By Victor Fernandes Erie Times-News staff blogger
Staff writer Victor Fernandes has ice in his veins. Hockey – he plays it, coaches it and provides the region's best coverage of it.   Read more about this blog.
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Posts tagged ‘robbie ftorek’
Posted: August 7th, 2013

Former Erie Otters head coach Robbie Ftorek is the new assistant coach with the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Heat, according to the club’s website.
Ftorek, 61, who was fired by the Otters last November after posting a 139-184-15-13 record and missing the playoffs twice in five-plus Ontario Hockey League seasons, returns to coaching at the professional level for the first time since a three-year stint as head coach of the AHL’s Albany River Rats from 2003-06.
He had 20 seasons of pro coaching experience from 1985-2006. He was a NHL head coach with the Los Angeles Kings (1987-89), New Jersey Devils (1998-2000) and Boston Bruins (2001-03), as well as an assistant coach with the Quebec Nordiques (1990-91) and New Jersey (1998-2000, 2001-03). He won an AHL championship with Albany in the 1994-95 season. The Heat, based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, are affiliated with the NHL’s Calgary Flames.
“We are thrilled to be able to add such an experienced coach and teacher as Robbie Ftorek to our organization,” Flames general manager Jay Feaster said in a statement. “Robbie’s experience at every level … provides our players, and our coaching staffs, an incredible wealth of hockey knowledge on which to draw.”
Ftorek joins former Otters D Chris Breen in Abbotsford. He recently signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Flames.

Posted: March 22nd, 2013

Peter Sidorkiewicz survived three head coaching changes with the Erie Otters, including his own.
But after 14 seasons, his tenure with the OHL club is over. Sherry Bassin, Otters managing partner and general manager, has chosen not to renew Sidorkiewicz’s contract, which expires at the end of this season, because “they’re looking at going in another direction,” Sidorkiewicz said Friday.
Sidorkiewicz, 49, joined the Otters in 1999 to serve as assistant and goaltending coach under then-coach Dave MacQueen. He replaced MacQueen as coach before the 2006-07 season, but was demoted to assistant under coach Robbie Ftorek after posting an 18-62-1-2 record during one-plus seasons.
Sidorkiewicz, a former NHL goaltender, again chose to remain on staff after Kris Knoblauch was hired to replace Ftorek this past November.
Yet Sidorkiewicz said, “I’m not part of the plan” for the 2013-14 season. “I think they want to get a couple of younger coaches.
Dave Brown, Otters assistant manager of hockey operations, said the staff likely will include two full-time assistants and a part-time goaltending coach, although club officials wouldn’t rule out hiring one of the new assistants to also work with the goaltenders.
Bassin declined to comment on if Sidorkiewicz’s performance factored into the decision. The Otters topped 300 goals allowed – 650 in all – the past two seasons, and their goaltenders – Ramis Sadikov and Devin Williams in 2011-12, as well as Oscar Dansk and Williams this season – struggled mightily.
“I have nothing negative to say about it. We’re looking at different things that could be done,” said Bassin, who added that Knoblauch wants input into the staff. Sidorkiewicz said he worked well with Knoblauch. But with a new coach, Sidorkiewicz said, “you always know (a change is) possible.”
Sidorkiewicz will turn his attention to finding a new job. “It’s like a kick in the gut,” he said of leaving the Otters. “But I have to get off the floor. I have to find a new job.” Bassin said he plans to help Sidorkiewicz find a job at a higher level. “I’m going to do my best to call a lot of people because he would be a wonderful addition to their staff,” Bassin said. “I think the world of him. I’m going to do my best to get him to the next level.”
In other news, the Otters have chosen not to retain Mike Hildenbrand, who spent the past three seasons as equipment manager. Paul Roper, who served as play-by-play broadcaster and media relations manager for the past four seasons, won’t also remain with the club.

