Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ontario Takes Gold in Winter Games

Ontario won the gold medal in the 2007 Canada Winter Games this evening, defeating Manitoba by a score of 6-4. Ontario jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the game, but Manitoba was able to tie the score on 2 goals by Shayne Wiebe (Kamloops, 8th round, 2005) and Tyler Schmidt (Tri-Cities, 2nd round, 2005) (Braeden Adamyk [undrafted] had assists on both of them). Ontario took the lead again with 6:17 left in the first period on a goal by Steve Stamkos (Sarnia, 1st round, 2006), and never gave it up again. Both Stamkos and blueliner Michael Del Zotto (Oshawa, 1st round, 2006) were the offensive heroes of the game for Ontario (each had 1 G, 2 A), but it was the netminding of Ontario's Chris Carrozzi (Toronto, 3rd round, 2006) that really caught my eye. Carrozzi came into the game in the second period, just after Manitoba had scored its fourth goal of the night. At that point, the score was 5-4 in Ontario's favour, and Manitoba's David Toews (Brandon, 6th round, 2005) had just scored his second goal of the period. With Manitoba gaining momentum, Carrozzi came in for Ontario and completely shut the opposition down; he faced 14 shots over the rest of the game and did not allow any of them to get past him. For that, Chris Carrozzi is named CHL News' Player of the Game.

In the Bronze Medal Game, Alberta defeated British Columbia by the score of 4-3. Jordan Eberle (Regina, 7th round, 2005) scored his first goal (of two in the game) less than 1 minute into the contest. When Tyler Shattock (Kamloops, 1st round, 2005) tied it up half way through the period, it looked like this would be a very exciting, close game, but Alberta took the lead again late in the period on a goal by Jordan Rowley and did not again relinquish it yesterday afternoon. Besides Eberle (who had 2 goals and an assist in the game), Steele Boomer (Kootenay, 2nd round, 2005) had an excellent day, with 2 primary assists on Eberle's goals and a goal of his own, late in the second period, that turned out to be the game-winner. For his 2 goals, Jordan Eberle is the CHL News Player of the Game.

In the relegation games, Quebec took 5th place in the tournament by defeating Saskatchewan 5-2. Quebec finally got on track the last 2 days, and put 80 shots on net in this final game for the team. Although it is not immediately evident from the score, Quebec completely dominated in the game and Saskatchewan had no chance against the much more talented opponent. By the time the 1st period was over, Quebec led 3-0. It was 5-0 before Saskatchewan even got on the board. It was play of Marc-Olivier Vachon (Drummondville, 2nd round, 2006) and Dave Labrecque (Shawinigan, 1st round, 2006) together that caught my eye in this game. Each had 1 goal and 2 assists in the game, and the two forwards played on a line together like they had been doing so all season. Both of them share the CHL Player of the Game award. Kudos also, but no award, to Saskatchewan's Jeffrey Bosch (Regina, 3rd round, 2005), who faced 80 shots from a clearly superior team.

The game for seventh place was played between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with New Brunswick winning, 6-3. For most of the game, this was an exciting match-up, with New Brunswick only running away with it in the third period. Once again, New Brunswick had 2 players that were most of their offensive punch, but this time Patrice Cormier (rimouski, 1st round, 2006) was not one of the two. Cormier did have 1 goal and 1 assist in the game, but Kelsey Tessier (Quebec, 4th round, 2006) and Devon MacAusland (undrafted) were much more impressive. Tessier, who was first overall in the Winter Games in points, had 3 goals and 3 assists in the game. MacAusland had 2 goals and 4 assists. Kelsey Tessier is the CHL News Player of the Game for his game-winning goal and just overall fantastic play on the ice.

In the other 2 relegation round games, Newfoundland/Labrador defeated Prince Edward Island 5-2, and the team from the Yukon Territories defeated the one from the Northwest Territories in a shootout win, where the final score was 3-2. The meeting between the 2 territories teams was very exciting, with The Northwest Territories netminder putting on a fabulous show. The young Andy Williams (undrafted) faced 74 shots during the game and only had 2 get by him. Those 2 goals belonged to Lowell Johnston (undrafted), who scored his second and third points of the tourney yesterday (just when his team needed them). The CHL News Player of the Game is Andy Williams.

The Newfoundland/Labrador v PEI game was very competitive for almost the entire game. Three offensive players stood out for Newfoundland/Labrador in the 5-2 victory. Chris Thorne (St. John's, 5th round, 2006), Jeremy Barron (undrafted), and Luke Adam (St. John's, 1st round, 2006) all had very good games for their province. But it was Evan Mosher (PEI, 5th roud, 2006) who won the game for the team. Mosher was impenetrable in the last half of the game, allowing his teammates to score 4 unanswered goals to take the game. For that Mosher is named CHL News Player of the Game.

As far as the best player of the tournament, there is no question that New Brunswick's Kelsey Tessier gets that honour. Already projected to be a first round selection in the 2008 NHL entry draft by ISS, Tessier's stock will surely rise due his performance here. Look for him to crack the top 10 2008 prospects list in the coming months.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Winter Games Continue on Thursday

The men's hockey portion of the Canada Winter Games continued on Thursday with 4 relegation games played throughout the day. The teams in contention for the medals (Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia) rested, but by tonight, all the men's hockey games will be completed. TSN will broadcast both the Bronze Medal and Gold Medal games live, at 2:00 PM and 10:30 PM, EST respectively.

As for Thursday's action, in the first game of the day, the team from Prince Edward Island defeated the boys from the Northwest Territories by a score of 7-1. Offensively, for PEI, Ben Cameron (undrafted) had a goal and 3 assists in the game, while Chris Doyle (PEI, 1st round, 2006) registered 5 assists. Between the pipes, netminder Tyler MacDonald (undrafted) stopped 18 of 19 shots on goal for Prince Edward Island. The Northwest Territories team was again completely overmatched, but backup goaltender Andy Williams (undrafted) (Michael Taylor had played in the previous games) faced 78 shots and stopped 71 of them. It was a grueling couple of hours for Williams, but he did an admirable job facing the onslaught he did.

In the second game, the Newfoundland/Labrador team took on the team from the Yukon Territories. This was a much more competitive game, with the Newfoundland/Labrador team scoring 3 goals in the last 4 minutes of the game, eventually winning 5-1. For most of the game, the Yukon netminder Mitch Heynen (undrafted) was excellent between the pipes and should be commended for his play. Five different Newfoundland/Labrador forwards scored goals in this contest, with only Adam Molloy (undrafted) having a multiple point game (he had 2 assists). It was Molloy's eighth and ninth points in the tournament.

In the evening matches, Nova Scotia took on Quebec, and New Brunswick played Saskatchewan. The Nova Scotia/Quebec game was a lot more competitive than the 7-1 score indicates. Nova Scotia goaltender Kirk Rafuse (undrafted) played an excellent game in the first 2 periods, when he faced 44 shots and allowed only 2 goals. He was particularly good in the second period, when his team took 5 penalties and all were killed off. However, in the third period, Rafuse collapsed, allowing 5 goals on 25 shots. Quebec's Jordan Caron (Rimouski, 1st round, 2006) and Gabriel Dumont (Drummondville, 4th round, 2006) did a lot to break Rafuse down, scoring 3 goals and 2 assists between them (Caron, 2 G, 1 A; Dumont, 1 G, 1 A). Kudos also to Antoine Tardif (Acadie-Bathurst, 1st round, 2006), who faced 22 shots and allowed only 1 to get past him.

In the final game of the night, Saskatchewan defeated New Brunswick by the score of 9-5. This game was less competitive than the score, as Saskatchewan jumped to a 2-0 lead on 2 power play goals in the first period, and really never looked back. The team reeled off 5 unanswered goals, before New Brunswick got its offense going. Saskatchewan's Jimmy Bubnick (Kamloops, 1st round, 2006) was the hero of the game, with 3 goals (including the game-winner) and 1 assist on the night. Rylan Schwartz (Spokane, 4th round, 2005) was also instrumental in the win, with 3 assists and excellent positioning, he had a very successful night. However, despite New Brunswick's poor defensive game (particularly on the penalty kill), one still has to marvel at the offensive prowess of both Kelsey Tessier (Quebec, 4th round, 2006) and Patrice Cormier (Rimouski, 1st round, 2006). Cormier had 2 goals and 2 assists on the night, and Tessier, who is still leading the tournament in total points, had 1 goal and 4 assists in the game. Both of these players will be top prospects for the 2008 NHL draft, and it will be lots of fun watching them develop over the next few years.

