What a difference a day makes. As of Monday morning, standout prospect Brian Finley had a legitimate chance to beat out Corey Hirsch for the backup goaltending job in Nashville and defenseman Richard Lintner was just settling in for another season with the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL. By the end of the day, Finley was facing a certain trip back to the junior ranks, while Lintner had a return ticket to the Predators and a roster spot for the coming season.
Finley can only blame himself for the sudden turnaround in his status. It may have been his outstanding performance during the preseason that pressured veteran goaltender Mike Dunham into finally signing a new contract and thus eliminating the need for a backup goaltender behind would-be starter Tomas Vokoun. At the very least, Finley’s strong showing gave the Predators more leverage in negotiations. He capped the preseason by shutting out the Florida Panthers on 18 shots during a half-game outing in the final exhibition game. The impressive effort improved his preseason goals against average to 1.62 and his save percentage to .929. Despite those numbers, Finley will now be returned to the Barrie Colts of the OHL, where Nashville hopes he can continue to elevate his game.
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In a day and time when athletes will frequently jump at their earliest chance for the big money, it is refreshing when a young man decides to finish out his program, to complete his degree before moving on to the big-time. Boston College senior centerman, Jeff Farkas, has decided to finish his senior season this year, rather than try to make that big jump into the pool, prematurely.
One could argue, how much more does he have to prove? His team has been to the NCAA finals in his sophomore season and to the Frozen Four again last year. His 32 goal junior season tied him for second in the country in goals-scored. He has scored big goals in big games on numerous occasions. “Scoring the game-winning goal in the Beanpot tournament in Boston as a freshman was one of my biggest thrills in college hockey”, says Jeff.
Jeff has led Team USA and tied for the tournament lead in goals-scored, with current NHL player Olli Jokinen, in the 1998 World Juniors Championship. He has scored 56 goals in 118 NCAA games with one of the nation’s top collegiate teams. What is left to do?
“I’m committed to help to lead our squad this season. As a senior, I want to lead by example and help the younger players on the team. I want to contribute to the success of our team and have a shot to play for the national championship again”, Jeff states. Couple that with the fact that coach, Jerry York, emphasizes that his players get their degree and you see that Boston College is the right place for Jeff, for one more go-around.
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The New York Rangers made available their list of available players for today`s Waiver Draft. General Manager Neil Smith expects not to sign or lose anyone. However the most intriquing player is Swedish Import, Johan Witehall. Witehall may go the way Maxim Galanov and Vladimir Vorobiev did….via the waiver wire. Witehall has the skills to compete at the NHL level but is mired behind too many NHL level wingers in NY. Derek Armstrong and Brad Smyth are interesting players that could fill roles elsewhere in the NHL. J.F.Labbe had a strong camp and is also interesting but will likely remain in Hartford(AHL).
Camp news, Tim Taylor played with tight legs in his first game as a Ranger, yesterday at the Hartford Civic Center before 9108 and a Rangers 1-0 win over Boston on a goal by Kevin Stevens early in the first. The game was less than a sellout but drew nearly three times as many as the former Whalers now Hurricanes drew and double as many as season tickets as the `Canes have sold for their innaugral season in Raleigh. With chants of Let`s go Rangers, chants from the ghosts of Let`s go nobody and Let`s go Whalers filled the arena as the fine people of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts expressed their displeasure with the NHL`s handling of the Hartford Whalers in 1996-97. Hartford is now home to the rival New York Rangers AHL club, the Hartford Wolfpack whom have also outdrawn the Hurricanes on a nightly basis.
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The Ontario Hockey League saeson is a week old, and the season’s first player of the week has been named. Owen Sound Platers Centre Bryan Kazarian had a goal and eight assists in three games. Included was a game that the Platers lost 6-5 to the Soo Greyhounds. Kazarian assisted on all 5 goals, which tied a team record shared with Wayne Primeau, Kirk Muller and Keith Whitmore.
Kazarian’s 9 points leads the early OHL scoring race. The 18-year-old Owen Sound native is in his second season with the Platers.
In other news, Peter Reynolds got his wish. The disgruntled defenceman was dealt by the London Knights, along with a fourth round draft choice, to the North Bay Centennials in exchange for Overage centre Brett Gibson and Defenceman Brett Angel. Reynolds, a 1999 second round draft choice of the Toronto Maple Leafs, requested a trade during the summer, and had stayed away from the Knights. Angel was selected by the Nashville Predators in the third round last June.
OHL Career Profile
Born: Owen Sound, Ont.
Birthdate: June 30, 1981
Weight: 172 lbs.
OHL – Owen Sound’s 6th round selection, 119th overall in the 1998 OHL PrioritySelection.
Season Club GP G A PTS PIM
1997-98 Owen Sound Jr. B 48 24 29 53 191
1998-99 Owen Sound Platers 41 1 5 6 27
1999-00 Owen Sound Platers 3 1 8 9 2
OHL Totals 44 2 13 15 29
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With less than a week to go before NHL teams must submit protected lists for the annual NHL Waiver Draft, Toronto’s training camp roster has been pared down to 34 players. And except for a few mild surprises, this current batch of players bears a striking resemblance to the group that took Pat Quinn to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first year as coach of the Maple Leafs.
In goal, Curtis Joseph had the starting job locked up before camp even started, and Glenn Healy was all but guaranteed the job as backup to the man they call Cujo. Joseph has seen limited action, but has looked strong, stopping 30 shots from his former Edmonton teammates for a 4-2 victory on September 14th.
