The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins may not be the hottest team in the American Hockey League, but they do possess plenty of spirit and the support of a town who has vowed to stand behind them despite a rocky start. Currently playing with a record of 2-13-5, the “Jr. Pens” have a great deal of work cut out for them if they hope to catch up with the opposition. Nothing is impossible however, and it’s still early enough in the season to turn things around. Whether they can do it or not remains to be seen.
Wilkes-Barre does however, have a few things on it’s side: players such as Martin Sonnenberg and Dennis Bonvie, the two leading scorers. Bonvie brings a whole new definition of forceful play to the game. His unique ability to get under the opposition’s skin has earned him the title of “goon.” The truth is however, he’s not a goon. He knows exactly what he’s doing and enjoys frustrating the other team. This year, he’s added something special to the mix. Dennis found the scoreboard and was, for quite some time, the points leader. Amazingly, he managed to do so entirely based on assists.
Martin Sonnenberg is a different kind of player. While Bonvie is a winger with an attitude, Sonnenberg is a winger with a little more patience. He’s not exactly a Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux, but he does exhibit a real passion for the game and desire to win. It’s obvious how much he respects his teammates and how much they respect him.
With injuries to Terry Yake and, more notably, Pierre Turgeon, the St. Louis Blues rewarded two highly regarded prospects last week with a promotion to the NHL. Left winger Derek Bekar and center Ladislav Nagy, both of whom have played extremely well at Worcester this year, were given the call to join the blue note. Bekar led the team in goals with seven while Nagy had four goals and seven assists in 17 games. Bekar has good speed and size, however, he was ineffective in his NHL debut. Consequently, he was sent back to the Ice Cats where he will receive valuable ice time. Nagy was inserted into the lineup the next game and played well enough to earn another assignment. Admittedly nervous the game before, Nagy settled down in his second NHL game and showed off the skill that has him rated number one in the organization’s list of prospects. Showing great vision and anticipation, he continued to stand out while playing almost exclusively on the fourth line with Mike Eastwood and agitator Tyson Nash. Then it happened; his first NHL goal. With patience and confidence, Nagy took Tyson Nash’s centering feed and buried it top shelf. After, of course, losing his helmet in a corner scrum a few seconds before. There are those, aware of his cocky demeanor, that would say he lost his helmet purposely knowing he would score the goal. Nevertheless, with 1 goal and 2 assists in 4 games and adding skill to a fourth line, Joel Quenneville will have a tough decision to make when Turgeon gets healthy.
A quick scan of the OHL Western conference shows three teams fighting
for the top spot. The Sault Greyhounds were expected to be there. Brampton was not and their amazing second season rolls on without any overagers and only 2 19 year olds in the lineup. The Windsor Spitfires are also there, much to the surprise of many. Their success has been due to a team effort, they do not have the stars that other teams boast. Yet they are ranked in the CHL top ten, sitting 7th.
Over the last few years this team has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Whether it was star players being charged for off ice incidents, stars breaking curfews and being suspended, or the Jeff Kugel disgrace, a dark cloud has hung over this franchise. The hiring of Tom Webster has brought some class, leadership, stability and hope to the Spits. He has them playing tough, disciplined, hard nosed hockey, rolling 4 lines, pounding teams along the boards, and producing victory after victory. They follow through on their hits (if you are at a game, don’t follow the puck or you might miss a Spitfire run over an opponent who was admiring his pass), they forecheck tenaciously, and unlike the Peter Sarno years the forwards can pick their goalie out of a crowd of strangers.
The U20 team has won a 4-Nations tournament in the USA. “Partly, partly”, was head coach Jakob Koelliker’s answer. “We have won it, but especially the game against Germany was really bad. We have to win against opponents like Germany.”
Switzerland had many chances to score goals. Koelliker: “We are not cool enough, we should score a lot more goals.” Indeed not only the juniors, but all of the Swiss players need to take better advantage of their goal-scoring
In a preparation game against the Rochester Mustangs, Switzerland took a 4:0 victory. The Swiss goal scorers were Bjoern Christen, Marc Reichert (2 goals) and Loic Burkhalter. Silvan Lussy and Fabian Stephan, each
added two assists. Martin Zerzuben had his first of two shut-outs. The
second followed in the tournament game against Norway.
Switzerland dominated the game and shot out the Mustangs, 22 to 9 shots.
The tournament started with a game against Germany. The game ended in a tie
at 2. Switzerland had 20 shots, while Germany was held to 14.
In the next game Norway was left scoreless. 6:0 was the final score. “Well not really an opponent for us,” coach Koelliker commented on the game. Six different players scored the goals. 35 to 3 shots – Norway is not really on the same level as Switzerland.
When the Soo Greyhounds opened training camp prior to this season there
were very few question marks in their lineup. The only major question mark
was who was going to be the starting goaltender, Jake McCracken or
Jason Flick. That question has since been answered due to the fact that
McCracken has been unable to play due to injury.
Looking back at the first part of the Greyhounds season the team
looks to be in pretty good shape. They had a ton of veterans coming back
from last year’s team. At the draft they added even more experience with
the addition of winger Brent Theobald from the Mississauga IceDogs.
In the standings the Greyhounds are in great shape as they are
fighting with the surprising Windsor Spitfires for 1st place in the OHL’s
West Division and are among the top teams in the OHL. The Greyhounds Read more»