When Jeff Jillson decided to leave the University of Michigan after his junior year last season, he had a specific goal in mind—to make himself as ready for his first professional hockey season as possible. Jillson spent most of the summer of 2001 in San Jose working out with the Sharks’ Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Mac Read, trying to prepare himself for the faster, bigger, and stronger competition at the professional level, but it’s not the first time he’s had to adjust and turn himself into a different player.
It was only four years ago that many felt he would have been better suited to play in the Canadian Hockey League as opposed to college, but Jillson decided not only to make the decision that was best for his hockey career, but also what was best for his own personal development.
“I saw a few games in the junior leagues and then I saw a couple in the college leagues and figure I got the best of both worlds, (I got to) play a high level of hockey and at the same time continue my education,” said Jillson. “The thing is at Michigan is that you get so much exposure even though it’s a college team as far as hockey goes and you can get the best of both worlds to continue to work on your game as well as continue on with your education, so it works out pretty well.”
In another sign of Jillson’s constant strive for improvement, not just in hockey, but in life, Jillson recently registered for classes on the Internet at Michigan where he was a constant All-Academic selection. He said that the early plan is to do most of his coursework Read more»
The Calder Corner
Martinek: 1 Assist, 1 Shot
As a general rule, I will always list goals and assists and other noteworthy stats. If there is more to be noted, HF encourages our readers to talk about them below!
BRANDON WHEAT KINGS
The Brandon Wheat Kings have taken advantage of some struggling teams in the east division and have taken top spot with a 6-4 record, not great, but the best by a ways in the weak east division. The Wheat Kings are the only team over five hundred and the nearest team has a meagre three wins. look for the Moose Jaw Warriors to make some kind of move if they get Brian Sutherby back from Washington and Steve Crampton recovers from knee surgery, but with that said, the Wheat Kings have taken advantage of the other teams problems and reached the top. The Wheat Kings aren’t loaded with a ton of dynamic offensive threats, however they are scoring by committee which is often the best way to go.
Ryan Craig is probably the best offensive threat night in and night out for the Wheaties, however he has just returned from injury, but has already amassed five points in just two games. Richard Meuller, Lance Monych, Tim Konsorada and Jordan Tootoo are the next best so far offensively with Monych and Konsorada only being seventeen. Tootoo and five year veteran Randy Ponte are the sparkplugs on the team, both being a little on the short side vertically, but either one is like a pitbull if you care to get rocking, while rookie Ryan Stone appears to be learning fast and should help in the toughness department as he gains experience and strength. European Jiri Jakes can contribute more than the six point he has so far and the Wheaties will need him to pick it up. Colin McCrae, Caine Pearpoint, Michael Young and the currently injured Travis Ea Read more»
The Swift Current Broncos just continue to churn out competitive teams year after year and the 2001/2002 season appears to be no different, except that this team seems to be more than competitive, they have a legitimate shot to make a Memorial Cup run. Led by a strong group of creative scorers and playmakers, the Broncos also have a number of players that play with “sandpaper”, making a solid mix that winning teams always need.
Up front the Broncos are led by a very creative duo in Duncan Milroy and twenty year old Tim Smith. Both are solid playmakers who can finish as well, while Smith also brings a knack for irritating the opposition to the point of distraction. Nathan Smith, a Vancouver Canuck first round draft pick is a solid goal scorer who can play at both ends of the rink and is also a lot tougher than most give him credit for. Brent Twordik, James Hiebert, Ben Ondrus and John Dahl are all gritty while contributing at both ends of the ice. Matt Sommerfeld is a big tough forward who has improved enough to garner more ice time, thus his role on a speedy, skilled hockey team becomes even more important. A strong group of young guys fill out the front end, however the top two lines will carry most of the load offensively for the Broncos and this is the one area the Broncos may want to add some depth and experience. Come playoff time, some of the other teams may be a little deeper up front, which is where a long playoff run can be won or lost.
On the back end the Broncos have a mixed bag, but are spearheaded by the immensely talented seventeen year Read more»
The Spokane Chiefs have bolted from the starting blocks and it looks like they’ll be a tough lot to handle. With a rock solid defence, a skilled and gritty group up front as well as a pleasant surprise in the play of Barry Brust between the pipes. Many a hockey forum saw Spokane fans calling for management to bolster the goaltending, however Chief management appears to have known what they were doing as Brust has been solid. They’ll need for him to be continue his solid play as the Chiefs are currently holding onto a slim one point edge with fourteen points from a 7-1 start over the Portland WinterHawks thirteen points from a 6-2-0-1 record.
Led up front by a group of skilled and hardworking forwards, the Chiefs bring their lunch buckets to every game. Skilled forwards Jeff Lucky, Tim Krymusa, seventeen year old Brad Schell, Mason Wallin and Matt Keith all share in the Chiefs scoring depth, however none take a night off when it comes to their defensive duties either. Brandon Cote is a rock solid defensive forward who brings a lot of leadership and heart to the chiefs line up while others like Joff Kohler, Jevon Desautels and Justin Keller play solid two way hockey. The Chiefs have a waft of young forwards on the roster as well, which bodes well for the future. Also, the Chiefs should be getting second year winger/centre Barry Horman, who should add some more depth to the Chiefs current crop of forwards. Ganchar has the entire group playing solid two way hockey and all I can say is, “it must be fun to play up front on a team as strong on the back end as the Chi Read more»