Don't forget to watch the TSN live broadcast of the medal games today. These are the NHL stars of the future on the ice, and both games should be very exciting to watch.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thursday's Winter Games Update

The semi-finals are over, and it is the team from Ontario that will meet the boys from Manitoba for the gold medal in the Winter Games. British Columbia will battle with Alberta for the bronze medal.

In total, 5 men's hockey games were played on Wednesday, the 2 semi-finals and 3 relegation matches. In the first semi-final, Ontario defeated British Columbia in overtime by the score of 4-3. Ontario jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Nathan Moon (Kingston, 2nd round 2006) and Steve Stamkos (Sarnia, 1st round, 2006). Kyle Beach (Everett, 1st round, 2005) tied it up for BC with 2 goals in a matter of a minute of playing time. British Columbia then took the lead in the third period, but could not hold on. It took less than a minute into the overtime period for Anthony Nigro (Guelph, 1st round, 2006) to put the puck past BC netminder Martin Jones (Calgary, 4th round, 2005) and the game was over.

It was Beach's second big game in a row, and he deserves a lot of credit for his play on the ice. For Ontario, Cody Hodgson (Brampton, 1st round, 2006) got the tieing goal in the third period and the primary assist on Nigro's game winner. Quietly, Ontario blueliner Alex Pietrangelo (Mississauga, 1st round, 2006) has moved into the top 5 in scoring in this tournament. Last night, Pietrangelo put up 2 more points (both assists); he now has 11 points in the Winter Games.

In the other semi-final game, Manitoba unexpectedly crushed Alberta 5-1 in a great performance by Manitoba's goaltender Mark Friesen (undrafted). The win was a real team effort, as 5 different Manitoba players scored goals, and only winger Colin Phaneuf (Tri-Cities, 6th round, 2005) got more than 1 point on the night (2 assists). Alberta's goal was scored by Joe Colborne (undrafted), with an assist by Cole Penner (Prince Albert, 1st round, 2006).

The first relegation game was between Prince Edward Island and the Yukon Territories, and it was a very competitive game until the start of the third period, when PEI went on a tear, scoring 5 unanswered goals to take the game. Chris Doyle (PEI, 1st round, 2006) was the hero of the game for Prince Edward Island, recording 3 goals and 2 assists in the game. Also deserving of mention was the play of Nathan DesRoches (undrafted), who had 4 assists on the night. Finally, of note in this game was the play of the Yukon's winger Robbie Stuckey (undrafted), who had 2 assists in the game, and now has 3 points in the tournament.

Two other relegation round games were played--Nova Scotia against Saskatchewan and New Brunswick against Quebec. Nova Scotia was clearly outmatched by a much stronger Saskatchewan team, and went down to a 10-4 defeat. It was Jeremy Boyer's (Seattle, 2nd round, 2005) night, with the young centre registering 4 goals and an assist in the game. Kudos too to Carter Ashton (Lethbridge, 1st round, 2006), who scored 3 goals on the night, including the game winner. For Nova Scotia there were few bright spots, but Jarrad Struthers (Rouyn-Noranda, 3rd round, 2006) had 2 goals, including a very pretty one scored early in the game.

The second game saw Quebec, one of the favourites to win the tournament, losing their second game in two days; this time to New Brunswick. Before I say anything else about this game, I have to admit that even before this tourney, I believed that Patrice Cormier (Rimouski, 1st round, 2006) is one of the top 5 1990 prospects currently playing in the CHL. So, although it is Kelsey Tessier (Quebec, 4th round, 2006) that is leading the tournament in points and got the game-winning goal in this game, it is Cormier that impressed me most in this game. Both players had 2 goals and an assist, but it is Cormier's creative play that absolutely captivated my attention. Kudos to both players and to netminder Nathan Dunnett (undrafted), who stopped 60 of 64 shots on goal, for defeating the much more deeply talented Quebec squad. Dunnett had to pretty much stand on his head to get this victory, as Quebec just kept putting shot after shot on net, but fell one goal short.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wednesday's CHL News

Today, the CHL named Parker VanBuskirk the CHL's Goaltender of the Week, for the week ending Sunday, February 25th. The 18-year-old netminder appeared in 2 games for the OHL Sarnia Sting, had 1 shutout, a GAA of 0.50, and a .982 save percentage. This season, VanBuskirk has played in 39 games, and has a record of 21-10-2-2, with a 3.24 GAA and .901 save percentage.

