Flyers star shoots 4-for-4, apologizes to ref

Updated: February 8, 2004, 12:54 AM ET
Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jeremy Roenick had a perfect night, showing off his precision shooting and apologizing to a referee.

Roenick knocked out all four targets in only four shots to win the accuracy shooting event in the NHL All-Star skills competition Saturday night.

That helped lift the Eastern Conference to a 13-6 victory over the West.

Before he displayed his shooting touch, Roenick issued an on-ice apology to referee Blaine Angus, who was officiating the contest.

The Philadelphia Flyers forward threw a water bottle at Angus on Jan. 13 after a high-sticking penalty wasn't called against Buffalo. Roenick was struck in the face, but Angus said he didn't see it.

"You can't be a hard guy all the time. Sometimes, you have to suck up your pride and apologize," Roenick said.

For his earlier actions, Roenick was thrown out of the game and given a one-game suspension. He gave up $93,000 in salary but got his money's worth by saying Angus did "a terrible job."

"Obviously, it's been on my mind a lot," Roenick said. "We're one big family, and we have to act like it even if we lose control from time to time.

"It was just set up right, and I took my opportunity."

In this feel-good weekend, Roenick called over to Angus during an interview and said he was sorry.

"My apologies for the water bottle, buddy," Roenick said. "You're a good referee, and I think everybody in this place should know it."

Angus later told The Associated Press he appreciated Roenick's sentiments.

"I was very surprised. It was very nice of him to make those comments," Angus said. "It is a big family, and we're all out there to improve the sport."

Then Roenick drew more cheers by winning the accuracy shooting contest for the third time in his career and for the second straight year.

Roenick captured the event in South Florida last season by hitting the four targets in six shots. In 1999, he shared the title with Ray Bourque and Keith Tkachuk -- again hitting four in six tries.

"I finally looked like a 400-goal scorer instead of missing the net," Roenick said.

The West got off to a good start by taking both points in the puck control relay.

Martin St. Louis almost rescued a point for the East after teammate Nick Boynton lost the puck in the control relay. St. Louis started well after Shane Doan in the relay's final leg, but the small speedster from Tampa Bay nearly caught him with a lunge to the finish line.

The Western Conference swept the event when 19-year-old Rick Nash of Columbus beat Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson in the one-on-one race. Nash is the first teenage All-Star since 1992.

Devils interim captain Scott Niedermayer got the East on the scoreboard by flying around the rink in 13.783 seconds, winning the fastest skater event for his second time. He was tops in 1998 when he posted a time of 13.560 seconds.

The East earned a second point by recording the fastest average for its three skaters.

Niedermayer is serving as captain for Stanley Cup champion New Jersey while Scott Stevens recovers from a concussion that also kept him out of the All-Star festivities.

New York Islanders defenseman Adrian Aucoin and Montreal's Sheldon Souray kept the good times rolling for the East by firing shots that hit 102.2 mph on the radar gun. Seven-time champion Al MacInnis of St. Louis wasn't around to defend his title as he has missed most of the season with an eye injury.

"I was happy it was over because I was sweating a little bit there," Souray said.

Local favorite Dwayne Roloson of the host Minnesota Wild heard chants of "Rollie, Rollie" when he was perfect against East shooters Keith Primeau, Boynton and Glen Murray in the new "In the Zone" event, which simulates an odd-man advantage near the goal.

"It was fun," said Roloson, a first-time All-Star. "A little nervous at first. But I got moving around there and sort of forgot about everything."

Florida's Roberto Luongo was also perfect in the event, offsetting Roloson's performance.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press