Only 2 are left standing in the USHL playoffs. One mild surprise visitor and the team everyone expects to win it. Can you say drama? Two teams separated by less than 100 miles and neither team likes each other one bit, especially when the Clark Cup Title is at stake. The top seeded Lincoln Stars handled the 6th seeded Tri-City Storm easily by sweeping them 3 games to none while the 4th seeded Omaha Lancers pulled a mild upset in beating the 3rd seeded Sioux Falls Stampede 3 games to 1. Both the Lancers and Stars dominated their series against their respective opponents. Now they face each other, this matchup has definitely got the makings of a great series. The winner not only gets the Clark Cup trophy but they also stamp their ticket to the National Junior “A” Championships where they will compete for the coveted Gold Cup.
The Stars and Lancers are two teams that are stockpiled with talent from top to bottom. On offense for the Stars you have the likes of Brandon Bochenski and Chris Fournier. The Lancers will bring forth Dan Welch and Riley Riddell. All 4 are in the top of the scoring list and each has extraordinary talent. Defensively the Stars have the edge from the physical standpoint but both the Lancers and Stars have very solid defense. The Stars have physical bruisers such as Lee Marvin, Andy Schneider and of course, Nick Fouts. Omaha answers with the likes of Keith Ballard, Jason Krischuk and Bryce Lampman. What all of this means is that we could be in for a stalemate as both teams high powered offenses could be grounded by the Read more»
The building of a strong defensive corps is a never-ending job for a NHL GM. Having a solid group of defensemen coupled with good goaltending will virtually ensure that a team will be competitive in most every game, but getting the right mix of players is truly a challenge.
The recent draft history of the Buffalo Sabres is a perfect example of the difficulties of assembling a solid, cohesive defensive unit. In the NHL drafts of 1989-1999, Buffalo used their top pick in the draft 6 times to select a defenseman (Kevin Haller, Phillipe Boucher, David Cooper, Denis Tsygurov, Jay McKee, Dimitri Kalinin). Of those 6 picks, only McKee and Kalinin have shown better than average ability at their position, with Kalinin being a rookie this year. The only other player from that group to log substantial time in the NHL is Kevin Haller, who would probably qualify as a journeyman defenseman.
Of course, the blueline contingent is rarely built with top draft picks, alone, as a team can find good defensive talent in the later rounds of the draft. This is true in the case of the current Sabres’ defensive group, as Alexei Zhitnik (LA-4th Rd., ’91), Jason Woolley (WAS- 4th Rd., ’89), Richard Smehlik (BUF- 5th Rd., ’90), and Rhett Warrener (FL- 2nd Rd., ’94) were all selected after the 1st round (James Patrick was a 1st rounder for the Rangers in ’81). What this also points out, however, is that building the defense often means having to go outside the organization to fill in the gaps, whic Read more»
Daniel Corso, C -Corso has played extremely well for the Blues every game he has played this year, in 28 games with the Blues he has had 10 goals and three assists with an even +/- rating. Corso has also allowed the Blues to once again have three scoring lines, while his is also often out against the other teams top line. Centering a unit of himself, Dallas Drake, and newcomer Cory Stillman. Corso looks to be the real deal, as he has consistently worked extremely hard and played a well rounded game filled with grit and skill, not to mention plenty of speed. Despite playing 28 games with the Blues, he has still managed to stay 4th in scoring for the Worcester Ice Cats, with 16 goals and 36 assists for 52 points in 50 games.
Barret Jackman, D -Jackman played in the WJHC’s, just as his shoulder had started to heal. He played close to 30 mins in each game too, in 7 games he had no goals, one assist and 8 penalty minutes. In 43 games for the Regina Pats, Jackman had 9 goals and 27 assists plus 138 PIM’s. He could be a real help again this year to the Worcester Ice Cats after the Pats are out of the playoffs.
Mike Van Ryn-D-Van Ryn in many people’s eyes has not lived up to his expectations, but he has regained his confidence, and will be a big part of the Ice Cats team in the playoffs, as will Jackman.
Andrei Trochinsky-C/RW-In his first season in North America, as a member of the Worcester Ice Cats, he now has 76 games uner his belt along with 17 goals, and 28 assists for 45 points.
Marc Rycroft-RW-Rycroft finis Read more»
Weekly and Final Season stats with comments.
Peter Hamerlik, G (Kingston)
Final Week- 4 games, 1-3, 3.88GAA, .880SvPct
Final Stats- 56 games, 21-21-8, 3.03GAA, .907SvPct
Peter’s first season in the OHL was a successful one. Shrugging off last season’s struggles, Peter won the starting job early in the season and was playing extrememly well during the middle of the season. Tired late and was less effective. Finished 2nd in the OHL in rookie SvPct.
Jeremy Van Hoof, D (Ottawa)
Final Week- 4 games, 0 points
Final Stats- 65 games, 1 goal, 14 assists, 15 points, +11, 49 PIM
Still unsigned, likely to compete for a spot with the Wilkes-Barre next season.
David Koci, D (Prince George)
Final Week- 8 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, 27 PIM
Final Stats- 70 games, 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, +6, 155 PIM
David was a huge surprise for me this season. Reports out of the draft made him sound as a slow lanky defenseman who needed a *lot* of work before he’d be ready. David came to camp and looked nothing like he was protrayed. Big defenseman that skated quite well. Looked very good for his first Pens camp experience. Played well in his first season in North America. 2nd on the team in +/-.
Darcy Robinson, D (Red Deer)
Final Week- 4 games, 4 PIM Read more»
With two days completed (some scores were not in at time of
printing), the top teams are beginning to show
themselves at the Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey
Tournament. The Kelowna Jr. Rockets and Edmonton Lions lead the Red
Division after two wins and then playing to a draw when facing each
other. The Orange Division is led by the Airdrie Xtreme and Toronto
Young Nationals at 2-0, while the Green Divsion is led by the Wexford
Raiders at 2-0. The Detroit Honeybaked Hams lead the Blue Division at
Kelowna and Edmonton both have smooth skating clubs that like to
run and gun. Kelowna isn’t quite as big as the Edmonton team, however
they are very gritty. After seeing the two teams play to a draw I
felt that Kelowna was fortunate to do so as their goaltender was
bailed out numerous times after the puck would get through him, then
have a teammate stop the puck from crossing the line or clearing it
out of danger. Kelowna was also outshot in the contest but found a
way to stay in it which says a lot about their gritty play. It
appears as though these two teams will fight it out for top spot in
In the Orange divison, Airdrie and Toronto both have 2-0
records, however both teams were meeting in an important match-up
tonight as this was going to print. I’ve only seen the Xtreme play
once and have yet to see Toronto play so I really can’t compare the
two teams. The game in which I saw Airdrie play, they played a run
and gun style game, leaving their goaltender to save the day on more
than one o Read more»