Thursday, October 29, 2009

TPS Reset - Oct 27th

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If you missed Tuesday's edition of The Pipeline Show, don't worry, that's what audio archives are for! Here is what you missed:

Dean and I were very excited to have been able to line up Theoren Fleury for the program. (OK, credit Dean for doing all the legwork on setting that interview up). Fleury has been on a whirlwind, cross-Canada book tour to promote his sold out autobiography called Playing With Fire. We were pleased to have been able to speak with the former Calgary Flames forward for two full segments and he spoke on several subjects. Of course he discussed the motivation behind writing the book and his coming forward in regards to acknowledging that he was abused by his former coach Graham James. Much of his life is now dedicated to helping others who have, or are, facing similar stories. For more on that subject we encourage you to visit his website HERE

We also talked to Fleury about other less-heavy subjects like his fond memories of his junior hockey career with the Moose Jaw Warriors and his experiences at the World Junior Championship playing for Team Canada. Of course Fleury was a catalyst for the Punch-Up at Piestany in 1987 and also a part of the gold medal winning squad the next year. To Hear both segments we had with Theo Fleury, click HERE .

Every week on The Pipeline Show we like to introduce fans to another player eligible for the next NHL Entry Draft. One such 2010 player is Joey Hishon of the Owen Sound Attack. Although he's currently injured, Hishon is, in our mind, a player to watch for this season. He played in the U18 tournament in Fargo last April but oddly enough, wasn't a part of Canada's summer entry to the Ivan Hlinka tournament. Hishon touches on that as well as many other subjects including his foot injury. You can hear everything that Hishon had to say by clicking HERE

Last year we spoke with coach Mark Carlson before the 2008 WJAC in Camrose, a tournament that his American squad went on to win. The problem with that interview was that it came just days before his team roster was formally announced so he couldn't say a whole lot about the make up of the team. This year we had no such problem so we got a great amount of information about what Team USHL, er... Team USA will look like this year in PEI. Carlson talks specifically about several players including his goaltending tandem, a pair of USHL netminders with less that exciting stats right now in that league. David Gerths is the only returning player but there are several others he is expecting big things from at the tournament. Hear what coach Carlson said about his sqaud by clicking HERE .

Last but not least, we had a conversation with goaltender Jake Allen. Allen is the marquee player with the Montreal Juniors of the QMJHL, he's a 2nd round pick of the St. Louis Blues and he's quite probably the starter for Canada at the 2010 WJC in Saskatoon/Regina.. We had lots to talk to Allen about and he had lots to say; hear it all by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Top 5 Tuesday: CHL Rookies

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The crop of rookie this year is looking pretty good so far. Here are the 5 in scoring from across the league as of Today.

5. Geoffry Schemitsch-Owen Sound
The blueliner from Owen Sound is starting to make scouts pay attention. Not ranked by ISS in their top 30 for the 2010 draft has 2 goals, 15 points in 17 games. He's 6.01 and 180 lbs and has the coveted right handed shot. He currently sits 5th in rookie scoring across the country.

4. Emerson Etem- Medicine Hat
I watched him play Saturday night against Edmonton and he scored a beauty of a goal, his 12th already this year giving him 16 points in 15 games for the Tigers. Etem picked up the puck shorthanded in the Oil Kings corner and powered his way to the net tucking it in far side. Some scouts have said he's a little soft, but I didn't see much of that Saturday. His current pace has him racking up 57 goals in a 72 game season, but I'm betting he misses some time for the World Junior Championship.

3. Nino Neiderreiter-Portland
I recently saw the swiss, who seems like he can't miss, product when the Winterhawks rolled through town a few weeks back. He was impressive. His 8 goals and 17 points are tied for 2nd in rookie scoring. Neiderreiter has good size and skates well. He's not in the top 30 for ISS but could sneak in as the season rolls on.

2. Ryan Nugent Hopkins-Red Deer
Some have him the number one prospect for the 2011 NHL draft. His 10 goals, including a hattrick are second only to Etem, and his 17 points are tied with Neiderreiter. A former first round draft pick has been great for a Rebels team that has only seen 2009 37 goal man Landon Ferraro in 5 games due to a knee injury.

1. Shane McColgan-Kelowna
The Rockets don't have Jamie Benn, Tyler Myers or Michael Backlund this year, but they do have rookie Shane McColgan, who's tied with Stepan Novotny for the team lead in scoring with 18 points. The 2011 draft prospect put together a 10 point scoring streak that was just snapped on Sunday, where he had 17 points. The only blemish on the 5.10 forward is he's -4.

Interesting note, no QMJHL players in the top 5 of scoring.

A Berry Good Fit In Kamloops?

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TPS is hearing Brad Berry's name is coming up when the Kamloops Blazer's coaching job is mentioned. Currently Scott Ferguson leading the way as interim coach. Berry I'm told was a finalist for the job when Barry Smith was hired. He has been an assistant coach with the Manitoba Moose as well as the University of North Dakota. He also played in the NHL with Minnesota, Winnipeg and Dallas. Michael Dyck's name has also surfaced in the last day or 2, he most recently coached the Lethbridge Hurricanes before being fired last year.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blazers Fire Coach

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The Kamloops Blazers now have their 4th head coach in 3 years after firing Barry Smith today. Scott Ferguson takes over as interim coach, while Geoff Smith's duties increase as assistant.

Kamloops got off to a good start this year, but a 1-5 road trip through the eastern conference and getting blown out 12-5 at home to Medicine Hat spelled Smith's end.

Here's a quote from G.M. Craig Bonner on the firing.

"Our results this year are not acceptable. We will not tolerate being an average team at this stage. I particularly disliked our structure and the direction our team was headed, along with the lack of emotion we have shown of late. Since I saw little to suggest that the team was trying to make the adjustments necessary to turn our play around, we had little option but to make a change."


Since 2007-2008 the Blazers have had Dean Clark, Greg Hawgood, Barry Smith and now Scott Ferguson as head coaches.It's interesting when you check out their website. Most teams have a few star players currently on their team as the focus, but with the Blazers it's their all star former player ownership group that is centre stage. I'm not sure how much input Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi, Shane Doan or Darryl Sydor actually have with the team, but I do know a few years back that Keaton Ellebery was making regular phone calls to some of the part owners when he was unhappy with the situation involving Dean Clark. Ellerby ended up traded to Moose Jaw, and Clark wound up without a job.

A Tiger To A Cougar?

