Ice Hockey In Canada

Thanks to Mike Vrooman of Simcoe Storm in Canada and Stephanie Wilde (Calgary Flames fan) for providing the following news and information about the latest goings on in Canada. The most recent news is at the top.

  • Jan 28 Update from Stephanie Wilde - Minor Hockey Week - A Canadian Phenomenon

    As a now fully-assimilated hockey parent I, along with thousands of other coffee-crazed, hot-dog-stuffed mums and dads, spent all my free time last week at several of the forty odd arenas in the Calgary area participating in Esso Minor Hockey Week.

    11,000 boys and girls aged between 8 and 17, playing in 42 divisions, took part in the biggest tournament in the world. The teams are graded by age and ability so all divisions are competitive.

    The tournament is set up so that all teams play at least two games.  The winners of the first game go into one pool and the losers into another, and from then they play two or three knock-out rounds (depending on how many teams are in the division). The finals were all played last Saturday, and the number of games going to extra time or won by one goal is proof of the effort the kids put out. Losing teams usually play informal friendly games or tournaments among themselves.

    As a proud mum I have to tell you that my son's team made the Division three Pee-wee (12-13 years) final, losing 6-5 in O/T (five skaters and no goalie - shots to be taken from inside the blue line - brutal) and my daughter's team won the Division one Atom (10-11 years) 3-1. So she is for the moment a member of the best atom team in Calgary!

    The time and effort put in by volunteers, parents and kids to stage this week is immense. It makes you realise how important hockey still is here despite the many distractions of modern life. Even more impressive is seeing the kids after a hard-fought game go home and continue the battle on the local outdoor rink...I tell you, it almost makes me wish I'd been born here! (of course then I'd have to say "hoose" instead of "house").

    Flames are dying on their feet..they have a D-man costing $1.6 million a year whom they won't play and half their squad is injured. They are 9 points out of the playoffs with 30 games to go...oh well..we should get Vincent Lecavalier in the draft.  On second thoughts I hope not..I've seen enough of these Quebec League scoring aces (i.e Daigle)....

    What did I say at the beginning of the season?  Get very good goaltending and you can manage with a less than stellar squad (a lesson the Flames are learning hard..). At this rate Storm will be making a late dash for glory.

  • Jan 20 Update from Mike Vrooman - TOP 50 NHL PLAYERS

    The Hockey News has just announced the top 50 players to have played in the NHL.  The selection committee was made up of 50 individuals who are presently or have been involved in the NHL. The top five selected were: Wayne Gretzky (1); Bobby Orr (2); Gordie Howe (3); Mario Lemieux (4) and Maurice "Rocket" Richard (5).  Other present day players selected were Mark Messier (12); Ray Bourque (14); Paul Coffey (28); Patrick Roy (35); Jaromir Jagr (37) and Juri Kurri (50).

  • Jan 7 Update from Stephanie Wilde - A month ago the Canadian junior training roster assembled with dreams of a sixth consecutive gold medal. Today the team flies home after a nightmarish tournament which saw them finish eighth out of ten teams..the worst finish ever by a Canadian team.

    There will be much discussion over here about why the programme went from first to worst in a year. I saw all but one game on TV and it seems to me that the team lacked the one ingredient that is supposed to mark Canadians out from all other hockey countries...heart.

    Compared to other years the team was small, especially at forward, and lacked experience. They also had to cope with an unfamiliar attitude to refereeing. However this cannot explain why they could only beat Germany 2-0..a team which was beaten 14-1 by Slovakia which itself did not make the elimination rounds, nor why they were beaten 6-3 in the 7th-8th place game by Kazakhstan, basically a club team playing in borrowed equipment which was in the "B" pool a year ago. The forwards were unable to establish a forecheck against bigger opponents and did not have the speed or puck-handling ability to compensate.  There were also on- and off-ice problems with team discipline,  Three top players dressed for the game against USA and sat on the bench the whole game, a terrible public punishment.

    Two other fancied teams also failed to impress..USA finishing 5th and Sweden 6th.

    Surprise of the tournament were the Swiss who finished the round-robin second to Russia in Pool "B" and eventually won the bronze medal in a thriller against the Czech Republic 4-3 in a shoot-out after extra time. The first-ever Swiss first-round NHL draft pick, Michel Riesen, scored a goal.

    Finland won a well-deserved gold in front of a full house of ecstatic home fans, 2-1 in overtime against Russia, going through the tournament with an overall record of 6 wins and one tie.

