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(Page 21 of 38)
Prospects

Former junior hockey talent becomes soccer star

Wednesday, 10.03.2012 / 12:00 PM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

It's the dream of any child who has ever played hockey in Montreal. Rise through the ranks before making it to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. From there, maybe play in Europe before someday returning to the city.

Former junior hockey star Patrice Bernier is living that dream, with an interesting twist.

Bernier has become a star in Montreal, but instead of hockey, the former two-sport athlete is a standout for the Impact of Major League Soccer. (Photo: Montreal Impact / Charles-William Pelletier)

Sure, Bernier starred for the Val d'Or Foreurs and Sherbrooke Faucons of the QMJHL. And yes, he traveled through European leagues before becoming a hometown star in Montreal. The only thing is, Bernier quit hockey almost 15 years ago. It's a decision that has paid off for the midfielder with Major League Soccer's Montreal Impact.

"I played both sports until I was about 18. I went through all the rankings in soccer and hockey," Bernier, 33, told NHL.com. "I could have a tournament where I played hockey in the morning and then a soccer tournament in the afternoon. It was a bit draining -- 365 days of switching from soccer to hockey, sometimes in the same day."

As a 17-year-old, Bernier starred on defense for a Val d'Or team featuring 10 future NHL draft picks. His first year in junior hockey, the 5-foot, 9-inch blueliner led all Foreurs defensemen in scoring.

"Patrice was one of those guys you could tell was into soccer," said Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Bernier's defense partner in Val d'Or who logged 269 NHL games before playing for the Malmo Redhawks last season. "When you passed him the puck, sometimes, even if it was on his stick, he would try to handle it with his feet."

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U.S. to hold World Junior camp in New York

Tuesday, 10.02.2012 / 3:42 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

USA Hockey announced Tuesday that the U.S. National Junior Team selection camp will be held Dec. 16-18 at the MSG Training Center in Greenburgh, N.Y., the New York Rangers' practice facility.

The camp will be used to determine the final 22-man roster for the 2013 World Junior Championship, which will be held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2013, in Ufa, Russia. Seven-time NHL All-Star and U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Housley will coach the team.

The United States is coming off a seventh-place finish at the 2012 WJC after entering the tournament with its usual high expectations. Successive preliminary-round setbacks to Finland, Czech Republic and Canada knocked the U.S. team from medal contention for the first time in 13 years. The team needed a 12-2 victory against Latvia in the opening game of the relegation round in order to earn a ticket to the 2013 WJC. The seventh-place finish was the lowest for Team USA at the WJC since finishing eighth in 1999.

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Jeremy Welsh ready to step up his game

Monday, 10.01.2012 / 10:50 AM / Prospects

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

The first time Rick Bennett saw Jeremy Welsh play, he saw a kid who stood out -- and, in Bennett's words, "not in a good way at times."

Welsh had just made the move from Junior B to Junior A with the Oakville Blades in the Ontario Junior Hockey League. Bennett, then an assistant coach with Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., saw a bit of "an unknown," "a fat kid with long hair."

"His feet were a little choppy," said Bennett, who will enter his second season as Union's coach this fall. "We just kind of looked through a lot of that stuff. We saw the intangibles he had."

Three years later, Welsh's 27 goals ranked third in the NCAA, as he helped lead Union to its first berth to the Frozen Four, played in Tampa. Less than 48 hours after his team was eliminated by Ferris State, Welsh signed a contract to play with Carolina and made his NHL debut in the Hurricanes' season finale on Florida's other coast against the Panthers.

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Fitzgerald wins Prospects MVP in front of NHL dad

Saturday, 09.29.2012 / 11:27 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- In his role as assistant general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tom Fitzgerald was on duty Saturday night, helping scout players at the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game.

However, Fitzgerald also was on duty as father to one of the 38 2013 NHL Draft-eligible players on the ice, Team McClanahan center Ryan Fitzgerald.

It was a winning role on both ends, as Ryan had three assists and walked away with the game MVP trophy in Team McClanahan's 5-2 victory.

"I'm there working and being a dad," Tom Fitzgerald told NHL.com. "I'll put some notes down on all the other players but I won't do it for my own son. It's a hard situation [but] people have gone through it before me. … You just want him to feel good about himself and be confident in himself. We just saw him and he looked pretty happy, that's for sure, and that makes us happy."

The Fitzgerald family had nothing to not like about Ryan's game. He made a beautiful cross-ice feed to Hudson Fasching for an easy tap-in goal to open the scoring, and his clean faceoff win on an offensive-zone draw 6:06 into the second set up Seth Jones' goal that launched his team's three-goal outburst that blew the game open.

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Jones scores for winning team at Prospects Game

Saturday, 09.29.2012 / 11:17 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Team McClanahan scored three goals in the second period en route to winning the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game 5-2 against Team Housley on Saturday at First Niagara Center, home of the Buffalo Sabres.

