Archive for January, 2013

Audy-Marchessault Gets Called Up After AHL All-Star Game

January 30, 2013

audymarchessaultFor anyone who’s covered the AHL All-Star Game over the past few years, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault grew up right before your very eyes.

Back when the the 2012 AHL All-Star Game was held in Atlantic City, he was a little-known, but exciting prospect in the New York Rangers system.  Signed to an AHL deal after his QMJHL career with the Quebec Ramparts had come to an end, Audy-Marchessault tied with Kris Newbury for the Connecticut Whale’s team-lead in scoring with 64 points and was a hot commodity on the free agent market this season.

Much like Tim Erixon, who was also summoned to Columbus following the 2013 AHL All-Star Game in Providence, the 22-year-old is another former Rangers farmhand who will find himself wearing a Blue Jackets jersey.  This year, expectations were high.  And after another strong campaign in the AHL — he tallied 16 goals and added 29 assists in just 42 games with the Springfield Falcons — he’s finally earned his first look in the NHL.

The Trentonian spoke one-on-one with the Quebec City native in Providence on Sunday, just before he played what many are thinking could have been his last AHL game.

“I think I’m getting there, I’m only 22 years old,” he said.  “I want to be better and be more complete as a player so I can be ready when I get up.  I want to improve in every facet of the game, so hopefully I’ll get that call-up.”

He, of course, didn’t have to wait as long as he might have thought.  But still, he says he was working on becoming a more consistent player for however long he was going to be in Springfield.

“I want to be able to bring it to every game,” he said.  “Every game is important, the points are important for our team.  If I can bring it every game, that would be great for me.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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Masked Men: Robin Lehner

January 28, 2013

Here is the first of a series of Masked Men videos from the AHL All-Star Game, this one featuring Binghamton Senators goaltender Robin Lehner. Look for tons of original features coming up on 5FW from the game, as well as additional videos from Barry Brust, Petr Mrazek, Niklas Svedberg and Justin Peters.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!

January 22, 2013
Photo courtesy of devils.nhl.com

Photo courtesy of devils.nhl.com

NEWARK — Surely, Stefan Matteau has been told that he’s a chip off the old block on countless occasions.  He just isn’t so sure himself.

Just 18 years old, the first-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in the most recent draft is set to make his home ice debut tonight after seeing his first National Hockey League action over the weekend at Nassau Coliseum.  The son of long-time NHL’er Stephane Matteau, Stefan Matteau wasn’t quite sure how his style of play compared to his father’s.

“I couldn’t really tell you, because I never really watched him play,” Stefan Matteau said.  “I was too young to really remember, but from what I hear, we’re pretty similar; big body, can skate, power forward.  I’ve just got to keep my game simple.  Whatever he did, I’ll try to do that, he played 14 years.  I’m my own player though, so I’ve just got to work hard.”

Matteau was drafted out of the U.S. National Development program, but was cut from the preliminary World Junior Championships roster.  It may have been a blessing in disguise, as it allowed him to focus on his game with Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL, for whom he scored 18 goals in 35 games.  Surprisingly polished with the media for his age, Matteau told The Trentonian that while he’s certainly enjoying life in the NHL, the way he approaches a game there isn’t much different than what he did for the Armada.

“It’s not that different, you just go the rink every day and then relax at home,” Matteau said.

“I didn’t really expect anything (about making the team) because of the lockout.  I knew that there weren’t going to be that many guys coming to camp, but it was kind of a nice surprise to get invited to camp.  I worked hard and I think I earned a spot to start the year.  I’ve just got to keep working if I want to stay here.”

It’s still certainly possible that the Devils could send Matteau back to juniors, so he’ll need to produce.  Although he went scoreless in just 7:26 of fourth line ice time in his debut — one he says he’ll remember for a long time — he did manage three shots on goal and could earn a chance to move up a line, which could give him the best opportunity to stick with the team.

“I hope he sticks around, he’s a good kid.  He wants it, he’s got it in him,” linemate Cam Janssen told The Trentonian.

“He’s a got a big body, he uses his body well protecting the puck.  I like playing with him.  I like playing with him, because every shift you have a chance of producing some sort of offense.  He shoots the puck, and I tried to get him his first (goal) last game, but the goalie made a good save.  Hopefully tonight, he gets one at home.”

It may come as somewhat of a surprise, given that they play completely different roles on the ice, that Janssen has been a good influence off of it for his linemate.

“I’m in his ear a lot,” said Janssen, “but sometimes you have to back off a bit, because you don’t want to overload.”

