Archive for November, 2012

Team Ladd defeats Team Stuart in Goals for Dreams match-up

- November 17th, 2012

Andrew Ladd was quick to deflect the praise when it was suggested he might have a future in hockey as a general manager.

Ladd captained his club to a 14-8 victory over Team Mark Stuart on Saturday afternoon before a capacity crowd of 1,700 hockey-starved fans who packed the house and helped raise $80,000 for the Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Dream Factory.

“Either I’m really good or (Stuart) is really bad. We had fun and it didn’t matter what the score was,” said Ladd. “The charities were the ones that really won the game. It was good.”

Ladd was one of the many players who were impressed by the turnout.

“Yeah, it was awesome. Right from the get-go, not only the turnout, but the support from the businesses that helped us out, in sponsoring the event and sponsoring the indiviudal players was awesome. Everyone was eager to get involved and to help out,” said Ladd. “This wouldn’t have been possible without their support.”

Ladd and Winnipegger Jonathan Toews played together regularly, showcasing the chemistry they occasionally had when they were teammates with the Chicago Blackhawks.

“It was always great when we did get to play together back in the day,” said Toews. “Ladder comes here and is the captain and has done such a great job so far. Obviously, I call him Captain Winnipeg now too. I’m happy he’s the Golden Boy here in Winnipeg. He’s an all-around great guy and he does things the right way.”

Speaking of guys who do things the right way, former Jet Tanner Glass was among the players in attendance and enjoyed being back in Winnipeg for the first time since signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent during the off-season.

Glass showcased his sense of humour when asked if he might consider heading overseas if the lockout drags on.

“I’d like to, but I don’t know how many teams are looking for a third or fourth-line grinder over there,” said Glass.

A G-S-T chant broke out, but it didn’t carry the same weight as the one that was frequent inside the MTS Centre last season.

“The GST chant didn’t go over very well either, maybe I’m to blame for that,” said Glass. “Or maybe (Chris) Thorburn is to blame for that because he wasn’t here. I don’t know.”

The rugged winger also offered his thoughts on the lockout when I asked him if he felt the season was in serious jeopardy of being lost?

“Honestly, I don’t know what to think, it would be absolutely crazy to lose the season but that being said, I thought we’d have a deal done by now too,” said Glass.

 

 

Goals for Dreams Challenge a nice release for locked-out NHLers

- November 16th, 2012

For at least one day, there will be somewhat of a sense of normalcy on Saturday afternoon — the key word being somewhat.

No, it won’t be at MTS Centre and doesn’t feature the actual Winnipeg Jets, but a host of NHLers will be putting their talents on display at Max Bell Arena before a sold-out crowd in the Goals for Dreams Hockey Challenge.

This charity game features 15 NHLPA members and the Winnipeg Patrolmen Hockey team.

What should fans expect?

“It’s going to be great,” added Jets centre Jim Slater. “We’ve got some really good players coming in for this game and the fans are going to be entertained for sure. It’s the first competition for some of these guys and it’s going to be fun. It might start up a little slow, but as the game picks up, it usually gets a little more competitive, depending on the score.”

Mark Stuart isn’t planning on putting on his usual shot-blocking display.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of built-up energy and aggression in a lot of these guys, but you have to remember this game is for charity and a couple of good causes, the Dream Factory and the Children’s Hospital Foundation,” said Stuart. “I’m sure it will be a little bit more competitive (than a regular non-contact scrimmage).”

I asked Andrew Ladd about his GM strategy and his answer was very honest:

“I don’t know if I had one,” said Ladd, who played in a similar charity game last month in Chicago. “We’ve got a good group and two pretty equal teams, so it should be a lot of fun. It’s nice to have something to look forward to.”

