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January 28, 2000

January 28, 2000

The Hockey News has been providing the most comprehensive coverage of the world of hockey since 1947. In each issue, you'll find news, features and opinions about the NHL and leagues across North America and the world.

LEAGUES

To Helanen and back: Goalie sparks UMass

The UMass-Amherst Minutemen finally played with a little Finnish in securing their first wins of the Hockey East season. Junior goalie Markus Helanen, a native of Vantaa. Finland, was brilliant as UMass-Amherst became the final league team to get a win, sweeping Providence 2-1 and 3-1 Jan. 7-8. It’s not that the Minutemen haven’t played well. They just haven’t pulled out the close decisions. UMass-Amherst is now just 2-6-1 in league play, but a respectable 8-10-2 overall. Five of their losses were by one goal, including two to Boston University and one to top-ranked New Hampshire. Helanen stopped 59 of 61 Friar shots in the two games to earn the league’s defensive player of the week honor. He won for the fifth and sixth times in his last eight starts. Helanen had a 7-7-1…

NHL TEAMS

Nedved clicks on all-Czech line

The New York Rangers asked Petr Nedved to become their No. 1 center this season. Then they spent half a season trying to find him a pair of wingers. Nedved’s first half failure was not entirely his fault. Except for early in the season, when he lined up with Adam Graves and Theo Fleury, it has been a revolving door on Nedved’s wings. Then in January, Nedved not only found linemates, but also his game, which is slick skating and a deadly wrist shot he wasn’t firing enough. Teamed with two young, speedy Czech countrymen, Jan FUavac and newly-acquired Radek Dvorak, Nedved’s shot began to hit targets, then began to go in. He had four goals in two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, including his third career hat trick. In the first…

LEAGUES

Leaf enigma Bonsignore wears out project label

If this were baseball, Jason Bonsignore could be in big, big trouble after taking strike three. The Toronto Maple Leafs pulled the plug on the Bonsignore Project, buying out the fifth-year center after three months of mediocre play for St. John’s of the American League. “His ability to compete every night was not there,” said St. John’s coach Al MacAdam. Bonsignore, 23, was the fourth overall pick in the 1994 draft by the Edmonton Oilers, but has never fulfilled projections by NHL scouts. He has played 79 NHL games for Edmonton and Tampa Bay, scoring three goals and 16 points. His career actually started great. He was 18 when he joined the Oilers for the final game of the 1994-95 season and scored a goal at Calgary. But after playing only 21 games in Edmonton…

NHL TEAMS

Brooks brings out best in Pen defender Slegr

Pittsburgh Penguins' defenseman Jiri Slegr reinvented himself under Kevin Constantine, but never felt he had his former coach’s total trust. That hasn’t been a problem with new coach Herb Brooks. Slegr’s ice time shot up by more than four minutes per game in his first 17 games under Brooks. His other numbers rose significantly, too. He had seven points in 17 games under Constantine, 12 points in his first 17 games under Brooks. He was plus-3 under Constantine, plus-10 under Brooks. “He’s a go-to guy in our lineup,” Brooks said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in his abilities and his decision making.” Those words are music to Slegr’s ears. His ice time often fluctuated under Constantine. ‘1 love to play a lot of important minutes, the last minute of the game, stuff like…