Jackets CHL Player Update

By Aaron Vickers

Western Hockey League

Shane Bendera – G – Kelowna Rockets
It can be said that Shane Bendera likes his new home in Kelowna. At least his stats reflect it. In the 5 games he’s started since joining the Rockets, Bendera’s posted a 1.38 GAA and an incredible .951 SV%. Bendera is hoping to impress his new bosses by leading them into the playoffs, where it is no secret that he can come up with a big game.

Ben Knopp – RW – Kamloops Blazers
Benn Knopp continues his offensive struggles since being aquired by the Blazers. Although he sits third in team scoring behind Canadian Junior members Jared Aulin and Scottie Upshall, he only has one point, a goal, in his last 4 games, and 2 goals in his last 14. His plus/minus has remained at a –16 rating. There is no reason to think that Knopps production should’ve increased on the Blazers second line, but playing in the shadow of the two previously mentioned stars may have Knopp a little green.

Kiel McLeod – C – Kelowna Rockets
McLeod has shown that he is a mark of consistency. Over the last two-three months, his production has remained exactly the same. He has netted 14 goals and has 39 points(14-25-39) in 32 games. On the Rockets, his plus/minus is second only to Jesse Ferguson(+15), with +8. His play has been that of consistency.

Tyler Sloan – D – Kamloops Blazers
Tyler Sloan has continued to develop quite nicely, and seems to have added another dimension to his game, somewhat. In his first 25 games, Sloan had registered one goal and nine points. In his last 10 games he’s registered 6 points, including another pair of assists in his last 4 games. Sloan has run his totals on the season to 2 goals and 15 points(2-13-15) in 35 games. However, his league-leading +22 is what has obviously impressed everyone the most. His steady play on defense along with his newfound offense have strongly contributed to his excellent plus/minus rating.

Ontario Hockey League

Ryan Bowness – RW – Brampton Battalion
What else is there to say about Ryan Bowness? He has registered 5 goals and 11 points(5-6-11) in 36 games. The Columbus Blue Jackets have to like the progress that they are getting from their 8th round pick in the 2001 draft. He is on pace to strongly improve upon his totals of 15 points(5-10-15) in 52 games last season.

Scott Heffernan – D – Toronto/St Michaels Majors
His defensive play continues to be solid, and he’s added an offensive flair to the blueline for the Majors. He has chipped in for 21 assists and 23 points(2-21-23). His plus/minus continues to improve as well, up +2 since last update, and now reaching +13.

Cole Jarrett – D – Plymouth Whalers
Jarrett has been held pointless since my last installment, and now has 11 goals and 31 points(11-20-31) in 35 games this season. The bad news, he sits fifth on his team in plus/minus. The good news, is that fifth is good for +20. The Whalers are playing some good hockey, with their top five players in plus minus adding up to nearly +125. Jarrett isn’t playing the strongest hockey he has all season, but still continues his impressive play at both ends of the ice.

Andrew Penner – G – Guelph Storm
I have long overlooked Storm tender Andrew Penner. Penner has played in 13 games this season in Guelph, and has posted a 6-3-3 record with an .891 SV% and a 3.13 GAA. He has played the role of backup to rookie goaltender Dwight LaBrosse.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Aaron Johnson – D – Rimouski Oceanic
Johnson had himself one helluva week last week, notching one goal and adding another 6 assists in 3 games, and has pushed his season totals to 11 goals and 43 points(11-32-43). In fact, Johnson’s recent efforts leave him second in the QMJHL in points for defensemen, behind only Danny Groulx who is out in front with 65 points. Aaron’s plus/minus rating of +17 also has him in the top 5 among defensemen as well.

Pascal Leclaire – G – Montreal Rocket

Pascal has been inactive in QMJHL action, as he took part in the World Junior Championships for Canada. In the tournament, he posted a 1.80 GAA and a .937 SV%, including 2 shutouts in 5 games. However, the most lasting impression that may be remembered from Leclaire was the fact that he let in a number of weak goals during the final against Russia.

Louis Mandeville – D – Halifax Mooseheads
Mandeville continues his strong, consistant play for the Halifax Mooseheads. He has improved his plus/minus by +6, moving it upto +20, 2nd among all defensemen in the QMJHL. Through 42 games for the Mooseheads, Mandeville has registered 22 assists and 27 points(5-22-27). He’s also played a very disciplined game, with only 65 penalty minutes this season. He continues to contribute as one of their top two defensemen.