Defenseman Seth Jones, a candidate to be the first player picked at the 2013 NHL Draft, had a goal early in the second period to start Team McClanahan's middle-period run. Hudson Fasching, Jacob Montgomery, Quentin Shore and Dakota Mermis also had goals, and Ryan Fitzgerald had three assists.

Evan Allen scored both goals for Team Housley.

The game, featuring 38 of the top American-born players eligible for the 2013 draft, was an up-and-down affair with plenty of physical play.

Fasching opened the scoring late in the first period, getting to the right post to tip in a nice cross-ice pass from Ryan Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald carried the puck into the Team Housley zone to create a 2-on-1 and waited patiently for Fasching to get to the net. Fitzgerald spotted him and put the puck right on the USNTDP forward's tape for an easy goal at 15:54 of the first.

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Coaches excited after Prospects Game practice

Saturday, 09.29.2012 / 2:56 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The coaches got their first looks at their teams in action when Team McClanahan and Team Housley hit the ice for practice Saturday morning here at First Niagara Center.

A precursor to tonight's CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, the workouts weren't long because some players arrived late Friday night or early Saturday morning. Waterloo Black Hawks defenseman Ian McCoshen didn't arrive until 2 a.m. Saturday after playing in Green Bay on Friday, and Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones landed in Buffalo at 10:15 a.m. Saturday after flying all night from the West Coast, with a layover in Atlanta.

"We tried to keep it short because I know they're excited to play tonight," Team Housley coach Phil Housley said. "We had two good practices, they moved the puck around. A lot of these guys got in [Friday and Saturday morning] and they had a lot of media things to do this morning. Once we got out there they seemed to be focused very well and they're getting ready."

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USA Hockey proud to put on Prospects Game

Friday, 09.28.2012 / 3:59 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For Jim Johannson, timing truly is everything. And for USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations, now is the perfect time to bring together some of the top U.S.-born players for an elite game.

Thirty-eight American players eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft will hit the ice here at First Niagara Center on Saturday for the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game.

"This game literally has been in the works for quite a few years," Johannson said. "… It's time for USA Hockey to celebrate our prospects, and celebrate our game across the country."

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Bowman to drop puck at Prospects Game

Thursday, 09.27.2012 / 2:53 PM / Prospects

NHL.com

Scotty Bowman, the winningest coach in NHL history, will drop the ceremonial first puck Saturday night prior to the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at Buffalo's First Niagara Center.

Bowman has a connection to both coaches in the all-star game, having had a hand in bringing both Phil Housley and Rob McClanahan into the Sabres' organization during his seven seasons with Buffalo from 1979-87.

In all, Bowman spent 30 seasons as a coach in the NHL with five teams -- the Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. He owns the record for regular-season wins (1,244), Stanley Cup Playoff wins (233), Stanley Cup titles as a coach (nine) and appearances in the Stanley Cup Final (13). He won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's best coach in 1977 and 1996 and has added three more Stanley Cup titles as a member of NHL front offices -- the most recent with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.

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Top U.S.-born draft prospects to showcase their skills

Thursday, 09.27.2012 / 9:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Jim Johannson is looking forward to watching 40 of the finest 2013 NHL Draft-eligible, American-born prospects sharing the spotlight Saturday when the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game is held Saturday at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.

For Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations, the game will provide scouts and fans the opportunity to see first-hand the tremendous growth of hockey in the country.

"It will give people a little bit of an identity with the future rising stars of the game and will also show the broad spectrum of where all these kids are coming from … the grassroots programs they grew up in that gave them the building blocks to get to the elite level," Johannson told NHL.com. "The NHL draft is so much about the future and that's real exciting, but I think to have a group of athletes like this on the ice is a great step in showing the depth of programs we have across the country, as well as the caliber and talent of these players."

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Maclellan motivated by early taste of life with Preds

Wednesday, 09.26.2012 / 9:00 AM / Prospects

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

Jack Maclellan's 15 goals and 15 assists in 30 games last season for the Bears would seem to indicate the two-way approach the Preds prefer. (Photo: John Russell/NHLI)

Starting last March for about two months, Jack Maclellan spent time at the pool and attended cookouts with the likes of Nashville Predators regulars Hal Gill and Roman Josi.

It was not the kind of extended vacation it might sound like. Instead, it was about as unique of an experience as an NHL prospect can have without actually playing.

A graduate of Brown University, Maclellan was sort of like an intern -- he was a part of the team, but he didn't have much of a chance of ever stepping on the ice during a game in the regular season or in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Predators signed the forward, a Calgary native, after his collegiate career ended. Through a contractual agreement, the organization agreed to keep him with its NHL team -- in part to help burn a year of his pro contract, as he already stood less than three months shy of his 24th birthday when he signed.

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Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

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