Prospect news and notes

by Randy Nicholson
on

News from Sweden: A brief update regarding Mikael Tellqvist’s progress this week followed by some news on a lesser known Leafs’ prospect currently playing in Sweden … at the beginning of the week, Djurgarden’s head coach Nilsson announced that he will be utilizing his back-up goalie more often in upcoming games … Djurgarden remains comfortably atop the SEL and Nilsson would like to have his #1 stopper well rested for the play-off grind that is now just around the corner … Tellqvist is also expected to play for the Swedish National Team at the Swedish Hockey games in mid February and so some extra days off would be well advised … Mikael, meanwhile, was solid in a 4-2 victory against Timra … it was tough game for Tellqvist in terms of concentration as there were many long periods when he did not see any action at all … in his second appearance the week, Tellqvist led his team to a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Malmo … this time, Mikael stopped 26 of 29 shots but his defensemen ably cleared almost every second attempt … The Maple Leafs actually have a second prospect playing in the SEL … Pierre Hedin was selected by Toronto in the 8th round of the 1999 Entry Draft … Hedin has been playing for MoDo, a very good hockey team in northern Sweden with very long tradition and glorious past, since 1997/98 season … Pierre is a solid defenceman, perhaps No. 2 on his team … he is very good defensively and yet able to produce some offence as well … although somewhat prone to commit giveaways when caught up ice on the attack, Hedin is a workhor Read more»

NAHL and U-M alum Mike Knuble is rising star in NHL

by Derek Berry
on

You might call Grand Rapids native Mike Knuble a late bloomer. Knuble
got a late start in hockey, learning a lot at the high school level and
then jumping right into the North American Hockey League. Knuble only
needed one year in the NAHL before moving on to the University of
Michigan, where he had an outstanding four years.

The big forward spent one season in Kalamazoo and there were a number
of reasons why he will always value what he learned there.

Besides the exposure and the close proximity to home, Knuble got to
learn a lot more about the game he loves.

“It (the NAHL) really forced you to skate or you couldn’t keep up,”
said Knuble. “It was an excellent step for me in my career because it
really got me involved in the game more.”

Not that Knuble wasn’t already involved or looked at and drooled over
by several scouts and top college hockey schools looking at this big,
young forward with such size, speed and quickness that your head would
spin. But, Knuble says the talent level from high school up to the NAHL
was significant.

“I played with guys like Brian Holzinger, Brian Rolston, and Rob
Valicevic, so I learned a lot real fast,” he says. “And our coach, Paul
Pickard, worked us very hard too.”

Knuble says he worked so hard while in Kalamazoo under Pickard’s
conditioning program, (which included running laps and intense skating)
that he lost weight before he arrived on the scene at U-M.

It was during that year in the NAHL that U-M’s hockey program took a
liking to Knubl Read more»

Bolts Bits – Tampa Bay Prospect Update

by Megan Sexton
on

From the moment Brad Richards was signed, just 12 short hours before the deadline last July, until his blades first graced NHL ice this fall, there was a frenzy surrounding the rookie. The media raved about the Prince Edward Island native, fans lusted over the potential of the young Rimouski superstar and cup dreams in Tampa Bay became more vivid. The high-held belief was that Richards, along with Captain and junior linemate Vincent Lecavalier, would be the one-two punch needed to send the Lightning into its’ second playoff berth in their 9-year existence. It was soon realized that Richards and Lecavalier could not carry the weight of the team alone, as the Bolts lost 8 of their first 11 games.

Richards did not let the Lightning’s misfortunes hold him back. He finished the month of October with 11 points in 10 games, earning himself NHL Rookie of the Month honors. Although his play slacked soon after, Richards has still managed to establish himself as one of the top rookies in the league. He is currently leading all NHL rookies in goals scored, assists, total points and power play points. Richards is also tied with winger Fredrik Modin for the team scoring lead, with 35 points.

Richards is in a tight race with San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov for the Calder Trophy. In 37 games, Nabokov has a 2.05 GAA and a .922 save percentage, tough competition. Due to an injury to Lecavalier, Richards should see his ice time significantly increase, as well as his scoring chances. Hopefully, this will be the break Richards needs to catch the attention of the league a Read more»

Joe Shawhan learned to coach from a goalie’s point of view

by Derek Berry
on
A wise broadcaster and probably a Vezina trophy winner once said, “a
goaltender sees the game differently.” In the case of Soo Indians head
coach Joe Shawhan, that is definitely true.

It’s no secret that Shawhan is a goalie by trade. The locals up in
Sault Ste. Marie know him well. Shawhan rose to stardom playing high
school hockey for Sault Ste. Marie High School, where he led his team to
the state finals one year, only to fall to Trenton High School. He
played goal under two exceptional coaches at Lake Superior State
University – Frank Anzalone and Jeff Jackson, both of whom would lead
the Lakers to NCAA championships.

And in between, Shawhan also played for an earlier version of what is
now the North American Hockey League’s Soo Indians, in the Northern
Ontario Hockey League, which churned out such stars as Denny Lambert and
Chris Simon.

But, why goaltending? What compelled Shawhan to want to play a position
that takes a special individual to play?

“When I started playing, the guys were older than me,” says Shawhan, now
in his sixth season as head coach of the Indians. “I like the position
and I never played another one again.”

Shawhan didn’t take the traditional route of playing travel hockey when
he was growing up. Instead, he learned more in high school and at the
college level. He certainly was not a naturally gifted goaltender, as
he says, but had to work harder.

When Shawhan arrived on the scene at Lake Superior, he immediately won a
starting job and helped the Lakers win a Read more»

OHL Prospect Report: Colt King and Aaron Lobb

by Bob Chery
on

(GUELPH – January 16)……..A Tuesday night match-up between the
Guelph Storm and the visiting London Knights promised plenty of
fireworks as a fight-filled game earlier this season between the
two clubs led to allegations that London coach Lindsay Hofford
was instructing his players to start fights. He would ultimately
receive a 12-game suspension for his actions that night.

The game also featured the two premier power-forward prospects
from the OHL for the upcoming NHL Draft. Both right-winger Aaron
Lobb of the Knights and left-winger Colt King of the Storm came
out of the gates trying to establish a physical tone. Lobb
wasted no time in lining up Frank Burgio for a hit, but the
sturdy Guelph defender withstood the body check well. King spent
his first shift in the game’s third minute colliding with Lobb,
and after getting the better of that exchange, just missed an
open-ice hit on a London player trying to go east-west through
the neutral zone.

With both teams determined to set a physical tempo, London’s
Daniel Bois let his exuberance get the better of him as he
needlessly roughed up a Guelph blue-liner after the defender had
cleared the puck out of his own zone.

The ensuing power-play saw Knights goaltender Aaron Molnar make
a great save on Brian Passmore after a nice cross-ice feed from
Charlie Stephens, but eight seconds after the penalty expired, a
Steve Chabbert knuckler from the point was re-shot rather than
re-directed by teammate Martin St. Pierre past Molnar to give
the Storm a 1-0 lead.

< Read more»