Friday, March 14, 2008

The Lesser Knowns Speak UP

First Star

We should have expected this as while the focus has been on bigger named Ranger prospects as of late that the star of the evening was that our first star was a guy who had not scored a goal since February 2nd

Danny Hobbs, the Ranger's second 7th round draft picks during the 2007 NHL Entry draft had a hat trick in the 3rd period as the Ohio Junior Bluejackets kept their longshot playoff hopes alive with a 6-2 win over the Indiana Ice.

The Game's First Star Hobbs started his hat trick by breaking a 2-2 tie with his 9th goal of the season (and the game winner) at 1:45 of the third period. Hobbs then added his second of the game at 8:27 (his 10th) and then to finish the evening off Hobbs tallied his 11th of the season at 15:19 to give his Junior Bluejackets the final 6-2 score.

For Hobbs, the hat trick gave him new career highs in both goals (11) and points (23) which now that we hope his slump is over should get higher. Hobbs is a long way from even joining the Rangers as his next stop will be the UMass/Amherst next season so while it could be 5 years before Hobbs even signs a Ranger contract, Hobbs does offer up some interesting potential.

Second Star

OK let us pull out all the drama for you; your team is trailing in the series 3 games to 1, you are on the road trying to force a Game 6 at home, it is a brawl filled game and now your team is short handed, your team is also on the verge of blowing a 5-2 lead and thus the series AND we can not forget the game being delayed for over an hour because of issues with the ice.

Setting the stage for heroics as with the second period winding down and Beller's Vipers on their heels hanging on to a 5-4 lead, Beller took the puck and faked everyone out as he put the puck into a wide open net to give his team a 6-4 lead. (Saturday update Beller also was credited for an assist on the Viper's second goal of the game)

But that was not what just might be the season saving play as with just a few seconds remaining in the second period and the Penticton Vees on the attack, a scramble in the Viper crease left a Vee open for what should have been an easy goal except for one player. Beller dove to first block a shot then with the shot hitting in the chest just stayed there as the clock went off to end the period.

Beller has not gotten a lot of publicity since the Rangers took him in the 2005 draft with their 6th round pick due to injury and other issues but to see him elevate his game in a playoff setting is nice to see.

Third Star
Carl Hagelin was making his CCHA Tournament debut for his top ranked Michigan Wolverines on Friday so he made the most of it as he earned the game's second star and scoring his first career shorthanded goal as Michigan wiped out Nebraska-Omaha 10-1 in Game 1 of their best of 3 CCHA tournament series.

Even more interesting was that Hagelin who came over from Sweden as a center and had been used mainly as a left wing all season was moved back to center and earned this praise from his coach Red Berenson:

"He played hard every night. He is our hardest working player. I talked to him about playing center and reminded him of a few things to keep in mind. But he was just so into it from the get-go. I do not know what the playoffs are like in Sweden, but he was definitely another impact player tonight." (courtesy of MGoBLUE.COM)

Hagelin actually had several shorthanded opportunities before he scored to give his Wolverines a 4-0 lead in the second period. On the goal, Hagelin took the puck coast to coast then circled behind the Nebraska-Omaha net before doing the spin-o-rama and firing a shot past Nebraska-Omaha goalie Jerad Kaufmann.

Hagelin wound up with 5 shots on goal and a +1 as the second line center for the Wolverines.

The Rest of the Prospect Action

Ryan Hillier was named the Game's Second Star as his Halifax Mooseheads clinched the QMJHL's Eastern Division Championship over Antoine Lafleur's Prince Edward Island Rocket 6-2. Hillier scored his prospect leading 34th goal of the season and set up teammate P. J. Corsi's game winning goal as Hillier took the prospect scoring lead with one game remaining and Hillier holding a 34-36-70 mark on the season.

For the Rocket, Lafleur was the backup for the Rocket and should get the start Sunday in the Rocket's regular season final. We hope Lafleur has a strong game so he will get the nod in net for the Rocket in the QMJHL playoffs. The win/loss also clinched the 7th seed for the Rocket in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs as the Rocket will be facing the Saint John Sea Dogs.

Bobby Sanguinetti had an assist and a +3 as his Brampton Battalion clinched the OHL's Central Division and the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 5-0 win over the Barrie Colts. For Sanguinetti with one game remaining he is 29-40-69 +10 as he trails Ryan Hillier by one point for the prospect scoring title.

Tomas Zaborsky had 2 assists to give him a 31-38-69 +15 mark for his season but Zaborsky's Saginaw Spirit dropped a game they just might really regret as they lost to the Windsor Spitfire in overtime 4-3. We say regret as the Spirit with the loss remain in 8th place when they could have moved up one to 7th.

The Spirit have 2 game remaining and could have moved up as much as to 6th as the big prize for not finishing 8th will be avoiding a first round matchup with the CHL's best team, the Kitchener Rangers.

David Skokan had his 19th goal of the season as his Rimouski Oceanic dropped a 2-1 decision to the Quebec Remparts. When we did the first half review we said Skokan needed 20 goals to earn a Ranger contract and he was 8-14-22 on January 8th when we did that report. Since then Skokan has gone 11-7-18 with one game remaining.

Jordan Foote we fear has one game left in his Michigan Tech career as his Huskies lost to 2nd ranked North Dakota 4-0 in game one of their best of three WCHA tournament series.

File this name away

We have the advantage of seeing many of these kids before most do so we get to see some very talented kids way before their start making names. Here is a name for people to remember for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

His name is Taylor Hall, a 16 year old left wing for the Windsor Spitfires. Hall is already 6'1 (and we repeat just 16) who in his debut season for Windsor has 45 goals, 39 assist for 84 points and an unbelievable +40.

We do not know what is in the waters in the OHL but they have the next 3 number one picks in the next 3 NHL Entry Drafts. Steve Stamkos, John Tavares and the player we think is going to be even better than those two in Taylor Hall.

Against Tomas Zaborsky's Saginaw Spirit on Friday evening, Hall scored the game's tying goal at 19:59 of the 3rd period. Then this totally unflappable teenager scored the game winner at 1:45 in overtime.

(Picture credits: Danny Hobbs/Ohio Junior Bluejackets (USHL), Greg Beller/Yale, Carl Hagelin/Michigan Wolverines, Taylor Hall/Windsor Spitfires(OHL) )

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