Over the past few seasons there have been a lot of people
questioning what direction Canadian hocky was heading in. With an eighth
place finish at the 1998 World Junior Championships, and fourth at the
Nagano Olympics, many people in hockey crazed Canada were left with reasons
That’s when Canadian hockey decided that something needed to be done to get back on track, so to speak. Canada is still the number one player producer for the NHL as 60%-70% of NHL players call the “Great White North” their home. The problem lays in that
European players are becoming more dominant, and Canada is not producing talented players at a rate comparable to smaller countries like Sweden and the Czech Republic.
To try and figure out how to get back on
top, Canadian Hockey held the Open Ice Summit, the first of its kind, from
August 25-27. Some of the best hockey minds in the country like Toronto Maple Leafs president Ken Dryden, Canadian Hockey Association president Bob Nicholson and Canadian Hockey League president David Branch were in attendance.
With OHL training camps set to open up this week now would be the perfect time to take a closer look at the upcoming OHL season. Let’s start by taking a look at the Western Conference and, more specifically, the West Division.
Go-to-guys: Josef Vasicek had a fairly good rookie season and will likely improve on his totals from last season. Cory Pecker, after missing most of the 1997-98 season with Chron’s Disease, had a breakthrough season last year and will be looked to for more of the same. He will be a key in the Greyhounds success.
Key Departures: Chad Cavanagh scored 40 goals last season despite going into a scoring slump late in the year. Adam Nittel’s 18 goals and 336 penalty minutes will also be missed.
Breaking Through: After scoring just three goals and 10 points in his rookie season Tim Zafiris is starting to realize his offensive potential and could hit the 20 goal mark this season.
Newcomers To Watch: First-round draft pick Trevor Daley will be playing on a very experienced Greyhound blueline, but will get every chance to prove that he can play at the OHL level. Veteran winger Brent Theobald, acquired from the Mississauga IceDogs, will provide the Greyhounds with veteran leadership.
Go-to-guys: Rico Fata will be looked to for offense if he doesn’t crack the Calgary Flames lineup. Jay Legault and Tom Kostopoulos will also be looked to if they are brought back as overage players. Read more»
Local draftee Jordan Fox aims for a spot on the Battalion blueline
Like most endeavours, playing major junior hockey in your hometown has its advantages and disadvantages.
On the plus side, a player can live at home, possibly attend their regular high school and play their home games in front of an appreciative crowd of family and friends. On the other hand, all the distractions that come with playing in front of all those family and friends can undermine a player’s performance and the benefits of playing and living in another city are not always fully realized.
Brampton native Jordan Fox is looking forward to earning the opportunity to play in front of his hometown supporters. The 17-year-old, 6’1″, 205-pound defenseman was a 12th round draft choice (236th overall) of the Brampton Battalion in June’s OHL Draft. Fox, who spent part of last season patrolling the blueline for the Junior A Brampton Capitals, will be heading next week to the Battalion training camp, which is being held from September 1-5 at the Brampton Centre. Fox is the fourth local player selected by the Battalion. Last year the team picked local products Ryan Leard and Chris Garnham and this year, in addition to Fox, also selected Brampton midget winger Justin Myler in the 14th round.
The Peterborough Petes organization has been highly regarded in the ranks of Major Junior Hockey for many years. It boasts a proud record of sending more graduates into the National Hockey League than any other CHL franchise.
Yet, despite the constant turnover of quality players anually, the Petes have been able to maintain a competitive team each season. The Petes are hoping that this trend will hopefully continue for the ’99-2000 edition of the club. Last season’s fourth place finish was a disappointment for the Petes.
After challenging traditional rivals Oshawa, and the strong Belleville club for second place most of the season, the Petes faltered in the home stretch and then were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Generals. The ’99-2000 season will be a season of “ifs” for Peterborough. IF promising players such as Jason Williams and Preston Mizzi can bring their games up to the next level the Petes will compete for the division lead with Belleville and defending Memorial Cup champions the Ottawa 67′s. IF the Petes also receive strong goaltending from last year’s surprising tandem of Mike Pickard and Joey MacDonald this will also boost the Petes chances. Finally, IF new players in the lineup, such as Steve Montador and Marcel Rodman play as well as they are expected to, the Peterborough Petes may well be on the way to adding another chapter to their proud team history.
OFFENSE Read more»