Andrew Ference, the feisty young defenseman from Edmonton, has found a home in the heart of Pittsburgh. Still just 20 years of age, Ference is discovering there is much to learn before he can become a key defenseman in the NHL; the defenseman Pittsburgh so desperately needs. Spunk and spirit in tact however, he appears to be up for the challenge. Despite a rash of injuries, Andrew is definitely earning his ice time. Twelve games into the new season, he’s already been made a marked man by the New York Rangers for a hit on Petr Nedved, which occurred October 14th at Madison Square Garden. It’s that attitude and fearless nature that have Penguins fans everywhere taking a second look. This past Sunday (November 7, 1999), Andrew added to his credits by winning the “Fastest Skater” event in the Penguins annual skills competition. It just goes to show you, it’s not always the size of the player that matters. In some cases, a 5’10″ defenseman can play like a giant.
As the season continues to move on in New York with a few bright new faces, Mike York, Kim Johnsson, Jan Hlavac and now Jason Doig getting some ice time, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford continues to play well under coach John Paddock.
Rangers goaltending prospect and no.1 (AHL goalie) Jean-Francois Labbe stopped 26 shots in Quebec`s ice hockey return to Hartford. Quebec had not played in Hartford since 1995 when the Nordiques played the host Hartford Whalers. Center Derek Armstrong notched a goal and an assist to lead the Hartford Wolf Pack to their fourth straight victory, 3-1 over the Quebec Citadelles. Armstrong opened the scoring 6:50 into the opening session and helped set up Drew Bannister (ex-Tampa Bay defenseman), who gave Hartford a 2-0 lead with just under seven minutes left in the second. Stephane Roy scored 35 seconds after Bannister to cut the Wolf Pack lead to one, but Labbe, who improved to 4-1-3, protected the lead by turning away all 10 shots he faced in the final period. Daniel Goneau capped the scoring with just under five minutes to play. Dan Murphy stopped 30 shots for Quebec, which lost its third in a row after starting the season 9-2-2.
-Courtesy of the Hartford Courant and compiled reports.
“My grandmother was a big Leafs’ fan. She never missed a game and I basically grew up with the Leafs”, states OHL defenseman, Peter Reynolds. “Being drafted by the Leafs was just a dream come true”, he adds. The Leafs made the young defenseman their 2nd round selection, 60th overall, in the 1999 NHL entry draft.
“He views himself as a Sandis Ozolinsh-type player, but getting accustomed to the greater speed of the game is the type of thing he is making adjustments”, states North Bay coach and general manager, Mike Kelly. “He is very typical of the 1990′s type defenseman. He moves the puck well, can jump into the play, yet he is pretty responsible and physical in his own end”.
“I view myself as more of an offensive defenseman”, states Reynolds, “but I know I must make the smart decsions on the ice as to when to jump into the play or just make the safe pass out of the zone”.
Peter played his first two years with the London Knights and coach Gary Agnew was impressed with his progress. “He was a good, 2-way defenseman with us and reminded me of a young, Darryl Sydor, at a similar stage of development”, said Agnew. Reynolds did not score a goal, but had 8 assists in 55 games in 97-98. He did not register a point that year in 16 playoff games. He scored 2 goals and 25 assists for 27 pts. in 59 games in 98-99, then added 2 goals and 3 assists in 23 playoff games.
For the week ending 11/06/99
1. Jeff Heerema, Wing – Sarnia Sting
The status quo for Jeff this week was multipoint games. He had two of them. The scoring began on October 31 in a 2-2 tie with the Plymouth Whalers. Jeff had one goal and one assist for Sarnia. Of not in this game for Hurricanes fans, is that all four goals scored involved Hurricanes prospects. Heerema had points on both Sarnia goals, while Kevin Holridge picked up an assist on one Plymouth goal and Damian Surma picked up an assist on the other Plymouth score. Heerema continued scoring in a Sarnia 4-3 victory over Erie on November 5. He bagged an overtime winning powerplay goal, for his fifth of the season. Jeff rounded out the week with two assists in a 4-4 tie with Kitchener on November 6.
2. Jaroslav Svoboda, Wing – Kootenay Ice
The numbers looked good this week for Jaroslav. Four days, three games, two goals, six assists, eight points. On November 2 he started scoring with a goal and an assist in a 5-5 tie versus Medicine Hat. On November 5, a goal, his seventh, on the powerplay and an assist in a 6-2 victory over Medicine Hat. Then on November 6, four assists in a 6-2 victory over Calgary.
3. Tommy Westlund, Wing – Carolina Hurricanes
On November 5, Tommy scored his first NHL goal in a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. His superb defensive play has given him time on both as a wing and as a center.
For the week ending 10/30/99
1. David Tanabe, Defense – Carolina Hurricanes Read more»
Rene Bourque has remained a constant bright spot during what is becoming a disappointing season for the St. Albert Saints.
This past September Bourque, only 17 years of age, had to make the difficult decision between going the Major Junior route-he was very impressive while trying out for the Saskatoon Blades-or the US College Hockey route. Bourque chose the latter and so far has not regretted the decision.
“It was a tough decision but school-wise and for hockey I wanted to come here. I think there would be less pressure here and I would have a lot more fun,” Bourque told Jeff Hansen of the St. Albert Gazette.
Bourque is a visionary on the ice. He seems to have a knack for seeing everything that happens around him. His hockey sense is incredible. Because he has decided to go the college route, he will not be opting into the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. If he continues with his progress, however, he could easily go in the first round in 2001 pending a solid freshman year.
“Rene is one of those players that comes around every once in a while. He has good size and great skating ability and is good with the puck. I’d compare him to Jamie Lundmark,” said Saints’ general manager Marcel Viveiros. High praise considering that some say Lundmark-a former St. Albert Saint-just might end up being the best player from the 1999 Entry Draft in the long run.
Bourque’s goals are modest, however, given the high expectations that surround him.