Boy oh boy is Milan Kraft looking like a draft jewel! He shows up at the World Junior Championship and dominates. Kraft ended the tourney with 5 goals 7 assists in 6 games. He helped the Czech Republic win gold, and he is a major piece in the building of the future for the Pittsburgh Penguins who seem to be rejuvenated with new coach Herb Brooks. Jaromir Jagr loves the offensive freedom. Kraft can be the total package when he adds weight to his frame, and a little knowledge defensively. Other than that, he is one year away from playing with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL for a few games before a call up to play with the best there is, Jagr. Alexander Zevakhin has been playing superb hockey also, collecting 5 points in 5 games, with fairly limited ice time. Alexander needs to mature up and play harder, he seems out of shape at times gasping for air after a bad shift. He plays like Pavel Bure at times, and Andrei Kovalenko at others.
It seems as though Craig Hillier is never going to get his chance like J-S Aubin. He needs more confidence and ice time in the parent league. Hillier plays like Martin Brodeur when he is confident, but most of the time no one has confidence in him, thus leaving him no confidence in himself. He can be a regular goalie when and if he is called on. Hillier should just wear number 13, because that is how his career has turned out to be. Lucky at times and unlucky at times sums it up nicely.
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I was impressed by the smarts and the work-ethic of Canadian winger Chris Neilsen. He is very versatile, gives his all for the team and doesn’t ignore any part of the game. 16-year-old defenseman Jay Bouwmeester certainly looks like someone who can evolve into a world-class player. It is very rare that a player who’s 6’4″ can be such a magnificent skater.
Jason Spezza also looked good in the spot duty he got and in hindsight maybe he should have got all the icetime Mike Ribeiro, who was very disappointing, got. Josef Vasicek was a more consistent contributor that Milan Kraft, and deserved the All-Star nod ahead of the more inconsistent Kraft. The choice of Rick DiPietro as best goalie was right on. He was very solid, a true star in this tournament.
Of the 2000-prospects, Marian Gaborik shined, but also his smart all-round center Tomas Kopecky. Dany Heatley will surely be a high-pick in Calgary this summer. He looked better than highly-touted Jamie Lundmark and Mark Bell, picked 11th and 8th respectively, did. Heatley can put the puck in the net and has a deadly shot.
So-called experts seem to be doing nothing but condemning Canada’s World Junior hockey team. A bronze medal. That’s all the hard working juniors came back with from that icebox in northern Sweden. They ask why Canada isn’t producing the best hockey players in the world anymore. This unattainable goal that we’ve supposedly set for ourselves of coming home with the gold every year from every major tournament has become ridiculous. The one drawback to hitting gold five years in a row at this tournament (’93-’97) is that now it’s gold or nothing.
‘The Russians and Czechs are more talented players than the Canadians are now’, the experts say. ‘We produce nothing but muckers and grinders instead of talented hockey players’. Newsflash; the Russians have been pretty good since the ’50′s and the Czechs, Slovaks, Swedes and Finns aren’t exactly slouches. Witness Jaromir Jagr, Dominik Hasek, Ziggy Palffy, Peter Forsberg and Teemu Selanne. Could it be that the rest of the world has just caught up to us in the standards of hockey? After all, every time we won at whatever level all it did was breed complacency and arrogance. Nobody can win the gold every year. That’s why they play the games. And another thing, if the European system is so much better than ours, (better passers, more offence) how come the gold medal game at the WJC between Russia and the Czech Republic was a classic battle featuring all the scoring and excitement of a Ottawa-New Jersey game. That’s right, they trapped. In fact, they trapped so well that neither team scored in three periods of hockey and one more of Read more »
IHL RECAPS FOR WEDNESDAY JANUARY 5, 2000
Utah Grizzlies 3
Detroit Vipers 2 (shootout)
Cincinnati Cyclones 2
Michigan K-Wings 3
Cincinnati’s Steve Bancrofts next point will be his 400th point of his pro career.
Detroit Vipers are the highest penalized team in the IHL with 1138 PIM.
David Ling is the IHL’s top goal scorer with 21 goals in 34 games.
