Friday, February 29, 2008

Loving Crunchtime Hockey

One of the best parts about being involved with prospect coverage is that we do not have to wait until April for playoff brand hockey. Between teams fighting for playoff positioning to teams in actual playoff action this is such a great time to watch hockey.

First Star

We gave Tomas Zaborsky the nickname of Zorro the other evening and in hindsight we have to wonder if perhaps we should change it to "Crunch Time"?

Zaborsky after a 2 assist evening now has a 5 game scoring streak as his Saginaw Spirit also have a 5 game winning streak thanks to a 4-1 win over the Belleville Bulls. Despite the win and winning streak, the Spirit remains in the 7th spot in the OHL's Western Conference.

For Zaborsky, the 2 assists did several things for him as they helped him end February with a 4-9-13 mark which was best among Ranger prospects.

Zaborsky now 28-35-63 moved into a tie for first place in the overall prospect scoring race with Bobby Sanguinetti both with 63 points. Zaborsky (29th) also moved past Sanguinetti (30th) in overall OHL scoring.

On a more somber note, Zaborsky and his Spirit will try for their 6th straight win against the Windsor Spitfires on Saturday evening. It will be the first road game for the Spitfires since the passing of their captain Mickey Renaud. We will have a lot more about the events of the evening tomorrow.

Second Star

The only thing that no Ranger prospect has done this season is register the Gordie Howe Hat Trick, you know the goal, assist and fight in the same game. If we were to name which Ranger prospects had even dropped the gloves this season only 3 would make the list.

Jordan Foote of Michigan Tech, Ryan Hillier of Halifax and David Skokan of the Rimouski Oceanic have been the only Ranger prospects to get into any fights this season and the next one of this group to do so will become the leader with 2 fights

Of the 3 who have fought only Skokan came close to the Gordie Howe as he fell one assist short as his Rimouski Oceanic whipped on the Victoriaville Tigres 7-1.

For Skokan, his 15th goal of the season was also the goal his Oceanic going. Skokan opened the game's scoring at 13:30 of the first period on an even strength goal. With his 15th goal, Skokan set a new career high in goals and tied his career high in points at 35.

On the evening Skokan was 7-3 on his face offs, a +1 and 3 good hits in addition to his dropping of the gloves with the Tigres. It was a throw back to Skokan's rookie season with the Oceanic when he earned a total of 143 PIMs in 53 games.

At 6 foot 202, Skokan may not be the biggest player on the ice but that he will stand up for both himself and his teammates will help him hopefully earn a shot with Hartford after the Oceanic finish their season.

The Rest of Our Prospects

Carl Hagelin already has a Silver Medal from his being part of Team Sweden in the World Juniors but now can add a CCHA Championship to his resume as his Top Ranked Michigan Wolverines won their 10th CCHA Championship with a 5-3 win over Ferris State. Hagelin was scoreless in the game as the Wolverines now will go into the CCHA Tournament as the top seed.

Eric Hunter had an assist as his University of Alberta Golden Bears took Game One of their best of Three Canada West semi-finals with a 4-2 win over the University of Manitoba Bisons. The Golden Bears go for the sweep and berth in the University Cup on Saturday evening.

Max Campbell and his Western Michigan Broncos pulled off the upset of the evening as they defeated 11th ranked Notre Dame 3-0 on Senior Night. Despite being out shot 42-23, the Broncos played a strong enough defensive game to shut down the Fighting Irish. Campbell was held scoreless but held his own on the defensive end.

Jordan Foote and his Michigan Tech Huskies hosted the 7th ranked University of Denver Pioneers and while they put up a great battle, the Huskies lost 1-0. Jordan Foote will be playing in his final regular season home game on Saturday evening against the same Denver Pioneers.

Danny Hobbs missed on his Shoot Out chance and was held scoreless during regulation but his Ohio Junior Bluejackets edged the Green Bay Gamblers 3-2.

Greg Beller was also scoreless as his Vernon Vipers took game one of their BCHL Elimination Round series with the Trail Smoke Eaters 3-2. Game 2 of the best of five series will be Saturday evening.

Antoine Lafleur was once again the back up goalie as his Prince Edward Island Rocket defeated the Lewiston MAINEaics 4-2.

(Picture credits Zaborsky:Saginaw Spirit, Skokan: Rimouski Oceanic)

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