The United States Hockey League is rich in tradition and history. Although the Eastern Division is tough, the Western Division is usually tougher. Last season saw all six Western Division teams make the eight-team field in the playoffs with the Omaha Lancers and Lincoln Stars playing for the Clark Cup title. Things are changing a bit though as the Des Moines Buccaneers have taken their legacy back to the East while the West welcomes two new editions to the league. The Tulsa Crude and Topeka Scarecrows make their USHL debuts this season. Tulsa, who previously played in Dubuque, Iowa as the Fighting Saints, will struggle the most out of the two. Lincoln and Omaha do not appear as invincible as in recent years, although that always changes when it comes gut check time. Tri-City in the second year may not fare as well as hoped by the faithful in Kearney, Nebraska. All in all, the Western Division usually is a fight to the finish and this season will be no different.
1.Sioux Falls Stampede
Stampede is an appropriate name for this team. Since they entered the league in the 1999-2000 season, Sioux Falls never dealt with the usual problems of an expansion team. If you thought they were not able to reload then you were wrong. The Stampede is my pick to win the Western Division and my preseason pick to win the league this year. A lot can change, but this team is stocked. Thomas Vanek is the key superstar to the team this year. His cast is full of many though and although he may win the league scoring title, he won’t be at the top of the lis Read more »
Moral victory comes at a high cost
It wasn’t a win, but it sure felt like one. Both players and fans alike came away from Wednesday’s 1-1 tie game with Red Deer feeling like it was a moral victory in that it provided some pluses for a club sorely in need of good things to build on. It also proved to be very costly.
A couple of weeks ago in an interview with Rob Vanstone for The Hockey News, Jarrett Stoll lamented the bout of bad luck he’d suffered over the summer and into the beginning of the season. Referring the wrist surgery, a case of strep throat before the Calgary Flames training camp and the freak kitchen knife accident that sliced the hand of the Yorkton, Sask. native that will see him sidelined for at least another month, his mother had always told him that things happen in threes. Being prophetic about her son is one thing, being clairvoyant about predicting the early season mis-fortunes of the Kootenay ICE is quite another.
But you could use any cliche here. Bad things always happen in threes, when it rains it pours, pick one, in the recent fortunes of the Kootenay ICE, almost any apply.
Marek Svatos, the club’s leading scorer and offensive catalyst in the absence of Stoll received the worst possible news when the slick Slovak suffered a dislocated shoulder that will sideline the Colorado Avalanche draft pick indefinitely. Adding to bad news of Stoll cutting himself and Dan Blackburn sticking with the New York Rangers, losing Svatos was not a possibility that the club wanted to ponder.
Coach Ryan Mc Read more »
The Calder Corner
Heatley: 1 Assist, +1, 2 Shots
Kovalchuk: 1 goal (2), +1, 5 Shots
Tjarnqvist: 1 Assist, +2
Klesla: 1 Goal, -2, 1 Shot
Huselius: 1 Goal (2), +1, 2 Shots
Arkhipov: 1 Assist, -1, 1 Shot
Petersen: Hat Trick, 7 Shots, +1
Kolanos: 1 Assist
Bradley: 1 Assist, +1, 2 Shots
Jillson: 1 Assist, +1, 2 Shots
As a general rule, I will always list goals and assists and other noteworthy stats. If there is more to be noted, HF encourages our readers to talk about them below!
What’s wrong with the Penguins? They lost 3 games since my last report and are now 0-4-0-0. Let’s see what happens game by game.
Saturday, October 6th, Anaheim Mighty Ducks VS Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pens played well against Kariya and the Ducks. The difference in this game was simply in front of the net. Shields played like a #1 goalie and Hedberg showed why he stayed in the minors for a long time. Matt Cullen scored twice in the first period and Jason York completes the score for the “Mad” Ducks. Then, Kraft scored his first of the season with a good wrist shot, and in the third period Lacouture showed his impressive speed when he scored on a breakaway. After that, The Penguins were inspired and really cracked the Duck’s defense. But guess what happens, Johan Hedberg ruins all the hopes of the Pens with a really really bad move on a 2 on 1. Ducks 4-Penguins 2.
