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Category Archives: Hockey

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NHL Point Leaders Halted With Season Stoppage

The stoppage of the 2019–20 NHL season could rob most of the league’s point leaders of hitting the century mark. Seven players were on pace to reach 100 points. Six more were scoring at a pace of just under 100 total points, needing a burst in their final dozen or so games. Use this guide to see how players were getting on before the stoppage as well as for a promotional offer.
Oilers Topping NHL Point Leaders
Prior to the NHL’s league-wide suspension on March 12 due to COVID-19, Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl was the only player currently over 100 points. The German forward is well over the mark too, posting 110 points made up from his 43 goals and 67 assists.

Draisaitl’s league-best 1.54 points per game is .03 higher than teammate Connor McDavid’s average, who is second in the NHL with 97 points in 64 games — 1.51 per game.

Behind the two Oilers are Boston’s David Pastrnak and New York’s Artemi Panarin with 95 points each; Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon with 93; and rounding out the top 10 are Boston’s Brad Marchand, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov, Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Toronto’s Auston Matthews, and Buffalo’s Jack Eichel, all having over 80 points.
13 NHL Scorers in Sight of 100 Points
Over half of the top 10 were on pace to crack 100 points. All were in reach of triple-digits.

If the NHL does play all 82 games, Draisaitl’s on pace for a league-leading 127 points. McDavid would finish second with 113, Pastrnak and Panarin tied for third with 111, MacKinnon in fifth with 109, Marchand at sixth with 101, and Kucherov in seventh with exactly 100.

There were a handful of players needing to go on a streak to hit 100, such as: Patrick Kane, on pace for 98 points; Auston Matthews, on pace for 93; Jack Eichel, on pace for 92; Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau, also on pace for 92, Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, on pace for 91; and New York’s Mika Zibanejad, on pace for 90.

In this era, these are the 13 players surely to be on every fantasy hockey player’s radar.
High Number of NHL Point Leaders to Hit 100
Seven players were on pace to hit 100 points in 2019–20. If all seven did, this season would have the most triple-digits scorers compared to the past 10 full NHL seasons.

Over the past 10 full NHL seasons, a player reached 100 points 18 times. That’s 1.8 players per season, a much lower number than the seven on pace to do so this year.

Considering league-wide scoring is at its highest total since 2005–06, the numbers add up. By the way, 2005­­­ had seven 100-point scorers too, and was the second-last NHL season where seven scorers hit that mark (2006–07 the other).

The 2019–20 NHL season was also on pace for something that hasn’t happened in the 21st century: four scorers hitting 110 or more points.

2005–06 had two scorers of over 120 points (Joe Thornton, 125 and Jaromir Jagr, 123), but 2019­­–20 was set to feature the best group of top point-scorers since 1995­–96.
NHL Suspension Postponing History
1995–96 was a remarkable season; six players hit 110 points led by Pittsburgh’s otherworldly duo of Mario Lemieux (161) and Jagr (149).

2019­–20 was projecting to compare to the 1995–96 season. Draisaitl and McDavid were supposed to be the first two teammates to finish one and two in scoring since Lemieux and Jagr did 24 seasons ago. While the two Oilers would still finish one and two if the season’s cancelled, their accomplishment will have an asterisk from the shortened year.

Draisaitl was supposed to join Jagr, Kucherov, Thornton, and Sidney Crosby as the only 120-point scorers this century. Draisaitl’s projected 127 points would sit second for the highest single-season point total this decade, Kucherov’s 128 last year at the top.
2019–20 NHL Season Left with Unknowns
Given Draisaitl’s ability to score in sprees, and players like Matthews and Zibanejad catching fire, who knows how high this year’s crop of elite talent could’ve taken their numbers.

Then there’s the potential goal-scoring history. Three players were projected to reach 50 goals in 2019–20: Alex Ovechkin, 57; Pastrnak, 56; and Matthews, 55. Draisaitl and Zibanejad were on pace for 49 each too.

Three players haven’t scored 50 goals in an NHL season since 2009-10. Crosby and Steven Stamkos led the NHL with 51 goals that season, and Ovechkin had exactly 50.

Five players hadn’t scored 50 goals in a season since 2005­–06, one of the many feats that were possible in 2019-20, but now may never get to play its course.

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Toronto Marlies Come Back to Defeat Belleville Senators 7-6 in Overtime

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Category : AHL , Hockey , Toronto Marlies

Egor Korshkov’s overtime-winning goal carried the Toronto Marlies to a 7-6 victory over the Belleville Senators. Korshkov’s goal came at 1:01 in overtime, where he was assisted by Joseph Duszak and Tanner MacMaster.

The Marlies overtime winner was made possible by Adam Brooks scoring with 16.4 seconds remaining in the third period. His slap shot that found the back of the net, also assisted by Duszak and MacMaster.
Egor Korshkov Scores Overtime Winner for the Toronto Marlies
Scott Pooley, Mason Marchment and Matt Read also scored for the Marlies (26-19-3-2). The Marlies won their fourth consecutive game on Saturday.

Jordan Szwarz, Josh Norris, Jonathan Aspirot, Vitaly Abramov and Joseph LaBate each responded with a goal for the Belleville Senators (32-16-3-1). The Senators dropped their second straight game to the Marlies on the back-to-back, losing on Friday 4-2.

The Senators started the game scoring four consecutive goals. Senators forward Jordan Szwarz opened the scoring at 7:39 in the first period, taking advantage of a shot off the post that found his stick in front of the net. His second goal occurred 7:05 in the third period, where Alex Formenton assisted in the slot to seal the win for the Senators.

