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Seth Jones knows how to handle media crush

Friday, 10.05.2012 / 12:59 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The 38 players who took part in the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game were watched closely by scouts, media and fans.

But one star burned brightest during the weekend in Buffalo, and that was Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones.

The 6-foot-3 1/2, 208-pound blueliner is a favorite to be one of the first two players picked at the 2013 NHL Draft, and could go No. 1.

Along with that lofty status comes the attendant outside attention. It's ratcheted up a notch when the player has as interesting a backstory as Jones -- raised and developed in the non-traditional hockey market of Plano, Texas, as the son of a longtime NBA power forward.

Former NBA player Jones helps groom son for NHL

Friday, 10.05.2012 / 9:39 AM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

Popeye Jones' middle son Seth, an 18-year-old defenseman for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, now stands at the top of every 2013 prospects list. (Photo: Christopher Mast)

In some ways, Popeye Jones isn't your typical hockey dad. The 6-foot-8 former NBA player spent 11 seasons crashing the boards for six teams. But the lessons learned in his basketball career have helped his son Seth become one of the top prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft.

Ironically, Seth Jones' hockey road began with his father's time as an NBA journeyman, playing primarily on teams that shared an arena with an NHL franchise. When Popeye Jones entered the NBA in 1993 with the Dallas Mavericks, he was bound to rub elbows with his NHL neighbors.

"We were following the [Dallas] Stars when I was with the Mavericks. I did a charity event with [Mike] Modano and thought he was a nice guy," Popeye Jones, now an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets, told "So we went to a Stars game and we really fell in love with the sport. I started watching hockey and we adopted the Stars as our team."

Former junior hockey talent becomes soccer star

Wednesday, 10.03.2012 / 12:00 PM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - 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 "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."

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

Tuesday, 10.02.2012 / 3:42 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - 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.

Jeremy Welsh ready to step up his game

Monday, 10.01.2012 / 10:50 AM / Prospects

John Manasso - 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.

Fitzgerald wins Prospects MVP in front of NHL dad

Saturday, 09.29.2012 / 11:27 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - 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 "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.

Jones scores for winning team at Prospects Game

Saturday, 09.29.2012 / 11:17 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - 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.

Coaches excited after Prospects Game practice

Saturday, 09.29.2012 / 2:56 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - 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."

USA Hockey proud to put on Prospects Game

Friday, 09.28.2012 / 3:59 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - 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."

Bowman to drop puck at Prospects Game

Thursday, 09.27.2012 / 2:53 PM / Prospects

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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