Friday, February 20, 2009

Three Stars No Waiting

First Star Tomas Kundratek

We had not been happy with the play of Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) of the Medicine Hat Tigers as of late. For whatever reason, Kundratek had been spending more time in the penalty box than on the scoresheet thanks to fighting majors in 2 straight games.

We know that Kundratek can be a solid 2 way performer at both ends of the ice and on Friday night Kundratek gave a peek at that potential. It was his best game this season as Kundratek put up 2 goals, 2 assists with a +3 (and no fights) as the Tigers defeated the Lethbridge Hurricanes 6-3.

Kundratek got the Tigers going scoring at 6:52 of the first period with what was the Tiger's first shot on goal to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. It was just Kundratek's second goal of the season and badly needed given the start the Tigers had to the game.

In the second period at 17:51, Kundratek set up Taylor Gal for what proved to be the game winning goal for a 4-1 Tiger lead. In the third, Kundratek got his second assist at 10:13 on Brennan Bosch's goal and finished off the Hurricanes with an empty net goal at 18:49.

This was the Kundratek we had heard about and IF he plays like this the rest of the season then the Rangers will have 4 solid prospects from their first 4 picks. Kundratek went from 1-16-17 to 3-18-21.

Second Star Derek Stepan

There comes a time when a play will give you an idea as to a player's potential and we saw that out of Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) Friday evening. Stepan's Badgers lost to the Denver Pioneers in overtime 4-3 but for us that was secondary.

In the third period with the game tied at 2, it started out as an simple breakout play as Stepan got the puck out of the zone up to Michael Davies. Then using his speed, Stepan turned the play into a 2 on 1 breakaway but without touching the puck again set up Davies goal.

Most times you will watch players go wide as they break down on a goalie but in this case Stepan went right to the goalie forcing both him and the Denver defender to move towards Stepan. Even we were expecting a pass for a shot but Davies took advantage of the opening for the goal.

Stepan never touched the puck after starting the play but he just as well scored because of his presence. It was a perfect play from a freshman who has not played like a freshman.

Stepan on the game had 2 assists in the loss but as we said the outcome was secondary compared to the play. Others have been getting the hype and notice but Stepan is showing more and more that he just might become a very important piece to the Ranger puzzle.

Third Star Tysen Dowzak

The problem when you are 6'5 220 is that stereotypes will give people the impression that you are supposed to be an enforcer or a monster of a physical force. For Tysen Dowzak, it is a combination of both when it comes to people's expectations.

We have one more to add to his list as we think "shutdown defender" is a good one to want out of Dowzak. When we see defensive efforts like the one Dowzak put out on Friday then we hope like heck he can make it to the NHL.

Dowzak filled all of the 3 expectations on Friday as Dowzak was a +3 with 4 hits, part of the penalty kill that stopped 6 out of 6 power plays and 19 PIMS as his Kelowna Rockets earned their 2nd win over the Vancouver Giants 6-2. Actually Dowzak did not make it to the end of the game as he took 17 of his PIMs when he went after Vancouver's Todd Kennedy.

The fight capped off a game that we really liked out of Dowzak as the Rockets needed this win after 2 straight losses to bottom feeder teams. Dowzak's 3 game scoring streak came to an end though.


The Rest of the Prospects

Max Campbell had 2 assists but his Western Michigan Broncos spotted Lake Superior a 6-0 lead and lost 7-4. There is not much one can say about 2 assists scored after the outcome had been long decided.

Michael Del Zotto also had 2 assists but his London Knights continued to struggle losing to the CHL's top ranked team the Windsor Spitfires 6-3. Del Zotto also took a dangerous double minor for checking from behind which might get overblown in the media.

Carl Hagelin was held scoreless but his 4th ranked Michigan Wolverines had little trouble with the Ohio State Buckeyes 4-1. Hagelin was strong on the penalty kill as the Wolverines killed all 7 Buckeye power plays.

Chris Doyle did not score either as his Prince Edward Island Rocket were shut down by the Montreal Junior 2-1. Doyle was a -2 but was 8-6 on his faceoffs while only taking 3 shots.

Antoine Lafleur once again got next to no defensive support as Lafleur's Rouyn-Noranda Huskies gave up 3 breakaway goals and lost to the Drummondville Voltigeurs 6-3. Lafleur faced 44 shots in this loss as his record on the season dropped to 12-13.

Mitch Gaulton and his Erie Otters spotted the Saginaw Spirit a 4-0 lead, rallied to come within 4-3 and eventually lost 6-4. Gaulton was held scoreless in this game.

Danny Hobbs and his UMass Minutemen defeated the Maine Blackbears 4-3 with Hobbs taking 3 shots and one "Hitting After The Whistle" minor.

(Pictures- Kundratek/Tim Machan (Medicine Hat), Stepan/Wisconsin Badgers, Dowzak/Tim Swanky (Kelowna))

No comments: