Rats are re-stocked with veterans
The New Jersey Devils have bolstered the Albany River Rats with the signing of three veteran players in the past week. Forwards Bruce Gardiner and Steve Guolla and defenseman Joel Bouchard joined the club and played this past weekend.
While the mission of the minor league club continues to be developing “prospects” for the NHL, in a nod to the more competitive nature of the American Hockey League in recent years (a trend accelerated by the merger or acquisition of former International Hockey League teams), the Devils for the first time in recent memory will have a roster that will allow the team to field a maximum of six “veterans”.
The incoming players join Richard Rochefort, Sylvain Cloutier (out with a knee injury) and Ted Drury. These players, as well as Gardiner, Guolla and Bouchard have played more than 260 combined NHL and AHL games.
The Devils and Rats have not gone overboard, and will not face the situation of being forced to sit a veteran every game to avoid the veteran player ceiling. Indeed, as of the moment, with Captain Sylvain Cloutier still out with a knee injury, the Rats have only five “veterans” on the roster.
The transactions which bolstered the River Rats started on October 21, when the Devils signed Gardiner and Guolla. They were placed on waivers, and after getting no takers from NHL clubs, were assigned to Albany. Both were in the starting lineup on Friday as the River Rats visited Rochester. Bouchard was signed on October 25 and cleared waivers the next day Read more »
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Greg Pankewicz — Pensacola Ice Pilots
The 6-0 and 200-pound Pankewicz scored two goals and had five assists in
Pensacolao’s two games at Florida over the weekend, and he leads the East
Coast Hockey League with 13 assists and 17 points in seven games.
GOALIE OF THE WEEK:
Tyrone Garner — Greenville Grrrowl
The 23-year-old Garner went 2-1-0 with a 1.88 goals against average and a
.950 save percentage while playing three games in three nights. He opened
the week with a 3-1 loss against Trenton on Thursday, but rebounded on
Friday making 39 saves and picking up an assist in a 4-1 win against Macon.
The 6-3 and 200-pound Garner closed out the week with 35 saves in a 4-1 win
at Richmond to improve to 4-2-1 with a 1.82 goals against average and a .942
save percentage. Garner, who was drafted in the fourth round (96th overall)
by the New York Islanders in 1996, leads the ECHL with 211 saves.
NORTHERN CONFERENCE NOTES:
ROANOKE: The Roanoke Express lost in regulation for the first time this
season in Charlotte on Friday night, but bounced back on Saturday beating
Wheeling. The Express is now 6-1-1 and faces a home and home series against
Atlantic City this weekend. Goal scorers this week : Rick Kowalsky, Joe
Dusbabek, Bret DeCecco, Frank Novock, and Terence Tootoo.
The Renegades are now 5-2 after splitting two games at home last
weekend. Rod Taylor played in his 596th career ECHL game Saturday. He can
tie the league record held by Bob Woods Sunday in Cincinnati. T Read more »
Jay McClement (St. Louis Blues, 2nd round 2001)
Jay has good reason to be very proud of his first 15 games of the 2001-2002 season. In fact, apart from Battalion captain Kurt MacSweyn, it could easily be said that Jay has been the team’s best two-way forward, a style of play that he will definitely depend on if and when he cracks the Blues’ lineup.
After potting 30 goals in his sophomore OHL season, he has continued that pace in his third year in the league, with 7 goals in his first 15 games. What’s more, he has been able to keep up that pace without the benefit of Raffi Torres (now with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL) and Lukas Havel (playing professionally in the Czech Republic) as his linemates. Several of his goals have been of the highlight variety, including a short-handed marker against the Erie Otters that featured him splitting the defence and putting a move on Adam Munro that still has Munro looking for his jockstrap. McClement has only three assists thus far this year, due to several factors. For one, McClement’s versatility allows coach Stan Butler to play him in all situations, including defensive roles that don’t allow McClement to play with the team’s more offensive weapons. Perhaps more importantly, his left winger (Chris Rowan) has taken until the last few games to get untracked, and his right winger (Aaron Van Leusen – Detroit, 4th round 2000) has missed nine games with an injury.
McClement is the type of player that any coach wants on the ice to protect a one-goal lead in the final minute. His innate ability to g Read more »
The season has started and the early season marks are already starting to come in. There are a few surprises and a few things that, well, aren’t such surprises. In the Eastern Division the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are in 1st place by percentage points. Going off of total points, they are tied for first with the Des Moines Buccaneers and the Rochester Mustangs. The Mustangs are the biggest surprise of the season to date. Last season the Mustangs mustered only 11 victories and they are off to a 6-4 start. In the Western Division the Sioux Falls Stampede lead the way with a 9-2 record for 18 points but the Sioux City Musketeers are right on their heels with a 8-2 record for 16 points.
