Archive for the ‘WVR’ Category

Season Preview: Sawchuk

In BOS, DEL, FFS, IHS, NAS, PWH, SFS, STL, VAN, WVR on November 24, 2011 at 10:40 am

The last five Gump Cups have gone to Sawchuk Conference teams. The five years before that went to the Plante. Are we due for a sea change? With two flat-out powerhouses, a few perennial contenders, and several rebuilding teams poised to take the next step, there’s no shortage of intrigue in the Sawchuk this season. Here’s a look at what’s changed.

In – G Michal Neuvirth, F Marcus Johansson, G Devan Dubnyk, F Jordan Caron, D John Moore, F Nate Thompson, F Adam Hall
Out – F Mike Knuble, F Paul Kariya, D Niclas Wallin, F Jason Blake, D Jaroslav Spacek, G Jason LaBarbera, F James Wright

The Banshees, under new ownership eager to make a stamp on the team, made some significant moves this off-season, shipping out vets Mike Knuble, Jason Blake, and Jaroslav Spacek and bringing in two promising young netminders in Michal Neuvirth and Devan Dubnyk. But how much will they really play behind workhorse Henrik Lundqvist? A rested Lundqvist should terrify the rest of the conference come playoff time, though, and if Boston gets good performances from some of its younger players – notably Sam Gagner and Erik Karlsson – they should be in the running for a spot.

In – F Derek Stepan, G Kevin Poulin, F Linus Omark, F Mats Zuccarello, F Anthony Stewart, D Shane O’Brien, G Peter Budaj
Out – F Cristobal Huet, F Slava Kozlov, F Michael Nylander, D Wade Redden, F Mike Brown, F Tomas Kopecky, F Jay Pandolfo

There’s no question the Sturgeon are in full-on rebuild mode, and one that’s going quite well… up front. As players like Evander Kane continue emerging and newcomers like Derek Stepan get a chance to shine, they’ll improve. But there’s still major upheaval to come as its once mighty core retires or otherwise moves on, and there are big question marks on defense and in goal, meaning a young player like Alex Goligoski is going to have to be a number one defenseman this year, because Delta has no one else to fill those skates. And, seriously, Peter Budaj?

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Gump Cup Hero: Alexander Semin

In Special Features, WVR on July 1, 2011 at 9:56 am

West Virginia‘s Alexander Semin is the kind of sniper you appreciate for their goal-scoring prowess while wondering about their commitment to the game.

Semin was drafted by the River Rats – then based in Bristol – 13th overall in 2004, between John-Michael Liles and Marek Svatos.

But he wasn’t Bristol’s marquee draft pick. This is the year management had decided to blow the whole thing up, dealing away most of its top players for draft picks. By draft day, they’d accumulated a staggering number of them – they had six picks in the first round and 10 in the top 30.

That year, they snagged the likes of Eric Staal, Joni Pitkanen, Dan Hamhuis, Antoine Vermette, Fedor Tyutin, Brent Burns, and Anton Babchuk… and Alex Semin.

Semin played one season for Bristol and failed to light it up, then bolted for Russia. In the meantime, Bristol became the West Virginia River Rats and Semin had matured into a big-time scorer. He potted 56 in his first year back, then 28, 40, and finally set a career high with 60 goals in ’10-’11.

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West Virginia Wins It All! River Rats Sweep Salem to Lift the 2011 Gump Cup!

In News, SAL, WVR on June 30, 2011 at 5:35 pm

The West Virginia River Rats, headed by original GWMHL member Jim Connell, have won their first-ever Gump Cup!

After shocking the Salem Wannabees – who were in the finals for the second straight year – at home in games 1 and 2, the River Rats took it to West Virginia and sealed the sweep in front of the home crowd. They won game 3 by the score of 5-2, then took the Gump Cup with a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory that saw Alex Semin score the cup-winning goal. Semin finished tied for the playoff scoring lead with linemate Sidney Crosby. Each had 24 points in 17 games.

We’d like to congratulate Jim – you won’t find a finer GM and better guy! Congrats! And thank you to all our members on another great GWMHL season!

You can catch up on all the action from the 2010-2011 Gump Cup Playoffs right here.

What Got Us Here: 5 Trades That Shaped Today’s GWMHL

In GLP, SAL, SCA, Special Features, WIN, WVR on June 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm

With trading set to reopen once the finals are done and back-room talks already ramping up, it’s a good time to look back at some of the bigger deals in recent years – the moves that shook the GWMHL, shifted the balance of power, and got us where we are today.

GMs haven’t exactly been shy about moving marquee names, but these five game-changing trades are different: their effect is still being felt in the GWMHL today.

5. South Carolina trades Dany Heatley, Braydon Coburn, and Rich Peverley to Salem for Loui Eriksson, Jeff Carter, and Tomas Kaberle (2010)

Why? Heatley, Peverley and Coburn are all producers for the Fire Ants, there’s no question. Heatley, in particular has scored 38 and 40 goals as a Fire Ant, and the trade is pretty equal when you consider each team’s needs at the time.

But the move came at a time when the Wannabees were turning into serious contenders. If there’s a move that made its current run to the Gump Cup Finals possible, it’s this one. Eriksson has already had two 40-goal years for the Wannabees, and tallied 119 points this season. Carter had a down year behind Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Backstrom but is only a season removed from 54 goals. And Kaberle took a deep defense corps and made it ridiculous.

