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»
The 1999-2000 OHL season is over for the Windsor Spitfires after losing their Western Conference semi-final series in five games to the
Plymouth Whalers. But as they get ready to head home for the summer, they should have reason to be proud.
When Mike Kelly and Tom Webster were hired as GM and coach, respectively, last summer, people all over the league realized it wouldn’t be
long before the Spits would be contending. And the team improved its regular season by 21 points over 1988-99. However, the way they
accomplished it was a bit odd. Normally, a team wants to improve gradually over the course of the season, peaking in time for the palyoffs. But the Spits did it in reverse. They
burst out of the starting gate at a terrific pace, even seeing themselves in the CHL Top Ten list a few times.
But a couple of big losses at home just after Christmas led to a terrible second half. It didn’t help that a number of players, including top draft
choice, D Tim Gleason (NHL eligible 2001) and overage C Jeff Martin missed a number of games due to injuries. Martin, in particular, had a
season to forget, with a number of injuries, concluding with a concussion suffered in game four of the Plymouth series.
Also, goalie Michael Leighton (Chicago ’99) needed all season to recover form a groin injury, and only in the playoffs did he play the way people
knew he could. In fact, his play kept the Spits in a number of contests in the post-season. Read more»