Josh Norris generated his 26th goal of the season at 10:27 in the first period, with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that went top-shelf.

Moments later at 12:27 in the first period, Jonathan Aspirot tipped the Erik Brannstrom shot from the point, extending the Senators lead to 3-0.

Senators left-winger Vitaly Abramov scored the fourth goal for the Senators at 13:44 in the first period, shooting the puck past Woll on the breakaway.

Scott Pooley cut the Marlies deficit to three goals at 15:17 in the first period, sending a wrist shot into the back of the net at point-blank range.

At 6:59 in the second period, Senators forward Joseph LaBate regained Belleville’s four-goal lead with his seventh goal of the season, assisted by Murray and Parker Kelly.

Mason Marchment extended his goal streak with a powerplay goal at 9:55 in the second period. The Marlies forward has scored eight goals in his last five games.

Mac Hollowell scored his first of two goals down low on a scramble in front of the net at 18:20 in the second period. His second goal occurred at 1:51 in the third period, which brought the Marlies within one goal of the Senators.

At 17:26 in the third period, Matt Read cut the deficit to one goal again for the Marlies, scoring his ninth of the season with the goalie pulled. Read’s goal soon preceded the tying goal from Brooks and the ensuing overtime goal by Korshkov.

Marlies goalie Joseph Woll stopped 30 of 36 shots, while Senators goaltender Filip Gustavsson made 21 saves.

The Marlies continued their success on the penalty kill, going two-for-two on the game compared to the Senators’ one-of-three. Saturday was the fourth consecutive game Toronto has not given up a powerplay goal.

Toronto is now one point back of the final playoff spot in the AHL’s Eastern Conference (57 points).The post Toronto Marlies Come Back to Defeat Belleville Senators 7-6 in Overtime appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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6 Best Hockey Helmets 2020 : Adult & Youth

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Category : Helmets , Hockey , hockey helmets

There are many sports that are very physical to play. One of the most physical sports is the game of ice hockey. That is why this sport requires those who play it to be protected from head to toe. One of the most vulnerable areas to injury when playing the game is the head. That is why no matter what level of hockey you or your youth player is involved in you must have a proper helmet. We have taken the time in this article to tell you what makes a helmet a good one and we have also reviewed some of the best hockey helmets in the sports marketplace.
Top Hockey Helmet Comparison Chart

Why do you need a good helmet when playing the sport of hockey? The main reason is to avoid taking unabsorbed blows to the head that can possibly result in a concussion. A concussion results when you take a blow to the head that is significant enough to rattle the brain inside your skull. They can be an injury that is very hard to detect and they can even result in your brain being permanently damaged. That is why a good hockey helmet is considered an essential piece of equipment for any level hockey player.
Hockey Helmet Buyer’s Guide
What makes a hockey helmet a good one? There are several things that you need to consider. It is the combination of several key characteristics that make a helmet safe and comfortable to wear when playing the game of hockey.
Here are the key features of hockey helmets that you need to take a close look at when making a hockey helmet purchase for you or your youth hockey player:

Price

Most of us are on some type of budget when we are shopping for hockey equipment and helmets are usually no exception. Be forewarned though, a hockey helmet is not something you want to shop for based totally on price. We have just told you about the need for protection against concussions and other hockey-related head injuries. So our advice here is to spend a little more to get a helmet that gives you as much protection as possible to help prevent head injuries. There are other areas you can trim your hockey shopping budget so you will be well-advised not to do it when shopping for a helmet.

Safety

This is the number one priority when shopping for helmets to wear when playing the game of hockey. Strangely enough, years ago helmets were not even required equipment for playing the game; nowadays though they are mandatory equipment even at professional levels. Most leagues will even require the use of some type of eye or face protection with them too.
What makes a helmet safe to wear? There is actually a combination of things that come together to make a hockey helmet as safe as possible. Here are the main factors of a helmet that contribute to the safety of it when it is being worn during a hockey game.

Fit/Adjustability

The importance of a helmet fitting you or your youth hockey player properly cannot be emphasized enough. A hockey helmet that does not fit is almost as bad as having no hockey helmet at all. If a helmet is too loose on a player it can even cause an injury itself.
That is why you need to buy a helmet that has some adjustability built into it. Rarely do you put on a helmet and it fits perfectly. A quality helmet will have such things as screws that allow you to adjust the tightness of the helmet around your ears and snug it up around your head.

Padding

Not only does any helmet you purchase have to fit snuggly on your head but it also has to be padded in the right places too. Basically, that means any place that your head comes into contact with the helmet there should be some thick foam padding between your head and the plastic part of the helmet too. The foam will not only protect you but it will also help the helmet feel more comfortable as you wear it.

Eye/Face Protection

These days eye protection is pretty much mandatory in many adult leagues and full face protection is usually required in youth leagues. Even if it is not required in the league you play in you really should consider wearing at least a visor on your helmet. So look for a helmet that is sold in combination with eye or full face protection.

Strapping

To make your helmet as safe as possible you will need a good chin strap too. Most will come with a standard chinstrap but some are of higher quality and are more comfortable to use than others.

Weight

Manufacturers will try to do whatever is possible to keep their helmets light, but some helmets are definitely heavier than others. This can be especially true if eye or full face protection is added to the helmet. If a helmet is too heavy for you it may be uncomfortable to wear and can even cause some neck soreness. So consider a helmets weight during the buying process too.

Style

Try your helmet on to see if it looks good. If two helmets are of similar quality then you might want to pick the one that looks best on you. There is nothing written that says you can’t look good while playing the game of hockey. Hockey helmets also come in a variety of colors to choose from too in most cases.