  • Dec 4 Update from Stephanie Wilde - WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

    The invitees to the Canadian team camp for the World Junior Championships to be held later this month in Helsinki were announced today.

    Vincent LeCavalier will be closely watched...he is currently the favourite to go No 1 overall in next year's amateur draft.

    Three Calgary draftees are in the squad...Tkaczuk a centre and captain of the Barrie Colts (No 1 in their division of the OHL), Begin of Val d'Or, an extremely tough player who will make the team on heart rather than offensive ability and Lindsay, a young goalie having a fair year with the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. Val d'Or are also sending their star goalie, Roberto Luongo, who went No 4 overall to the New York Islanders last year...the highest a goalie has ever been drafted.

    Only two of last year's squad will be there, meaning that it will be an inexperienced team carrying the pressure of trying to win Canada's sixth Championship in a row. The American and Swedish teams are expected to provide the stiffest competition although the Finns, who had a strong tournament last year, could surprise as they will be playing at home. Last year the Americans were unlucky not to take gold as they outplayed the Canadians in every game except the one that counted.

    Canada's 1998 World Junior Selection Camp Roster- Kitchener, Ontario - December 12 - 17, 1997.

    Name                H/W      DOB       1997-98 Team           NHL Draft
    Roberto Luongo      6'2 185  4.4.79    Val d'Or (LHJMQ)       NY Islanders
    Patrick Desrochers  6'3 190  27.10.79  Sarnia (OHL)           Eligible '98
    Evan Lindsay        6'2 192  15.5.79   Prince Albert (WHL)    Calgary
    Mathieu Garon       6'1 193  9.1.78    Victoriaville (LHJMQ)  Montreal
    Brad Ference        6'3 190  2.4.79    Spokane (WHL)          Vancouver
    Eric Brewer         6'3 196  17.4.79   Prince George (WHL)    NY Islanders
    Jesse Wallin        6'2 190  10.3.78   Red Deer (WHL)         Detroit
    Zenith Komarniski   6' 190   13.8.78   Tri-City (WHL)         Vancouver
    Sean Blanchard      6' 201   29.3.78   Ottawa (OHL)           LA Kings
    Brad Stuart         6'2 215  6.11.79   Regina (WHL)           Eligible '98
    Cory Sarich         6'3 190  16.8.78   Saskatoon (WHL)        Buffalo
    Mike Van Ryn        6'2 186  14.5.79   Michigan (CCHA)        Eligible '98
    Nick Boynton        6'2 210  14.1.79   Ottawa (OHL)           Washington
    Remi Royer          6'2 200  12.2.78   Rouyn (QMJHL)          Chicago
    Manny Malhotra      6'1 210  18.5.80   Guelph (OHL)           Eligible '98
    Dan Cleary          6' 200   18.12.78  NHL                    Chicago
    Daniel Tkaczuk      6' 195   10.6.79   Barrie (OHL)           Calgary
    Steve Bégin         6' 188   14.6.78   Val d'Or (LHJMQ)       Calgary
    Matt Cooke          6'1 195  7.9.78    Windsor (OHL)          Vancouver
    Vincent Lecavalier  6'4 180  21.4.80   Rimouski (QMJHL)       Eligible '98
    Daniel Corso        5'10 161 3.4.78    Victoriaville (LHJMQ)  St. Louis
    Brett McLean        5'10 187 14.8.78   Kelowna (WHL)          Dallas
    Jean-Pierre Dumont  6' 195   1.4.78    Val d'Or (LHJMQ)       NY Islanders
    Jason Ward          6'2 193  16.1.79   Niagara Falls (OHL)    Montreal
    Josh Holden         6' 170   18.1.78   Regina (WHL)           Vancouver
    Brian Willsie       6' 179   16.3.78   Guelph (OHL)           Colorado
    Stefan Cherneski    6' 200   19.9.78   Brandon (WHL)          NY Rangers
    Jay Legault         6'4 206  15.5.79   London (OHL)           Anaheim
    Matt Bradley        6'1 188  13.6.78   Kingston (OHL)         San Jose
    Darren Van Oene     6'3 220  18.1.78   Brandon (WHL)          Buffalo
    Colin Pepperall     5'11 175 28.4.78   Erie (OHL)             NY Rangers
  • Dec 1 Update from Mike Vrooman - TEAM CANADA

    On Saturday night, Canada's Olympic hockey DREAM TEAM was announced by GM Bobby Clarks.

    Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Curtis Joseph

    Ray Bourque, Rob Blake (from Simcoe), Eric Desjardin, Adam Foote, Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens, Chris Pronger

    Paul Kariya, Joe Sakic, Eric Lindros, Rod Brind' Amour, Shayne Corson, Theoren Fleury, Brendan Shanahan, Wayne Gretzky, Trevor Linden, Joe Nieuwendyk, Krith Primeau, Steve Yzerman, Rob Zamuner

    The average age is 30 years 2 months. Height 6' 1", weight 201 pounds.

  • Nov 3 Update from Mike Vrooman - NHL NEWS

    Patrick Roy, the goaltender for the Avalanche has now recorded 250 career wins in the NHL.

    Wayne Gretzky has now scored 1851 assists in the NHL and has now recorded more career assists than Gordie Howe scorded total points (goals and assists) in his NHL career.

    Ari Kurri of the Avalanche needs only 2 more goals to reach the 600 career goal mark and Mike Gartner of Phoenix needs 4 more goals to reach the 700 goal plateau.

    On Mon. Nov 17 the new inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario will be Mario Lemieux, Bryan Trottier, Glen Sather, Ken McKenzie and Glene Hart.

  • Oct 25 Update from Stephanie Wilde - The Canadian National team (also known as Not The Canada Olympic Team) should be in England now. I still remember the shock here a couple of years ago when the GB nationals beat Canada 2-1! Maybe they should just put the Storm on the ice! From the perspective of a Calgary fan there are a couple of players to watch...Schoneck and Marble, both defencemen, were key players on a University of Calgary team that went to the national finals two years in a row and won a record number of games in one season. Sean Selsmer is a local boy who came up through our minor hockey programme. I haven't seen him skate yet but have read good things about his speed. Pat Conacher is an NHL veteran taking on a teaching role with the team and they also have Bronsard, a 19-year-old goalie who was outstanding in last season's Memorial Cup win by the Hull Olympiques. We are fortunate here to have the National teams based in Calgary. The men recently beat Japan handily in a two game series and the women beat China 6-2 and Sweden 10-0 and 6-1. The women will have a harder time when they face up to the US squad shortly. Famous names include Manon Rheaume (first woman to suit up with an NHL team) Judy Diduck (sister of Gerald) and Hayley Wickenheiser (cousin of Doug) with Canada and Cammi Granato (Tony) and Stephanie O'Sullivan (Chris) with the US.

  • The Junior season has been going for almost three weeks with some neat new names coming into the league. The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles is pretty good, but my favourite is the Baie Comeau Drakkar...I can only say I hope they smell better than they play! One minor pro team in America has applied to use the name the Fighting Smelt (?). Now that's asking for trouble in opposition rinks. Our local team is going the other way. Having been bought out by the Flames they are probably going to change from the Hitmen (very popular with kids) to the rather less inventive Junior Flames.

  • Early Memorial cup favourites Val d'Or, have had a less than spectacular start 1-5-1. Early front-runners are Shawinigan in Quebec, Kingston in Ontario and Regina in the West. Stevie Lyle has played two games for Plymouth...1-0-1 with a 4.00 GAA and .888 SP.

    Sat 31 May @ Phil.
    Tue  3 Jun @ Phil.
    Thu  5 Jun @ Detroit
    Sat  7 Jun @ Detroit
    Tue 10 Jun @ Phil.
    Thu 12 Jun @ Detroit
    Sat 14 Jun @ Phil.
    Series is a best 4 games out of 7
    All games start at 8 pm EDT.
  • Boston Bruins have just signed Pat Burns, former coach of Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, to a 4 year contract worth between 2.5 and 3 million dollars U.S.

  • Boston has the first pick in the upcoming draft and will likely select Joe Thornton. Thronton is 18, 6'4" and weighs 198 pounds. This past year while playing for Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, he had 41 goals and 81 assists in 59 games. He also had 123 penalty minutes.

  • The top European player to be drafted should either be Olli Jokinen of IFK Helsinki or Russias Sergei Samsonov who played with Detroit Vipers of the IHL.

  • In other NHL news, watch for some changes to be made at the top of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Is Fletcher out as President and General Manager? Will Mike Keenen take over?


    The Canadian Hockey League Major Junior season came to a close when the Memorial Cup final was played in Hull, Quebec, on Sunday afternoon. The home-town Hull Olympiques made it two Cups in a row for the Quebec League with a 5-1 win over Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western League - Granby Predateurs won last year, the first Cup in 25 years to go to a Quebec team.