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Goaltender Hudson Stremmel who was supposed to be a Colorado College Tiger this season, has left the team. Stremmel has only played an exhibition game for the NCAA school this year in what was supposed to be his freshman year, as the Tigers have mostly gone with fellow freshman tender Joe Howe.

Stremmel played for the Chicago Steel of the USHL last year, suiting up in 35 games, winning 18 of them with a 3.18 goals against average and an .895 save percentage.

Stremel's WHL rights are owned by the Prince George Cougars, and I'm thinking he didn't leave school without a place to play. I also think the Cougars could use some better goaltending right now, so it looks like a perfect match.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

NCAA Update - October 25th

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Here was what the Top 20 Poll looked like heading into the weekend's schedule with the record of the teams over the last couple of days:

1 Miami 1-0-1
2 North Dakota 1-1
3 Boston University 1-1
4 Denver 2-0
5 Michigan 1-1
6 Cornell 1-1 (exhibition)
7 Vermont 0-1
8 Yale (has not played yet)
9 Notre Dame 1-1
10 Princeton 1-1 (exhibition)
11 Minnesota 0-2
12 Nebraska-Omaha (week off)
13 Mass.-Lowell 2-0
14 Boston College 1-0
15 Alaska (week off)
16 Bemidji State 1-0-1
17 Wisconsin 1-1
18 Minnesota-Duluth 1-0-1
19 Colorado College 2-0
20 Quinnipiac (week off)

The top-ranked RedHawks of Miami had the hands full this weekend with a resurgent group of Spartans from Michigan State. Last year's season of ineptitude appears to be forgotten for MSU who has scored goals and won games this year... both areas of challenge last season. Miami pulled out a 2-1 win on Friday night thanks to a late third period marker from Carter Camper and yes... it does seem like I'm mentioning that name every week. Camper and Tommy Wingels (SJ) both had a pair of points in that close contest. The rematch was claimed by Michigan State in overtime by a 3-2 score. The story of the early season for MSU has to be the play of Corey Tropp (BUF). He ended last season in shame thanks to his part in the Steven Kampfer incident but he's playing inspired hockey this season and leads the NCAA in scoring with 12 points.

North Dakota took it to Alaska-Anchorage on Friday night, shutting out the Seawolves by a 5-0 score. Freshman Aaron Dell got the start for the Sioux and he posted the goose egg in his first NCAA game - not bad at all. Brad Eidsness (BUF) was back between the pipes on Saturday but it was the Seawolves who stole a 2-1 win. Two second period goals were enough to complete the upset.

The Boston University Terriers extended their losing streak to 3 games before finally finding the win column on Saturday. First, Notre Dame blanked BU 3-0 on a rare Tuesday night contest despite on registering 16 shots against netminder Kieran Millan (COL). Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy was inspired by this game to write up a very interesting article which details the sloppy performances from both highly touted tams. BU finally got back on track with a win over Michigan on Saturday. Kevin Shattenkirk (COL) recorded 2 assists and Millan made 33 saves in a 3-2 win.

There might be trouble in Minnesota as the Golden Gophers are off to a dismal 0-3-1 start with all three losses being shutouts. The Gophers have only managed 3 goals after 4 games... definitely not what was expected from that club this year. The latest Gopher killers were the Denver Pioneers who beat Minnesota by identical 3-0 scores on Friday and Saturday. Another one of my pre-season Hobey candidates, Rhett Rakhshani (NYI), had three more points to move to 8 in 6 games. For the first time this year the Pioneers played netminder Marc Cheverie (FLA) in both starts and low and behold, a pair of shutouts.

The Wolverines lost to Boston University (see above) but narrowly beat Niagara on Thursday, 3-2. Michigan had a 3-0 first period lead but were able to shut the door in the third when they faced 16 Niagara shots.

The Big Red of Cornell played a pair of exhibition games beating Windsor (CIS) by a 7-0 score and then losing to the US National Development team by a 3-2 score. Riley Nash (EDM) had a goal and 2 assists over the two games.

The Colorado College Tigers were expected to struggle this year but so far they've done nothing but impress - they might be the exact opposite of Minnesota. C.C. is 3-0- after earning a pair of victories over Michigan Tech by 4-1 and 8-5 scores. Senior Billy Sweatt (CHI) leads the Tigers in scoring with 10 points n 6 games and junior Tyler Johnson has 5 goals.

If there is a program making a bit of noise for itself right now it might be Merrimack. The Warriors surprised #7 Vermont by a 5-2 margin on Friday and followed that up with a 4-1 drubbing of Connecticut on Sunday. Merrimack got goals from 5 different players on Friday night and they outshot the Catamounts 34-27. On Sunday the Warriors spread the offence around again with 4 different scorers and they won the shot battle again by 30-24 against the Huskies. Junior Chris Barton has 6 goals in 6 games and Frenchman Stephane Da Costa has 6 points in 3 games. With a 4-2 record, I wonder if Merrimack might start getting a bit of recognition from the poll voters if only as an honorable mention.

Sbisa Demoted... Again.

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For the second season in a row, Swiss defenceman Luca Sbisa has been cut from his NHL team. The official release from the Anaheim Ducks is HERE.

Sbisa was sent back to the WHL by the Philadelphia Flyers last year where he collected 15 points in 18 games. Philly's 1st round selection in the 2008 draft played 39 games in the NHL last season and has appeared in 8 games for the Ducks this year.

Interestingly the release does not state exactly where Sbisa is being sent but it would appear the options are fairly limited. Isn't he headed back to Lethbridge again? Having been drafted out of the WHL, Sbisa cannot play in the AHL until he is 20-years-old and he doesn't reach that age until the end of January.

The next question is, what do the rebuilding Hurricanes do? Do they instantly try and move him sooner as opposed to later like they did with Kyle Beach when sent back to them by Chicago earlier this fall? Do they wait longer and try and build a bidding war before the WHL trade deadline on January 10th? Do they keep him and use him as a tool in their rebuilding process with their young players?

Keep your head up college boy?

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A friend of mine who's a scout pointed something out to me tonight. What do the 3 biggest hits in the NHL this year have in common.

Dion Phanuef on Kyle Okposo
Willie Mitchell on Jonathon Toews
Mike Richards on David Booth


Give up yet?

All 3 victims played NCAA hockey. Okposo at Minnesota, Toews at North Dakota, and Booth at Michigan State.

I'm thinking my scouting friend is alluding that college players don't deal with the kind of contact that major junior players do, especially through the neutral zone.