Warranty

Hockey is a sport that is very rough on equipment. Although helmets are usually strong and impervious to most things that happen in the game, you never know when a helmet will break prematurely. That is why you want to check out the warranty on any helmet you are thinking about buying. The longer the warranty the more peace of mind you have to spend a little bit more on a hockey helmet.
Best Hockey Helmet Reviews
 
1.   Bauer IMS 5.0 Helmet
We like this helmet not necessarily because it’s the “best” on the list.  In fact, it’s not the best in terms of absolute quality, but when we considered the price for value, it won the contest.  The size adjustment was easy, and it required no tools.  The facemask (Bauer 2100) was included in the deal as were integrated protective ear covers.  Of course, it’s CAS/HECC approved.
It’s important to note that it’s not a “one size fits all” helmet so you’ll have to take some care when choosing.  Having said that, it does adjust larger or smaller to an extent.
As expected, it offers multi-density foam that is strategically optimized and engineered for the best protection in various areas around the head.
Pros

Great price point
Glowing user reviews about smacking their heads at high velocity into the ice and nearly not feeling any impact at all!

Cons

Some users complain of  issues pertaining to wrong sizes being shipped and even stated sizes don’t make as much sense as they could

 

 
2.   WARRIOR PX2H6 Ice Hockey Players Helmet
One of the best features of this helmet is its uncanny ability to fit and adjust to just about any size and shape of head for a perfect fit.  With its wide range of impact protection and adjustability, it’s one of our top-ranked choices.  Warrior also boasts of a 3-layer  VN foam barrier that is strategically designed for maximum impact protection at the back of the helmet, while the front has a dual-density VN foam liner.  The overall design is convenient because it’s tool-less and spring-loaded so not only don’t you need a wrench of some kind, but because it’s spring-loaded, you can move the adjustable parts easier.
It features a dual-density chin cup in the cage as well, so you get the whole package!  Overall, this is a definite buy if it’s still available!
Pros

dual-layer and triple layer density foam shell for a 360-degree fit
Highly adjustable
Comfortable foam padding
Cage included

Cons

A little pricey
A little heavy

 

 
3.  Bauer Unisex 4500 Helmet Combo
This is a very good teen and adult hockey helmet from Bauer. It can even stand up to the rigors of highly competitive ice hockey leagues. It is really designed to keep your head safe from injury during normal contact that sometimes results when playing hockey.
What do we think makes it such a good teen or adult helmet buy? For one we loved how adjustable this helmet is. If it is snug to slightly loose when you buy it, you will be able to fine-tune its fit very easily. It also gives you complete protection above your neck since it comes with a full face cage and translucent ear covers.
It offers those that wear it the comfort and protection of thick density foam and it is a stylish helmet that will look good with any uniform too. The dual-density foam chin cup is a nice addition as well. This helmet may cost you a little extra to buy but it is definitely worth it.
Pros

Comes in several different colors
Highly adjustable
Comfortable foam padding

Cons

A little pricey
Only for teen or adult players

 

 
4.   CCM FitLite 40 Hockey Helmet Combo

Here is yet another good combination helmet and face cage on our list. This one comes from the reputable hockey equipment manufacturer CCM. It is a model that boasts being stellar in both protection and in comfort while wearing it. It is geared toward youth and young teen players and it’s very affordable for all that it gives you.
The beauty of this helmet starts with the fit. It uses a very soft but sturdy foam insert. It is also fully adjustable without the need to use tools; that means you can even make adjustments for your young hockey player during breaks in a game or practice. CCM claims this helmet is aerodynamic and we have no reason to doubt that based on its design. CCM has done a very nice job venting this helmet too.
This fine youth helmet package also includes the full cage over the face and all the strapping to hold it in place securely.
Pros

Comes in different colors
Adjustable without tools
Comfortable foam padding

Cons

A little pricey
Only for youth or young teen players
A little heavy for very small kids

 

 
5.   Bauer Prodigy Hockey Youth Helmet with Cage
Another really good choice for any young hockey player is the Bauer Prodigy Youth Helmet with Cage.  It features youth-specific elements like a quick-release chin strap buckle, quick-release facemask snaps, adjustable top-clips and J-hook mounts that can be use in 4-positions.  The facemask is much easier to use than a traditional adult helmet face mask and the adjustable snaps allow parents to change the positioning and fit of the cage as the player grows. 
The dual-density foam on the inside of the helmet provides excellent comfort while the dual-ridge crown enhances protection even further, while at the same time, promoting airflow through the sizeable vents on the side of the helmet.  Tool-free adjustment is standard, so your convenience factor is jacked even more!!
Pros

Highly rated in concussion tests
Very lightweight
Comfortable foam padding
Great price

Cons

A little bulky feeling

 

 
6.   Bauer Hockey 7500 Hockey Helmet

Here is another fine teen and adult hockey helmet from Bauer. Not only will it protect any teen or adult hockey player but they will look and feel good while wearing it too. Bauer is very innovative with their helmet designs and that is why so many high level and professional players choose to wear Bauer helmets.
There is a lot to like about this helmet and it all starts with how lightweight it is and how comfortable it feels when wearing it. We noticed you want to get the fit just right or it may seem a little bulky; but once you adjust it then its fine. The padding in it will do a great job of protecting you and it also helps make this helmet very comfortable to wear.
This helmet has a good price point considering the excellent quality it delivers.
Pros

Very lightweight
Comfortable foam padding

Cons

A little pricey
Durability issues with the foam glue
A little bulky feeling

 

 
Conclusion & Recommendations

Whenever you or your child is playing a sport the head is such a critical area to protect and it’s no exception when it comes to playing hockey. Be patient shopping and get the right helmet for you or your youth player. All the helmets on our list are good buys but we especially like two of them; the Bauer IMS and for youth skaters we really liked the Bauer Prodigy youth hockey helmet combo.
Even if you do not like any of the helmets on the list, then at least follow the advice in our buying guide. If you do that then you will stand a good chance of finding a helmet that is a perfect fit for you and your youth player and prevents concussions.

