Features

Articles that are feature stories.

Downie Makes His Debut

By Corine Gatti
Either they loved him or they hated winger/bruiser Steve Downie in Philadelphia. According to several postings and reactions of both Flyer fans and the American Hockey League Phantoms’ bloggers – most fans adored the 5-foot, 10-inch Newmarket, Ontario native. Some posted that they feared him on the opposing side after he was traded from Philadelphia to the Tampa Bay Lightning on November 7. At only 21-years of age, Downie has already amassed quite a reputation for seeing the penalty box and taking lengthy suspensions. The National Hockey League benched him for 20-games for his hit on Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond during a preseason game with the Flyers last September. Downie's past has not eluded him. The American Hockey League suspended the winger for three games Wednesday after smashing Worchester’s defenseman Kyle McLaren from behind during the second period. Downie has only played six games with Norfolk.

The Downie package does have an upside. The right wing can play both sides of the rink. He is a strong skater and has the agility to put offensive numbers on the board, despite his frame. After the trade from the Philadelphia organization, Downie joined the Norfolk Admirals on their two-week road trip. He was paired with Zenon Konopka and notched three points during his first week.

Finding the answer

By Corine Gatti
NORFOLK, Va. – It is part of the life of an athlete. Being traded and packing up the suitcase to start over in an unfamiliar city is nothing new. Norfolk center Paul Szczechura experienced that last winter after being informed that the Iowa Stars traded him to the Norfolk Admirals. Shocked and disappointed, Szczechura turned his thinking around and his game around. “It was a little rough in the beginning when I found out and left Iowa [Stars],” Szczechura said. “It was around Christmas time and I knew I had to work harder.” Iowa had initially signed Szczechura to an Amateur Tryout Contract in March 2007 after finishing his collegiate career at Western Michigan University [CCHA]. He was signed to an American Hockey League Standard Player’s contract the following season. With that all behind him, Szczechura joined Norfolk undrafted and without an NHL contract.

But that didn’t last.

Szczechura’s destiny and career took a turn for the better. The Brantford, Ontario native tuned into his own offensive rhythm and adapted instantly to an Admirals jersey. The Southeast seemed to smile down on the rookie, notching seven goals in his first 10 games with Norfolk. The center tied the Admirals for third on the team with 14 goals, and finished the 2007-2008 campaign by scintillating fans with 26 points in 24 games.A two-year NHL contract with the Lightning soon followed in April. What deemed to be a setback, the trade paid dividends for both Tampa and Szczechura.

Change was good.

Barberio Breaking Out

Lightning 2008 sixth round pick Mark Barberio was featured today in the Moncton paper:

When the Moncton Wildcats acquired Mark Barberio in a trade midway through 2006-07, he was known as a defensive defenceman. But it seems his identity has changed since then.

He began to take on a new look last season when he was the surprise runnerup in team scoring with 46 points, including 11 goals, in 70 games. That made him the ninth-highest scoring defenceman in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Barring injury, he will likely surpass those statistics this season and move into the top five in Wildcats career scoring for a defenceman. He has 11 points, including four goals, in 11 games.

"I don't want to be branded as somebody who's only a defensive defenceman or only an offensive defenceman,'' said Barberio. "I like to consider myself an all-around defenceman.

For the rest of this feature, please see the Moncton Times-Transcript by clicking here.

Tyrell Back in PG and Ready to Lead

(PG Citizen) Dana Tyrell believes he belongs at a higher level, but that's not going to keep him from doing the best he can at this one.

Tyrell, the captain of the Prince George Cougars, will see his first home action of the WHL season when the Chilliwack Bruins arrive for a doubleheader -- games Friday and Saturday at CN Centre. Tyrell, now a 19-year-old and the longest-tenured player on the team, was on the ice last weekend as the Cats lost in Vancouver but rebounded with an overtime victory in Chilliwack.

"I definitely feel I can play there, and I could've played there this year," said Tyrell, who had a lengthy stay at the main camp of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning.

Rumble, May To Coach At Traverse

When Lightning prospects last took the ice, Tampa co-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie squared off behind the benches in an intra squad scrimmage to close last month's Prospect Camp in Victoria, BC. But when Tampa prospects take to the ice September 13th in Traverse City, MI for the 8 team tournament, the owners will leave the coaching to the professionals. The Lightning announced that Norfolk Admirals head coach Darren Rumble will lead the year's Traverse squad along with Norfolk assistant coach Alan May.

It was also confirmed that the remaining player on Tampa's roster will be free agent invitee Luciano Aquino. The 5.10, 200 lbs right winger put up a gaudy 41-50-91 in 74 games last year for the IHL's Fort Wayne Komets enroute to winning the IHL Rookie-of-the-Year honors. Aquino is a 2005 7th round pick of the New York Islanders and is no stranger to offensive proclivities. He was a point-per-gamer for the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies in the 2006-07 season, and put up a tawdry 2.25 point-per-game average in his shortened final junior campaign for Brampton. Aquino's Fort Wayne teammate Matieu Curadeau recently signed a two-way AHL/IHL contract with Norfolk, and Aquino, who lists Tampa's Martin St. Louis as his favorite NHL player, will be given a long look by the organization whose system lacks an explosive right wing sniper.

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