Rookie St. Albert Saints netminder Tom Gillard is starting to come of age in
the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Before training camp even started, Gillard was the odds-on favourite to win
the open goaltending spot on the roster. It was vacated by the departing
Scott Kabotoff, who accepted a scholarship to join the University of
Wisconsin following last season.
Gillard spent last season with the Maple Leaf Athletic Club (Midget AAA). He
backstopped the MLAC to a solid fourth-place finish, with 11 wins, 9 losses,
a 4.40 GAA and a .885 save percentage.
After losing a number of quality players, the Plymouth Whalers were expected to struggle this Ontario
Hockey League season.
And struggle they have. The Whalers sit in fourth place in the OHL’s Western Division at about the
one-third mark of the campaign.
However, there are some encouraging signs.
In goal, 18-year old Rob Zepp has been steady behind a largely inexperienced defense. The Atlanta
Thrashers draftee has a goals against average of 2.42 in 17 appearances.
First round draft pick Stephen Weiss leads the team in scoring with 25 points, and fellow rookie Tomas
Kurka has 18.
Weiss has speed and good puck sense. The puck seems to follow him around, and all things considered,
those 25 points are no fluke.He’s been named to Ontario’s Under-17 team at the World Hockey Challenge.
Kurka, from the Czech Republic, brings with him the reputation of a sniper. His 15 points are fifth on the
In between are second year wingers Justin Williams and Damien Surma, along with overage defenceman
A pleasant surprise has been the play of another Czech import. Defender Libor Urstrnul stands 6’5″ and
weighs 230 lbs., but has a fair amount of mobility, which is surprising for a big man. The soon-to-be
19-year-old also likes to mix it up, and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves.
Indeed, a Urstrnul fight is quite a sight. It starts with the fact that he DOES fight, a trait not often seen in
European players. Read more»
ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END:
The Kootenay Ice saw their 7 game undefeated and 6 game winning streak come to an end this past weekend when the Kelowna Rockets, Calgary Hitmen, and Regina Pats came to town. The Ice played three games in three nights and were defeated 3-2 by both the Rockets and the Hitmen before taking an 8-5 victory over the Regina Pats. The Ice are now 13-7-4-0 (8-5-1-0 at home and 5-2-3-0 on the road.) The Ice are still holding on to second place in the Central Division. The Ice take to the road this week for a 6-game road trip and are hoping to break the franchise record of five consecutive wins on the road, with which they are currently tied.
WHO’S DOING WHAT:
Mike Green is now only 7 points away from breaking the franchise record for career points.
Brad Tutschek has scored points in six of his last seven games (4-4-8).
Steve McCarthy recorded his 100th career WHL point on Wednesday, November 17th when he scored the first goal of the game (which turned out to be the game winner) versus Lethbridge.
Dan Blackburn bettered his average even after taking two losses this past weekend. Blackburn is now 7-3-0-0 in his last ten appearances with a 2.16 GAA and .920 save percentage with 12 shutout periods. Dan became the first 16 year old goaltender in the last 10 years to record a shut-out (vs. Lethbridge.) Kudos, Dan!
Graham Belak recorded his 700th career penalty minute in the Lethbridge game.
This team has only one aim: The 2000 U-18 WJC! Playing at home will be
great motivation for these kids.
Due to preparation they travelled to the United States for a training
camp and exhibition games against the USA.
Playing without Sven Helfenstein, who is already a member of the U-20
team, they still had enough players to play some pretty good hockey.
“We have between 28 and 35 players on the extended roster. Only 20 of
them will play the World Champs”, coach Beat Lautenschlager said. “We
are very deep up front. A little lack in defense, that’s why we have
two 83 born in there. But they are very good.”
The U17 National Team headed to Slovakia to play three games against a
top class opponent.
“We didn’t perform the best.”, headcoach Charly Oppliger said. “But the
opponent was very good. We did join in well in these games, that’s
what I wanted.”
Defense seemed to be the big problem for nearly all players.
Coach Oppliger explained: “In the Swiss leagues the good players can
shine offensively, other take over the defensive part for them. With
the games the players adjusted well.”
The main goal was to “gain experience” and that was reached in this test series against
Slovakia. The coach didn’t want to talk about the certain players. He
only mentioned: “All players are good. They wouldn’t be in the national