To say the 1998-99 season has been a dramatic turnaround for the Toronto Maple Leafs would be vastly understated. The team has finished out of the playoffs since the 1995-96 season. With nine regular season games to go and a playoff run awaiting them, the team has already shattered the last two years’ performance in wins, points and goals scored. They have transformed from the league’s third lowest goal-scoring club in 97-98 to leading the league in scoring this year. The Toronto Maple Leafs may not yet be on the brink of bringing home the Stanley Cup, but they have taken several quantum leaps in the right direction.
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The Rangers picked Stefan Cherneski as their first pick in 1997. The Rangers didn’t have a franchise player on their hands, but a hard working kid who was destined for the NHL. Two years later, Cherneski’s career has been filled with triumph and tragedy and his hockey career lays in question.
Cherneski’s life started out a battle. The second child born to his family, Stefan was born 8 weeks premature and doctors were concerned for him. They wouldn’t allow him to go home for another 8 weeks as they placed his tiny body in an incubator to increase his chances for survival. Growing up Stefan became involved in local midget clubs but was never seen as a knock over prospect and thus he never heard his name called in the WHL draft. After signing with the Brandon Wheat Kings prior to the 95-96 season, Cherneski’s rookie year was not the most memorable. Stuck primarily in a third line left winger’s role on a deep and talented Brandon team, Cherneski finished with only 8 goals. Only 5’11 and 185 pounds at the time Cherneski didn’t have the raw ability to crack the Wheat Kings top line, or so everyone thought.
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Player: Mario Larocque
Date of Birth: April 24, 1978
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 195 lbs
YEAR TEAM LGE GP G A PTS PIM
1995-96 Hull QMJHL 68 7 19 26 196
1996-97 Hull QMJHL 64 13 37 50 160
1997-98 Sherbrooke QMJHL 28 6 10 16 125
1998-99 Tampa Bay NHL 5 0 0 0 16
1998-99 Cleveland IHL 48 3 7 10 162
Mario was selected by Tampa Bay in the 1st round (16th) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. Last year Mario played in the QMJHL with Sherbrooke Faucons and was limited to 28 games due to an injury. he played 2 full seasons with Hull of the QMJHL and finished 2nd in scoring for defenceman in 95-96 season with 26 points as a 17 year old rookie. Was named to the 1995-96 QMJHL All-Rookie Teams. Mario scored 50 points in his 2nd seson if junior hockey and finished 1st among Hull defencemen with a + 48 +/- . He posted a +20 in 14 playoff games as Hull won the Memorial Cup. Mario made his NHL debut in his hometown of Montreal Quebec with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Read more »
St. Albert 5 at Lloydminster 3 (Series tied 3-3)
A headline in the Lloydminster paper after the St. Albert Saints avoided a potential sweep to make a 3-0 series into a 3-1 series summed it all up.
‘Not so fast.’
The Saints have suddenly stormed their way back into the series in a big way and are now poised to become only the third team in AJHL history to come back from a 3-0 deficit. The other two were the 1975 Calgary Canucks and the 1993 Sherwood Park Crusaders. In front of almost 1400 fans at the Lloydminster civic centre, a boisterous crowd of 70 or 80 St. Albert fans drowned out the Lloyd contingent at times. The Saints had a good feeling about this game going in for certain. Instead of a Lloydminster-area official, the referee was from Bonnyville and called a very good game. Also, the club felt that they had worn down the Blazer defence corps – Siemens, Lorentz, Esdale and Werner – since Lloyd had only been using four defencemen mainly throughout the entire series. The other two defencemen, Denham and Morris, have played each game but have only seen limited ice.
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Lloydminster 1 at St. Albert 4 (Blazers lead best-of-seven series 3-2)
After winning by far the biggest game of the season in front of by far the most-packed house of the season, the St. Albert Saints are still alive and are now one game away from making this a best-of-one series with that one game at home, but first they must win a game in Lloydminster. The game opened with the Saints putting a huge amount of pressure on Lloyd netminder Ray Fraser. Fraser was equal to the task in the early going and then the Blazers took the puck the other way. It was then Kirby Millar’s chance to make some spectacular saves. Eventually the Saints did take over the tempo of the period, however, as Joey Bastien scored to make it 1-0 Saints. The Saints then increased their lead to 2-0 when Mike Buchan found the puck loose during a mad scramble in front of the net and put it in behind Fraser. The Saints would go in to the intermission with a comfortable 2-0 lead. Read more »
In the late 70′s, singers Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg collaborated on a folksy-rock album called “Twin Sons of Different Mothers”. That title could aptly describe two young, Toronto Maple Leafs defensive prospects, Dimitri Yakushin and Chris Bogas. Bogas is toiling for The Michigan State Wolverines as a senior defenseman and Yakushin is learning his trade as a defenseman for the St. John’s Maple Leafs as a rookie in the AHL.
“The thing that grabs you about Dimitri’s game is his poise for the puck. Rookie defensemen in the AHL often look to give up the puck as soon as they receive it. Dimitri has that confidence that he is going to look for the right play to make. He doesn’t panic with the puck”, states Chris Schwartz, St. John’s director of media relations for the club. “He has some of the same puckhandling moxie of Tomas Kaberle”, Schwartz adds.
“He wants the puck in the tough situations, with the game on the line. His size and toughness are excellent, but his skating and puckhandling sets him apart as well”, says MSU head coach Ron Mason about his senior defenseman, Chris Bogas. “His role has changed a bit over the years at MSU”, he states. “Chris has filled the role of tough-defenseman, adding offense from the blueline and working the special teams as we have needed it. He has filled those roles very well”, Mason adds. “He jumped right into our program as a freshman and hasn’t looked back ever since”.
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Calgary Canucks 4 at Olds 3 (OT) (Canucks lead best-of-seven series 3-1)
The Olds Grizzlys came oh-so-close to making this a series but now, with the Canucks up 3-1, it will take a miracle for Olds to win the next three games (including two in Calgary).
The Grizz played a very gritty game and overcame one of Calgary’s seemingly-patented offensive explosions in the first period. It was Calgary that opened the scoring – Kevin Magowan from David Wilding with 7:27 to go in the period – but while the Canucks were on a powerplay, the Grizzlys evened it up. Tyler Brosz took a Joel Macauley pass and went in on Calgary goalie Mike Gilhooly with 1:56 remaining. It was at this time that Calgary exploded offensively. With 1:29 left Ryan Manitowich made it 2-1 Canucks and with five seconds left Moe Halat made it 3-1. Both goals were on the powerplay.
For the rest of the game, the Grizzlys played it very conservative defensively but did get their chances. In the second period, with 7:41 to go they closed the gap to 3-2 thanks to a John Wegenast goal and, with 16:40 left in the third, Tyler Brosz scored his second of the game and tied it up.
In Overtime, the Canucks scored just over three minutes in, nullifying an outstanding effort all-around by the Grizzlys. Ryan Manitowich scored his ninth of the playoffs to give Calgary a 4-3 overtime victory.
(1) Ryan Manitowich – Avoids a scare for his club by scoring the goal in OT. Read more »
Player: Richard Jackman
Date Of Birth: June 28, 1978
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Height: 6′ 2″
YEAR TEAM LGE GP G A PTS PIM
1995-96 Sault Ste Marie OHL 66 13 29 42 97
1996-97 Sault Ste Marie OHL 53 13 34 47 116
1997-98 Sault Ste Marie OHL 60 33 40 73 111
1997-98 Michigan K-Wings IHL 14 1 5 6 10
1998-99 Michigan K-Wings IHL 60 11 14 25 94
Drafted in the 1st round by the Dallas Stars in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft joined Michigan from the Sault Greyhounds. He was voted by coaches to have the OHL’s hardest shot. He was one goal shy of a club record for defenceman. Was an OHL All star last season. Attended the Stars training camp in September.
Jackman has the distinction of being the Stars most talented prospect and maybe their best trade bait for the future. An offensive minded defenceman, Jackman is learning the craft of playing defence in the IHL and is responding well. An excellent skater who rarely is caught out of position. Also posseses a very hard shot that can find the net. He is still learning at the pro level and is responding well and should be in a Stars uniform in no time.
IHL SCOREBOARD FOR SATURDAY MARCH 27, 1999
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Position: Left Wing
HF Comments: Big for his age, Kris still has a ways to go with his skating skills.
While his speed isnt bad, he skates with his legs too far apart, which affects his
agility. He has a decent shot, and passes well, but doesnt put up big numbers due
to limited ice time.
Kris’ defense is decent, but he needs to learn to shadow a little
better; he often leaves his man totally alone. Physical game has gotten better as the
season has worn on. He has size, but he doesnt use it to his advantage very often.
Kris needs plenty of ice time to be effective. In games where he gets
this, he plays well. When he doesnt get the ice time, his play suffers, and he
does little but eat up ice time. Also, when he doesnt get his ice time, he doesnt
get “into” the game, and is often a step behind the play. Has come on very well in
the playoffs, and has played a regular shift. He hasnt put up big
numbers, but he has been a physical presence, and shows flashes of
offensive brilliance. Similar to Charlie Stephens, this kid has all the tools, he just lacks polish. I cant wait to see him next
season when he is on a #2 scoring line.
HF Comments: Jared is a defensve defenseman, and reminds me a lot of his teammate,
Shaun Read more »
Player: Karel Betik
Date of Birth: October 10, 1978
Birthplace: Ostrava, Czech Republic
Acquired: Tampa Bay’s 5th Choice. 112 overall
in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft
Regular Season Playoffs
Year Team Lge GP G A PTS PIM GP G A PTS PIM
96-97 Kelowna WHL 56 3 10 13 76 6 1 1 2 2
97-98 Kelowna WHL 61 5 25 30 121 7 1 2 3 8
98-99 Cleveland IHL 60 5 9 14 91
98-99 Tampa Bay NHL 3 0 2 2 2
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