Thursday, October 23, 2008

Middle of the Week Hockey

Wednesday evening hockey had more meaning as this was not only our first game with 2 Ranger prospects facing each other but also for 2007 2nd round pick goaltender Antoine Lafleur his first chance to face his former team the Prince Edward Island Rocket after being traded to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on October 1st.

On the Prince Edward Island Rocket was 2008 5th round pick forward Chris Doyle who was facing his former teammate for the first time as well.

Give round one to Lafleur as his Huskies helped their goalie to a 4-2 win over the Rocket in QMJHL action. For Lafleur it was a chance to get a bit of revenge after a summer where Lafleur was given the message that his services were no longer wanted by the Rocket.

That message may have been a blessing in a way as by refusing to attend the Rocket training camp, Lafleur choose instead to spend his time at the Ranger’s training facility where he was able to work out with Ranger goalie coach Benoit Allaire.

At first it appeared that the Rocket were going to get the better of Lafleur as the Rocket struck first for a power play goal at 4:53 of the first period as Doyle earned a secondary assist on teammate Maxime Provencher’s 4th goal of the season to give the Rocket a 1-0 lead. It looked even worse as 19 seconds later at 5:12, Doyle then earned his second assist of the game by setting up Maxime Provencher’s 2nd goal of the season to give the Rocket a 2-0 lead.

The Huskies gave Lafleur something that he rarely ever got from the Rocket last season; defensive support as the Huskies completely shut down the Rocket attack. The Huskies defense limited the Rocket to 5 shots total in the first period, just 2 in the second and then 4 in the third period for an impressive total of just 11 shots for the game. Lafleur faced just 2 more dangerous shots the rest of the game thanks to his teammates.

In the meantime in addition to the shutdown defense the Huskies scored 4 unanswered goals in the first and second period to help Lafleur earn his 3rd win of the season (3-1, 3.87 GAA 0.84 SV) to help the Huskies improve to 7-6-2 on the season good for 9th place in the QMJHL.

Chris Doyle improved his prospect leading scoring to 5-11-16 in 12 games as the Rocket saw their record drop to 5-8-0-1 which is 13th in the QMJHL standings.

Medicine Hat 7 Prince George 3

In the WHL where 2008 3rd round pick defenseman Tomas Kundratek remains out with a hand injury, his Medicine Hat Tigers had hardly any trouble with the Prince George Cougars winning 7-3.

The storyline of this game has to be how taking bad penalties can badly hurt your team as Cougar defenseman Cameron Cepek did.

Cepek took a double minor, a 5 minute major and 10 minute misconduct for a total of 19 PIMs for this game. While the misconduct did not leave his team shorthanded, the other 9 minutes in PIMs did as they led to 4 Medicine Hat power play goals which was the difference in the score. There is no excuse especially when a player is wearing a letter on his uniform as Cepek does as an assistant captain.

The latest word on Kundratek is that it is starting to look more like November before Ranger fans will get their first look at this young defenseman from the Czech Republic. The Tigers are a good team without him at 7-3-2-2 but the Tigers have told us that Kundratek will help improve their power play and penalty kill.

It is almost scary to think how Kundratek will improve a power play that just went 4 for 8 against the Cougars

Belated Congrats

The report came in too late to be included in yesterday’s report but 2007 7th round pick Danny Hobbs scored his first goal of his NCAA career as his UMASS/Amherst Minutemen blew out the Rensselaer Engineers 6-0 in non-conference NCAA action on Tuesday evening.

It was an impressive all around performance for the Minutemen as they dominated the game at both ends of the ice.

According to the folks at UMASS, here is the Hobb’s scoring play; The Minutemen took a commanding 3-0 lead with 3:46 to play when Hobbs notched his first collegiate goal. After sophomore forward Michael Lecomte (one goal, one assist) dumped the puck into the neutral zone, junior wing Will Ortiz gathered the puck and skated into the Rensselaer zone. Ortiz then passed to a streaking Hobbs who buried the puck past Lange for the score.

Hobbs became a favorite of ours last season when he just turned up his game during the second half of the season while as a member of the Ohio Junior Bluejackets. When after 32 games last season during our mid-season report we challenged a then 5-8-13 to show us why the Rangers and UMASS were so high on Hobbs, Hobbs responded.

Despite missing 2 weeks for a health concerns, Hobbs then went 10-8-18 over his final 22 games to end up 15-16-31 on the year. Our first peak at him this season showed us a prospect who had been working out over the summer as Hobbs looks as if he rebuilt his body for the next level. We expect as the season progresses we will be doing a lot more talking about Hobbs.

(pictures- Lafleur-Dubi Silverstein, Doyle- Prince Edward Island, Kundratek- Medicine Hat, Hobbs-UMASS/Amherst)

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