Superstar Thomas Vanek of the Sioux Falls Stampede is currently leading the league in scoring with 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points. Vanek has already registered two hat tricks, against Tulsa and Sioux City. Not far behind are three Sioux City Musketeers, Brad Zancanaro (7-16-23), Brandon Schwartz (8-13-21) and Matt Ciancio (7-10-17).
Just as it was last season Art Femenella of the Sioux City Musketeers and Tim Conboy are fighting for the penalty minutes lead. In 9 games Femenella already has 52.
As always, this league is full of fantastic goaltenders and this year is no different. So far, the top goaltender in the league statistically wise is Kris Mayotte of Sioux City. In 5 games he is 5-0 with a 1.40 GAA and .942 saves percentage. Bobby Goepfert, considered by most, including myself, the top minder in the league, is currently 6-2 with a 2.32 GAA Read more »
The tragic events of September 11th, and their aftermath, have directly affected all aspects of life including the world of sports. There is a heightened awareness regarding safety procedures at major sporting events as individuals work diligently to implement new security measures. This period in history may ultimately lead to the way we perceive sports and athletes in general.During the past week, I had the privilege to drive across Canada. I passed through numerous cities such as London and Dryden, Ontario which are the hometowns of Brendan Shanahan and Chris Pronger along with various other hockey players at all levels. I really attempted to visualize how their lives have changed during the recent global turmoil. Many Canadian born players now reside in the United States and hockey, as with other sports, requires a great deal of travel. How do they feel regarding the uncertainty of our times? How does the time away from family and friends affect them individually and professionally when they step onto the ice? Are they concerned about the growing need for increased security at games? These questions, along with others, occupied a great deal of time during my forty hour drive. Even though it was difficult to attain any meaningful resolutions, I rationalized that they must feel like the majority of North Americans……sad, angry and uncertain. This train of thought inevitably left me yearning for the days of old.Remember when we didn’t have to worry about who was sitting next to us at the hockey game? Remember when all we had to Read more »
The Kamloops Blazers returned from a six game road trip to the eastern division of the WHL and returned with a 2-2-1-1 record, while overall they sit 9-3-1-1, with twenty points and a slim one point advantage over the Kootenay Ice. The Blazers do hold four games in hand over the Ice, however you need to win those games for it to make any difference. The Blazers were missing some key players in Jarrett Lukin, Conlan Seder, Colton Orr, Jared Aulin and Paul Brown for either all or some of the games, but Seder was the only defenseman missing, which doesn’t help explain why the Blazers were out shot on average, forty to twenty six on the six game trip. Kamloops will need to improve in this area as they face U.S. Division leading Spokane, the tough Prince George Cougars and intense rivals the Kelowna Rockets this week.
The Kootenay Ice are nipping at the Blazers heels with an 8-7-3 record, good for nineteen points and second place, albeit having played four more games then the Blazers. The record is still pretty impressive for the Ice however, as they have played without super playmaker Jarrett Stoll and standout goaltender Dan Blackburn. Stoll is out with a serious hand injury and Blackburn continues to play for the New York Rangers. The Ice also lost the services of import sniper Marek Svatos in an October 17 game against the Red Deer Rebels, but have gone an impressive four wins and two times in the six games since he went down. Import rookie Tomas Plihal has picked up the slack, scoring seven goals and picking up four helpers in the six games while Colin Sinclair (8 Read more »
Ice hot: First-time pro Tyler Arnason has jump-started his first gig in the AHL. The twenty-three year-old center, has recorded (3)goals (5)assists with (8) points in his first twelve games. Also, the Oklahoma City native has spent the last three seasons with ST. Cloud ST. (WCHL) and recorded (28) goals (28) assists (56) points in the 2000-2001 season. Chicago’s seventh round draft pick (183rd overall) recorded a career high in assists (45) with the Winnipeg Blues (MJHL) in 1996-97.
A veteran takes center stage: When it comes to bravery on the ice Veteran Peter White has shown that within the city of “Brotherly Love” for last seven seasons. But the Philadelphia Flyers were reluctant to resign the free agent this fall. And in turn, Chicago’s GM, Mike Smith, signed him to the Admirals in September. The center is currently ranked third in the AHL in assists (8) and enjoyed his 400th AHL assist on the road against Lowell last week.
