Showing posts with label Hockey Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hockey Canada. Show all posts

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Making Liars out of us all

# 19 Adam Tambellini (Steve Hiscock)
So a day that started out with a couple of texts between friends in North Dakota, Calgary, and Portland ended with 2013 3rd round pick Adam Tambellini in Saskatoon walking away with the game's 1st star as he led his new team the Calgary Hitmen to a 6-4 win over the Saskatoon Blades. Tambellini who informed North Dakota he was leaving their team on Tuesday evening was in contact with Calgary on Wednesday morning making arrangements to join the team in Saskatoon while the team traded a 2014 WHL Bantam 1st round pick for the rights to Tambellini.

It turned out that Tambellini has a close childhood friend on the Hitmen Greg Chase which is why the native of Edmonton wanted to play for Calgary instead of either the Portland Winterhawks or his hometown Edmonton Oil Kings. During the day, the critics ripped on Tambellini saying he made a mistake laving North Dakota (include me in this list almost) and Tambellini responded with one heck of a debut.

The game started innocent enough with Tambellini earning a secondary assist on a power play goal which tied the game up at 1-1 at 11:57 of the 1st period. Tambellini passes the puck over to the right point where Alex Roach fires a shot on net that rebounds right to Brady Brassart who has a wide open empty net to poke the puck into.

Tambellini would draw a power play for the Hitmen by attacking the net and getting tripped up for his efforts. The Blades however would score a shorthanded goal during the power play to take a 2-1 first period lead. The Blades would add another goal before the period would end to make it a 3-1 game. 36 seconds after Saskatoon would make it a 3-1 game, Tambellini would pick up a loose puck coming down the left side of the offensive zone and fire the puck on net. The puck would bounce right to Zane Jones who would make it a 3-2 game at 16:49.

Tambellini with just under 1 minute remaining in the 2nd period would take advantage of a blind Saskatoon clearing attempt as the puck wound up on his stick where he would fire and beat Saskatoon goalie Troy Trobley to ties the game up at 3-3. In the 3rd period the teams would trade goals when Tambellini would finish his night with his 3rd assist and 4th point of the night when he skated from behind the goal line where he would find a wide open Jake Virtanen for what proved to be the game winning goal.

A 4 point night, the game's first star and the ( for his efforts. SO now the big question of the night which is was this the right move by Tambellini?

If his reasoning was that he wasn't going to get ice time at North Dakota then sorry the blame is on him because North Dakota gave him plenty at the beginning of the season. Tambellini didn't produce (2-2-4 in 16 games) and all the signs were there that North Dakota was increasing his ice time. I don't want to rain on his excellent debut but Tambellini has set his own bar really high and he won't be playing 11th (out of 12) place Saskatoon every night so Tambellini is going to discover that his very skinny body just could hurt him down the road,

Anthony Duclair (Le journal
For those of you who are WWE fans then you know that for Adam Tambellini "To be the man you have to beat the man" as right now the king of New York Ranger prospects remains Anthony "The Duke" Duclair (NYR 2013 3rd). 4 point night? The Duke already has 3 of them this season (including a 4 goal game) and nothing against Tambellini but Duclair after a 2-1-3 is 35-28-63 on the season (2nd QMJHL).

Duclair has goals or points in 11 out of his last 12 games (13-15-28) oh and Quebec is now 5-0-0-2 in their last 7 games.

Kyle Burroughs had a primary assist on what turned out to be Regina's 5th goal as they had not trouble defeating the Red Deer Rebels. For Burroughs it was his 20th assist 0f the season (3-21-24) and they pushed the recomnendations for punishment. Still whiooks a a glass a of water to me.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Laughing his way to New York

Anthony Duclair (
To say that Anthony Duclair (NYR 2013 3rd) of the Quebec Remparts has not had a good 2 weeks is a huge understatement. Last week's QMJHL Telus First Star and the QMJHL Second Star of the Month for December, Duclair added signing his entry level contract with the New York Rangers all the while continuing the put on quite the show for his team.

On Sunday, Duclair scored a goal in his 6th straight game and added a primary assist to lead the Remparts to a 6-3 win over the Sherbrooke Phoenix. Duclair got the Remparts going scoring his 33rd goal of the season on the power play at the 9 minute mark of the first period. It was Duclair's 33rd goal of the season and the 10th that Duclair has scored on the power play.

Duclair would pick up his 27th assist when he fed Adam Erne for an even strength goal at 19:50 also in the 1st period. That would cap a 4 goal first period for the Remparts as they would cruise the rest of the way to extend their unbeaten streak to 6 games (4-0-0-2) and 7-1-0-2 in their last 10.

Duclair was 1-1-2 +1 on 4 shots as he improves to 33-27-60 on the season.

Mackenzie Skapski (Kootenay Ice)
The goalie prospect of the New York Rangers AKA Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Mackenzie Skapski (NYR 2013 6th) showed his Dr. Jekyll on Sunday night stealing a win for his Kootenay Ice 4-3 from the Medicine Hat Tigers and yes this win was all Skapski.

The Tigers dominated the Ice all in every area but on the scoreboard as the Tigers held a 54-20 advantage in shots. Skapski was very much up to the task especially in the 3rd period when the Tigers in trying to mount a comeback would out shoot the Ice 20-4.

Yet as solid as this "first star of the game" performance was, the question remains so why can't Skapski put a run of these kinds of performances together? Skapski has not won back to back starts since October 13th and 19th and the way Kootenay has been playing then any hope of even making the WHL playoffs is going to be on Skapski's shoulders.

Skapski is a much better goalie than his 11-12-2-1, 2.96 goals against and 0.912 save percentage show. Yes he faces more shots than most goalies do but the more he faces today just could help him become an NHL goalie later.

Ryan Graves (NYR 2013 4th) registered his 9th assist and 12th point of the season when he was credited with the only assist on Alexandre Goulet's 18th goal just 34 seconds into the game as their Charlottetown Islanders dominated the Moncton Wildcats with a 4-1 win. Graves and friends held the Wildcats to just 22 shots and a 0 for 3 on the power play.

Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th)
was scoreless as his Saginaw Spirit held off the Guelph Storm 3-2 to win their 2nd straight game. The Spirit moved back over the 500 mark (18-17-4-1) with their win.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Can Someone spare a clue or two?

Anthony Duclair (BlueshirtsUnited)
Here is a message to those of you who are trashing that the New York Rangers signed Anthony Duclair (NYR 2013 3rd) to an entry level contract on Thursday: Stop complaining about a kid who is doing exactly what you wish the New York Rangers were doing. Yes that is right he is working his butt off to EARN this contract.

Sounds harsh you bet because here is a kid who was projected to be a 1st or 2nd round draft pick but because of his own play dropped to the 3rd round. It is not the kid who is clueless because yes while he maybe 5'11 195 but that means he is bigger than Ryan Callahan was at his age. No this kid is not a part of the Ranger draft hype machine because Duclair knows his own play cost him a shot at playing for Team Canada this year.

They say that "haters are going to hate" and that is fine because Duclair in my eyes just wants to prove the world wrong. Duclair is busting his tail to prove to everyone how wrong they were about him (and yes I am included in this too). Actually I don't really care if this offends people but you are so blinded with your dislike of the Rangers that you are missing a prospect who has been doing the same things you are begging the current Rangers to do.

Here is a kid who is making the big play when his team is needing one. Yes he is 3rd in the QMJHL in scoring but include goal scoring too. Duclair has 8 power play goals (he would be leading the NYR), 5 game winners and 16 power play assist to help make up for his 31-28-57 points. Rather than bash him why not take the 7 buck from the floor and buy yourself some clues as it looks like you missed some.

Now right about now, the loss to Russia while it hurts is really the fault of the USA squad themselves. How many times were they told about making the most of every chance? How often were they told to stay out of the penalty box? You are seeing that the Russians forced the action got the calls they wanted and the final score is the right result.

No this is not because Pavel Buchnevich (NYR 2013 3rd) scored 2 goals to defeat the USA but the reality that Buchnevich stepped up his game and made plays. He rose to the occasion which is something Ranger fans have been wanting to see any Ranger player do just once. 2-5-7 in 5 games is not bad either.

Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) had a secondary assist to finish the tournament with that lone point and a +5. People will see the 0-1-1 and again get the wrong idea. Until the Russian game, Skjei and his defensive partners had played well shutting down the other guy's power play but Team USA's was nowhere to be found.

Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) may not score a lot but when he does then he makes sure that his points count. Reinhart scored the game's first goal and then fed teammate Curtis Lazar of the Edmonton Oil Kings for the insurance goal and Canada advanced to the semifinals with a 4-1 win over Switzerland. Reinhart had to sit out the first 3 games because of a suspension that carried over for last year so he is making up for lost time.

Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 2nd) was scoreless but doubt that bothers him as he is 2 wins from a gold medial.

Ville Pokka (NYI 2012 2nd) was scoreless as his Finnish team knocked out the Czech Republic 5-3. The Finns face Sweden in the semifinals.

If you looked only at the numbers then you question why Mackenzie Skapski earned a 3rd stair after his Kootenay Ice gave up 4 goals then realize that he faced 46 shots and was the only reason why Kootenay was even in this game.

Ryan Pulock (NYI 2013 1st) didn't score as his Brandon Wheat Kings dropped a 4-1 decision to the Calgary Hitmen. It was a tough loss for the Wheat Kings who were out-shot 36-24.

Finally Victor Crus-Rydberg (NYI 2013 3rd) miss Thursday's game against the Saulte Ste. Marie Greyhoumds after taking a shot off the jaw Wednesday night.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Duke is a star

Anthony Duclair QMJHL First Star of Week
What a nice way to start the week but if you missed out on hearing that Anthony (The Duke) Duclair one of the New York Ranger's 3 third round picks from the 2013 NHL draft was named the "Telus First Start of the Week" on Monday. It is kind of funny as in my book "The Duke" was deserving of this honor on a couple other occasions but this works too.

The leading scorer among Ranger prospects with an amazing 31-26-57 in just 37 games, Duclair earns his 2nd "Telus Star" of the season and if there is any justice then this won't be the last ones of the year either. Here is the press release:

BOUCHERVILLE, Monday December 30, 2013 - Anthony Duclair, Matthew Boudens and Danick Martel were named today the TELUS three stars of the week for December 23 to 29, 2013.

The first star of the week is awarded to Anthony Duclair, Quebec Remparts forward. In two games against Rimouski, Duclair scored 2 goals and added 4 assists. Saturday, he got 4 points in a 5-4 overtime win. Sunday, Anthony scored the tying goal to force overtime but the Remparts eventually lost 3-2. In 37 games this season, Duclair has collected 57 points.

Matthew Boudens of the Drummondville Voltigeurs is the second star of the week. The Voltigeurs got 2 wins against the Sherbrooke Phoenix this weekend. Boudens contributed with 5 points, 3 of them goals. In 38 games this season, Boudens has averaged almost a point per game with a total of 36.

The third star is the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada forward, Danick Martel. In two games against the Gatineau Olympiques, Martel made 2 goals and added 3 assists while maintaining a +/- of +3. In Sunday's win, Martel scored 2 goals and added 2 assists on top of being named first star of the game. In 38 games he has collected 42 points this season.

It is going to be fun watching the WHL's Eastern Conference in the 2nd half as there are 3 teams with Islander and Ranger prospects fighting it out for a playoff spot. The problem is that none of the teams teams are playing like they really want the spot as none of them can put together a consistent effort to run off some wins.

Mackenzie Skapski (NYR 2013 6th)
was weak on Friday getting yanked after 40 minutes, was "lights out fantastic" on Saturday but on Monday was back to playing weak. Nobody has been the model of inconsistency than Skapski. It is a shame too because when Skapski has his game then he is as good as anyone.

But when Skapski is not then games like the 4-1 loss to the Calgary Hitmen are the norm. Skapski played the entire 60 minutes giving up 4 goals on 40 shots. But the blame should not be placed only on Skapski's shoulders as 3 of those goals came in the 3rd period when the Hitmen turned the game into a practice shoot around. The Hitmen fired 24 shots at Skapski who by then was playing in his 3rd game in 4 nights.

No support and you get results like this as Skapski is 10-11-2-1, 2.91 goals against and a 0.910 save percentage.

Kyle Burroughs (NYI 2013 7th) and his Regina Pats are not much better as they were shut out on Friday, came back to win on Saturday only to be shut out again on Monday. Monday night it was Burroughs's Regina Pats hosting the Prince Albert Raiders and they were great hosts playing a sloppy game that in the 3rd period led to 3 Raider goals for their victory.

Ryan Pulock (NYI 2013 1st)
and his Brandon Wheat Kings were the only one of the trio to win 2 games this weekend. The Wheat Kings jumped on the Red Deer Rebels for 3 first period goals and then hung on for a 4-3 win. Pulock scored his 12th goal of the season as part of Brandon's first period attack.

Pulock was named the game's "1st star" improved to 12-18-30 on the season which is also the tops among Islander prospects.

Pavel Buchnevich (NYR 2013 3rd) and his Russia teammates just might have been looking right past the team from Finland but if they did then they got their just desserts. Buchnevich had an assist for his 4th point in 3 games but his Russian team were upset by Ville Pokka (NYI 2012 2nd) and Finland 4-1. Pokka has 2 assists in 3 games in this season's tournament.

Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) and Team Canada were also guilty of looking past Slovakia and their game with Team USA allowing Slovakia to hold a 3-2 lead going into the 3rd period. However Nic Petan of the Portland Winterhawks AKA "The Evil Empire" scored twice in the game's last 2:40 to rescue Canada from a second embarrassing overtime for a 5-3 win. Pelech was scoreless while Pokka earned his 2nd assist of the games.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

If it is Sunday then Do Not Disturb

Anthony Duclair (Sebastien Dion)
The quickest cure for lack of sleep is to watch New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects in action as someone or some team will find a way to make you smile. Now let's start off by seeing who earned our first star for the first Saturday evening of the 2nd half. If you picked Anthony Duclair (NYR 2013 3rd) of the Quebec Remparts then you are either a really loyal reader or you cheated and peeked.

First Star Anthony Duclair Quebec Remparts

If you want to talk about getting off to a good start to the 2nd half of your season then boy will you like what the Duke did. The Duke was 1-3-4 to lead his Quebec Remparts to a 5-4 overtime win over the Rimouski Oceanic. The Duke got his night going by setting up defenseman Cody Donaghey for Donaghey's 4th goal of the season which was a power play goal at 7:48 of the second period and tied the game up at 1-1.

52 seconds later it would be Duclair giving the Remparts a 2-1 lead when he converted on his 30th goal of the season at 8:40 on an even strength goal. The Oceanic and Remparts would trade goals to finish the 2nd period with a 3-2 score favoring the Remparts.

In the 3rd period, Duclair would earn a secondary assist for his 3rd point of the night giving the Remparts a 4-2 lead just 46 seconds into the 3rd period. It would not be enough as the Oceanic would rally for 2 goals to tie the game and force it to overtime. Overtime though would be where the Duke would once again help the Remparts as Duclair's 4th point of the night would be setting up linemate Kurt Etchegary for a power play goal at 2:25 and a 5-4 overtime win.

Duclair with his 3rd four point game of the season helped the Remparts pull to within 2 points of the Oceanic in the QMJHL overall standings and 2 points for 2nd place in the Telus Eat Division with the Remparts holding a game in hand. Duclair was named the game's 2nd star as he improves to 30-25-55 on the season.

The 2 teams will be taking each other on again Sunday evening.

Mackenzie Skapski (Kootenay Ice)
Second Star Mackenzie Skapski Kootenay Ice

Nothing tells you about the fight inside a young goalie than watching him go from playing a horrible game the night before, get on a bus and ride it all night then just flat out steal a game. That is exactly what Skapski did as he stopped 36 out of 37 shots to help his Kootenay Ice earn a 2-1 win over the Spokane Chiefs.

Mackenzie Skapski (NYR 2013 6th) was named the game's first star by the Spokane folks as he made a 2-0 first period lead stand up to give Kootenay 2 badly needed points in their hunt for a playoff spot in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

The Ice are fighting 5 teams for 4 playoff spots and the bad news is the Ice are in the middle of the pack with every other team holding games in hand. The Ice badly need Skapski to go on a hot streak after a very inconsistent 1st half. The win gives Skapski a 10-10-2-1 record with a 2.87 goals against and a 0.910 save percentage.

