Thursday, August 10, 2006

Canada v US in Summer U18 World Cup Championship Game

Today both Canada and the United States won their final games in the round robin portion of the U18 World Cup to advance to the championship game on Saturday. Canada beat Slovakia by a score of 4-1, in a marvelous show of Canadian skill. Canada jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Brett Sonne. It was the WHL Calgay Hitmen center's third goal of the tournament. After Slovakia tied the game up less than a minute later, it was all Canada. Logan MacMillan scored his first goal of the tournament (which was the game-winner) in the second period. The player who has had the most points in the tourney though is Bryan Cameron, the OHL Belleville Bulls center who has tallied 4 goals in 3 games, including 2 today.

The United States also won its third straight game today, beating the Czech Republic by the score of 4-3 in overtime. In yesterday's game versus Russia, which the US won 4-2, Plymouth Whalers's netminder Jeremy Smith was named the player of the game. Everett Silvertips right wing Shane Harper had two assists in the game.

The championship game will be held on Saturday.


The QMJHL trading period began again on August 1, 2006 and on the first day, it was announced that the PEI Rocket traded defenseman Louis-Philippe Lachance and their 6th round pick (acquired from Gatineau) in the 2007 QMJHL Entry Draft to the Rimouski Oceanic for their 4th (acquired from Drummondville via Acadie-Bathurst) and 6th round selections next spring. After being traded by the Quebec Remparts to the Rocket during the 2004-05 season, Lachance played in 70 games last season. In those games, The 20-year old defenseman registered 37 points (10 G, 27 A), while accumulating 136 PIM, and maintaining a -28 plus/minus. The QMJHL trading period ends on August 21.

Kirill Tupulov, who was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the 3rd round (67 overall) in the 2006 NHL entry draft, will be playing for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, the CHL team that selected him as the 19th pick in the 2006 Import Draft in June. Tupulov will be attending Chicoutimi's training camp that will begin tomorrow.

The Moncton Wildcats have announced that the team signed defenseman Alexi Pianosi, the Wildcats fifth round pick (90 pverall) in the 2006 QMJHL draft. Pianosi played for the Dartmouth Subways of the Nova Scotia Midget AAA Hockey League last season.

QMJHL training camps will start tomorrow, with Chicoutimi the first to begin. On Sunday Acadie-Bathurst, Drummondville, Quebec, Shawinigan, Rimouski, Saint John, and Val-d’Or will open camp. On Monday, Lewiston and Victoriaville will start training; Tuesday, Baie-Comeau and Gatineau; Wednesday, Cape Breton, Rouyn-Noranda, and St.John’s, Thursday, The PEI Rocket, and the last teams on Friday, when Halifax and Moncton will begin their preseason camp.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Canada Defeats Sweden 4-1 in Second Straight Win at Summer U18 World Cup

After again falling behind in the first period, the Canadian junior team came back to win their second game of the Summer World Cup by a score of 4-1. After an even strength goal from Kyle Turris (not a CHL player) tied the score at 12:13 of the first period, the Canadian team took over the game, shutting down the Swedes the rest of the game. A second period goal by Brett Sonne was the game winner. Third period goals by Nick Ross and Colton Gillies provided insurance. Angelo Esposito's 2 third period assists raise his tournament total to 4 points.

Canada plays its third game, against Slovakia, tomorrow at 12:30 local time.

Recent WHL News

Although this is supposed to be the off-season, several transactions have occurred in the WHL since mid-July. Just yesterday, two newsworthy items were reported. First, the New York Rangers signed the Portland Winter Hawks defenseman Michael Sauer. Sauer was the Rangers second round (40 overall) selection in the 2005 NHL entry draft. After sustaining several serious injuries over the last couple of years, the 19 year old Sauer was able to complete the 2005-06 season with impressive statistics. In 59 regular season games, Sauer recorded 31 points (8 G, 23 A), with 68 PIM and a plus/minus of -1.

The second item on the radar yesterday was the trade that took place between the Tri-City Americans and the Seattle Thunderbirds. In exchange for a conditional fifth round draft choice in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft, Seattle sent 17-year old defenseman Ivan Simunovic (6'3", 185) to Tri-City. The La Habra, California native was selected by the Thunderbirds in the May 16 special US Player Draft. Last season, Simunovic skated for the Los Angeles Jr. Kings select AAA U-16 team. The Americans have added Simunovic to their 50-player protected list.