During the off-season, Healy underwent a rigorous training program and in his most recent pre-season game on September 17th, he dazzled by stopping three breakaways and was by all accounts the difference in the game.
Off-season acquisition Jim Waite has been solid in camp, but will start the season in St. John’s of the AHL, the Leafs top farm team, where he is expected to receive the brunt of the work. Waite signed a two-year deal with Toronto in the off-season, a two-way deal for this season and a one-way deal for next season. With Healy expected to retire next summer, Waite is the early favourite to back up Curtis Joseph for the 2000-2001 season.
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1999-2000 season opens
The 1999-2000 Ontario Hockey League season opened Wednesday with two games featuring each of the 1999 OHL finalists. The Belleville Bulls, who defeated the London Knights in seven games to win the 1999 OHL Championship Series, hosted the Peterborough Petes, while the Knights traveled to Owen Sound for a rematch of the 1999 Western Conference final. The Petes spoiled Belleville’s home opener by defeating the Bulls 6-4 on the strength of three goals late in the third period, while the Platers defeated London 6-2. Greg Jacina, Owen Sound’s first pick in the 1999 OHL Priority Selection, scored the first goal of the year for the Platers, beating Bill Ruggiero 11:22 into the first period. The 1999-2000 season sees the introduction of the four on four overtime format that was introduced in the National Hockey League this season(see accompanying story). Each team will now receive a point for a tie in regulation time, with an additional point up for grabs during the overtime period. Read more »
This month’s article will look at the ongoing happenings surrounding the Dallas Stars training camp. The focus will be on the progress of the Dallas youngsters, with my observations being based on local newspaper reports, and on my own observances.
Has really reestablished himself throughout this years camp. Jamie has added seven pounds of muscle, and has increased his determination and focus. Also, his speed has seemed to fit into the Stars new puck possession attack as well. In one recent pre-season game I observed, Jamie was all over the ice. He was robbed twice from the slot, was throwing checks along the boards, fought for loose pucks, and was double shifted for much of the game. All of this is very encouraging, but at this point a roster spot is not at all guaranteed. He still must show a little more offensive touch in order to have a long term future with the club.
After coming over from the Czech Republic, Pavel has really found favor amongst the Stars coaching staff. This is due to the fact that his skating, vision, and passing are assets that the Dallas club has needed for sometime. Further more, the staff has elected to play Patera on the left side of Joe Nieuwendyk, a position that should become a rather nice fit for the rest of the season. If for some reason this pairing doesn’t work then look for Pavel to be the 3rd line center-man.
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With most of the attention these days focusing on which players will stick with the big club, several Islanders prospects have started off their seasons in various leagues on a tear. In the Quebec league sniper Juraj Kolnik opened up with a goal and 6 pts in his first two games then added a hatrick to raise his totals to 4 goals and 9 points in only 3 games. Meanwhile goaltender Frederik Brind’amour was named defensive player of the week posting a shutout along with a 1.33 GAA and a .944 save%. Skilled pivot Justin Mapletoft who won the praise of Butch Goring in camp opened his season with a two goal three point performance, carrying Red Deer to a 4-4 tie.
As reported by HF’s own Peter Westermark Mattias Weinhandl has been paired with the Sedin-twins in MoDo, and Weinhandl has 1 goals and 2 assists with a +4 after three games. That line, featuring perhaps the three most promising 1980-born Swedes, is one of the most interesting ones to watch for the Elitserien-crowds. As a rookie in the Eliteserien Weinhandl is sure to put up impressive numbers on that line, and may prove to be a huge steal in the third round.
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After all the personnel changes by the Lightning organization, I assumed the first couple of days of camp would be taken up with introductions. Between trades, signings, invitations, and every other conceivable means of acquiring players, the Tampa Bay training camp roster looked very little like last years. The Lightning had a horrible past two seasons, but they did have a core of good players. Injuries were also a problem for the Bolts. Rick Dudley, G.M. of the Lightning, did a good job of bringing in a lot of players. One of the biggest problems in the last couple of years in Tampa was depth. With having to hurry draftees into the lineup and no real minor league system to speak of, the team was not able to develop any depth within the organization.
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With each passing day the Rangers team continues to mould itself into a finer well oiled machine, one that looks to be without 1st round selections Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark. Brendl has been less than impressive of late due to his conditioning or lack of. His skating needs work as it appears he is NOT ready for NHL action. During the Rangers latest day of practice Captain Brian Leetch had Brendl lead the skating group in laps. Veteran Kevin Stevens started a group chant that included “come on Pavel, you can do it…”. It seems as the one time roster lock has just about had his bags packed and is headed back to the Western League and Calgary Hitmen for an encore. Many outside of the Rangers management believe that Brendl can still score 15-20 goals at the NHL level this year if he is given the proper amount of ice time but not under John Muckler`s system. With Brendl just about out of the running one has to wonder about the draft day trade that sent a first rounder as well as up and comer Daniel Cloutier and Niklas Sundstrøm to Tampa. The positive is Brendl can learn from his first NHL camp and flourish in the WHL and hone his skills for the 2000-01 season in NYC and open a spot on the wing allowing Mike Knuble to gain more ice time as he has deserved with a strong pre-season.
Erstwhile Jamie Lundmark has been most impressive and looks most ready for the NHL although his size(strength) has been his downfall. Another year of Juniors and an NHL strength training regimen could very solve this problem.
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