Tyler Seguin, Sophmore of the Year?
Seguin postgame interview
Kleinburg’s Agozzino wins OHL honour
By Michael Hayakawa
Andrew Agozzino, a Kleinburg resident and forward with the Niagara IceDogs, was named the OHL’s Player of the Week for the week ending Dec. 18, the league announced Monday.
The 20-year-old Agozzino scored two goals and five assists and recorded a plus-minus rating of plus-four during that week.
Agozzino led the IceDogs to a pair of wins to end the first half of the OHL season tied for third place in the Eastern Conference with 41 points.
In a game against the Erie Otters Dec. 15, Agozzino had the best offensive game of his OHL career with five points including two goals and three assists in a 7-0 win and was named the game’s first star.
The IceDogs’ captain also picked up two assists in a 3-1 win over the Sudbury Wolves Saturday.
Agozzino is in his fifth OHL season with the IceDogs.
He has scored 258 points in 285 career OHL games including 40 points with 17 goals and 23 assists in 34 games this season.
Spitfires Captain Adrian Robertson
Clendening: ‘I’m not going anywhere’
Scott McLaughlin: So you’re at World Junior camp right now. Last year you were one of the final cuts. What have you taken from that experience for this year?
Adam Clendening: I’m just trying to do the stuff I normally do. Play my game and not try to think too much or try to get recognized. Just play my style and not worry about trying to impress people. Just try to fit the role they want me to fit. Hopefully that’s good enough to get a roster spot.
SM: Last year, Coach Parker said he thought that early in the season, you might’ve been pushing a little too much and trying to impress for World Juniors. Was that true? And did you feel more relaxed the first half of this season?
AC: I don’t know. I feel like just being in your second year of college hockey, you feel more confident. You know what to expect. You know the different rinks, the different teams, the different players in the league, that kind of thing. You just get more comfortable and fall into your role, and your team’s more confident in you. I wouldn’t say I was nervous the first year, but the World Juniors were in my hometown, so I kind of put some pressure on myself to make it and play in front of my friends and family at home.
SM: I also wanted to ask you about everything going on at BU right now. Now that you’ve had a couple days to let it sink in a little, what are your thoughts and reactions?
AC: Not much, really. We just need to look forward and keep doing what we’ve been doing. I’m sure the coaches have thought about the adjustments that need to be made. We can’t let it be that big of a deal. With Corey, nobody really knows exactly what happened and nobody can really comment on it. And Charlie’s thing was a personal decision. I just feel like we’re gonna have to soldier on, just keep going, and not change what we’ve been doing. We had a solid first half, I think, so we just have to keep doing what we’re doing and some people will have to play a bigger role. That’s it.
Christian Thomas says he’s ready to move on
OSHAWA — Christian Thomas assured that he’s over it already, and will be cheering for Canada just like every other hockey fan in this country.
The ‘it’ being the painful news he received last Wednesday, that he, in his final year of eligibility, didn’t quite make the grade to participate at the world junior hockey championships.
Thomas was one of 13 players cut Wednesday, a day that went far better for Oshawa Generals teammate and captain Boone Jenner, who made the Canadian team.
“Sure I was disappointed a couple of days after, but it’s one of those things you’ve just got to let go and play your own game when you get back,” Thomas said Sunday, following a 5-3 loss to the Ottawa 67′s. “I gave it all I’ve got over there, but it just didn’t work out.”
Recovering Mitchell still an asset for Royals
The stat sheet doesn’t care about Dale Mitchell’s road to recovery.
It’s brutally honest that way.
Whether a player is rehabbing, injured or fatigued, the numbers only pay attention to offensive productivity.
That makes Mitchell’s recent stretch with the Reading Royals all the more impressive.
Getting back on the ice seven months after surgery for a torn knee ligament was a feat. Scoring eight goals in the first 10 games after returning was an off-the-charts success.
Mitchell still feels lingering effects from his injury, which he suffered during Reading’s playoff series against Cincinnati in April, but he hasn’t let it stop him from contributing.
“I’ve had some good days and bad days,” he said. “Overall, it’s getting better.”
Recuperating from ACL surgery is an ongoing process and there will be setbacks.
Mitchell made his season debut Nov. 19. Early in his second game with the Royals, the right wing aggravated the injury and missed another week.
Mitchell has excelled since. He posted nine points during a seven-game stretch that included three key wins over division rival Wheeling.
The hard part is staying patient.
“That Toledo game after I first got sent here, it blew up on me,” Mitchell said. “After that I didn’t have any big emergencies. It’s been pretty good.”
Mitchell’s production has been a shot in the arm for the Royals, who have struggled to score goals. It also has been remarkable for a player who relies on his skating skill to find space on the ice.
Andy Andreoff – Generals Player of the Week
The Generals rolled into the General Motors Centre at 5:30 AM on Monday morning, marking the end of a long and tiring road trip during which the Generals roster changed drastically. In a couple of games that proved challenging for the Gens, Andy Andreoff earned himself Player of the Week with his leadership and commitment.