The post 6 Best Hockey Helmets 2020 : Adult & Youth appeared first on Sport Consumer.


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Tyson Foerster Leads Team White to Victory at CHL Prospects Game

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Category : CHL , Hockey , NHL Draft

HAMILTON, Ont.— Tyson Foerster scored two goals to lift Team White to a 5–3 victory over Team Red at the CHL Top Prospects Game.

The Barrie Colts forward scored his first goal at 18:07 in the second period. Foerster recorded his second goal later in the period off of a Connor Zary cross-zone pass.
Tyson Foerster Leads Team White to Victory
Jeremie Poirier, Jack Quinn and Dawson Mercer replied for Team Red, each scoring a goal. But it was not enough to stop Team White’s offensive firepower.

Foerster’s two goals and one assist earned him Player of the Game honours for Team White. Entering the Top Prospects Game, the 17-year-old has 21 goals and 27 assists through 38 games for the Barrie Colts.

Jack Quinn was the Player of the Game winner for Team Red.

Kaiden Ghule and Braden Schneider also scored goals for Team White. Ghule entered the game with 25 points in 43 games on the back end for the Prince Albert Raiders.

Saginaw Spirit prospect Cole Perfetti scored the fifth goal for Team White unassisted.

Kamloops forward Connor Zary finished led all of the prospects in assists with three.

The anticipated matchup coming into the Top Prospects Game was Alexis LaFreniere pinned against Quinton Byfield. LaFreniere is leading the QMJHL in points with 73 while Byfield is seventh in the OHL in scoring (63)

Both LaFreniere and Byfield did not register a single point in the game. However, LaFreniere used his offensive brilliance to register a goal in the slot, that was disallowed for offside.

Samuel Hlavaj and Dylan Garand stopped 11 and 10 shots respectively for Team White, while Brock Gould registered 27 saves for Team Red.

Main Photo: Tyson Foerster of the Barrie Colts skating in OHL action. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.The post Tyson Foerster Leads Team White to Victory at CHL Prospects Game appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Toronto Marlies Fall to Belleville Senators in Boxing Day Classic

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Category : AHL , Hockey , Toronto Marlies

TORONTO– The Toronto Marlies could not carry over the good tidings from Christmas into Boxing Day.

In the annual “Boxing Day Classic” at Scotiabank Arena, the Marlies would fall to their local rival Belleville Senators 3-2. This is the second win for the Senators against the Marlies this season, after losing to Toronto 7-3 last Saturday.

The Senators would start the scoring, with center Josh Norris recording his 14th goal of the season. The Marlies would deliver a comeback present for the 14,596 fans, scoring two unanswered goals. Kenny Agostino would score his 16th goal of the season from a Jeremy Bracco cross-ice pass. In the second period, Adam Brooks would capitalize on the power play with his eighth goal of the season, giving the Marlies their first lead of the game.

But the Senators weren’t interested in receiving “coal in their stocking” in the form of two consecutive losses. Captain Jordan Szwarz got a tip-in goal on the powerplay, followed up by a Jack Dougherty short-handed goal (his second of the season). Despite a plethora of Marlies scoring chances in the third, the Senators would hold on, securing the victory bow.
***
The Toronto Marlies fall to 18-8-2-1 on the season. Thursday’s Boxing Day contest was Marlies head coach Greg Moore’s second game behind the bench. The Marlies hired Moore from the Chicago Steel to replace Sheldon Keefe when he got the promotion to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Marlies have yet to win a game at Scotiabank Arena this season. Their first game at the home of the Maple Leafs was a 5-3 loss to the Utica Comets in support of “Hockey Fights Cancer.”

The Marlies’ contest against the Senators was their first of three straight games. They travel on the road to take on the Laval Rocket on Friday and Saturday.The post Toronto Marlies Fall to Belleville Senators in Boxing Day Classic appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Dylan Holloway Looking to Excel with Wisconsin after World Junior Camp

OAKVILLE, Ont.– When Tony Granato first saw Dylan Holloway at the Chicago Steel camp two years ago, he was unequivocally astonished. 

“Holy cow,” said Granato, describing the first time he laid eyes on Holloway. “You watch him one shift and he’s special.” 

Granato is currently the head coach of the University of Wisconsin Badgers hockey team. Holloway, two years later after his astounding Steel camp, is now a rising star forward on the Badgers squad. With three goals and four assists in 17 games this season, Holloway earned a spot on Team Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp. The 18-year-old was one of nine draft-eligible prospects to attend the camp, demonstrating the profound depth of the 2020 class. 

“It’s such an honour to be selected for the Selection Camp,” said Holloway. “Growing up, the World Juniors was so important to me. Being around guys who have been drafted or will be selected this year, has allowed me to bounce questions off of them. It’s been a great experience.”
***
Seeing him at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex in Oakville, Ontario, Holloway possesses the power forward brand to his game. Playing alongside Anaheim Ducks prospect Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Edmonton Oilers draft pick Raphael Lavoie, Holloway showcased his nifty puck-handling skills and his ability to get to the front of the net with ease. But it is his speed that has impressed scouts and coaches alike, particularly his tendency to use cross-overs to fly past opposing defenders. 