“He’s got a lot of questions, but there’s a lot of things to know; between the system and ‘when do we go out, and when do we do this’ and so on and so forth.  There’s a lot of little things that he needs to know, and I’m the guy and there are a couple other guys that he talks to and he feels comfortable with.  But, I keep an eye on him and let him know the little mistakes he makes.  It’s good to have that, because I know when I was coming in, there was a couple guys that did the same for me, and it helped out big time.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

McGinn Excited For NHL Debut

January 22, 2013
Tye McGinn is set to make his NHL debut for the Philadelphia Flyers tonight (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

Tye McGinn is set to make his NHL debut for the Philadelphia Flyers tonight (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

NEWARK — The roller coaster has gone back to its highest point.

Certainly, it’s been an interesting ride lately for Tye McGinn, who is set to make his National Hockey League debut for the Flyers tonight at the Prudential Center in Newark.  The 22-year-old forward was a somewhat surprising name on the list of Philadelphia’s training camp invites when the lockout finally ended, but he was eventually sent back to the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms.

But when Zac Rinaldo was injured in the Flyers last game, it opened the door for McGinn, who could barely wipe the smile off his face while he was addressing the media after the morning skate.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking to play in your first NHL game,” McGinn told The Trentonian.  “But I’m just trying to stay calm right now and just do what I can do to help the team.”

A fourth-round pick of the Flyers in the 2010 draft, McGinn, brother of Colorado Avalanche forward Jamie McGinn, certainly has the potential to bring a lot to the table tonight.  In 33 games with the Phantoms, he tallied 11 goals and posted 52 penalty minutes, showing development in his game after a somewhat sluggish first year.

“He’s a good player, I had a chance to see him a couple times,” said Flyers captain Claude Giroux.

“He’s a big body, and he’s going to be hitting here and there.  But he’s got a lot of skill too, so I’m pretty excited to see what he can do on the ice.”

McGinn skated on the third line with Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn in the morning, the latter of whom he was also on a trio with in Adirondack.  Although he was certainly reserved in his comments in addressing new line combinations, Philadelphia bench boss Peter Laviolette admitted he took that into account when figuring out where to insert McGinn into the lineup.  For McGinn’s part, it seems like the gesture was an appreciated one.

“It’s definitely a bonus for me,” he said.  “I was mostly with Schenn, he was my centerman (in the AHL).  We kind of rotated right wingers throughout the year, but it was mostly that we stuck together.  We’ve played almost half the season together, and I know what he likes to do out there and he knows what I liked to do out there.  Hopefully, we can contribute to each other out there.”

With Daniel Briere skating as well — his return is apparently imminent — McGinn’s stay in the NHL may be a short one.  But he’ll certainly enjoy his stay at the top of the tracks for now.

“It’s a roller-coaster ride, but it’s been all good experiences,” he said.

“I haven’t went down at all.  Just getting the call-up from camp was something special.  But going back down, I went down with a lot of knowledge of what the NHL is kind of like.  To get the call back up now, it’s something amazing.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

5FW Game Coverage: Previewing Harvard @ Princeton

January 4, 2013

— This is a pretty big ECAC matchup for both teams.  Harvard comes into the 7 PM contest on a four-game winless skid, but only dropped out of the USCHO Top 20 just last week and are still receiving enough votes to put them as the 24th best team in the country.

As for the Tigers, things are far more dire, as they’ve now gone seven straight games without picking up a win, a stretch that dates back to a Nov. 23 win over lightly-regarded Sacred Heart.  But their division mark of 2-3-3 puts them at seventh in the 12-team conference, with impressive victories over a still-ranked Cornell team and very solid Colgate squad.

Although Quinnipiac has run away with the number one slot in the division, the other three first-round byes in the ECAC Tournament are very much so up for grabs, as only five points separate the second through 12th place-ranked teams.

— Based on NHL-drafted players alone, Harvard is a far more talented team than what Princeton is expected to ice in a few hours.  The Crimson — who have been rocked by an alleged academic scandal within the team — still boast five players whose rights arre held by teams at the top level, compared to just one for the Tigers (D Mike Sdao, OTT).  Although local fans will surely be interested in Flyers sixth-rounder Petr Placek, defenseman Danny Biega is likely to garner the most attention out of any of the players here.

Carolina’s third-round pick in 2010, the 6-foot, 205 pound defenseman has gotten off to a slow start this season from an offensive standpoint, as has been the case for his team in general as of late; they’ve scored just four goals in their last four games.

— Princeton’s Sean Bonar (3.81, .876) is expected to be opposed in net by Raphael Girard (2.69, .918) tonight.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com