I think it's just a coincidence. Sure Richards and Phaneuf were known in their junior days as some of the toughest guys in their leagues, but Mitchell played NCAA at Clarkson after going to Notre Dame, and I'm sure he dished out a few checks in the ECAC.

While I do think that major junior is a rougher brand of hockey, all 3 of those on the receiving end of these hits are in their 3rd or on Booth's case 4th year of pro hockey and I would assume don't think it's okay to cruise up ice with your head down or admiring the puck, but rather they just made crucial mistakes at the wrong times.

What do you think?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday Farm Report

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Friday night in the AHL saw 13 games on the schedule including the Springfield Falcons home to the Lowell Devils.

Things started off with a bang when Lowell's Louis Robitaille stuck his knee out on Ryan McMurchy. Jake Taylor jumped in to dance with Robitaille who picked up 15 minutes in the sin bin on the play. The birds were able to capitalize just once on the 5 minute major when Slava Trukhno picked up his first point setting up Colton Fretter down low to make it 1-0.

Special teams were key for Springfield later in the first as well. After taking a returning from a big hit, Colin McDonald capitalized on a horrible giveaway by Mike McKenna and pumped home his 3rd of the season shorthanded into a half empty net.

Things seemed to turn on the Falcons in the 2nd when Stephen Gionta beat Devan Dubnyk with a long wrister from just inside the blueline, definitely a shot the goaltender has to stop.

The unholy notched 2 more in the 3rd from Tyler Eckford and Alexander Vasyunov to take the lead, before Chris Mindard tied it up on the power play with under 4 minutes to play.

This one needed a shoot out where Vladamir Zharkov won it as the Devils 6th shooter for a 4-3 win.

Springfield played without Theo Peckham who was recalled by the Oilers Friday and they take on Worcester Saturday night before a rematch with Lowell on Sunday.

(photo courtesy www.springfieldfalcons.com)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On the Mark - Part 2

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Each year The Pipeline Show is excited to bring you entries to our blog written by players in their draft year and 2009-10 is no exception. So far we've heard from Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Mark Pysyk and Prince George Cougars forward Brett Connolly.

Today we get a quick note from the injured Oil Kings blueliner who has been on the shelf for the last few games...
Hey everybody, Mark Pysyk here again...

Its been a long time since I've written on the blog but I've been out for a while now with a minor concussion which I suffered on Oct 9th in Lethbridge. I've been out for about 11 days just to make sure everything is 100% before I come back and do anything.

Those 11 days I wasn't allowed to do any physical activity. I know that doesn't sound too bad, sitting on the couch doing nothing, but not being allowed to watch TV or play XBox is not fun and sitting on the couch not being able to do anything is definitely frustrating. So my roommate, Robin Soudek, and I started to play cards cause that's basically all we could do.

Being out of the lineup is a definite setback in my draft year and also its tough to wait until everything is better when you want to play every night. But I am back to 100% now and I feel good and ready to come back into the lineup and pick up right where I left off.

The Oil Kings next game is Friday night when they host the Calgary Hitmen.

Mark Pysyk is ranked 12th overall by International Scouting Services in their October release and he was listed in the 20th position by North American Central Scouting in September. The 6'1, 175 lb defenceman has 3 points in 8 games with the Oil Kings this year who selected him 3rd overall in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft.

(Photo courtesy: Andy Devlin & The Edmonton Oil Kings)

Fantasy Prospect Pick Up Of The Week

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He not only leads all rookies in scoring, but Michael del Zotto (pictured courtesy Getty Images) has the most points among all blueliners as well. With a goal Monday night, he now has 4 lamp lighters to go along with 5 helpers. His 9 points are 2 more than former London knight teammate John Tavares.

All of this is pretty impressive for a guy who didn’t get an invite to Canada’s world junior summer evaluation camp. That’s right the NHL’s top scoring rookie and defenceman wasn’t being considered for the world junior team this summer, and I don’t think it was because they were expecting him to crack the rangers line up and be unavailable.

Del Zotto played his 9th game Monday night, and with 3 ppg’s one game winner and a plus 2 rating, it’s safe to assume his show on Broadway will run for the whole season. Especially the way he’s been quarterbacking man advantage on the club with the most power play goals in the league.

And that’s why Michael del Zotto is my fantasy prospect pick up of the week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CHL Top Ten

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BMO CHL MasterCard Top 10 Rankings – Week 6

1 Drummondville Voltigeurs

2 Calgary Hitmen

3 Windsor Spitfires

4 Gatineau Olympiques

5 Kitchener Rangers

6 London Knights

7 Kamloops Blazers

8 Vancouver Giants

9 Quebec Remparts

10 Tri-City Americans

Missssauga, Moose Jaw, St. John received honourable mention.

Wednesday Reset - Oct. 20th

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Last night on The Pipeline Show we tried something new with Bad Ass Trivia, spoke with a former Oiler who is now an executive with the Colorado Avalanche, chatted up two prospects eligible for the 2010 NHL Draft and posed several questions to a Pioneer (some questions more than once).

First with Bad Ass Trivia - we got to thinking recently that we could have another guest each show if we changed trivia by asking a question as we go to a commercial break and take the calls off the air. That way we weren't spending part of our 2 hours/week playing trivia that listeners outside of the Edmonton area can't partake in. We tried it last night and it seemed to work so expect that to continue.

We began last night's edition of TPS with a segment of news and notes from around the hockey prospects world. We updated listeners on the QMJHL, OHL, WHL, USHL, NCAA and AHL. The show also featured a new intro, well at least a new music bed for the intro, let us know what you think of it. Hear that segment HERE.

Our first guest on the show yesterday was supposed to be Patrick Roy but apparently the Quebec Remparts had a team function so we'll have to re-schedule his appearance another week.

Instead, Dean and I had the pleasure of speaking with Jonathan Merrill, a name most fans probably don't recognize yet but definitely will by the time the draft rolls around. Merrill is a 6'3, 200 lb defender with the U18 US National Development team who will join the Michigan Wolverines next year. We talked to Merrill about the program, being a part of the USHL, his future at Michigan and of course his draft year. You can hear that interview with Jon Merrill HERE.

We also talked with another 2010 eligible prospect but this time it was a native Californian playing in Medicine Hat. Emerson Etem is another player probably off the radar of the casual fan but with the Tigers this year he already has 9 goals and 11 points in 13 games as a rookie so he's definitely making a statement. We spoke with the likable forward from Long Beach, CA about his past with the US National Development Program, playing away from home since he's been about 14, and making the move to Canada and the WHL. Hear what Emerson Etem had to say HERE.