The rest of the prospect report

Brady Skjei (HHOF/IIHF Images)

Brady Skeji (NYR 2012 1st) doesn't have to score any goals to get people talking about him as they were after his defensive efforts to help Team USA defeat Slovakia 6-3 to go 2-0 in Group A play at the World Under-20 Championships in Sweden. Now look real close at the picture and find the puck.

Now come on if that doesn't make you smile to see this kid's effort then boy you are hard to please.

Russia with 2013 New York Ranger 3rd round pick Pavel Buchnevich playing on their top line had no trouble defeating Switzerland 7-1 in Group B play. Buchnevich had an assist on Russia's 7th goal of the game for his 3rd assist in 2 games.

And we have the annual freakout going on up north as Canada (GASP NOOOOOOOOOOOO) lost to the Czech Republic 5-4 in Group A play. Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) was scoreless as the Czech Republic defeated Canada for the first time ever as the Czech Rebuplic (They last defeated Canada when they were part of Czechoslovakia in 1993). So why the Canadians freak out, it was just a overtime loss which means the Canadians are 2 points behind Team USA for 1st place in Group A.

Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th) was traded from the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles to the Rimouski Oceanic for a 2014 2nd round pick in the QMJHL draft. The move gives the Oceanic one of the biggest bluelines in junior hockey as the 6'6 Leduc joins 6'7 Samuel Morin and 6'5 Beau Rusk. In his first game as a member of the Oceanic, Leduc wearing #71 was a -2 on 1 shot with 2 minors.

Ryan Graves (NYR 2013 4th) was scoreless on 4 shots and a +1 as his Charlottetown Islanders shutout the Acadie-Bathurst Titan 4-0. It was a badly needed win for the Islanders as they won for just the 2nd time in their last 10 games.

Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) must have thought he was reliving the first half of the season with the Saginaw Spirit with the only assist on the Spirit's only goal. The Spirit lost to the Windsor Spitfires 4-1 for their 4th straight loss and you can't blame Graham for he is is 0-10-10 in the last 10 games (Spirit are 1-7-2).

It took 36 games and the holiday break for Troy Donnay (NYR 2013 UFA) and his Erie Otters to lost 2 straight games but they did getting whipped 6-2 by the Kitchener Rangers. The Otters had a 2-0 lead before the Rangers would score 6 times for the win.

Donnay was scoreless with a -1 and a minor for "checking from behind" that the Rangers cashed in on for a power play goal.

24 hours later, the winning team still scored 8 times to earn the win but for Kyle Burroughs (NYI 2013 7th) and his Regina Pats, the 8-4 win over Ryan Pulock (NYI 2013 1st) and the Brandon Wheat Kings took the sting from Friday's 8-0 loss to the Wheat Kings.

Burroughs didn't score but took a minor for boarding while Pulock had an assist on Brandon's 4th goal but by then it was way over.

Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) and his Michigan Wolverines normally use the Great Lake's Shootout as their launching pad for their 2nd half. Not this year as the team that was ranked 3rd entering the 2nd half was shutout 3-0 by Michigan State to drop the consolation game. Nieves once again had Michigan's best scoring chance of the game but when you lose it doesn't matter.

Eamon McAdams (NYI 2013 3rd) did not even dress as his Penn State Nittany Lions were spanked 8-2 to lose the 3 Rivers Classic Finals.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Up way past my bedtime

Brady Skjei (USA Hockey)
Yikes it is 3 AM Saturday morning getting ready for Brady Skjei and Team USA to face Slovakia in their 2nd game of the World Under-20 Championships over in Malmo Sweden. Oh it is not like I am ignoring Pavel Buchnevich (NYR 2013 3rd) but rather I am waiting until Russia faces Sweden and Finland in their group to gauge Buchnevich since both of those teams have many a player who is on the roster of a CHL team that I get to see play on a regular basis.

Here for your reading pleasure is a feature on Team USA's blueline.

For now Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) and Canada's Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) who gets the majority of the attention until New Year's Eve when Griffin Reinhart's (NYI 2012 1st) suspension ends. Yesterday at this time Matt Trevor of USA Hockey was able to set up a telephone interview with Skjei and for a while I have been thinking Ryan McDonagh when it came to comparing Skjei as a prospect at this stage of his development.

After 30 minutes I am sure Brady Skjei also has a future as both a coach and TV commentator when his playing days are over. How can one not like someone who breaks down the game to it's simplest form and yet still isn't 20 years old? And if you are a Ranger fan worried about Skjei's development because he is playing college hockey then don't be.

As we were kids, we too had dreams of our future; well Skjei being from Minnesota included playing for the Golden Gophers in his. And his logic is flawless when you come right down to it from his college coach Don Lucia (who just so happens to be Team USA's coach) to playing on one of college hockey's traditional powers, Skjei has everything very well planned.

Welcome Back Prospects

The holiday break for those not playing in the various tournaments ended Friday night with Ranger and Islander prospects returning to a mixed bag of results. 3rd ranked Michigan with Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) were taking part in the annual "Great Lakes Tournament" which features 4 of the hockey programs playing college hockey in Michigan. Michigan was missing a couple of key players but that will not cut it as an excuse as Michigan falls to Western Michigan on a power play goal scored at the 5 minute mark of overtime.

Despite the loss I liked what I saw from an "Active" Cristoval Nieves who may not have scored but he was on the attack with 4 shots including a heartbreaking post that looked to have hit the inside of the post but did not cross the goal line. I would rather see the win but if Nieves is going to play like this then I want that even more.

Mackenzie Skapski (NYR 2013 6th) should go check his bags to see if he wound up leaving his game behind. Skapski got the yank after the game's 1st 2 periods as his Kootenay Ice lost to the Spokane Chiefs 6-4. Skapski gave up 5 goals on 31 shots in just 40 minutes before getting the yank for his efforts.

Skapski is 9-0-2-1 on the season with a 2.95 goals against and a 0.907 save percentage.

Kyle Burroughs (NYI 2012 12) returned to game action after missing just about all of the entire winter break due to suffering from concussion related issues as the Regina Pat captain could not prevent the implosions from his teammates from his teammates. Burroughs and his Regina Pats were squashed by the Ryan Pulock led Brandon Wheat Kings 8-0. Pulock scored the 6th Brandon Wheat Kings goal to improve his stats to improve his own numbers to 11-17-28 for the season.

Eamon McAdams (NYI 2013 3rd) was DNP for his Penn State Nittany Lions.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Their streak crashes to a halt

Well Sunday was not a very good day for New York sports fans or hockey prospects. Sure the Rangers earned a win but sorry I am not going to get excited over a shootout win over the Calgary Flames.

The prospects were not much better as if not for one prospect playing against another then odds are good that we would have seen a 0-4 day instead of 1-3. The Erie Otters must have read yesterday's entry as they played like they were already on vacation instead of my mistake in missing their game on the schedule.

Troy Donnay (NYR 2013 UFA)
and his Erie Otters saw their 10 game winning streak come to a crashing halt in Guelph on Sunday thanks to the Guelph Storm shutting the Otters down 5-0. To be fair to the Otters this was their 4th game in 4.5 days and their effort showed it. Guelph held the Otters to just 4 shots in the first period and sure the Otters were in the game in the first 2 periods on the scoreboard but that is misleading.

Guelph scored 3 goals in the 3rd as they held the Otters to just 7 shots and 21 overall. Donnay was scoreless of course to go along with a -2.

Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th)
and his Cape Breton Screaming Eagles got the better of Ryan Graves (NYR 2013 4th) and his Charlottetown Islanders 5-3. Leduc actually wound up setting up what would prove to be the game winning goal on his 5th assist and 8th point of the season. Leduc also was a physical presence on Sunday credited with 4 hits and a +1.

Graves also had an assist but his was a secondary one on Charlottetown's 1st goal of the game to go along with 5 shots on goal and 1 hit. For Graves the assist was his 7th of the season along with his 10th point.

Anthony Duclair (NYR 2013 3rd)
and his Quebec Remparts saw their 3 game winning streak halted by a 5-2 loss to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Duclair was scoreless on 5 shots and a -2.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Duke earns a hat trick

Anthony Duclair (
It is the weekend before the holiday break for those New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects who are not invited to try out for their national junior team. For one prospect it was a chance to send a message that perhaps he had deserved some consideration for an invite.

The rest of the prospects might prefer that I don't write about their Friday night as it got ugly for a few of them.

Tonight's Star Anthony Duclair Quebec Remparts

Last week Anthony Duclair (NYR 2013 3rd) earned the 3rd star from the QMJHL for his play. Friday night "the Duke" sent notice that he would be interested in a repeat performance as the Quebec Rempart's forward had a 4 point night to lead his Quebec Remparts to a 7-3 win over the Gatineau Olympiques.

Duclair rolled registering his 2nd hat trick of the season as well as his 2nd four point performance of the season. The night actually started pretty innocently with Duclair posting his 25th goal of the season at 6:25 of the 1st period. It was an even strength goal which was scored just 36 seconds after Quebec had opened the scoring and the goal gave Quebec a 2-0 lead.

Yet 2:47 later at 9:12 it was Duclair striking again for his 26th goal and a 3-0 Quebec lead. In the 2nd period with the Remparts up 5-0, the Duke would complete the hat trick with a shorthanded marker for goal number 27 at 13:44 and a 6-0 Quebec lead. Duclair would finish the evening with a secondary assist on Quebec's 7th goal which came in the 3rd period at 10:47.

Duclair with his 4 point evening earned the game's 1st star and the 3rd star from Yahoo's Buzzing The Net where they wrote:

Duclair knocked the wind out of the Gatineau Olympiques very early in the game. Already up 1-0, the New York Rangers prospect scored two quick goals in the first period to give the Ramparts the stranglehold on the contest. He went onto complete his hat trick late in the middle frame and helped set up a Kurt Etchegary marker in the third period, which turned out to be the 7-3 contest’s last goal.

Playing the numbers, Duclair's 4 points improved him to 27-19-46 which is good for 9th in the QMJHL (his 27 goals are 3rd best). Duclair's 4 points were on 3 shots and a +2 as well as 2 minors and 1-1 on faceoffs as his Remparts won their 3rd straight game. The shorthanded goal was Duclair's 3rd on the season.

The rest of the prospects

Ryan Graves (NYR 2013 4th) had a secondary assist as his Charlottetown Islanders ended a 9 game winless streak with a 2-1 win over the Saint John Sea Dogs. Graves assist came on the Islanders first goal of the game which tied the game at 1-1 in the 3rd period.

For Graves it was his 6th assist of the season and 9th overall point but more importantly for the Islanders it ended a prolonged winless streak that saw the team fall below the 500 mark and into 13th place in the QMJHL.

Adam Tambellini (NYR 2013 3rd) was scoreless as North Dakota defeated Northern Michigan 4-1. It was the 4th straight win for North Dakota who moved over the 500 mark with a 8-7-2 record.

Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th)
recorded the only assist on his Saginaw Spirits 2nd goal but the Spirits lost 5-2 to the Peterborough Petes. It was a shorthanded goal as Graham recorded his 7th assist since joining the Spirit and is 6-18-24 on the season.

Victor Crus-Rydberg (NYI 2013 5th) was scoreless with a minor for interference as his Plymouth Whalers let a 2-0 3rd period lead slip away for a 3-2 loss to the Sarnia Sting. The loss extended Plymouth's winless streak to 7 games (0-5-0-2).

Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th) was scoreless as his Cape Breton Screaming Eagle's 5 game winning streak ended with a 3-2 loss to the Moncton Wildcats. Leduc was quiet other than a couple of hits in the game.

Ryan Pulock (NYI 2013 1st) and his Brandon Wheat Kings might still be wondering what happened as they had a 5-3 lead over the WHL leading Kelowna Rockets going into the game's final minute. The Rockets scored twice in the final minute (19:22 and 19:51) to force overtime then added insult to injury by scoring in overtime to steal a 6-5 win over Pulock's Wheat Kings.

Pulock was scoreless and a -1 for the game.

Mackenzie Skapski (NYR 2013 6th)
gave up 3 goals on 29 shots as his Kootenay Ice were shut out 4-0 by the Red Deer Rebels. Skapski is 8-9-2 with a 2.93 goals against and a 0.905 save percentage.

Kyle Burroughs (NYI 2013 7th) missed his 4th straight game for his Regina Pats and was ruled out of action at least until the Pats return from holiday break. Stephon Williams (NYI 2013 4th) was the backup goalie for his Minnesota State Mavericks.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Off to camp they go

Adam Pelech (OHL Images)
It might have only been Wednesday night but for a couple of New York Islander prospects it was also the eve of Hockey Canada's selection camp. The camp which is getting underway On Thursday in Toronto has Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) of Edmonton and Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) of Erie invited to tryout.

Reinhart had to travel from the West Coast so he missed playing for his Edmonton Oil Kings but Pelech was in Erie helping his Otter team just lay a whipping on the Mississauga Steelheads 9-1. Pelech had a primary assist on Erie's 6th goal of the 1st period as his Otters played an almost perfect period of hockey as one could play.

Only a shorthanded goal (which Pelech was on the ice for) marred this period as the Otters cruised from there for their 8th straight win. Pelech's assist was his 16th as he improves to 8-16-24 on the season and I will be shocked if Pelech gets cut from Hockey Canada.

Teammate Troy Donnay (NYR 2013 UFA) had a secondary assist on Erie's 8th goal and a +2 as he improves to 1-7-8 +18. The Otters were the BMO CHL Top 10's top ranked team for the 2nd week in a row.

Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) had a secondary assist to go along with a +2 as his Saginaw Spirit ended a 6 game winless streak with a 6-2 win over fellow prospect Victor Crus-Rydberg's (NYI 2013 5th) Plymouth Whalers. Graham is 6-17-23 while Rydberg had a primary assist on Plymouth's 2nd goal of the game.

Crus-Rydberg is 6-18-24 as his Whalers are now winless in 6 games (0-4-0-2).

Ryan Graves (NYR 2013 4th)
scored a goal but his Charlottetown Islanders fell in the shootout to the Moncton Wildcats 5-4. What a heartbreaking loss for the Islanders who rallied behind 3 goals in the 3rd period to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Trailing 3-1 in the 3rd period, Graves got his Islanders going with his 2nd goal of the season at 1:17 of the period on a power play goal to make it 3-2. Graves is 2-7-9 on the season as the Islanders despite gaining the point extended their winless streak to 9 games (0-7-0-2).

Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) and his 3rd ranked Michigan Wolverines played to a 2-2 overtime tie with 4th ranked Ferris State in non-conference action (Michigan won the shootout round 2-1). Nieves was scoreless with a -1 but with no shots on goal. Nieves will enter the winter break with a 1-7-8 mark in 14 games as they are off until December 27th.

Kyle Burroughs (NYI 2013 7th) missed his 3rd straight game with what is now being called a concussion. Burroughs who was injured last Wednesday as the result of a dirty hit does not have any word on when he will return but odds are good it won't be until after Regina returns from their holiday break.

Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) missed his 2nd straight game for his Edmonton Oil Kings as he travels east to attend the Hockey Canada selection camp.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Duke Duclair to the rescuse

Anthony Duclair (
A pretty busy Friday night for the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects as their teams jockey for positions in the standings before the holiday break. As many as 4 of the prospects in action on Friday could see themselves heading to Europe to play in the World Under-20 championships. Anthony Duclair (NYR 2013 3rd) once again finds himself earning a star for his efforts.

Tonight's Star Anthony Duclair Quebec Remparts

Seriously it is hard to find new ways to praise Anthony (The Duke) Duclair as he has been the only Ranger prospect to show any serious offensive game this season. Duclair has been playing as if he wants to prove that last season was a fluke and he should be seen as a serious NHL prospect. Duclair earned the game's 2nd star with a 1-1-2 effort as his Quebec Remparts defeated the Halifax Mooseheads via the shootout 4-3.

Duclair had an almost perfect night as besides the points, Duclair was a +3 on 4 shots with going 0-4 on his faceoffs and missing on his shootout attempt as the only blemishes to his game. Duclair had the only assist on Fabrice Herzog's shorthanded goal at 14:13 of the first period which gave the Remparts a 2-1 lead that they took into the 1st intermission.

In the 2nd period after Halifax had scored twice to take a 3-2 lead until Duclair scored his 24th goal of the season at 14:14 to tie the game. The win moved the Remparts into 7th place overall in the QMJHL while Duclair's 1-1-2 improved him to 24-16-40 which is 10th in the QMJHL.

And while all of us (myself included) have been raving about Duclair's offense, it would be unfair not to mention the improvements in other areas of his game. After starting the season with 26 PIMS in his first 12 games, Duclair has just 8 PIMs in his last 12 games.

Duclair has earned time on the penalty kill as his defensive game has shown solid improvement since the beginning of the season. The Duke is doing very well for himself.

The Rest Of the Prospects

Taylor Cammarata (NYI 2013 3rd) had a goal, Jake Bischoff (NYI 2012 6th) an assist and Brady Skeji (NYR 2013 1st) also had an assist as their top ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers played to a 2-2 overtime tie against Michigan State (who earned the shootout point). Cammarata returned to the Minnesota lineup after missing last weekends games with an injury got Minnesota going with his 4th goal of the season which the primary assist went to Bischoff (his 2nd).

Skeji earned his 3rd assist and 5th point (2-3-5)of the season with the primary assist on Minnesota's 2nd goal. Cammarata is 4-8-12 and Bischoff 3-2-5 as the two teams will face each other on Saturday.

In a rematch of last year's WHL finals, Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) and his Edmonton Oil Kings hosted the Portland Winterhawks on Teddy Bear Toss night in Edmonton. Reinhart earned a secondary assist on Edmonton's 3rd goal but this game went to the shootout before Edmonton came away with a 5-4 win. A shame that because of travel distance that these 2 teams only face each other once a season unless they meet in the playoffs.

It was an entertaining game as Edmonton built up a 3-1 lead in the 3rd period only to see Portland come back with a goal with just 56 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Portland dominated the first period with Edmonton dominating the second. The 3rd was a wild crazy shootout with both teams putting up 17 shots each. Reinhart's assist gives him a 2-9-11 mark on the season.

Robbie Russo (NYI 2011 4th)
had a primary assist on 11th ranked Notre Dame's 3rd goal as they defeated Umass-Amherst 5-3 in Hockey East action. For Russo it was his 8th assist and 11th point of the season as Notre Dame improves to 3-3-1 in Hockey East action.

Teammate Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) remains out with a lower body injury with no timetable for his return.

Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th)
had a primary and a secondary assist but his Saginaw Spirit fell behind 3-0 in the 2nd period and eventually would lose 5-3 to the Kitchener Rangers. The Spirit are winless in their last 4 games (0-3-1-0) as Graham is now 0-4-4 with the Spirit and 6-14-20 overall this season.

Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) was scoreless as was his teammate Troy Donnay (NYR 2013 UFA) as their Erie Otters won their 6th straight game 2-0 over the Ottawa 67's. The Otters defense got the job done helping goalie Oscar Dansk earn his 4th shutout in 18 games played this season.

The Otters are a CHL best 25-4-1-0 and have gone 9-1 in their last 10 games.

Victor Crus-Rydberg (NYI 2013 5th) was scoreless as his Plymouth Whalers lost to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4-3. The Whalers dug themselves a 0-3 hole and could not recover.

Adam Tambellini (NYR 2013 3rd)
was scoreless on 1 shot as North Dakota defeated Western Michigan 3-2. Tambellini was the 4th line center and for the most part was not in the flow of the game through no fault of his own.

It seemed like every time Tambellini's line would hit the ice there would be a stoppage of play or TV timeout which led to his line being replaced. In the 3rd, I got to see Tambellini used on the North Dakota power play being used as the body in the crease trying to screen Western Michigan's goalie. Tambellini did a good job staying as a shadow setting screens but his teammates could not get the puck on net.

They list Tambellini at 6'3 but he looks bigger than that height-wise but seriously needs to hit the weight room. This could be a diamond in the rough as he skates quite well for a big man.

Ryan Pulock (NYI 2013 1st) had one of those nights where little went right as his Brandon Wheat Kings lost to the Swift Current Broncos 4-3. Pulock was scoreless but a -3 on the night.

Goalies Mackenzie Skapski (NYR 2013 6th) and Stephon Williams (NYI 2013 4th) were both "DNP" for their respective teams. Kyle Burroughs (NYI 2013 7th) was not in the Regina Pat's lineup as he has to go through the WHL's concussion protocols. Burroughs was injured Wednesday night after taking a nasty hit from Brandon Wheat King Jayce Hawryluk.

Hawryluk received a 2 game suspension for the hit and I wish the major juniors and the NCAA would adopt a rule where if a player is injured as the result of a dirty hit then the offending player is suspended for as long as the injured player is unable to play plus his suspension.

To me it is wrong that a player can be punished for a dirty play but could wind up playing while the player he injured remains out of action. Make the punishment fit the crime.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Let's here it for the defense

Adam Pelech (OHL Images)
Thursday was about the defense as 2 New York Islander and 1 New York Ranger defensive prospects saw action in big games for their team. Both teams came through with big wins with 2 of the prospects having key roles in those wins.

First Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) had 2 assists and was a +3 as his Erie Otters jumped out to a 4-0 third period lead and held on for a wild 6-4 win over the Guelph Storm. Pelech earned secondary assists on the Otter's 2nd and 3rd goals as Erie scored 3 goals over the first 2 periods.

In the 3rd period the lead would get to 6-1 before the Storm would score 3 goals in the last 5:13 of the game to make the score look respectable.

This was a matchup of the teams with the best records in the OHL as the Otters would come away with the win and a 21-4-1 record and sole possession of the top record in the OHL. Troy Donnay (NYR 2013 UFA) was scoreless and a -2 for the game as his Otters with their 21 wins in 26 games is 2 wins more than the team had during all of last season in 68 games.

Ryan Pulock (NYI 2013 1st) had a secondary assist and was a +1 as Team WHL defeated Team Russia 4-2 to win the Subway Super Series for the Canadian Juniors. It wasn't easy but the key to the win was the defense of Team WHL as they held the Russians to just 17 shots.

Hockey Canada is going to have a luxury of a decision to make as they will be loaded on the blueline. Pulock in my book should be a lock to earn a spot as he can play any spot on the blueline and produce. The Islanders just could wind up placing 3 of their defensive prospects (Griffin Reinhart, Adam Pelech and Pulock) on the Canadian team.

Friday TV Hockey

When the Rangers/Bruins game ends then switch over to ESPNU for your chance to catch Brady Skeji. Taylor Cammarata and Jake Bischoff lead their top ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers as they take on 13th ranked Wisconsin. That game will start at 5:07 PM Eastern time and when that game ends then go for the hockey triple-header catching the rest of Cristoval Nieves and his 3rd ranked Michigan playing Ohio State on the Big Ten Network.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Middle of the week losses

Subway Super Series (
It was the beginning of Hanukkah as well as Thanksgiving evening and the teams that New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects were in a giving mood. There were 4 games played and all 4 were losses for the teams that the prospects were playing for. The gift giving started early and often in a couple of the games.

In Red Deer, game 5 of the Subway Series was being played as the Russian Selects took on Team WHL which had Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) playing for them. Reinhart had the only highlight of the night for the prospect scoring a goal against the Russians just 45 seconds into the game. Reinhart following the play picked up a loose puck in the offensive zone and fired it past Russian goalie Ivan Nalimov giving Team WHL an early 1-0 lead.

The lead would not hold as Russia would take Game 5 3-2 thanks to Nalimov just standing on his head stealing the show by stopping 42 out of 44 shots. The highlights are here as Russia will take a 3-2 series lead into the final game on Thursday in Lethbridge.

Ryan Pulock (NYI 2013 1st) will be suiting up for Team WHL in this one. Victor Crus-Rydberg (NYI 2013 5th) and his Plymouth Whalers were giving away gifts as they gave a game away to the Owen Sound Attack 3-1. The Attack scored 14 seconds into the game and had a 3-0 lead just 13:15 into the game scoring their 3 goals on their first 10 shots. Crus-Rydberg was scoreless and a -2 on the night.

Ryan Graves (NYR 2013 4th) was scoreless, a +1 with 1 hit but his Charlottetown Islanders dropped a 3-2 shootout to the Saint John Sea Dogs. The Islanders are winless in their last 3 games.

Anthony Duclair (NYR 2013 3rd) was scoreless, a -1 on 2 shots with a minor for goalie interference that was turned into a power play goal as Duclair's Quebec Remparts lost 5-2 to the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. It was just not a good game out of the Remparts as they trailed 3-1 after 1 period and this game was over with.

Happy Thanksgiving Happy Hanukkah
Here is hoping that all of you have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving with your friends and family. Might I ask that when you are with those who mean the most to you that you make sure to tell them what they mean to you. As events have shown in today's world in just the blink of an eye, they could be gone.

And let us say a special word of thanks to those who protect our nation, to those who patrol our streets, to those who run to danger while others run away. Without them we do not get to enjoy the holidays like we do.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pulock WHL Player Of The Week

Ryan Pulock (Brandon Wheat Kings)
Some good news for New York Islander prospect Ryan Pulock as the captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings was named "WHL Player of the Week." The press release will follow in a moment as the New York Rangers also had something to talk about with 2 of their 2013 draft class Anthony Duclair (3rd) and Ryan Graves (4th) playing for Team QMJHL in the opening game of the Subway Super Series against Team Russia.


Calgary, AB - The Western Hockey League announced today that Brandon Wheat Kings? defenceman Ryan Pulock is the Denny?s WHL Player of the Week for the week ending November 17, 2013.

Pulock recorded two goals and five assists for seven points along with a +3 rating in three games over the past week, helping the Wheat Kings post three consecutive victories in that span.

On Monday, November 11th, Pulock picked up three assists and was named the game?s 2nd Star in a 5-3 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. On Wednesday, November 13th, Pulock tallied a power play goal as the Wheat Kings posted a 5-2 road victory over the Saskatoon Blades. On Friday, November 15th, Pulock scored his second goal in as many games and added two assists while being named the game?s 1st Star in a 6-2 win over the visiting Saskatoon Blades.

Pulock, a product of Grandview, MB, is in his fourth WHL campaign with the Brandon Wheat Kings, and currently ranks 11th among all WHL defencemen in scoring with eight goals and 21 points in 18 games this season. Chosen by the New York Islanders in the first round, 15th overall, in the 2013 NHL draft, Pulock has put up 49 goals and 168 points in 213 career regular-season contests for the Wheat Kings. He was Brandon?s seventh-round pick, 136th overall, in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft.

Subway Super Series

The annual event pitting Team Russia taking on teams from the 3 Canadian Junior Leagues got underway with Game 1 in Gatineau with Ranger prospects Anthony Duclair (2013 3rd) and Ryan Graves (2013 4th) on the Team QMJHL roster. The series is used by Hockey Canada as part of their evaluation process for their World Under-20 squad although neither Duclair or Graves have a realistic chance of being invited to tryout this year.

Game 1 went the way of Team QMJHL 3-2 with neither Ranger prospect scoring but Graves did earn a +1 when he was on the ice for Team QMJHL's 2nd goal. Both prospects will get to play in Game 2 on Wednesday when the series shifts to Sherbrooke.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A tale of two defensemen

Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton Oil Kings)
Thursday night saw just 2 New York Islander prospects see action and in their own way, it was a study in contrasts. Both are defensemen, both are captains on their respective teams but that is what the comparisons end. Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) is the captain of the Edmonton Oil Kings, he camethisclose to sticking with the Islanders this season and he has everything going for him as in the case with most 1st round draft picks.

Reinhart is a lock for Hockey Canada's Under-20 team and just might be their captain as well. Reinhart has won a WHL championship, played in a Memorial Cup and twice played in the WHL finals. He is one of the best young defensemen that Canada has produced and will be a mainstay in the Islander lineup when he eventually makes the team. For now he is leading his Edmonton Oil Kings to wins like the one they had against the Moose Jaw Warriors on Thursday evening when they spotted Moose Jaw a 1-0 lead and roared right back earning a 6-2.

It was Edmonton's first home game in 24 days and the Oil Kings made the most of being home. The first star of the game, Reinhart was a 1-2-3 scoring Edmonton's 1st goal of the game and then adding 2 secondary assists to help Edmonton move into 3rd place in the WHL's Eastern Conference and just 3 points behind 2nd place Medicine Hat. With Moose Jaw already up 1-0, Reinhart blasted a point shot in at 16:38 to tie the score.

It was Reinhart's 2nd goal of the season but he wasn't finished as Reinhart would add 2 secondary assists on Edmonton's 2nd and 4th goals of the game. Edmonton wins as Reinhart has his 3rd three point game of his WHL career and improves on the season to 2-7-9.

Edmonton wins for the 8th time in their last 10 games.

The flip side is defenseman Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) and his Niagara IceDogs who are in a "rebuilding mode." You might as well say guaranteed losing season as the IceDogs are heading in the opposite direction of the Oil Kings. The IceDogs dropped an 8-4 decision to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for their 3rd straight loss and 8th in their last 10 games.

The IceDogs have the 4th worst record in the OHL and for someone like Graham who is the captain of the IceDogs, it hurts his chances at earning an offer from the Islanders. Graham as it is happens to be a lower round pick so unlike Reinhart who was pretty much a lock for a NHL deal, Graham has no contract and odds are won't get one unless Graham and his team have a drastic turnaround.

That sadly does not look like it has a chance of happening.

Penn State was in action on Thursday but Eamon McAdam (NYI 2013 3rd) was "Did not play" as his Penn State Nittnay Lions lost to UMass Lowell 4-0.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Silencing critics

J.T. Miller (Blueshirts United)
Pretty sure that Team USA didn't need an airplane to fly home after capturing the gold medal in the World Under-20 Championship. For New York Ranger prospect J.T. Miller it was also a chance to silence those who doubted his potential as an NHL player.

Miller was moved to center for Team USA and centered the first line for the American squad. It wasn't a perfect line but when US coach Phil Housley inserted Jim Vesey to the line then it took off.

Miller finished with a 2-7-9 which was good for 3rd on Team USA and 9th in the tournament. In case you missed it, it was Miller who made the play on the dagger goal breaking up the offensive attack and feeding Vince Trocheck perfectly for the empty net goal that sealed the win and Gold Medal for the US.

First I will eat some crow as I did not think it was a wise move by the Rangers to allow Miller to play in this tournament. It was a risky move as seen by the players who were hurt but in the end Miller comes away with a gold medal and was a key player in the medal round for Team USA.

For those of you who still feel that Miller is not NHL material please remember it was an outstanding performance by Derek Stepan in 2010 that was the spring board for his making the Rangers. Miller is just 19 and way too much criticism have been leveled against Miller by those who really aren't aware that the CT Whale as a whole are struggling.

Unlike many other NHL teams, the Rangers have most of their younger talent playing in the NHL and aren't eligible for the AHL. Miller who again is just 19 and in his 1st professional season is 5-9-14 in 26 games for the Whale. Forgive me but those aren't bad numbers for a teenager in the AHL. Miller is on his way to becoming an effective right winger for the Rangers. Just give him some time to grow up please.

Also doing some silencing of his critics was Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks. I do need to thank Mr. Jones because by the end of the World Under-20's I wasn't getting nasty emails talking about Nathan MacKinnon being the far superior prospect.

Yes Jones had a bad game in the preliminary round but when the smoke cleared there was Jones as the 2nd leading scorer among defensemen with his 1-6-7. I will say it now that nothing against MacKinnon (or Aleksander Barkov) but if I have the first pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft then I am taking Jones. Jones is a franchise changer, a player who you can build your team around much like the Rangers once did with Brian Leetch.

Defense wins championships and that starts with Seth Jones who now has 2 gold medals for Team USA in under 12 months.

Brenden Kichton (Spokane Chiefs)
Tonight's First Star Brenden Kichton Spokane Chiefs

Friday night Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) had a quiet night in playing in his 300th WHL game as a member of the Spokane Chiefs. Saturday was a different story as the Chiefs were in Seattle to take on the Thunderbirds.

Kichton earned the 1st star of the game with a 1-1-2 +3 performance leading the Chiefs to a 5-2 win. With the Chiefs holding on to a 3-2 lead halfway into the 3rd period; it was Kichton who ended the Seattle threat by setting up one goal and scoring another one to put this one away. Kichton is now 11-36-47 on the season which leads all WHL defensemen.

The Rest of the Prospects

Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) was scoreless but that did not stop his Baie-Comeau Drakkar from winning their 5th straight game 3-2 over the Shawinigan Cataractes. Noreau was credited for 1 shot and 2 hits as the streaking Drakkar moved into 2nd place overall in the QMJHL.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and his Edmonton Oil Kings are also streaking as they shutout the visiting Vancouver Giants 5-0 for their 4th straight win. St. Croix had a secondary assist on the Oil Kings 3rd goal for his 28th assist and 49th overall point.

Edmonton is leading the WHL's Eastern Conference by 3 points and trail Western Conference leading Portland by 8 points for the best record overall. Speaking of Edmonton, the IIHF held a news conference trying to justify handing Oil King Captain Griffin Reinhart a 4 game suspension. Here is the link but I suggest that you put on hip-waders because their "justification" gets really deep. In this case the less they said the better off they would be.

Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) and his Guelph Storm were paying the London Knights a visit and came away with a point after losing 3-2 in overtime. The Storm had a 2-0 lead but could not hold it.

Pedan took a cross-checking minor for his 86th PIM this season and London used it to scoring the game tying goal. Pedan keeps play with fire and this time he burnt his own team.

Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) and his Erie Otters can claim a 2 game unbeaten streak despite falling to the Sarnia Sting 5-4 via the shootout. Pelech did not score but was a +1 on the game.

Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) and his 11th ranked Denver Pioneers hosted 12th ranked Cornell in the 2nd game of their weekend series. The Pioneers earned a 2-1 win to sweep the weekend series.

The Cornell Red made sure that they expressed their unhappiness with some ugly behavior at the final buzzer.

Cody Rosen (NYI 2010 7th) was DNP as his Clarkson Golden Knights were beaten 6-2 by UMass-Lowell. Not much one can say when a season with high expectations is falling apart.

Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th) missed his 3rd straight game with a lower body injury as his Cape Breton Screaming Eagles fell to the Moncton Knights 4-0. The loss dropped the Screaming Eagles into 17th in the QMJHL or out of the last playoff spot in the QMJHL.

No update on Leduc's injury has been given.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Strange but true (Russian) hockey stories

(New York Islanders)
The New York Islander and New York Ranger prospect report for Friday night is more about head scratching and wondering what people in Russia are smoking. Got to start with what was a jaw dropper when I got the word of Griffin Reinhart's 4 game suspension by the IIHF.

Now I am all for players being held accountable for their actions but in this case this is a totally bad suspension especially when you look at other plays from the Under-20 tournament. Even more mind boggling is between the video (coming right up) and Reinhart's rep for being an almost squeaky clean player.

A Stick Tap to our friend Neate Sager of Buzzing the Net who points out other plays that were clearly much worse but yet don't even come close to the punishment leveled on Reinhart. Reinhart misses out on the Bronze Medal game against Russia but will have 3 more IIHF games left to serve (the suspension will not affect Reinhart's play in the WHL) and there is a very good chance that Reinhart who is just 18 won't be made available by the Islanders next year if he is in the NHL.

Reinhart would not be eligible to play until the 4th game of next year's tournament which means Hockey Canada would have to carry Reinhart on the roster leaving the team a player short for 3 games. Just a flat out poorly judged call by the IIHF.

Just flat out dumb.

But speaking of dumb, I thought that New York Ranger fans and Canadian fans set new lows when it came to trashing their teams. That is until I got to read about the war of words going on between Alexander Semak and the Russian team.

The accusations that the players were out partying until 5AM (with no names of which players of course) was met with a response from the Russian players. Makes one wish for a John Tortorella 90 second speed press conference.

Adam Pelech (OHL Images)
Tonight's Star Adam Pelech Erie Otters

The only player who earned a star for his play on Friday didn't score any points but helps make my argument about the need for some defensive stats like blocked shots, forced turnovers, hits and disrupting the other team's attack. That is what Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) did to help his Erie Otters earn a 1-0 win over the Barrie Colts.

The Barrie Colts as in the OHL's Eastern Conference leading team being shut out by an Otter team that sits in last place in the OHL's Western Conference. An Otter team playing their backup goalie while their starter is away at the Under-20 Championships.

Pelech earned the game's 2nd star in helping Devin Williams earn his very 1st OHL shutout and even better is that the Otters with the win are just 4 points out of a playoff spot.

The Rest Of the Prospects

Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) and his Niagara IceDogs will be very happy to get back their missing players who are away at the Under-20 Championships. The IceDogs dropped their 2nd straight game, this time 5-2 to the Mississauga Steelheads.

Graham was scoreless and a -2 for the game. Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) missed this game with a hip pointer that he suffered in Niagara's last game.

Theoret is expected to miss this weekend's games for sure but his status is unknown after that.

Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) had 2 primary assists as his Saskatoon Blades doubled up the Prince Albert Raiders 6-3. McColgan had assists on the Blade's 1st and 5th goals in helping the Blades jump into 5th place in the WHL's Eastern Conference as well as to pull within 8 points of the East Division leading Raiders.

McColgan is now 11-30-41 for the season.

Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) had a secondary assist as his Spokane Chiefs dropped a 3-2 decision to the Everett Silvertips. It was Kichton's 300th game as a member of the Chiefs, an accomplishment that only 7 others had achieved with Kichton being the first defenseman to do so.

Kichton's assist brings him to 10-35-45 on the season.

In Denver, Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) and his 11th ranked Denver Pioneers hosted 12th ranked Cornell in a non-conference matchup. The Pioneers had little trouble defeating Cornell going wire to wire with a 5-1 win.

Mayfield was scoreless on 2 shots but was ejected with 5 seconds remaining for grabbing a facemask and roughing which also led to the game misconduct. I really got to wonder what Mayfield would have been like playing junior hockey.

Mayfield is 6'4 and already over 200 with a bit of attitude to his game.

In exhibition action, Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) was one of the few bright spots for his Michigan Wolverines as they lost 5-3 to the USNTDP Under-18 team. It was the first time that the Under-18 defeated Michigan in 13 tries.

Nieves in addition to the goal was the leading Wolverine in face offs going 9-6 for the game.

Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th) missed his 3rd game with a "lower body injury" for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. There is no update as to his status.

Cody Rosen (NYI 2010 7th) was "DNP" as his Clarkson Golden Knights lost to UMass-Lowell 2-1.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Internet Courage

(Paramount Pictures)
Wow welcome to 2013 and still the age of the classless racists. Congrats Canada you have stupid people who use twitter and other internet social networking places too.

Reading Neate Sager's piece how some took to twitter to lob racial insults at Canadian goalie Malclom Subban after Canada was defeated by Team USA 5-1 in the World Under-20 Championships.

As it is there is a large segment of Canadian hockey fans who react badly when one of the teams lose in a big tournament game like this. What is more disappointing in looking at the twitter feeds that Sager posted is that most if not all are young white males in the age bracket of those playing in the Under-20s.

Almost 24 hours after the fact of those 13 tweeters that Sager cited; 11 still had the tweet still posted, 1 appears to have closed his twitter account and 1 removed the offensive tweet.

And before any Ranger or other Americans jump on their high horses; there are a very large group of Americans who are equally as guilty of using social media to post racially charged remarks of their own.

The recent Presidential election was full of remarks that are equally bad. It is strange but those are the same people who deny that they are racist in any way. It is not your words that will prove that you aren't racist but rather your actions.

The saddest use of social media I have seen comes with the disclaimer that "I am just blowing off steam" when posting really offensive remarks towards athletes. I guess I wasn't aware of the rule that says social media makes things OK for a person to trash a person with offensive posts.

In examining my own behavior I too have been guilty of using social behavior to trash players, coaches and my favorite target Gary Bettman. I tend to make smartass remarks about those folks but a case can be made that I too have to change my own behavior.

