Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday's CHL News

With all the NHL coaching changes over the past two days, it has been hard to focus on the CHL. But, there is news, particularly in the West, so let's get right to what's been going on in junior hockey.

First, for those of you who don't know, last week it was a announced that 2 teams from the USHL (the Omaha Lancers and the Indiana Ice) will be a part of a pre-season (September 7 & 8) tourney in Quebec, where they will face-off against the QMJHL Quebec Remparts and the Rimouski Oceanic. This will be the first meeting between QMJHL and USHL teams and is highly anticipated.Both the Remparts and the Oceanic are highly skilled teams, and we will get a chance to see how teams from the USHL stack up against those in the Q. Probably not very well, but hopefully, we can get television and internet complete coverage of the tournament to see for ourselves.

Second, Thursday Hockey Canada announced the names of the players who will be attending the U18 tryouts. All but 6 are CHLers. For a complete list of the players invited, please see

For your info too, the OHL announced its 2007-08 schedule late on Thursday. Find the complete schedule on the website (under "news"). The regular season schedule begins September 19, 2007 and runs through March 16, 2008.

Now in the West. Calgary Hitmen winger Freddie Pettersson has decided to go back home to Sweden to play professional hockey for the 2007-08 season. When the Edmonton Oilers decided not to sign the Hitmen forward to an NHL contract, Pettersson signed with his hometown Frolunda Indians. Last season, the diminutive Pettersson had 50 points in 52 regular season games.

As far as personnel changes in the WHL, Thursday the Lethbridge Hurricanes announced that Assistant General Manager Brad McEwen resigned from that position after a 3-year stint, for personal reasons. This was definitely not the club's decision, which had recently offered McEwen a new contract.

Just as McEwen was leaving Lethbridge, it was announced that Dave Hunchak would be the new Head Coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Hunchak has been the Assistant Coach with the Swift Current Broncos since the 2004-05 season.

In player news, the Prince George Cougars announced yesterday that the team signed their 2007 first round WHL Bantam Draft Pick (# 10 overall) Brett Connolly to a WHL contract. Earlier this week, the Tr-City Americans announced the signing of 16-year-old right wing Colan Jackson to a WHL contract for the 2007-08 season. Jackson played for the Winnipeg Thrashers AAA Midget club during the 2006-07 season. He appeared in 40 regular season games while collecting 29 goals, 40 assists and 69 points. He also led the Manitoba AAA Midget League in playoff scoring with eight goals and 22 points in 12 post-season games.

And just for a little light news, The QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads will be competing in a street hockey tourney Saturday at noon time in Halifax for charity fund-raising purposes, so if you happen to be in Halifax tomorrow, go to Cogswell street and watch the team compete.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wednesday's CHL News

Several things have happened in the CHL hockey world over the last 24 hours, so let us get to them.

First this afternoon, the NHL New Jersey Devils signed defenceman Matthew Corrente, their first round pick from the 2006 entry draft. Corrente played with both the Saginaw Spirit and the Mississauga (now Niagara) Ice Dogs this past season. Expected to return to the Ice Dogs in the fall, Corrente improved his defencive zone play enormously this year, and looks to be a solid blueliner of the future for the Devils.

The next news is out west, where the Vancouver Giants traded 20 year-old winger J.D. Watt to the Red Deer Rebels for 19-year-old defenceman Mike Berube and a 2008 conditional WHL bantam draft pick. Watt had been drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 4th round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and signed a contract with the Flames earlier this year. It is questionable as to whether Watt will play in Red Deer this season or play in the AHL.

The Giants also concluded another transaction today. This one with the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Giants have acquired the rights to centre Tyler Pistone in exchange for the rights to centre Wacey Hamilton. Both players are prospects. Pistone played for the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL this past season. Hamilton skated with the Camrose Kodiaks.

Also out west came the announcement that after seven years with the Kelowna Rockets organization, Jeff Truitt has resigned his head coaching duties. According to Truitt and the team, he is taking an assistant coach position with the Edmonton Oilers new AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. While his leave-taking comes at the only time in the last many years that the Rocket did not make the playoffs, and has caused lots of speculation, everyone knows that almost all junior hockey teams are good and bad in cycles, so this season was just a short interlude in the Rocket's history. This is a great opportunity for Truitt, who was not asked to seek employment elsewhere.

The WHL Moose Jaw Warriors will be announcing their new head coach at a press conference tomorrow afternoon.

In other movement of CHL management, yesterday the Belleville Bulls announced former head scout Barclay Branch has been promoted to the position of Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel.

Also in the OHL, the newly named
Niagara Ice Dogs have announced that Mike Kelly is stepping down as head coach of the team to assume the position of senior advisor to the new owner of the club, Bill Burke. Behind the bench this season will be Mario Cicchillo, who was the associate head coach of the Ice Dogs last season.