The Denver Pioneers are off to a slower than expected start as the formerly #1 ranked program posts a 2-2 record after week 2 of the schedule. Joe Colborne (BOS) is now on the shelf with a broken finger so we had a chance to speak with the former AJHL star about the rough start for his team and also got an update on the injury. Joe also offered up his thoughts on his former team (Camrose) being awarded host status for the 2011 RBC Cup. Hear Colborne's comments HERE.

Another former Kodiak gave us his thoughts about that same topic as Dean had a chance to speak with of the Vancouver Canucks. That was one part of a segment featuring our AJHL Game of the Week and Alumni Player of the Week. Hear that Here.

Last but not least, David Oliver, Director of Player Development of the Colorado Avalanche, talked to us about a number of the prospects playing for the Lake Erie Monsters, junior, NCAA or at the NHL level like Ryan O'Reilly, Matt Duchene, Kieran Millan, Kevin Shattenkirk, Colby Cohen, T.J. Galiardi, Brock Bradford and more. Hear what the former Oiler and Michigan Wolverine had to say by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Top 5 Tuesday: Rookie Decisions

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Yesterday it was reported that the Colorado Avalanche had informed the Brampton Battalion of the OHL that forward Matt Duchene was not going back to junior. That got me thinking of other players who teams are having to make a similar decision on as Game 10 closes in on them.

Here are 5 that came to mind:

5. Tyler Myers Buffalo Sabres / Kelowna Rockets

The gigantic 19-year-old dual citizen defenceman probably isn't going anywhere but considering there were some before the season who doubted Myers' ability to make the team, he's on my list. It was my feeling after the WHL playoffs and Memorial Cup that Myers had played his last WHL game but I heard the opposite from enough people that I wasn't sure this fall if I'd be right or not. Not only has Myers cracked the Buffalo roster but he's apparently been one of their better performers this season earning 4 points in 6 games with a healthy plus-5 rating to go with them. NHL.com's Dan Rosen wrote a terrific article recently about Myers and his situation in Buffalo. In that story, GM Darcy Regier is quoted as saying:
"It's tough to evaluate over nine games, but when you decide to keep a 19 year old, if that is the decision, then you have to know you're going to have to keep working with them and they will have more inconsistencies and ups and downs than the older players and you have to live with that," Regier said. "We still have some games before we have to make a final decision, but he certainly has gotten off to a good start."
4. Jamie Benn - Dallas Stars / Kelowna Rockets

Here's another Rocket that I don't expect to see landing back in Kelowna anytime soon. Benn scored 82 points in 56 WHL games last season and was a big contributor at the WJC in Ottawa too. I think most people felt that he'd be turning pro this year but I don't know how many believed he'd become an impact player n Dallas already. After 8 games Benn is second in NHL rookie scoring with 7 points while playing with captain Brendan Morrow and Mike Ribeiro. Mike Heika from teh Dallas Morning News had a nice write up about Benn just last week. With Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen going on the IR list, I'd be shocked if Benn was sent anywhere.

3. James Wright - Tampa Bay Lightning / Vancouver Giants

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward James Wright to a contract after "a strong training camp" that saw him post a few points and impress with his physical play. Thus far after 7 games Wright has yet to hit the score sheet although Raw Charge suggests line juggling in Tampa might see him promoted to the top line. I haven't seen a second of hockey in from Tampa Bay this year but with zero production so far you have to think that the brass is at least discussing their option of sending Wright back to the Giants. In Vancouver he'd play a big role on a good team - hardly a negative to be found in going back this year especially in terms of contract management. I won't be surprised if Wright returns to Vancouver but like I said, I am coming at this one from an uninformed position so you Tampa fans tell me... should he stay with the Lightning or not? By the way, that's wright in the picture getting smushed by Edmonton's Ladislav Smid.

2. Evander Kane - Atlanta Thrashers / Vancouver Giants

According to Guy Spurrier of the National Post, Evander Kane might be something of a lucky rabbit's foot for the Thrashers who are off to a 4-1 start this year. For his part, Kane has contributed 3 points and has a plus-3 rating while averaging 13:35 of ice time per night. Like Jamie Benn, Kane scored at will in the WHL last season picking up 96 points with the Vancouver Giants. He was a late addition to Team Canada at the WJC in Ottawa when Dana Tyrell (TBY) went down to injury. Kane played a smaller role at that event because he was one of the younger players on the team but now the Thrashers will have to decide if his junior career is behind him. Tough call in my opinion but considering the team's early season success, why mess with it?

1. Ryan O'Reilly - Colorado Avalanche / Erie Otters

Well I was going to say that Colorado's decision to keep Duchene without mentioning Ryan O'Reilly was interesting and then, while I was writing this top 5, this happened.

O'Reilly appears to be another terrific 2nd round steal for the Avalanche much the same way Paul Stastny was in back in 2005 although he did not begin playing in the NHL three months later. O'Reilly and Stastny have identical stats, 1G-5A-6Pts, and are both listed as being 6' and 205 lbs. If the former Erie Otter can carve out as impressive a start to his NHL career as Stastny has, than Colorado will indeed be smiling.

Director of Player Personel David Oliver is one of our guests tonight on The Pipeline Show heard between 9-11 PM Eastern Time.

(Photo credits: Yahoo Sports, Associated Press, Reuters, Portland Pirates)

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's official, Camrose to host 2011 RBC

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As TPS first told you just over a month ago, the Camrose Kodiaks will host the 2011 Royal Bank Cup.

The official release from the AJHL can be found here.

So what is PEI's loss, is Camrose' gain. Looking forward to the event. By the way, this year's tourney will take place in Dauphin, Manitoba. No truth to the rumour that Wade Klippenstein will drop the ceremonial puck on opening night.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

NCAA Weekend Story

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The early season upsets continued this weekend as several teams stumble out of the gate at the hands of "lesser programs". As a result the Top 20 ranking will take another beating and look completely different in a couple days from now.

