Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Record Night for Godzilla

New York Ranger Prospects may not have put up monster numbers on Saturday evening but the numbers and efforts that were put out deserve some praise.

Tonight's Star Evgeny Grachev

OK can we take some time to say "Told you so"? As back when the Brampton Battalion selected Evgeny Grachev in the CHL Import Draft, we predicted that Stan Butler was the perfect coach for this monster of a teenager.

36 goals goals later and Grachev is the new holder of the Brampton Battalion record for most goals by a rookie in a season breaking the previous record held by Raffi Torres. Against the Belleville Bulls, Grachev had that record setting goal as well as an assist to help Brampton win 4-1.

Just when you think you have seen the entire shot set out of Godzilla then he reaches into his bag of tricks for another one. Grachev's goal tonight was a blast off the rush from long distance which caught Belleville goalie Mike Murphy off guard.

It was impressive simply because it came off the rush and it got the Battalion going with a 1-0 lead in the first period. Grachev then added his 31st assist on Matt Duchene's 34th goal to seal the win for the Battalion in the third period.

Next up for Grachev is the overall points record in a single season held by Jason Spezza at 71. With 7 regular season games remaining, we challenge Grachev to get to 40 goals for the season as we believe that is a realistic number for him.

This one was a big one for the Battalion as another loss to the Bulls would have ended any hope of the Troop catching the Bulls for the top seed in the OHL's Eastern Conference. The win pulls Brampton within 4 points of the Bulls with the Troop holding 2 games in hand.


The Rest of The Prospects

Tysen Dowzak picked the right game to set a new career high in points as the 6'5 defenseman recorded his 14th assist of the season as his Kelowna Rocket defeated the Calgary Hitmen on the road 2-1. The assist was on Kelowna's first goal but was key as the Rockets were held to just 17 shots on goal by the team with the best record in the WHL.

While Dowzak's point was important, it was his defensive effort that was actually more important as the Rockets held the top scoring team in the WHL to just 1 goal on 35 shots including shutting down the Hitmen's power play (0 for 6).

Kudos for Dowzak as his play has improved a lot over the last month and even better was his stepping up against the better WHL teams. His best games in recent weeks have come against the 2 teams ranked 2nd and 3rd in the CHL Top Ten.

Derek Stepan had 2 assists but it was not enough to help his Wisconsin Badgers from settling for a 3-3 tie against Minnesota State. The Badgers are now winless in their last 4 games and will need to sweep North Dakota next weekend to finish in 3rd in the WCHA standings.

For Stepan the assists were of the secondary variety and bring Stepan's season totals to 6-22-28.

In Medicine Hat, Tomas Kundratek and his Tigers were shut out by the Kootenay Ice 2-0. Kundratek since his 4 point game has gone scoreless in his last 4 games. As teams are peaking towards a playoff run, the Tigers are falling and the loss dropped them to 5th place in the WHL's Eastern Conference playoff race.

Also struggling with his game is Mitch Gaulton of the Erie Otters as the Otters dropped a 6-4 decision to the the Ottawa 67's. Gaulton has gone pointless in 6 straight games as the Otters have gone 4-4-1-1 in their last 10 games.

With 7 games remaining the Otters if they do not want to be a one round and done team in the OHL playoffs need to move up not down in the standings. Currently the Otters are in 7th with just a 2 point lead over 8th seeded Owen Sound.

Chris Doyle was also scoreless as his Prince Edward Island Rocket defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs 5-3 in QMJHL action. Doyle looked better than he has recently taking 8 shots on goal but we still have our doubts about how healthy Doyle really is.

Congrats are in order to Max Campbell and his Western Michigan Broncos as thanks to their 3rd straight win are going to host a first round CCHA playoff round series next weekend after defeating Bowling Green 5-3. With the win as well as series sweep, the Broncos jumped into 7th place in the CCHA and home ice advantage.

Campbell who did not score finished tied for 4th in goals scored in the CCHA with 16. Overall Campbell was 16-12-28 during the regular season and now gets a chance to play in the CCHA playoffs.

Not bad for a player and team that was picked to be the worst in the CCHA.

Congrats are also in order for Carl Hagelin and his Michigan Wolverines who overcame a mid-season slump to wind up 2nd in the CCHA and earned a first round bye in the CCHA playoffs thanks to a 4-0 win over Ferris State.

Hagelin did not score as he finished his regular season at 11-15-26. It is very possible that in the second round of the CCHA playoffs that Hagelin and Campbell go up against each other which would be an interesting match up to watch.

Daniel Hobbs was back to being a healthy scratch as his UMass Minutemen got whipped by Boston University 7-2.

(Grachev courtesy of the Brampton Battalion)

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