Hard work pays off for Habs’ Gomez
Gomez wasn’t around after the game to talk about his playmaking, but Gionta praised his longtime friend.
“He worked hard and played great,” Gionta said. “He was on the puck and doing the right things. When he does that, he’s a great player. He was moving and hitting the seams.
“Gomer made two great reads,” Gionta added. “I was kind of disappointed, because a shift or two before the first goal I should have one-timed it and I didn’t, so the second time I wanted to make sure that I got it off.”
That play was set in motion when Gomez displayed his instinct and familiarity with Gionta. He was being checked in the neutral zone, but sent Gionta into the clear with a blind backhand pass along the boards.
Scott Gomez: ‘This whole thing is surreal’
Gomez didn’t make a post-game dressing room appearance after Saturday’s 4-0 win over the New York Rangers, puzzling given that his highly involved two-assist, four-shot, plus-2 effort had clearly been his best game of the season.
The centreman’s no-show in the room wasn’t a media snub. He was elsewhere in the Bell Centre shooting a video promo for next month’s Guns N Hoses hockey game between firefighters and police in his native Anchorage, an annual event that this year will benefit his own charitable foundation.
On Sunday, Gomez spoke about the “surreal” situation in which he finds himself – it’s been 40 regular-season games, 47 including the playoffs – since he has scored.
And he said that for the first time since his return from a torn latissimus dorsi muscle just beneath the armpit, still not 100 per cent: “I’m feeling like: ‘Here we go, this is what I’ve worked for.’
“There’s nothing I can do about the time lost. It’s gone. You have to go forward and work even harder. Dwell on what’s been and you’ll go nowhere. It will tear you up inside.
“I look at nine games lost and I view it as being lucky that it was only that. I could have been out the whole year.”
Gomez had a glorious opportunity to end his scoring drought Saturday when he went in alone early in the third period, the scoring chance perishing in the glove of Rangers goalie Martin Biron.
“I felt good to have had the chance,” Gomez said. “I know I’m going to score. But honestly, I wouldn’t have felt any happier to score than I did setting up (Brian) Gionta in the slot.
Breakout Second Season a Good Case of Deja Vu for Tyler Seguin
Top-two pick to top scorer. Contributor to superstar. Occasional healthy scratch to occasionally earning upwards of 20 minutes a night and playing against top lines. Regardless of how one chooses to describe Tyler Seguin’s leap from his rookie year to his highly impressive sophomore campaign, the 19-year-old has shown that though his first year on the job featured flashes of brilliance, he has simply taken it to another level on his second try.
If you’re surprised that by how much of a jump Seguin’s been able to make from his first year to his second year, perhaps you shouldn’t be. After all, it’s happened before.
“All the things that he went through last year in Boston, he went through with us,” Plymouth Whalers (Ontario Hockey League) head coach and general manager Mike Vellucci recalled this weekend.
Well, Seguin didn’t win the Stanley Cup in his first year in the OHL, but aside from that, Vellucci makes a great point. Though the season ended with Seguin hoisting the most coveted trophy in sports, his rookie campaign in the NHL was far from a walk in the park. After scoring his first career goal in just his second game (a tally that was assisted by Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas), Seguin hit some roadblocks in his first professional season, often appearing timid and not trusting his skill as much as he does now.
That’s something that Seguin also experienced in his first OHL season. A fourth-liner to begin the 2008-09 season under coach Greg Stefan, Seguin had only one goal over his first 17 games. Stefan eventually left to take a scouting gig with the Hurricanes, and after Vellucci took over and promoted Seguin, the rookie saw improvement over the rest of the season and finished with a solid 67 points. It was that second year that saw Seguin really take off, and he finished the season with a league-leading 106 points.
Through 18 games, Seguin’s 21 points this season put him just one shy of matching his rookie total, something it took him 74 games to achieve. Stats don’t tell the whole story, though. Watching Seguin, he’s clearly a different player. He’s just as fast as he ever was, but he’s using his speed more. He isn’t shying away from contact as much. He’s showing just why he was the top-ranked player in the 2010 draft, and he’s certainly reopened the debate over who should have been the first overall pick.
“It’s just experience,” Seguin said recently. “Every game you play, you get more experience under your belt. That’s what’s been helping me out the most.”
Mike Cammalleri Post-game Interview
Irwin Finds Niche on Power Play, Leads AHL
The Worcester Shark’s record for most power play goals by a defenseman in a season is nine, set by Garrett Stafford in 2006-07, the Shark’s first season in Worcester. Derek Joslin holds the career record with 16. Joslin spent parts of four seasons suiting up in Worcester before becoming a regular in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks and now the Carolina Hurricanes.
Both of these Worcester Sharks records have appeared to be safe, until now.
Enter 2011-12 Worcester Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin.
For the diehard hockey fans that have been following the individual statistics of Worcester Sharks players and those who read Bill Ballou’s article entitled “Sharks Break Down in OT” this past Saturday in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, you are already well aware of Matt Irwin’s staggering power play production.
Irwin has been an offensive machine on the blue line in 2011-12 totaling 13 points (6g, 7a) in 14 games. He is well on the way to surpassing his numbers from 2010-11 that included 31 points (10g, 21a) in 72 games.
Last season, Irwin had 6 power play goals, a number he has already reached this season, to give him 12 for his career which puts both of the aforementioned records in jeopardy.
These numbers make a case for Irwin being a 2-way defenseman that can create plenty of noise in his second full professional season. If the Brentwood Bay, BC native can keep the production going he is on pace to reach the 70 point (32g, 38a) plateau in 76 AHL games in 2011-12.
Matt Irwin has been on a tear and people throughout the entire hockey community are starting to notice. The 23 year old defenseman currently ranks first among all AHL defensemen in goals scored with six, second in the AHL with six power play goals, trailing only Casey Wellman of the Houston Aeros who has 7, and fourth among all defensemen with 13 points.
Aside from league implications, Irwin is currently second on the Worcester Sharks in scoring trailing only rookie sensation forward Mike Connolly.
Irwin’s moments of offensive greatness have included two game winning tallies and six of the Sharks 13 power play strikes. In fact, he has either scored or assisted on four of the last seven Worcester Sharks goals.
Stockton’s Roy Named Reebok Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week
PRINCETON, N.J. – Olivier Roy of the Stockton?Thunder is the Reebok Hockey ECHL?Goaltender of the Week for Nov. 14-20.
The 20-year-old was 2-0-0 with a goals against average of 1.50 and a save percentage of .959 in two victories over Ontario last week as the Thunder impoved to 7-4-3 on the season.
Roy made 40 saves in a 3-2 win against the?Reign on?Friday to earn his first?ECHL?win and followed that up with 30 saves in a 3-1 victory on?Saturday.
A native of Causapscal, Quebec, Roy is 2-3-3 with one shutout, a 2.32 goals-against average and a save percentage of .925 in eight appearances with the?Thunder this season.
Stockon Thunder’s Olivier Roy wins ECHL Goaltender of the Week award
Earning the first two victories of his ECHL career also landed Stockton Thunder goalie Olivier Roy the league’s Goaltender of the Week award.
Roy won the award for the week of Nov. 14-20, during which he posted back-to-back wins over the Ontario Reign to close out a six-game road trip for the Thunder.
The announcement was made on Tuesday (Nov. 22) as the Thunder prepared for a Wednesday night home game against the Alaska Aces at Stockton Arena.
“It’s always fun when you work hard and get recognized,” said Roy, who turned in a 40-save performance in a 3-2 win at Ontario last Friday (Nov. 18) and then stopped 30 shots in a 3-1 victory the following night. “I’ve been working really hard. To finally get (a win) on the board . . . the feeling was really good.”
In his two victories, Roy, who credited his teammates for strong defensive play in front of him, posted a goals-against average of 1.50 and a save percentage of .959. For the season, Roy is 2-3-3 with one shutout, a GAA of 2.32 and a save percentage of .925.
“This is a nice accomplishment for him,” Thunder Coach Matt Thomas said of Roy being selected for the award. “He deserved it previous, and it’s good for him to get it.”
Colts acquire speedster
The Barrie Examiner
The Barrie Colts added some scoring punch on Thursday, acquiring overage forward Daniel Erlich from the Guelph Storm.
Barrie receives Erlich in exchange for Niagara fifth-round pick in 2012, Barrie fourth-round selection in 2014, and a conditional eighth rounder in 2017.
Erlich, 20, has spent four seasons with the London Knights and Guelph Storm, where he amassed 188 points in 223 games.
The Thornhill native began the 2011-12 campaign with defending Austrian league champion Red Bull Salzburg, putting up seven points in 16 games before returning to Canada.
Josh Graves – Generals Player of the Week
Josh Graves has landed himself the title of Oshawa Generals Player of the Week for the period ending November 20th.
In what was a trying weekend for the Generals, Graves kept his effort at the highest level and did not let the adversity the team has been facing get the best of him. Graves showed determination every shift and worked to make a difference whenever he was on the ice.
In the three games the team played last week, Graves tallied 1 goal, 1 assist, and a +2 rating. He contributed offensively, was responsible defensively, and most of all, showed consistency through a difficult stretch of games.
My Story: Andrei Loktionov (Larionov)
By Andrei Loktionov
When I was four years old my father brought me to the local ice arena and I remember the coach didn’t think I could do anything because I was only four years old. I went onto the ice and made a couple of circles, which impressed the coach because he put me on the second line. Growing up I also played some tennis, ping pong, and soccer, but I really loved hockey right away.
