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Wolves start 2004-05 season Friday against Erie

Hello OHL fans, it's time for another heap of news, statistics and general happenings. Let's start with some Sudbury Wolves stuff.

Hello OHL fans, it's time for another heap of news, statistics and general happenings. Let's start with some Sudbury Wolves stuff.

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The New York Rangers inked defenceman Marc Staal to a professional contract on Wednesday.

"Marc is big, strong defenceman who has all the characteristics that we are looking for in a Ranger," stated Rangers president and GM Glen Sather in a news release on the team's official website. "We feel his combination of size, skill and hockey sense will project him to be a large part of our hockey team's future success."

The Rangers selected Staal 12th overall in the first round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

Staal remains in the Rangers camp as one of 38 remaining players looking to crack the roster.

Wolves sniper Ben Pouliot, the only other player eligible to return the Wolves, is still at the Minnesota Wild camp. Pouliot is getting serious consideration as he is one of only 27 players left at training camp.

NHL rosters carry a maximum roster of 23 players on any given day.

If those two players don't return to the fold, it will be interesting to see who head coach and GM Mike Foligno names team captain.

A few possibilities include Nick Foligno, Adam McQuaid or Alex Eaton.

Of course all Wolves fans know the OHL regular season kicks off tonight as the Wolves entertain the Erie Otters at the Sudbury Arena. Game time is 7:30 pm.

"It's the start of a brand new season and there's going to be eight or nine new faces on our club," said GM Foligno. "Our goal is to get out of the gates and perform well and be a consistent club each night."

Some of the Wolves new faces will have an impact.

"Defenceman Ryan Crouch is a smooth skater and sees the ice well and knows our system," said Foligno. "We have two European players, Marek Polak and Anton Hedman, who have shown us some skill and strength.

"Hedman is a big, physical player and a strong skater. Keaton Turkiewicz is a player who showed great speed in camp, but has to learn the give-and-go game at this level. Keaton will be, in time, a player who can hold his own and supply us with some offence."

The Otters are eager to play the Wolves and see what their team can produce.

"We only played a few exhibition games, but what we have seen, we like," said Otters head coach Dave MacQueen. "Our top three picks (from the 2005 draft) are going to make our club, so the future looks bright. I think we are going to be a competitive club.

"Key guys for us this year are Ryan O'Marra, Mike Blunden, Andrew Hotham and Sean O'Connor...if they don't put the puck in the net, than we're in big trouble. The young talent on this team is very good."

Dowling's Yves Bastien, who was selected by Kitchener in the second round of the 2005 draft, has made the Rangers lineup.

"Yves has been one of our better rookies in camp," said Rangers head coach Peter DeBoer. "We're excited he will be spending the year with us.
"Like a lot of young players he will start on our third or fourth lines. I see him making an impact as a rookie and being a great OHL player down the road."

The Wolves wrap up a busy weekend Sunday afternoon when they host legendary coach Brian Kilrea and the Ottawa 67's.

Ottawa knocked off the Wolves and ended the dream of making last year's Memorial Cup championship by claiming an exciting six-game series.
Overage goaltender and Sudbury native Danny Battachio was largely responsible for that series win and he's expected to get the start in the Ottawa net. Game time is 2 pm.


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