“He’s impressed with his speed,” said Team Canada World Junior Head Coach Dale Hunter. “He’s skating well through the neutral zone and getting on the forecheck with his size. A combination of a good power forward.” 

In the overtime session during the first selection camp game against U Sports, Holloway used his hard wrist shot, which bounced through traffic into the back of the net. But when the time came to reduce the roster, Holloway would not be included in the final team. 

The young forward would be one of nine players cut from Canada’s World Junior team. It is unfortunate news that no player wants to hear, being stripped of a chance to wear the red and white jersey in representing Team Canada. For Holloway, he has fond memories growing up learning the game from his Dad and watching the World Juniors with his family. 

“There was an outdoor rink in the small town where I grew up,” said Holloway. “I would go out there all the time with my Dad, who taught me how to skate. He has been a big help for my hockey career thus far.” 
***
Holloway is a native of Bragg Creek, Alberta, just outside of Calgary. Son of former Vancouver Canucks player Bruce Holloway, Dylan credits his Dad for being an integral influence in him getting into hockey. 

The young prospect would get his first hockey experience playing for the Calgary Jr. Flames organization. It was there where Holloway played alongside future Ottawa Senators prospect Jonny Tychonick, providing a glimpse of the hard work needed to progress in his hockey career. 

After his time with the Jr. Flames, Holloway signed with the Okotoks Oilers in the AJHL. This is where the Calgary native’s ceiling as a hockey player enhanced, highlighting his dual power forward and scoring abilities. In his final season with the Oilers, Holloway recorded 40 goals and 48 assists. Catching the attention of the Everett Silvertips in the WHL, who picked the forward in the 2016 WHL Draft.

While Holloway could have elected to stay in Canada and play junior hockey, he elected to go the NCAA route, committing to the University of Wisconsin. As a member of the Badgers, Holloway has been afforded the opportunity to play with highly touted NHL prospects such as Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens) and Alex Turcotte (Los Angeles Kings).

According to Coach Granato, it reflects highly on the character of Dylan and his family to “combine education with hockey.”

“Fortunately, we were able to talk with him early and show him our campus and program,” said Granato. “Dylan was one of those guys that when we saw him, we knew he could be a program changer, inspiring other kids from Alberta who has similar ideas to commit to the NCAA.” 
***
Granato describes a game earlier in the season where Holloway encompassed all of his intrinsic hockey qualities. Despite the Badgers losing 4-0 to the Clarkson Golden Knights on October 25th, Holloway had seven breakaway chances in the first period alone. Granato says that it was a game for Holloway to “gain the confidence that he can not just play at this level but also the NHL.” 

“He’s a competitor,” said Bruce Holloway, who accompanied Dylan to all of his World Junior Selection Camp practices. “If you ask him to be put in as a goalie, he would put on the pads and do it.” 

It is not the first time that Holloway has been left off of a major international team. In 2017, the youngster was left off of Canada’s national U-17 camp roster. While disappointment can quash a player’s confidence, Holloway used it as motivation to secure a spot on future Canadian teams. 

A year later, Holloway represented Team Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he recorded one goal and two assists in three games. He was also selected to play for Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge, where he posted two goals in the tournament, including one against Team USA that secured Canada’s gold medal victory. 


***
It is these challenges that Holloway relishes and as he heads back to the University of Wisconsin, the Badgers coaching staff is eager to watch him be a more motivated, complete player after the selection camp. 

“It will motivate him big time,” said Badgers Associate Head Coach Mark Strobel on Holloway not making the World Junior team. “He will look at it as an honour and people see him in a strong light. He’s going to come back even hungrier and more willing to prove the critics wrong.”

As Holloway prepares for the second half of the season with the Badgers, he is still ranked as a potential first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Emulating his performance at the Chicago Steel camp, expect Holloway to turn more heads as he skates his way to the professional hockey realm. 
The post Dylan Holloway Looking to Excel with Wisconsin after World Junior Camp appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Alexis LaFreniere Preparing for Leadership Role on World Junior Team

OAKVILLE– Alexis LaFreniere is itching to get back on the ice.

While the rest of Canada’s World Junior hopefuls were taking part in practices, LaFreniere was putting in a ton of work on the bike. For the last few weeks, the Rimouski Oceanic forward has been nursing an ankle injury. It forced him to miss the QMJHL’s games against the Russians in the Canada/Russia series. And for the entirety of World Junior Selection Camp, including practices and games against U Sports, LaFreniere has been on the sidelines.

On Thursday morning, the 18-year-old met with the media for the first time during camp. When asked about his injury, LaFreniere was pleased with his recovery, saying that the ankle is getting better day by day.

“It’s gotten better over the last couple of days,” said LaFreniere. “They don’t want me to push too much on it. I am excited to be back on the ice soon.”
***
While LaFreniere has not been on the ice, he has been integral behind the scenes. With three 17-year-olds at camp, LaFreniere has served as a mentor, introducing them to one of the most celebrated traditions in hockey.

It was just one year ago where LaFreniere was that young, inexperienced future star playing in his inaugural World Juniors. While a quarterfinal exit on home soil in Vancouver was not what he had desired, the Saint-Eustache native inherited a wealth of knowledge that he can translate into veteran leadership on this year’s team.

“Big experience last year,” said LaFreniere. “I can take that to help me this year and to have a bigger role. It’s important for the younger guys to enjoy it, have fun and work hard.”

One of those young players who LaFreniere has interacted with is Sudbury Wolves forward Quinton Byfield. Similar to LaFreniere, Byfield has generated a lot of buzz with his high level of play, currently second in the OHL in scoring (57 points). While Byfield and LaFreniere will be compared and debated regarding who should be the number one pick in the upcoming 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the two have put that aside to focus on making an impact on the World Junior team. Despite the two playing in different leagues, LaFreniere and Byfield welcome the opportunity to be on the same team and to learn from each other.

“Quinton played great last game,” said LaFreniere. “He’s a big guy, who is exciting to watch. It is fun to have him here. To eventually being able to skate with him is going to be fun.”

“He’s a busy guy so it’s hard to talk to him,” said Byfield. “But we’ve said hi a couple of times and it is great to have him here.”
***
Even with a lingering ankle injury, LaFreniere has been dominant in the QMJHL. His 23 goals, 47 assists (70 points) lead not just the Quebec league but the entire Canadian Hockey League. When watching his performance with Rimouski, it is evident LaFreniere has progressed with his puck handling ability and tendency to get in front of the net to create traffic. While he is a pass-first forward, the youngster has improved his shot, making him a dynamic offensive talent that is NHL ready.

While the heightened attention regarding his NHL draft status will come in due time, LaFreniere has a huge opportunity in front of him. When the time comes for LaFreniere to hit the ice again, the highly touted prospect is ready to embrace a leadership role on this team.

Looking to bring Canada back to the golden promise land. The post Alexis LaFreniere Preparing for Leadership Role on World Junior Team appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Injuries, Goalies, Team Identity: Day 2 World Junior Selection Camp Recap

OAKVILLE— Canada’s World Junior hopefuls reached another checkpoint in the Selection Camp process.

Now having completed the doubleheader of practices on Tuesday, the team is now ready to embark on actual games between U Sports on Wednesday and Thursday. A chance for the Canadian selectees to apply the skills and knowledge gained in practice into an actual contest.

Day 2 of the World Junior Selection Camp was filled with a lot of firsts. It was the first time highly touted Sudbury Wolves prospect Quinton Byfield took the ice, after surviving a seven-hour flight delay on Monday. It was the inaugural media availability for Hunter brothers, Mark and Dale, providing insight and perspective on the players on the ice and the character they want in the locker room.

Watching the practices, it is clear that a Dale Hunter-led junior team will be focused on puck possession, speed, and skill.

“We are a skilled team,” said Hunter after Tuesday’s evening practice. “But we need to be a hard-working team. We are going to need to play on top of the puck all the time.”
Team Canada’s Injury Concerns
On the first day of Selection Camp, Los Angeles Kings prospect Aidan Dudas briefly skated before leaving the ice. On Tuesday, Dudas did not participate in any of the two practices.

When asked about Dudas’ status, Mark Hunter reaffirmed what Brad McEwen (Head Scout, Hockey Canada) said on Monday, that they are taking his status “day by day.” Dudas not practicing in either of the two scheduled practices on Tuesday is a cause of concern, especially with the two U Sports games coming up.

Another player absent from the Tuesday practices is consensus No. 1 draft pick in the 2020 NHL Draft Alexis LaFreniere. LaFreniere, who also missed Monday’s practice due to a maintenance day. was seen working out on the bike while his teammates were on the ice.

Coming into the Selection Camp, the Rimouski Oceanic forward had played four games in five nights. While his spot on the junior roster is not in question, it appears unlikely that he will play in the U Sports games, in order to be healthy ahead of the start of the World Junior Hockey Championship on December 26th.

“He needs a few days off for maintenance time,” said Mark Hunter. “He has a few bumps and bruises that need to be cleared up.”

Second Consecutive Day Team Canada Goalies Shine

Goaltending is always a pillar that needs to be addressed for Canada’s World Junior teams. And this team is no different.

However, for the second straight day, the four goalies at the selection camp have remained poised and effective in between the pipes. Whether it is getting into positioning or dealing with the blazing shots from the Canadian forwards and defensemen, Joel Hofer, Hunter Jones, Nico Daws, and Olivier Rodrigue have each made their case to be one of the three goalie spots on this year’s team.

Unlike previous years, where the goalies coming to Selection Camp had international experience, the four goaltenders this year lack in this department. But what they fall short in terms of representing Canada, they make up for it in their stellar performances in the short-term.

Below are the stat lines for each of the goalies at this point in the season:

W
L
GAA
SV%

Joel Hofer
20
4
1.81
0.937

Olivier Rodrigue
15
6
2.79
0.907

Nico Daws
13
3
2.06
0.939

Hunter Jones
19
3
2.53
0.918

It is evident that the strategy of Canada’s coaching staff is to employ netminders who have the “hot hand” in the present. This means that the U Sports games will go a long way in determining the goalies who can raise their performance against tough competition. According to Dale Hunter, “all four goalies will play” in both games, giving them all ample time to showcase their skills.

Daws was one goalie that Coach Hunter had high praise for. The OHL’s leader in Goals Against Average and Save Percentage, Hunter from his experience coaching the London Knights the dominance Daws can bring in the crease.

“Nico didn’t get much of a chance to play last year, backing up an older goalie,” said Hunter. “But they come back with a younger team and Nico has stood tall for them. It is a credit to the team and especially him.”

Team Identity Rounding into Shape for Team Canada

The two practices on Tuesday provided an opportunity for the line combinations for the first day to take shape.

