Two games; two wins; four points
Since the first of the year (hey, the loss in Syracuse on New Year’s Eve was last year’s news), the Albany River Rats have played two games at home. They won them both (Manchester, 5-1; Hartford, 6-5).
Though still in the league’s cellar, along with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and while still 14th in the 14-team Eastern Conference, at least the Albany River Rats got off to a good start for the new year. On Friday last, the very respectable Manchester Monarchs came into town, adorned in their royal purple jerseys. The Monarchs scored first, but had no answer to five consecutive Albany goals.
Manchester featured a skilled veteran first line of Steve Kelly (a former River Rat and New Jersey Devil, now with Los Angeles & Manchester), Dane Jackson and Ted Donato. Bob Carpenter’s Rats matched lines, sending out the checking line of Stan Gron, captain Sylvain Cloutier and Richard Rochefort. The strategy worked just fine, limiting the Monarchs’ top line to seven shots, while keeping them off the scoreboard. The Kelly-Jackson-Donato grouping finished a collective “-6″ on the evening.
With Rochefort, Cloutier and Gron nullifying Manchester’s top offensive unit, the top Albany line of Christian Berglund, Steve Guolla and Brian Gionta went to work. Gionta scored one and assisted on two; Guolla had one of each; and Berglund had a pair of assists. Max Birbraer and Bruce Gardiner also scored for Albany in a one-sided 5-1 victory. In the opinion of Albany Week in Review, this was the Rats’ best Read more»
It seems as though every year something good happens to the Ottawa 67’s. A team known for assessing talent had brought in several rookies into its lineup for the 2001-2002 season.
From Newmarket of the Provincial Junior A Hockey League (where he had collected 83 points on 33 goals in 49 games), 17-year old sniper Corey Locke joined the lineup. A couple of 16-year-old hopefuls and 2001 draftees Mark Mancari and Layne Moodie have already become everyday contributors for the club.
However, the 67’s crossed their fingers when selecting a couple of Czech imports, Karol Sloboda and Jaroslav Sklenar, 62nd and 72nd overall, respectively, at the 2001 CHL import Draft.
There is no doubt that these two youngsters have tremendous talent — Sklenar was the Toronto Maple Leafs’ sixth round, 183rd overall pick in the 2001 NHL draft. However predicting the players’ adaptation to the Canadian language and society would have been next to impossible.
So far, the season has been a dream for Sloboda, the league’s plus-minus leader going into last Friday’s game versus the Oshawa Generals, and arguably the 67’s MVP in the first 16 games of the season. Meanwhile, Sklenar — seen by many as a prospect with better potential than Sloboda — returned to the Czech Republic with homesickness. Somewhat of a shock to many that predicted Jaroslav as this year’s version of the departed Vadim Sozinov.
Sloboda, meanwhile, has quietly become a mainstay on the Ottawa blueline, to say the least.
Backtracking to the Import Draft in June 2001, the 67’s had little informatti Read more»
BRIAN SUTHERBY (C)…After starting in the NHL straight out of training camp, it took seven games for GM George McPhee to return him to his junior club. With Moose Jaw of the WHL, Brian has put up great numbers so far. He has scored 12 goals in 21 games, and is a +8 rating. He was one of three Capitals prospects selected to compete in the recent 2002 World Junior Championships (Silver Medal – Team Canada), where he played on the top checking line scoring 3 goals and 3 assists. Look for Sutherby to continue to impress.
JACUB CUTTA (D)…Began the season for the AHL affiliate Portland Pirates. As a stay-at-home mold defenseman, Jacub’s scoring numbers won’t look that great but continues to log decent ice time as a number 3-4 defenseman for the Pirates. Upon the avalanche of Washington’s injuries , the Caps called up Cutta to add depth to it’s line-up. Cutta played in only 2 games before being sent down, and was unfortunately part of a 5 to 11 demolition display put on by the Ottawa Senators (Oct. 13). Regardless, Jakub continues to impress management and will likely stay in Portland for another year or so before making his full-time Capitals debut.
MATT PETTINGER (LW)…A surprise product running straight from the University of Denver, to the WHL Calgary Hitmen, AHL Portland, and now has been a mainstay in Washington since the first week of the season. With the injury to Steve Konwalchuk, Matt has bee given a long-term shot to develop with Chris Simon, who has been able to clear more space on the ice for him. Matt has 5 g Read more»