The other 2 nominees for the award were previous winner Ondrej Pavelec, of the QMJHL's Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, and Derek Yeomans of the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds. Yeomans, a diminutive netminder who is a overager, has not won this year and, in my humble opinion, is most deserving. He has a streak of 8 consecutive victories going, and this month he is 9-2, including 3 shutouts, a 1.64 GAA and a .932 save percentage. Hopefully, we will find out in the next few days that he is the CHL's Goaltender of the Month.

On Tuesday, the OHL announced that Owen Sound Attack winger Wayne Simmonds has been named the league's Player of the Week for the week ending February 25, 2007. Simmonds, Owen Sound's 6th round, 114th overall selection in the 2006 Priority Draft recorded 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in 3 games last week. The 18-year old Simmonds has 42 points in 59 game thus far this season, while accumulating 106 PIM and a plus/minus of -5. The 6'1", 160 lb right wing was overlooked in last year's NHL draft, but he has really come on lately, registering 13 points in the last 5 games. Not afraid to mix it up, it is likely that Simmonds will be a late round pick in this summer's NHL draft.

On Monday, the QMJHL's offensive and defensive players of the week were named. The defensive player was Ondrej Pavelec, who also received consideration for the CHL Goaltender of the Week (see above). Pavelec, a top draft selection of the Atlanta Thrashers (2nd round, 2005), appeared in 2 games, registering 2 wins, with a 1.00 GAA and a .976 save percentage. Also considered for the award were Pierre-Luc Lessard of the PEI Rocket, Martin Frechette of the Gatineau Olympiques, and goaltender Kevin Maletto of the Shawinigan Cataractes.

The offensive Player of the Week in the Q is PEI Rocket winger Geoff Walker. The 19-year-old former Gatineau second round pick (2004) played in 2 games and recorded 7 points, 2 PIM, and was +3. Walker has 79 points in 61 games thus far this season. Other players receiving mention for the award were Danick Bouchard of the Shawinigan Cataractes, Tomas Svoboda of the Drummondville Voltigeurs and Martin Bartos of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Also on Monday, the WHL named the Seattle Thunderbirds' Aaron Gagnon its Player of the Week. A center, Gagnon is an overager who was drafted by the NHL Phoenix Coyotes and never signed, is the team's leading scorer this season. In 52 games this season, he has 72 points, while accumulating 56 PIM, and a +23 plus/minus rating. Last week, Gagnon played in 3 games, scored 6 goals (and 1 assist), and had a +7 rating.

Another overager was also considered for the WHL Player of the Week award. Winger Josh Aspenlind, of the Chilliwack Bruins, also put in a fine performance as part of an excellent season with the expansion team. Thus far this season, Aspenlind has 48 points in 63 games, 107 PIM, and a -2 plus/minus. In 4 games last week, he had 9 points and a +3 plus/minus.

On a completely different subject, there is some news on the OHL Kingston Fronts injury front. Bobby Hughes was injured in last Friday night's game. It looked like a knee injury, but all that has been said is that he has an undisclosed leg injury. He will be out for at least 2 weeks. Cory Emmerton, who has been sidelined with a broken ankle since December, is skating again. It appears that he may be back sooner than expected, i.e., before the end of the regular season, depending upon the word from his doctor in Michigan over the next few days.

Wednesday's Winter Games Update

In a big quarterfinal upset last night, Manitoba defeated Quebec by an overtime score of 7-6 last night. Expected to be one of the top contenders for the Gold Medal, Quebec is now relegated to no higher than 5th place.

Manitoba jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, on goals by Jordan Mistlebacher (Swift Current, 4th round, 2005) and Sanfred King (Brandon, 1st round, 2005) before Quebec put in a goal late in the first period. Each team added another goal in the second period, and the third period began with Manitoba ahead 3-2. Quebec tied the game on a goal by Jean-Sebastien Berube (Rouyn-Noranda, 2nd round, 2006) early in the third and then pulled ahead on a score by Marc-Olivier Vachon (Drummondville, 2nd round, 2006). Goals were alternately scored, so that it was 6-5 Quebec with less than a minute to play in the game. With 23 seconds left in regulation, the game's best player Braeden Adamyk (undrafted) scored his second goal of the night to send the game into overtime. At 5:51 of OT, Manitoba's Shayne Wiebe (Kamloops, 8th round, 2005) put the puck past Quebec's netminder Antoine Tardif (Acadie-Bathurst, 1st round, 2006) and the game was over. A very exciting unexpected finish; congrats to both teams on the hard-fought high-intensity game.