The Kamloops Blazers have also been involved in 2 transactions over the last 3 weeks. On July 18, the team announced that it had signed Jimmy Bubnick, the Blazers' 2006 first round Bantam Draft selection. Bubnick was selected 5th overall in the draft. This past season, he was a member of the Saskatoon Bantam AA Outlaws, recording 118 points and 107 PIM in 53 games. Bubnick, who is not eligible to play in the WHL until 2007-08, will attend Kamloops' Training Camp in late August and then return to his hometown of Saskatoon to play for the Midget AAA Contacts in 2006-07.

In a trade last week, the Blazers received the Everett Silvertips' 4th round selection in the 2007 Bantam Draft in exchange for 20-year old winger Moises Gutierrez. Gutierrez (6'3", 215) is eligible to play an overage year in 2006-07 for Everett. In 2005-06, Gutierrez registered 29 points (15 G, 14 A), 119 PIM, and a +11 plus/minus in 66 regular season games for Kamloops. The Anchorage, Alaska native also finished the 2005-2006 season with a +/- rating of +11 which led the Blazers hockey club.

Finally, on July 24, the Kelowna Rockets traded defenseman Kevin Reinholt to the Calgary Hitmen in exchange for a 5th round draft selection in next spring's WHL Bantam Draft. Reinholt (6'2", 220), a 19-year old native of Tofield, AB, was on the Rockets' roster for the past 3 seasons, but was out of action a substantial amount of that time with a shoulder injury. After being sent home from the Nashville Predators' training camp last fall for medical reasons, Reinholt tallied 5 points (1 G, 4 A), 46 PIM, and a plus/minus of -8 in 48 2005-06 regular season games.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Canada Victorious in Game 1 of Summer U18 World Cup

After falling behind 1-0 early in the first period to Switzerland this morning, the Canadian team roared back to win the first game of the Summer U18 World Cup by a score of 5-3. After Switzerland's early power play goal, goals from Bryan Cameron, Angelo Esposito, and Brett Sonne put the Canadians ahead 3-1 at the end of the first period. However, in the second period, it was all Switzerland,who managed to tie the game at 3 goals apiece. That is how the third period began, when Cameron put the puck past the Swiss netminder Damiano Ciaccio at 48:30 of the game. Esposito added his second of the day 25 seconds later, but it was Cameron's goal that proved to be the winner.

In a later game, the United States defeated Finland by the score of 3-2 with OHL goaltender Jeremy Smith (Plymouth Whalers) getting the win.

Canada's next game is tomorrow against Sweden; the United States faces Russia.

Recent OHL News

As I said, there is a lot to catch up on, so I will do my best over the next few days.

Late in July, the OHL announced that 2 United States players have decided to forego college and play for the Owen Sound Attack. Trevor Lewis (6'1", 192), who was selected in the first round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft (17th overall) by the Los Angeles Kings was committed to attend the University of Michigan for the 2006-2007 season, but will play in the OHL instead. Lewis, a center, played 56 regular season games for Des Moines of the USHL last season, recording 75 points (35 goals, 40 assists) with 69 PIM and a plus/minus of +25. He was also one of the league leaders on the penalty kill with 6 short handed goals. Lewis has already signed a 3-year entry level contract with the Kings.

Also joining the Owen Sound Attack this fall will be David Kolomatis (6'0", 175), who spent the 2005-06 season as a member of the US U17 NTDP. A defenseman who will be eligible for the NHL draft next June, Kolomatis had previously committed to the University of New Hampshire.

A third new member of the Attack has been acquired via trade. Early this month, Owen Sound announced that it traded the team's 12th round selection in the 2007 OHL Priority Draft to the Ottawa 67s in exchange for 18 year old defenseman Pat Campbell. Campbell appeared in 19 games for the 67s last season.

In other news around Owen Sound, one of the team's top forwards, Scott Tregunna (6'2", 192) has been invited to participate in next month's Traverse City, Michigan prospects tournament. Tregunna, who be skating with the Atlanta Thrasher prospects, had 23 points in 66 games last season for the Attack.

On the first of August, the Guelph Storm Hockey Club announced that it signed a purchase agreement to sell the team pending approval by the league to G.S. Sport Enterprises led by Elliott Kerr. According to the press releases, the new ownership is committed to keeping the team in Guelph (no comment here yet). The league's Board of Governors will vote on the sale mid-month. Stay tuned.

Also on the first of this month, the London Knights announced that the team had completed a trade with the Sudbury Wolves, which sent the Knights' 12th round draft pick in the 2008 OHL Priority Draft to Sudbury in exchange for the rights to goaltender Chris Abbey. In the 10 games that the 18-year old Abbey (6'4", 208) played for Sudbury last season, he had a 4.51 GAA and a .867 save percentage.