The Generals played Friday against the Sudbury Wolves and Sunday against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. With Emerson Clark injuring his wrist in Sudbury and Christian Thomas and Boone Jenner leaving for Team Canada`s World Junior Selection Camp, the team`s lineup dwindled quickly.
On a tough weekend, Andy Andreoff stepped up to fill the holes, not only offensively, but in a leadership capacity.
Andy`s weekend was highlighted by a beautiful power play goal against the Greyhounds that brought the Gens within one goal, making the score 4-3 late in the third. Andy worked hard to give his team a chance, the team`s fate was sealed with an empty net goal.
Nail Yakupov dazzles junior hockey fans (Larionov)
RED DEER, Alta. — If you haven’t already heard of the name Nail Yakupov, don’t worry.
The 18-year-old sublimely skilled Russian forward and potential first-overall pick at the 2012 NHL entry draft next summer was in the business of jaw-dropping Tuesday at Red Deer’s Enmax Centrium in front of 5,946 fans.
Still evaluating their rosters and making cuts ahead of the 2012 IIHF world junior hockey tournament, both teams were able to use real game action for the first time on Tuesday. The Russians, for one, iced a dangerous lineup — even by scratching lone returning player and captain Evgeny Kuznetsov, 2012 NHL draft eligible Mikhail Grigorenko, and Saskatoon Blades netminder Andrey Makarov — and beat the Americans 6-3 in exhibition play.
“I’ve played against Canadian guys and U.S. guys for two years so I know how they play,” Yakupov said. “But yeah, we were nervous because this is the first game at the world juniors. Everything’s different but we won and we played good.
“I think everybody was nervous because someone will be cut after these two (exhibition game). Everybody wanted to play hard and we played good (Tuesday). So, we’ll see after our second game against the Czech Republic (Thursday in Lethbridge).”
And Yakupov, for one, is not going back to the Sarnia Sting — his Ontario Hockey League club — before Christmas.
As expected, he was dynamite in the neutral zone and is as every bit as skilled as they say. He had fans out of their seats with jaws dropped in the third period as he picked up a pass from defenceman Igor Ozhiganov and absolutely undressed U.S. goalie Jack Campbell on Russia’s fourth goal — short-handed.
A Tale of two seasons for Windsor Spitfires’ Defenseman Brandon Devlin
Since the trade, things have really been looking up for the 2012 draft eligible defenseman. Devlin has been playing big minutes for Bob Boughner’s Spitfires and has produced much more than in Barrie. Devlin had three points and a +4 rating in 16 games with the Colts and since the trade he has tallied two goals, five assists and a +2 in 16 games. That’s almost a half of a point per game since being traded which isn’t bad for a defenseman; especially one who’s best asset is arguably his physicality or play in his own zone.
I managed to talk to Devlin recently and he told me that: “Playing in Windsor has helped a lot, I’ve regained my confidence and am playing my game.”
He mentioned Bob Boughner has played a big part of helping him regain his confidence and I asked if there was any particular reason as to why: “Just by giving me the opportunities to prove myself in every situation, he said.”
Clendening makes U.S. Junior team
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (WIVB) – Last year, Adam Clendening was one of the final cuts from a USA team that would play in his hometown. This year, while it won’t come close to his family, Clendening will wear the Red, White and Blue. The defenseman has earned a spot on the team that will play in this year’s World Junior Championships in Edmonton and Calgary.
The Wheatfield native will debut with Team USA on Monday, when the Americans play Denmark in Edmonton. Currently playing at Boston University, Clendening was a second round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks this summer.
Clendening was hugely disappointed when he was cut from last year’s team. He was excited about the chance to play in front of his family and friends in Buffalo, which hosted last year’s tournament.
Seven players return from the squad that won the bronze medal in Buffalo. Clendening, a fast skating and puck moving defenseman, will be counted on to play a key role for this year’s team.
Clendening is the only local player to be part of this year’s USA team.
Young Oilers recall ‘exciting’ world junior experience
While Eberle didn’t crack the Team Canada roster as a 17-year-old for the 2008 tournament in the Czech Republic, having to wait until he was 18 to make the squad, fellow Oilers teammate Sam Gagner was one of the select few who managed to crack the Team Canada roster as a 17-year-old for the 2007 tournament in Sweden while playing for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
“I had got cut from the under-18s a few months earlier and went back to junior and had a lot to prove because of that,” Gagner recalled. “I never really expected to get the invite to world junior camp that year, so when I did it was exciting. It was an opportunity to make the team and get a chance to play for a team you grew up idolizing and dreaming of playing on.
“I just wanted to go in there and play the way I had been playing all season and let the chips fall where they may and it ended up working out.”
Work out it did for Gagner, as Team Canada went on to win gold in Sweden over Russia to claim the country’s 13th world junior championship. That tournament proved to be Gagner’s first and only trip to the world juniors, as he was drafted later that year by the Oilers and cracked their roster as an 18-year-old in the fall.
