On Saturday, December, 23rd, the Czech Under-20 team left for Moscow to defend the championship title, which he won last season. Some of the players from that team are already NHLers, some play in the Extraleague and three of them returned to compete for gold once again. Tomas Duba, Michal Sivek and Vaclav Nedorost dream of being two-time WJC champions. When you look at this years squad, you can see that their dreams may not be impossible.
The young Czechs played two exhibition games before the WJC. In the first game, they defeated Pardubice junior team 6:2, when Vaclav Nedorost was the first star with 2 goals. The CHL players already made their presence felt when Radim Vrbata and Martin Erat scored their markers, Pavel Brendl was left off the score sheet. The second game was a game against a mixed team of Pardubice juniors and seniors. Pavel Brendl scored in the first minute of this game and Radim Vrbata gave the Czech juniors a two-goal lead five minutes later, but the game turned out to be a 3:3 tie. The Under-20 team looked quite in shape in those games, CHL scorers kept their pace and the defensemen looked ready for the big time. Only one thing I worry about is that the Czechs have no exhibition game right before the WJC starts and have to wait for their first game on December, 26th, and spend time only with practices. And let’s take a look who will spend that time!
Tomas Duba (HC Sparta Praha) – Tomas was the second goalie behind Zdenek Smid last year and this experience will help him a lot as he’ll be the starter this y Read more »
Jamie Lundmark had another excellent effort this afternoon, notching 2 assists in Canada’s 5-1 win over Sweden in the second of two exhibition games played between the two teams.
Lundmark has been centering a line with Dany Heatley, the 2nd overall pick in the 2000 draft, and Mike Cammalleri, who is eligible for the upcoming 2001 draft. The line has been using it’s great speed and great forecheck to win the loose puck battles and turn quickly to offense. Lundmark has played the role of set-up man, assisting on 5 of Canada’s 11 goals in the two games against Sweden. Not many people have heard of Cammalleri, who plays US College Hockey and therefore does not get the attention that Canadian Major Junior stars do. Scouts say Cammalleri should be available towards the late 1st/early 2nd round of the 2001 draft, and I would love it if the Rangers select him. However, so far his strong play have caught a lot of scout’s attention.
On another note, the goaltender for team Sweden happened to be Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers 7th round selection in the 2000 Entry Draft. Lundqvist has been given the tag “will be the best goalie to come out of Sweden”, but this season he has not been playing like it. In my opinion, he ranks 3rd as of now in Sweden behind Mikael Tellqvist (Toronto draftee) and other Rangers draftee Johan Asplund. As for the game, Lundqvist was shaky. He allowed 3 goals on Canada’s only 3 shots in the first period. He was not dominant, and hasn’t been at all this season. He started off the year with Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League, but when they signed Pat Read more »
With the number one draft pick from the 2000 NHL Entry draft, Ricky DiePietro between the pipes, Team USA will have a building block for this year’s club. Six other returnees are also back for a run at the gold. We will breakdown the offense, defense, and goaltending on this year’s team.
Offense: Five players are back to lead the offensive attack. Andy Hilbert from the University of Michigan is back for his 3rd tournament and must provide leadership and scoring. Jeff Taffe, Team USA’s leading scorer from last season, is also back. Look for him and fellow Minnesotan Troy Riddle to play together. They have worked very well together throughout the year for the Golden Gophers. Other returnees include Connor Dunlop, Brett Nowak, and John Sabo. R.J. Umberger is a newcomer to watch for. Excellent play at Ohio State earned Umberger the number one ranking by the CSB among college eligible players for April’s NHL Entry Draft. Troy Riddle will be counted on to use his wicked speed and finesse to antagonize opponents. Other forwards who will be looked upon to score are Jon DiSalvatore, Marc Cavosie and Kris Vernarsky. This group of forwards should be able to skate with the high flying Czech’s and Swede’s in Group A. Team USA wants to play an up tempo style of play, which shouldn’t be a problem with the speed this team possesses.
Defense: Anchoring the defensive unit is first round draft pick in last year’s draft, Ron Hainsey, from the University of Mass-Lowell. Having only one player with experience at the World Juniors some teams cou Read more »
The IHL’s best will converge on Chicago on January 15th to take on the defending Turner Cup Champion Chicago Wolves. The all-star roster was announced last week with a breakdown of three players from each of Grand Rapids, Manitoba, Cleveland and Orlando. Milwaukee and Detroit were able to submit two players apiece. And, Houston, Cincinnati, Utah and Kansas City round out the selections with one participant each.