To round out today's OHL news, last week the Windsor Spitfires announced that the team signed its 2nd round pick (29 overall) in this year'’s OHL Priority Draft, defenseman Mark Cundari. Cundari, who will be playing for the OHL team this fall, played with the OMHA Minor Midget Vaughan Kings in 2005-06, registering 41 points (16 goals, 25 assists) in 52 games. Earlier, the team had announced that it signed its first round import draft pick, defenseman Marek Biro.

Summer U18 World Cup to Begin Today

Angelo Esposito, the Quebec Remparts' 17-year old center, has been chosen Team Canada's captain in the Summer U18 World Cup that begins today in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Eight countries will participate, with Canada being in Group "B". The Canadian team will play in the tournament's first game in Slovakia, which starts this morning at 9 am EDT.

A preview on Sunday hinted at just how powerful the team will be, in that the boys beat the Czech team by a score of 5-0 (ok, so the Czech team had only half of their regulars on the ice, but still the Canadian team looked awesome).

Of the 22 members of the Canadian team, 21 played in the CHL last season. A list of team members and their CHL 2005-06 regular season stats follow:


Trevor Cann Peterborough (OHL) 2.65 GAA, .919 save percentage in 20 games
Justin Leclerc Lethbridge (WHL) 3.32 GAA, .896 save percentage in 34 games


Drew Doughty Guelph (OHL) 33 points (5 G, 28 A), 49 PIM in 65 games
Alex Grant St. John (QMJHL) 13 points (4 G, 9 A), 58 PIM in 47 games
Thomas Hickey Seattle (WHL) 28 points (1 G, 27 A), 53 PIM in 69 games
Marc Katic Sarnia (OHL) 34 points (5 G, 29 A), 33 PIM in 51 games
John Negrin Kootenay (WHL) 10 points (3 G, 7 A), 48 PIM in 55 games
Nick Ross Regina (WHL) 23 points (7 G, 16 A), 38 PIM in 62 games
Luke Schenn Kelowna (WHL) 11 points (3 G, 8 A), 86 PIM in 60 games


Angelo Esposito Quebec (QMJHL) 98 points (39 G, 59 A), 45 PIM in 57 games
Yves Bastien Kitchener (OHL) 17 points (6 G, 11 A), 20 PIM in 60 games
Zack Boychuk Lethbridge (WHL) 51 points (18 G, 33 A), 30 PIM in 64 games
Bryan Cameron Belleville (OHL) 29 points (20 G, 9 A), 46 PIM in 64 games
Tyler Ennis Medicine Hat (WHL) 10 points (3 G, 7 A), 10 PIM in 43 games
Olivier Fortier Rimouski (QMJHL) 16 points (6 G, 10 A), 30 PIM in 40 games
Colton Gillies Saskatoon (WHL) 12 points (6 G, 6 A), 57 PIM in 63 games
Dwight King Lethbridge (WHL) 16 points (8 G, 8 A), 22 PIM in 68 games
Logan MacMillan Halifax (QMJHL) 18 points (9 G, 9 A), 31 PIM in 62 games
Brett Sonne Calgary (WHL) 21 points (12 G, 9 A), 38 PIM in 64 games
Brandon Sutter Red Deer (WHL) 46 points (22 G, 24 A), 36 PIM in 68 games
Zach Torquato Saginaw (WHL) 37 points (19 G, 18 A), 56 PIM in 65 games

The other forward on the Canadian team, Kyle Turris, played in the BCHL in 2005-06 and was named the rookie of the year in the league. Turris is committed to play at the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 2007. Turris is on the protected list of the Vancouver Giants.

In addition to the CHLers on the Canadian team, 2 players from the WHL and 1 from the OHL will be playing for the United States. Netminder Jeremy Smith, who played 5 games for the Plymouth Whalers in 2005-06, is one of the team's two goaltenders. The Vancouver Giants defenseman Jonathan Blum, who caught everyone's attention with his stellar post-season play in 2005-6, is also a member of the team. In 61 games with the WHL Giants, Blum tallied 24 points (7 G, 17 A) and 25 PIM. The final CHLer on the US team is the Everett Silvertips right wing Shane Harper. In 62 games last season, Harper scored 10 points (6G, 4 A) and accumulated 8 PIM. The United States will also play its first game today (at 10 am EDT), but in the Czech Republic.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Recent NHL Signings of CHLers

On July 1, QMJHL goaltender Josh Tordjman signed an entry-level contract with the Phoenix Coyotes. Tordjman went undrafted when he was eligible and, in every year since, has improved his play. This season, which he split between the Victoriaville Tigres and the Moncton Wildcats, he was between the pipes in 62 games, posting a 2.31 GAA and a .915 save percentage in the regular season. Tordjman drew more and more attention as the post season went along. His stellar netminding helped the Wildcats become league champions and just fall short of taking home the Memorial Cup.