    The player of the game for Hull was their goalie, rookie Bronsard, who took over the starting job from Canadian Junior veteran Biron for this tournament and had had a couple of shaky games before starring in the final with half-a-dozen game savers. The best was probably a nifty glove on a deflection off his own defenceman's stick in the third.

    Bronsard stoned 'Canes' scorer Ritchie on three very good chances to the delight of the crowd who had been booing him every time he touched the puck. Ritchie was caught on a radio mike earlier in the week at a particularly emotional moment referring to his hosts as a "bunch of f****** frogs". An almighty hoohah ensued, with threats of suspension. Ritchie made a public apology for using four-letter words beginning with 'f' and promised never to say 'frog' again..and was allowed to play.

    MVP of the tournament was Dube of Hull, who played a couple of dozen games with NY Rangers earlier in the season and was bought from Sherbrooke Faucons for $50 000 by Hull when he was returned to Junior. This prompted sneers from the coach of losing semi-finalists Oshawa (OHL) about Hull "buying a championship"..their owner's reply.."if he were here I'd spit in his face". The accusation was particularly rich coming from Oshawa who paid $80 000 for the services of Lindros in 1990 when they won the Cup.

    Dube also won the scoring title with 6g and 7a and has been recalled by Rangers for their Stanley Cup run. If he were to win the Cup with them it would be the first time a player has ever won a World Junior, Memorial Cup and Stanley Cup title in the same year.

    Menard (Hull), a five-foot-seven winger, came within a goal of tying the record for most goals in the tournament with 7, and had a couple of excellent chances in the third period, The record of 8 is shared by Hawerchuk, Falloon (both with the Philadelphia Flyers) and Robitaille (Rangers).

    A memorable performance was delivered by Oshawa Generals captain, Lindsay, who played the semi-finals with a broken thumb and scored the tying goal late in the third before his team lost to Lethbridge in O/T.

    Tournament All-Star Team:
    Goal:		Bronsard (Hull)
    Defence:	Phillips (Lethbridge)
                    Snopek (Oshawa)
    Centre:		Dube (Hull)
    R Wing:		Menard (Hull)
    L Wing:		Ritchie (Lethbridge).
    MVP and Leading Scorer:	Dube (Hull)
    Best Goalie:		Bronsard (Hull)
    Most Gentlemanly:	Suchy (Chicoutimi).
    Incidentally, "has-been" 36-year-old Wayne Gretzky scored his second hat-trick of these Stanley Cup playoffs against the Flyers on Sunday. This gives him 10 for his career, three more than second-place-man, Maurice Richard and puts Rangers square 1-1 in the series.

    Only a couple more weeks of hockey left!! Have to make the most of it..

  • POWER PLAY LEADER - Brendon Shanahan of Detroit Red Wings has 20 power play goals in 69 games.

  • 600 GOAL SCORERS - Thanks to all who sent in answers. The three answers are Wayne Gretzky (active), Gordie Howe (retired) and Bobby Hull (retired).

  • Latest rumour in professional hockey in North America is that Gordie Howe, at the age of 69, is planning a comeback in the American Hockey League.

  • Brian Kilrea, coach of the Ottawa 67's, became the winningest coach in Canadian junior hockey history on Jan 17 when he won his 742nd career game. The former record was held by Ken Hodge.

  • SUPER MARIO SCORES 600. On Tuesday 4 February 1997, Mario Lemieux became the seventh player in NHL history to score 600 goals. With 56 seconds left in the game, Lemirux scored into an empty net to help Pittsburg to a 6-4 win over Vancouver Canucks. Lemieux now has 600 goals and 859 assists in his 13 year NHL career. Other 600 goal scorers in the NHL are Mike Gartner, Phil Esposito, Marcel Dionne and three more (1 still active and 2 retired). If you think you know who these three are, e-mail your answers to Mike Vrooman at We'll give you until 22 February 1997 to respond and the results will then be announced on this site.

  • BOWMAN WINS GAME 1000 OF CAREER. On Saturday 8 February 1997, Scotty Bowman, coach of Detroit Red Wings registered his 1000th victory of his NHL career to become the first coach in NHL history to reach that level. Bowman's coaching career spans over 30 years coaching teams in Montreal, St. Louis and Detroit.

  • Pittsburgh's rookie doaltender, Patrick Laline, lost his first league game on 23 January after starting his career with a record 16 game undefeated streak.

  • Ray Bourque of the Bostom Bruins, broke a 29 year old club record when he scored his 1342 career point. The original record was held by Johnny Bucyk.


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