Wednesday, October 10, New-York Islanders VS Pittsburgh Penguins : The new Islanders were in town to play the Penguins to achieve a 3 game winning-streak. After 2 losses, “The Moose” was benched and “Seabass” got a chance to show what he can do. Hard to believe but Pittsburgh was out shot a 3rd consecutive time on a 3rd consecutive loss. The “Arbitration line” scored three times in the second period and the Pens looked that they found the way of the victory. But the Islanders were not down yet and applied more and more pressure against the young defense. First, Mike Wilson put himself out of position in the second period and Jason Blake scored on a 2 on 1. After, Peca scored a powerplay go Read more »
Kamloops was expected to be strong this season two seasons, but such is the nature of major junior hockey. The patience shown by management during those seasons, allowing the young guns to gain experience, sees it paying off early this season as the Kamloops Blazers currently hold the top spot in the division with a 7-1 record good for fourteen points. While the Prince George Cougars, who have played two more games, are only two points in arrears with twelve points from a 5-3-1-1 record (the extra “1” coming from an overtime loss for those not familiar with the WHL’s points format). The Blazers have compiled there record against all sub five hundred hockey clubs, except for their lone loss, which came at the hands of a Lethbridge Hurricanes hockey club that invaded Kamloops with a six game win streak and left with the streak at seven.
The Blazers are about to test their mettle however, as starting Friday night in Saskatoon against the hometown Blades, the Blazers will play six games in nine nights on their longest road trip of the season. While most of the eastern clubs are sub-five hundred, the six game in nine nights will take it’s toll, with the biggest test likely to come at the end of the trip against the high flying Swift Current Broncos. The Blazers leave with some positive signs emerging from the last three games played however, as they cut down their shots allowed by an average of about ten per game, going from just over thirty five shots a night to about twenty five. Kamloops has the ability to come at teams in waves with the offensive fire power they b Read more »
The Spokane Chiefs have bolted from the starting blocks and it looks like they’ll be a tough lot to handle. With a rock solid defence, a skilled and gritty group up front as well as a pleasant surprise in the play of Barry Brust between the pipes. Many a hockey forum saw Spokane fans calling for management to bolster the goaltending, however Chief management appears to have known what they were doing as Brust has been solid. They’ll need for him to be continue his solid play as the Chiefs are currently holding onto a slim one point edge with fourteen points from a 7-1 start over the Portland WinterHawks thirteen points from a 6-2-0-1 record.
Led up front by a group of skilled and hardworking forwards, the Chiefs bring their lunch buckets to every game. Skilled forwards Jeff Lucky, Tim Krymusa, seventeen year old Brad Schell, Mason Wallin and Matt Keith all share in the Chiefs scoring depth, however none take a night off when it comes to their defensive duties either. Brandon Cote is a rock solid defensive forward who brings a lot of leadership and heart to the chiefs line up while others like Joff Kohler, Jevon Desautels and Justin Keller play solid two way hockey. The Chiefs have a waft of young forwards on the roster as well, which bodes well for the future. Also, the Chiefs should be getting second year winger/centre Barry Horman, who should add some more depth to the Chiefs current crop of forwards. Ganchar has the entire group playing solid two way hockey and all I can say is, “it must be fun to play up front on a team as strong on the back end as the Chi Read more »
The Swift Current Broncos just continue to churn out competitive teams year after year and the 2001/2002 season appears to be no different, except that this team seems to be more than competitive, they have a legitimate shot to make a Memorial Cup run. Led by a strong group of creative scorers and playmakers, the Broncos also have a number of players that play with “sandpaper”, making a solid mix that winning teams always need.