- Victor Fernandes

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 2nd, 2012

Connor Brown and Connor McDavid continued their impressive offensive play Friday night. But that wasn’t enough to keep the Erie Otters from their third straight loss, 6-3, to Western Conference-leading Owen Sound in front of 2,395 at Erie Insurance Arena.
Brown scored two goals, giving five goals in the past three games and a team-leading 12 on the season, and McDavid added a goal and assist for the Otters (4-9-1-2). But Daniel Catenacci and Gemel Smith had two goals and two assists apiece for the Attack (11-2-0-2), while Jordan Binnington stopped 20-of-23 shots for his eighth win in nine tries (8-0-0-1) against the Otters.
The Attack jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, as Holden Cook scored unassisted from in close 1:27 into the opening period. Then Jaden Lindo fired a wrist slot from the right wing past Otters goaltender Oscar Dansk at the 8:08 mark to build a two-goal lead.
However, Brown’s consecutive power-play goals – his 11th and 12th goals of the season, as well as fourth and fifth in the past three games – allowed the Otters to overcome a sluggish start and erase that deficit. Brown flipped a bad-angle shot from the corner off Binnington and inside the left post to move the Otters within 2-1 with 8:44 left in the period.
McDavid’s pinpoint pass to Brown in front tied the score at 2 with 5:59 left in the period. McDavid extended his point streak to 15 straight games. He has points in 15 of his first 16 career games. Yet the more experienced Attack gained momentum through their aggressive, attacking style. Owen Sound outshot the Otters 20-3 in the period, including Smith’s rebound in close with 4:11 left in the period that snapped the 2-2 tie. Dansk (32 saves on 38 shots) made several key saves, including on a shorthanded breakaway moments after the Attack took the lead. Owen Sound also began the third with 1:33 left on a power play. But moments after coming out of the penalty box, McDavid stole the puck at the Otters’ blue line and scored on an end-to-end rush to the the score at 3 at the 1:55 mark.
Yet the Attack responded quickly to take a 4-3 lead, as Catenacci scored on a rebound in front 1:05 after McDavid’s goal. Then Catenacci’s second goal of the night and 10th of the season, scored with 8:28 left, handed the Attack a two-goal lead. The Attack sealed the win on Smith’s second goal of the game with 4:17 left.
* News and notes: Troy Donnay left the game after appearing to block a shot with his right foot. His status for tonight’s game against the Attack is unknown. Adam Pelech was able to play Friday despite a bruised left ankle suffered while blocking shots in consecutive games last weekend. … Otters coach Robbie Ftorek altered his top two lines by moving Luke Cairns to the wing alongside McDavid and Brown on the No. 1 line and putting J.P. Labardo in between Connor Crisp and rookie Hayden Hodgson on the second line.

- Victor Fernandes

Posted: October 6th, 2012

The shootout already had ventured into the ninth round. Yet Erie Otters goaltender Oscar Dansk wanted it to last longer.
After eight failed attempts, Dansk hoped to give his teammates another chance against London Saturday night at Erie Insurance Arena. But Knights rookie Kyle Platzer scored the only goal of the nine-round marathon to hand the Otters a 4-3 loss in front of 2,667 fans.
The Otters (2-3-1-1) settled for one point and three out of four during their two-game weekend homestand. Meanwhile, the Knights (4-2-0-0) earned their second straight win despite squandering a two-goal, second-period lead. Dansk finished with 19 saves on 22 shots in regulation and overtime before his stellar effort in the shootout. His counterpart, Kevin Bailie, had 26 saves on 29 shots through 65 minutes of action and several more quality saves in the shootout.
No. 1 pick Connor McDavid, Connor Brown and Stephen Harper scored for the Otters. Brown added an assist for a two-point outing.
Seth Griffith and Bo Horvat had a goal and assist apiece for the Knights, while Max Domi added a goal.
McDavid continued his impressive start to his rookie season by scoring 1 minute, 55 seconds into the opening period – his third goal in two nights and fourth goal in seven games. He slid past the Knights’ defense and slipped a shot past Bailie to hand the Otters a 1-0 lead. But that lead didn’t last long, as Domi tied the score at 1 at the 6:23 mark with his fourth goal of the season.
Domi escaped a crowd of defenders behind the Otters’ net and squeezed a shot between the right post and Dansk’s left pad. Then Griffith, who burned the Otters for three goals in an 8-2 Knights’ win in London Sept. 21, scored his seventh goal in six games to snap the 1-1 tie with 8:28 left in the period. Griffth tied Oshawa’s Boone Jenner for the OHL lead in goals.
The Otters dominated at the start of the second. They held the Knights without a shot on goal for nearly eight minutes. Meanwhile, the Otters’ offense generated several quality scoring opportunities. Yet while Bailie stymied the Otters, including key saves in close on Johnny McGuire and Luke Cairns, Bo Horvat scored on the Knights’ first shot of the period to build a 3-1 lead at the 7:56 mark.
But the Otters converted their first power play of the game, as Brown turned a fortunate bounce off a defender in front of the net into his fourth goal of the season. His rebound to Bailie’s left with 2:48 left in the period sent the Otters into the third trailing 3-2.
Then the Otters capitalized on their second power play of the game 9:27 into the third to complete the comeback. After Nick Betz stole the puck from a Knights defender, linemate Jake Evans found Harper in front for his fourth goal of the season.
Harper appeared to give the Otters a 4-3 lead on a power play late in regulation. But the officials whistled the play dead for offsides, a call Harper disagreed with but Otters coach Robbie Ftorek defended. Scott Harrington nearly sealed the Knights’ win in overtime, but his shot from the point glanced off the post and into the ground. Then the Otters killed off a power play in the final 1:32 of the extra period, sending the game into the shootout. But the Otters couldn’t beat Bailie, while Platzer slipped a shot through Dansk’s pads
* News and notes: Head coach Dan Bylsma and former forward Bill Guerin headlined a group of Pittsburgh Penguins officials at the game. Knights defensemen Harrington and Olli Maatta are Penguins prospects. … Scott Howson, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ executive vice president of hockey operations and general manager, attended both games this weekend to watch Dansk, the NHL club’s second-round draft pick this past June. … The Otters scratched Anthony Cortellessa (flu) and Dane Fox (broken foot). Liam Maaskant, Justin Felker and Mitch Eisenberg were healthy scratches. Maaskant and Eisenberg haven’t dressed for a game this season.

