Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Sleepy Sunday

Tonight's Star Tomas Kundratek

We kept being told that by the folks with the Medicine Hat Tigers that Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) had more offense than his 1-6-7 numbers showed. If not for his early season wrist injury, then Kundratek would be more of force on offense.

It was just one play but it gave a glimmer of exactly what people believe Kundratek is capable of doing at the blueline. With his Czech Republic mounting a comeback against Team USA; Kundratek stopped a puck from leaving the offensive zone, controlled it and then fired the perfect shot towards the USA goal that teammate Jan Kana deflected past USA goalie Thomas McCollum to bring the score to 4-3.

Overall for the most part, Kundratek has been his usual defensive minded self which is what we have gotten used to seeing from him. But against Team USA, Kundratek looked for his offense and showed more confidence in doing so.

We liked his shot from the point as it was dead on as were his other 2 shots on goal. Acting Medicine Hat Tiger coach Shaun Clouston told us that Kundratek has the skill to be able to play both the 1 or the 2 on defense which given the Ranger problems with their blueline is badly needed.


Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) was scoreless with just one shot as his Team Russia defeated Finland 5-2 in Group B action at the WJC. It was a second quiet game for Grachev as he is playing in his first Under-20 Championships.

It will be interesting to see how Grachev adapts to playing for Russia after showing how well he fits the more physical North American style of hockey. If Grachev does not put up numbers at this WJC then do not worry as the more important numbers are the ones he puts up with Brampton.

Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) and his Wisconsin Badgers looked to win their first Badger Showdown in 3 years as they took on Lake Superior State. The game was a defensive struggle and the Badgers won their first shootout game 2-1.

The Badgers since starting 1-6-1 have gone 9-1-1 since then and the second half of the season is looking as if this is a team to consider for the NCAA Frozen Four. Stepan may be listed as a 3rd line center but he is being used in a variety of ways by the Badgers and that says a lot about a college freshman.

Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) and his Michigan Wolverines had little trouble with Michigan State in winning the Great Lakes Invitational final as they cruised to a 5-1 win over their in-state rivals. No offense to Michigan but they defeated 2 weak teams (combined 10-30-5 records) so it is hard to believe that the Wolverines have broken out of their slump.

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) returned to the UMass lineup after missing a couple of games but his UMass Minutemen dropped their opening game of the Ledyard Bank Classic to Bemidji State 4-2. Hobbs was used as the 4th line right wing for the first time this season after spending the first half of season as a left wing.

Hobbs looked rusty with his play but we have seen this before and believe that Hobbs will have a strong second half for the Minutemen.

Michael Del Zotto (2008 1st) gave some fuel to his critics with a costly turnover that led to his Oshawa Generals losing in overtime 2-1 to the Owen Sound Attack. Just a few seconds into the overtime period turned over the puck and the Attack's Joey Hishon scooped up the puck and scored.

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) had an assist but his Prince Edward Island Rocket dropped the second half of their 2 game set with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4-2. Doyle had a game high 9 shots on goal but was not able to repeat his hat trick from Saturday.

Doyle is now 21-29-50 on the season good for the lead among Ranger prospects and 8th overall in the QMJHL.

(Tomas Kundratek courtesy of Tim Machan/Medicine Hat Tigers)

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