Maybe this is a good time for all of us to look at our own behaviors and stop hiding behind the internet to trash others. It makes us all look bad.

Game Action

Just 3 games on the schedule for Thursday involving New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects. It is also the trading period for the 3 CHL leagues as many either prepare for a playoff run or start a rebuild for next season.

The Edmonton Oil Kings are trying to defend their WHL Championship and after a sluggish start have found their game as they lead the WHL's Eastern Conference. On Thursday they visited the Lethbridge Hurricanes who are currently in 5th place.

While the Hurricanes at times had the better of the play, the Oil Kings earned a 4-0 win in large part because of their goalie Laurent Brossoit who turned away 45 shots for the win. Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) was scoreless but a +2 on the night.

Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) had a secondary assist on the game's 1st goal as his Baie-Comeau Drakkar earned their 4th straight win; a 5-4 shootout win over the Rimouski Oceanic.

The Drakkar scored with 1 second remaining in regulation to force overtime pulled to within 2 points of the Oceanic who lead their division and have the 2nd best record in the QMJHL. The Drakkar now have the 3rd best record and are 4th overall in the QMJHL.

Noreau with his secondary assist improves to 6-16-22 on a 0-1-1, -1, 2 shots night.

The OHL's Eastern Conference leaders, the Barrie Colts paid the Niagara IceDogs a visit while the IceDogs were missing their 3 top players who are away at the World Under-20 Championships. Mitchell Theoret (2011 7th) and Jesse Graham (2012 6th) were in the lineup for Niagara but were not enough.

Barrie taking advantage of their power play opportunities earned a 4-1 win to increase their lead over the IceDogs to 5 points. Neither Islander prospect made the scoreboard but Graham was a -2 and had a -2.

Going for Gold

I will be the first to admit that I was not a fan of J.T. Miller player for Team USA in this tournament as I did not see what the Rangers gained from allowing Miller to play. Most NHL teams won't release their players to the Under-20 tournament out of fear of injury.

But now I can see why the Rangers sent Miller to play for Team USA; it was partly to give Miller a shot of confidence in his game. But the biggest reason I can see is that it went a long way in silencing Miller's critics.

Miller can play and if you doubt it then you have not been watching Miller play. Miller is 2-6-8 and has improved with each passing game.

Good for him and a stick tap to the Rangers who made a strang case for their 2011 1st rounder.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year / Happy Birthday

Shane McColgan (Steve Hiscock)
Well a Happy New Year for the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects who got to play on New Year's Day. Both players saw their team earn wins and in the case of one it was a badly needed win.

For Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th), it was both Happy New Year and Happy Birthday as the Ranger prospect celebrated his 20th birthday with a goal and an assist to lead his Saskatoon Blades to a 6-2 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers. The win broke a 4 game losing streak for the Blades and got their 2013 part of their season on the right foot.

Saskatoon jumped on Medicine Hat for 3 first period goals with McColgan scoring the 3rd of the three. McColgan took advantage of a puck falling in front of him in the slot firing it in for his 11th goal of the season at 7:31 of the first.

In the 2nd period, McColgan fired a shot that bounced in off the body of Lukas Sutter to earn a primary assist on Saskatoon's 5th goal. The goal scored at 16:54 of the 2nd period was a power play goal and was McColgan's 28th assist of the season.

The Blades would make it 6-0 in the 3rd period before Medicine Hat would score 2 third period goals to make it a 6-2 final score. That turned McColgan's goal into the game winner (his 4th) and he is now 11-28-39 on the season.

Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) and his Guelph Storm spent their New Year's Day in Oshawa taking on the Oshawa Generals stealing a 2-1 win with a last minute goal in the 3rd period.

Pedan earned his 17th assist on the year with a primary assist on Guelph's 1st goal which came at 5:54 of the 1st period and in between Pedan's trips to the penalty box. Pedan was called for roughing at 3:29 of the first and 25 seconds after Pedan left the box earned his assist at 5:54.

Then 9 seconds later at 6:03, Pedan was sent back to the penalty box this time for tripping. In the 2nd Pedan took his 3rd minor of the game on an interference call at 17:32.

Pedan after the assist and 6 minutes in penalties is now 9-17-26 and 78 PIMs. Pedan is 5th in the OHL in penalty minutes.

USA vs the Czech Republic

Since most people will be reading this after the game had been played then the best thing to offer is forget any fancy plans by Team USA. If they won the game then hopefully it will have been because they remembered how they played against Slovakia.

If that USA team showed up then we would be talking about USA/Canada 2 in the semi-finals. If the USA played like they did in the games against Russia and Canada then it will be a loss because in those games the USA played to stop those teams instead of forcing those teams to stop the USA.

This is a very young USA team and really anything they do this year will greatly help them next year when they should be seen as a top favorite. If you are up at 4 AM EDT/1 AM PDT then catch me on twitter.

Monday, December 31, 2012


Brady Skjei (Minnesota Golden Gophers)
Hockey is really best played when those playing stick to the basic fundamentals of the game. It is a matter of K.I.S.S. which in English means "Keep It Simple (you have several choices for the last "S)."

In watching Team USA at the World Under-20 Championships against Canada; there were 2 areas in which if Team USA had followed then the outcome of the 2-1 loss might of been different. The first was getting bodies in the crease area to set screens and to force the defense to concentrate on his presence.

Instead all 5 players on the ice whether it was at even strength or on the power play spent their time on the outside which made Canada's defense look way stronger than what it really was.

Team USA by not getting pucks and bodies to the net at the same time was making Canadian goalie Malcolm Subban look like a future Hall of Famer. Really Subban has it easy for most of the game as he had clear vision on just about every shot and a defense in front of him to clear rebounds.

The old cliche of "Good things can happen when you get the puck on the net" is the truth here as the more bodies in the crease area then the harder you make it for the goalie.

The other area which cost the USA was whatever caused their brains to stop working as they were trying to tie the game. They had the game's momentum turning into their favor but then on ice discipline disappeared.

5 straight penalties that were all bad penalties and sorry one can't complain about the officiating here. The IIHF has made it clear about head shots and the refs have been consistent in calling them.

So now the US has to beat Slovakia to grab the 3rd spot in the medal round. Don't take Slovakia lightly as they put scares into Russia and Canada despite losing.

Rest of the Prospects

Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) and his 4th ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers were taking on the top ranked Boston College Eagles in a rematch of last year's Frozen Four semi-final won by Boston College 6-1. This was the finals of the Mariucci Classic and really a Minnesota home game with a sellout crowd of 10230 in attendance.

Minnesota got payback and then some with a 8-1 whipping of the Eagles to win the Mariucci Classic. No Skeji did not register points as Minnesota treated this as a NCAA tournament preview.

Too many people are seeing that he is a 1st round pick and forgetting that he is just 18. In my lifetime I have only known 2 players who at 18 had their game perfected and sorry Skjei is not the next Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky.

Skjei got time on both special team units because of the game being a blowout late in the game. Defeating number one in the USA is a huge confidence booster and it will pay dividends down the road.

Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd)
and his Michigan Wolverines defeated Michigan State 5-2 to claim 3rd place in the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit. It helped stop the bleeding for a Michigan team that is under 500 (7-10-2) which is a rare event for this program.

Nieves had a secondary assist on Michigan's 4th goal as that raises Nieves to 3-10-13 which is good for 2nd on the Michigan team. Nieves also was 9-9 on faceoffs and a +1.

Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) was scoreless while taking 4 shots as his Baie-Comeau Drakkar defeated the Chicoutimi Saguenéens 2-1 for their 3rd straight win. The win helps keep the Drakkar in 4th place in the QMJHL standings and 3 points behind division leading Rimouski.

Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) and his Saskatoon Blades are back to struggling as the Blades dropped their 4th straight game; this time it was 6-2 to the Regina Pats. McColgan was held scoreless to end his 9 game scoring streak (4-9-13).

This is a team that really not good enough to play in the Memorial Cup let alone host it.

World Under-20 Preview

It is really this simple; show up ready to play from the first puck drop. Heep the game simple and keep (a) playing a disciplined game and (b) get pucks and body to the net.