When Syracuse Crunch coach Jon Cooper looked at his defense at the beginning of the season, he saw seven players and a question mark.
Dmitry Korobov, set to play his first season in North America, was up against more than smaller ice surfaces and more physical play. The Belarusian had to deal with a language barrier, and due to the ongoing lockout, NHL-level competition – not only from the opposition, but to crack the Crunch lineup.
“We didn’t know what Dmitry was, and when we’re fully healthy with the eight guys, I don’t know if you can sit here and say who’s one through eight,” Cooper said. “We have a bunch of ones in their own way.”
We're now almost two months deep into the second NHL lockout in less than a decade. As difficult as it is to remember, though, hockey goes on. It goes on in small junior rinks in Canada and on campuses throughout the U.S. It goes on in the sporting halls of Sweden and Russia. And, it goes on in Syracuse, New York, where players on the cusp of making the highest level of hockey in the world patiently await the mere chance to make their case to play in the NHL. For those players, and in spite the cynical greed of the NHL's business wing, Bolt Prospects presents its 2012-2013 Preliminary Rankings.
We delayed the release of the rankings a few weeks when optimism ran high that hockey would be back after Thanksgiving, believing that perhaps an NHL training camp was in the cards for some of our prospects. But with the breakdown of talks between the commissioner and the NHLPA, it looks like a Lightning camp is far from imminent. So, we press forward, in spite of the setback.
It was one smooth motion that brought the crowd to its feet.
On the doorstep of the Adirondack Phantoms crease, Richard Panik snatched the puck out of the air, set it down, and tapped the puck into the net, providing the Syracuse Crunch with a 5-0 second period lead at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
The effortless looking play was all instinct for Panik.
"The game is going so quick and fast, so you don't have time to think about anything," he said.
The first, his father Leo, represented his country in multiple world championships and won the bronze medal for Czechoslovakia in the 1992 Olympics.
"I learned how he played, and that's how I play," Gudas said. "He was a really hard hitter, he had a good shot – a really good defenseman."
North American hockey fans are more familiar with the second player – longtime NHLer Scott Stevens, a fearsome defenseman with the most penalty minutes of any player enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Brynas 4 @ Linkopings 1
Johan Harju, Brynas, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 21 GP, 7-4-11, +1, 29 PIM
Bolstered by Andreas Thuresson's two goals and and Robin Rahm's steady performance (28 total saves) in net, Brynas leapfrogged Linkopings in the standings with a decisive road victory. Johan Harju had the primary assist on what proved to be the game-winning goal by Sebastian Enterfeldt with just over three minutes remaining in the first. Harju now has points (2 goals, 2 assists) in three of his last four Elitserien games dating back to October 30th. Calle Jarnkrok, selected in the 2nd round of the 2010 NHL entry draft by Detroit, hit the stat sheet with two assists. Late in the second period, Simon Hjalmarsson managed the lone score for Linkopings, which sent plenty of rubber (23 shots) Rahm's way over the middle and final frame but could not get the score any closer. Up next for Brynas (9-6-3-3, 36 PTS) is a showdown with league-leading HV 71, (12-4-3-1, 43 PTS), which has won the last three matches between the two clubs, on Thursday.