphousse favorable grades for his NHL debut. He was credited with showing “poise”, a term that certainly reflected his AHL performance the past several seasons as he played in front of a weak Albany defense (judged historically).
Damphousse, the Devils’ 1st choice (24th overall) in the 1997 entry draft, hopes for a few more starts with the Devils, sandwiched in between Martin Brodeur’s assignments. If he does not get another start soon, he will probably be sent back to Albany, where he has split time with Ari Ahonen and Scott Clemmensen. All three are promising prospects, though Read more »
The one area that the Kootenay ICE have been so solid in this season. The one area that has bailed the club out from at times, indifferent play this season. The one area fans could point to in proof that the club indeed belonged in the upper echelon of the WHL – special teams. It is an area that has become a frozen wasteland of late and is a telltale sign of the club’s downward trend that has seen them lose two in a row and the last four of five at the Cranbrook Rec/Plex.
When you lose, you look for excuses. The first place the ICE could look is their special teams, with a rider attached to the word ‘special’, as in, not very.
In the last five games at the ‘Plex, the ICE are running a paltry pace of a 10% efficiency rate with the man-advantage, just about a full 20% off the 29.7% clip the club was enjoying before the home site slide of the last five games. On the other side of the sheet the kill rate while disadvantaged has plunged from a healthy 90.9% success rate to a questionable percentage of just over 79%.
If you consider the trend of games hovering around the one third mark with either a man up or a man down, the numbers begin to speak volumes. It’s a sound Coach Ryan McGill doesn’t like listening to. “Power-plays are a reflection of how hard your best players work, number one,” offered McGill in an attempt to explain his club’s demise in the specialty team department. “But it’s a double-edged sword. If they work hard but they’re not using all their talents as far as seeing lanes, seeing where guys are, basically losing the tunnel vision, then the Read more »
Raffi Torres and Jason Krog were recently called up to the Islanders from the Bridgeport SoundTigers, which allowed HF to interview one of the best prospects in the Islanders system in Raffi Torres.
Hockey’s Future: When did you get the word you had been called up?
HF: Does it help to come here and see guys like Krog and Kolnik in the lockerroom?
HF: What are you going to be thinking when you are standing there and the anthem’s playing?
HF: Do you have any idea who Peter Laviolette (Islanders Head Coach) might put you on the ice with? Maybe someone like Dave Scatchard who plays a style similar to yours?
HF: How’s Bridgeport been treating you?
HF: Do they (the Isles and SoundTigers) use a similar coaching style?
HF: Well Raffi, congratulations on your call-up and good luck. Read more »
The Elitserien is at its halfway mark and three clubs have taken possession
Another big factor in HV71’s rise to the top has been young goaltender
Another revelation for the team has been norwegian forward Per-Åge Skröder
Back-to-back champions Djurgården is again near the top of the league,
After finishing my interview with Raffi Torres on November 24th, I had a chance to sit down with the Islanders young sniper Juraj Kolnik. Drafted in the fourth round (101st overall), Kolnik is being brought along slowly by the Islanders. He has seen time on different lines (ranging from the second line to the fourth) and has gotten some power play minutes during his latest recall. Here’s what he had to say when I sat down with him before the Isles game with the Mighty Ducks.
Hockey’s Future: So what is different this time, you’re second time around with the Isles?
Juraj Kolnik: Everything is different. The speed is different; it gets a little faster from juniors to the American Hockey League and up to the NHL. The practices are different too. I’m just really excited to be here and practice with the guys and if I have a place to play with somebody I want to be ready all the time, whether its the second, third or fourth line, I just want to do my best.
HF: How does Bridgeport compare to the Isles? How is the system different?
JK: We play the same style, I mean the coach (SoundTigers Head Coach Steve Stirling) plays the same style, but there’s a big difference between the NHL and AHL.
HF: How was the switch last year, going from Lowell to Springfield?
JK: It was a great switch, I was coming from junior and wasn’t playing a lot in the AHL and I knew I could play in the AHL. I saw other guys that I had played with in the AHL, in the NHL, so I talked with my agent. I could have Read more »
2001-02 record: 6-21-1-0
With a weekly schedule that included the Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants, the Thunderbirds had a good chance to gain ground on two important Western Conference rivals, but ultimately ended the week in the conference cellar, and the worst record in the WHL. Also this week the team saw two of its players ranked for the 2002 NHL Draft by NHL Central Scouting, and loaned no-show import Andrei Mukhin to the East Division’s Saskatoon Blades.
November 21 – Tri-City 4, Seattle 2
November 23 – Vancouver 5, Seattle 5 Read more »
Summing up Lubos Velebny’s play to date, Hockey’s Future’s Analyst for the London Knights Jason Ahrens does not hesitate to say he is “disappointed with his performance so far.” While it is true, the Slovak is in the top pairing and plays heavy minutes with the club in all situations, the Knights are presently in last place in the OHL’s West Division so one might wonder where he might fit into a rotation such as Plymouth’s who are currently in first. Something that stands out to Ahrens are the lack of results offensively. “I thought he would have far more points at this stage of the season, as he plays on every power play and usually starts it. He no doubt leads the Knights and maybe the OHL in shots that are blocked, so his decision making hasn’t improved much from last year.”
Ahrens goes on to say that the rearguard “reminds me a bit of Igor Ulanov, a guy who gets too cute in his own end sometimes and gets burned as Oiler fans saw last year in playoffs several times. But has some good abilities like Ulanov and has the ability to make the big hit too. (He) definitely has big league tools, size, shot, skating are (they are all) there, (but he) needs to work on (the) tool box.”
As the Knights have been playing with only five defensemen in a few contests lately this naturally means more icetime for all of the blueliners. As with the Waterloo Blackhawks last year, Velebny looks to be struggling somewhat with the mental aspect of the game at this point and perhaps moving him up to the CHL might have been a bit too much too soon. That said, there is still over half Read more »