Entering the seventh week of the WHL West Division season things are beginning to take shape as the large descrepancy in games played amongst the teams is begining to dwindle. The Prince George Cougars currently lead the division with 22 points from eighteen games played while the second place Spokane Chiefs have twenty points from sixteen games to this point. The Tri-City Americans and Seattle Thunderbirds follow in third and fourth respectively, with the Ams having seventeen points from fourteen games played and the T-Birds with fifteen points from thirteen games. Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers have fifteen points as well, but Kelowna has played eighteen games while the Blazers lead the division with nineteen games under their belts and the Portland Winterhawks trail the field with seven points from sixteen games. My preseason picks now look dismal as the only team I’m even close to is the Portland Winterhawks in last, which I predicted but so did everyone else in the world.
WHL Player of the Week:
Our very own, Jaroslav Svoboda, was named the Sprint Canada WHL Player of the Week after notching 2 goals and 6 assists in his last three games. This is the second time in his career and the sixth player in franchise history to achieve this honor.
First Time Ever:
For the first time in franchise history, the Kootenay Ice have won a regular season game against their arch nemesis, The Calgary Hitmen.
The line of Svoboda (2-6-8), Green (4-2-6) and Blatny (3-3-6) has combined for twenty points during the three game unbeaten streak.
Forward Tyler Beechey will be out of the lineup for two to three weeks with a shoulder injury. Graham Belak left after the first period in the game against Calgary yet there is no word on his injury. Dean Arsene returned to the lineup after missing three games with the flu.
Where We Stand:
The Kootenay Ice are tied for second place with Lethbridge for the second spot in the Central Division with 20 points. The Calgary Hitmen are still in first with 27 points. The Ice are 8-5-4-0 so far this year.
Ice vs. Lethbridge Hurricanes
October 29, 1999
Ice Win 5-2
Jaffray (Stoll, Lassu)
Beechey (Green, Svoboda)
Tutschek (McCarthy, Johnson)
Beechey (Svoboda, Fischer)
Dan Blackburn (18 saves, 2GA)
Ice @ Lethbridge
October 30, 1999
Ice Loss 4-0
B.J. Boxma (29 saves, 4GA)
Player: Malcolm MacMillan
Born: February 8, 1982
Hometown: Thunder Bay, Ontario
Weight: 180 lbs
Pretty much every sports team has one player that the fans truly love. Some of these players include Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings, former Detroit Lion Barry Sanders and former Detroit Tiger great Lou Whitaker.
In junior hockey there is usually not one clear cut fan favorite, but there are many of them on each team. Every so often though, a player comes out of midget and really wins over the fans more than any other player. Soo Greyhound rookie centre Malcolm MacMillan is a fan favorite in every sense of the phrase.
MacMillan was the Greyhounds 1999 second round pick (31st overall). He came into camp and won over Greyhound management with his tireless work ethic and his combination of physical play and skill.
In the 15 games that MacMillan has played this season so far he has scored 2 goals and 9 points to complement his 56 penalty minutes. His 56 penalty minutes are the 5th highest total in the league thus far.
At 5’11” MacMillan is not the most physically intimidating player in the league. It’s surprising how tough he really is though. You wouldn’t expect a lot of toughness out of a player that is 5’11”. He has already gotten into a few really good fights this season.
General Manager Jamie MacDonald of the Kitchener Rangers has been a busy man in 1999, recently making a number of trades, and before that, striking gold at the draft table. This years edition of the Rangers has seen 13 rookies lace up the skates, 9 from the 1999 Priority Draft and 2 from the European Import Draft.
Despite the large number of rookies on the roster, the Rangers are playing 500 hockey, averaging about 4 goals a game, and are right in the thick of things in the competitive and tight Western Conference. This bodes well for the future as many of these rookies are getting tons of ice time and will surely benefit from it.
Steve Emiger was their first round pick, 4th overall. This 185 pound defenceman stands 6 feet and 2 inches and has played a regular shift, first line power play, and killed penalties. He just turned 16 on Halloween, and the only thing scary about him is how good he could be. Due to his late birthday, he will not be drafted until the 2002 NHL entry draft, and from what I’ve seen of him so far he is first round material. He has great offensive instincts and reminds me a little of Phil Housley.
Andrew Ference, the feisty young defenseman from Edmonton, has found a home in the heart of Pittsburgh. Still just 20 years of age, Ference is discovering there is much to learn before he can become a key defenseman in the NHL; the defenseman Pittsburgh so desperately needs. Spunk and spirit in tact however, he appears to be up for the challenge. Despite a rash of injuries, Andrew is definitely earning his ice time. Twelve games into the new season, he’s already been made a marked man by the New York Rangers for a hit on Petr Nedved, which occurred October 14th at Madison Square Garden. It’s that attitude and fearless nature that have Penguins fans everywhere taking a second look. This past Sunday (November 7, 1999), Andrew added to his credits by winning the “Fastest Skater” event in the Penguins annual skills competition. It just goes to show you, it’s not always the size of the player that matters. In some cases, a 5’10″ defenseman can play like a giant.