Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Really Good Saturday Night

First Star

We set having a strong second half as one of the goals for the Rangers 2006 3rd round pick Ryan Hillier of the Halifax Mooseheads. Hillier sent a very loud message that he plans on having a very strong second half.

Hillier had his best evening of the season a 4 point night fueled by a hat trick as Hillier led the Mooseheads to a fight filled win over the Shawinigan Cataractes 6-3. It was an almost perfect night for Hillier as he was named the game's first star for his efforts.

Hillier's goals were all special team ones as Hillier got the Mooseheads going taking a feed from his new linemate/teammate Brad Marchand and shoving home a shorthanded goal (his 22nd) at 14:05 of the first period to tie the game at 1. Hillier then added his only assist of the game at 17:33 of the same period to give the Herd a lead they would not give back.

In the 2nd period, Hillier netted his 23rd goal of the season as he took a feed from Marchand and fellow linemate P. J Corsi and shoved in a power play goal at 16:39 to make the score 4-1. That goal proved to be the game winner but Hillier was not finished.

With the Mooseheads up 5-3 and again on the power play, Hillier ended the evening for everyone by getting the Hat trick, his 24th of the season with an empty net goal unassisted at 18:53. For Hillier, the performance was exactly what we are hoping to see from Hillier.

Hillier is now 24-27-51 with 11 power play goals, 4 shorthanded ones and 3 game winners. Now to see him continue like this for the rest of second half.

Second Star

One goal is the difference between being our first star and our second as Tomas Zaborsky gave us a Ranger prospect first. Two Ranger prospects having 4 point nights on the same night is making this Saturday evening one for the record books.

Zaborsky had 2 goals and 2 assists along with a +4 as he led his Saginaw Spirit to a 6-5 shoot out win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Like Hillier, Zaborsky earned the game's first star for his efforts as well.

For Zaborsky, it was goals 22 and 23 along with assists 23 and 24 as Zaborsky passed Bobby Sanguinetti for second place among prospect scorers. At 47 points, Zaborsky has smashed his point totals from last season in 19 fewer games.

Zaborsky's performance was just as impressive as Hillier's as the Spirit were facing the first place Greyhounds on their ice and took the game to them. Someone keeps forgetting to tell the Spirit that they are a last place team but going 8-2 over their last 10 is getting them right back into the OHL playoff race.

That Zaborsky is 7-9-16 over those 10 games is a major reason why the Spirit are now 4 games over 500.

Third Star

Danny Hobbs has almost been forgotten but he must have seen all the fun that the other Ranger prospects have been having so he wanted to join the fun too. Hobbs had an assist on the game winning goal as his Ohio Junior Bluejackets won their franchise record 4th straight 5-2 over the Sioux Falls Wranglers.

For Hobbs, it was just his 8th assist and 13th point on the season but for the 2nd year team the growing pains they have struggled with are starting to go their way. The Junior Bluejackets lost more one goal games than any other team in the first half of the season are finally getting the breaks their way.

Hopefully for Hobbs, those breaks will lead to more offensive chances for him in the second half as well.

The Rest of the Prospects

David Skokan and his Rimouski Oceanic made it a weekend sweep over the St. John Fog Devils as Skokan added an assist in the Oceanic's 5-4 win. Just as important as his assists was Skokan's 2nd straight strong effort on faceoffs going 15-7 to give him a 29-16 total in the series.

Staying in the QMJHL, Antoine Lafleur was the back up again but his Prince Edward Island Rocket lost to the Val-d'Or Foreurs 6-5 in overtime. Lafleur is expected to get the start on Sunday against Rouyn-Noranda.

Carl Hagelin's Michigan Wolverines showed why they remain the top ranked team in NCAA Division 1 Men's Hockey with a 5-1 whipping over Max Campbell's Western Michigan Broncos.

While neither prospect figured in the scoring, Hagelin gave a demonstration as to why he is a solid prospect with his strong play on the penalty kill. For a freshman, Hagelin's defense is a lot better than one expected for a player so young.

Jordan Foote and his Michigan Tech Huskies dropped the second game of their 2 game set with North Dakota this time 4-1. Foote also did not score.

Billy Ryan had yet another frustrating outing as his Maine Blackbears dropped a 3-1 decision to Boston University. Besides not scoring, Ryan was on ice for all of the BU goals.

Eric Hunter is "day to day" with what is being described as just being banged up as he missed his University of Alberta's 5-1 win over Lethbridge.

Overall a very good night for Ranger prospects

(Photo credits Ryan Hillier- Halifax Mooseheads, Tomas Zaborsky- Saginaw Spirit, Danny Hobbs- USHL/Ohio Junior Bluejackets

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