- Victor Fernandes

Posted: October 5th, 2012

The renovations at Erie Insurance Arena aren’t finished yet. But the Erie Otters already feel at home.
Connor McDavid scored twice, and Oscar Dansk made 34 saves, in their home debut to lead the Otters to a 5-1 win in front of a home-opening crowd of 3,474 fans Friday night. Stephen Harper had a goal and assist, while Connor Brown and J.P. Labardo added two assists apiece.
The Otters (2-3-1-0) snapped a two-game losing streak. Brampton fell to 2-3-0-1.
The Otters were excited to finally play at home after spending the first five games on the road. Then in a heartwarming and emotional pregame ceremony, the club honored Anna Ftorek, the youngest daughter of Robbie Ftorek and Wendy Ftorek who died July 21 at the age of 23, by unveiling a banner in her memory and dedicating the season to her. The players also exchanged hugs with the Ftorek family.
The Otters used that spark to gain momentum early, and then took a 1-0 lead on a goal from an unlikely source – Johnny McGuire. The physical winger scored his first goal of the season – and his fourth in 64 career OHL games – 8:48 into the opening period.
The Otters’ offense sputtered after that. The defense, which allowed 40 or more shots in every game of last weekend’s three-game trip to Peterborough, Kingston and Ottawa, surrendered 13 shots on goal in the period to a Battalion club averaging two goals per game.
Yet rookie goaltender Dansk stopped them all. He stood strong in the second perod as well with 14 more saves. Meanwhile, No. 1 pick McDavid scored in his home debut – his second goal and seventh point of the season – to hand the Otters a 2-0 lead at the 6:06 mark. The rookie center redirected Brown’s cross-ice pass past goaltender Jake Smith before barreling into the net.
Brampton began the third on the power play, as Brown took a holding penalty as time expired in the second. But the Otters capitalized instead, with Luke Cairns scoring short-handed from in close on an assist from J.P. Labardo 10 seconds into the period.
Blake Clarke‘s wrist shot from in front – his second goal of the season – ended Dansk’s bid for his first OHL shutout 7:30 into the third period. But the Otters responded with 4:51 left, as Harper slipped past the Battalion’s normally staunch defense for his third goal of the season and a 4-1 Otters’ lead. Harper tied Brown for the team lead in goals. McDavid tied them in goals two minutes later.
McDavid posted his first career two-goal game, on assists from Brown and Labardo, to open a four-goal advantage at 5-1.

