Unlike last year when I offered up my thoughts on the 1999 NHL
Draft for this web-site, I
decided this year to focus strictly on the OHL crop.
As I meandered my way through the OHL rinks for approximately 40
games this year and watched about the same number of games on
television, the greatest impression I was left with was how stellar the crop
for the 2001 NHL Draft appears to be. The likes of Jason Spezza, Stephen
Weiss, and Mark Popovic will headline the high end. Derek Roy promises to
fuel the size versus skill debate even further. And a host of others
players too long to list here will provide the depth. Next season promises to be
very interesting and exciting.
For now of course, the task at hand is to evaluate the
draft-eligibles for the upcoming 2000 NHL Draft. Beyond the Top Six that appear to be
sure-fire 1st rounders, I have no doubts that the opinions will vary
considerably with the remaining players. With this crop of players, the old adage
of trying to project what type of player they will become five years from now
rings especially true.
What follows is my rankings for the Top 21 OHL Skaters. I have
provided their position, team, height and weight. I have also broken down
their stats into two halves, up to the New Year, and after the New Year,
plus the season’s final totals. I have also provided their playoff Read more»
Rookie centre Chris Thorburn of the North Bay Centennials just completed his first season in the OHL. I had the opportunity to sit down with him and ask him a few questions.
Hockey’s Future: What are your thoughts on your rookie season?
Chris Thorburn: “It was a pretty good experience. The guys that I was with showed me the ropes. They took care of me. As a rookie going in I thought there would be a lot of hazing, a lot of peer pressure but I was proven wrong. On the ice I wasn’t too happy with my points overall but I thought I did have a good season progressively. At the beginning of the season I didn’t get too much ice time but throughout the season when the injuries came around I started to get a little more so, overall, I enjoyed my first year.”
HF: What are your thoughts on how the Centennials season finished up?
Thorburn: “Team wise, I think we did better than we expected, especially in the playoffs. We took Barrie to 6 (games). I was very pleased with the outcome and I’m hoping next year we can make a run with 15 returnees, possibly 18.”
HF: What do you think about the Centennials future in the next couple of seasons?
Thorburn: “Like I said, next year we’ve got 15 returnees for sure, possibly 18 depending on what our o/a’s (overagers) decide to do, but next year we’re supposed to make a run in the playoffs, so hopefully we can achieve that and maybe even go to a Memorial Cup in the next few years.”
Brian Kilrea, affectionately called ‘Killer’ by some, is the Head Coach and GM of the OHL’s Ottawa 67′s. Kilrea, has just finished his 25th season behind the bench with the club, and in the high pressure world of junior hockey, that qualifies him for Gordie Howe status in terms of longevity. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Coach Kilrea following his team’s demise in a tough six game series vs the Belleville Bulls.
Hockey’s Future: Outside of the fact that you failed to defend your Memorial Cup how was the Ottawa 67′s year?
Brian Kilrea: We had a good team but we’re a bit snakebit in the playoffs with injuries. Belleville, at that time, were the better team.
HF: Did any players take a big step forward?
BK: Biggest step forward would have to have been our goaltender, Levente Szuper. His overall game jumped to a new level and became a difference-maker for us
HF: Try to define the following players on your team by matching them up with the NHLer their style is closest to:
Dan Tessier – Peter Zezel. Great on face-offs.
Joe Talbot – Keith Acton. Pesky, in your face type player.
Jonathon Zion – Phil Housely. Smooth handling the puck.
Lance Galbraith – Wendel Clark. A battler, never say die attitude.
Miguel Delisle – Has the release to be a Mike Bossy type-sniper
PLYMOUTH, MI-Even the most passive hockey watcher knows that it’s not good to give the opposition nine power play opportunities-in one game.
But that’s what the Soo Greyhounds did in their third-round Western Conference series opener against the Plymouth Whalers at Compuware Sports Arena last Saturday night, falling to the Whalers 4-1 before 2,987.
The gloves were dropping in this Ontario Hockey League contest and the penalty box door was constantly swinging open-especially Soo’s. But, was referee Dean Morton calling this one a little one-sided in favor of Plymouth?
“No, I don’t think so,” said Greyhounds head coach Paul Theriault. “We only had one full power play half way through the game, but I’m not going to question the job the officials did. It’s a good crew.”
Theriault did say, however, that he expects his team to win and play a bit more disciplined than their Game One showing.
The first period was even, in terms of the score. The Greyhounds got on the board first with a goal more than halfway through the first period. Chad Spurr, one of the team’s top scorers, notched a goal at 13:58 to make it 1-0. Then, the boxing matches broke out. Read more»
PLYMOUTH, MI-Do you want some more? That’s what the Plymouth Whalers were asking the wounded Windsor Spitfires as they left Compuware Arena in Plymouth in their recent four-games-to-one playoff series victory. It’s not that the Spitfires played poorly or did not compete, it’s just that Plymouth seemed to have more when it mattered.
Take Game Five of the series for instance. The Whalers started off with two big, very deflating goals in the first ten minutes, setting the tone for the rest of the game and putting a dagger in Windsor’s hearts.
It was the Whalers top scorers rising to the occasion when they had to-Damian Surma and Justin Williams, who had the big early goals for Plymouth off of Windsor goaltender Mike Leighton. But, shortly after this point, Windsor had their moment to get back into it and change the direction of the series.
Three straight Plymouth penalties, one of which was a ten minute misconduct assessed to Libor Ustrnul for boarding, and a hooking call to Jared Newman, was just what Windsor needed. And they made it interesting.
Vince Grant worked hard in front of the net to get the power play tally off of Plymouth goalie Rob Zepp and it made the score 2-1 at the end of the first period.
“We had it in the back of our minds that if we worked hard, kept plugging away and got scoring chances, that we could win,” said Zepp, a 1999 fourth round draft choice of the Atlanta Thrashers. “We learned from last year’s mistakes.” Read more»