Entering the seventh week of the WHL West Division season things are beginning to take shape as the large descrepancy in games played amongst the teams is begining to dwindle. The Prince George Cougars currently lead the division with 22 points from eighteen games played while the second place Spokane Chiefs have twenty points from sixteen games to this point. The Tri-City Americans and Seattle Thunderbirds follow in third and fourth respectively, with the Ams having seventeen points from fourteen games played and the T-Birds with fifteen points from thirteen games. Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers have fifteen points as well, but Kelowna has played eighteen games while the Blazers lead the division with nineteen games under their belts and the Portland Winterhawks trail the field with seven points from sixteen games. My preseason picks now look dismal as the only team I’m even close to is the Portland Winterhawks in last, which I predicted but so did everyone else in the world.
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General Manager Jamie MacDonald of the Kitchener Rangers has been a busy man in 1999, recently making a number of trades, and before that, striking gold at the draft table. This years edition of the Rangers has seen 13 rookies lace up the skates, 9 from the 1999 Priority Draft and 2 from the European Import Draft.
Despite the large number of rookies on the roster, the Rangers are playing 500 hockey, averaging about 4 goals a game, and are right in the thick of things in the competitive and tight Western Conference. This bodes well for the future as many of these rookies are getting tons of ice time and will surely benefit from it.
Steve Emiger was their first round pick, 4th overall. This 185 pound defenceman stands 6 feet and 2 inches and has played a regular shift, first line power play, and killed penalties. He just turned 16 on Halloween, and the only thing scary about him is how good he could be. Due to his late birthday, he will not be drafted until the 2002 NHL entry draft, and from what I’ve seen of him so far he is first round material. He has great offensive instincts and reminds me a little of Phil Housley.
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Player: Malcolm MacMillan
Born: February 8, 1982
Hometown: Thunder Bay, Ontario
Weight: 180 lbs
Pretty much every sports team has one player that the fans truly love. Some of these players include Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings, former Detroit Lion Barry Sanders and former Detroit Tiger great Lou Whitaker.
In junior hockey there is usually not one clear cut fan favorite, but there are many of them on each team. Every so often though, a player comes out of midget and really wins over the fans more than any other player. Soo Greyhound rookie centre Malcolm MacMillan is a fan favorite in every sense of the phrase.
MacMillan was the Greyhounds 1999 second round pick (31st overall). He came into camp and won over Greyhound management with his tireless work ethic and his combination of physical play and skill.
In the 15 games that MacMillan has played this season so far he has scored 2 goals and 9 points to complement his 56 penalty minutes. His 56 penalty minutes are the 5th highest total in the league thus far.
At 5’11” MacMillan is not the most physically intimidating player in the league. It’s surprising how tough he really is though. You wouldn’t expect a lot of toughness out of a player that is 5’11”. He has already gotten into a few really good fights this season.
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As the season continues to move on in New York with a few bright new faces, Mike York, Kim Johnsson, Jan Hlavac and now Jason Doig getting some ice time, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford continues to play well under coach John Paddock.
Rangers goaltending prospect and no.1 (AHL goalie) Jean-Francois Labbe stopped 26 shots in Quebec`s ice hockey return to Hartford. Quebec had not played in Hartford since 1995 when the Nordiques played the host Hartford Whalers. Center Derek Armstrong notched a goal and an assist to lead the Hartford Wolf Pack to their fourth straight victory, 3-1 over the Quebec Citadelles. Armstrong opened the scoring 6:50 into the opening session and helped set up Drew Bannister (ex-Tampa Bay defenseman), who gave Hartford a 2-0 lead with just under seven minutes left in the second. Stephane Roy scored 35 seconds after Bannister to cut the Wolf Pack lead to one, but Labbe, who improved to 4-1-3, protected the lead by turning away all 10 shots he faced in the final period. Daniel Goneau capped the scoring with just under five minutes to play. Dan Murphy stopped 30 shots for Quebec, which lost its third in a row after starting the season 9-2-2.
-Courtesy of the Hartford Courant and compiled reports.
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Andrew Ference, the feisty young defenseman from Edmonton, has found a home in the heart of Pittsburgh. Still just 20 years of age, Ference is discovering there is much to learn before he can become a key defenseman in the NHL; the defenseman Pittsburgh so desperately needs. Spunk and spirit in tact however, he appears to be up for the challenge. Despite a rash of injuries, Andrew is definitely earning his ice time. Twelve games into the new season, he’s already been made a marked man by the New York Rangers for a hit on Petr Nedved, which occurred October 14th at Madison Square Garden. It’s that attitude and fearless nature that have Penguins fans everywhere taking a second look. This past Sunday (November 7, 1999), Andrew added to his credits by winning the “Fastest Skater” event in the Penguins annual skills competition. It just goes to show you, it’s not always the size of the player that matters. In some cases, a 5’10″ defenseman can play like a giant.
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“My grandmother was a big Leafs’ fan. She never missed a game and I basically grew up with the Leafs”, states OHL defenseman, Peter Reynolds. “Being drafted by the Leafs was just a dream come true”, he adds. The Leafs made the young defenseman their 2nd round selection, 60th overall, in the 1999 NHL entry draft.