Four other games were played yesterday, including 3 other Quarterfinals and 1 Relegation Round Game.

Another of the quarterfinal games required overtime to decide. British Columbia defeated Saskatchewan 5-4 in a very exciting game that again saw the tieing goal in the last minute of play. Saskatchewan led early in the game, on two first period goals, one each by Rylan Schwartz (Spokane, 4th round, 2005) and Kruise Reddick (undrafted member of Tri-Cities). In fact, last night for Saskatchewan, these 2 players put on a spectacular show, with each player accumulating 4 points and keeping the hopes of a province alive. In the end, the OT goal of Thomas Frazee (Portland, 1st round, 2005) put the game away for BC at 6:28 of the extra period. Kudos also to British Columbia's Brandon McMillan (Kelowna, 4th round, 2005), who had 2 goals last night, and to Kyle Beach (Everett, 1st round, 2005), with a goal and 2 assists on the night.

In third exciting quarterfinal matchup, Alberta defeated New Brunswick by a score of 4-3. Despite leading at several points in the game, New Brunswick was unable to hold off the Alberta power play late in the third period. Steve Siego's (Everett, 8th round, 2005) goal, his third point of the night, clinched the game for the Alberta team with 3:14 left in regulation. Each team had a player with 2 goals in last night's contest, New Brunswick's Kelsey Tessier (Quebec, 4th round, 2006) who has been one of the best players on the ice in the tournament thus far, and Jordan Rowley (Kamloops, 2nd round, 2005) for Alberta, who has been pretty quiet up until last night. Also deserving of mention for his performance last night is Alberta goaltender Jacob DeSerres (Seattle, 3rd round, 2005), who stopped 47 of 50 shots on goal.

In the only non-competitive quarterfinal game, Ontario defeated Nova Scotia by a score of 6-0. Steve Stamkos (Sarnia, 1st round, 2006) had 2 goals, and both Cody Hodgson (Brampton, 1st round, 2006) and Anthony Nigro (Guelph, 1st round, 20006) had 2 assists apiece in the Ontario win. Netminder Chris Carrozzi (Toronto, 3rd round, 2006) stopped all 11 shots he faced.

Finally, the first Relegation Round game was played yesterday. In it, Newfoundland/Labrador defeated the team from the Northwest Territories by the score of 12-0. Kudos to Jeremy Barron (undrafted) for his natural hat-trick in the game.

The Games continue today with both Relegation Round games and the Semifinals.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Rights to Two CHLers Traded This Afternoon

This afternoon the rights to both Ryan O'Marra and Shawn Matthias were traded between NHL teams as part of last minute trades. Prior to the 3 pm deadline this afternoon, the rights to Ryan O'Marra, a center for the OHL Saginaw Spirit, were traded from the New York Islanders to the Edmonton Oilers as part of a deal that brought Ryan Smyth to New York. O'Marra was the Islanders first round pick (15th overall) in 2005.

Also traded were the NHL rights to OHLer Belleville Bulls center Shawn Matthias. Detroit's second round (47th overall) draft selection in 2006 was traded to the Florida Panthers as part of the deal that sent Todd Bertuzzi to Hockeytown.

Earlier this month, the rights to three other CHLers were traded. Nashville traded its rights to Guelph defenceman Ryan Parent to Philadelphia. And the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings swapped rights to QMJHL Lewiston MAINEiacs Marc Andre Cliche and OHL Brampton Battalion winger John Seymour.

Where Things Stand as of Tuesday Morning in the Winter Games

After last night's games, it is decided. The teams from New Brunswick, British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan will all play in the men's hockey qualifying round of the Winter Games. Teams from Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland/Labrador, Northwest Territories, and Yukon Territories will play in the Relegation Round for 9-12th place in the tournament.

There were games in all four Pools yesterday, but, in fact, only 3 Pools really had competitions left for positions in the Qualifying Round.

