This is the kind of problem we really do like to have having too many possible picks for our stars of the night that someone can make as much a case for one prospect being first star as another can for someone else.
In the end, one of us makes the final decision and that will be to not award anyone as 1st, 2nd or 3rd but rather honor the worthy performances as a whole. When you see this kind of effort then you have to acknowledge all of them as it has been a very long time since Ranger fans had this kind of depth and quality among their prospects.
First up is Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) as his 6th goal of the season in the 3rd period tied up the game between Bourque's Quebec Remparts and the home Montreal Juniors. The game eventually wound up going to the shoot out where the Remparts won 2-1.
Bourque was simply outstanding in this one, 7 shots on goal including 3 which were called "dangerous scoring" chances. Bourque was good enough to earn the game's 3rd star from the host Montreal media which alone says a lot about his efforts.
It has been almost 18 months since we have been able to call Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) as one of our stars but welcome back Danny. Hobbs a sophomore at our UMass/Amherst set up the game winning goal as UMass shocked 2nd ranked Boston University 3-2.
In the 3rd period with the score tied, Hobbs threw a puck towards the net that linemate Will Ortiz was able to redirect past the Boston University goalie for what turned into the game winning goal. It was a happy way for the Minutemen fans to get their season off to a good start.
For Hobbs who only was 1-1-2 for the entire season this is an even better way to jump start his sophomore season.
Max Campbell (2007 5th) has long been a favorite of ours as the "Soup" has earned our respect for not only his hard work but also his willingness to do whatever it takes to learn how to improve himself as a player. The "Soup" has twice paid his own way to attend the Ranger's prospect development camp which for a college player is almost unheard of.
Campbell is entering his junior season at Western Michigan and he got his season going just right with 2 assists as WMU defeated Mercyhurst 5-1 in the season opener for both teams. Campbell is known more as a goal scorer than playmaker so this is a nice sign of his improving his overall game.
In the 1st period, Campbell found linemate J.J. Crew off the near circle that Crew cashed in for the first goal of the season for Western Michigan. In the 3rd period, Campbell teamed up with his other linemate Greg Squires to set up Crew's 3rd goal of the game which gave WMU a 4-1 lead.
All together the line of Crew/Campbell/Squires put up 3-4-7 for the game.
Craig Cunningham (Traverse City) earned himself a "First Star of the Game" after he scored 2 goals and added an assist to help his Vancouver Giants blow out the Prince George Cougars 8-0.
Cunningham scored the game's first two goals (his 6th and 7th) during a span of 2:12 to jump start the Giant's offense and they never looked back after that.
Toss in his prospect leading 11th assist in the 3rd period on the Giant's 7th goal of the game and you have a 7-11-18 record good for 2nd place in Ranger prospect scoring.
Then you have the person who is leading Ranger prospects in scoring earning himself a "first star" as well on Friday night as Luke Pither (Traverse City) scored his prospect leading 10th goal of the season and added 2 more assists to lead his Barrie Colts to a 6-2 win over the London Knights.
Pither had been quiet in recent games but broke out offensively against one of the better teams in the OHL on the road no less. Pither leads all Ranger prospects with 10-8-18.
Then there is Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) who won his 3rd game out of his last 4 (with the 4th being a shoot out loss) as he stopped 41 out of 45 shots in leading the Owen Sound Attack to a 5-4 overtime win over Mitch Gaulton's Erie Otters.
Stajcer was the main reason why the Attack got this game to overtime as he faced 21 and 14 shots in the first 2 periods alone. He did what a goalie is supposed to do which is give his team a chance to win at crunch time.
Stajcer had us worried for a while about his performance but now that he is getting some support at both ends of the ice then we are looking forward to his numbers getting even better. We do still believe it is time for him to take a rest after starting 12 straight games for Owen Sound.
The Rest of the Prospects
Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) tried but he could not beat Scott Stajcer for any points on Friday evening as Gaulton was a -1 with 4 PIMs.
Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) had one assist while teammate Ryan McDonagh (Trade 2009) was scoreless as their 14th ranked Wisconsin Badgers lost their season opener to Colorado College 3-2. Stepan set up Wisconsin's 2nd goal of the game but the Badgers could not hold a 2-0 lead and Colorado won with 3 unanswered goals.
In case you have not seen it Ryan McDonagh is featured in this month's edition of the Blueshirt Bulletin so make sure you check it out. If you have not subscribe then if you subscribe before November 1, Dan the new boss is going to give you the October issue for free.
Daniel Maggio (2009 6th) scored his 3rd goal of the season but that was all the offense his Sudbury Wolves could muster as they lost to the Oshawa Generals 3-1. Maggio is 3-5-8 in 11 games well above his career scoring averages.
Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) had an assist as his Kingston Frontenacs had little trouble with the Peterborough Petes 7-3. Werek is now 7-5-12 in 10 games well ahead of last season's breakout season.
Luke Walker (Traverse City) had an assist but his Portland Winterhawks got whipped by the Red Deer Rebels 6-2. The highlight was Walker setting up linemate Spencer Bennett just 12 seconds into the contest but sadly the game went south for the Winterhawks after that.
Neither Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) or Roman Horak (2009 5th) scored as their respective teams wound up going to overtime before Kundratek's Medicine Hat Tigers scored a 2-1 win over Horak's Chilliwack Bruins. Last Friday it was Chilliwack who won the matchup of Ranger prospects from the Czech Republic.
Finally Chris Doyle (2008 5th) and his Prince Edward Island Rocket got shut out 4-0 by the Moncton Wildcats. It was a reversal of the outcome from the teams who played in Moncton the night before.
Doyle was held to just 2 shots in this game as well as just 1 hit.
(Pictures: Bourque/Katherine Ep, Hobbs/UMass, Campbell/Western Michigan(Zoltan Cohen), Cunningham/Vancouver Giants, Pither/New York Rangers, Stajcer/Owen Sound Attack)
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