Thursday, November 27, 2008

2 Is a Great Number

The Thanksgiving Edition of Prospect Park has a lot of reasons to be thankful for and even better is that everything good comes in pairs.

It starts with the first Ranger prospect to earn CHL Player of the Week honors since 2006 as Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) was named ADT CHL Goaltender of the Week.

For Lafleur the trade to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies has helped to turn around his junior career while also quieting those critics who gave up on him after his season with Prince Edward Island last year.

From the CHL press release that best tells Lafleur's story:

November 26, 2008 – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that Antoine Lafleur of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies is the ADT CHL Goaltender of the Week for the week ending November 23. Lafleur helped the Telus Western Division leading Huskies earn two wins on the road this week.

In the two games Lafleur posted a goals-against-average of 1.49 and a save percentage of .942. His week began on Friday night where he made 23 saves in a 3-2 win over the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. On Saturday night in Baie-Comeau, Lafleur made 26 saves in the 2-1 overtime win over the Drakkar. Lafleur was named the first star of that game.

Lafleur, a 19-year-old from Gatineau, QC is in his fourth QMJHL season and second with the Huskies. He began his career with the Prince Edward Island Rocket where he played two seasons. He was the first goalie to be credited with a goal scored in a 4-3 win over the Halifax Mooseheads September 25, 2005.

Lafleur was selected by the New York Rangers in the second round, 48 overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

We will not even attempt to act like egomaniacs and say that Prospect Park Prospect of the Week is an equal honor but that is the second half of Lafleur's day. Lafleur becomes the first Ranger prospect since Marc Staal in 2006 to earn CHL Player of the Week honors.

Lafleur is very much on his way to earning his Ranger Entry Level contract as well adding a major feather in the cap of Ranger goalie coach Benoit Allaire.

There is no question that the extended time Lafleur was able to spend with the Rangers over the summer and into the fall is paying huge dividends for the young goalie. Now the test is going to be will Lafleur continue to play like he has been.

Our answer is yes because Lafleur is in the right situation. The Huskies play a solid team defense in front of Lafleur which limits the number of scoring chances as well as odd man rushes. Lafleur is facing on the average close to 10 fewer shots a game this season because of that Huskies defense.

Add in Benoit Allaire as his work on Lafleur's confidence and fundamentals is paying huge dividends. And give Lafleur credit himself for his own hard work as it is very clear that the young man has worked his tail off this season.


In keeping with our theme of "2" is Chris Doyle (2008 5th) who scored Prince Edward Island's only 2 goals in their 3-2 loss to the Moncton Wildcats on Wednesday evening.

The leading scorer among Ranger prospects, Doyle earned first star of the game honors in a losing effort as Doyle fired a game high 9 shots on net for the Rocket. It was a really impressive effort by the QMJHL's second leading scorer.

Doyle netted his 13th and 14th goals of the season including as his 8th power play goal of the season. Doyle has been on fire since the middle of October and now is up to 14-27-41.

There is no question now that if Doyle can keep this pace up then he will become the 4th prospect of the 2008 draft class to earn a professional contract.


Finally the last "2" of our Thanksgiving report comes courtesy of the CHL Mosaik MasterCard Top 10 Rankings as for the first time this season there are 2 ranked teams with Ranger prospects.

Joining the Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) and his 7th ranked Brampton Battalion are the newest member of the the poll; fellow 2008 3rd round pick Tomas Kundratek's Medicine Hat Tigers.

The Battalion are in the midst of a recording 16 game winning streak while the Tigers have gone 8-0-0-1 of their own. That both Ranger 3rd round prospects are playing for winning teams is a great sign as winning teams do more to help get a prospect used to winning.

Let us hope the rest of the prospects can catch up.


Because we took Tuesday off we did not report that Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) and his 17th ranked UMass Minutemen lost in overtime to 13th ranked Vermont 3-2. Hobbs was scoreless but took 2 penalties that thankfully did not cost the Minutemen.


While the folks in the US sit down for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, please remember those who will not be sitting down with their loved ones.

For those who are serving our nation (as well as our friends in Canada) to protect us, a huge thank you. May you come back home to your loved ones sooner and safer.

We are always thankful for all of your support whether it is the kind words, the reports that you email us with and just telling others about the Prospect Park.

(Antoine Lafleur courtesy of Michael Fortin, CHL press release from Paul Krotz and Chris Doyle from the QMJHL)

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