Friday, February 13, 2009

At Least Our Friday Was A Winner

First Star: Michael Del Zotto

Michael Del Zotto's shoot out goal in the 4th round of the shoot round was the winner as Del Zotto's London Knights defeated Mitch Gaulton's Erie Otters 4-3 in Erie. It was Del Zotto's first shoot out game winner but that was not why he earned the first star of the evening.

With each passing game, Del Zotto proves that his being traded from Oshawa to London is helping improve his all around game. This trade is going to help put an end to the criticism that Del Zotto can not play defense as Del Zotto is showing otherwise.

Del Zotto earned this first star for his all around play in this game, he was on the penalty kill that led to the Knight's first goal (and was the only Knight with a plus in the game). Del Zotto set up London's third goal of the game on the power play in addition to the already mentioned game winning shoot goal.

Second Star Evgeny Grachev

Any other night and Grachev is the first star of the night as Grachev had two goals, one assist as well as a +3 and the game's second star for the Brampton Battalion but the Battalion lost to the lowly Kingston Frontenacs 5-4.

Grachev got his night going with a secondary assist on Josh Day's 2nd goal of the season in the first period. In the second period, Grachev blasted a shot that hit the crossbar then bounced in off the Frontenac's goalie which tied the game at 3.

In the third period was involved in the Frontenac's game winning goal as he pulled down Nathan Moon as Moon was on a shorthanded breakaway and that led to a penalty shot which Moon scored on to make the score 5-3. Grachev's second goal of the game was a shot from the hight slot and came at 4:19 of the 3rd period to pull Brampton to within one at 5-4 but the Troop were unable to get the tying goal and force overtime.

Grachev has finally taken over the prospect scoring lead at 32-29-61 as the Ranger's 2008 3rd round draft pick continues his impressive rookie season in North America. Grachev also has a mind boggling +31 as he ran his latest scoring streak to 5 games.

One more Grachev stat to look over as with 32 goals, he has a shot at Raffi Torres team record of 35 goals by a Brampton rookie.

Third Star Carl Hagelin

Like Del Zotto, Hagelin earned his star for his all around play as the Michigan Wolverine sophomore had a goal and an assist in the 4th ranked Wolverines blew out the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 8-3.

Just as impressive was Hagelin's efforts on the Wolverine penalty kill as he helped limit the Mavericks to a 1 for 7 on the power play. Hagelin and company are in the midst of an impressive span where they have killed 39 out of their last 41 penalties (95%).

Hagelin's goal (his 10th) was a nice little tip in at 3:11 of the first period which gave Michigan a 2-0 lead. In the 3rd period, Hagelin then set up Aaron Palushaj's 10th goal of the season to give Michigan a 6-3 lead.

For Hagelin himself, quietly the young Swede has already equaled his scoring from his freshman season at 10-12-22 as well as a modest 3 game scoring streak.


The Rest of the Prospects

Mitch Gaulton and his Erie Otters gave London one heck of a fight before Del Zotto beat them in the shoot out. Gaulton had an assist that that had tied the score at 2-2 before Del Zotto netted his assist.

Gaulton looked good tonight and is starting to round into game form.

In the game we enjoyed the most, Tysen Dowzak and his Kelowna Rockets finally found a way to defeat the Vancouver Giants in their 6th attempt 3-2 in overtime. As for Dowzak's play we turn to Regan Bartel the voice of the Rockets for this report:

Tysen Dowzak was also solid. Sure his loss of the puck at the Giants blue-line created the breakaway chance goal from Kane in the third period, but Dowzak was physical, got into shooting lanes, and played the way an overage defender has to play in a game of this magnitude.

Bartel for those you do not know him calls it down the middle as he has been critical of Dowzak when need be so this was not just "homer" praise. Bartel will not say it but we will as this was a huge win for the Rockets who did not look good in previous games against the Giants and now sport an 8-0-1-1.

The win was doubly good as the Rocket also clinched a WHL playoff spot joining the Brampton Battalion and London Knights as playoff bound.

Tomas Kundratek had an assist as his Medicine Hat Tigers whipped the Saskatoon Blades 7-1. For the Tigers who had lost 5 of their previous 6 games this was a badly needed win as they fight for the 4th seed in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

Kundratek is now 1-15-16 on the season.

Max Campbell set up the game winning goal as his Western Michigan Broncos won their 3rd straight game 3-0 over the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks. Campbell continues his hot play as of late with his 8th assist on the season to give him a 14-8-22 on the season as he also tied his freshman numbers.

Greg Beller was scoreless as former Ranger prospect Eric Hunter had a goal and an assist to lead his Alberta Golden Bears to a 4-1 over Beller's Manitoba Bison.

Danny Hobbs was again a healthy scratch again as his UMass Minutemen lost to 2nd ranked Northeastern 5-3.


Finally Sean Avery stories come from all places as this one comes from our friend Jon Keen the voice of the Swift Current Broncos as well as the host of the WHL This Week radio show:

Interesting former Broncos note. Dale Weise is now calling Sean Avery a teammate in Hartford with the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack.

Avery was assigned there by the Dallas Stars. It's where Weise is spending his first season of pro-hockey.

In a short chat today Weise informs me that Avery has been "awesome" and a "great guy" so far. In fact, Avery took a few members of the Wolf Pack out for supper last night.

Weise is 6'4 220 so if any of you wish to argue what kind of person Sean Avery is then you are on your own.

(Pic credits: Del Zotto/New York Rangers, Grachev/Brampton Battalion, Hagelin/Michigan)

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