Neate Sager

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Neate Sager is a blogger for Yahoo! Sports.

  • Green was one of four Nova Scotians to go in the first 12 picks of the QMJHL draft (QMJHL photo)Parents planning to register twins for minor hockey, in addition to perhaps taking out a loan, should listen to how Luke Green gravitated to being a defenceman.

    As the Quebec League's No. 1 overall pick tells it, personality traits played a part in why he took to the blueline while his twin, fellow Saint John Sea Dogs yearling Matthew, played forward. As boys, Luke Green tended to hang back to help out in the defensive zone and found he could still cover enough ice to create an offensive threat. He's honed that style over the years, as evidenced by him becoming the first top pick in the Quebec League draft out of Nova Scotia since Nathan MacKinnon in 2011.

    "Always playing with Matt, I always wanted to jump up the ice and play in the offensive zone with him — make plays," says Green, who stayed at home for his draft year while playing for the AAA midget team affiliated with Newbridge Academy, a private school that offers programs tailored to aspiring hockey players. "That's the start of how I started to play like that in minor hockey. I wanted to get involved in the offence with him. We've scored pretty nice goals over the years.

    "In our novice years, we both played all positions," the 5-foot-11, 168-pound Green adds. "I remember always hanging back a bit because I wasn't always trusting of the defencemen on our team. I found if I went back, I could just pass the puck up to Matt. That's probably how it started."

    Read More »from Saint John Sea Dogs’ Luke Green rushing into rookie season: Making The Jump
  • Raddysh (right) led the OHL Cup in scoring last spring (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    Taylor Raddysh will lean on some familiar faces while embarking on his first season with the Erie Otters.

    The Otters, who have had a run of success with graduates of the Toronto Marlboros — 2014 OHL player of the year Connor Brown, sophomore Dylan Strome and that Connor McDavid fellow — went back to that well by chosing Raddysh No. 19 overall in the priority selection draft. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound forward will be reunited with his brother, third-year defenceman Darren Raddysh.

    "He'll help out a lot," Taylor Raddysh, who was the leading scorer in last spring's OHL Cup showcase with 14 points over seven games, says of his upcoming family reunion in northern Pennsylvania. "Whenever I'll need him, he'll just help me out through thick and thin. I work out with him every day and skate with him. He gives me the odd tip.

    "Every brother's competitive," adds Raddysh, who says his parents, Mark and Michelle, have formed a tight bond with the family of Strome, the Otters' top pick in 2013. "You always want to do better than the other one. I think that will help us throughout this year and on into the beginning of the year."

    Read More »from Erie Otters’ Taylor Raddysh hopes familiarity factor helps: Making The Jump
  • Connor McDavid keeps his dry, cool wits about him: the coast-to-coast

    Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Chris Stevenson looks at who might be unavailable for Team Canada come mid-December. Sam Reinhart would be at the top of that list, eh. (NHL.com)

    With respect to Kamloops Blazers owner Tom Gagliardi being found guilty of two counts of harmful alteration of fish habitat, the real shocker is Canada actually still has any environmental laws. (Castanet, Vancouver Sun)

    Don Hay is no longer coaching in Vancouver but overage Matt Bellerive is back playing with the Giants, where he started in the Dub. (Vancouver Province)

    Travis Crickard, 26, is the new goaltending coach/assistant coach of the Kelowna Rockets. Not many people have that job title. (Vernon Morning Star)

    Red Deer Rebels standout Haydn Fleury has signed his entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. (Charlotte Observer)

    Fleury's blueline mate, Adam Musil, on choosing to represent Canada instead of the Czech Republic internationally: "I was born here in Canada and I just want to represent my country where I was born." The D-man's brother, David Musil, played for the Czechs in two world juniors. (The Canadian Press)

    Rod Pedersen examines the Regina Pats' hiring of John Paddock. (The Pipeline Show)

    OHL

    The big takeaway from Connor McDavid's game Friday was how the top NHL draft prospect stayed level-headed while "it was getting pretty stupid" on the ice in the third period. Well, he was named the league's most sportsmanslike player after incurring only 20 penalty minutes in '13-14. (NHL.com)

    The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds are about a week away from commencing interviews for Kyle Dubas' replacement as general manager. (Sault Star)

    Read More »from Connor McDavid keeps his dry, cool wits about him: the coast-to-coast
  • Nurse, a top 10 NHL pick in 2013, was not on Canada's smaller than usual selection camp roster for the 2014 WJC (Kenneth Armstrong, CP)

    MONTREAL — In order to lead, Darnell Nurse might have to move to the right.

    One takeaway at the end of Team Canada's summer development camp is that the biggest question will be about the composition of the blue line. Aaron Ekblad, depending on how quickly he comes back from the brain injury on Tuesday, stands a chance at breaking camp with the NHL's Florida Panthers. The box labelled 'shutdown defenceman' is unmarked, plus there were only three right-handers in camp this week.

    Nurse, the Edmonton Oilers prospect, played on his off, or right side, exclusively on Thursday during the second exhibition game against Russia. Canada isn't going to compromise on quality to satisfy some arbitrary left/right balance, so it was time to gauge how Nurse could adapt to it.

    "I've dabbled in it," the 19-year-old Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds captain says. "I've spent some time there in the A when I was in Oklahoma City. I played with Oscar Klefbom [who will be Nurse's competition for a job in Edmonton next month] and we would kind of switch. I've had a little bit of experience.

    "It's something I'm not uncomfortable with. I can play either side; we have a lot of lefts in the Soo. It's always good to show what you've got. I hope that helps me."

    Read More »from Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse eager to lead if Team Canada needs it: ‘It’s part of who I am’
  • Fucale could be playing in his NHL team's home arena at the world junior (Graham Hughes, CP)

    MONTREAL — In the long run, that bump in the road last spring might have been the best for Zach Fucale.

    Accolades and acclaim have piled up so steady as rent over the goalie's junior hockey tenure that it has become easy to take the Montreal Canadiens hopeful for granted. Quebec League record for wins as a 16-year-old starter for the Halifax Mooseheads. Memorial Cup champion and first goalie to hear his name at the NHL draft in 2013, going to his hometown Habs, no pressure there at all. He won Canada's starting job during the 2014 world junior championship, albeit on a team that came home medal-less after losing the semifinal and bronze games to Finland and Russia.

    But the goalie's most valuable experience in the past few months might have been faltering. The Mooseheads had to make a mid-series goal switch away from Fucale during the semifinal vs. the Val-d'Or Foreurs, parking the goalie who had played in 80 per cent of the regular season games and 100 per cent of the playoff tilts across three seasons. Fucale needed the reminder it's not necessarily surprising to get yanked.

    "Was it surprise? Yes and no because I had some rough ones," Fucale said Friday, when Canada's national junior team wrapped up its summer development camp with a penalty-tilled 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic. "I'll be honest. I wasn't playing my best hockey then. Maybe I needed that little break, maybe a little slap in the face. Maybe that's what you need. Take a step back to move a couple forward.

    "The fact that it didn't go the way I wanted, sometimes it happens," added Fucale, who looked strong during two half-game appearances this week. "You have those rough patches. I'm telling you, I really learned a lot. It's helped me in my preparation for this camp, also, and the next two camps — the Mooseheads' and the Canadiens'."

    Read More »from For Zach Fucale, ‘little slap in the face’ critical as Habs prospect girds for Team Canada spotlight
  • McDavid will be a main focus throughout this season (The Canadian Press)

    MONTREAL — Since Canada's national junior team does not have individual name bars on its jerseys, it's really hard to distinguish Connor McDavid from the other players.

    Except for the incongruous combo of wearing an alternate captain's A and full facial protection, because he's 17 years old. And then there was the goal that the projected NHL No. 1 overall choice added to his highlight reel during Canada's exhibition game against the Czech Republic in Montreal. In the second period, McDavid slalomed through the defence pair of Robert Cerny and David Klok, then turned goalie Miroslav Svoboda inside-out as he tucked the puck into the corner.

    Read More »from Connor McDavid scores amazing goal at Team Canada summer development camp (VIDEO)
  • Buffalo Sabres pick Nick Baptiste shines in Canada’s win over Russia

    In 2013, Baptiste helped Canada win the world under-18 title (Associated Press)

    SHERBROOKE, Que. — Make it two forwards with the same name and Ottawa ties showing why they warrant a long look from Team Canada.

    Ottawa Senators prospect Nick Paul, early on, was the who's-he? revelation of Hockey Canada's summer development camp in the Montreal area. His namesake, Sudbury Wolves wing Nick Baptiste, also shone during Canada's 6-3 win over Russia on Thursday. The Buffalo Sabres third-rounder who has next-level speed formed an effective line with Curtis Lazar and Michael Dal Colle as they tallied four goals.

    Baptiste tallied in the second, moving out from the half-wall to wrist a shot by goalie Ilya Sorokin. Coach Benoît Groulx used Baptiste in all situations.

    "I think it's him [Groulx] knowing I can play in every single role," says Baptiste, who hails from Barrhaven, Ont., just south of the nation's capital. "I think it's him knowing I can play with highly skilled guys or I can bang and crash and be physical. That's the biggest part so far and I think that's given him the trust in me.

    "My line with Lazar and Dal Colle was pretty effective," added Baptiste, who turned 19 on Monday (as did Sorokin, the goalie he victimized). "Being able to play with guys of that speed and that skill makes it easier for me. I tried to get pucks deep. Walk off the wall and get a good shot."

    Read More »from Buffalo Sabres pick Nick Baptiste shines in Canada’s win over Russia
  • Bennett went No. 4 overall to Calgary in June (Matt Slocum, Associated Press)

    SHERBROOKE, Que. — Sam Bennett illustrated the concept of a double-edged sword on Thursday.

    The Calgary Flames' No. 4 overall pick often seems to find another gear when he's being abrasive and chippy. That need to have the puck, become a focal point on the ice, is why the 18-year-old became a top NHL prospect over the past two seasons with the Kingston Frontenacs. Thursday, when Canada doubled Russia 6-3 in a ragged world junior summer exhibition game, Bennett was at both ends of the spectrum: two first-period penalties on stick infractions, then two points during a decisive second period.

    "I was just a little too aggressive on my stick, I should know better and I wasn't happy with those two penalties in the first," said Bennett, who variously with on left wing alongside Buffalo Sabres top pick Sam Reinhart and also worked in at centre. "Personally I think I came out a little slow, I was upset with myself after taking those penalties. I got my confidence back and the team found a way to win."

    Read More »from Calgary Flames top pick Sam Bennett makes statement after early penalties in Canada’s exhibition win over Russia
  • Nick Ritchie's brother, Dallas prospect Brett Ritchie, played for Canada at the 2013 WJC (The Canadian Press)

    BROSSARD, Que. — Being big and Ritch can have its drawbacks.

    Nick Ritchie, who signed his first pro contract with the Anaheim Ducks right before heading to Team Canada's summer development camp, is feeling very good. This is also the point in the cycle of the world junior where every bit of minutia is magnified. Ritchie went No. 10 in the draft to Anaheim by virtue of having faster-twitch hands and on-ice vision than typically possessed by a 6-foot-3, 235-pound left wing. Team Canada is sizing up the Orangeville, Ont., native to be a forechecker and finisher on a top line at the world junior championship. The risk is that at his size, he could run up against the International Ice Hockey Federation's officiating standards. Ritchie had two minor penalties during Tuesday's exhibition game vs. the Czech Republic. Both came as he was trying to delivering a bodycheck; hello, harbinger harnessed for narrative purposes.

    "I don't think I'm going to be trying to be careful," said the

    Read More »from For Team Canada, Anaheim Ducks top pick Nick Ritchie poses a big hypothetical
  • Max Domi revisits 2014 Team Canada snub, has no regrets

    Domi is vying to make the Coyotes after playing in 3 consecutive Memorial Cups with London (The Canadian Press)

    BROSSARD, Que. — For Maxi Domi, stiff-upper-lipping it last fall was the best move he could have made in the context of Team Canada.

    The national junior team took the novel route last season of only inviting 25 players to its December selection camp, which left high NHL first-rounders with Toronto-area ties such as Domi and Edmonton Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse on the outside looking in. There was really no how-to for how to handle it. Not too long ago, the world junior championship wasn't such a big deal that an uninvited Canadian junior star was compelled to offer public comment, but a smaller camp roster and more media demands dictated. Nurse spoke to reporters who cover his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Domi and his London Knights opted to issue a statement, which is a statement in itself about how big this world junior deal has become.

    In the hockey world, doing it that way counts as defusing a situation.

    "It's not like you can change what happens," the 19-year-old Arizona Coyotes prospect said Wednesday before Canada's second summer camp exhibition game vs. Russia in Sherbrooke, Que. "Me talking to the media or not talking to the media isn't all of sudden going to put me on the team. That's just the way I decided to handle it and the London Knights were great. They guided me through that whole situation and process. Hopefully it will be a little different this time.

    "At the end of the day, people can think what they want," Domi added when asked about public response to doing it by press release. "People are going to try find ways to put you down or something like that. That's just how I chose to handle it and that's how the London Knights chose to handle it. It worked out for the best."

    Read More »from Max Domi revisits 2014 Team Canada snub, has no regrets

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