The Will Sports Group

The RIG 28 for February

Feb 2

Ryan Murphy Future Goals School Visit

Kölner Haie verpflichten Alexandre Bolduc

Die Kölner Haie haben noch einmal auf dem Transfermarkt zugeschlagen und Mittelstürmer Alexandre Bolduc unter Vertrag genommen. Der am 26. Juni 1985 in Montreal, Quebec, geborene Kanadier spielte in dieser und der vergangenen Saison in der Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). 2015/16 startete er im Trikot von Traktor Chelyabinsk und wechselte während der Spielzeit zu Medvescak Zagreb, wo er bis zuletzt zum Einsatz kam und das „A“ des Assistenzkapitäns auf der Brust trug. Insgesamt absolvierte Bolduc in der KHL 76 Spiele und sammelte dabei 20 Scorerpunkte (6 Tore, 14 Vorlagen).

Den Großteil seiner Karriere verbrachte der Linksschütze bislang in Nordamerika. Sein Profi-Debüt feierte er 2005/06 für AHL-Club Manitoba Moose, seinerzeit Farmteam von NHL-Club Vancouver Canucks. In der Canucks-Organisation spielte Bolduc bis zum Ende der Saison 2010/11 und pendelte immer wieder zwischen NHL und AHL. 2011 folgte der Wechsel zu den Phoenix Coyotes, wo er bis 2015 ebenfalls in der NHL sowie für die Portland Pirates in der AHL zum Einsatz kam und zuletzt als Kapitän der Pirates auflief. Unterbrochen wurde seine Zeit in Arizona einzig in der Saison 2013/14 als Bolduc für die Chicago Wolves in der AHL auflief. In der NHL stehen insgesamt 68 Spiele (2 Tore, 3 Vorlagen), in der AHL 474 Spiele (124 Tor, 154 Vorlagen) in seiner Vita.

In Köln erhält Alexandre Bolduc einen Vertrag für die laufende Saison sowie für die Spielzeit 2017/18 und trägt fortan das Haie-Trikot mit der Nummer 49. Am kommenden DEL-Wochenende wird Bolduc aufgrund einer leichten Unterkörperverletzung noch nicht zu Einsatz kommen. „Alex Bolduc ist ein großgewachsener und physisch starker Zwei-Wege-Mittelstürmer, der aufgrund seiner Fähigkeiten sehr gut zur Identität der Kölner Haie passt. Wir freuen uns, dass wir Alex für den KEC gewinnen konnten“, erklärt Haie-Sportdirektor Mark Mahon zur Verpflichtung Bolducs.

Feb 4

Seguin goal vs Blackhawks

Feb 9

2017 Draft: Ivan Lodnia powers Erie to OHL lead
Adam Kimelman

Erie of the Ontario Hockey League is stocked with highly talented offensive players, a number of whom have been drafted by NHL teams, so it could be easy for a player in his draft season to get lost.

But forward Ivan Lodnia is a driver, not just a passenger, on the top team in the OHL.

“I gained about 11 pounds this year [to 182] and I grew like an inch [to 5-foot-10] or so,” Lodnia said. “Mentally this year it’s been easier. You know what you’re going through and what the season would be like. Last year you’re nervous about just making the team and being in the game, so this year you’ve got to be more poised and I think I can start playing my game more.”

Lodnia has excelled playing his game this season. He’s fourth on the Otters with 21 goals and has 45 points in 48 games. He’s No. 37 on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2017 NHL Draft.

“He’s got excellent skating ability, excellent quickness, he possesses high-end hockey sense,” Central Scouting’s Matt Ryan said. “His ability to maneuver through traffic is fantastic.”

ST CATHARINES, ON – OCTOBER 6: Ivan Lodnia #27 of the Erie Otters skates during an OHL game against the Niagara IceDogs at the Meridian Centre on October 6, 2016 in St Catharines, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Lodnia’s ability to work inside the faceoff dots and down low near the net has been impressive for a player his size.

“He doesn’t allow his size to keep him to the outside,” Ryan said. “By no means is he a perimeter player. He’s a guy that is able to get inside with consistency and that’s how he generates a ton of his opportunities. He’s got an impressive skill set; very comfortable with the puck, excellent puck skills, hockey sense, the ability to make plays in traffic. He’s got high-end offensive skill.”

Lodnia scored and had a team-high five shots on goal at the 2016 USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Sept. 22, but he couldn’t carry that strong start to his OHL season.

“When we started the year Ivan was kind of in a difficult position,” Erie coach Kris Knoblauch said. “We were a good team but he wasn’t a go-to guy; he was a secondary player. But I feel he’s got the talent to be a go-to player. We just didn’t have regular linemates that complemented him. Therefore he was bounced around, had different linemates a lot, just really couldn’t find chemistry. Things just really weren’t working out with the way our team dynamics were.”

Knoblauch said Lodnia’s situation improved in January when they traded for forwards Warren Foegele (Carolina Hurricanes) and Anthony Cirelli (Tampa Bay Lightning).

“With the trades that we made, it solidified a role for him,” Knoblauch said. “Regular linemates who are skilled and can play at his level. He was good in the first half of the season. I really expect him to take off and be more of a producer in the second half.”

Lodnia stayed positive by watching teammate Alex DeBrincat, a second-round pick (No. 39) by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2016 draft who leads the OHL with 44 goals and 92 points in 45 games. He said DeBrincat served as a role model not just on the ice but also with the way he handled all the pressure of being a top NHL draft prospect last season.

“I can’t follow him everywhere, but if I could I would,” Lodnia said. “He handled it really well. He went everywhere, he went to Buffalo [for the 2015 All-American Prospects Game], the CHL [NHL Top Prospects Game], World Juniors. It’s really cool what he does. He handled it really well. I just had to learn how he did it.”

He also got help from his father, Konstantin Lodnia, who played professional hockey in Ukraine before moving the family to Los Angeles, where Ivan was born.

“Every tip has been good,” Lodnia said about getting advice from his father. “I can’t pick one. Everyone has been good. Mostly it’s if you’re nervous, then nothing is going to go your way. If you live in the moment and you have fun with everything going on around you then you’re going to play well.”

He had fun at the 2017 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Videotron Centre in Quebec City on Jan. 30, earning an assist and finishing with a plus-3 rating. Any scouts who might have missed him while watching some of the other stars in Erie, among them DeBrincat, Dylan Strome (Arizona Coyotes) and Taylor Raddysh (Lightning) were reminded about the kind of prospect Lodnia is.

“He had a very strong performance at the CHL Top Prospects Game, which gave everybody who maybe hadn’t had a chance to see him as much … an indication that he’s continuing to get better and better,” Ryan said.


Clendening Interview

Seguin goal vs Leafs

Feb 11

Defenseman David Savard returns to Blue Jackets’ lineup against Detroit
Tom Reed
The Columbus Dispatch

Feb. 11–David Savard crossed a mental hurdle in the past few days. He will attempt to scale another one tonight.

The Blue Jackets’ defenseman, who’s been dealing with back spasms for three weeks, returns to the lineup against the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena. Savard has missed eight of the last nine games. He attempted to come back against Nashville on Jan. 26 — the last game before the All-Star break — but couldn’t get through the contest.

Savard was back in practice earlier in the week and skated hard on his own Friday. The blueliner said Thursday he thought he needed a full-contact practice to test the injury, but felt so good in recent days he decided to play.

“When I was skating I wasn’t thinking about it and I could do everything,” Savard said. “So that was a huge step mentally about knowing you can play without thinking about it. That was what we were waiting for and I feel good right now.”

Savard, 26, is enjoying the best season of his six-year NHL career. He’s been a stout defender and has formed a good partnership with Jack Johnson, who said recently he missed Savard “tremendously.” Savard has two goals and 10 assists to go along with a team-leading plus-19 rating.

Now, the challenges becomes whether Savard can get through the game pain free. The past two times he’s played the defenseman has had to stand up in the bench area because of the spasms.

“When I went back in against Nashville it wasn’t the perfect situation but I thought I could get through the game,” Savard said. “The last few days I’ve felt really good . . . I’m really excited to be back and go out there and have some fun and get a big win.”


Feb 14

Josh Leivo goal vs Islanders

Leivo Interview

Seguin goal vs Jets

Feb 15

Leivo making the most of opportunity to play
Kristen Shilton

Josh Leivo could probably see the chirps coming.

As he met the assembled media in Columbus on Wednesday morning to discuss his three-point game the night before against the New York Islanders, several of his Maple Leafs teammates walked in front of him with words of encouragement.

“Look at this!”

“Atta boy, Leivs!”

“Three-point night! Star!”

Leivo didn’t flinch, finishing his answer and taking a couple more questions. As he prepared to depart for the team bus, Leivo was asked how he kept his composure in the face of that interruption.

“Oh, I’m used to it,” he said, grinning.

Leivo has plenty to smile about. Putting a nightmarish start to the season behind him, Leivo is back in Toronto’s lineup and determined to make the most of the opportunity.

Drafted in the third round by Toronto in 2011 (86th overall) and signed to a two-year, $1.25 million contract as a restricted free agent in July, Leivo was expected to compete for a lineup spot in training camp. A lower-body injury quickly derailed those plans. He appeared in just one exhibition game, and Mike Babcock said Leivo had made “no impression” a week out from Toronto’s season opener.

Still hurt, Leivo didn’t play the first two weeks of the season. Then the team loaned him to the Toronto Marlies for a five-game conditioning stint. By Nov. 21, he was back in limbo with the Maple Leafs, no closer to playing than he was when he left.

“At first it was tough. It was the first time I’ve ever [not played],” Leivo said. “Having the guys in the room keep me positive helped. The coaches kept on me, kept me going. My family was really good. They understood I was having a hard time so they came to visit and kept me positive.”

Leivo, 23, finally played his first NHL game of the season Dec. 19, finishing plus-one in 12:37 of ice time. In his next opportunity – Jan. 7 against Montreal – Leivo played only 4:17. He waited a whole month for another shot, slotting in on Feb. 9 against St. Louis when Nikita Soshnikov was felled by an upper-body injury.

He hasn’t missed a game since. Even with Soshnikov available, Leivo has continued to replace him on the right side of the team’s fourth line with Ben Smith and Matt Martin.

The three points he tallied against the Islanders (one goal, two assists) accounted for his first points of the season and the first multi-point game of his NHL career. Leivo put five shots on goal that night, tied for second-most on the team in the second-fewest minutes.

He followed that up with another multi-point game on Wednesday, assisting on both of Nazem Kadri’s goals in a 5-2 loss to Columbus. Babcock rewarded Leivo for his efforts by giving him his most ice time of the season (14:53).

“Leivs is real good from the hash marks down, real strong on the puck, can make real good plays, can absolutely shoot – he’s got a bomb – and you have to get yourself in those situations,” Babcock said. “He’s with a forecheck group [mostly], so you’ve got to get in there and when you get your opportunity, make good on it.”

Babcock is unrelenting when it comes to improving the defensive play of his forwards. During week after week of watching from the press box, Leivo focused on what would help keep him in the lineup when he finally reached it.

“He’s a straightforward guy, he knows what he wants to see,” Leivo said of his coach. “He wants me to be a solid defensive player; he wants me to learn that first. He knows I can play offence, so it’s a matter of learning the defensive side and staying within the team’s structure.”

Some of what made Leivo successful in juniors – creativity and touch around the net – aren’t defining characteristics of his game now. But he’s kept working on that blistering shot, and made room for other skills to emerge.

“I can work well down low, get the puck back and control the play pretty good,” said Leivo of where his focus is now. ”And I feel like I have some good hockey sense where I can make plays and find my linemates or the defender at the top.”

Playing alongside Kadri and Auston Matthews on Wednesday as the Maple Leafs searched for an offensive spark, Leivo was Toronto’s best playmaker. He has a grittiness that balances Toronto’s skill players, but his skating must keep improving for a move there to be more permanent.

After a long wait for it to be his time, Leivo has a chance to take control of his fate.

“You work hard and you grind every day and have a good attitude, when you get your opportunity, if you do something with it, you get another opportunity,” Babcock said. “If you don’t do anything with it – it’s pro sports and someone else gets the opportunity.

“Everyone thinks the coach decides who plays. No. They decide who plays – I just watch.”


Leivo Interviews

Feb 18

Sharks’ Nikolay Goldobin likely to play vs. Coyotes
Curtis Pashelka
Mercury News

SAN JOSE — It’s looking like Nikolay Goldobin will make his NHL season debut Saturday when the Sharks play the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena.

Goldobin, the 27th overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, practiced on the Sharks’ third line Friday with Joel Ward and Tomas Hertl as Timo Meier remained with the Barracuda. The Sharks practiced with just 20 players, including 12 forwards.

Coach Pete DeBoer said that while the team expects to call up a couple more players Saturday, how the Sharks practiced Friday will likely be how they line up against the Coyotes.
Goldobin, 21, hasn’t played in an NHL game since Nov. 22, 2015 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he certainly has had to wait his turn to get another chance.

Just this season, other wingers like Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen and Meier were called up before Goldobin, who has had a solid season overall with the Barracuda.

“I think it was just a matter of him continuing to play well and wait for his chance,” DeBoer said. “The second part is when you get up here, make the most of it.”

Goldobin’s goals if he plays against the Coyotes?

“Not make a mistake, no turnovers and score a goal,” Goldobin said.

Goldobin was officially called up Wednesday prior to the Sharks’ game against the Florida Panthers. He did not dress as Meier skated on the third line. Meier was reassigned to the AHL on Thursday and is expected to play for the Barracuda on Friday in Stockton.

“I’m an emotional guy but I always control it,” Goldobin said. “I know I can’t do something bad with everyone watching. Trying to please the coach. Try to play simple but I’m not going to forget about my strengths.”

Goldobin, while exceptionally skilled, has acknowledged many times in the past that he needs to become a more complete player and develop more of a 200-foot game. There is that balance for him, then, of trying to create scoring chances while also being responsible in his own zone.

DeBoer just wants Goldobin to play with a certain amount of hockey sense.

“I think it’s cautious or aggressive. It’s play your game within our team system,” DeBoer said. “It’s as simple as that. If there’s a play there to be made, have the confidence to make the play. But if there’s not a play to be made, you have to be smart enough to recognize that.

“That’s all we’re asking for. The guys have to figure that out.”

The Sharks’ other lines Friday featured Labanc on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture centering a line with Patrick Marleau and Mikkel Boedker and Chris Tierney centering a fourth line with Micheal Haley and Melker Karlsson.


Four points for Ho-Sang as Sound Tigers beat Rochester

Feb 22

‘Doing the right thing’ helping Ho-Sang produce for Sound Tigers
Michael Fornabaio
Connecticut Post

BRIDGEPORT — The flashy numbers in the box score are the most visible sign of Josh Ho-Sang’s progress.

Watch him backcheck, get a stick on a defenseman’s stick in the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ zone, and you’ll see maybe the more important sign of it.

Two-thirds of the way through his rookie year, Ho-Sang’s all-around game is coming together.

“It’s not necessarily doing more or less,” Ho-Sang said. “It’s doing the right thing, continuing to trust in my coaches.”

They’ve asked for passion, defensive responsibility, stops and starts in his skating.
They’ve got it, and they’ve given him more responsibility with it. He’s adapting to the pro life on and off the ice, filling his time away by reading more (on investing, right now).

“He’s a very smart player. He understands,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said. “I think he saved his energy for offense in the past. You’re not going to score every shift, but you’ve got to play away from the puck every shift.”

In the end, it’s a chicken-and-egg kind of thing, Ho-Sang said. In doing all that away from the puck, he feels he’s had the puck on his stick more over the past couple of weeks than he had all season.

“It’s almost easy to get lulled into ‘how close am I?’” Ho-Sang said. “Since my birthday, I haven’t really thought about playing in the NHL. I’m just playing hockey. This team has a chance to go on a really good run. We could beat a lot of good teams. That’s where my focus is right now.”

Ho-Sang scored two goals on his 21st birthday, Jan. 22. In the 13 games beginning with that night, he has 17 points.

The team’s roll, 15-1 in the past 16, has moved it from nine points out of playoff position to five points up. Ho-Sang’s roll, helped by chemistry with linemates Michael Dal Colle and Josh Winquist, has moved him up to 13th in AHL rookie scoring going into Tuesday.

Last week, he said, he was sitting in a car with his agent lamenting that he hadn’t had a three-point game.

He got on a bus and threw down two of them in 24 hours. Ho-Sang had a four-point night on Friday in Rochester, including an empty-net goal. The next afternoon, he had three points in Albany. He was given credit for an empty-net goal Sunday at home when he was tripped on a breakaway in the final minutes.

Earlier in the season, Ho-Sang wasn’t on the ice in some of those situations. He is now.

“A lot (of his big weekend) came from doing the right things,” Ho-Sang said.

“Two games I played well away from the puck. Tommer (Thompson) trusted me with empty-net time. Two of my points were just kind of dumping the puck in like we’re supposed to. Good things happened. And skill took over on some other points.”

With team success has come lots of individual success. But Ho-Sang said he doesn’t see a player on the roster who’s focused on the individual.

“It’s a supportive group,” Ho-Sang said. “That’s why our team has been successful.”


Leivo Postgame Interview

Feb 25

Clendening goal vs Devils

Savard’s 100th NHL Assist

Feb 26

Seguin goal vs Bruins

Savard Pregame Interview