For Gagner, the support Team Canada received from Canadians at the tournament in Sweden and at home, really intensified the joy of winning the gold medal. That support will surely be felt by this year’s world junior contingent as they compete in Alberta.
“We had a lot of fans over there and when we won the gold medal it felt like we were at home, because of how loud the Canadian fans were. It just makes it such a great experience knowing that they’re behind you and I’m sure with it being in Edmonton and Calgary it will be a lot of fun for those guys playing in front of the home crowd,” Gagner said.
Tyler Seguin Beats Santa to the Punch
Santa Claus is coming to town on Saturday night. But on Thursday, Tyler Seguin was the one delivering gifts to one Wilmington family.
The Boston Bruins young star visited the home of Mikey Murphy, who remains hospitalized following his collapse over the summer on his way to the Bruins Stanley Cup parade. Seguin came with gifts for the Murphy family, who spends much of its time in Boston with Mikey.
Though Mikey wasn’t home at the time, several family members were thrilled with Seguin’s appearance.
The fast skating NHL forward even had the chance to reunite the Murphy family dog. His name? You guessed it. Seguin. The pair met at Ristuccia Arena when the four-legged version was a puppy, and when the human version walked into the house on Thursday, he immediately asked where the dog was.
Cindy Murphy, Mikey’s mom, said the player gave each family member a bag that included Bruins shirts, sweatshirts, sweatjackets, hats, scarfs and more. There was a separate bag for the family which had a few different Bruins games, the new book, a DVD player and more.
“It was so overwhelming and surreal,” said Cindy. “It meant the world to the whole family but we all wished it was under different circumstances.”
Yakupov says all bets are on at world juniors (Larionov)
CALGARY — The wager that night at Crabby Joe’s Tap and Grill in Sarnia, Ont., had as much to do with the belly as the heart.
“There were a few of us there to watch the game,’’ recalls Nail Yakupov, thoughts drifting back to the 2011 world junior hockey championship final from Buffalo, New York. “We were in a bar: Me, our coach (Trevor Letowski) from Sarnia, a Russian coach and his son. (Letowski) said ‘Canada’s gonna win. Let’s go. Food and drinks.’
“Just for fun.
“Boy, was he excited after second period. The score was 3-0. And he was like ‘C’mon guys, pay up.’ And we’re like ‘No, no, we still have third period.’
“Then it was 3-1, 3-2, 3-3, and he’s getting worried. Then 4-3, 5-3. . . . Wow!
“So he lost. He paid.
“We ate a lot of chickens wings and burgers that night. A lot.’’
A satisfied pat of the tummy.
“I was full.’’
In the fading glow of memory, Yakupov estimates Letowski’s billfold being roughly $200 lighter by the time the evening ended. In jubilation for the Russians, catastrophe for Canada. But for current Sarnia Sting coach, Jacques Beaulieu, this year’s wager with the prodigious winger carries graver consequences. The stakes, higher.
Beaulieu’s son Nathan, you see, happens to be a part of Team Canada.
“So if Canada wins,’’ reveals Beaulieu, “Nail has to wear a Team Canada jersey for an entire week at practice. On the flip-side, I’ll be wearing a Russia jersey for a week if they win.
“So, yeah, it’s serious.”
Clendening grows in adversity
Adam Clendening allowed himself a pity party for about 24 hours last year before going back to work. Of course, it would have been incredible. How many Western New Yorkers ever had a chance to play in the World Junior Championships when they were held in Buffalo?
Clendening would have been the first but instead experienced a different first. For the first time in his career, the defenseman failed to make a hockey team. He was part of the final round of U.S. cuts days before the 20-under tournament began in First Niagara Center (then HSBC Arena) and Niagara University.
Seeing the dream temporarily derailed was especially tough for a kid who lists Niagara Falls as his hometown. (He’s actually from Wheatfield and spent his freshman year attending Niagara-Wheatfield High). In the end, he came away a stronger person and better player after a lesson about overcoming adversity.
“Obviously, the day they tell you that you’re going home is never the best day,” Clendending said last week by telephone. “It was one day that hit me. I was like, ‘Oh [shoot], I can’t play in front of my family.’ But it was a learning experience. I played my game and thought I played real well, but I just wasn’t on the good end of it.”
Looking back, it was little more than a pothole. Clendening is expected to be a key member of the U.S. team in the WJC this year in Calgary and Edmonton. The best amateur hockey tournament on the planet starts Monday. The United States, which won the bronze medal in Buffalo a year ago, is again among the favorites.
Clendening, now 19 and a slick-passing sophomore at Boston University, officially made the team last week. He had been on USA Hockey’s fast track, which included two years in its development program and going to high school in Ann Arbor, Mich. He helped the U.S. to its second straight gold medal last season in the under-18 world championships, tying for the team lead with 10 points.
The world juniors are a different beast.
“All the veteran guys that are here say the same thing: it goes by so quick and it’s such a fun experience and just embrace each moment,” he said. “That’s exactly what I’m going to do. We’re all expecting the fans to be on the opposite side of us, but it should be a fun environment either way.”
It will be wild.