In Pool A, Alberta had only played one game, so while they are one of the favourites in the tournament, a game against the Northwest Territories remained. The strength of the Alberta team was obvious less than 1 minute into the game. When Lance Bouma (Vancouver, 2nd round, 2005) put the first of Alberta's 17 goals past netminder Michael Taylor (undrafted), the game was effectively over. While it is hard to choose one player of the game when the score is 17-0, my choice is Steele Boomer (Kootenay, 2nd round, 2005), who had 2 goals, 3 assists, and was all over the ice. Honourable mention to Jordan Eberle (Regina, 7th round, 2005), who had the same stats, but in my opinion, was not quite up to the level of Boomer's play.

In Pool B, the team from Quebec defeated the team from Nova Scotia by the score of 4-1. Both teams will go on to play in the Qualifying Round, but it was clear last night that Quebec is a formidable team. Quebec pulled out ahead 3-0, and netminder Kevin Poulin (Victoriaville, 1st round, 2006) only allowed one goal to get past him all game. For Quebec, Joel Champagne (Chicoutimi, 1st round, 2006) was most impressive on the ice. For Nova Scotia, it was goaltender Kirk Rafuse (undrafted), who stopped 48 of Quebec's 52 shots.

In Pool C, Manitoba faced off against the team from Ontario. Although both teams had already made the Qualifying Round, the game had intensity to it. Ontario jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead and held on to win, 5-2. Again it was Steve Stamkos (Sarnia, 1st round, 2006) that led his team to victory. With 2 goals and a primary assist, he was the game's first star (named or not). Anthony Nigro (Guelph, 1st round, 2006) (with 2 assists) and netminder Edward Pasquale (Belleville, 3rd round, 2006) also deserve mention for their play. Two members of the team from Manitoba also stood out. Dale Hunt (Prince George's, 1st round, 2005) had 2 primary assists and goaltender Mark Friesen (undrafted) saved 52 of 57 shots on goal.

In the final pool, Pool D, New Brunswick took on Newfoundland/Labrador. The game was extremely competitive until late in the second period, when New Brunswick scored 5 unanswered goals to take the game. The finial score was 8-5, but for more than half the game, it was one of the more interesting and exciting contests in this Winter Games. First star of the game would have to go to Patrice Cormier (Rimouski, 1st round, 2006), who scored the game-winning goal, and had 2 goals and 2 assists in the game. Also deserving of mention was the play of the Kelsey Tessier (Quebec, 4th round, 2006), the tournament's leading scorer thus far, who had 2 goals and 2 assists in yesterday's game. His total of 11 points in 2 games thus far is 2 more than the number recorded by Steve Stamkos. Hats off to Luke Adam (St. John's, 1st round, 2006) of Newfoundland/Labrador, who had a hat-trick in yesterday's game. His first 2 goals kept his team in the game, and Adam was by far the best player for Newfoundland/Labrador on the ice.

As for today's schedule, all the teams will be back on the ice. This afternoon, there will be 2 Relegation Round Games, and 2 Quarterfinal Matches. Tonight (at 8:30 local time) Nova Scotia will play Ontario, and BC will play Saskatchewan.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sunday's Hockey at the Winter Games

In Pool A, which consists of teams from Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, the Northwest Territories team finally got a chance to take the ice on Sunday (the team was idle on Saturday due to scheduling of the tourney). Unfortunately, the team was completely overmatched by the one from Saskatchewan, and lost 13-0. With so many scorers (and hot prospects) on the Saskatchewan team, it is hard to pick just one or two that were outstanding, but the names Jimmy Bubnick (Kamloops, 1st round, 2006), Cody Hanson (Seattle, 1st round, 2005), and Brayden Schenn (Brandon, 1st round, 2006) come to mind. For the Northwest Territories team, one has to respect the determination and grittiness of netminder Michael Taylor, who faced more than 90 shots on goal during his 60 minute ordeal against some of the brightest Canadian prospects in the country yesterday.

Team Alberta will play the Northwest Territories today, which will set up a tie in preliminary play in Pool A. Should Alberta defeat the Northwest Territories team (which at this point is probable), Alberta and Saskatchewan's 0-0 tie in Saturday's game will leave each of Alberta and Saskatchewan with 1 win and 1 tie. However, because the 2 top teams in each Pool go on to the Qualifying Round in the tournament, both will advance to that round. The Northwest Territories team will most likely play in the Relegation Round.

