Calgary – The Western Hockey League today announced the Players of the Month
for December in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.
In the Eastern Conference, which includes the East and Central Divisions,
the Player of the Month is forward Jordin Tootoo of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The 18 year-old from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut recorded ten goals and 18 points
in ten games during the Month of December including three power-play goals
and two game-winning goals. He helped lead his team to an impressive 8
wins, one loss and a tie for the month.
Tootoo was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
In the Western Conference, which includes the B.C. and U.S. Divisions, the
Player of the Month is forward Joe Balej of the Portland Winter Hawks.
Balej, a 19-year-old from Myjava, Slovakia recorded 14 goals and 23 points
in 14 games during the Month of December, including ten power-play goals, a
short-handed goal and one game-winning goal. Balej was drafted by the
Montreal Canadiens in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.
Joe Balej is also a deserving choice as the Western Conference Player of the
Month for December.
HF: Sweden defeated the Czech Republic 2-1 yesterday, what are your impressions of that game?
Bäcker: We had most of the play but once again our biggest problem this tournament turned up again: scoring. That almost got us in trouble.
HF: How about the performance of team Sweden at the WJC so far?
Bäcker: We are still undefeated so……
HF: In the quarter finals you will meet Canada, who are favourites for gold.
Bäcker: Canada will be a very hard and tough game for us, but so would probably have been all of the other opponents we could have drawn. We will give our best and see what comes from it.
HF: What about your own performance so far at this WJC?
Bäcker: I’m playing an ok tournament so far. I’m satisfied with my own performance.
HF: What are your strengths and weaknesses in your game?
Bäcker: My strengths are my puckhandling and the ability to stay calm on the ice when needed. A thing I need to improve though is my shooting.
HF: You play for Färjestad, currently by far the best team in the Swedish league. What’s it like to be part of that team?
Bäcker: It’s great. Really fantastic. It’s a great club and I’m proud to be part of them at the moment.
HF: Jörgen Jönsson and Mathias Johansson have been selected in the Olympic squad for Sweden. Both are teammates of yours. What do you have to say about it?
Bäcker: That is really great for them and for the club as well of course. Both players are very good players. Johansson and Jönsson are Read more»
I’m all for the concept of parity that has inundated the Western Hockey League but as far as trade deadline deals, speculation and innuendo goes, she just ain’t what used to be.
In just over a week’s time, on January 14, the WHL’s trade deadline will have past and with the emerging trend of too much demand, not enough supply, this year’s round of poker will have lots of players, all wanting to draw some cards, but few wanting to meet the ante.
Every year the Christmas wish list gets extended a few weeks in the WHL because of the multitude of G.M.’s still searching for that elusive cog that could push their club over the top, put them into contention to make some noise in the playoffs or augment an already powerful lineup. Looking for the bargain deal, most of the gifts this year have been opened early in the season long before the economics of supply and demand had put their prices into the stratosphere.
B.C. Division -In the B.C. Division, where four of the five clubs have a legitimate shot of reaching the Western Conference final, the shopping could be all but done. Teams such as Kootenay, Kelowna and Kamloops have all made deals that are designed to address certain needs. Kootenay and Kelowna both revamped their goaltending situations by adding B.J. Boxma and Shane Bendera, respectively. Kelowna also tinkered with their defensive corps with the addition of former ICE blueliner Jesse Ferguson and Kevin Young out of Portland in October. In continuing the trend of adding former Kootenay players, Nick Marach joined the Rockets in a deal from Vanc Read more»