Up front the Broncos are led by a very creative duo in Duncan Milroy and twenty year old Tim Smith. Both are solid playmakers who can finish as well, while Smith also brings a knack for irritating the opposition to the point of distraction. Nathan Smith, a Vancouver Canuck first round draft pick is a solid goal scorer who can play at both ends of the rink and is also a lot tougher than most give him credit for. Brent Twordik, James Hiebert, Ben Ondrus and John Dahl are all gritty while contributing at both ends of the ice. Matt Sommerfeld is a big tough forward who has improved enough to garner more ice time, thus his role on a speedy, skilled hockey team becomes even more important. A strong group of young guys fill out the front end, however the top two lines will carry most of the load offensively for the Broncos and this is the one area the Broncos may want to add some depth and experience. Come playoff time, some of the other teams may be a little deeper up front, which is where a long playoff run can be won or lost.
On the back end the Broncos have a mixed bag, but are spearheaded by the immensely talented seventeen year Read more »
The QMJHL respectively named Jason King and Dany Dallaire (both from the Halifax Mooseheads) Offensive Player and Defensive Player of the Week spreading from October 9th to October 15th.
Halifax Mooseheads’ right-winger Jason King (20-yrs old, 6-0, 205 lbs) scored 6 goals and added an assist in 3 games. King was drafted in the 7th round (212th overall) by the Vancouver Canucks at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
Halifax Mooseheads’ goaltender Danny Dallaire (20-yrs old, 5-11, 180 lbs) appeared in 3 games over the last week, winning 2 games and tying another, with a 2,59 goals-against average. Dallaire is an undrafted player.
In sports, the schedule is often your best friend one week and your nemesis the next.For the Ottawa 67’s, they’ve already experienced the friendly aspect with a well-spaced schedule of games while the team tried to gel as a unit. The real test in just on the horizon though, with a total of four games this week and three of those on consecutive days.“We’ve had a pretty light schedule, as far as workload is concerned,” says defenceman Carter Trevisani. “This is really kicking our season off and it’s going to be tough.”The 67’s will travel to Kingston to face the Frontenacs on Tuesday and then have a short break until the busy weekend. Friday is a home game against the Sarnia Sting, and then the 67’s will hit the road again to play the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors on Saturday and Don Cherry’s Mississauga Ice Dogs on Sunday.Though the Sarnia Sting are the only opponent playing above .500 hockey this season, 67’s coach Brian Kilrea warns against taking any of the teams lightly.“You don’t look at a team as being weak or good or bad… if you don’t come ready to play, it’s not going to matter,” says Kilrea. “You have to play well to get your points.”Though the Frontenacs are the team the 67’s will be preparing for first, captain Zenon Konopka says the busy weekend is in the back of everyone’s mind.“All the guys have been working out hard at the gym and this is why we do it,” he says. “These three game weekends really push your body, but we’re Read more »
Three Strikes, Now What?
Let’s play a round of Front Page Challenge. It is sometime in early June 2002, the phone in your office rings, your receptionist tells you it’s Toronto Maple Leaf GM/Coach Pat Quinn and covering your eyes with one hand, you pick up the receiver with the other? Who are you? Kudos if you answered Ottawa 67’s GM/Coach Brian Kilrea who has got to be wondering what to do now that Leaf 6th rounder Jaroslav Sklenar has decided to return home to the Czech Republic only a few games into the season. This marks the third year in a row where ‘Killer’ has taken a Leaf product in the import draft and come away less than satisfied. First there was Luca Cereda in 1999. He had a great rookie camp in 2000/2001 once he came over to North America and was touted as a possible OHL Player of the Year candidate. Heart surgery cost him the year and he was assigned to St. John’s this time out. Vadim Sozinov was selected in 2000, and although he got off to a slow start, by the end of the year he was an integral part of the 67’s offense. Alas, he returned to Russia in the off-season. Some say it was his idea, others say it was Kilrea’s, still others mutual agreement. Bottom line: No European player. Enter Jaroslav Sklenar. Whereas both Cereda and Sozinov were both 1st round selections in the Import Draft, Kilrea waited until the 2nd round this time out before grabbing the Czech. And as stated, again, the dice have come up craps. How much longer is Kilrea going to keep answering that phone when Quinn calls? Who knows. As far as the Leafs GM is concerned tho Read more »