Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Zorro Park and More

Prospect Of the Week

It seems as if all we have been talking about lately has been Tomas Zaborsky of the Saginaw Spirit. We say blame Zorro for that as his play has earned every word we have been saying about him.

For the week ending on March 2, Zaborsky earned the weekly prospect honors by going 1-3-4 +4 as his Spirit were 2-1 on the week.

It was the tail end of Zaborsky's six game scoring streak and brought him one goal short of 30 for the season There are 2 things that stand out about Zaborsky; the first is that when he gets hot so does his Spirit team as they play their best hockey when Zaborsky is on a scoring streak, the other is that his play picks up when his team needs it the most as it has over the last month.

We expect that as soon as Zaborsky's season with the Spirit is over that he will be heading to Hartford on an ATO (Amateur Tryout Contract) so there is a part of us that really wants to see how he does in the AHL. We think he will do all right at both ends of the ice.

CHL Mosaik MasterCard Top 10 Rankings

It seems like it has been a long time (actually since January) since any Ranger prospects team has been a part of the weekly CHL poll. For the first half of the season it was Ryan Hillier's Halifax Moosehead but now making their poll debut at number 10 is Bobby Sanguinetti and his Brampton Battalion.

The Troop who currently lead the OHL's Central Division have gone 7-2-0-1 in their last 10 games as with 5 game hold a 7 point lead over the 2nd place Niagara IceDogs. The bad news is that for those of you hoping to see Sanguinetti join the Wolfpack this season; that prospect appears to be dim as the Battalion is expected to go deep into the OHL playoffs this year.

Not Going to Stick Necks Out Anymore

The OHL announced this week that starting March 10 all of their players will be required to wear neck protection in all league regular season and playoff games. The decision to make players wear such protection is a reaction to the cut carotid artery suffered by the Florida Panther's Richard Zednik on February 10th when the Panthers were playing the Buffalo Sabres.

"The Ontario Hockey League has a responsibility to continually address the best interests of its players", said OHL Commissioner David Branch. "We are of the opinion that the introduction of the wearing of neck guards will only serve to enhance the health and welfare of all players in our league".

We agree and the OHL joins the QMJHL (who have required neck protection for years) in requiring neck protection. The WHL has the issue under review but we believe that it is just a matter of time before they join their fellow CHL leagues.

We also know that many will think this move goes against the image many have of hockey players but unlike what many of the old timer remember from their days wearing neck guard in minor hockey the equipment has changed almost drastically.

The CCM model we picture here is made of Kevlar; yes, the same material used to make body armor for soldiers and is designed to stay dry during game play. It addresses all the complaints about being bulky and uncomfortable as most of today's neck guards are similar in design.

If it prevents even one player from going though what Richard Zednik has gone though then it is more than worth it.

Can you say PLAYOFFS?

Eric Hunter and his University of Alberta Golden Bears are already going to play in the University Cup (Canada's version of the Frozen Four) but they want to go as Canada West's tournament champion not as a wild card. Friday evening they begin that quest with a best of three series against University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

For the Golden Bears this is time for payback as it was the Huskies who ended the Golden Bear's 2-year run as Canadian National Champion last year by defeating them in the Canada West final. It will be a very closely contested series.

Max Campbell and his Western Michigan Broncos are heading to Ferris State for their best of three CCHA series starting on Friday evening. If you can get FSN Detroit, the game will be televised starting at 7:30 EDT. The Broncos have an uphill battle going into this series as the 12th seed going up against the host Bulldogs who are the 5th seed.

The European Champions Hockey League

We just received our first copy of the European Champions Hockey League and while we will break down next week what we learned about the league fair warning to the Rangers, be very ready to play in the Victoria Cup next October. The Europeans are dead serious about winning the Victoria Cup.

We are not kidding either as this league is going to implement several of the changes that many a fan has suggested the NHL do. They will not be pushovers.

(Additional Information by Aaron Bell of the CHL/OHL, Tomas Zaborsky Picture courtesy of the Saginaw Spirit, CCM Neck Guard Courtesy of CCM)

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