Here is how the Top 20 looked with the results from the weekend:

1 Miami 1-0-1
2 Boston University 0-1
3 Denver 1-1
4 North Dakota 1-0-1
5 Michigan (did not play)
6 Cornell (did not play)
7 Notre Dame (1-1)
8 Yale (did not play)
9 Minnesota (0-1-1)
10 Princeton (did not play)
11 Vermont (play later tonight)
12 Boston College (play later tonight)
13 Wisconsin (0-1-1)
14 Mass.-Lowell (did not play)
15 Bemidji State (did not play)
16 Nebraska-Omaha (1-0-1)
17 Alaska (1-0-1)
18 Quinnipiac (1-0)
19 St. Cloud State (1-0-1)
20 Northeastern (1-0)

The first thing I noticed was that no team went 2-0 on the weekend and that there were a bunch of ties. Ties suck... will the NCAA join the 21st century and move to league-wide overtime/shootouts like the rest of the world or continue to do things their own way even when it makes no sense?

Let's start at the top where the Miami RedHawks grabbed 3 of 4 points on the road against New Hampshire beginning with a 6-3 pasting of the Wildcats on Friday night. Tommy Wingels (SJ) recorded 3 assists and junior Carter Camper (UFA) scored twice in the win. Saturday the teams combined for 10 goals in a 5-5 sister-kisser. Peter Leblanc had 3 assists and Bobby Butler scored once and added two helpers for UNH. Miami starter Connor Knapp (BUF) was yanked at the midway point of the game after giving up 5 goals on 21 shots .

Defending champion Boston University only played once on the weekend but have a rare Tuesday night game coming up this week. The Terriers lost their season opener against Massachusetts as the Minutemen got a 3-point performance from freshman Rocco Carzo and earned a 3-2 victory. Alex Chaisson (DAL) scored both goals for BU. Interestingly, Carzo and Chaisson (pictured) were teammates last year in the USHL with the Des Moines Buccaneers.

The previously #1 ranked Denver Pioneers not only lost a game this weekend but also one of their top players as Joe Colborne (BOS) broke a finger and is now sidelined indefinitely. Denver blanked Ohio State 2-0 on Thursday but were doubled up 4-0 in the return game Friday night. Freshman goalie Adam Murray is now 0-2 and has a .836 save percentage and 4.72 GAA. You have to wonder how long coach George Gwozdecky will go with the platoon system when junior Marc Cheverie (FLA) continues to play strong and successful hockey (2-0, .931 sv%). The Buckeyes got a 39 save shutout from sophomore Cal Heeter on Friday are are being led by defenceman Shane Sims who has 4 points.

North Dakota will improve their ranking after posting a 4-0 blanking of Minnesota on Friday and holding the Gophers to a 3-3 tie on Saturday. The Sioux's balanced attack produced 4 different goal scorers on Friday with captain Chay Genoway (UFA) ending the weekend with 3 goals after scoring twice in the second game of the series. Mike Hoeffel (NJ) scored twice for Minnesota.

Notre Dame continues to struggle as they were surprised by the Providence Friars who posted a 3-2 win over the Irish on Thursday. The Friars couldn't complete the sweep though as they dropped the Friday game by a 2-0 score. Notre Dame search for a goalie continued this weekend as they have now used 3 goalies in four games. David Brown (PGH) is long gone and Jordan Pearce (DET) graduated at the end of last season leaving a huge question mark between the pipes. One can fairly wonder how much of the success the Irish have enjoyed the last few years was due to solid netminding because they are clearly struggling now.

The Badgers of Wisconsin also played to a split on the weekend in their tilt with Colorado College. The Tigers stole Friday's game 3-2 after allowing 41 shots on net and scoring three unanswered goals. The Badgers scored the comeback on Saturday in a 1-1 tie. Joe Howe was in net for the Tigers in both games while the Badgers went the platoon route and played both Brett Bennett and Scott Gudmandson.

Some early success for Alaska-Fairbanks has teams taking notice of the Nanooks. Alaska beat Robert Morris and Rensselaer to now have a 3-0-1 record. The Nanooks outshot Robert Morris 49-18 on Friday night.

How about unbeaten Quinnipiac who are now 3-0 after getting another win, this time over Bentley in overtime. Senior Brandon Wong now has 6 points after 3 games.

Alabama-Huntsville might be the early surprise of the year as they continued their impressive start by sweeping the disappointing Air Force Eagles. UAH posted a pair of 4-2 road wins this weekend as Air Force just can't seem to get rolling this year. Goalie Andrew Volkening has been pulled twice already this season. UAH goalie Cameron Talbot made a total of 74 saves of 78 shots over the weekend.

Duluth, who somehow isn't listed on the top 20, is proving they deserve a little more respect from the voters. The Bulldogs scored a pair of road wins in a sweep over Minnesota State. Team AJHL conitued to play well with Justin Fontaine (pictured) scoring 4 goals on the weekend and Mike Connolly adding 2 goals and 2 helpers as well. Fontaine has 6 goals so far this season and holds the NCAA lead in that category.

The Merrimack Warriors collected a pair of wins starting with a 3-1 vicotry over Holy cross followed by a 6-3 drubbing of Army. Saturday's game featured a 5-goal explosion from Stephane Da Costa which included a natural hatty as the freshman scored three straight first period markers to open the contest.

J.J. Crew scored a hat trick for Western Michigan in a 5-1 win over Mercyhurst on Friday.

Top 20 prediction: Miami - North Dakota - Boston University - Michigan - Denver... then it's a mash of ECAC teams that don't play for a couple more weeks and programs that have disappointed so far. Minnesota-Duluth should be in the top 20, so should Alabama-Huntsville.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Colborne breaks finger

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Not only did the Denver Pioneers lose to Ohio State University last night, but they also lost star forward Joe Colborne. Colborne broke his finger and underwent surgery after the game. He may require more surgery and his time out of hte line up isn't known.

The former Camrose Kodiak will be a guest on The Pipeline Show this coming Tuesday, we will call him as it may be hard for him to dial right now.

H1N1 Hits Saskatchewan Hockey: Update

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The Saskatchewan AAA Hockey league has put an advisory regarding the Notre Dame Hounds. It can be read by heading to their website here.

Both the AAA midget Hounds and AA midget Argos have had games cancelled for today, Sunday and Wednesday, and several sources have told me it's because of H1N1 virus concerns. A health advisory has been issued to try and keep students and players from Athol Murray college on campus and keep others off of it. Noone has yet said that anyone on campus does have H1N1, but the possibility exists, or else they wouldn't have issued a warning and cancelled games.

I'm sure news networks will be jumping on this story, especially Global Television, later today.

Update: My sources are telling me there is more than one case of H1N1 virus, maybe up to 4 or 5 and others that have flu symptoms. As someone put it to me "you don't cancel that many games because of the sniffles."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Farm Report: Falcons Fly Past Monarchs

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It was a pretty good night for the Oilers organization. The big club handily beat Minnesota 5-2 and Springfield skated past Manchester 4-1. The only blemish was Stockton losing 3-1 to Idaho.

With their win, Springfield snaps a 3 game losing skid, and wound up on the right end of the shot clock. You can see some hilites below.



After Oscar Moller opened the scoring for the baby Kings, Chad Wiseman notched his first as a Falcon. Colton Fretter also with his first, Geoff Paukovich(pictured courtesy Springfieldfalcons.com) and Colin McDonald with their 2nd each continued the scoring for Rob Daum's club who improve to 2-3 on the season.

Devan Dubnyk wasn't under siege for the first time in a few games and stopped 27 of 28 shots he faced. In the contest, Johan Motin notched his first AHL point, picking up an assist on Geoff Paukovich's tally. Theo Peckham (pictured courtesy Springfieldfalcons.com) was also active, picking up a helper, a plus 2 rating and 9 penalty minutes. In just 3 games, Peckham has taken over 2nd spot for PIM's from Kip Brennan with 19. Peckham is also +3 in 3 games. Jake Taylor's 32 minutes leads Springfield and puts him 4th in the AHL.

Since Taylor Chorney has joined the Oilers, he's been overtaken for the team's scoring lead. Charles Linglet, Ryan Potulny and Chris Minard are tied with 6 points each. Chorney has 5 AHL points this season.

Stats sometimes tell different stories. Colin McDonald and Ryan O'Marra have been linemates quite a bit this season and each have 3 points in 5 games, but a combined minus 6.

Liam Reddox sat this one out while serving a suspension he received against Hartford last weekend. I'm not sure what he did, but at one point he was involved in a collision with Hartford goaltender Matt Zaba.

Slava Trukhno didn't have a very good training camp with the Oilers, and things haven't been any better in Springfield. The Russian forward has zero points in 5 games and is -1. This is a contract year for Truhkno who could find himself out of a job even before season's end if he doesn't turn things around. Remember Joseph Hrabl left Springfield during the season last year.

Meanwhile, Cody Wild has yet to play a game for Rob Daum this season, and has been listed as a healthy scratch on most of the game recaps.

Springfield is home to Hartford Saturday, then it's a rematch with the Monarchs in Manchester Sunday.

As for the Stockton Thunder, they opened their season with a loss to Idaho. Bryan Young and Ryley Emmerson, who were both assigned 2 weeks ago played for the Thunder Friday night. Andrew Perugini stopped 41 of the 44 pucks fired his way, including 16 saves in the 3rd period.

The same two teams will hook up 2 more times this weekend in Idaho.

Eagle Flies the Coop

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The Boston College Eagles have lost a roster player to the CHL as freshman Kenny Ryan has bolted the college ranks with the possible destination of Windsor in the OHL.

USCHO.com reported yesterday that the winger has left the team with head coach Jerry York confirming but not offering a comment. There is no story or notice on the schools official site.

The Western College Hockey Blog offered up its take and makes the argument that players who have done this same thing to Boston College in the past... have lived to regret it. (Although his mention of giving up free education is clearly flawed considering the CHL's extensive scholarship programs for players who don't continue on with pro hockey immediately after junior).

The Eagles are set to open the 2009-10 season this weekend when they visit Vermont for a Hockey East clash with the Catamounts.

Ryan is property of the Toronto Maple Leafs who drafted him in the second round of the NHL Draft this past June.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rise of the Winterhawks

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Junior hockey left Edmonton in 1976, and surfaced in Oregon as the Portland Winterhawks. A team that in it's 34 seasons has won 8 WHL Western Conference championships, 4 league titles and 2 Memorial Cups, with their last coming in 1997-98. That team featured current NHL stars Marion Hossa and Brendan Morrow, while in the past several other 'Hawks have flown to the NHL. Cam Neely, Wayne and Dave Babych, Andrew Ference and Clint Malarchuk to name a few.

However the last few years have been extremely lean for Portland, who have finished last in the U.S. division for 3 straight seasons. Two of those years the Hawks were basement dwellers for the entire league, and won just 11 games in 2007-2008.

This year, things are different for the Winterhawks, and it all started with new owner Bill Gallacher, who purchased the team just over a year ago. He made immediate changes on the bench, hiring former NHL assistant Mike Johnston, as well as former NHL player Travis Green. But with Gallacher came changes off the ice as well. Rumours of players having to buy their own sticks or travel to Canada for medical treatment have disappeared and pride is being restored to the Winterhawks.

The one benefit to finishing so low in the standings is very good bantam draft picks. Ty Rattie, and Brad Ross are contributing, as well as import draft pick Nino Niederreiter of Switzerland has people talking resurgence for Portland.

Thursday they rolled through Edmonton to the tune of a 5-2 victory. Yes the Oil Kings are without franchise defenceman Mark Pysyk as well as fellow blueliner Henrik Tervonen and forwards Clayton Cumiskey, TJ Foster and Rhett Rachinski due to injury, but that doesn't diminish how impressive the Hawks are right now.

The win moves them to the top of the entire WHL standings and it doesn't look like their ready to move off the perch anytime soon. So exactly why are the Hawks flying high again?

It starts behind the bench. The entire Portland staff was gutted last year. From coaches to trainers. Mike Johnston is using his 9 years of assistant coaching experience with L.A. and Vancouver to develop a winning attitude. Guy Flaming and I caught up with the head hawk before tonight's game. You can hear his thoughts on why he chose to coach in the WHL rather than pursue another NHL position, as well as making the transition to dealing with millionaires to teenagers, and just who some of his key players are, by clicking here.

Before I get into who impressed me tonight, think about how refreshing it might be for goaltender Kurtis Mucha? After this year, he'll have been a Hawk for 5 full seasons. He's seen it all. He also turned heads at Oilers training camp and was actually offered an AHL contract, but chose to return to Portland. That wouldn't have happened without an ownership change last year. We also spoke to Mucha before Thursday's victory and you can catch that conversation here.

Mucha is one of the reasons why Portland is on top of the WHL right now, but he's far from the only one. Thursday overage forward Chris Francis was terrific setting up 3 goals to vault him to the top of Portlands scoring leaders. He now has 15 points, just 4 back of the league leaders. Luke Walker and Spencer Bennett, Francis' linemates, were also very good picking up a goal and assist each. The trio was Portland's best line in my opinion Thursday night, but there was another impressive line, filled with youth, size and skill.