Russell hustles: (RW) Bobby Russell has not recorded an AHL goal in his first seven games this season, but last weekend the former ECHLer fired two shots that helped speed his team towards victory. Russell, a former Hampton Roads Admirals (ECHL), was under the former direction of the legendary John Brophy (now with the Wheeling Nailers) through 1998-00 season. Known for his speed, he posted over goals (30) assists(65). Also, the six-foot winger skated with Jackson Bandits last season and accumulated goals (38) assists (30) points (68). Trent Yawney (head coach) was impressed with the speed of the Canadian native at training cam Read more »
In front of the largest crowd the team has attracted this year, the Brampton Battalion skated to a 3-3 tie with Rick Nash and the London Knights. The tie was Brampton’s second in as many afternoons, and extended their unbeaten streak to 4 games.
The game started with great scoring opportunities for both teams. Brad Topping was called on to make a tough stop on a Nash slapper from the faceoff circle at the ten-second mark. On the very next shift, Knights goalie Glen Ridler made a spectacular glove save on Chris Rowan from fifteen feet out.
But as they have been doing more often in recent games, Brampton potted the first goal, as the white-hot Kurt MacSweyn corralled the puck in the slot, turned, and fired a low shot that beat Knights goalie Glen Ridler to the glove side. The goal was MacSweyn’s eighth of the year, and his fifth in the last three games. Of particular note on that goal is that it featured left winger Tyler Harrison’s first OHL point. Harrison saw more ice time today than he has seen in recent contests as he was inserted into MacSweyn’s line for the injured Adam Henrich. Skatin’ Clayton drew the other assist.
The lead was short-lived, however, as London tied the game soon after when Patrick Barbieri took a pass in the slot and fired a low shot that Topping stopped, but allowed a rebound right back to Barbieri who popped the puck between Topping’s legs as he moved to his left.
The Knights took the lead on the power play with Patrick Turcotte in the box for interference (a questionable call, in Sea Bass’ opinion). Knights c Read more »
The Swift Current Broncos continue to lead the Central Division with twenty five points from an 11-2-3-1 record, while the Red Deer Rebels are only a point back with a 11-1-3 record, good for 24 points, however the Reb’s have two games in hand over the Broncos.
The Broncos are led by sniper Tim Smith (26 pts), Brent Twordik (24 pts) and sophomore defenseman Ian White(24 pts) offensively, but the Broncos have depth in scoring with guys like Nathan Smith (currently injured), James Hiebert (17 pts), Duncan Milroy (16 pts), Ben Ondrus (13 pts) and Ales Cerny (11 pts). While the Broncos can throw three lines capable of scoring at you each night, each line is also responsible defensively. When Nathan Smith returns, the Broncos will be a tough team to keep off the score sheet.
Defensively, the Broncos are led by Ian White, a small but gifted defenseman who is also capable in his own end, but guys like Ales Cerny, hard hitting and tough Steven Spencer, Jarad Bourassa and Kevin Seibel solidify the defence, while rookie Travis Friedlay rounds out the group. In goal the Broncos have two solid netminders in overage B.J Boxma (6-2-1, 3.13 GAA, .902 save %) and seventeen year old Todd Ford (5-1-1, 1.84 GAA, .930 save %). Teams looking to make a long playoff run need solid goaltending and the Broncos are in the position of having two “go to guys”. Either Boxma or Ford can be used in any situation and lend confidence to the team, so come playoff time all is well between the pipes for the Broncos.
Swift Current is solid from front to back, however if there is a weakness Read more »
The Western Hockey League is well represented in this week’s Top 10 Canadian Hockey League Teams ranking. Strong team play enabled the Red Deer Rebels to remain 1st overall for the fourth consecutive week.
#1 Rebel Notes: Individual leaders for the Rebels include stellar goaltending by Columbus Blue Jacket property Shane Bendera and play-making by highly touted Russian Center Mikhail Yakubov, the 2000 1st Round Draft Pick of the Chicago Blackhawks. Bendera is standing firm on a tiny 1.58 GAA and a SV% of .942!!! That is absolutely sick! Yakubov leads the team in scoring with a balanced 8 Goals and 11 Assists, but a puzzling 0+/-. Not exactly the type of two-way play you will need to survive in an NHL uniform. However, the 19 year old WHL rookie is adjusting smoothly to the punishment and grind of the tough Western Hockey League schedule.
#4 Bronco Notes: Individual leaders for the Broncos include yappy-mouthed Vancouver Canuck Draft Pick Tim Smith and goal-scoring talent Duncan Milroy, a 2001 Montreal Canadiens Draft Pick. Diminutive winger Tim Smith is putting his war of words with former-employer, the Spokane Chiefs, behind him and is concentrating on finding the open man. As a result, he leads the team in scoring with 9 goals and 17 assists in 17 games. Milroy is letting his goal-scoring ability do his talking as he has potted 12 goals in as many games and added four assists. Four of his goals have come on the man-advantage, while two have come while short-handed, leaving opposing coaches pulling their hair ou Read more »