Every hockey season has its share of surprises.
Things you couldn’t possibly expect to happen come to the forefront and
most of the time they reach the light by the all-star break. In fact,
if you asked anyone in Springfield, Illinois if they thought a player
named Greg Rallo would be the top scorer on their team – the NAHL’s
Springfield Jr. Blues – and named to Team West for the NAHL All-Star
Game in St. Louis, they would probably ask, “who?”
Even head coach Craig Heggs was surprised Rallo stepped into the
spotlight so soon, although he admitted that he was not surprised by
Rallo’s ability to score goals.
“He’s one of the hardest working players on the team,” says Heggs, who
is in his first season with the Springfield Jr. Blues. “He just had to
get comfortable playing against big, strong players and he’s done that.”
Rallo’s ascent to stardom in the NAHL has been a rocky one, to say the
Local media, fans and everybody else who could voice a complaint
wondered if a player from the AA hockey ranks could cut it at this
“I caught a lot of heat,’ says Heggs, over his decision to let the
rising star play. “I heard a lot of grumbling from a lot of different
But, coach Heggs stands by his decision and his persistence has paid
The numbers don’t lie.
Rallo has 27 goals and 16 assists, for 43 points at the all-star
break. He is one of the top scorers at the moment in the NAHL.
Heggs believes in the on-the-job-t Read more»
He might remind you of an Olie Kolzig or a Byron Dafoe and he’s having
one heck of a season in goal for the NAHL’s Soo Indians.
His name is Cam Ellsworth. Remember his name. He’s big (6′ 1″ 200
lbs., to be exact), strong and handles the puck with the finesse of a
fine-tuned NHL goaltender.
Soo Indians’ head coach Joe Shawhan, a former goalie himself, knew he
would have a solid netminder coming into this season and had very few
“He had a good year last year and he came in ready to play this year,”
says Shawhan. “He has played very consistently and that’s carried over
from what he did last year.”
This season, the all-star goalie has a 1.94 GAA with a .921 save
A RELIABLE PRESENCE
percentage, a 26-5 record and 5 shutouts at the halfway point.
Shawhan says Ellsworth has excellent work habits, that will carry him
far in the future.
“When we came into this season he quickly picked up on what he did the
year before,” says Shawhan. “He did the work that was necessary to do
and it wasn’t all that much. We knew he was going to be reliable coming
Shawhan says Ellsworth merely had to work on his stance and his
compactness in the net.
Ellsworth himself also knew what he had to do coming into this season,
which basically involved standing tall in the net and staying tough.
The skills were there and still are…this season was a matter of carrying
over the consistency.
“I knew we had a good team coming into the season,” said Ellsworth. “I Read more»
The sixth annual CHL Top Prospects game took place this past week and it didn’t fail to live up to it’s accrued billing of the showcase of top major junior players on the continent. Trouble is, it’s only one game. Take it or leave it, this game can have a major impact on where and when a player is taken in the NHL Draft come June in Sunrise, Fla. That’s of course not to say that NHL scouts haven’t done their homework and seen each and every player a couple dozen times but in a nationally televised game against your brethren who are fighting for the betterment of their own draft status, the game does take on new meaning in the eyes of scouts and players alike.
Forty 2001 draft eligible players, two teams, celebrity Coaches Don Cherry and Bobby Orr patrolling behind the bench, this game isn’t any All-Star extravaganza, it’s a stage in which to showcase your skills as a player. Think one game can’t make a difference? Think again. Last year’s prospect game is a clear example. Calgary Hitmen goaltender Brent Krahn going into the game in the draft rankings was ranked highest among goalies, save for number one pick overall Rick DiPietro who didn’t declare his eligibility until after the final rankings were released. But in the overall scheme of the things it wasn’t expected that Krahn would be picked until well into the first round, if at all. An outstanding performance at the 2000 edition of the Top Prospects game in Toronto changed all that. Krahn ended up being taken ninth overall by his hometown Calgary Flames. A surprise to some but to others not surprising at Read more»
During the Rob Blake talks, one of the expenses the Kings listed was buying their own farm team. The fact of the matter is that no young player is developing at Lowell. Lowell is great for fringe NHL players like Marko Tuomained and Brad Chartrand, but the players the Kings needed to develop this season (Joe Rullier, Kip Brennan, Alexey Volkov)have floundered and even failed. If you look at other teams, the AHL is providing them with NHL talent with younger players. The Kings need to be able to do this soon.
Is Yanick Lehoux the real deal? You can’t blame Kings fans for being a little gunshy. Names like Rosa, Papineau, Perrault and Shevalier show that good numbers at that stage of development do not necessarily translate into NHL success. However, most people who have seen Lehoux think he is the genuine item.
What do the Kings need if they trade Rob Blake? Besides some new season seat holders, they need some size on wing and some ace prospect in net. Volkov’s struggles have the Kings moderately concerned, and while their is talent in net in the system, that seems an area that can never be too strong. The Kings also need a stud. There is no potential goal scorer within three years of having an impact on the NHL level. With Belanger, Reinprecht and Visnovsky, the Kings have some young point scorers, but they are badly in need of a finisher, and no one besides the young Lehoux has shown they can do that.