Below are the forward lines that were used:

Byfield-Cozens-Foote

Perfetti-Dellandrea-Foudy 

Holloway-Groulx-Newhook 

Krebs-Zary-Lavoie 

McMichael-Thomas-Mercer

The defensive pairings also remained consistent from Monday’s practice. Below are the pairings from Tuesday’s morning practice:

McIsaac-Byram

Smith-Schneider

Bahl-Bernard-Docker

Harley-Drysdale

Diliberatore-Addison 

Unlike Monday’s practice, the coaching staff spent Tuesday evening’s session focusing on special teams. With the offensive firepower Canada possesses, it is not surprising that their power play will make a resounding impact.

Below are the power play lines from Tuesday’s practice:

Byram
Perfetti – Foote – McMichael
Cozens

McIsaac
Lavoie – Thomas – Addison
Byfield

With the fast-paced nature this team possesses, it places great expectations on the 17-year-olds who are at the camp. Quinton Byfield, Cole Perfetti, and Jamie Drysdale have all shined on their respective OHL franchises.

But on the big ice and a grander stage at selection camp, every moment completing a drill in practice may end up determining their spot on the team. For Drysdale, he has become accustomed to blocking out the noise and focusing on the things that he can control.

“My confidence is high right now,” said Drysdale. “I just want to be able to show that I can play at both ends of the rink.”

Team Canada will take on U Sports on Wednesday at 5 pm EST.
The post Injuries, Goalies, Team Identity: Day 2 World Junior Selection Camp Recap appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Dale Hunter Instills Winning Culture for Team Canada

OAKVILLE– Dale Hunter really does not like losing.

So much so that during the 2006 OHL Playoffs, the London Knights head coach was fined $5,000 for arguing with on-ice officials. Even though his team got swept, Hunter still stuck up for his players.

It is that fervent focus on winning and distaste for losing that has made Hunter the blueprint junior hockey coach in Canada. Under Hunter’s leadership, the London Knights have achieved nine division titles and won two Memorial Cups.

Flash forward to the present and Hunter is employing his winning background to Canada’s National U-20 Junior Team. With the selection camp on its second day, the Canadian players are getting a taste of the identity Hunter wants to develop for this team. 

“There is nothing more than Dale loves to do than to win hockey games,” said McMichael. “The biggest thing is to work your hardest. He likes guys that can compete, protect leads and stick to a system.” 
***

Connor McMichael plays for Hunter on this year’s London Knights squad. After getting drafted 25th in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft to the Washington Capitals, McMichael was sent back to London to improve his game. 

The decision would be the impetus for the Knights once again near the top of the standings. Under Hunter’s leadership, McMichael has become the OHL’s most dynamic scorer, leading the league in points with 59 (25 goals, 34 assists). But in addition to his offence, McMichael is focusing on other aspects of his game. 

Hunter prepares his players for a career in the NHL. And by doing so, he puts his players in situations where they may not be the most comfortable. For McMichael, this has allowed him to be more of a defensive force in his own zone. Tied atop the OHL in power-play goals, the Capitals prospect has also been seen killing penalties. It is this attention to detail in all aspects of a player’s development that has made Hunter so victorious. 

“Not every player comes into camp and can be a top-six scoring forward,” said McMichael. “Dale wants me to adapt to a different role and to embrace any role I’ve been given.” 
***
During selection camp practices, Hunter does not put himself into the center of attention. He is often in the background, discussing drills with a small group of players. When the players are completing their tasks, Hunter does not raise his voice or act in an aggressive manner. When he speaks, the players and personnel listen, as every word uttered is of great importance. 

Sudbury Wolves forward and top 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Quinton Byfield appreciates this quality about Hunter. Having worked with the Knights head coach at the Canada/Russia series, the 17-year-old is aware that Hunter expects a lot of effort and skill for a full 60 minutes. While Byfield may not be on one of the top two scoring lines for Team Canada, he believes that he can use his size and speed to make a noticeable impact in a Hunter system.

“They are really great coaches,” said Byfield after his first practice Tuesday morning. “It would be a great experience to play under them and to represent Hockey Canada.” 

The head coach position for Canada’s World Junior team is highly sought after but even harder to keep. In the last ten years, The Canadian team has only won two gold medals. While it speaks to an increased amount of parity amongst the participating countries, having a strong, experienced leader at the head coach position can inspire a team to greatness. 

While the Hockey Canada management group wants to shift the attention to this year, it is hard to ignore last year’s quarter-final exit. The worst result on home soil in this decade. Regardless of where Canada places in the Czech Republic, Hunter will put out a team that believes in each other and will work tirelessly to wear down their opponents with speed and skill. 

Winning the number of times Dale Hunter has done with the London Knights while producing a plethora of top-tier NHL talent, is not by accident. His formula has worked and will continue to shine on Canada’s brightest junior hockey stage. 

“Dale brings a lot of calmness,” said Head of the Management Group Mark Hunter. “The respect he holds behind the bench is something that not a lot of coaches have. He’s not an in your face kind of coach. He gets his point across through ice time and being in the dressing room.” 

 The post Dale Hunter Instills Winning Culture for Team Canada appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Joe Veleno Joins Team Canada, World Junior Selection Camp Day 1 Notes

OAKVILLE— Joe Veleno will get his chance at World Junior redemption.

The Detroit Red Wings prospect was on the losing end being a part of Team Canada, losing to Finland in the quarterfinals at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Vancouver. The late goal that bounced and tipped into the net behind Michael DiPietro would send the Canadians home early and propel Finland to an eventual gold medal.

Veleno understands fully the weight of World Junior heartbreak. Now, he will get another opportunity to put on the red and white uniform, as Canada hits the ice the Czech Republic at the end of December to get back to World Junior glory.