Manitoba Moose: Reassign centre Cory Cyrenne to Flint of the UHL
IHL TV SCHEDULE
Friday January 7:
Milwaukee at Michigan 7:30 pm Midwest Sports Channel
Utah at Cleveland 7:30pm FSN (Ohio)
Long Beach at Houston 7:30pm Aeros TV
THE IHL LOCKEROOM A LOOK INSIDE
When you walk into the Manitoba Mooses dressing room its nothing spectacular like you would see at the Molson Centre with the Montreal Canadiens
or at the ACC with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Once you open the big blue door leading inside the dressing room, your first glimpse inside you cannot help but to
notice the pictures around the room of past Moose players. Everything is placed in the stalls nice and neat courtsey of equipment manager Dale
Coulthard who puts in countless of hours seeing that all aspects of the equpiment is ready to go. To your left is the gatorade machine and the coaches Read more »
The Czech Republic won the goldmedal after a penalty-shootout in the most
boring game ever played in the Skellefteå Isstadion. Congratulations to the
Czechs for winning, but seeing two teams prioritize defense above all and in
doing so decide not to forecheck, not to hit, not to attack with more than
two forwards at the time is so boring that I, and surely most of the people
attending, wished that I had just stayed at home and watched a Jeopardy
rerun. The highlight of the game was when the music-guys played
Elvis-impersonator Eilert Pilarm during a stoppage of play.
The bronze game was more entertaining, with Canada pulling off a
well-deserved win after a shootout. The Canadians looked disinterested in
the first period and didn’t have much emotion after the Americans had earned a
1-0 lead after the first period. Checking winger Willie Levesque scored the
goal shorthanded after Canada made some sloppy plays during their powerplay.
The Canadians looked more fired up for the second period, and they started
hitting the Americans more frequently, but also ran into penalty-trouble.
The Canadian penalties in the first period came from laziness and not being
up for the game, but those in the second period came from being aggressive,
though it should be noted that Swedish referee Christer Lärking sent
Canadians to the penaltybox for clean hits as well. The Americans got their Read more »
The two semi-finals (USA-Czech Republic; Canada-Russia) were both even and entertaining. The Czech Republic got a very early goal by Michal Sivek against Team USA, and then showed off their defensive skills to keep the americans from tying the game. The Czech defense was easily the best of all the teams. With two goals seperated by only a minute and a half in the second period, the Czechs killed all american dreams of a place in the final. Still the americans fought bravely, and managed to get a goal early in the third period, but the Czechs scored the winning 4-1 goal in the empty net after a very foolish attempt to dribble on his own blue-line by american defender Jeff Jillson. Team USA owned the game, but the result wasn’t unfair, as the Czechs played an outstanding defensive game, and had a great goaltender in Zdenek Smid, who won MVP honours for his performance.
Canada vs. Russia was the second semi-final, some considered it to be the “real” final, saying that the team that won this game would have no trouble at all defeating the Czech Republic in the final. The game was the best of the tournament. Brilliant technique from the russians faced off against the physical Team Canada. Valeri Khlebnikov scored the important first goal for the russians after a magnificent display of technique. Oleg Smirnov made it 2-0 on a breakaway, but the canadians refused to give up and clawed one back by Dany Heatley, brilliantly assisted by Brandon Reid. 3-1 to Russia came early in the third period and decided the game for the russians. It finally ended 3-2. Read more »
IHL TOP ROOKIE SCORERS
PLAYER TEAM GP G A PTS
Petr Schastlivy Grand Rapids 31 13 7 20
Nils Ekman Detroit 23 11 7 18
Dieter Kalt Long Beach 36 9 9 18
Kyle Calder Cleveland 36 5 12 17
Vlad Serov Manitoba 37 9 8 17
Bryan Adams Orlando 29 8 9 17
Dale Rominski Detroit 36 6 7 13
IHL TOP ROOKIE PLUS-MINUS
PLAYER TEAM +/-
Vlad Serov Maniotba 17
Philippe Plante Grand Rapids 14
Brad Williamson Houston 13
Kyle Calder Cleveland 7
IHL PENALTY SHOT RESULTS
November 19,1999: Chris Herperger of Cleveland vs Randy Petruk (goalie) Cincinnati at 19:47 of
the 1st period. Result was no goal.
