WHL West Division: At The Half

by Glen Crichton
on
Here are the standings for the Western Hockey Leagues West Division just past
the half way point on the schedule.


GP W L T RT GF GA Pts

Spokane Chiefs 37 25 10 2 1 139 101 53
Prince George Cougars 39 18 17 4 4 141 132 44
Seattle Thunderbirds 36 16 16 4 2 125 112 38
Kamloops Blazers 37 17 16 4 0 125 119 38
Kelowna Rockets 39 17 21 1 2 109 114 37
Tri-City Americans 39 14 20 5 1 135 156 34
Portland Winterhawks 39 9 25 5 0 94 147 23

The Spokane Chiefs are a surprise to me and many others to be leading the division with a nine point bulge, however, they are starting to make
believers out of many as they’ve maintained their strong start and continue to make progress and pull away from the pack. A solid trade to pick up
twenty year old offensive defenceman Scott Roles from the Kootenay Ice along with the addition of another overager, sparkplug Brent McDonald who
was picked up after he became a casualty of the twenty year old numbers crunch in Prince George, have added offence and experience to a solid young
nucleus of players. Eighteen year old Tim Smith has led the charge offensively for the Chiefs, amassing 48 points in thirty-six games, thirty four of Read more»

Hawks Nest

by pbadmin
on

Late Midterm grades

Yes the grades come after the Christmas break and midway point of the
season, but better late than never. So without further adieu:

Goaltending: Overall grade: A-

Jason LaBarbera has all but stood on his head for the Hawks this
season. Despite a relatively high GAA (3.69 now, about where its been
all season), its the save percentage statistic that is more telling
for Jason. His save percentage is .903 now. He faces a lot of rubber
most nights, and has kept Portland in many a game. His saves have
ranged from ordinary looking from solid positioning, to spectacular
make up for defense mistakes or not clearing a rebound type. Jason
recently recorded his sixth career shutout, shutting out the Moose Jaw
Warriors, breaking a Winterhawk’s record. He was also named to the
West Conference all star team recently. Currently, trade rumors swirl
around Jason, guess we’ll all know on the tenth if he’s still a
Winterhawk or not.

Lanny Ramage has shown that he has the “stuff” to be a solid WHL
goalie, if not a excellent one. The rookie has posted a .915 save
percentage and a 3.33 GAA. He works hard in practices, and seems to be
filling the role of backup well, although with his talents, he
certainly won’t be a backup for long.

Defense: Overall Grade: C- (that might be generous)

Read more»

Criticism of Canadian juniors doesn’t help cause

by Jeff Bromley
on

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»

Hawks Nest

by pbadmin
on

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»

Kamloops Blazers Re-Tooling Speeding Ahead on Schedule

by Glen Crichton
on

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.

Read more»

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