Winnipeg MB (Monday, January 15th, 2000)--It's the midway point in the season for the Winnipeg Warriors, which means it's time to hand out the mid-season report.
CENTERS - B
Steve Rucchin is having another fantastic season with the Warriors. He currently has thirty-one points, which ties him for second place on the team. His importance to the team is evident with the three game winning goals he has scored.
Patric Kjellberg has been impressive as the team's second line center. His twenty-six points ranks him fourth on the team. Unlike last season, Kjellberg has stayed out of the penalty box, and as a reward has had his playing time increased. This seems to have sparked the Swede, as he is playing very well.
Pascal Rheaume is on the team's third line. He was brought in to replace Kent Manderville, and was expected to play a more defensive role. For the most part, he has done so, and has even scored two game winning goals to boot!
LEFT WINGERS - B
Jamie Langenbrunner has consistently been one of the best players on the team. He plays both ends of the ice well, and is not afraid to mix it up with the best of them. He plays on the power play and kills penalties, what more could a coach ask for?
Pat Verbeek was brought in to add some scoring punch to the Warriors lineup, which he clearly hasn't. With only one goal in thirty-five games, Verbeek has been sitting in the stands recently and may find some playing time with another team.
Not much was expected from Patrick Poulin this year. After a disappointing season last year, Poulin has played very well in his diminished role as a fourth-liner. At a +9 rating, he has improved his defensive play and has impressed both his coaches and his teammates.
Peter Schaefer was a surprise last season for the Warriors. He has continued to play well this year, and is currently tied for second on the team with thirty-one points, and leads all Warriors with twenty-two assists.
RIGHT WINGERS - A
Peter Bondra has constantly been mentioned in trade rumours over the past few seasons. Between his dissatisfaction with the loss of his friend Dimitri Khristich to free agency and the fact that he was benched for a ten game stretch, it finally looked like the sniper would be moved earlier this season. To his credit, he battled back and has become the player that the Warriors were in need of...a goal scorer! With six of his twelve goals scored on the power play, Bondra has become the key to the team's offense.
Mike Johnson is probably the happiest player on the Warriors, as he currently leads the team with seventeen goals and thirty-four points. He was expected to be the fourth line right winger, behind Mark Parrish and Nelson Emerson, but has played his way to the second line and power play duty. While his defensive play still needs a little work, his determination is something to be proud of.
Nelson Emerson was not brought in for his offensive ability. His reputation as a gritty checker has been a big help for the Warriors. Despite his defensive play, Emerson has still managed to get fifteen points so far this season.
In one of the Warriors few trades, Mark Parrish was brought in to replace the offensive prowess of Dimitri Khristich, who was lost to free agency. So far, Parrish has only managed six goals, but has been impressive with his defensive play.
DEFENCEMEN - B
Glen Wesley is one of the anchors on the Warriors defence. His dependable play can be counted on when the going gets tough. He misses the camaraderie of his defensive partner Steve Chiasson, and it shows some nights.
Anders Eriksson is working his way up the ranks on the team. One of the youngest members of the Warriors defensive corps, Eriksson has played better this season and has been rewarded with more playing time. However, more playing team has meant more mental mistakes and more time in the penalty box.
Sylvain Cote has been the team's work horse. He plays the point on the power play and is an excellent penalty killer. He currently leads all Warriors defencemen with eight goals and twenty-one points. Four of his goals were on the power play, two of them were game winners, and even one of them was short handed! Cote can do it all!
Ken Daneyko was brought in to help toughen up the blue line with the loss of veteran Ulf Samuelsson to free agency. At the beginning of the year, Daneyko looked out of place and had the team's worst plus/minus. However, things have started to turn around for him, and his play has greatly improved, much to the delight of coach Pat Burns.
Brad Werenka was also brought in to add some toughness lost by the departure of Samuelsson, but he has not fulfilled his role. While his play has been impressive, it has not been without it's ups and downs.
Jyrki Lumme has turned his game around from the disappointment of a season ago. Brought in for his offensive abilities, Lumme never quite turned out to be what the Warriors were looking for. Instead, he has transformed his play into a more defensive role, as has looked very comfortable. He currently leads the team with a +12 rating.
Kimmo Timonen is slowly becoming one of the top defencemen on the team. He's still a little green, but being paired with veteran Ken Daneyko has helped his defensive play a lot.
GOALTENDERS - A
Byron Dafoe has returned to the form that he had two years ago when the Warriors made it all the way to the NHA Finals. He has been playing spectacular after having an absolutely horrible pre-season. He is currently among the league leaders in goals against average and save percentage.
"Goalie Bob" Essensa has played superbly as Dafoe's back-up, and can be counted on for a full effort every night he goes between the pipes.
COACH - A
Pat Burns has taken the Warriors to the next level and produced a team that can play defensive when it has to, but can score when it needs to. After a shaky start to the beginning of the year, Burns has pulled his troops together and have made them a threat in the league.
OVERALL - B+
While the Warriors have turned things around since their horrible start to the season, they still have a way to go before they can be considered NHA Championship material. They have to play on a more consistent basis, and need to either improve on their penalty killing or to stay out of the penalty box altogether. They also need to have more than one or two players doing all the scoring. Aside from that, the Warriors are looking good at the half-way point, and let's hope they can continue their success for the rest of the season.
Kelly Moore - CJOB Sports
Posted on Jan 15, 2001, 10:51 PM from IP address 22.214.171.124