So-called experts seem to be doing nothing but condemning Canada’s World Junior hockey team. A bronze medal. That’s all the hard working juniors came back with from that icebox in northern Sweden. They ask why Canada isn’t producing the best hockey players in the world anymore. This unattainable goal that we’ve supposedly set for ourselves of coming home with the gold every year from every major tournament has become ridiculous. The one drawback to hitting gold five years in a row at this tournament (’93-’97) is that now it’s gold or nothing.
‘The Russians and Czechs are more talented players than the Canadians are now’, the experts say. ‘We produce nothing but muckers and grinders instead of talented hockey players’. Newsflash; the Russians have been pretty good since the ’50′s and the Czechs, Slovaks, Swedes and Finns aren’t exactly slouches. Witness Jaromir Jagr, Dominik Hasek, Ziggy Palffy, Peter Forsberg and Teemu Selanne. Could it be that the rest of the world has just caught up to us in the standards of hockey? After all, every time we won at whatever level all it did was breed complacency and arrogance. Nobody can win the gold every year. That’s why they play the games. And another thing, if the European system is so much better than ours, (better passers, more offence) how come the gold medal game at the WJC between Russia and the Czech Republic was a classic battle featuring all the scoring and excitement of a Ottawa-New Jersey game. That’s right, they trapped. In fact, they trapped so well that neither team scored in three periods of hockey and one more of Read more»
The platinum blonde hair is a dead giveaway. The hair may turn the
girl’s heads, but his speed down the wing is what’s turning the
scout’s heads. The white flash of uniform that flies around the ice,
wreaking havoc and bringing scoring chances with him, that’s the
Jozef Balej that has scouts looking.
Balej was found by the Winterhawks entirely by chance. GM Ken Hodge
was on a scouting trip in Minnesota, and needed to kill some time. He
took in a USHL game, and has been thankful ever since. Balej was
seeing limited ice time, but more than enough to catch Hodge’s eye.
As other European players on the Hawks draft list were selected by
other teams, Hodge remembered Balej, and took a chance.
Hodge’s chance is beginning to pay dividends. Balej came out hot in
preseason, but then most of the WHL’s older veteran players were at
NHL camps. When the regular season started, Balej had trouble finding
his scoring touch. But it was only a matter of time before his
talents took over. Through 12/11, Balej had yet to miss a game, and Read more»
After a disappointing four games to one defeat to the Calgary Hitmen in the last years Western Hockey League Final, the Blazers went to work to
re-tool a hockey club laden with nineteen year old players. Lost to the club this season through graduation or a jump to pro hockey were Kyle Calder
(Chicago), Mike Brown (Vancouver), Stephen Gainey (Dallas), Kenric Exner (St.Louis), Jordon Flodell (released, briefly in ECHL, now with Lethbridge
Hurricanes of WHL), David Haun (unknown), Ty Jones (Chicago), Robin Regehr (Calgary), Kyle Kos (Tampa Bay), Ajay Baines(ECHL), Donnie
Kinney (ECHL), and Chris St. Croix (Calgary). Eleven of the twelve players were vital cogs in the Blazers run to the League Final and if the Blazers
were to even be competitve this year would need to be replaced in one way or another. With a strong draft record most pundits knew the Blazers
would bring in some talented youngsters from the ’98 draft, get more production from some of last years role players and make a trade or two to
achieve this. So far so good! The Blazers have iced a line up that most agree is one of the fastest teams seen in a while. As a group this team was built
to play a high tempo, tenacious forechecking game and for the most part it has been a success. Even when losing the Blazers are more often than not
out chancing and outshooting their opponents.
The Kootenay Ice saw themselves move up to the number nine position in the
CHL Top Ten list last week after defeating both the Calgary Hitmen and the Seattle Thunderbirds
and tying the Portland Winterhawks in the last three games of their six-game road trip. The Ice play three games before the next list will be issued. This week sees the Ice match up against the Lethbridge Hurricanes before they meet up with the Red Deer Rebels for a home and home series.
Steve McCarthy will leave this Sunday (December 12th) for Kitchener to compete for a position on the Canadian World Junior Team roster. Jaroslav Svoboda has already been named to the Czech Republic National Junior Team and left earlier this week. Steve and Jaro are the first two Kootenay Ice players to be named or chosen to play in this tournament. Coming from someone who watches this tournament over the holidays every year, it will be great to finally watch a couple of your own play the game.
WHERE WE ARE AT:
The Ice are now 17-8-4-0 after finishing their six-game road trip. This puts the Ice in second place in the Central Division and 3rd overall in the WHL. The first half of the trip saw them go through Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Swift Current. This road trip saw the Ice play the top two ranked teams in the CHL. The Calgary Hitmen are ranked number one and the Swift Current Broncos are ranked number two (at the time this article is written.) The road trip seems to be where the Ice play their best game having only lost 3 of their road games so far this season. The Ice are 9-2-4 on the road. The 3 losses are to Lethbridge (2) and Swift Current. The second half of the road trip saw the Ice match up against the Calgary Hitmen, Seattle Thunderbirds and the Portland Winterhawks.
POWER PLAYS AND PENALTY KILLS:
The difference in play is strongly evident when you look at whether a team is at home or on the road, or if they are leading the game or playing catch up. When you look at the Ice’s power play percentages, you can see that the Ice are evidently stronger on the road than they are at home. The Ice are 5th in the league with their “on the road” power play, but are ranked number 12th for their power play on home ice. Their penalty kill is very similar. On home ice (9th in the league) and on the road (2nd in the league.) You can thank the excellent goaltending by Dan Blackburn for about 2/3 of the penalty killing.
NEWS & NOTES: