The season has started and the early season marks are already starting to come in. There are a few surprises and a few things that, well, aren’t such surprises. In the Eastern Division the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are in 1st place by percentage points. Going off of total points, they are tied for first with the Des Moines Buccaneers and the Rochester Mustangs. The Mustangs are the biggest surprise of the season to date. Last season the Mustangs mustered only 11 victories and they are off to a 6-4 start. In the Western Division the Sioux Falls Stampede lead the way with a 9-2 record for 18 points but the Sioux City Musketeers are right on their heels with a 8-2 record for 16 points.
Superstar Thomas Vanek of the Sioux Falls Stampede is currently leading the league in scoring with 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points. Vanek has already registered two hat tricks, against Tulsa and Sioux City. Not far behind are three Sioux City Musketeers, Brad Zancanaro (7-16-23), Brandon Schwartz (8-13-21) and Matt Ciancio (7-10-17).
Just as it was last season Art Femenella of the Sioux City Musketeers and Tim Conboy are fighting for the penalty minutes lead. In 9 games Femenella already has 52.
As always, this league is full of fantastic goaltenders and this year is no different. So far, the top goaltender in the league statistically wise is Kris Mayotte of Sioux City. In 5 games he is 5-0 with a 1.40 GAA and .942 saves percentage. Bobby Goepfert, considered by most, including myself, the top minder in the league, is currently 6-2 with a 2.32 GAA Read more»
The Western Hockey League is well represented in this week’s Top 10 Canadian Hockey League Teams ranking. Strong team play enabled the Red Deer Rebels to remain 1st overall for the fourth consecutive week.
#1 Rebel Notes: Individual leaders for the Rebels include stellar goaltending by Columbus Blue Jacket property Shane Bendera and play-making by highly touted Russian Center Mikhail Yakubov, the 2000 1st Round Draft Pick of the Chicago Blackhawks. Bendera is standing firm on a tiny 1.58 GAA and a SV% of .942!!! That is absolutely sick! Yakubov leads the team in scoring with a balanced 8 Goals and 11 Assists, but a puzzling 0+/-. Not exactly the type of two-way play you will need to survive in an NHL uniform. However, the 19 year old WHL rookie is adjusting smoothly to the punishment and grind of the tough Western Hockey League schedule.
#4 Bronco Notes: Individual leaders for the Broncos include yappy-mouthed Vancouver Canuck Draft Pick Tim Smith and goal-scoring talent Duncan Milroy, a 2001 Montreal Canadiens Draft Pick. Diminutive winger Tim Smith is putting his war of words with former-employer, the Spokane Chiefs, behind him and is concentrating on finding the open man. As a result, he leads the team in scoring with 9 goals and 17 assists in 17 games. Milroy is letting his goal-scoring ability do his talking as he has potted 12 goals in as many games and added four assists. Four of his goals have come on the man-advantage, while two have come while short-handed, leaving opposing coaches pulling their hair ou Read more»
The Swift Current Broncos continue to lead the Central Division with twenty five points from an 11-2-3-1 record, while the Red Deer Rebels are only a point back with a 11-1-3 record, good for 24 points, however the Reb’s have two games in hand over the Broncos.
The Broncos are led by sniper Tim Smith (26 pts), Brent Twordik (24 pts) and sophomore defenseman Ian White(24 pts) offensively, but the Broncos have depth in scoring with guys like Nathan Smith (currently injured), James Hiebert (17 pts), Duncan Milroy (16 pts), Ben Ondrus (13 pts) and Ales Cerny (11 pts). While the Broncos can throw three lines capable of scoring at you each night, each line is also responsible defensively. When Nathan Smith returns, the Broncos will be a tough team to keep off the score sheet.
Defensively, the Broncos are led by Ian White, a small but gifted defenseman who is also capable in his own end, but guys like Ales Cerny, hard hitting and tough Steven Spencer, Jarad Bourassa and Kevin Seibel solidify the defence, while rookie Travis Friedlay rounds out the group. In goal the Broncos have two solid netminders in overage B.J Boxma (6-2-1, 3.13 GAA, .902 save %) and seventeen year old Todd Ford (5-1-1, 1.84 GAA, .930 save %). Teams looking to make a long playoff run need solid goaltending and the Broncos are in the position of having two “go to guys”. Either Boxma or Ford can be used in any situation and lend confidence to the team, so come playoff time all is well between the pipes for the Broncos.
Swift Current is solid from front to back, however if there is a weakness Read more»
In front of the largest crowd the team has attracted this year, the Brampton Battalion skated to a 3-3 tie with Rick Nash and the London Knights. The tie was Brampton’s second in as many afternoons, and extended their unbeaten streak to 4 games.
The game started with great scoring opportunities for both teams. Brad Topping was called on to make a tough stop on a Nash slapper from the faceoff circle at the ten-second mark. On the very next shift, Knights goalie Glen Ridler made a spectacular glove save on Chris Rowan from fifteen feet out.
But as they have been doing more often in recent games, Brampton potted the first goal, as the white-hot Kurt MacSweyn corralled the puck in the slot, turned, and fired a low shot that beat Knights goalie Glen Ridler to the glove side. The goal was MacSweyn’s eighth of the year, and his fifth in the last three games. Of particular note on that goal is that it featured left winger Tyler Harrison’s first OHL point. Harrison saw more ice time today than he has seen in recent contests as he was inserted into MacSweyn’s line for the injured Adam Henrich. Skatin’ Clayton drew the other assist.
The lead was short-lived, however, as London tied the game soon after when Patrick Barbieri took a pass in the slot and fired a low shot that Topping stopped, but allowed a rebound right back to Barbieri who popped the puck between Topping’s legs as he moved to his left.
The Knights took the lead on the power play with Patrick Turcotte in the box for interference (a questionable call, in Sea Bass’ opinion). Knights c Read more»