In the USHL as well as any other league, goaltending is the key element to success. It’s been proven in many a league that you can win with sub-par goaltending during the regular season relying solely on your offense and defense. But if your goaltender can’t make a stop to save his life, it becomes a different story in the postseason. The USHL is a league that is continually broadening its horizons and the level of play continues to get better with each year, as has its goaltenders. It sounds somewhat like a broken record but this season’s crop of goaltenders appears to be one of the best groups to come through the league.
To back up the fact the USHL has sent quality netminders on to the Division I level you need to look no further than players such as Josh Blackburn(Dubuque/Lincoln), Michael Ayers (Dubuque), Darren Gastrock (Waterloo), Matt Carney (Des Moines), Bernd Buckler (Tri-City), Dan Ellis (Omaha) and David Bowen (Sioux Falls). Each of these goalies has made a contribution at the college level. A few have already seen NHL ice. John Grahame (Sioux City), Scott Clemmensen (Des Moines) and Ty Conklin (Green Bay) have all seen action this season in NHL rinks.
Below is the list of the elite in the league this season. All of whom should become names you’ll hear regularly in the hockey world in the coming years.
1.Bobby Goepfert (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders) Read more»
Here’s a report on the Rangers prospects. Some continued to be pleasant surprises while others were disappointing, but all in all this is still a solid system despite some of the Rangers deadline dealings.Jamie Lundmark has made great strides since the beginning of the year. His awareness on the ice is perhaps what has made the greatest improvment over the season, which allows him to better use his skills to his advantage. There’s whispers about him being a bust but it’s not fair to say just yet. While Lundmark would best be served to come to camp with the greatest physical and mental preparation possible, the Rangers understand he is a work in progress. Lundmark didn’t adjust immediately to his added bulk over the summer and at times it looked as if he added too much a la Christian Dube, however in time he seemingly made the necessary changes and has played a very encouraging second half of the season. Lundmark needs to concentrate better on his positioning with opponents so that they don’t steam role over him, and if he can make this necessary change he could be an effective two way center. If he doesn’t though, he’ll have a very difficult time making the jump to the NHL. Garth Murray showed a bit more of a scoring touch then hoped for in his last junior season. Not a natural scorer, Murray topped the 30 goal plateau and averaged over a point per game for the Regina Pats. Murray is the ultimate team player and is a safe bet for becoming an NHL player. He likely needs a season in the AHL before challenging for a spot but he could Read more»
The 2001-02 Western Hockey League regular season was a smashing success. Record smashing, that is.
A season in which geographical realignment was the big story, the WHL topped the 2.5 million mark in attendance for the seventh straight year, finishing with an eye-popping 2.95 million to eclipse last year’s total of 2.7 million.
With the help of the popular Vancouver Giants, who were a huge hit at the gate in their first season, an average of 4,250 people watched Western Canada’s top junior hockey players compete each night. Other success stories include the Kamloops Blazers, who topped 200,000 for the first time in their history, and reigning Memorial Cup champion Red Deer Rebels, who played to a 99-per-cent capacity at the Centrium.
The addition of the Giants led to some division shuffling and the creation of an all-United States grouping, and an all-British Columbia Division, less travel and more intense play brought about by the rejuvenation of some heated rivalries.
It all makes for some interesting first-round playoff match-ups starting Friday.
In the West, the Western Conference’s top team, the Portland Winter Hawks square off against nearby Seattle Thunderbirds in a best-of-seven that opens at Portland’s Rose Garden. The Winter Hawks, led by 51-goal scorer Josef Balej, were 6-0 at home this year against the Thunderbirds, the WHL’s most penalized team.
Last year at this time the Winter Hawks had to travel into B.C. to start the playoffs against the Prince George Cougars while the Thunderbirds did likewise against the Kelo Read more»
Raiders to Select First Overall in 2002 WHL Bantam Draft
The Bantam Draft Lottery was held this afternoon at the Western Hockey
League office in Calgary, Alberta and a Prince Albert Raiders’ ball was
drawn, giving the Raiders the first overall pick in the 2002 WHL Bantam
Draft. The second selection will be by the Vancouver Giants, and the third
selection will be by the Vancouver Giants (transferred from the Medicine Hat
Tigers). The 2002 WHL Bantam Draft will be held in Calgary on May 2nd,
Following is the order of selection for the 1st round of the Bantam Draft.
1) *Prince Albert
3) *Medicine Hat (Van)
6) Moose Jaw
11) Prince George
13) Portland (Leth)
14) Kootenay (SC)
18) Swift Current
19) Red Deer
* Indicates via lottery.
Following is the order of selection for the 2nd and all further rounds of
the Bantam Draft.
Note: Traded selections in the 2nd round do not show.
3) Prince Albert
5) Medicine Hat
6) Moose Jaw
11) Prince George
18) Swift Current Read more»
Albany Week in Review #24
Trade deadline: Devils’ swaps; no Rats involved
Tuesday, March 19, 2002 was trade deadline, at 3:00 pm EST. The Devils swung a pair of deals by that time, neither involving River Rats. Stephane Richer, right winger who was part of the Devils’ 1995 Stanley Cup championship team, was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 7th round draft pick in next year’s (2003) entry draft.
The bigger deal involved the Dallas Stars. Pivot Jason Arnott and right winger Randy McKay were dealt in the final minutes before the trade deadline. In exchange, the Devils acquired centers Joe Nieuwednyk and Jamie Langenbrunner, both members of the Stars’ 1999 Stanley Cup championship team. The Devils also surrendered a first round draft pick to the Stars. No minor league players were involved in either deadline deal today.
Defenseman (now assistant coach) Kinnear honored
In the year after he retired due to injury, Geordie (“Champ”) Kinnear was honored by the Albany River Rats. An original member of the team, a member of the 1994-1995 Calder Cup championship team, a four-time selectee for the AHL All-Star Classic, and three-time captain, Geordie Kinner had his #4 jersey unfurled from the rafters at the Pepsi Arena on Saturday night.
It was ironic that the ceremony, in which his number was “honored” (displayed, but not “retired”), came against the Providence Bruins. Several years back, he broke a bone in his hand in a fight against the Bruins after a melee broke out in front of the Rats’ Read more»