Currently ranked number 4 on the CHL Top 10 list the Belleville Bulls, with a record of 11-5, are showing that they will once again be a top contender for the OHL title. The name of the game so far this year has been explosive offense. The Bulls can currently boast 3 of the top 5 scorers in the OHL, #1 Mike Renzi (32), #2 Nathan Robinson (31) and #5 Kyle Wellwood (25).
The Bulls however have had trouble controlling opposing forwards in their own end mainly due to the lack of size on the blue-line. Captain Matt Coughlin is the biggest Bulls defenseman at 6’3” 200lbs and he is the only one over 200lbs. This has made the transition game more difficult resulting in more work for goalies Jan Chovan and Paulo Colaiacovo who have been up to the task in most games. The defense are talented and above average skaters but have seemed reluctant to jump into the offense with the exception of Malcolm Hutt who is having an excellent season so far with 2 goals and 9 assists. Coughlin has vastly improved his skating from last season but has not been utilizing his newfound skills as of yet.
The Bulls just came off of a shootout win against the Mississauga Ice Dogs (9-6) and a hard luck loss to the Erie Otters (3-2) where all 3 of Erie’s goals were weak. The Otters defense was very impressive, led by Maple Leaf draft pick Carlo Colaiacovo who had a very strong game. The Erie – Belleville game boasted 4 Maple Leaf Draft picks: Colaiacovo, Brad Boyes, Kyle Wellwood and Jan Chovan. Chovan however did not play in f Read more»
A funny thing happened to Jussi Markkanen when he went to Hamilton for a tune up. While it was intended to be a one game “warm-up” demotion, it has turned into a two week coming out party for Ty Conklin. All Conklin has done is win both of his starts and compile a 1.63 GAA. If he had enough minutes played to qualify, he would be third overall in GAA. While Conklin is the closest thing the Oilers have to a prospect in their line up, it is way too early to tell if he is the real deal, but his early heroics have earned him another start, and the players trust.
“In the development stages”
Kevin Brown and Marc Lamothe are providing the Hamilton Bulldogs exactly what the Oilers had hoped for, veteran leadership and strong performances. Leading the way from the prospects are Jason Chimera, Brian Swanson, and Jani Rita. Michael Henrich has also followed up his impressive training camp by posting 4 points in his first 7 games. Not huge numbers, but when you consider that he only had 15 points all of last year, it is a marked improvement.
This year’s training camp ended with everyone viewing a different Mark Bell. The one we viewed this season was more relaxed, confident and a beneficiary of a year in the farm beside teaching coach Trent Yawney. Everybody saw the difference on the ice.
Mark Bell, future Hawk centre certainly would play in the NHL eventually. The question as training camp ended was if he would be able to crack the Hawk line-up there this season, where lack of ice time while dressed for games and press box time when scratched would only serve to dampen his spirits.
Coach Brian Sutter saw an opportunity for Mark Bell to play in Chicago now. But it would be in a job position where his performance each night would dictate if he would return for the next game to play again. And it would not be at the position where he was heir. It would be as the third line LW. Left wing is the position that this writer stated Bell would be better suited for three years ago, but a 3rd line Left wing has to play a much more rigorous game than any centre, and the job is one where being physical is a certainty to success.
So far Mark Bell has answered the call each night he has fought, scored and never been a passenger on a team whose early success is somewhat tied to his success.
Granted, The Hawks good record early on reflect the play of all of the pieces. The emergence of Thibault as an early competitor who can keep teams under three goals has to rank high in the success. And the early sniping by young diminutive forward Kyle Calder and young vet Eric Daze certainly cannot be Read more»
Updates on Flyers prospects playing in Europe.
Antero Niittymäki: Defending champion TPS Turku is off to their worst start in years. One of the bright spots, however, has been the early-season resurgence of goaltender Antero Niittymäki, who encountered a sophomore slump last season after a Rookie of the Year season in 1999-2000. Niittymäki has been splitting starts roughly in half with veteran Fredrik Norrena. In 8 starts to date, “Antsu” has a miniscule 1.69 goals against average and a .948 save percentage. However, those numbers have only been good enough for 4 wins (against 3 losses and a tie). Likewise, Norrena has played well (2.09 GAA, .926 save percentage) but has also suffered from lack of goal support, as his 2-5-2 record attests.
Marko Kauppinen : Defenseman Marko Kauppinen struggled terribly out of the gates for TPS, but has come on nicely over the last three weeks. In 17 games to date, he has 3 goals and 5 points. A few weeks ago, Kauppinen had a team-worst minus-five rating, but he now is the plus side of the ledger, with a plus-3.
Jussi Timonen : Playing for KalPa in Division One, Kimmo Timonen’s younger brother is playing his first season at the senior level. He has three points (all assists) in 12 games.
David Printz: Hulking defenseman David Printz was set to play college hockey for Northern Michigan this season, but opted instead to accept an offer to play for AIK in Elitserien. Printz, who was originally trained in the AIK junior developme Read more»