“Joe has maturity in his game and brings experience and leadership playing against the older guys,” said Hockey Canada’s Head Scout Brad McEwen.

At 6’1, Veleno has great vision for the ice and likes to play the game at a high speed. Transitioning into the attacking zone from his own end is effortless for Veleno, who posted 104 points last season with the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
***
But as McEwen states, it is his defensive play that has really made Veleno into a complete player. Something that Team Canada coaches Dale and Mark Hunter are looking for in their players.

“He’s a complete guy, a 200-foot type player. He is so offensively important to his team and has rounded into a more complete player,” said McEwen.

With three goals and six assists through 25 games played this season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Veleno provides a wealth of experience playing with bigger players in the AHL. This will translate to success in the World Junior tournament, making him stand out for Canada on both ends of the ice.

Veleno is the fourth returning player from last year’s World Junior team, joining Alexis LaFreniere, Jared McIssac and Ty Smith. While the disappointment from last year’s tournament was apparent in the short-term, McIssac, who is just getting back from a shoulder injury, has put in the rear-view mirror as he embarks on another training camp. He welcomes the opportunity to work with Veleno, LaFreniere and Smith to instill veteran leadership in the locker room.

“It’s a tough tournament to win,” said McIsaac. “All of us have been captains for Hockey Canada through the years. We are ready for this challenge.”
Early Defensive Pairings
Coming into training camp, Mark Hunter made it clear that he wants players “that can control the puck with skill and speed.” After the first practice of selection camp, it is evident that the Canadian selectees can glide on the ice and aren’t afraid to showcase their speed.

Below are defensive pairings that were seen in the first practice:

Harley-Drysdale

Bahl-Bernard-Docker

Smith-Schneider 

Diliberatore-Addison 

McIsaac-Byram 

Two pairings that stood out were Harley/Drysdale and Bahl/Bernard-Docker. Putting an already drafted player in Harley with a draft eligible 17-year-old in Drysdale was an interesting move for the coaches to explore. But both defensemen held their own, breaking into the zone with pace, making efficient passes to their forwards and showcasing their fast shots. More needs to be seen but early on, it appears that Harley and Drysdale complement each other nicely, particularly with Harley’s puck handling and Drysdale’s skill.

Bahl and Bernard-Docker were very at ease playing alongside each other. Bahl, the Arizona Coyotes prospect, is a 6’6, 229 pound defenseman who possesses the size and physicality to wear opponents down along the boards and in his own zone. This was complemented with Ottawa Senators prospect Bernard-Docker’s skill, ranging from his fast skating to his quick release shot from the point.

“Jacob plays a complete game,” said McEwen. “He’s a good complement to our puck movers, making sure things are kept clean in his own zone.”
Early Forward Considerations
Sudbury Wolves star forward Quinton Byfield was not at the first practice due to a travel issue. The same was said about Alexis LaFreniere, who missed practice because of his regularly scheduled maintenance day.

Los Angeles Kings prospect Aidan Dudas skated before practice began, as he has been recovering from an injury. According to McEwen, the coaching staff will take Dudas’ situation “day by day” to see if he will be ready enough to play on the team.

This left the following forward combinations to provide an initial jumpstart to their World Junior Selection Camp campaigns.

Krebs-Cozens-Foote 

Thomas-McMichael-Mercer

Newhook-Groulx-Holloway 

Perfetti-Dellandrea-Foudy 

Krebs-Zary-Lavoie

It is expected that Byfield will slot into the Cozens line, while LaFreniere will slot into the Dellandrea line.

The line combination that stood out the most was Akil Thomas, Connor McMichael and Dawson Mercer. A Washington Capitals prospect and the leading scorer in the OHL with 59 points, McMichael exemplifies offensive prowess with his quick shot and blazing speed. While he had not played with McMichael before, Akil Thomas embraced the opportunity, getting into open space for passes and finding the top shelf with his fast wrist shot.

“I want to be the guy that my coaches can depend on,” said Thomas. “Connor is a really great player and it would be awesome to play with him if given the opportunity.”

For McMichael, he hopes that he gets a chance to be one of the top six forwards on the Canadian team. But his stellar performance with the London Knights is thanks to McMichael’s ability to be multi-faceted as a player. Whether it is being tough on the defensive end or relentless on the penalty kill, Dale Hunter has employed McMichael to adjust to whatever role he gives him. The young forward has certainly succeeded thus far.
Goalie Performances
Olivier Rodrigue, Hunter Jones, Nico Daws and Joel Hofer took the ice to take some shots in between the pipes.

Coming into the camp, the front runners for the three goalie spots are Rodrigue, Jones and Daws. Rodrigue is currently fifth in the QMJHL in wins with 15. Jones for the Peterborough Petes is third in goals against average (2.53) and second in save percentage (.918) in the entire OHL. But leading the crop of goalies in the OHL has been Nico Daws, who is first in both goals-against-average (2.06) and save percentage (.939), after being the Guelph Storm back up goalie last season.

In the first practice, both Rodrigue and Daws looked extremely calm and poised in the crease, particularly in the shoot out where they were stopping some very fast shots. The depth in goaltending will certainly make for a competitive camp and a challenge for the coaching staff to select which goalies belong in the tournament.

“You need to take the body of work this past year,” said McEwen. “They all have great numbers since September and are on teams trending upward. They’ve put themselves in a good spot.”

Tuesday will see Team Canada practice twice before they compete against U Sports on Wednesday and Thursday.The post Joe Veleno Joins Team Canada, World Junior Selection Camp Day 1 Notes appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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