Hockey was – and remains — very popular in my hometown of Voskresensk, Russia, which is located about 50 miles away from Moscow and about a 10-12 hour bus ride from St. Petersburg. It is a very small town with maybe 110,000 people, and we had just one ice rink. Right now the rink is better because they improved it recently, but when I was there it was so old. I think every kid tried to play hockey at first and then if you weren’t good enough you would do something else.
I grew up wanting to play in the National Hockey League and the Olympics and my favorite player was Igor Larionov, who is now my agent. I first met him when my dad introduced us in Voskresensk while I was practicing with other young kids. There were a lot of good players in my league growing up. A couple of them are playing in the Kontinental Hockey League and Dmitri Kulikov is playing for the Florida Panthers now. We would always travel by bus and usually play in Moscow or a nearby city against teams like UHC Dynamo and Spartak Moscow. When I was 13 years old, I was selected to play for Spartak and we played a game in Sweden which was my first time leaving Russia.
When I was 17 years old I never really thought that I would get to play for a big team like that but I always worked as hard as I could. I always gave 100 percent, did my best and did what my trainer told me without really thinking about the future. I graduated from high school and I am one semester away from graduating from a University near Moscow with a Sports Education degree. Through it all, I never thought about what I would do if hockey didn’t work out.
Robertson fourth among OHL defencemen in scoring
The Windsor Star
“Being in Peterborough, I loved it there and have some great friends,” said Robertson, who faces his former team Sunday at the WFCU Centre.
“Leaving and coming here with that playoff run (to the Western Conference final), even though we didn’t win it all, was the most fun I’ve had in the league. Ever since I got here, I feel I’ve improved. It might be the best coaching staff in the (Canadian Hockey League) and I’m happy I’m here.”
The six-foot-two, 210-pound Robertson delivered on the defensive side, but coming to Windsor also brought out an unexpected offensive side.
“Before that (trade), I was content to being a stay-at-home defenceman,” the 20-year-old Robertson said.
“Here, I got more of an opportunity with the coaching and learning different techniques.”
In 170 regular-season and playoff games with Peterborough, Robertson had seven goals and 24 points.
After arriving in Windsor, he had 13 points in 22 regular-season games and was fourth among OHL defencemen in playoff scoring with 15 points in 18 games.
He hasn’t slowed this season with a career-high six goals and 21 points in 27 games.
That brings his total to 10 goals and 49 points in 67 regular-season and playoff games in Windsor.
“I had five goals last year and thought, ‘How am I going to top that?’” Robertson said.
“I just try to make a good outlet pass. In the offensive zone, I don’t shoot to score. I shoot it hard to get it through traffic and create rebounds.”
Max Iafrate goal
Kontos a chip off the old block
The Barrie Examiner
Ask Sudbury Wolves winger Kristoff Kontos and he’ll tell you father does know best.
The Penetanguishene native is eager to make his own name in the world of hockey, but unlike most teenagers who often roll their eyes when dear old dad dishes out words of advice, Kontos is more than eager to hear what his old man has to say.
That’s because when it comes to hockey, his father certainly knows a thing or two. Chris Kontos spent parts of eight seasons in the National Hockey League, as well as more than 16 seasons playing pro hockey in the American Hockey League, International Hockey League and in Europe.
“He’s been in every situation and he knows how to handle things. How to treat yourself. How to be professional,” said Kristoff, who will be in Barrie on Saturday night when his Wolves take on the Colts at the Barrie Molson Centre. “He’s been a big impact for my career so far and, hopefully, he continues to be a big impact.”
Kristoff has leaned on his dad at times to help him get through his first couple of years of junior hockey, but now in his third season with the Wolves and with this being his draft year, dad’s words of wisdom mean more than ever thanks to his experience.
Chris also played forward in Sudbury, spending two seasons with Wolves from 1980 to 1982 before being dealt to the Toronto Marlboros.
In 1982, the New York Rangers selected Chris 15th overall in the NHL Entry Draft. When the NHL’s preliminary Central Scouting Rankings for players eligible for the 2012 NHL draft came out last week, Kristoff was rated 23rd overall among OHL skaters.
The 17-year-old centre is truly starting to blossom this season and having someone who has been through it all is a major plus, especially when this has been the year you’ve been waiting for almost all your life.
Kristoff says he leans heavily on his dad.
“I was on the ice a lot with him this summer and he’s always bickering at me about little things and making sure I do certain things properly,” he said. “He’s been a big influence, as I said, and he’s got a lot of experience in that department, so it’s great to have him.”
After racking up 13 goals and 24 assists over his first two seasons in the OHL, Kristoff is well on his way to surpassing that combined total with seven goals and eight helpers in 21 games this season.
His improved play certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by Sudbury head coach Trent Cull.
“I like how Kristoff’s come back,” Cull said after practice this week. “He’s a year older, a year more experienced and he’s still a pretty young guy. I’m happy to see him catching some of the eyebrows of the NHL guys and I hope with Kristoff he gets better and better as time wears on this season for him and for our team.”
Seguin Dunkin Donuts