It was very quiet in the Olympic Arena at Lake Placid, New York on
Friday morning, the first official day of the New York Islanders’
training camp. One skater took the ice then another and so on until the
ice was full of players passing, shooting and getting their ice legs
back in order. I came all the way from Durham, New Hampshire late the
previous evening to see the number one draft pick take the ice to pass
or fail. As the players were filing in so too were the coaches, scouts
and various staff members from the Islanders organization presumably to
see the same player I had come to see. I recognized John Vanbiesbrouck,
Jason Krog and several others but no DiPietro. He was in the second
group so the anticipation had some time to mount. Soon the first group
was finished with their work out and off to the side ice sheet for a
scrimmage. About an hour later the second group began to file in. They
all looked the same, big and focused, distinguished only by different
colored sweaters, except for the goalies. Three or four goalies took
the ice and DiPietro stood out like a sore thumb. Brand spankin’ new
pads, glove, blocker, helmet, everything absolutely pristine. The other
goalies had marked up pads from several games of use. That was the only
difference though, Ricky DiPietro was the consummate professional. He
didn’t look nervous or excited, he just followed instructions,
participated and above all stopped pucks.
Teams B and C filed out onto the ice, the fans cheering when their
favorite NHL stars came out.
Tim Verbeek came out onto the ice and got quite the reception for a
rookie. Must be nice having the same last name as a Detroit star, eh
Sean Avery was back and skating, and showing everyone that he was ready
for the NHL players. Before the scrimmage both teams were warming up on
their respective sides when Avery skated by the blue line getting a
slash in on Chris Chelios on the way by.
Chris Osgood allowed 4 goals in his 30 minute tenure, while Ken Wregget
allowed 2. Darren McCarty got the puck and went to fire it at the net
but Martin Lapointe dropped down and took one for the team. As Lapointe
got up McCarty grabbed the puck that was laying by Lapointe still and
fired it under Lapointe and through Wregget’s five hole.
Dmitri Leonov and Avery got into a bit of a discussion and started a
stare down while starting to go slowly in the circle getting ready to do
the dance. But the refs noticed and blew the whistle for play to stop
and got between them before they went at it. When it appeared the Ref’s
had ruined the show, Mark Rodgers stepped up and made it happen, whaling
Leonov. Rodgers and Leonov had their dance for a few seconds before the
ref’s ended the show, for good this time.
With the first half ending 4-2, Team B, Team C had to get going if they Read more»
With Captain Kirk’s ship on the ground, Jean-Francois Labbe is the leading candidate to at worst start the season as the backup goaltender for the New York Rangers on opening night. Labbe, a veteran AHLer who helped Milan Hnilinka (Signed by Atlanta Thrashers) backstop the baby Rangers to the AHL Championship, is 2-0-1 in the intrasquad srimmages, having allowed only 3 goals in those games. He is currently battling European signees Vitali Yeremeyev(Moscow Dynamo) and Johan Holmqvist (Brynås), as well as North Americans Bryce Wandler and Jason Labarbera, not only for the shot at MSG ice but AHL ice. Rumors have it that if Labbe does not make the parent Rangers he will be sent to Houston of the IHL, even though Houston will receive a Columbus Blue Jackets top minor league goalie to be named later.
No one seems to be more deserving of a true shot than Labbe. With the Wolfpack last season, Labbe posted a 27-13-7 record with a 2.52 goals against average. In his one appearance with the Rangers, in front of a porous defense, Labbe yielded 3 goals in a loss. He has posted 55 wins in two AHL seasons with the Rangers organization and 3 shutouts to take note of. His best season was with Hershey (AHL) when he notched 34 wins and 6 shutouts leading way to a Hershey Championship and his touting as the AHL’s top goalie.
Hopefully, Labbe will get the shot he so deserves and the eyes of the NHL will be given the opportunity to see this minor league veteran guard the pipes.
The summer turns to his end and by that time young hockey players often move to Canada or USA for a chance to play in the junior leagues. It’s decision time, especially when you were drafted by a CHL team. In the first part I covered the top five Czech players selected and now there are the next six players. So who is it?
6. Martin Podlesak (CHL:Tri-city, WHL Czech:HC Sparta Praha)
The huge framed winger Martin Podlesak (6’5”, 200 lbs.) should follow the way to the WHL. Regarded as one of the top 1982 born Czech prospects, Martin isn’t elegible until the 2001 draft (born 09-26-1982, one day after Frantisek Lukes coverd in Part 1). He plays for the juniors of a very strong HC Sparta Praha team and there isn’t a sign of Martin coming to the last league champion’s team. Martin has prototypical North American size, that will help him in the WHL a lot. The decision shouldn’t be so hard for him, just get aboard a plane. The WHL will help him develop his hard-nosed playing style and a style of play played at a smaller rink will suit him very good. The sooner he gets used to that, the better for him. He plays in his draft year, so the motivation shouldn’t be a problem. In Tri-city Martin can blossom into a power forward and make a bigger impress on the NHL scouts than a Sparta Praha junior player.
7. Jan Platil (CHL: Barrie, OHL
Hockey’s Future staff caught up with Ryan Hollweg of the Medicine Hat Tigers, and was fortunate enough to ask him a few questions regarding the upcoming draft, his past playing experience and much more.
With the 2001 off-season now complete and the 2001 season right ahead of us, many of the young stars of tomorrow are just warming up. Ryan Hollweg is no exception, and this off-season has been a busy one to say the least. Ryan has been hitting the gym, working out, and getting stronger preparing himself for the upcoming season and the draft. This summer he has also been working on his scoring touch, and improving on his passing skills to help further enhance his complete game.
“Upon arriving in Medice Hat, my first impression was it was quite cold here, but a very great hockey town with great fans. The coaches and teammates were also great and welcomed me aboard the team.” stated Ryan, regarding his initial impression when arriving in Medicine Hat.
After a solid first year campaign with the Tigers, where he compiled 19 goals and 46 points in 54 games, Ryan and the Tigers are looking to come back even stronger and better. “We have many young players returning from last years team, each with a year of experience under their belt.” stated Ryan.