Category Archives: Devils Prospects
Don’t worry it’s not ’94 all over again, this Matteau is playing for the New Jersey Devils! Stefan Matteau, the Devils’ first pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft, has finally made his way up to the NHL. You might remember his father, former New York Ranger, Stéphane Matteau, for his double overtime goal against the Devils in game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. But, let’s focus on the young Matteau.
Atlantic City. While the initial reaction of this famous Jersey Shore resort gambling town may not bring to mind thoughts of cold, ice, and sports entertainment, last “weekend” proved that hockey can thrive just about anywhere as long as the fans are satisfied.
Fellow Devils Army General Kevin Lankey and I had the incredible opportunity to attend all of the events for the annual AHL All-Star Classic held in historic Atlantic City last weekend and early last week. It was the first year in the modern history of the AHL that the All-Star Classic was held outside of a member city, and what an excellent choice it was!
Atlantic City is no stranger to hockey, as Boardwalk Hall served as home to the former ECHL Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies from 2001-2005. In addition, the close proximity to so many teams in so many markets in the area provided a diverse mix of AHL, NHL, and ECHL fans from Maryland to Connecticut and beyond. And of course, the overabundance of fun activities, delicious restaurants, scenic ocean views, and convenient walking-distance closeness to the action provided an atmosphere unlike any other.
The festivities kicked off on Sunday, January 29 with the 2012 AHL All-Star Skills Competition. There were seven Skills Events, including a Puck Control Relay, Fastest Skater, Rapid Fire, Hardest Shot, Accuracy, Pass and Score, and a Breakaway Relay. Prior to the Skills Competition, Kevin and I had the chance to interview a couple of the AHL East All-Stars, including Albany Devils player (and New Jersey Devils prospect) Alexander Urbom, who was a last-minute addition to the All-Star roster. While Urbom didn’t win his Skill (Hardest Shot), he definitely received quite an ovation throughout the entire weekend from the crowd, which included many New Jersey Devils and Albany Devils fans. All in all, the Skills Competition was a lot of fun, with all of the various AHL Mascots rallying support for their players throughout the arena stands. Despite the initial rounds of the Skills Competition being extremely close between the East and the West, the West ended up taking the W, with a final score of 18-10.
Following the Skills Competition, Caesars hosted the Post-Skills Party at the Palladium Ballroom. What a blast it was being able to mingle with other local hockey fans as well as the AHL All Stars themselves! Considering something like 93% of AHL All-Star Classic participants have competed in the NHL, the Post-Skills Party was a unique opportunity for the fans to chat and take pictures with the next Zach Parise (2005 participant). The All-Stars definitely seemed truly excited, proud, and humbled to be there, and the fans were just as excited to be able to meet them. If that wasn’t enough, there were plenty of things to do for fans of all ages, including dancing, air-hockey, and video games. And who can resist the words “All-You-Can-Eat”?!
The next day was another jam-packed, event-filled day, which included the State of the AHL Press Conference, Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony, and the All-Star Game.
The 2012 AHL All-Star Game was probably my favorite event of the weekend. The game itself was your typical high-scoring All-Star affair, despite it being the lowest scoring game since 2007. The first period was dominated by the East, who scored 6 goals in the first 17 minutes. The second period was dominated by West goaltender and former New Jersey Devil Yann Danis, who stopped all 11 shots against him, allowing the West to cut the East lead to one. Of course the game ended up going into a shootout, as the third period ended in a tie after the West scored 2 goals to the East’s 1 (which was assisted by Alexander Urbom!). The Best-Of-5 Shootout was eventually won by the West, who scored twice against Tyson Sexsmith, as West goaltender (and MVP of the game) Ben Bishop stopped 5 out of 5. It was an entertaining game, with some of the more fun moments coming during the intermissions. First intermission included a Mascot game that had it all–fights, a penalty shot, even a synchronized Tebowing session. The second intermission included a Chuck-A-Puck Contest, where fans throw hundreds of red rubber pucks onto a bullseye on the ice, and the closest puck wins cash.
It was a great experience, a great opportunity, and something I would absolutely love to do again. If you ever have the chance to attend an event like the AHL All-Star Classic, don’t pass it up! It’s a great way to get up close and personal with some of the hottest stars of tomorrow while enjoying the game we all love so much with people from all over the area. The AHL really knows how to organize a fun, fan-based event, and I can say that every fan in attendance had a great time, regardless of NHL affiliation. That’s not something you see very often.
It’s that time of year. The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is just around the corner and with the New Jersey Devils having 4th pick, it’s going to be a pretty exciting one to watch! Every year the Prudential Center hosts an NHL Draft party for the fans to come in and watch the picks live. There are games and activities for the little kids and a chance for the big kids to get their hands on some hockey equipment. Think Fan Fest, but better! You should also keep an eye out for a few Devils Alumni.
The first round of the draft starts at 7PM at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Our party starts at 5PM and will be held outside on Mulberry Street as well as inside the Amerihealth Pavilion at the Prudential Center on the night of the draft, Friday, June 24th. Head over to NewJerseyDevils.com to get your free tickets (check over on the right hand side).
See you on draft day!
Union College is usually highlighted for basketball. However in recent years hockey has brought a lot of eyes on the town of Schenectady, NY. The past two ice hockey seasons have shown success as one of its stars is leaving Union College early to enter the NHL. Keith Kinkaid, the 2011 Ken Dryden Award winning goalie, has been signed by the New Jersey Devils.
I had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Weinstein, the Assistant Sports Information Director for Hockey, about Keith and his time at Union.
Union College has a big commitment towards hockey and the coaches and staff do a great deal of scouting. They often find players that are overlooked, the best kept secrets in hockey. The dedication to scouting has paid off with Keith Kinkaid. He won the starting goaltending position halfway through his first season and started the ECAC Finals against Cornell all in his freshman year. In his sophomore year he lead Union to their first NCAA Division 1 appearance – which might have raised some eyebrows for the Devils. This was Union’s first appearance in the national tournament since making the move to Division 1 in 1991.
Keith’s road to success started a little later than some. A lot of players are looked at from a young age. It wasn’t until his year playing with the St. Louis Bandits in the North America Hockey League that he began to get some attention. That year’s hard work turned a lot of heads. While with St. Louis Bandits, Kinkaid had a GAA at 1.78 and a record of 30-5-4. He helped lead the Bandits to their third consecutive NAHL Championship. Keith posted a 10-2 record with a GAA of 1.12 in the playoffs. Union Hockey became interested in Keith and the scouts and organization were able to convince him to come join the Dutchmen where his success continued.
Talking with Jeff Weinstein, I was able to find out a little more about this young goaltender. Keith has a fun personality and is always smiling but is prepared and ready for those big games. I asked more about Keith’s style of play since many fans have yet to see Kinkaid in action. Kinkaid stays in position and does not give up a lot of rebounds. Keith’s style is more of a hybrid, not a stand up or a butterfly. As a Devils’ fan this makes me believe he has a similar style and approach to our own Martin Brodeur.
Since he was able to earn a spot and lead Union to a NCAA appearance within two years, lets see how quickly we see Keith at the NHL level.
Thanks again to Jeff Weinstein of Union College for the interview and insight into Keith Kinkaid.