- Victor Fernandes

Posted: October 1st, 2012

Erie Otters coach Robbie Ftorek often doesn’t rave about a player with only five games of OHL experience. But he’s already gushing about No. 1 pick Connor McDavid. Ftorek compares him to current NHL players Brad Boyes and Ryan O’Reilly, two of the most revered players in Otters’ history.
Here’s what Ftorek said earlier today (without me asking specifically about McDavid):
“The fans really need to come out and watch Connor McDavid play, watch his abilities. I think people in Ottawa and the people in Kingston that didn’t come out (this past weekend), it’s too bad for them because that’s the only time they’re going to get a chance to see that kid play this year.
He really is a very talented young man. It doesn’t matter if he scores or produces points or anything. But you just sit back and watch him for the game, and watch what he does, and watch his speed and his creativity, and watch the discipline that he plays with, I think you’ll understand why Sherry (Bassin, Otters managing partner and general manager) is so excited about having him here. We’re excited about having him here. He does play on a different level from everybody else. That doesn’t happen a lot. You don’t get to see that a lot.
We’ve had a few guys here, (Boyes) and (O’Reilly) and some of the other guys. But this guy is a little different than even those two guys. You don’t get that too often. He’s something to see.”

- Victor Fernandes

Posted: September 19th, 2012

Rookie goaltender Oscar Dansk didn’t practice with the Erie Otters the past few days. Instead, he skated with a group of Dave Brown‘s friends in St. Catharines, Ontario, while Dansk’s immigration paperwork was finalized.
His paperwork is complete, said Brown, Otters assistant manager of hockey operations. But will Dansk be ready to play in Thursday night’s season opener at Niagara? That will be determined before the game, coach Robbie Ftorek said today. Ftorek wants to evaluate Dansk before deciding on his starting goaltender against the IceDogs.
* Fox update: However, a decision on C Dane Fox (broken bone in left foot) already has been made. He won’t play this weekend. He has been recuperating at home in Thamesville, Ontario. So Ftorek won’t have a timetable on his return until after speaking with Fox this weekend.
If his foot is recovering well, Fox could return in another week or so. If his foot hasn’t progressed well, Ftorek said, “Who knows?” Meanwhile, forwards Connor Crisp and Jake Evans are banged, but Ftorek figures they will play Thursday. Yet Ftorek didn’t expect to finalize line combinations until after seeing both players skate at today’s practice.
* Olden waived: The club has placed overage LW Sondre Olden on waivers. Ftorek said club officials chose to keep rookie D Artem Kuleshov ahead of Olden for the second import spot because the Otters need depth on defense. Ftorek also has been impressed with Kuleshov’s play in practice.

- Victor Fernandes

Posted: September 18th, 2012

This week, I’ll break down all 20 OHL clubs division by division and unveil my predictions for the 2012-13 season. Today, let’s look at the Western Conference’s Midwest Division (listed in alphabetical order):

Erie Otters
Coach/GM: Robbie Ftorek/Sherry Bassin
2011-12 finish: 10-52-3-3, 5th division, 10th conference
Playoff finish: Did not qualify
Key players: C Connor McDavid (No. 1 pick in 2012 OHL Priority Selection; 33 goals, 39 assists, 72 points in 33 games with Toronto Marlboros minor midget), G Oscar Dansk (No. 3 pick in 2012 CHL Import Draft; 2.82 goals-against average, .910 save percentage in 28 games with Brynas in Sweden), C Dane Fox (23-31-54), RW Connor Brown (25-28-53; Toronto prospect), LW Stephen Harper (24-11-35)
Key losses: G Ramis Sadikov (6-23-3-2, 4.26, .894)
Outlook: The highly anticipated McDavid era begins in Erie, but this team has other promising players at every position. Now these young Otters have to learn how to win after enduring the worst record in franchise history a season ago.