The Vancouver Canucks announced the signing of 3 CHLers in the last week of July. Alexander Edler, was drafted by the Canucks in the 3rd round (91 overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. After spending three seasons playing in Sweden, Edler was drafted by the Kelowna Rockets in the first round of the 2005 CHL Import Draft, and during the 2005-06 season, Edler, a defenseman, played in 62 regular season games, recording 53 points (13 goals, 40 assists), while accruing 44 PIM and a +21 plus/minus rating.

Also signed in late July was 20 year old winger Jannik Hansen, who was selected by Vancouver in the 9th round (287 overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. In 2005-06, Hansen was a member of the Portland Winter Hawks, and the 6-foot, 190 pound forward tallied 64 points (24 goals, 40 assists) in 64 regular season games.

Finally, the Canucks signed the Sasketchewan native Shaun Heshka to an entry-level contract. The 21 year old defenseman played the 2005-06 season with the Everett Silvertips, finishing second on the team in scoring and second among WHL defencemen in points. In 66 games, Heshka, the team's alternate captain, recorded a total of 59 (10 goals, 49 assists). The 6-foot-1, 195 pound blueliner received the WHL's Western Conference Second All-Star Team honors and was named the Greyhound WHL Player of the Week for the week of January 9-15.

In early July, the Minnesota Wild signed the undrafted winger Ryan Hamilton to an entry-level contract. Hamilton had spent 4 years as a member of the Barrie Colts. In his overage 2005-06 season with the Colts, Hamilton registered 72 points (46 G, 26 A) in 63 games.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have inked one of the WHL Russell brothers. Medicine Hat defenseman Kris Russell, who was drafted in the third round (67 overall) of the 2005 NHL entry draft by the Blue Jackets, has signed an entry-level deal with Columbus. The 19-year-old blueliner tallied 47 points (14 G, 33 A) in 55 regular season games in 2005-06.

Finally, the Tampa Bay Lightning have signed Moose Jaw Warriors center Blair Jones to an entry-level contract. A fourth round (102 overall) 2005 NHL entry draft selection, Jones had a breakout season for the Warriors in 2005-06. The third-year center registered 85 points (35 G, 50 A) in 55 games this past season, accumulating 85 PIM and a +26 plus/minus.

CHLers Attend NHL Prospect Development Camps

A lot to catch up on! Lets start with Prospect Development Camps that were held last month.

Toward the end of July, the Buffalo Sabres held development camp and 7 CHLers attended. Kelowna Rockets' defenseman Mike Card, who was the Sabres 8th round selection (241 overall) in 2004 and was signed by Buffalo prior to the June 1 deadline, was in camp. Card had an outstanding season with the Rockets in 2005-06, recording 55 points (12 goals, 43 assists) in 64 games, with 103 PIM, while maintaining a plus/minus of +16. The other recently signed WHLer in camp was the Portland Winter Hawks' Michael Funk. Funk, also a defenseman, was the Sabres second round pick (43 overall) in the 2004 draft. Although also likely to begin his professional career during the 2006-07 season, Funk had a little more trouble in the defensive zone this past season. In 70 regular season games, Funk tallied 47 points (11 goals, 36 assists) and 88 PIM, with a plus/minus of -8.

Three OHL players also could be found at Buffalo's Development Camp. The London Knights' Dylan Hunter (9th round, 273 overall, 2004) was another deadline Sabres' signee. The 21-year old winger completed his overage season with the Knights this past spring. During the 2005-06 season, Hunter posted 117 points (32 goals, 85 assists) and 50 PIM in 62 games, while maintaining a plus/minus of +9. Also in attendance was the Peterborough Petes Patrick Kaleta, Buffalo's 2004 sixth round pick (176 overall), who also signed an entry-level contract at the June 1 deadline. Kaleta, a winger, completed his fourth season with the Petes, and had an outstanding post-season in 2005-06, scoring 18 points in 19 games, while maintaining a plus/minus of +8. The Sabres' second round 2006 draft selection, Windsor Spitfire defenseman Mike Weber, also was in camp. Weber, with 26 points in 68 games, accumulated 181 PIM this past season.

