Western Hockey League
Shane Bendera – G – Red Deer Rebels
Bendera has played in 15 of 22 games for the Rebels, posting a most impressive 10-3-2 record. Bendera leads the league in Goals Against Average(1.85), Save Percentage(.932), is second in wins(10, leader has 12), and tied for second in shutouts(1, leader has 2). Not to take anything away from the other Rebel players, but Bendera has single-handedly taken Red Deer to the top of the WHL.
Ben Knopp – RW – Moose Jaw Warriors
Although the Warriors are struggling, their top forward is having himself a respectable year. Knopp, through 24 games, has 13 goals, 5 of which came on the powerplay and 21 points(13-8-21). In reality, the only statistic that is hurting Knopp right now is his +/-, which sits at -4. Although Knopp leads the team in scoring, he is 3rd in Points Per Game, behind Shawn Limpright and Washington’s first round pick in 2000, Brian Sutherby.
Kiel McLeod – C – Kelowna Rockets
McLeod, who has only appeared in 12 games for the Rockets due to reasons beyond my knowledge, has managed to stay in the top 5 in Rockets scoring, registering in the #4 spot with 6 goals and 15 points (6-9-15). He sits just .03 Points Per Game behind Carsen Germyn for the team lead. McLeod looks to be on his way to a similar season as last year, when he tallied 66 points (38-28-66) in 65 games.
Tyler Sloan – D – Kamloops Blazers
Sloan is having himself a solid campaign, building on his 33 points in 70 games (5-28-33) last season in his first WHL season. Sloan currently sits tied for 7th in league +/-, a +14, behind teammate Nikita Korovkin, who sits at +16. Sloan will never put up Dan Hamhuis like numbers, but does play a better defensive game. He currently has, through 18 games, 1 goal and 7 points (1-6-7).
Ontario Hockey League
Ryan Bowness – RW – Brampton Battalion
Bowness is off to a horrid pace, averaging just 0.16 Points Per Game, tallying 2 goals (2-1-3) in 17 games for the Battalion. His Points Per Game sits him 4th last on the team for players with more than 10 games, and last among forwards. Now, no one really expects an offensive output that, say, Stephen Weiss is having, but I’m positive Brampton expected to get a little more out of this guy. A disappointing start to say the least.
Scott Heffernan – D – Toronto Majors
On a team whose leader in +/- is +18, Scott Heffernan sits at -1. A tough stat to figure out to say the least. Heffernan, 3rd on the team with penalty minutes(37), has gone without a goal in each of his first 23 games, although he has registered 13 assists (0-13-13). The rugged defenseman plays a solid defensive game and has shown his passing ability off this year, although I wonder if a different defensive pairing would be beneficial to his play.
Cole Jarrett – D – Plymouth Whalers
With 22 points in 20 games (9-13-22), Jarrett is one of few defensemen in the league averaging more than a Point Per Game. He sits second in the league in points among defenseman, although is light years behind Kevin Dallman of Guelph, who has 31 points in 21 games. Not to take any credit away from Jarrett though, who has shown immense improvement from his rookie season two years ago, when he registered 10 points in 57 games. He is definately begining to look like a steal for the Jackets when Columbus took him 141st Overall in the 2001 Entry Draft.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Aaron Johnson – D – Rimouski Oceanic
Possibly the future defensive partner of either Rotislav Klesla or Cole Jarrett, Johnson, like Jarrett, is putting up some impressive numbers from the blueline. Through 19 games, Johnson has scored 8 goals, and managed 19 points (8-11-19), placing him seventh among defensemen in offense. He is also third in +/- among defensemen with a +15 rating. The defensive pairing of Johnson and Tomas Malec, a Florida Panthers 3rd round pick in 2001, has helped Rimouski to a 16-4-2 start.
Pascal Leclaire – G – Montreal Rocket
Two words…he’s struggling. Although he’s played in 19 games, Leclaire has only posted a 7-10-1 record, which is not acceptable for a former first round pick, selected 8th overall. His 3.25 GAA is laughable compared to that of Shane Bendera of the WHL’s Rebels, as is his Save Percentage, at .887. These are not good stats, and Leclaire desperately needs to turn things around if he wants to backup Marc Denis any time soon. Give the nod right now to Bendera as the best goalie in the Jackets Organization.
Louis Manderville – D – Halifax Mooseheads
Manderville is having himself a solid season for the Mooseheads, just one point behind Aaron Johnson and 6 points out of second place among defensemen scoring. He also has a +8 rating for a team off to a great start at 14-6-2. You can credit that start to the strong play of Halifax as a unit, lead by Louis Manderville.