Guelph Storm
Coach/GM: Scott Walker/Mike Kelly
2011-12 finish: 31-31-2-4, 4th division, 7th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Plymouth 4-2 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: RW Zack Mitchell (37-38-75), G Garret Sparks (27-25-1-3, 3.11, .907, 5 SO; Toronto prospect), RW Cody McNaughton (25-24-49), RW Scott Kosmachuk (30-29-59; Winnipeg prospect), D Andrey Pedan (10-30-40; N.Y. Islanders prospect)
Key losses: C Francis Menard (24-36-60; traded to Peterborough)
Outlook: The Storm are ready to take the next step in this always competitive conference. They play solid defense, led by Sparks in goal and Pedan on the blue line, and they have skill up front in Kosmachuk, Mitchell and McNaughton.

Kitchener Rangers
Coach/GM: Steve Spott
2011-12 finish: 42-24-1-1, 2nd division, 3rd conference
Playoff finish: Lost to London 4-0 in conference finals
Key players: RW Tobias Rieder (42-43-85; Edmonton prospect), D Ryan Murphy (11-43-54, +14; signed with Carolina), C Radek Faksa (29-37-66; signed with Dallas), LW Matt Puempel (34-35-69; acquired from Peterborough, signed with Ottawa), G John Gibson (21-10-0-0, 2.75, .928, 1 SO; signed with Anaheim)
Key losses: C Michael Catenacci (25-44-69), C Andrew Crescenzi (24-23-37; signed with Toronto)
Outlook: The Rangers are a perennial contender in the conference, and they made sure this season was no different with the acquisition of Puempel from Peterborough. Expect the Rangers to be near, if not at, the top of the West in 2012-13.

London Knights
Coach/GM: Dale Hunter/Mark Hunter
2011-12 finish: 49-18-0-1; 1st division, 1st conference
Playoff finish: Won league championship, lost to Shawinigan (QMJHL) in Memorial Cup final
Key players: RW Seth Griffith (45-40-85, Boston prospect), D Scott Harrington (3-23-26, +26; signed with Pittsburgh), D Olli Maatta (5-27-32, +25; signed with Pittsburgh; C Max Domi (21-28-49), C Ryan Rupert (17-31-48)
Key losses: Michael Houser (46-15-0-1, 2.47, .925, 6 SO; signed with Florida), C Greg McKegg (31-44-75; former Otter, signed with Toronto), C Vladislav Namestnikov (30-39-69; signed with Tampa Bay), RW Jared Knight (25-45-70; signed with Boston), C Austin Watson (25-43-68; signed with Nashville)
Outlook: Dale Hunter returns behind the Knights’ bench after leading the NHL’s Washington Capitals to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last season. He has work to do if the Knights are to recapture the success they enjoyed in 2011-12.

Owen Sound Attack
Coach/GM: Greg Ireland/Dale DeGray
2011-12 finish: 32-29-304, 3rd division, 6th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Kitchener 4-1 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: G Jordan Binnington (21-17-0-1, 2.99, .906, 1 SO; signed with St. Louis), C Daniel Catenacci (33-39-72; signed with Buffalo), C Gemel Smith (21-39-60; Dallas prospect), C Cameron Brace (29-27-56), D Keevin Cutting (7-18-25, +20)
Key losses: LW Mike Halmo (40-45-85; signed with N.Y. Islanders), D Jay Gilbert (10-23-33, +8)
Outlook: The Attack lost a 40-goal scorer in Halmo, but they have enough talent from back to front to make a run in the conference. But they need to be more consistent after tailing off late last season and losing in the first round of the playoffs.

- Victor Fernandes

Posted: August 28th, 2012

Erie Otters coach Robbie Ftorek wants his players to go the extra mile this season. That’s how his youngest child, Anna Ftorek, would want it.
“She always did extra,” he said of his daughter, who died unexpectedly July 21 at the age of 23.
Anna taught the young players on the soccer team she coached to do the same.
That lesson started with T-shirts she presented to first-year players. The phrase “It’s Never Crowded on the Extra Mile” were emblazoned on them, which prompted her players to continue working hard long after other players had left the field.
“How many other people are (out) there working? See, it wasn’t crowded over there. That’s what she would say,” Robbie Ftorek said. “How come I can’t get these guys to think like that? She wasn’t going to be a pro in anything. These guys think they want to be pros (in hockey). Yet they don’t get it. So I get mad (because) I know how hard she worked to get better.”

- Victor Fernandes

Posted: July 23rd, 2012

Here’s an updated story on the tragic passing of Anna Ftorek, daughter of Erie Otters coach Robbie Ftorek.

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