Two unsigned players from the Q also took part in the Sabres' Development Camp. 2006 draftee Ben Breault (7th round, 207 overall) was in attendance. Breault, who was expected to go earlier in the draft but had a very poor plus/minus (-20) in 2005-06, had 68 points in as many games with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar this past season. 2005 third rounder (87 overall) Marc-Andre Gragnani was the final CHLer in attendance. The PEI Rocket defenseman also had an unenviable plus/minus in 2005-06 (-23), but put up good offensive numbers (71 points in 62 games).

Late last month the Calgary Flames also held their prospects' camp, which included undrafted WHLers Brad Cole, a defenseman who played for both the Kootenay Ice and the Saskatoon Blades in 2005-06, and Jordan Henry, also a defenseman, who spent last season as a member of both the Moose Jaw Tigers and the Red Deer Rebels.

Three CHLers (one form each league) participated in the Minnesota Wild development camp at the end of July. Barrie Colts winger, Ryan Hamilton, a 21-year old free agent, attended the camp after being signed to an entry-level contract in late June. Hamilton put up impressive numbers this past season. In 63 regular season games, Hamilton posted 72 points (46 goals, 26 assists), with 58 PIM and a plus/minus of +12. Another free agent, 20-year old Vancouver Giants' defenseman Paul Albers, was also invited to camp. Albers had a breakout 2005-06 season, scoring 62 points (17 goals, 45 assists) in 70 games, with 33 PIM and a +38 plus/minus.

Also in attendance at the Wild camp was Jean-Michel Bolduc, who had been drafted by the NHL club in 2003, but went unsigned. In 2005-06, Bolduc played for both the Rimouski Oceanic and the Drummondville Voltigeurs, appearing in a total of 67 games and registering 58 points (14 goals, 44 assists).

Prior to the craziness on Long Island that saw Neil Smith and Pat LaFontaine leave the team's management ranks, the Islanders held their prospect camp. Twenty year old Chris Gaudet was in attendance, which is no surprise, as during the 2005-06 season, Gaudet was a member of the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats, the team coached by new Islander head coach Ted Nolan. Two other QMJHL invitees participated in the Islanders' prospect camp; 20 year old center Michael Chaisson, who spent the 2005-06 season with the Rimouski Islandic, and goaltender David Davenport, a 19-year old who played for Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, were showing off their skills.

The St. Louis Blues, with their new ownership group and top brass (i.e., John Davidson) were also checking out prospects and giving instruction in July. Non-draft CHL invitees included Josh Clendenning, a 19 year old forward who was a member of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan (58 pts in 68 regular season games), and defenseman Ryan Wilson, who played for the Toronto St. Mikes Majors last season. In 64 games with the Majors, the 19 year-old Wilson tallied 61 points.

Tampa Bay was by far the most active in inviting non-drafted players to the team's Conditioning and Tryout Camp last month. Seven CHLers were invited and participated in the event. The seven included three players from the Q, with two of the invited attendees being members of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. Maxime Boisclair, who just completed his overage year with the team, registered an impressive 130 points in 70 games this past season. This was the wingers' second season scoring more than 100 points. Glad to see that he got a look/see with an NHL team. His teammate, David Desharnais, had an excellent season in 2005-06 too. The 19 year old center recorded 118 points in 63 regular season games. Although he was again passed over in this year's draft, Desharnais deserves a chance to battle for an entry level contract with an NHL team. The third QMJHLer to attend the tryout camp was 20 year old Alexandre Imbeault, who had a breakout season for the poor performing Victoriaville Tigres in 2005-06. In 69 regular season games during his third season in the league, Imbeault tallied 80 points (almost double his last year's production). It is very possible that the lanky center may have finally taken his game to the next level, and may very well have a bright future in the professional game.

The Lightning had 2 OHLers among the team's invitees. 2005-06 overager Todd Griffith, who toiled at forward for the Kingston Frontenacs, was in attendance. Twenty year old defenseman Jonathan D'Aversa, a member of the Sudbury Wolves blueline in 2005-06, also participated. Scoring 46 points in 62 regular season games while maintaining a +13 plus/minus earned D'Aversa a look from the NHL club.

Finally, Tampa Bay had 2 participants from the WHL. 21 year old winger Ryan Gibbons, who skated for the Seattle Thunderbirds in his overage year in 2005-06 joined Matt Robinson, a 20 year old winger, at the camp.

In a final note on the camps, the Rangers held their prospect development camp in the end of June, and WHL center Mitch Fadden, who was eligible for the 2006 draft but went unselected, was invited to attend. Fadden played for both the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Lethbridge Hurricanes last season (48 points in 68 games).