Ever wondered how it feels to be tossed around like a hacky-sack?
Just ask Mathieu Biron. The 21-year old has been passed back and forth between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Springfield Falcons four times already this season.
Frustrating? Hardly. Biron takes the transition in stride. “It’s not what I prefer, but it’s part of the business,” he explains. A business that might require the young defenseman to take stock in Dramamine. As if being traded three times in three years weren’t strain enough, Biron has spent the past two seasons being juggled between his NHL teams and their affiliates.
Follow the bouncing defenseman…
He’s up: Averaging over 14 minutes of valuable NHL experience per game, not to mention the off-ice guidance he’s receiving from veteran defenseman Grant Ledyard. He’s down: Displaying offensive potential with three goals and four assists in his 23 games with the Falcons. He’s up: Disproving his critics, averaging 1.4 hits per game. He is currently ranked 10th among his teammates in hits, even though he’s played half as many games. He’s down: Fine-tuning his game while awaiting his return to the city by the bay.
While most players may view a trip to the farm as a confidence-denting demotion, Biron takes it as a challenge and utilizes his time there to improve his game. “The style in the AHL is so much different,” he said. “Here (in the NHL) it is so much more under control. When you make a mistake, you are going to pay for it.”
The more open Read more»
Hockey’s Future recently caught up with Adam Henrich of the Brampton Battalion after the team’s practice last Saturday. Henrich, an 18-year-old left winger from Thornhill, Ontario, is ranked 12th among North American skaters in the CSS’s mid-season prospect rankings. Henrich, with 21 goals and 26 assists in 46 games, is having a breakout second season in the Ontario Hockey League and is headed to Saskatoon for this week’s CHL Top Prospects Game. Here’s what he had to say.
HF: First of all, Adam, a big win last night, going into a pretty crazy barn (London) and getting two points against a team you’ll be fighting with for a playoff spot. What’s the feeling in the dressing room now, when the team getting on a roll late in the season, especially with a few key players out of the lineup?
AH: Well, you know, we’ve got about four injuries, and all four guys are really important parts of our team, so these two last games were a big four points. We went into London last night, London’s a really good team and we got the win. We needed that; it was a four-point game and we’ve moved ahead of them now. It was a big win, hopefully we can continue that streak, everyone will keep going and do whatever we have to do to get the two points every game.
HF: So you’re playing in the CHL Top Prospects Game this week, a game where you’ll no doubt be watched by a lot of scouts and GM’s. What’s going through your mind about playing in that game?
AH: Well yeah – that’s coming close, and you always get a little nervous before big g Read more»
The Canucks are in the midst of their best run of the season, and are, as a write this, in a tie for the eighth and final play-off spot in the Western Conference.
I attended the Toronto-Vancouver game last night, and, it was probably the best game I’ve taken in at the Garage since the building opened back in ’95. A complete offensive and defensive effort on both sides of the ice, and Peter Skudra, when tested, was more than equal to the challenge posed by the now-anemic Leaf offense. Brent Sopel, who is a shadow of his former self, (in a good way, though) is producing offensively, and being responsible defensively. He’s gone a long way to help a defensive corps which was severely hurting going into the Christmas Break.
This week, Alex Auld made his first start for the Canucks against the former juggernaut in Dallas, and did very well for himself, turning aside twenty-two of twenty-four shots in a win. He reminded me a great deal of Phoenix goaltender Sean Burke, big, lanky, not much of a flopper, and always was at a good angle to make the save. I enjoyed watching the youngster play, and the more I saw, the more I liked. When Dan Cloutier gets back, Canuck management might have a decision to make, but I would let Auld play at least once more before they make it.
Down on the farm, recent acquisitions Tyler Bouck and Read more»
The 2001 NHL Entry Draft was one of the deepest drafts of talented players in a long, long time. Many scouts believed you could get just as good of a player at 30th overall that you could at 15th overall. The entire draft was filled with a large group of highly skilled youngsters, with Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk, now a budding star with the Atlanta Thrashers, topping the list. When the topic was brought up among scouts concerning a power forward by the name of Garth Murray from the Regina Pats of the WHL, most said he could go anywhere from late in the first round to the end of the third round. Apparently the Rangers shared this opinion, having ranked Murray 29th overall on their list of available players. After trading down in the third round, swapping the 74th overall pick to the Minnesota Wild in return for the 79th overall pick and a fifth rounder, the Rangers’ scouting staff were very pleased to see Garth Murray still available at pick number 79. They wasted little time selecting Murray, a 6’2 206 lbs. forward who potentially could become the physical second liner that they are lacking. After the third round came to a conclusion, the Rangers had to feel pretty excited after being able to select three of the players they had ranked in their top twenty-nine.
Belleville GM Brad Vaughn’s latest moves seem to have elevated the Bulls to serious contender status for the OHL crown this year. Newcomers Jason Spezza and Michael Mole, both ex Ice Dogs, have been heavy contributors to Belleville’s current 7 game winning streak. Mole has been in net for all 7 wins and Spezza has 15 points in the last 5 games, including 7 points in last nights 9-2 romp of the Sarnia Sting.
The latest win brings the Bulls record to 26-18-2-1 for 55 points, one point behind Ottawa in the East. Belleville is now 2-0 on their 5 game stint away from home due to the Nokia Cup Ontario Curling Championships taking up residence in the Yardman Arena. The Bulls get their biggest challenge tonight as they face the OHL’s top team, the Plymouth Whalers. They return home for a game against the London Knights on Feb. 9.
Belleville also got a chance to shine on TV as they played in CFMT’s game of the week against the Oshawa Generals. The Bulls crushed the Generals 8-1. If not for a slight mental lapse by Mike Renzi, Mole most likely would have earned his first shutout of his OHL career. In preparing for a face-off outside Belleville’s zone, Renzi took his glove off to adjust some equipment, not a wise move in today’s fast face-off OHL. The puck was dropped and squirted into Belleville’s zone. Renzi’s man, Mike Minard, took off on a breakaway and put one between Mole’s legs at 14:34 of the 3rd period. Mole did earn his first shutout during inter-league play against the Victoriaville Tigres as the Bull