Saturday, April 19, 2014

Win Some Lose Badly

Ryan Graves (Val-dO'r Foreurs)
We are down to the Final Four in the 3 CHL leagues with ironically 2 New York Ranger and 2 New York Islander prospects left alive with all 4 being defensemen. The question though is which of the 4 will make it to the 2014 Memorial Cup.

Ryan Graves (NYR 2013 4th) is perhaps the least known of the Ranger prospects but if I was going to bet on which prospect had the best chance to hoist the Memorial Cup then Graves is my pick. In game 1 of the QMJHL semifinals Graves and his Val-d'Or Foreurs were in Halifax to take on the Mooseheads.

At first it looked like Halifax was going to dominate this game grabbing an early 1-0 lead on an even strength goal at 6:02. The lead looked like it would last until the Foreurs tied the game up with an even strength goal of their own at 14:28. Exactly 3:10 later, Graves would earn a secondary assist on the Foreur's 2nd goal of the game giving them a lead they would not give up.

The Foreurs would go on to earn a 5-2 win to grab a 1-0 series lead and steal away home ice advantage from the Mooseheads. Graves had a night full of "1's" as he had the 1 assist on 1 shot and was a +1 with 1 hit and a minor penalty for elbowing. Graves assist was his 3rd point of the playoffs.

Game 2 of this series will be Saturday night in Halifax.

In the OHL, the Erie Otters led by the twin defenders Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) and Troy Donnay (2012 NYR UFA) were on the road for game 2 of their OHL Western Conference Final against the Guelph Storm. This one was ugly as the Storm grabbed a 3-0 first period lead and cruised to a 7-2 win and a 2-0 series lead.

The Otters seem to have a goalie problem as game 1 starter Devin Williams was replaced by Oscar Dansk who gave up 7 in this loss. Neither Donnay or Pelech scored but Donnay was a -1 while Pelech was a -2 with a minor for interference. The series switches to Erie with the Otters facing a ton of questions starting with which goalie plays?

Game 3 will be Monday.

And those Medicine Hat Tigers, their reward for their remarkable series comeback after falling behind 3-1 was a series against the defending WHL Eastern Conference Champions the Edmonton Oil Kings with 2012 Islander first pick Griffin Reinhart. The Oil Kings would score the games first 7 goals in less than half the game and would cruise to an 8-3 win and a 1-0 series lead.

Reinhart scored the Oil King's 6th goal for his 2nd goal of the playoffs and 7th overall point. Reinhart was also a +3 but his biggest contribution might have come just 32 seconds into the game when he took a roughing minor as perhaps the Tigers were looking to set a tone and Reinhart the Oil Kings Captain stopped them dead in their tracks.

Game 2 will be Sunday.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Death of a Season

The Undertaker (WWE)
It has been a pretty good playoff season with a mostly competitive bunch of games and until Tuesday evening there had not been a really bad elimination for one of the prospects. But sadly for Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th) and his Rimouski Oceanic we bring out the Undertaker to bury them after they gave away game 7 of their QMJHL playoff series with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.

The Oceanic let a 4-0 first period lead disappear and lost in sudden death overtime 8-7 to see their season come to a disappointing ending. There really is not a whole lot one can say when you give away that kind of lead but that is what the Oceanic did. Their 4-0 first period lead started disappearing really quickly in the 2nd period as the Armada scored twice in the first 2:02 of the period.

The Oceanic would answer to make it a 5-2 lead at 3:49 but the Armada came right back with yet another goal 38 seconds later to make it a 5-3 game. The Armada would add a power play goal before the period ended to only trail by 5-4 setting up a wild finish.

In the 3rd period, the Armada would tie the game up at 5-5 at the 1:59 mark, take their first lead of the game at 6:35 at 6-5. The Oceanic would not go away as they tied the game back up at 6-6 with a goal at 12:20 and then would regain the lead at 7-6 at 16:14. This time it would be the Armada who did not quit as they forced overtime when they scored 44 seconds later at 17:08 and it was off to sudden death overtime.

In the overtime the Armada would score the series winner capping a 2 game comeback and send their team off to the QMJHL semifinals. It is a sad ending for the Oceanic who had a magnificent run down the home stretch winning 16 straight games but they can only blame themselves.

For Loic Leduc it now becomes decision time as the 6'6 defender needs to be signed by the Islanders or take his chances as an overage player next season in the QMJHL. Honestly I don't believe Leduc despite some major strides he has made this season deserves a NHL entry level contract because he needs a lot more work on everything.

But if the Islanders don't sign him there will be someone who will as size is the one area you can't teach.

So what is left of the prospects?


Islanders:

Griffin Reinhart (2012 1st) defense Edmonton Oil Kings
Adam Pelech (2012 3rd) defense Erie Otters

Rangers

Troy Donnay (2013 UFA) defense Erie Otters
Ryan Graves (2013 4th) defense Val-d'Or Foreurs
Mackenzie Skapski (2013 6th) goalie with a game 7 Wednesday evening in Medicine Hat