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 »
Patrick Roy’s Olympic Meddle
The Canadian Olympic men’s hockey team was dealt a blow when Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche announced that he would not be participating in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, choosing instead to focus on the NHL season and the playoffs in the spring. The announcement came as a bit of a shock to the hockey world, but upon further examination it is not really much of a surprise when you consider the sum of the parts that make up the most successful goaltender in NHL history.
There are a few things you quickly notice about Patrick Roy as you watch him. First is his immense talent. The guy really knows how to stop a puck. He has combined lightning quick reflexes with an uncanny ability to out think a shooter to become a wall in goal. He has taken advantage of every technology change possible to keep his game at a level that few have ever managed to attain. He uses his over-sized equipment to cover as much of the net as humanly possible and makes the shooter fire at targets that aren’t there. It’s hard to believe that his six foot, one hundred and ninety pound frame, can be so intimidating to NHL snipers, but when you add on the largest pads in the game it becomes clear as to a portion of where his success stems. When you combine these features together you have a package that is the most successful goaltender that has played the game.
The second thing you notice about Patrick Roy is his competitive spirit. He hates to lose. You don’t put together the numbers he has without having the desire to go ou Read more »
Wheeling center Chris Wells is the InGlasCo Player of the Week.
The 6-6 and 230-pound Wells scored three goals and five points while helping Wheeling score five points in three games and even its record at 8-8-1. The 26-year-old Wells scored the game-winning goal in Wheeling’s 3-2 win against Northern Conference leader Trenton on Thursday. He came back the following night and scored a pair of goals, including the game winner, and had an assist as the Nailers won 5-3 at Johnstown. He closed out the week with an assist in Wheeling’s 3-2 shootout loss against Cincinnati on Saturday. On behalf of Chris Wells, a case of pucks will be donated to a Wheeling area youth hockey organization by InGlasco, the official puck supplier of the ECHL.
Augusta’s Gregg Naumenko is the ECHL Goalie of the Week
TEAM NOTES :
WHEELING : Read more »