Swiss forward Nino Niederreiter at 6.02 203 lbs, Brad Ross at 6.01 173 lbs, and Ryan Johansen (from Port Moody, not Sweden) at 6.03 188 lbs make up one of the best lines in the league, and they're all likely to be drafted this June. ISS has the Swiss as an almost can't miss, ranking him 6th among WHL prospects. Ross and Johansen are 19th and 20th respectively. The 3 amigos were nearly unstoppable against Edmonton, especially on the cycle and combined for 2 goals and an assist. I was really impressed with Johansen who was used on the power play and penalty kill as well. His favorite player is Joe Thornton and he reminds me of another Joe...as in Colborne who was a Bruins first round pick in 2008 and is now at Denver University. Like Colborne did at his age, Johansen needs to fill out, but that will come in time. Niederreiter really caught Guy's eye, and I was impressed with his speed. We both like Ross' grit and he scored a beauty of a goal, burning down the left side, crossing in front of Torrie and tucking it in on the backhand.

And then there's defenceman Troy Rutkowski. The Edmonton product has 13 points so far this year. He's 6.01 and 220 lbs. One scout told us tonight he might be even better if he slims down a bit, but I was impressed, and so is ISS who have him ranked 17th.

So if you haven't picked up the theme here, check out the Hawks at a rink near you soon.

Cowan A Cougar

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The Prince George Cougars have added 20 year old forward Del Cowan. He was previously with Brandon, but with this being the deadline to get down to 3 overage players, the Wheat Kings have chosen to go with Matt Calvert, Jay Fehr and Aaron Lewadniuk, which shouldn't surprise anyone.

Cowan who is a Hartney, Manitoba native had 22 points and 59 penalty minutes last year in 64 games. This season he's chipped in with 2 points in 7 games.

Fantasy Prospect Pick Up Of The Week

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After watching Artem Anisimov go pointless with a minus 1 rating through his first two games with the Rangers, the dynamic Russian forward has broken out in his last 4 with 4 points, including his first career NHL goal sunday vs. Anaheim.

On Monday, the 21 year old recorded his first multi point game, picking up 2 assists as the blue shirts smoked the leafs 7-2.

Anisimov was one of the players TPS put on it’s Calder trophy watch list, and his 37 goals, 81 points in 80 games last year in Hartford is the reason why. Keep in mind it was the first season of hockey in north america for the 2nd round pick of 2006.

Anisimov has seen playing time with skilled guys like Marion Gaborik and agitators like Sean Avery, as well as some power play time, and might now just be hitting his stride.

Artem Anisimov is my fantasy prospect pick up of the week.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kytnar Traded to Vancouver

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The Vancouver Giants have just announced that they have acquired Edmonton Oilers prospect Milan Kytnar from the Saskatoon Blades. In exchange for the overage Euro, Saskatoon receives a 3rd round pick in the 2010 Bantam draft.

From the Giants press release courtesy P.R. man Morley Scott:
Kytnar, born May 19, 1989 is a 6'1'' 180 pound centre, who will add depth to the Giants top 6 group of forwards says Bonner "Milan is a proven goal scorer in this league, and with the offensive players we have lost to graduation, he will be a good fit in organization this season"

Kytnar scored 25 goals and had 64 points for the Blades in 65 games last season, he was also plus 15. This season, he has played only 3 games and recorded 1 assist with the Blades.

Kytnar will arrive in Vancouver in time to practise with the Giants tomorrow.
The native of Slovakia has represented his country at the World Junior Championship where he played a key role. He was originally a 5th round pick of the Edmonton Oilers in the 2007 draft and was signed by the club this past off-season. He started his WHL career with the Kelowna Rockets and now joins his third team in as many seasons.

Here is the release from Saskatoon's end of things.

Falcons Get Wise... Man.

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OK, I admit it... that's pretty weak.

The Springfield Falcons have announced the signing of forward Chad Wiseman to an amateur tryout deal and have simultaneously parted ways with Adam Henrich.

Henrich leaves the team with two points in Springfield's first four games but obviously wasn't fitting in the way the Oilers had hoped. The former Tampa Bay 2nd round pick will surely find work with another minor league team.

On the other hand, Wiseman joins the Falcons and has a fairly extensive background at the AHL level. The left winger is listed at 6'1 and just under 210 lbs so there are no concerns about size. Wiseman was a former 8th round pick of the San Jose Sharks back in 2000 and has appeared in a total of 9 NHL games.

With stops in Hartford, Cleveland and Hershey, Wiseman has hit the 50-point plateau 4 times and is coming off a 23-game campaign with Lowell where he had 19 points. Wiseman also had a stop in Germany where he had 23 points in 28 games with Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams (no... not kidding).

More details and/or comments after my calls are returned.

Top 5 Tuesday: Young Defenceman

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Only once in the last 4 draft classes has a defenceman not been taking either first or second overall. So it stands to reason that there are some blue chip blueliners in the NHL right now. But not all of them have come in the top 2, 5 or even 10 on draft day. Here are are the 5 best young blueliners in my opinion.

5. Michael Del Zotto-New York Rangers
The 19 year old has shot out of the gate in New York with 2 goals 3 assists in 5 games, putting him a tie for 3rd in scoring among defenceman. The 20th pick in the 2008 draft has exploded up the depth chart in New York and is getting regular power play time on the first unit, often times with forward Ales Kotalik manning the left side. Del Zotto has one power play goal and has set up Kotalik twice by faking a shot and feeding a one timer. He leads all Ranger d-men in points and is only playing 15 minutes a night.

4. Alex Goligoski-Pittsburgh Penguins
Taken in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft, Goligoski's route to the NHL may have taken a little longer than Pittsburgh expected, but now that he's arrived full time he's making his mark. In his second full season, Goligoski has 4 points in 6 games and a plus 5 rating so far this season. Goligoski's strong play last year (20 points, +5, 45 games) allowed the Penguins to deal Ryan Whitney and he hasn't made them regret their decision. The 24 year old was drafted out of high school, then spent a year with Sioux City of the USHL. After 3 years with the Minnesota Golden Gophers he played one full season with Wilkes-Barre. Last year he split time between the big club and the AHL, but looks to be a full time Penguin now.

3. Erik Johnson-St. Louis Blues
Johnson might have drifted from peoples minds after missing all of last year due to a knee injury suffered in a golf cart incident, but he's back with the Blues and reminding people why St. Louis took him first overall in 2006. He has size at 6.04 and 234 pounds, skates extremely smooth despite tearing his ACL and MCL last year, and has terrific instincts. As a rookie he played 18 minutes a night on a Blues team that missed the playoffs. St. Louis is one of the "it" teams this year, a club on the rise that made the playoffs without the services of Johnson last year and could do some real damage with him. He's likely not even 100 per cent recovered and is just in his sophomore season, but Johnson will anchor the Blues, and maybe team USA's blueline for years to come.
2. Viktor Hedman-Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa's blueline was atrocious last year, this season it's a reason the Lightning are tied for first with Washington in the Southeast division. Tampa's blueline is an overall +3 and Matthias Ohlund and Hedman have 4 points each. There were a lot of people (not me, but Guy Flaming was one of them) who thought Hedman should have been drafted first overall, now he's making his case. The 6.06 Swede has done everything for Tampa. His 4 assists are tied for the team lead, he's +2, has 8 penalty minutes and is playing 25:40 per game, putting him top ten in the NHL among all defenceman, not just rookies.

1. Drew Doughty-L.A. Kings
When Canada's Olympic summer orientation list came out and Drew Doughty was on it, most thought he was token young player invite. He started dispelling the theory that week, and has continued to prove he belongs so far this season. Doughty scored a beauty Tuesday night against the Islanders, and is second among blueline scorers with 2 goals and 4 assists in 5 games. The Kings like the Blues and Lightning are much improved this year with 8 points to lead the Pacific Division, and have won 4 straight. Just like with St. Louis and Tampa Bay, a young blueliner is a big reason why. Doughty led all defenceman in shots with 126 and was tied for points with 27 last year. He wasn't a finalist for the Calder trophy last year, but it won't be long before his name starts surfacing for the Norris.

As for tonight's show, we'll be joined by Tampa Bay prospect Dustin Tokarski. The goaltender has started his pro career with Norfolk, this after winning a Memorial Cup and WJC title during his junior career. Our ICU Video Focus of the Week will be the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Memorial Cup hosts recently stopped in Edmonton and skated away with a 4-1 win so we'll speak with some key players and head coach Kelly McCrimmon. The NCAA season is underway and we'll continue our season previews with Hockey East, which produced the Frozen Four champion last year. Finally, we welcome the first of many scouts to the program as Mark Seidel from North American Scouting will be our guest. 7-9 PM MST on the TEAM 1260 in Edmonton or online http://www.thepipelineshow.com/. Have a question for us or one of our guests? Drop us a line pipeup@theteam1260.com.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pros and 'Conz' - Part 2

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Each year The Pipeline Show is excited to bring you entries to our blog written by players in their draft year and 2009-10 is no exception. So far we've heard from Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Mark Pysyk and Prince George Cougars forward Brett Connolly. Today it's back to P.G. that we go for another entry from the reigning WHL Rookie of the Year...

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The Ivan Hlinka tournament (in August) was a great experience for me; I mean to play on a team that had so many good players was something else. Everyone came together and accepted the roles they were given, which eventually led to us winning gold. For myself, going down in the first game with a hip injury really took a toll on me. It was so hard watching the guys play and just wanting to be out there. I did everything I could to heal fast and try and get into that gold medal game. Our trainer Brownie really helped me heal up quick and get me at least ready to play a few shifts in the final.

I remember in the third game against the Czech Republic we had to win by at least 8 goals and I wanted to help out as much as I could because if we didn't win by that much we would have to drive all the way back to Piestany. I did everything I could trying to convince doctor Beavis and Brownie to put me in the lineup, but they didn't budge! Fortunately for our team we managed to run the score up on the Czech team and got to stay in Czech for the final game. It was a total team effort and everyone chipped in and scored some goals. The next day was a day off which was good for the healing of my hip.

I practically lived in Brownies hotel room getting the treatments I needed to be able to be a part of the gold medal game. The night before the final game day I was not to sure about my hip because I was really nervous about how I was going to feel in the morning. My leg felt just okay before going to bed, but when I woke up it felt a lot better. We got the last few treatments in and I was all ready to go. I was still sore but there was nothing keeping me out of the gold medal game; Even if I only played a few shifts, I wanted to do as much as I could.

We saved our best game for last. We came out of the gates flying and Russia did not know what hit them. Another total team effort which led to the gold medal. We ran the score up on a fast skilled Russian team that just couldn't play with us. Everyone bought in all tournament, which led to us being a dominant hockey club. Celebrating with the guys after the win was another great experience. To celebrate that with guys you've just met and became close with is special and to be part of a winning tradition in Canada is unbelievable. We celebrated until 1 in the morning where we then took off to Vienna to catch our flight home. It was one long plane ride home.

Once I got home I focused on the Prince George Cougars. I thought I had healed my hip until training camp where I went down with the same injury and missed the whole exhibition schedule. I managed to get my hip healed up (or what I thought was healed up) for the season opener against Spokane. I played 6 games and in my 7th game the injury came back again. I immediately left the game against Lethbridge and have been on crutches and back in Physio for the last week. I'm not too sure how long this is going to sideline me but I have to get this looked after so it never happens again. Its the third time so its gotta be dealt with sooner rather than later.
I got out to a pretty good start with 4 goals and 2 assists but the team's start has been just okay. We are sitting at 2 - 8 in our first 10 games. We have a lot of key guys injured like Garrett Thiessen, Dallas Jackson, and Marek Viedensky. Once we get those guys back and myself we will have a lot more depth. Our team in Prince George is young and promising. We have a lot of great kids here who want to be here and are Cougars at heart. Things will turn around for us this year but they don't happen overnight and are going to take some time. Our team right know is young and we have lots of guys who haven't played in the league before who just need to get some confidence and know we can play with anyone in our conference. The guys just have to stay positive and keep working hard everyday and the wins will come.

To get a letter this year in only my 2nd year is special. To be chosen by my peers as a leader is kinda neat. Wearing a letter was one of my goals for this year and is something I've always wanted to do. This year I am going to work hard everyday and bring a positive attitude to the team and lead by example. I want to help out the younger guys. Even though I'm 17 I can help out guys like Jesse Forsberg who is going to be a high draft pick next year (2011), and even guys older than me that need help as well.

Brett Connolly is ranked 5th by TSN's Bob McKenzie and is a consensus 1st round pick by every scouting agency who has released a list for the 2010 draft. The 6'2 winger had 60 points last season with the Cougars as a 16-year-old . Prince George selected Connolly with their 1st round pick (10th overall) in the 2007 Bantam Draft.

(Photo Credits: Prince George Cougars, The Hockey News, TSN, WHL, Hockey Canada)