When the 2007-08 season began David Skokan was just a 7th round draft pick who very few people thought was a legit pro prospect. We kept an open mind but we really liked what we saw from Skokan after his performance at the Traverse City Tournament.
Skokan opened our eyes when he set up the game winning goal, added another assist and should have had a goal except it was waved off by the refs. At the time we filed it away and for most of the first half of the season there was not a whole lot to get excited about.
Skokan was a part of Team Slovakia at the World Junior Championships and we are going to point to being a part of Team Slovakia that was the turning point in the season for Skokan.
Upon his return Skokan was a totally different player, he was a force at both ends of the ice, his face off skills were better and he became an important part of the Rimouski Oceanic. At mid-point we said Skokan needed 20 goals to earn a Ranger contract (he finished with 19) but we believe has in fact earned one.
Tonight as his 7th seeded Rimouski Oceanic were facing the 2nd seeded Baie-Comeau Drakkar leading the series 2-1 at home with Skokan back in the lineup after missing Game 3 with a virus. The Drakkar just might wish Skokan missed this game too.
In the first period, Skokan was a perfect 5 for 5 on his face offs as he and his linemates continue to stop the Drakkar's leading scorers from hurting them. In the 2nd period, the Drakkar actually took a 1-0 lead but the Skokan factor kicked in as Skokan set up teammate Sebastian Bernier for the tying goal on the power play at 10:19 of the second period.
In the 3rd, Skokan was every where whether it was hitting someone, setting up his teammates or just being the pest. The Oceanic gave their fans a very happy ending to their evening as they scored to take a 2-1 lead and then once again Skokan put the finishing touches on as Skokan set up teammate Patrice Cormier for the empty net goal and a 3-1 win.
The Oceanic now have a 3-1 series lead thanks in to Skokan's 2 assist, 13-10 face off advantage, 2 good hits and 2 good shots. Game 5 will be on Saturday evening at Baie-Comeau.
Ryan Hillier and his top seeded Halifax Mooseheads went from looking like world beaters to now in the fight for their playoff lives against the 8th seeded Victoriaville Tigres as the Tigres have now come back to tie their series at 2 games each with a 3-2 win at home. It was another frustrating loss on the road for the maddening inconsistent Mooseheads.
In the series first 2 games Hillier and his linemates were unstoppable as Hillier himself was 3-3-6, now in two losses Hillier or his linemate Bryce Swan have not gotten on the scoreboard and if the Mooseheads do not want to become an upset victim they are going to need production from both.
The other problem for the Mooseheads is that they need to find a way to win a game on the road as this series is being held in a 2-3-2 format. The only saving grace for the Mooseheads is that they only need to survive game 5 and get back home.
We had hoped that Bobby Sanguinetti would lead his Brampton Battalion to a match up in the Memorial Cup against Ryan Hillier's Halifax Mooseheads but that will not happen as the 2nd seed Battalion ended their season on a very sour note being upset in 5 games by the 7th seeded Barrie Colts after a 2-0 loss on home ice.
The Colts were out played for most the series by the Battalion except in 2 areas, goal scoring and goaltending. The Colts shut down Sanguinetti and his teammates while the Colt goalie was a series stealer.
We will look for the one saving grace from this series which is that this leaves a very sour taste for Sanguinetti who finished his OHL career with a 1-3-4 playoff. Sanguinetti already has a signed Ranger contract but the Rangers might use an ATO on him to help build some depth on the blueline.
Tomas Zaborsky and his Saginaw Spirit saw their season come to an end as the Saute Ste Marie Greyhounds defeated the Spirit 3-2 to earn a 4 game sweep of their series. In the case of the Spirit this was a somewhat expected result as the Greyhounds had the depth and the experience over the rebuilding Spirit.
Zaborsky ended his playoffs with a 2-1-3 record and now awaits to see if the Rangers will bring him in for either a contract or at the very least an ATO from the Rangers.
Wolfpack add Mike Taylor of Harvard
The picture is of Harvard senior Mike Taylor a 5'11 185lb forward who the Hartford Wolfpack signed to an ATO (Amateur Tryout Contract) on Thursday.
Taylor who was Harvard's leading scorer during the recently completed season with a 12-23-35 mark in 34 games. Taylor was named to the All Ivy League second team for his efforts which included a +8, 3 Shorthanded goals and 4 game winners.
We have to admit we are a bit puzzled by this signing as Taylor is another smallish forward who's main weapon is his skating. Taylor can skate but we wonder how he is going to handle the bump and grind of the AHL.
The one thing we do think is that Taylor's signing is not a good sign for 2004 3rd round pick Billy Ryan of Maine. Ryan did not have a good senior season and now he has to sit and watch others get a shot.
We also think that when the prospects from the CHL (Zaborsky, Hillier and Skokan) become available that Taylor is going to have to fight very hard for playing time.
(Zaborsky Picture courtesy of the Saginaw Spirit, Taylor picture courtesy of GoCrimson.com)
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