“He views himself as a Sandis Ozolinsh-type player, but getting accustomed to the greater speed of the game is the type of thing he is making adjustments”, states North Bay coach and general manager, Mike Kelly. “He is very typical of the 1990′s type defenseman. He moves the puck well, can jump into the play, yet he is pretty responsible and physical in his own end”.
“I view myself as more of an offensive defenseman”, states Reynolds, “but I know I must make the smart decsions on the ice as to when to jump into the play or just make the safe pass out of the zone”.
Peter played his first two years with the London Knights and coach Gary Agnew was impressed with his progress. “He was a good, 2-way defenseman with us and reminded me of a young, Darryl Sydor, at a similar stage of development”, said Agnew. Reynolds did not score a goal, but had 8 assists in 55 games in 97-98. He did not register a point that year in 16 playoff games. He scored 2 goals and 25 assists for 27 pts. in 59 games in 98-99, then added 2 goals and 3 assists in 23 playoff games.
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For the week ending 11/06/99
1. Jeff Heerema, Wing – Sarnia Sting
The status quo for Jeff this week was multipoint games. He had two of them. The scoring began on October 31 in a 2-2 tie with the Plymouth Whalers. Jeff had one goal and one assist for Sarnia. Of not in this game for Hurricanes fans, is that all four goals scored involved Hurricanes prospects. Heerema had points on both Sarnia goals, while Kevin Holridge picked up an assist on one Plymouth goal and Damian Surma picked up an assist on the other Plymouth score. Heerema continued scoring in a Sarnia 4-3 victory over Erie on November 5. He bagged an overtime winning powerplay goal, for his fifth of the season. Jeff rounded out the week with two assists in a 4-4 tie with Kitchener on November 6.
2. Jaroslav Svoboda, Wing – Kootenay Ice
The numbers looked good this week for Jaroslav. Four days, three games, two goals, six assists, eight points. On November 2 he started scoring with a goal and an assist in a 5-5 tie versus Medicine Hat. On November 5, a goal, his seventh, on the powerplay and an assist in a 6-2 victory over Medicine Hat. Then on November 6, four assists in a 6-2 victory over Calgary.
3. Tommy Westlund, Wing – Carolina Hurricanes
On November 5, Tommy scored his first NHL goal in a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. His superb defensive play has given him time on both as a wing and as a center.
For the week ending 10/30/99
1. David Tanabe, Defense – Carolina Hurricanes Read more »
The Carolina Hurricanes franchise had nine first round picks from 1990 to 1999. Here is a look at who was picked by the Whalers and Hurricanes and where they ended up.
1990 Mark Greig was chosen 15th by the Whalers
1991 The Hartford Whalers picked ninth and chose Patrick Poulin
1992 Robert Petrovicky was chosen number 9 for Hartford
1993 The Whalers chose Chris Pronger with the number 2 pick
1994 Jeff O’Neill was the number 5 pick by Hartford
1995 The Hartford Whalers chose Jean-Sebastien Giguere 13th
1996 No pick in first round
1997 With the 22nd pick of the draft, the Canes selected Nikos Tselios.
1998 Selecting number 11, Carolina picked Jeff Heerema.
1999 The Hurricanes selected David Tanabe 16th.
Who is still with the organization. Read more »
Rene Bourque has remained a constant bright spot during what is becoming a disappointing season for the St. Albert Saints.
This past September Bourque, only 17 years of age, had to make the difficult decision between going the Major Junior route-he was very impressive while trying out for the Saskatoon Blades-or the US College Hockey route. Bourque chose the latter and so far has not regretted the decision.
“It was a tough decision but school-wise and for hockey I wanted to come here. I think there would be less pressure here and I would have a lot more fun,” Bourque told Jeff Hansen of the St. Albert Gazette.
Bourque is a visionary on the ice. He seems to have a knack for seeing everything that happens around him. His hockey sense is incredible. Because he has decided to go the college route, he will not be opting into the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. If he continues with his progress, however, he could easily go in the first round in 2001 pending a solid freshman year.
“Rene is one of those players that comes around every once in a while. He has good size and great skating ability and is good with the puck. I’d compare him to Jamie Lundmark,” said Saints’ general manager Marcel Viveiros. High praise considering that some say Lundmark-a former St. Albert Saint-just might end up being the best player from the 1999 Entry Draft in the long run.
Bourque’s goals are modest, however, given the high expectations that surround him.
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The Vancouver Canucks wrapped the show up last night against the Panthers with an excellent win of 3 – 2. Let’s all add another point to Schaefers list of assists. He assisted in Messiers goal as the Canucks triumphed last night over the Panthers.
Coming into the season Peter wasn’t believed to be a candidate for Rookie of the year, however with the absence of Jovo-Cop and Aucoin he was given an opportunity on the power play at the point, which was occupied by Aucoin previously. Now, he took this opportunity and now has himself listed as the NHL’s leading rookie scorer and just finished October as the Rookie of the month. Not bad for the native of Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan.
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