Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lucky Seven

First Star

Ryan Hillier is a very likable young man who people seem to have the wrong idea about. If you want to look at a player who is willing to do whatever is asked of him to help the team win there is Hillier.

If you think the Rangers are the only hot team think again as Ryan Hillier's Halifax Mooseheads are just a step ahead of them. Hillier's Mooseheads won their 7th straight game this time an easy 6-2 win over the Shawinigan Cataractes.

Hillier the 2006 3rd round draft pick added his 17th goal along with assist number 15 to help key this win. Hillier's assist (shorthanded) is what got the Mooseheads off on to a lead in the first period.

Hillier's 17th goal of the year was his 7th power play goal of the season. The 2 points that Hillier picked up in the game also moved him into 10th in the QMJHL scoring race.

As for the Mooseheads they currently lead the QMJHL with 40 points and should take over the top spot in the next CHL Mosak Mastercard Rankings due out Wednesday.

Second Star

Tomas Zaborsky's 11th goal of the year was the game winner as his Saginaw Spirit earned a very tough 3-1 road win over the Erie Otters in OHL action. For Zaborsky it was his 9th goal in his last 9 games.

It has been a struggle this season for the Spirit but if Zaborsky can keep up his scoring the Spirit will get back into the playoff hunt.

For Zaborsky it was his first game winner of the season and overall he is now 11-12-23 on the year.

Third Star

Speaking of streaks there is this small matter of 2007 2nd round pick Antoine Lafleur who is on a streak of his own. Lafleur won his 3 straight game backstopping his Prince Edward Island Rocket to a 4-3 win over the Moncton Wildcats in QMJHL action.

Lafleur had 38 saves of which 20 were considered dangerous (serious scoring chances) and helped to earn him just his 6th win of the season. Lafleur is also slowly lowering his GAA to 4.37 and hopefully is emerging from the funk he was suffering from earlier in the season.

Lafleur has a ways to go before one can say he has regained the form that earned him his draft status but there remains a lot of hockey in the season.

The Rest of the Prospects

Max Campbell scored his 3rd goal of the season but his Western Michigan Broncos were outmatched by the 10th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish 5-1.

Billy Ryan did not score as his Maine Black Bears dropped a heartbreaker to the Merrimack Warriors 2-1. The very young Black Bears (they start as many as 9 freshmen) saw their season record drop to 4-6-1.

Carl Hagelin did not score but his top ranked Michigan Wolverines had no problem with Lake Superior State 6-2.

Jordan Foote did not score and his Michigan Tech Huskies lost to Minnesota Duluth 4-1.

Greg Beller was once again a healthy scratch as his Yale Bulldogs defeated St. Lawrence. Due to Beller being a healthy scratch over the last several games we are going to stop listing the Yale games until Beller returns to the lineup. I make this call because unlike the pros who get paid, Beller is a college student first and a hockey player second.

When Beller returns to the Yale lineup we will resume covering his team but Beller is a good kid who wants to be a doctor when he graduates from Yale and does not deserve to constantly reminded of his status with his team.

The Russians are Coming (but not the one we want to see)

The CHL announced that the Russians have released their roster for the ADT Canada/Russia Challenge and the one Russian who Ranger fans wanted to see Alexi Cherepanov is not on the roster. While it would have been nice to see Cherepanov play against some of Canada's best junior players at the same time, this series has been a mismatch with Canada owning just about every game.

The CHL says that this series helps identify the players for both national junior teams but I will say for Canada it does but not the Russians. There are 2 schools of thought as to why Cherepanov is being left behind in Russia.

The first is because Russia still fears that the Canadians will once again go head hunting of their best players and do not want to risk Cherepanov so soon before the World Juniors.

The other is because Cherepanov and Russian coach former Ranger Sergi Nemchinov might not get along too well because of Cherepanov's style of play.

I think that the odds are better that the first thought is the more accurate one as it does not make a lot of sense to bring Cherepanov over when the Russians are 3-21 in this series.

Odds are very good though that unless Nemchinov has lost his mind that Cherepanov will be playing for the Russians in the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic

(Antoine Lafleur's picture courtesy of the Blueshirt Bulletin, the leading source for all the latest news about your team the New York Rangers. )

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