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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 4:21 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - Super Saturday

Senators Camp: Top pick Zibanejad impresses

KANATA, Ont. -- Mika Zibanejad is experiencing his first taste of training camp with the Ottawa Senators, and has yet to look out of place.

"The scrimmage was fun," Zibanejad said. "It was maybe the next level (compared to the Oshawa Rookie Tournament). It was really high-paced."

The young center confessed to having stars in his eyes while playing alongside one of his idols, Daniel Alfredsson. Zibanejad skated on the same line as the captain and Milan Michalek for both the practice and scrimmage.

"You have to pinch yourself in the arm every time you see him out on the same ice as you," Zibanejad said. "It was a dream come true, for sure."

Alfredsson admitted Saturday to being impressed with the 18-year-old.

"He's a powerful skater and strong on the puck," Alfredsson said.  "It's fun to be out there with him. He's quite a bit younger than I am, so I'm going to hopefully let him do the backchecking."
Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 4:12 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - Super Saturday

Senators Camp: Alfie has goal, assist in scrimmage

KANATA, Ont. -- It took an overtime period to end the Ottawa Senators' scrimmage on Saturday morning, but it was Team Kyte who came out on top against Team Marsh, 3-2.

Team Kyte led off the scoring, with Milan Michalek dishing off a feed to captain Daniel Alfredsson, who put one past Brian Stewart. Team Kyte would wrap up the first period with another goal, when Shane Prince capitalized on a giveaway from Louie Caporusso. Prince then found Maxime Gratchev, who squirted the puck past Stewart, for a 2-0 lead. Stewart prevented Team Kyte from going up 3-0 late in the period, when he made a highlight-reel glove save on Corey Cowick.

In the second period, Team Marsh was able to get on the board. As Mike McKenna scrambled down low in his net, Peter Regin was able to jostle the puck free and get it to Mark Borowiecki, who buried it below McKenna's pads.

A few minutes later, Nick Foligno impressed with a spin-o-rama backhand on McKenna, knotting the score at two.

With the scrimmage still tied after 50 minutes of play, an overtime frame was needed. It was only two minutes in when Alfredsson sent a beautiful pass to Milan Michalek, who backhanded the puck top-shelf on Robin Lehner.

"It was a little bit rocky in the first few minutes there," Alfredsson said. "But I thought it was a pretty good pace overall."
Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 2:34 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - Super Saturday

Senators Camp: Alfredsson shows off wheels

Kanata, ON -- Training camp kicked off Saturday for the Ottawa Senators, with three teams taking the ice at the Bell Sensplex for practices and a scrimmage.

Daniel Alfredsson headed up Team Kyte (each squad is named after an Ottawa alumnus) and appeared to be skating well after recovering from off-season back surgery.

"I felt good," Alfredsson said. "I felt better than I expected, so that's good. It was a good first day and I'm real happy with it."

The Senators' captain demonstrated that he still has wheels in the Team Kyte practice, when he blew past defenceman Sergei Gonchar in a two-on-one drill. Stephane Da Costa, who showed his own speed during the Oshawa Rookie Tournament, also struggled to keep up with the 38-year-old veteran.
Posted On Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 10:24 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - Prospecting the future

Sens top Leafs in OT on Stone goal

OSHAWA, Ontario – The Oshawa Rookie Tournament wrapped up on Tuesday night with the Battle of Ontario, and the Ottawa Senators outlasting Toronto Maple Leafs in a 4-3 overtime tilt.

Mark Stone scored the winner for the Senators after the Leafs tied the score in the final minute of regulation with goaltender Mark Owuya pulled for an extra attacker.

“We talked today about introducing these young players to the rivalry,” Ottawa prospects coach Kurt Kleinendorst said. "Say what you want, you can sense it out there … there’s just something to these games. There’s just not a whole lot of 'like' out there between either team.”

Ottawa led off the scoring, as Shane Prince fed a pass to Stephane Da Costa, who flicked a wrister under the arm of Owuya.

The Senators continued to press, when Louie Caporusso gained control of the puck behind the net, and passed it off to Jakub Culek in the slot. Culek then wristed the puck past Owuya, putting the Sens up 2-0.

The Leafs got on the board late in the second, during a 5-on-3 power play. Matt Frattin one-timed a pass from Mitchell Heard, beating Robin Lehner blocker side.

As the third period began, the Senators found themselves down a man when Sondre Olden beat a screened Lehner from the top of the face-off circle. However, Ottawa countered when Shane Prince dished the puck to Mika Zibanejad, who quickly flicked a nifty backhand into the net.

But with 48 seconds left and Owuya out of the net, Greg McKegg jammed a puck past Robin Lehner on a tic-tac-toe feed from Josh Nicholls and Mitchell Heard, knotting it at 3-3, and forcing the game into overtime.

Two minutes into the extra frame, it was the Senators having the last laugh when Stone skated in alone through the slot, and rocketed the winning shot past Owuya. Stone was all smiles as he tried to recall the moment.

“I just remember getting the puck at the blue line and having a clear lead to the net,” Stone said. “I was looking to feed it and grab it back-door, but the defenseman, he bit real hard. So I had a clear lane and I just put it in the back of the net.”
Posted On Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 8:12 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - Prospecting the future

(Smaller) Battle of Ontario set for Tuesday

OSHAWA, Ontario -- The Battle of Ontario – a smaller version of it, at least – has been the talk of the Oshawa Rookie Tournament.

Fans have been waiting for the division rivalry to simmer to its boiling point once more, after both of the big clubs have struggled in the standings in the past few seasons. The infamous grudges have somewhat lost the sparkle.

However, with both teams at 2-0 heading into Tuesday’s final game, Senators and Leafs fans actually have a chance to watch their clubs fight for all the marbles. Yes, it’s a Rookie Tournament, but it’s a sign that there may finally be something to cheer about in Ontario once more.
Posted On Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 5:16 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - Prospecting the future

Final score: Blackhawks 4, Penguins 1

Action continued on Tuesday from the Oshawa Rookie Tournament, as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1.

"I thought we played well in every game," Chicago prospects coach Ted Dent said. "We had the day off yesterday and did a team outing, and I think we had fresh legs from the get-go."

The Hawks and Penguins were knotted at 0-0 at the end of the first period, with the best chance coming from Shawn Lalonde, when he cut in from the left half-wall and tried to put a quick wrister past Maxime Lagace.

In the second period, the Blackhawks found the back of the net three times. The first goal came courtesy of Mark McNeill, their 2011 first-round pick, as he swung out from behind the Pittsburgh net and pushed the puck between Lagace's pads.

Byron Froese got on the scoresheet for the first time in this tournament, with a one-timer from Joe Lavin during 4-on-4 play. The third Chicago goal came late in the second, as Andrew Shaw charged in alone and snapped a shot past Lagace’s glove. David Toews and Lavin each picked up an assist.

Chicago continued to pile on in the third, with Phillip Danault putting a backhand between Lagace's pads.

Pittsburgh got in the board late in the period, when Keven Veilleux lifted a rebound of a Ben Street shot. 

Despite missing the shutout, Dent was happy with the performances of his goaltenders, Johan Mattsson and Mac Carruth.

"They both played really well," he said. "They split the game, and it's not always easy coming in halfway through a period like Carruth did. I was very happy with their performance here."
Posted On Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 5:11 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - Prospecting the future

Minor injuries shelve Hawks' Morin, Olsen

OSHAWA, Ontario -- If you came to the Oshawa Rookie Tournament to see Blackhawks' prospects Dylan Olsen or Jeremy Morin, you were largely out of luck.

Olsen played on Saturday against the Senators, but was held out of the last two games.

"He had a little bit of (lower-body) muscle soreness," Chicago prospects coach Ted Dent said. "He skated a little bit on Monday with the goalies, but he decided not to push it. We just want to let him get ready for the Blackhawks' training camp."
Posted On Monday, 09.12.2011 / 4:11 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - Prospecting the future

Off-day in Oshawa

OSHAWA, Ont. – Monday was an off-day at the Oshawa Rookie Tournament, with the Senators, Penguins and Blackhawks taking light practices, while Toronto stuck to an off-ice workout. Updates regarding injuries and lineups won't be made available before Tuesday.

Through two days of tournament play, the Blackhawks' Brandon Saad leads all players in scoring with 3 goals and 2 assists. The Senators' Corey Cowick is second, with 3 goals and an assist.

Standouts in net thus far have been the Maple Leafs' Garret Sparks and the Senators' Robin Lehner. Sparks split the backstopping duties with Mark Owuya on Saturday, but was awarded the win against the Blackhawks. Sparks also started Sunday and stood tall for Toronto, when the team faced off against Pittsburgh.

Lehner has played one game for Ottawa, but sparkled in a shutout of Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon.
Posted On Sunday, 09.11.2011 / 10:17 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - Prospecting the future

Leafs outdistance Penguins, 4-1

The action continued Sunday night from the Oshawa rookie tournament, with the Toronto Maple Leafs easily beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1.

“That was a terrific effort on our part,” Toronto coach Dallas Eakins said. “The character of our players was phenomenal.”

The Penguins took the lead early, when Brandon DeFazio buried a quick wrister on a feed from Zach Sill. Toronto responded, as Josh Nicholls tapped in a rebound on the right side from Greg McKegg.

The Leafs began to press, with McKegg offering a saucer pass to Mitchell Heard, who sent one past Maxime Lagace from the half-wall.

Sam Carrick capped off the second period for Toronto with a forehand tap-in from Kyle Neuber, right in front of Legace’s crease.

The McKegg show continued in the third, with the winger slicing an easy path through the Pittsburgh defense, and dumping in a backhand past the Penguins’ netminder.

“(Greg) settled down a little bit,” Eakins said. “Maybe not as anxious tonight as last night. You can see the skill sets that he has. If you give him a look, he’ll take full advantage of it.”

Toronto capped off the game with a final goal, when Jamie Devane fed Tyler Brenner a pass in the slot, which trickled past Lagace.
Posted On Sunday, 09.11.2011 / 8:38 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - Prospecting the future

Heard is the Word in Oshawa

Oshawa, ON – Whenever the Maple Leafs are playing in the Oshawa rookie tournament, you'll soon discover that "Heard is the Word."

T-shirts sported by fans with the "Heard is the Word" slogan have been seen at both Toronto games this weekend. The shirts are the brainchild of Mitchell's mother, Sheri. According to her, they have been a huge hit.

"I've already sold 80," she said. "I could have easily sold 200 – people keep asking for them."

The gear is being snapped up by Heard's fans from his hometown of Bowmanville, ON. Heard has already given them something to cheer about on Sunday night, scoring his first goal of the tournament against Pittsburgh. The Toronto prospect definitely appreciates the support.

"He loves it when everyone comes out," Sheri said. "I'm so proud of him."

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In respect to the organization and my teammates, it was the best move. When I look back at my career and all the different things I had to overcome, I have no regrets. It was great.

— Devils captain Bryce Salvador on retiring from the National Hockey League Wednesday