With the progression of the calendar comes the glimmer of new hopes and new dreams for a new year. For the Kootenay ICE, the new year still holds that promise. It just didn’t show itself on the year’s first day with a 5-3 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers and when it will show up is anyone’s guess.
In what could very well turn out to be the one of the more crucial home stands’ of the year, the ICE have struck out the first two out of three and have two formidable opponents in the on-deck circle. In the past week Kootenay has offered up a Christmas turkey in the form of last Friday’s 3-0 drubbing by the Moose Jaw Warrior, the first time in recent memory that the club has been shutout at home. They’ve been a force in more than just the goals column of the score-sheet with the six-goal, six-fight outburst as the Lethbridge Hurricanes were doubled 6-3 the very next night. Completing the up again, down again cycle, the aforementioned drubbing by the Tigers to start off 2002 with a whiff.
Coach Ryan McGill knew why his depleted club didn’t succeed against the Tigers after an all-around team effort in the win over Lethbridge just three nights earlier. He just didn’t know why his players didn’t. “It’s a concern everyday,” said McGill of what seems like the two different clubs that don the ICE jerseys on any given night. “Our biggest thing tonight is that every mental mistake we made they put in the back of the net and consequently at the other end, we couldn’t score.
“That was the bottom line. We had no mental intensity in any area tonight.”
McGill also fin Read more»
Halfway home. The 2001-2002 USHL season is at the midway mark of the season and so far USHL fans have been treated to some fantastic exhibitions of hockey. The race for the division titles has already begun with teams jockeying for playoff position and the coveted Division title for the 1st and 2nd seeds in the Clark Cup USHL playoffs. In the Eastern Division the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders have held the top spot for quite awhile with 38 points (18-10-2). Up until recently there was very little competition for the spot but the Green Bay Gamblers have stepped up their game a notch and are now within striking distance with 35 points (16-8-3). The Des Moines Buccaneers a preseason favorite by many, including myself to win the Eastern Division is not far behind with 33 points (15-10-3). The RoughRiders though hold the upper hand as they played a large number of their road games in the first half of the season en route to compiling a wonderful 12-7-2 road record.
With approximately 2/3 of their road schedule out of the way, Cedar Rapids will be in good shape to bring home their first ever division title while in Cedar Rapids. In the Western Division the Sioux City Musketeers broke out of the gate the fastest and still hold the top spot in the West as well as the top seed in the entire league with 46 points (22-5-2). Similarly to Cedar Rapids, the Musketeers have company at the top of the pole. The Sioux Falls Stampede have ridden a seven game winning streak back into 2nd place with 43 points (21-7-1) while the defending Clark and Gold Cup Champion Omaha Lancers a Read more»
Fredrik Sjostrom, Sweden – Fredrik has not been given a shot to show his talent at the World Junior Championships and his statistics have illustrated just that. Sjostrom has only 2 penalty minutes with no goals or assists in the five games he has played so far. Sjostrom has been limited to fourth line play and 13th forward duties with virtually no time on the power play and penalty kill. Fredrik will only improve and gain experience from being at the Championships when he goes back to the Calgary Hitmen.
5 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, 2 PIM, +2, 6 SOG
Ruslan Zainullan, Russia – Ruslan came over in the Nikolai Khabibulin trade from Tampa Bay and has been put in the same position that Fredrik Sjostrom has been in with Sweden. Ruslan through the quarterfinals does not have a registered shot on goal which is something he will need to address if he is to have success in his professional career. Zainullan has only one assist and 2 penalty minutes in the five games through the quarterfinals of the Championships so far. As with Sjostrom, Zainullan will gain nothing but positive experience from this.
5 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, 2 PIM, -1, 0 SOG
Martin Podelsak, Czech Republic – Martin started off the tournament playing on the 2nd line along side Frantisek Lukes and Miloslav Horava. Martin has really been a disappointment at the Championships. Podelsak hasn’t registered a point in the tournament and has really disappointed the hometown fans in the Czech Republic. Podelsak is a plus one and has four shots on goal. Podelsak had really high expectations going into this tou Read more»
WJC Mid Term Report
So we’ve seen the round robin games and some players have stood out, a few even for good reasons. But what about those drafted by Toronto? To date among the most impressive you’d have to rank Canada’s Brad Boyes. A few months ago, it was the opinion of this column that perhaps Boyes might be tried on the wing to bolster the outside scoring. Seeing him dominate in the faceoff dot as much as he has at this tourney though, it would be interesting to see what he can do against stiffer competition. He certainly has the puck smarts and defensive responsibility to play the middle. While he has so far been the clear cut #1 choice.
However after Boyes, a couple of Bud blueliners check in for a very close battle for 2nd spot in Canada’s Carlo Colaiacovo and Finland’s Markus Seikola. Both are mobile defensemen who can carry the puck up ice, both have hard shots from the point, and both like to hit. Seikola looked to be the slightly heavier hitter and shooter, but Colaiacvovo looked to be a touch more mobile. Call them 2 and 2A.
On the downside, Jay Harrison, has looked very out of place on this squad. He has been beaten to the outside repeatedly, and he has blindly fired the puck anywhere but here numerous times throughout the preliminary rounds. While it’s true, he’s not here to provide offensive fireworks, in light of his defensive play, the absence of a contribution at this end leaves little positive to talk about.
Filip Novak, Defenseman, Czech Republic: Novak, registering 2 assists and an Even +/- rating through the 4 games of the preliminary round, and the Czech Republic squared off against Finland in hopes of continuing their pursuit of a Gold Medal. Finland, coming off a 4-1 beating of Team Canada, finished as the top team in the preliminary round, while the Czech Republic finished an extremely disappointing fourth in Group B with a 1-3-0 record. The game was a close one from start to finish. New Jersey Devils’ prospect Tuomas Pihlman put the Finns on the board first with 1:11 remaining in the opening period. Forward Petr Prucha notched a power play goal to tie the game for the Czechs, 7:48 seconds into the second period. The game remained tied only for about ten minutes when Finnish forward Jarkko Immonen converted a pass from defenseman Joni Pitkanen, considered one of the top 2002 eligible prospects. The game stay that way until Tomi Maki, a 4th rounder by the Calgary Flames in 2001, finished it off with an empty net goal with only nine seconds remaining. The Czech Republic outshot Finland 18 to 15, but the Finns got strong goaltending yet again from Kari Lehtonen, arguably the top goaltender available for 2002, and won the game 3-1. After winning back-to-back Gold Medals, the Czechs disappointed this time around in their own country, and now are out of contention for a medal. The highest they can finish in this tournament now would be 5th. As for Filip Novak, the swift-skating defenseman registered no points in the contest and was a -1. The Czechs face Team USA tomorro Read more»