In goal for the all-stars are Frederic Chabot of Houston, Mike Fountain of Grand Rapids and Johan Hedberg of Manitoba. Chabot has been solid for a Houston squad that has been quite inconsistent so far this season. Fountain has been the catalyst in the Griffins success and leads the league in GAA and wins. Hedberg has been dynamite for the Moose and amongst the league leaders in wins throughout the year.
Up front are Peter Bartos and Christian Matte of Cleveland, Mark Beaufait and Yves Sarault of Orlando, Martin Cibak and Nils Ekman of Detroit, Vadim Sharifijanov of Kansas City, Todd White of Grand Rapids, Brian Felsner of Cincinnati and John Purves of Utah. Bartos has been an offensive gem with the Lumberjacks and Minnesota during his call-ups while Matte has made a successful transition from the AHL to the IHL and leads the league in goals with 16. Beaufait gets the nod despite missing a fair amount of time with an injury due to his stellar offence in the early going. Yves Sarault has been consistent and earned a recent call-up to Atlanta. Cibak and Ekman are both young, talented aces for the Vipers and lead their attack. Sha Read more »
Hockey’s Future Interview with Serge Payer
Nearing the halfway point of this NHL season, one of the surprises has been the abysmal start of the Florida Panthers. While there are many reasons for this poor outing so far, most notably a startling amount of injuries that have decimated the team and have never given the Panthers a full roster of healthy players.
Maybe one of the small benefits of a team stricken with this many injuries, is the chance for the unexpected. Having a player get called up to fill in sometimes gives the coaches, management, and most importantly, the fans the opportunity to see a player exceed all expectations and beat all the odds of making an impact in the NHL.
One of these players is Serge Payer. Signed as a free agent in late 1997, Serge was expected to spend time this year in the UHL, but an incredibly strong NHL pre-season turned the heads of Panther brass and Serge was sent to start his professional career in the AHL Louisville Panthers.
What is remarkable is the road that Serge took to get to this point in his early career in the NHL. Jennifer McCarthy of Hockey’s Future AHL report recently did a profile of Serge on her web-site http://www.pantherbytes.com/louisville.html
which is a highly recommended read, as well as a good source for Louisville Panther news.
Recently, I got the chance to sit down with Serge Payer on the day of the Colorado game, and it was apparent during the interview that Serge is in this “I still can’t believe” phase over the realization that he Read more »
The Rangers announced today that goalie Mike Richter will be sidelined for the Rangers next 2 games (23rd vs. Nashville and 27th vs. Carolina) because of an undisclosed injury, and Vitali Yeremeyev has been recalled from Hartford. In my opinion, Richter is not injured at all, but just needs some rest. The Rangers were likely to rest him in their next 2 games anyway, but I guess they decided to bring up Yeremeyev to get a look at him over the next week or so.
Yeremeyev, a 25 year old Kazakhstanian goalie who was selected in the 11th round of the 1994 Draft, has played OUTSTANDING with the Hartford Wolf Pack in 11 games this season. Yeremeyev has posted a 1.65 GAA, .951 Save%, and 2 shutouts. The ironic thing is that this is from someone who started the season struggling with the ECHL Charlotte Checkers (Jason Labarbera is the starter there now), as he posted a 4.23 GAA in only 5 games.
Playing excellent is not anything new to Yeremeyev however. In his last 3 years in Russia, Yeremeyev posted superb numbers. He had a 1.23 GAA with 7 shutouts in 26 games in 99/00 with Dynamo Moscow of the Russian Elite League. The two previous years before that he posted a 1.80 GAA in 19 games with CSKA Moscow of the Russian Tier 2 league, and a 1.16 GAA with Yaroslavl of the Elite league in 16 games. Yeremeyev got teared apart on the National stage though. He was the starter for team Kazakhstan in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. He allowed 28 goals in 7 games, en route to a 5.76 GAA. Yeremeyev can’t be blamed for most of the goals however, as Kazakhstan is not known Read more »
The 2000-2001 Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are a much improved yet very similar team from last year. The RoughRiders, who are in their second year of existence after being moved from Mason City, Ia, have made a name for themselves in the USHL as being an aggressive, gritty team who always plays 110%. Last year Cedar Rapids was given the task of playing the first half of the season on the road where they did poorly. As the second half began they served notice that they were becoming a good hockey team. This year the RoughRiders got a “normal” schedule and after a rocky start are playing arguably some of the best hockey in the USHL right now. Cedar Rapids is tied for 2nd place with Waterloo in the Eastern Division. In their last 10 games they have had some impressive wins including two road wins at perennial power Des Moines and a home victory over the league favorite Lincoln Stars. Here is a breakdown on some of the individual leaders for the RoughRiders through the current Christmas break.
Offense - The RoughRiders are not well known for their offense but they do have a couple of stars. Darren Partch is the leader offensively and is one of the league leaders in the scoring. Partch has 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points and leads the team in scoring. Partch is the kind of player who is in the right place at the right time and can kill you with precision passing. Gerry Hickey returned to Cedar Rapids after a spectacular season last year. So far Hickey has 8 goals and 9 assists for 17 points but he has an astonishing 120 penalty minutes. Tha Read more »
Patrick Foley has played in pain for the past three years and finally decided enough was enough. Partially tearing both his ACL’s in his junior year of high school football, he elected to continue playing hockey with braces on each knee up until last season. That’s when everything went downhill. After games and practices Foley’s knees had him in so much pain he couldn’t run or even ride a bike. He decided to have Dr. Brett Zarins of the New England Patriots take a look at his knees. The only solution to the problem was surgery. On May 31, 2000, Foley went in and had his right knee operated on. A month later it was the left knees turn to be repaired. Foley was optimistic about a return to the New Hampshire Wildcats this year, however after a November appointment with Dr. Zarins it was in Patrick’s best interest to be redshirted. Foley is rehabilitating his knees and skated for the first time since the surgery this past week. Foley said just feeling the wind blowing against his face was a great feeling. Being part of the team is important to Foley. He helps teammates at team workouts and provides support and the insight of someone not at ice level. What really drives Foley is the chance to play for a national title. The process of rehabilitating both knees is physically and mentally grinding, but you couldn’t find a bettter warrior than Patrick Foley to do it. Determined, Foley is working hard to get his play back to the level exhibited before the surgeries. Don’t be shocked to see him back on the rink next year playing better than ever.
Last time I checked, it had been three years since the teenage hockey phenoms that represent our country
every Christmas at the World Junior Hockey Championships had brought home the gold medal. A bronze
last year after falling to the dreaded Russians in the semifinal game, a silver in 1999 at Winnipeg in a
heartbreaking overtime loss, once again to the Russians. The 1998 edition was a forgetful eighth place
showing. So from failing hands the torch is passed to this years crop of teenage talent. Pressure? What
There is a handful of pundits and prognosticators that predict that if this year’s edition of the Canadian
world junior entry doesn’t win the yellow hardware, it will only further signify that Canada has fallen further
of its perch of hockey supremacy. I beg to differ. If the boys don’t come home with gold around their necks,
I maintain that it is exactly the opposite. We haven’t fallen further off the perch, it’s just that the perch has
become much bigger and now hosts more than the just the one or two dominant countries that occupied it
in the past. Canada, Russia, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland are all dominant countries on the
international hockey scene. With the addition of up and comers such as Slovakia, Latvia and Belarus it only
promises to become even more crowded at the top. Suffice to say that the days of one country dominating
at the international level, such as the way Canada did from 1993 to ’97, five gold medals in a row at the
WJC’s, are over. Every year from now on will more than likely be a crap shoot w Read more »
Here are a few of the Canuck’s top prospects that are
currently in the NHL. I hope to provide some stats and updates on Canuck prospects at all levels every couple of weeks, as they play a major role in the future of
the Canucks’ organization.
Daniel Sedin, fourth in NHL rookie scoring (27–9-8-17) is making a big
impact on the Vancouver Canucks in his third line role. His ability to cycle
the puck in the offensive zone with twin brother Henrik, continues to
generate scoring chances. Recently Daniel missed four games due to a
shoulder injury. Coach Crawford babied him into returning to the lineup, to
many this raises questions about how Daniel has adapted to the rigours of
the NHL. Being held pointless in three games since his return, team and fans
alike hope that now that the league is getting to know the
Sedins’ style of play they won’t hit the wall a la Bill Muckalt or Steve
Kariya. Overall though,
Daniel is doing an excellent job in his first season, and is expected to
continue as a favorite in the Calder Cup run.
PROJECTION: Daniel looks like he’s going to be an excellent player in the
future. How good is hard to determine, but it seems as though he’s about as
close to being a sure-fire star as any first year prospect. He will very
likely be at least a consistent 25 goal, 60 point scorer in the NHL with the
ability to become a superstar perhaps scoring 50 goals and 100 points.
Through 27 games Sedin is on track to tally about 27 goals and 23 assists if
he were to play 80 games. To compare him to another player h Read more »