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Preseason starts in Ottawa

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
By John McCauley


After Pat Quinn let loose all but one of his junior eligible players Wednesday, 54 players remain in Leafland.

2001 first-round pick Carlo Colaiacovo is the only youngster left in camp. The defenceman will likely see action in couple of upcoming exhibition games before being sent back to the OHL's Erie Otters.

The preseason schedule kicks off in Ottawa Friday night against the Senators, which is the first of six games in nine nights. Their first home game is Sunday night at Air Canada Centre. All nine games will be broadcast exclusively on Leafs TV.

For players hoping to be on the season-opening roster, now is the time to shine.
Ed Belfour gets the start in Ottawa.
Graig Abel Photography


"This is the time for people to step up," GM/coach Pat Quinn said. "After a week of practising versus each other, they'll get their test now by facing some common opponents."

Nik Antropov, Aaron Gavey, Brad Boyes, Josh Holden, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Wade Belak are all battling for possibly two forwards positions available. Rick Jackman and Anders Eriksson have their eyes set on being the seventh blueliner.

Gavey, Jackman and Holden have performed the best so far.

Notables such as Mats Sundin, Alex Mogilny, Tomas Kaberle, Tie Domi, Darcy Tucker, Alyn McCauley (injury), Shayne Corson (injury) won't be playing against the Sens. Holden, Gavey, Healey, Ponikarovsky, Brad Leeb and Nathan Barrett; and defencemen Jackman, Eriksson are expected to dress.

MEDICAL REPORT

Injuries have suddenly hit the team, but luckily none are serious at this point.

McCauley strained his hip flexor in the Blue and White game Tuesday night and will not skate for the next few days. Robert Reichel is reportedly having trouble with his shoulder, which was discovered on medical day. Corson strained his groin during Wednesday's workout.

Both McCauley's and Corson's injuries are suspected to be a result of the ice at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. Now the Leafs return to Air Canada Centre for the rest of camp.

"A lot of guys have been complaining about the ice," said Quinn.

As suspected, defensive prospect David Turon has a fractured right clavicle and will be out of action for three to six weeks.

"(With the exception of Turon), I don't expect any of them to be a long-term thing," Quinn said. "Most of them are preventative."

EAGLES LANDS

The Eagle will get the starting assignment against the Senators. Ed Belfour told reporters that he welcomes the start and wants as much action as he can get in the pre-season. Mikael Tellqvist will be his backup.

"Coming to a new team there are things to learn like communicating with the defence," Belfour said. "Because of that, I'll probably play a little more."

BATTLE FOR THE ROCK

One of the biggest battles at training camp this year isn't for a Toronto job, but rather the goaltending duties on the St. John's Maple Leafs. Tellqvist, Sebastien Centomo, Jamie Hodson, Mike Minard and J.F. Racine are all after just two spots.

"Some good prospects have come along there. Two years ago, we didn't feel like we had that situation so we went out and picked up (Mike) Minard and he's still in the picture as a developing player. (Jamie) Hodson and (Sebastien) Centomo came along real well and we drafted (Jean-Francois) Racine with the idea that he might be a real good one." Quinn said.

"So we do have a traffic jam and we only have two jobs (in St. John's). We came to the conclusion that with goaltenders, you can never have too many and that we can always find places, especially if they're young enough, for them to play.

"Hopefully one, or two, of these guys comes along and becomes our goaltender of the future."
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