December 11, 1999: Aaron Gavey of Michigan vs Chris Mason (goalie) Milwaukee at 8:00 of the
3rd period. Result was no goal.
IHL RECAPS FROM JANUARY 3, 2000
Orlando Solar Bears 3
Detroit Vipers 6
IHL RECAPS FROM JANUARY 2, 2000
Orlando Solar Bears 3
Cincinnati Cyclones 0 Read more »
BIRTHDATE: APRIL 23, 1973
BIRTHPLACE: OTTAWA, ONTARIO
During his stellar junior career with the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario
Hockey League, Derek Armstrong was drafted in the fifth-round of the 1992
National Hockey League Entry Draft by the New York Islanders. Now in his
seventh professional season, he has played 82 NHL games with the Islanders
(1993-94, 95-96, 96-97), Ottawa Senators (1997-98) and New York Rangers
(1998-99), totalling 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) and 56 penalty
minutes. In 359 minor league games with Salt Lake (1993-94), Denver
(1994-95), Utah (1996-97) and Detroit (1997-98) of the International Hockey
League, and Worcester (1995-96) and Hartford (1997 ? present) of the American
Hockey League, Armstrong has 108 goals, 182 assists and 328 penalty minutes.
In 1995, he was a member of the IHL Turner Cup Champion Denver Grizzlies. He
is a two-time AHL All-Star (1999, 2000), who was the Bauer Canadian Player of
the Game in 1999. His 105 assists and 162 points for the Hartford WolfPack
are all-time club records, and last season’s 80 points (29 goals, 51 assists)
are a single-season club record, as well as a personal high.
Armstrong is the WolfPack’s first-line center, as well as a regular Read more »
The Los Angeles Kings recent slide has overshadowed what has been a great season to-date. The Kings started the season playing over their heads and are currently playing below their ability. That is not unusual- teams go through slumps. The part that may be somewhat distressing is that when the Kings could use a spark from the farm system, some peek at a great prospect that will reinvigorate players and fans alike, the best the Kings could do…
No offense to Len Barrie. He plays hard and with grit and he is an excellent minor league hockey player, but he would likely not crack 75% of the NHL teams fourth line. It was this move that lead to a look at the system. The fact, while hard to swallow, is that the Kings do not have an impact player that is even remotely ready to play in the NHL.
The Kings seem to be on either side of the prospect fence. They have prospects like Pavel Rosa and Jason Podollan who posses promise but a call-up would likely expose the holes in their games and impede on any potential movement in regards to expansion. Both of these guys, along with Donald MacLean, Nathan Lafayette and Rich Brennan can prosper in the minors, making themselves more appealing to Columbus or Minnesota.
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Team USA beat Sweden with a great team-effort in the quarterfinals, but could for some reason not find that game in the semis. The Americans are very good when they are playing with the lead, but not so good when they’re behind, and today they fell behind almost right away. Defenseman Pat Aufiero (Rangers) made a poor pass along the offensive blueline which was intercepted by the Czech’s and powerful center Milan Kraft (Pittsburgh) was sent in on a breakaway. Rick DiPietro made the initial save, but could not control the rebound which was jammed home by winger Michal Sivek (Washington). The US then had to put the pressure on to tie the score, and the offensive game has not been the strength of the American team this tournament. Energy, teamwork and dedication has, but the US even lacked this quality today. There were players who had their worst games of the tournament, already mentioned Pat Aufiero, goalie Rick DiPietro among many others, and few players who raised the level of their game. Winger Dan Cavanaugh, a Flames pick, got into the tournament on a banana-peel after defenseman John Liley injured his shoulder in the final exhibitiongame before the tournament. Cavanaughs icetime has increased every game, and he was given a chance to play with USA’s top offensive weapons – center Jeff Taffe and winger Barrett Heisten (Buffalo) today and did not disappoint. Cavanaugh was the Americans best forward showing good teamwork, good skating ability and very good passing ability. Cavanaugh got the Americans only goal on a rebound after setting up the play with a nice f Read more »