What awaits the Ice House this year? Will it be a version of the 95-96 London Knights or the Knights of the last two seasons?
This Knights team can do some more damage if they get some keys guys returning. Teams like Barrie, Sarnia and Plymouth will be taking the brunt of a lot of games this year instead of giving them. Then again that all depends on how Finley plays for Barrie or if Sarnia gets back Sarno and if Plymouth can get back Legwand. As for the Knights, if the first exhibition game is any indication then the Knights are in good shape. They are coming off a birth in the OHL finals. Last year nobody thought they would make it out of the first round let alone make it to Game 7 of the finals.
WHO IS GONE:
Richard Pitirri – A excellent center. What can’t be said about this guy. He is a faceoff artist who was voted third in the league at faceoffs. Last season he decided to comeback to the London Knights as an overager. He turned down playing with Cincinnati of the IHL to play for them. Well it was probably his best choice as he finished the season with 76 points leaving him 4th on the team. Plus his 34 points in the playoffs was a great accomplishment. This season he will be playing with Portland of the AHL.
An overview of the Swiss National League A (NLA). How strong are the teams? What about prospects? These are the main questions I asked myself.
The whole league will me much more balanced, than it was last season, but there are still teams who could dominate this season
Teams in alphabetic order:
Pauli Jaks, drafted by the Los Angeles Kings and the first ever Swiss player to play an NHL game, was the best goalie in last year’s regular season, but struggled in the playoffs. This year there will be a lot of pressure on him with the team not being strong up front. If the team is to succeed he will have to hold them in most games and if he does he will be one of the top goalies this season. Back-up Peter Martin is one of the best backup goaltenders in the league.
Last season Ambri had one of the best defenses in the league and they shouldn’t be much worse this season. The defense corps is strong, and the injuries that hurt them last year shouldn’t crop up this time with prospects Andreas Hänni and John Gobbi around. Swedish native, and one time Vancouver Canuck, Leif Rohlin was the best defensive defenseman in the league last season, but the team is relying on him to put up better offensive numbers this time around.
Offense: Read more»
558 miles to Kimberley, BC, the training camp home of the Portland Winterhawks, from Portland, OR was every bit worth the effort. My travel woes aside, here’s the latest on the Portland Winterhawks and their new breed of NHL prospects.
Impact players for 1999-2000:
Blake Robson (Center, 6’0″, 185lbs) – Blake is playing with a confidence that I only saw a glimmer of last year. He is playing bigger and is definitely a step ahead of the rest of the camp. He’s going to be the offensive leader this year, and already has one tournament under his belt. Blake was selected to Team Canada’s World Under 18 Team and brought home the gold medal playing in a tournament featuring the best 17 year olds from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, USA and Canada. I asked Blake if he thought he would be expected to be a leader this year, “yes, but Kiesman and Walker will also be looked to for leadership.” When asked about some of the new guys, Robson responded, “I don’t know many of them yet, but there’s a big kid from California who everyone’s talking about.” (That big kid is Eric Bowen from Canoga Park, CA, he’s huge and is opening a lot of eyes at this training camp). I asked Blake about playing for second year coach Harold Snepts, “He’s definitely a lot more comfortable this year and with Willy as assistant it’s a great combo to play for. They know a lot about hockey.” Blake Robson will be a top performer in the WHL this year, and he has a bright future to look forward to. Read more»
Thank you to our correspondent Sarah Lindenau, who is attending camp in Traverse City and continues to provide us with valuable prospect information.
Team B vs. Team D
Final Score: 7-1 for Team B
Team B Notes
Team B features regulars Kozlov, Holmstrom, Maltby and Dandenault.
Team B features prospects Jesse Wallin, Ryan Barnes, John Wikstrom and Jake McCracken.
Scoring: Kozlov (2g, 3a), Rodgers (1g, 3a), Avery (1g, 1a), Holmstrom, Maltby and Harkins.
The top line featured Harkins centering Maltby and Holmstrom.
Sean Avery centered Kozlov and Marc Rodgers.
Wikstrom was again paired with Dandenault on the blue line.
Manny Legace was tremendous, playing aggressively and displaying excellent flexibilty.
Golubovsky worked hard and played well. Despite the occasional lapse, he is definitely in contention with Fischer and Wallin for a regular spot in Detroit.
Avery displayed good skills, aggressiveness, heart, and desire.
Wallin was again impressive and appears to be locking up a roster spot in Detroit.
McCracken redeemed himself in goal somewhat, although he still requires further development.
Team D Notes
Team D features regulars Murphy, Duchesne, Wregget, Draper, Roest and Kocur.
Team D features prospects Philippe Audet, Aren Miller, Jeremy Goetzinger, and contract hopefuls Randy Burridge and Sandy Moger.
Scoring: J.J. Hunter (Duchesne, Murphy)
The top line was Draper centering Burridge and Kocur. Read more»