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.
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.
POS HT WT AGE
Eric Nickulas C 5-11 190 24
GP G A PTS PIM
98-99 Prov 67 27 25 52 79 (AHL)
98-99 BOS 2 0 0 0 0 (NHL)
Strengths- Hands, Hockey Sense
Weaknesses- Inexperience, 2-way Play.
Eric Nickulas has been an important contributor to the success of the AHL’s number one team. Nickulas has always been a gifted goal scorer at every level he has played, and the AHL has been no exception. He has made his mark on the power play, where he has 14 tallies with the man-advantage. Nickulas doesn’t seem to possess much speed, but he is a deceptive skater who has the ability to get open in close, where he does the most damage. Not the most diligent of back-checkers, he will need to sharpen his skills if he wants a regular shift in Boston.
Nickulas has the tools to make it to the NHL, but Boston has quite a few players with similar attributes. Between Randy Robitaille, Shawn Bates and Andre Savage, Nickulas will need to continue to put the puck in the net if he is to get another shot in the NHL after a limited audition for 2 games in December.
Projection at NHL level- 3rd-line Winger.
Current Stock Status- On the Rise
POS HT WT AGE
John Grahame G 6-2 210 23
GP W L T AVG Sav%
98-99 Prov 41 32 7 1 2.79 .900 (AHL)
Strengths- Mobility, Athleticism, Mental Game. 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.
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»