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2010-2011 Milestone Roundup

In GLP, PWH, SFS, Special Features, WVR on June 16, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Today we wrap up our look at some of the individual milestones reached in 2010-2011.

Of course, Portland’s Jarome Iginla hit 500 goals and teammate Martin Brodeur became the all-time leader in career wins. But Iginla was, in fact, one of four players – along with fellow Winterhawk Joe Thornton, South Park’s Nicklas Lidstrom, and Oregon’Mike Modano – to crack 1000 career points this year.

In Lidstrom’s case, it’s especially noteworthy: he’s the all-time points leader for defensemen and is the first blueliner in league history to break 1000. He now sits at 1006 in his career and shows few signs of slowing down.

Meanwhile, it was a watershed moment when Ice Harbor’s Keith Tkachuk, the league’s leader in career goals and points, hung them up. He wasn’t the only retiree of note. The season also saw the swan song of West Virginia defenseman – and one-time Tkachuk teammate – Scott Niedermayer, who is second all-time in points for a defensemen with 885.

Recent Midland release Bill Guerin (446 career goals, 11th all-time), Delta’s Slava Kozlov (830 points, 20th all-time), and free agent Rod Brind’amour (952 points, 15th all-time) also announced their retirement. The Boston Banshees’ Paul Kariya – 10th all-time with 449 goals – is also likely going to hang them up.

Lots more all-time leaders, from the very best to disasters of Kent Mandervillian proportions, can be found here.

Sidney Crosby Captures Scoring Crown

In News, SAL, WVR on May 24, 2011 at 11:21 am

It took until the final days of the regular season, but West Virginia River Rat Sidney Crosby has captured the GWMHL scoring title for 2010-2011.

Crosby edged out the Salem WannabeesPatrick Marleau in the fourth quarter, finishing with 136 points to Marleau’s 134. Not only is it Crosby’s first scoring title – it’s the first time the star centre has led his own team in scoring. His 84 assists lead the league.

It’s no surprise that Marleau couldn’t match his record-setting early-season pace. But he still finishes with an incredible league-leading 77 goals – matching the totals of last year’s leader, Midland‘s Zach Parise.

5 Draft Day Near-Rejects Who Made It Big

In DEN, FFS, PIT, Special Features, STE, WIN, WVR on May 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

There’s no art to the late-round draft steal. You take a deep breath and pray… and probably release your pick before he ever plays a game. While quite a few serviceable players have squeaked into the high seventies in the GWMHL Rookie Draft over the years – especially goaltenders – rare is the player taken in the last few picks who makes a real impact.

But here are five taken in the final 10 slots of their respective drafts who defied the odds and made an impact.

5. LW Kyle Calder, 77th overall in 2000 by Staten Island

Winger Calder never lived up to his potential, more or less settling into a 10-15 goal groove for the Staten Island Gems and San Diego Gulls early in his career. But he makes our list for one reason alone: possibly the most surprising single campaign in league history. In 2006-2007, Calder went on a sudden tear, scoring 60 goals and amassing 110 points with the Gulls.

He disappeared just as quickly, chasing his breakthrough with 8 goals total over his next three seasons, then obscurity.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
01-02  Staten Island Gems         24    0    2    2  -13   10
02-03  Staten Isle Gems           81   14   35   49    0   79
03-04  Staten Island Gems         82   12   13   25   -6   36
04-06  San Diego Gulls            40   13   12   25    4   15
06-07  San Diego Gulls            79   60   50  110   23   52
07-08  San Diego Gulls            69    5   10   15  -12   30
08-09  San Diego Gulls            64    2    5    7  -21   20
09-10  San Diego Gulls            61    1    9   10  -11   18
                  Totals         439  106  127  233  -25  242

4. G Olaf Kolzig, 76th overall in 1994 by Tidewater

Kolzig was taken last overall by Portland in ’94, and he’d be much further up the list if his career numbers – a career goals against average way on the wrong side of 3.00 – weren’t so shaky. But Kolzig was a solid starter in the GWMHL for many seasons, despite playing for some struggling teams. He gets major points for longevity.

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Draft Day Transactions: Malkin in Blockbuster Swap

In BAL, DEL, DEN, News, Transactions, VAN, WVR on October 16, 2010 at 4:38 pm

It wasn’t as busy as some GWMHL draft days, but today’s Rookie Draft was punctuated with one of the biggest blockbusters in recent memory.

No sooner had the Baltimore Crab picked Matt Duchene second overall did they flip him, along with blueliner Kyle Quincey, to the Midland Bulldogs for Evgeni Malkin and Jamie Langenbrunner. Malkin gives the Crab some top-end talent they’d been sorely lacking.

Baltimore made another trade a round later, picking up young Michael Grabner, who’d just been drafted by the Vancouver Night Train, for a 2nd round pick in 2011.

Vancouver also shored up their defense by dealing a 1st round Free Agent pick to Delta for Adam Foote. And Delta continued their rebuild by sending Brian Rafalski to West Virginia in exchange for Andrew Ladd and a 2nd rounder this year, who turned into Jason Demers.

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