Saturday, March 8, 2008

Giving Hillier a Hat (Trick)

First Star

One night after getting smoked by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan 9-3, Ryan Hillier and his Halifax Mooseheads badly needed someone to step up their game as they faced the Moncton Wildcats in an afternoon matchup.

The Game's Second Star Ryan Hillier was the one who did as Hillier registered a hat trick to lead the Mooseheads to a 5-2 win. For Hillier there is something about playing the Wildcats that he really likes.

Last Saturday it was against these very Wildcats that Hillier scored 2 goals (including the game winner) to break a 10 game goal less streak. In this afternoon matchup, Hillier was basically a one man gang.

With his Mooseheads trailing 2-1, Hillier scored his 31st goal of the season on the power play at 3:57 of the second period to tie the game at 2. In the 3rd period, it was Hillier who gave his Mooseheads their first lead of the game as he netted his 32nd goal of the season; this one was a shorthanded goal at 9:58 of the 3rd period. That goal also tied Hillier's career high which he set last season.

With the Mooseheads leading 4-2, Hillier's teammates fed him the puck to help him earn the hat trick and new career high in goals at 19:57 of the 3rd period. It was Hillier's 3rd Hat Trick of the season but it was also Hillier's 13th power play goal, his 5th shorthanded goal and his 6th game winner.

Not a bad afternoon for Hillier who now has 5 goals in his last 3 games after going 10 straight without a goal. Hillier also moved back into a tie for the prospect scoring title with 66 points and his 33 goals leads the prospects.

Second Star

Yes we know another spot lauding Tomas Zaborsky but you tell us when a guy scores at 19:51 of the 3rd period to break a 3-3 tie and win the game for his team what do you say?

We say that Zorro strikes again as that is exactly what happened as Tomas Zaborsky's 31st goal of the season was in fact the game winner as his Saginaw Spirit escaped with a 4-3 win over the Owen Sound Attack.

It was just another in the latest of Zaborsky's heroics as the 20 year old from Slovakia continues to strengthen his case for a contract from the Rangers. The Game's Second Star since February 2nd has been on fire with 16 points in 16 games (7-9-16) and if there was ever a time to get hot it is this time of the season.

Third Star

Billy Ryan did everything he could to try to keep his hockey career going at Maine but his Blackbears needed some outside help that they never got so Billy Ryan despite scoring his 6th goal of the season and assisting on the game winner ended his career at Maine with a 2-1 overtime win over UMass/Lowell.

For Ryan this was not the way he wanted to go out, the Ranger's 2004 3rd round draft pick struggled scoring this season when he was expected to break out and then missed 9 games due to an injury. For Ryan he ends his career at Maine with a 35-57-92.

Ryan now awaits a call from the Rangers to see if he will be offered an ATO with the Hartford Wolfpack. We believe the Rangers will make that offer and give Ryan a chance with the Wolfpack as Maine has a strong tradition of developing NHL level players.

When Ryan returned from his injury he had picked up his game and was showing the kind of hard working player that was projected for him this season. We also know from experience not to doubt Maine's coach Tim Whitehead as he believes Ryan can become an elite player.

In all honesty we had projected Ryan as one of our breakout players this season and at the beginning of this season we thought he had a good potential to become an NHL player just like his older brother Mike who plays for the Sabres. Now we have to temper that belief as Ryan needs show in a very short period of time whether or not the Rangers should offer him any kind of contract.


Eric Hunter and his University of Alberta Golden Bears will be heading to the University Cup in style as the winners of the Canada West Conference Final. The Golden Bears shut out the University of Saskatchewan Huskies 5-0 to sweep the best of three series 2-0.

Hunter had a goal as he did in game one to help the Golden Bears win their 46th Canada West Championship in school history. The Golden Bears are one of Canada's best college hockey programs with a winning tradition dating back 95 seasons.

For Hunter this one has to be sweet as last season in the WHL playoffs, Hunter suffered a very badly broken leg and missed out on his last chance for a WHL championship. Now he has a Canada West Championship and a shot at a National Championship right in front of him.

As we profiled in the latest edition of the Blueshirt Bulletin, Hunter made the choice to attend college over a tryout with the Charlotte Checkers. We believe it was that Hunter made the right decision and hope that the Rangers give Hunter the second look we feel he deserves.

As for what is next for Hunter, a trip to the University Cup March 20th at University of Moncton where the Golden Bears will be attempting to win their 13th National Title.

The Rest of the Prospects

Max Campbell saw his freshman season with the Western Michigan Broncos come to an unhappy ending as the Broncos were eliminated from the CCHA Tournament in 2 straight games by Ferris State losing game 2 by a score of 6-3. Campbell had an assist on the Bronco's first goal but while it was a disappointing end to the season, Campbell showed a lot of potential to develop into a top level forward.

Campbell spent most of the season as the Bronco's second line center which is impressive for a freshman alone but in one of the toughest conferences in US College Hockey says even more. Campbell finished his freshman season as the Bronco's 2nd best scorer with a 6-16-22 mark in 38 games.

As Campbell told us in the feature in the current issue of the Blueshirt Bulletin, he plans on working very hard to improve his overall game during the off-season and we think Campbell is someone to keep an eye on.

Jordan Foote had an assist in his final regular season game with Michigan Tech as they upset 9th ranked Minnesota State 3-2. Next up for the Huskies will be the WCHA tournament as Michigan Tech will be facing 2nd ranked North Dakota at North Dakota. Foote finishes the season 3-3-6 in 32 games.

Greg Beller's Vernon Vipers were shut out 3-0 by the Penticton Vees and now trail their best of 7 series 2-0.

And in a developing story Danny Hobbs had an assist as his Ohio Junior Bluejackets defeated the Sioux City Musketeers 4-2 to continue what is starting to look more and more as one of the best comeback stories we have seen. The Junior Bluejackets who now have won 5 straight are now 7-3 in their last 10 games while cutting the Chicago Steel's lead to 9 points for the last playoff spot in the USHL East Division.

(Pictures Credits: Ryan Hillier/Halifax Mooseheads, Tomas Zaborsky/Saginaw Spirit, Billy Ryan/Maine Blackbears, Eric Hunter/University of Alberta)


Nat said...

hat trick? second star? did his teammate get 5 assists? wowsers.

Jess Rubenstein said...


I have given up trying to explain how Stars are awarded at this level. They gave the first star to the captain of the Wildcats who had a goal.

You can say the same thing in the Spirit game as Zaborsky leads everyone with 2 goals including one with 9 seconds left in regulation