Here’s a look at the two teams:

Team Andrew Ladd:

Goalie

James Reimer – Toronto Maple Leafs

Defence

Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks – late scratch when he couldn’t get to Winnipeg due to airline issues

Shane Hnidy – Jets colour commentator/former NHLer

Forwards

Andrew Ladd – Winnipeg Jets

Bryan Little – Winnipeg Jets

Jim Slater – Winnipeg Jets

Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks

Tanner Glass – Pittsburgh Penguins

Troy Brouwer – Washington Capitals

Ryan Garbutt – Dallas Stars

Team Mark Stuart

Goalie

Chris Mason  – Nashville Predators (the first overall selection)

Defence

Mark Stuart – Winnipeg Jets

Shea Weber -  Nashville Predators

Forwards

Olli Jokinen – Winnipeg Jets

Mike Richards – Los Angeles Kings

Gregory Campbell – Boston Bruins

Colin Wilson – Nashville Predators

Ryan Reaves – St. Louis Blues

Jim O’Brien – Ottawa Senators

Zach Bogosian will serve as head coach for Team Stuart.

The game is sold out, but if you have a ticket, the NHLers will be on hand for an autograph session at 2 p.m., with puck drop slated for 3:30 p.m.

IceCaps off to slow start

- November 15th, 2012

It’s not the type of start the St. John’s IceCaps were envisioning for the 2012-13 season.

A 6-7 record would certainly fall under the banner of below expectations, especially after bringing back the core that made it to the Eastern Conference final last spring and added some key pieces to the puzzle as well.

There are plenty of reasons for the slow start, but a lack of consistent goal scoring has been a big one.

Through 13 games, the IceCaps are averaging just over two goals per game (27), which puts an enormous amount of pressure on their goaltenders to be almost perfect.

“We’ve had our ups-and-downs for sure, trying to figure out a bit of our identity and get our chemistry going,” said veteran defenceman Derek Meech. “We’re gtting chances and not converting. It’s just getting in those tough areas, being willing to drive to the net, getting more shots and working harder, in general…the goals aren’t just going to come. It’s tough to win in this league, especially this year. Every night is a battle. There’s some good talent in the league. You have to get in those areas and make it happen.”

The IceCaps have been blanked four times already, which is surprising, given the talent assembled.

However, it’s also a reflection on how good the goaltending has been around the AHL this season.

After enduring a cold stretch on an 11-day stretch that saw them spend a total of 18 hours on the bus, the IceCaps wrapped up their five-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Hershey Bears.

They return to Mile One Centre to open a six-game homestand on Friday against the Albany Devils.

When I spoke to IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge on Wednesday, he had rave reviews for centre Alex Burmistrov, who is tied for the team scoring lead with Meech.

Given what we saw during training camp in Newfoundland, we weren’t the least bit surprised. Burmistrov arrived with a positive attitude and is determined to use the lockout to get better and to repair his confidence, that was admittedly shaken after a strong start to last season with the Winnipeg Jets turned into disappointment.

Also asked McCambridge about rookie prospect Ivan Telegin, who has a goal and four points in 12 games:

“What I see is the raw talent of speed and his knack around the net,” said McCambridge. “What really jumps out is the size he has and the speed he possesses. His game right now is about making sure he’s playing the game the way it needs to be played at the pro level. That’s playing in straight lines, supporting pucks, using his speed to an advantage and sticking his nose into the battles for loose pucks. He’s a first-year guy who is realizing what it takes. A really good young kid with a lot of raw talent and he’s a kid that wants to learn.”

Injuries have been a factor for the IceCaps, who are currently without several key cogs, including centre Patrice Cormier, who is out for another month or so with a knee injury.

Veteran centre Aaron Gagnon has been dealing with a rib issue and has no points in seven games. For a guy on a one-way contract who was one of the top scorers on the team last season, Gagnon will be expected to pick things up once he’s back to full health.

Defenceman Paul Postma is back in action after missing time at the start of the season with a leg injury.

Postma has a goal and an assist in five games.

Forward Spencer Machacek, who impressed during a late-season recall with the Jets, has two goals and five points and will be looked upon to help chip in a bit more offensively moving forward.

When it comes to goaltending, prospect Eddie Pasquale and the more experienced Mark Dekanich have been splitting time and the two are expected to push one another for minutes as the season goes on.