By Brad Vandenberk
Well the smell of hockey is in the air with the annual Rookie Tournament hosted by Budweiser Gardens in London Ontario. This is the stage for the future up and comers to prove what they can offer the big club with every bit of the organizational brass in the stands looking down. The teams involved are the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks.
The Hawks met a very quick Toronto team on Saturday night, losing 4-2.
On Sunday afternoon they took on the Penguins prospects. Teuvo Teravainen, Mark McNeill and Kirill Gotovets did not dress for Sunday’s affair. Oshawa General’s Ken Appleby started in net for the Hawks.
Broadhurst Carey Welychka
Ross “A” Rasmussen Hartman
Wise Thorson Caron
Van Stralen Danault “A” Bauman
Fournier van Riemsdyk
It took some time for the above line ups to start clicking. There was a bit of a feeling out process. Lots of icings occurred and a few off sides. There are a few that really stood out early, but we will circle round back to those few.
Stephen Johns takes a kneeing penalty, sending the Pens to their first power play of the game. They capitalized with Pens’ forward Jean-Sebastien Dea sending a rebound past Appleby.
Brett Welychka is a tiny player but was one of the hardest working players on the ice, sending shots to the net and breaking in on 2 on 1’s with good vision. The period ended with the Pens up 7-5 in shots leading 1-0.
Ryan Hartman throws a thunderous hit to open the second period in mid ice. Just a 1:07 in the Pens head back to the power play when Garret Ross gets called for high sticking. Hartman gets a shorthanded chance but the Penguins score once again when forward Anton Zlobin flutters a puck over Appleby 2-0.
Later Appleby makes two huge back to back saves while the Hawks were killing off another penalty. Jamie Wise was called for cross checking.
Now let’s take a few minutes and talk about Stephen Johns. This guy is a big body that can move. Now when I say move, I mean jumping up in the play. Most of the time he is alongside the forwards when the play comes through the neutral zone in case you need a third option entering the offensive zone. Not only does he play within the zone well, he will be the first guy back in the play to cover his position. Not all the time, but most of the time.
Cody Caron heads to the penalty box sending the Pens on their 4th power play of the game to the Hawks zero. As the Hawks kill off their 2nd consecutive PK they finally get a chance to get on the board with their first power play. This power play could have used a bit of polish. Dillon Fournier runs into his own teammate trying to enter the zone, needless to say it wasn’t a successful man advantage.
The game starts to get a little bit chippy especially after the whistles. Hawks finally capitalize on their third power play with a nifty pass from Ross over to Welychka who tips it passed Jarry to cut the lead 2-1.
The last 4 minutes of the period was where the good players started to shine.
Within 35 seconds the Penguins add two more goals to gain a 4-1 lead.
Then, Dennis Rasmussen puts home a rebound on a Phillip Danault shot. Danault then scores a beauty work hard goal from his knees in front of the net making it 4-3 as the period ends. Danault could make a lot of noise in camp as a center man who is really coming together. Hawks regain the lead in the shots category 22-18.
After a very exciting second period the third started in cruise control. The Hawks get an early power play to try and tie the game. Jarry stands tall and makes some quick saves. Penguins find themselves in penalty trouble, but just over a minute into the power play Matt Carey gets his stick a little too high and gets shown the box. 4 on 4 hockey for 57 seconds. This really opened up the ice and the speed of both teams started to show. Justin Holl rings one off the post coming inches from scoring.
Hawks get one more chance to tie this game and send it to overtime. At the 58 second mark of the final frame, Appleby heads to the bench and it’s a 6 on 4. Carey plants himself in front of the net and flips in a rebound with just 1.5 seconds left on the clock 4-4.
When the game ends the announcer mentions that the overtime format will mimic the new AHL format starting with a 7 minute period 4 on 4 for the first 3 minutes, then change ends and remove a player to finish the remaining 4 minutes 3 on 3. Let me tell you, this was very exciting to see. Maybe because it’s a new concept and can be portrayed as unique so it should be exciting. If the NHL can market this and attempt this correctly I could see this being the most exciting process versus the shootout. Johns again was everywhere, flying into the zone and trying to make situations happen. Hartman gets a huge chance as well as Rasmussen but it’s off to the shootout.
Hartman – Miss -Dea – Trickles past Appleby 1-0
Broadhurst – trickle 5-hole 1-1 -Conor Sheary – Miss
Ross – Miss -Scott Wilson –Miss
Carey – Miss -Tom Kuhnhackl – top shelf 2-1.
Penguins beat the Hawks for their second straight loss in this tournament 5-4 SO.
- Hawks outshot Pens 40-22
- Hawks go 2/6 on the power play, Pens went 2/5.
- Next game is Monday night at 7pm versus the Ottawa Senators to complete the tournament.
Top 3 Performers:
- Stephen Johns – He will battle for a blue line position. With a trade looming for the Hawks and 2 popular blue liners being named, this would give Johns a perfect opportunity. Although he is young and needs to be led from the like of Keith and Seabrook, he will round out to be a great find. His stature is very mature, just needs to be a bit more responsible. Reminds me of a bigger Brian Campbell.
- Phillip Danault – Like I stated above, he will turn some heads in camp and will get noticed. Although he is already on the radar, it’s hard to see who he will replace at this time with the Hawks roster looking set. But again a trade needs to take place which would only benefit the youngster. His presence along the boards while having the puck or defending it is solid. He has a quick step and can beat most players 1 on 1. Reminds me of a Marcus Kruger.
- Ryan Hartman– You can never have enough pest like players on 1 team. Not only can he lower the boom and mix it up with anyone, he has a great pair of hands with a little speed behind him. He plays the middle of the ice real well with his head up all the time. He is not afraid to get in front of the net to tuck home a rebound or tip a puck in. Reminds me of Andrew Shaw / Jeremy Morin.