In Pool B, Nova Scotia (which was idle on Saturday) played and defeated The Yukon Territories team 10-4. The Nova Scotia team, lead by Matthew Stoddard (Cape Breton, 2nd round, 2006), Steven Anthony (not drafted), and Stephen Horyl (not drafted), were far superior on the ice. But the Yukon team does have some talent, particularly Drew Pettitt (undrafted) and William McDougall (undrafted).

With The Yukon already having lost both of its games, it will play in the Relegation Round. Nova Scotia and Quebec will each be heading into the Qualifying Round.

In Pool C, Manitoba defeated the much weaker Prince Edward Island, by the score of 12-2. With its second loss in as many days, the PEI team has been eliminated from qualifying to play for the Winter Games' gold medal. Manitoba and Saturday's winner Ontario will advance to the Qualifying Round. In Manitoba's win, Tyler Schmidt (Tri-Cities, 2nd round, 2005), Michael Stone (Calgary, 4th round, 2005) and Colin Phaneuf (Tri-Cities, 6th round, 2005) stood out. Jordan Costello (undrafted) had 2 goals for PEI.

In the most competitive pool, Pool D, British Columbia defeated Newfoundland/Labrador by the score of 3-2. This sets up a third game tonight, between New Brunswick and Newfoundland/Labrador. This should be a very competitive game, and the winner will go on to the Qualifying Round.

In yesterday's Pool D game, Chris Thorne (St. John's, 5th round, 2006) was the player of the Game for Newfoundland/Labrador. With a goal and an assist, he was exciting to watch. For BC, Kyle St. Denis (Regina, 5th round, 2005) had the game-winning goal in the closing minutes of the third period. Also worthy of mention was Thomas Frazee's (Portland, 1st round, 2005) 2 assists.

As we get to the more competitive contests in the Winter Games, the intensity will be greater and greater. Tonight's match-up between New Brunswick and Newfoundland/Labrador should be a very good one.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sarnia's Stamkos Shows His Stuff in Yesterday's Winter Games Contests

OHL Sarnia Sting rookie Steven Stamkos recorded 5 goals and 1 assist in Team Ontario's 11-3 rout of the team from Prince Edward Island yesterday. The first overall selection in last spring's OHL Priority Draft, Stamkos has recorded 87 points in 57 regular season OHL games thus far during the 2006-07 campaign, which is third among all rookies in the OHL.

Early predictions have Stamkos selected first overall in the 2008 NHL entry draft, however, blueliner Alex Pietrangelo will give him a run for his money. Pietrangelo had 4 assists in yesterday's game against PEI. The Mississauga Ice Dogs defenseman is not only among the top rookie scorers in the OHL, he has maintained a plus/minus rating of +41.

The Erie Otters winger, Kelly Geoffrey also had 4 assists in Ontario's first men's hockey Winter Games' contest yesterday. Also deserving of mention was the OPJHL's Corey Trivino, who had a goal and 3 assists in yesterday's win. Trivino plays for the Stouffville Spirit and was the team's second leading scorer during the regular 2006-07 season (49 games, 58 points).

Also involved in a lopsided game was the team from Quebec. Composed almost entirely of up and coming stars in the QMJHL league, the team defeated players from The Yukon handily. It is important to understand that the team from the Yukon Territory was a lot younger and less experienced than the players from Quebec, and hopefully in the spirit of the Winter Games, the Yukon players will take much from the experience.

The best player on the ice for Quebec was the Chicoutimi Sangueneens centre, who had 4 assists in the game. Kudos too to Kane Dawe, from the Yukon Territory team, who scored that team's goal.

In the two hotly contested games, British Columbia defeated New Brunswick by a score of 8-6 and Alberta and Saskatchewan played to a 0-0 tie (as CHL News previously noted, there are no tie breaking mechanisms in the preliminary round).

The player of the game in the NB/BC game really had to go to 2 players, Kelsey Tessier (4G, 2A) and Landon Ferraro (4 G), who were the most exciting on the ice. Right behind them was New Brunswick's Patrice Cormier, who had 5 assists.

Both Tessier and Cormier are eligible for the 2008 NHL entry draft, a draft that looks to looks much better than this year for depth of talent.