And a head's up regarding the move of the Ice Dogs and the St. Mike's Majors. The teams' schedules (which were already made up) will be switched. So that Niagara will play the Majors' schedule and vice versa.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Belleville Bulls Review

Belleville had an excellent 2006-07 season, first in the East Division (39-24-0-5), and a very good showing in the playoffs, making it to the Conference Finals before losing to Sudbury.

Overagers--The Bulls had Tyler Donati, Tyler Doig and Andy Gibbons as overagers this year. Doig came over from Guelph mid-season and was instrumental in the end of regular season run and playoff drive. But it was Donati who really proved to be the biggest asset among the three. Named as the OHL's top overager this past season, the diminutive winger was also named as a Second Team OHL All-star.

Just as expected, the Calgary Flames signed Matt Pelech to an NHL contract before the June 1 deadline. Pelech won'tbe back next season. Nor will goaltender Kevin Lalande, who had previously been signed by the team. The rest of the drafted players on the 2006-07 roster all have another year to be signed to NHL contracts and will return to the team, barring a trade.

PK Subban and Bryan Cameron both attended the NHL Combine in Toronto last week, and with Eric Tangradi, they have the best prospects of being drafted later this month. A late round possible is defenceman Nick Pageau, who really came on in the playoffs.

Youngsters Contributing in 2006-07--several young players contributed to Belleville's success this past season. Edward Pasquale, selected in the third round of the 2006 Priority Draft (56th overall), appeared in 7 games this past season and looks like he will be a solid netminder in the Bulls' future. Defencive blueliner Mark Cantin (6th round, 109 overall, 2006) looks good, and as does Shawn Lalonde, the Bulls first round selection in 2006 (9th overall, 2006). A future offenisve star Lalonde is expected to play at least 2 more years with the team. Matt Tipoff (2nd rd, 32 overall, 2006) played 49 games for Belleville this past season. Tipoff is a late 1990, and will not be eligible for the NHL draft until 2009, so his meager 6 points while playing with guys that are up to 5 years older than he was is not a great worry.

Yearly Awards--Last week the Bulls gave out their yearly awards, which were as follows: Tyler Donati, MVP, Top Scorer, Good Guy Award, Overage Player of the Year; Andrew Gibbons, Humanitarian Award & Jake Gilmour Memorial Award; Shawn Matthias, Outstanding Centreman; Bryan Cameron, Most Sportsmanlike; Geoff Killing, Unsung Hero & Top Scholastic Player; Paul Cianfrini, Top Scholastic Player; Matt Pelech, Most Outstanding Defenceman; Nick Pageau, Most Dedicated Player; P.K. Suban, Most Improved Player; Matt Beleskey, Jake Gilmour Memorial Award; Eric Tangradi, Rookie of the Year; Shawn Lalonde, Rookie of the Year; and Kevin Lalande, Best Playoff Performer.

Other 2006 draft selection 2006-07 results (rounds 1-6):

David Mathers (LW) 5th round, 89th overall--Cobourg Cougars (OPJHL--Junior A) 42 regular season games, 19 pts, 37 PIM, 2 PPG; 4 playoff games, 1 assist, 4 PIM.

Paul Clancy (D) 6th round, 105th overall--Newmarket Hurricanes (OPJHL--Junior A) 46 regular season games, 4 assists, 42 PIM; 11 playoff games, 1 assist, 12 PIM.

Stephen Johnston (LW) 6th round, 112th overall--Guelph AAA Major Midget 45 games, 45 points, 28 PIM

2007 Priority Draft Selections (rounds 1-6):

Tyler Randell (RW) 1st round, 14th overall--Brampton Battalion Minor Midget (SCTA), 58 games, 86 pts, 79 PIM, +53, 6 PPG, 6 SHG (good skater, hard shot, strong on the puck, can hit well, scores goals close to net)

Bjorn Krupp (D) 2nd round, 36th overall--TPH Thunder Minor Midget (GLHL), 40 games, 13 pts, 57 PIM (good on-ice vision and skating, good use of stick)

Andy Bathgate (C) 3rd round, 58th overall--Brampton Battalion Minor Midget (SCTA), 56 games, 63 pts, 32 PIM, +29, 4 PPG, 1 SHG (very good speed and hockey smarts, playmaker)

Brett Mackie (LW) 4th round, 74th overall--Whitby Wildcats Minor Midget (ETA) , 65 games, 83 pts

Luke Judson (RW) 5th round, 99th overall--Thunder Bay AAA Kings Minor Midget, 64 games, 120 pts, 177 PIM

Robert Stellick (D), 6th round, 114 th overall--North York Rangers Minor Midget (GTHLM), 65 games, 37 pts, 38 PIM