Friday, January 23, 2009

An Awesome Evening

This is one of those nights that makes this job a lot of fun for us here. When you can say that you have 4 legit performances for your star of the night then life is good. That was the case here so instead of picking one we decided to give them all the "Star of the Night" awards.

We also found some video showing the stupidity from the Medicine Hat/Lethbridge game that will show why players and coaches got suspended and an announce got removed from his job.

Star: Mitch Gaulton

This one is for all of those who have been told that they could not do something. It is for those who have hearts so large that nothing stops them from chasing their dream and that is Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th).

The doctors told him 18 months to recover from Tommy John Surgery and Gaulton is back in 6 months. Tommy John Surgery is supposed to known as career threatening but there was Gaulton taking a regular shift for his Erie Otters against the Kingston Frontenacs on Friday night.

Was it a storybook return? No but who cares as this is about heart, about desire and about a will to chase a dream. On heart alone, Gaulton will one day be a Ranger but that day is in the future.

It is a lesson that hockey is a game that is played with heart and as the Otters showed Friday with emotion as well. Those wearing Ranger uniforms might remember this when they do not show up ready to play.

For now Friday's game will be more about Gaulton's coach former Ranger Robbie Ftorek getting ejected at 17:52 of the second period. (Memo to Tom Renney to pay attention here) Ftorek's Otters were trailing 4-1 when he got the boot and talk about firing up your team.

The Otters rallied with 4 goals in the third period and then 1 more in overtime to comeback and win 6-5. We talk about how emotional hockey can be and highlight this game when you want to talk about how emotion plays a role in it.

Star: Evgeny Grachev

Smile Godzilla as it was just another day at the office for you huh? Another first star of the game, your 26th goal of the season along with 2 more assists to extend your current scoring streak to 10 games as well as a +4 as your Brampton Battalion won their 6th straight game 4-3 over the Plymouth Whalers.

That Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) had a hand in 3 of the Battalion's 4 goals says a lot because we pray nobody says a word about European prospects hitting a wall in their 2nd half of their rookie season. If anything Grachev is making a mockery of European stereotypes with his play as of late.

At 26-24-50 +24 in just 38 OHL games is making us wonder if we can openly say that 40 goals and 70 points is out of the question for him. When we see an unassisted goal or setting up the winning goal then the answer is yes it is very possible for those numbers to happen.

Star: Carl Hagelin

The next time someone wants to tell you that the Ranger prospects are lacking in talent instead of telling them that "they don't know jack" tell then that they "don't know Hagelin" because this is a prospect who just gets better over time.

Carl Hagelin's (2007 6th) 7th goal of the season proved to be the winning goal as Hagelin and his Michigan Wolverines blew out rival Michigan State 6-2. The unassisted goal was scored just one second after the penalty that Hagelin helped to kill expired.

It was part of a 2 point night for the sophomore from Sweden who few seem to realize is a legit Ranger prospect. We are talking about a player who as a 2nd year player is playing key roles for one of the most storied college hockey programs in the USA.

One of the biggest needs the Rangers have is a checking forward who has some offense and that is Hagelin. Ranger fans wanting to see some scoring from their checking line will enjoy Hagelin's presence.

Even better is Hagelin's knack for scoring clutch goals as we have this feeling that come NCAA time, those who doubt Hagelin's potential will see just how wrong they are.

Star: Max Campbell

Nothing is more ego boosting than when you say something about a prospect and then that prospect goes out and does it. Thanks Max Campbell (2007 5th) for being a very good reader as last week we mentioned that we wanted to see more offensive balance out of Campbell as in assists.

So what does the "Soup" do? He goes out and assists on both Western Michigan Bronco goals as the Broncos tied in regulation but lost the shoot out to 12th ranked Ohio State 2-2. Campbell scored the only goal for WMU during the shoot out round.

It was one of Campbell's better games this season as he too has shown his heart coming back from a struggle at the beginning of the season to work his way up the depth charts to become WMU's leading goal scorer as well as their first line center.

Put some meat on that body and this might be a very dangerous goal scorer for the Rangers one day.


The Rest of the Prospects

Pretty good night when Michael Del Zotto (2008 1st) can have an assist as well as a +1 while playing a good game and not earn a star. That is what happened as while Del Zotto played well, his London Knights dropped the back end of a home and home to the Niagara Ice Dogs 6-4.

The Knights outshot the Ice Dogs 52-21 but Ice Dog goalie Jeremy Smith was the story in this game and if you were an OHL team then come playoff time you do not want to face the Ice Dogs.

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) made a surprise return to the Prince Edward Island Rocket lineup as the Rocket blew out the Baie-Comeau Drakkar 7-2 in QMJHL action. Doyle was out for 2 plus weeks with an injured disc in his back, did not score and we wonder how healed he really is.

Doyle took 3 shots none really good scoring chances and had a good hit but it remains to be seen how effective he will be down the stretch.

Greg Beller (2005 6th) scored his first Canada West goal of the season as his Manitoba Bison won their 4th straight game 5-1 over the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. With Beller in their lineup the Bison have gone 4-1 and moved up to 3rd in the Canada West.

Antonie Lafleur (2007 2nd) took a second straight loss as his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies gave up 4 goals in the 3rd period to lose again to the Gatineau Olympiques 6-4. Lafleur looked shaky in this game as he only stopped 23 of 28 shots to see his record drop to 11-9 on the season.

Tysen Dowzak's (2008 UFA) Kelowna Rockets showed more effort against the Chilliwack Bruins as they scored a goal with 20 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime but still lost in the shoot out 5-4.

Dowzak was scoreless with a -1 as the Rockets dropped their 2nd straight game.

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) was a healthy scratch again for the UMass Minutemen as they lost to Vermont 2-1.


As sadly promised here is the clip of the stupidity from the Medicine Hat/Lethbridge game

The fallout from this incident is as follows:


Coach Michael Dyck drew a five-game suspension and a $500 fine for failing to control his players.

Forward Dwight King got five games for leaving the bench and instigating a fight.

Forward Craig Orfino got three games for leaving the bench.

The Hurricanes also were fined an additional $500 for having players leave the bench during an altercation.

Medicine Hat

Defenseman Matt McCue got a two-game suspension.

Now here is where it gets interesting as it seems that Lethbridge radio announcer Dick Gibson found himself removed from his position after the remarks you hear in this clip.

The removal itself is now dividing the media in the WHL as announcers Regan Bartel, Andy Kemper, and Jon Keen all make strong cases for why announcers have a responsibility to their audiences to be fair and accurate.

Funny though bloggers Gregg Drinnan and Dylan Bumberger do not see what Dick Gibson did was so wrong. We do and it is about being honest to your audience because thanks to sites like YouTube it is very hard to spin off classless behavior.

(Pictures: Gaulton/Erie Otters, Grachev/Brampton Battalion, Hagelin/Michigan Wolverines, Max Campbell/Western Michigan)

No comments: