Sunday, 4 November 2007

Notes About Hockey

Lots of interesting notes from around the hockey world popped up last night. There were records broken and streaks broken, and some excellent hockey action played between a couple of Original Six teams. All in all, it was a fairly good night for hockey when it comes down to what was accomplished. The NHL had great action, the AHL had a player who haunted his former team, and the ECHL saw a record fall with an amazing effort. Let's take a look at what went down in the world of hockey last night.

Return of Wade: Goaltender Wade Flaherty had a successful night on Saturday, stopping 41 of 42 shots for the Rockford IceHogs in a 2-1 win over his former team, the Manitoba Moose. Flaherty was outstanding in stymying his former club all night, and deserved one of the stars of the game entirely.

"Any time you play against your former team, you want to have a good game," said Flaherty, who made fiften saves in the second without surrendering a goal. "It was a little bit of deja vu from back in Manitoba, because it was a very similar game."

The win snapped the IceHogs' three-game losing streak that started in Manitoba a week ago, and also snapped Manitoba's three-game winning streak. It was the first home win for the IceHogs on the season.

Gimme A Chanse: Over in the ECHL, there a new record was set. Chanse Fitzpatrick of the Dayton Bombers set an ECHL record by scoring five goals, including four on the powerplay, in the third period of their Saturday night game against the Trenton Devils. The Bombers won the game 5-1.

Fitzpatrick set the ECHL record for goals and power-play goals in a period while tying the league mark for power-play goals in a game. He was one short of tying the ECHL record of six goals in one game, a feat accomplished by Hampton Roads' Tom Bissett on Nov. 22, 1989 against Greensboro, and by Toledo's Brad McCaughey against Columbus on Nov. 6, 1991.

Fitzpatrick, who had not recorded a point in his first three games of the season, scored his first goal on the powerplay 52 seconds into the third period to tie the game 1-1. He added his second at even-strength at 2:58 to give the Bombers the lead. He then scored three consecutive power-play goals in two minutes and 31 seconds with markers at 15:03, 16:20 and 17:34.

"Everything I touched went into the net," Fitzpatrick said, having recorded his first professional hat trick in his career. "It was unbelievable."

Old-Time Hockey: The Leafs and Canadiens tangled last night in Montreal to a 3-2 Leafs win, and put on a really good show. Vesa Toskala stopped 32 of 34 shots, while Cristobal Huet stopped 28 of 31 shots. However, while Toskala was brilliant at times in between the pipes last night, Huet appeared to struggle with deflected shots all night, appearing very shaky at times.

"They got a lucky bounce on one goal, but I think Cristobal would like to have the others back," said Guy Carbonneau, head coach of the Canadiens. The winning goal, scored by Matt Stajan with 1:34 left in the third period, appeared to have deflected off Canadiens' defenseman Mark Streit's stick, and found the back of the net.

Tomas Kaberle and Mats Sundin had the other Toronto goals, while Mike Komisarek and Chris Higgins replied for Montreal.

Good Leafs News: The Leafs do have some good news on the injury and inactive front. Both Kyle Wellwood and Mark Bell should be ready for their return to the ice on Tuesday versus the Ottawa Senators. As of today, Paul Maurice hasn't made any announcements, but both should help a struggling offence find some more goals.

With Darcy Tucker missing his sixth game last night, and Bryan McCabe missing his fifth, any additional offence would be a huge benefit for the Leafs, particularly on the powerplay where Wellwood's talent can be used.

Finally 1500: Congratulations goes out to longtime Islander coach Al Arbour who won his 1500th NHL game last night as a coach, as the Long Island Broncos came back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

His 740th career win topped off a coaching career that spanned 1500 games and four Stanley Cups with the Islanders. He now sits second in career coaching wins, only behind the legendary Scotty Bowman.

Going Home: And finally, a sad note to pass along as the New York Rangers agreed to loan defenseman Darius Kasparaitis to SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian Super League.

The 35 year-old defenseman had played four games for the AHL's Hartford Wolfpack, scoring one goal and recording four PIMs. Kasparaitis is no stranger to the Russian Super League, though, having began his career with Dynamo Moscow in the late-1980s. He also played for AK Bars Kazan during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

Kasparaitis has 27 goals, 136 assists and 1,379 penalty minutes in 863 career NHL games with the Rangers, Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders.

Personally, I always enjoyed Kasparaitis' tenacious attitude on the ice, and I even have a jersey with his name on it. What can I say? The guy was the best player on the Islanders team during the Fisherman era.

Ok, so that's about all for today. Good luck to the Senators tonight as they take on the Bruins in the back-end of a home-and-home series. The Senators are trying to improve to an impressive 12-1 this season. Their only loss so far came at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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