September 11, 2011
Young Leafs kick off camp with win
By Lance Hornby, QMI Agency
OSHAWA - Elton John sold out General Motors Place on Friday, but Saturday night was alright for fighting where Maple Leafs Jamie Devane was concerned.
Battling many others for management’s attention, the 6-foot-5 centre from the Plymouth Whalers scored on a bold wraparound backhand in Toronto’s rookie tournament opener and cleaned up a mess that pesky teammate Brad Ross started by thumping smaller Chicago Blackhawk Andy Shaw.
The Mississauga-born Devane had 38 points to go with 131 penalty minutes last year, opened the game on the fourth line with Ross and Kenny Ryan, both picked slightly higher after Devane went 68th overall in 2009. Devane has another year of overage junior eligibility.
“I worked hard in the off-season, but there are still a lot of things I have to prove to this organization,” he said.
Coach Dallas Eakins promoted him in the third period to work with skill forwards such as Sondre Olden, part of a shake-up that led to three unanswered goals in the 4-2 win before 3,759 at General Motors Centre.
Ryan, also eligible for a junior overage year after netting 60 points in Windsor, tied the game with a nice snap past goalie Mac Carruth.
“Jamie’s a pretty big guy — and he can obviously punch pretty well, too,” Ryan said. “Ross was his chippy self, telling everyone who he is out there. The coach said before the game this is an awkward position to be in, competing against the other teams and some obvious competition in the locker room.”
Jake jumps in
Eakins was hoping smooth skating defenceman Jake Gardiner would get more involved in the rush and was rewarded when the former first-rounder of Anaheim was credited with the winning and insurance goals.
“I told him ‘you can take the chances and still be first guy back’, ” Eakins said. “As the game went on, he got better and better.”
Gardiner put a puck through a defenceman’s legs that fooled goalie Mac Carruth for the winner and pinballed a puck off several bodies in the last minute.
“As a defenceman, I’m not expected to get pretty goals,” Gardiner said.
Blacker vs. Percy
There has been a friendly rivalry between GTA defencemen Jesse Blacker and Stuart Percy since their rival teams went to last year’s OHL final and later the Memorial Cup. But Percy’s age and experience were evident at times on Saturday. Percy, a first-round pick this year, took two penalties, while Blacker, named one of the Leafs captains, broke up many Chicago rushes with a quick stick and bailed out his stage struck partner from Owen Sound, Matt Stanisz, a couple of times.
There is lots of time to develop the Leafs rookie goalies Mark Owuya and junior Garret Sparks, with neither ready to challenge for spots on the Leafs and Marlies. Owuya looked much better last night than in the Leafs’ July prospects camp, holding a 1-0 lead at the halfway point before Sparks came in. The latter was beaten quickly on a nice passing play capped by Chris DiDomenico, who also helped on a go-ahead goal by Brandon Saad.
Owuya has an entry-level contract and will likely get his feet wet in the ECHL.
Scouts recall 9/11
The late Ace Bailey and Mark Bavis were remembered by their NHL scouting brethren Saturday night on the eve of the 9/11 tragedy when both Los Angeles Kings’ staffers were killed on one of the doomed planes.
One of the greatest tributes has already been paid in 2006 by Ottawa amateur scout Lew Mongelluzzo. Together with coaches Joel Quenneville, Peter Laviolette and Kings’ executives Dean Lombardi and Ron Hextall, they bought a two-year-old racehorse and named it Aces Mark after the departed scouts.
Aces Mark had some difficulties after his first race, needing major surgery after just one race for a throat infection. After seven months of care, he made an improbable comeback, competed long enough to race on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 and was just retired at Saratoga.
“I knew Ace to see him and Mark and his brother Mike from Boston University,” Mongelluzzo said. “It’s a good story and was well worth what all of us did.”
Lokomotiv back next year
Yaroslavl Lokomotiv has decided against trying to fast track a team to play in the KHL this season after all but one of its players perished in plane crash on Wednesday.
Club president Yury Yakolev made the announcement after a service for the victims on Saturday. Though many free agent players had offered services and a plan was afoot to offer one or two players from the other 23 teams to give Lokomotiv a pool of about 40 to choose from, it was decided that time to heal for the families was most important. The club will restructure in the coming season and be ready to compete again in 2012-13 said Yakolev.
Biggest cheer of the night for starting centre and local boy Mitchell Heard of Bowmanville, here on tryout ... There was a lot of Toronto flavour in the Chicago lineup with former Leafs and draft selections. They included DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis (both traded in the Kris Versteeg deal more than a year ago) and 2008 second-rounder Jimmy Hayes (swapped two years later so the Leafs could move up and grab Ross 43rd overall ...
In the afternoon game, the polished Ottawa Senators smacked an offensively challenged Pittsburgh Penguins’ team 4-0. Winger Corey Cowick clicked twice, Derek Grant and Swede Andre Petersson once each. Robin Lehner earned the shutout.