As of Thursday morining, Oct. 28, the division is lead by the Prince George Cougars with fifteen points from fourteen games followed by the Kamloops Blazers, defending division champions, and Kelowna Rockets, each with thirteen points from the same number of games as the Cougars. The Tri-City Americans sit in fourth with twelve points after only ten games, with everyones preseason pick to runaway with the division, the Seattle Thunderbirds in fifth, with eleven points from only nine games and the Spokane Chiefs in sixth with ten points from ten games. The pre season consensus for last were the Portland Winterhawks and they are living down to eveyones expectations with a mere four points from eleven games, however the Hawks have picked up points in three of the last four games and may have turned the corner to be coming more competitive more often.
In Part 1 of the Class of ’99 series, I profiled the graduates of the 1998-99 season: Mark Parrish, Peter Worrell, Jaroslav Spacek, and Oleg Kvasha. With a new season underway, and many of the overpaid veterans (such as Kirk Muller) bought out or traded, there are more rookies making an impact on the Panthers this season, and other hopefuls looking to make an impact on the Panthers in the coming months. This article will look at the prospects who have made the Panthers early in the season.
Ivan Novoseltsev – RW [1998/99: 63 Games, 54g-36a-90pts 41pim - Sarnia (OHL)]
After a mediocre start to his OHL career (45 points in 51 games) in 1997/98, Ivan turned it up to score 54 goals in 63 games with the Sarnia Sting (owned by ex-Panther Dino Ciccarelli) in 1998/99. He had a great training camp in Florida and would have made the big club if not for the depth of skilled forwards on the team. Panthers GM Bryan Murray wanted Novoseltsev to get the prime-time ice time he needed, to develop his offensive and defensive games. Playing on the 3rd or 4th line in Florida wouldn’t be too beneficial to an offensive-minded player like Novoseltsev.
His 1999/2000 season has been a success so far. After a good showing in the pre-season, “Supernova” has lit up the AHL with 2 goals and 4 assists in just 5 games for the expansion Louisville Panthers. In addition to his AHL exploits, the injury to sniper Pavel Bure meant a call-up for Novo…it was time for the big show!
The start of the 1999-2000 Ontario Hockey League season has to be considered a major disappointment for the London Knights as the team for The Forest City is currently mired in last place in the competitive Western Division with an unimpressive 2-6-4 record.
But fret not, Knights faithful. Head coach and general manager, for one, is not about to push the panic button, especially in light of last season’s magical ride to the OHL championship series, a titanic struggle the Knights lost in 7 games to the Belleville Bulls.
“The regular season was not exactly a great season for us last season. We started off slow, had a better second half and then enjoyed a great playoff run,” Agnew claimed. “It is better to do it that way because everyone remembers what happened in the playoffs.
“It was a great experience for the entire organization,” Agnew continued. “We had a great group of kids, and they achieved what they did because they worked hard.”
After getting by the Sarnia Sting in the opening round of the post season last spring, the Knights shocked the junior hockey world by eliminating the mighty Plymouth Whalers in seven games.
In fact, the Knights did more than just eliminate the Whalers – they destroyed the boys from Plymouth 10-3 in their own back yard.
“That was a very exciting game, the boys were very tight in the dressing room before the first period, yet they were also very loose and confident,” Agnew recalled. “We felt that if we could get the puck to the net, that we would be just fine.”
The Kootenay Ice now have a 5-4-3 (4-3-1-0 at home, 1-1-2-0 on the road and 0-0-3-0 in overtime) record after suffering two losses last week. The first loss was to Lethbridge on Wednesday, October 20 (in Lethbridge) with a final score of 6-3. The second loss came at home on Friday, October 23 when the Ice succumbed to a 5-2 final versus Prince Albert Raiders. This now places the Ice fourth in the Central Division and in a three-way-tie for 7th overall in the WHL.
In The Line-Up:
The Ice welcomed back Steve McCarthy in Friday’s game after he returned from his 5-game stint with the Chicago Blackhawks in which he had 1 goal and 1 assist. Kudos to Steve for his excellent performance in his NHL debut. Although Steve wasn’t on the opening line, the crowd showed its appreciation when Steve took to the ice about 1 minute into the game. With many standing, and everyone cheering, he must have known how proud we are. I can actually say that I have a genuine autographed NHL jersey now as I waited in line behind a ton of kids (all with their own hockey stories to tell the players) at the mall on Sunday when the Ice autographed calendars and jerseys and the like. I had my Ice jersey signed by all and then pulled out my Chicago Blackhawks jersey and asked Steve to sign the crest. He was very flattered and said “great jersey” with a huge smile on his face. Thanks Steve… Read more»
The Los Angeles Kings are playing their best hockey in years, but one glaring weakness is their lack of a true enforcer. With Matt Johnson being swiped by Atlanta in the expansion draft and Steve McKenna being rendered useless with a bad eye, the Kings need to find someone who can protect their new superstars. After seeing teams like Washington, Boston and San Jose take runs at the Robitaille, Stumpel, Palffy line, the Kings will likely find a stopgap until the nest “Matt Johnson” comes around.
While Matt Johnson is not the best enforcer in the league, he was liked by his teammates and did a great job patrolling the ice. He was just 20 years old when he broke in and seemed poised to protect the Kings for years to come, but as many publications pointed out, he was the slowest player in the NHL. He made tremendous strides, but the next Kings’ enforcer will need the now necessary blend of size, skill and muscle. Here are the two most likely contenders to be the Kings’ enforcer of the future: