It was a not so good night as 11 New York Ranger prospects took to the ice on Saturday night and the record for the night was 3-8 (2 losses in overtime) but the production was 4-4 with most of it coming from 3 players.
First Star of the Night
He was a free agent tryout at Traverse City; people wonder why we still cover him but Craig Cunningham has very quietly gotten off to a 5-8-13 start. 13 points (and a 5 game scoring streak) alone is good enough as Cunningham is leading the WHL in scoring but that is not why we still follow him as Cunningham demonstrated on Saturday.
Cunningham scored a power play goal at 4:31 of overtime to give his Vancouver Giants a come from behind win over the Kamloops Blazers 5-4 in WHL action. It was the second time this season that Cunningham scored an overtime winner as he did it on opening night as well.
But it was not the only thing at Cunningham did as it was Cunningham's set up for David Musil's hat trick goal to tie the score at 4-4 at 16:02 of the 3rd period erasing a 2 goal Kamloop's lead. Cunningham also added another assist in the 2nd period to give him a 1-2-3 night for his 3rd multi-point night of the young season.
Cunningham is also just 19 so the Rangers as in the case of Luke Walker could only offer him an NHL contract which they did not have. Leading the WHL in scoring should be a reason why to keep covering him which we will.
It was only an exhibition game against the United States Under-18 team but to see Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) scoring 2 goals to lead his 4th ranked Michigan to a 4-2 win. Hagelin scored what proved to be the game winning goal and then tacked on an insurance goal to help get his season off to a good start.
Hagelin's first goal came at 19:26 of the second period when he backhanded a rebound during a 4 on 4 which gave Michigan a 3-1 lead. Hagelin's second goal was also Hagelin cashing in a rebound this time at 18:32 of the 3rd period to make it 4-1.
Hagelin was skating on the 2nd line but the reason we really liked what we saw from Hagelin was that in his previous 2 seasons, Hagelin was a very slow starter to get his season going. Even Hagelin has acknowledged in the past he has gotten off to slow starts so this hopefully gets him going now.
If it does then watch Hagelin have a huge season as we already know he is one of the best penalty killers in the NCAAs; now let him show his offensive side.
Luke Pither (Traverse City) exploded out of the game with 8 goals in his first 3 games with the Barrie Colts then added another goal along with 4 assists for a 6 game scoring streak and the prospect scoring lead at 9-4-13.
Against the Ottawa 67's, Pither had 2 assists including setting up the game winner as his Barrie Colts edged the 67's 4-3. For Pither who is 4th in the OHL in scoring is a huge reason why the Colts are in first place in the OHL Eastern Conference.
Rest of the Prospects
His Coach Tells Us
UMass Head Coach Don "Toot" Cahoon was kind enough to give us a quick scouting report on Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) via email prior to UMass's exhibition game with the New Brunswick Reds.
PP: Would you mind telling our readers what kind of player Daniel Hobbs is; what his strengths are and what kind of potential he might have?
Coach Cahoon: Danny plays a pro-type of game, He simply needs to grow into the confident and consistent player he can become sooner rather than later.
PP: Hobbs had a quiet freshman year for UMass so what did you ask him to work on during the off-season to improve as a player?
DC: I wanted him to continue with his excellent work ethic, I wanted him to stay healthy so not to have any setbacks. I would like Danny to find a solid level of play which will allow him to be a solid three zone contributor with good physical presence.
PP: On the eve of the 2009-10 season what are your hopes/expectations of Daniel to help the Minutemen win this year?
Danny is a player with very good hockey strength, He has good tools (puck skills, wristshot, and vision). As for his future, he has a positive body language, he has to not being so tough on himself, as he has quickness going from spot to spot.
We thank Coach Cahoon for that and as for the game itself, Danny was used as the starting left wing for the Mintuemen but he was scoreless and had just 2 shots for his evening. The Minutemen got a huge wake up call as they lost to the New Brunswick Reds of the Canadian CIS 3-2.
Now New Brunswick is one of the top programs among the Canadian colleges as many of their players are older and have CHL experience. It is not a major upset but UMass gave up 3 goals on 6 shots in the first period and had to play catch up the rest of the game.
Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) got his clearance to play from the Czech Hockey Federation so he made his season debut with the WHL Medicine Hat Tigers. Kundratek having not played in over a week showed some rust as he was scoreless (but a +1) as the Tigers lost in overtime to the Kootenay Ice 5-4.
Roman Horak (2009 5th) also was scoreless (but a -1) as his Chilliwack Bruins got whipped 7-2 by the Kelowna Rockets. Horak has quieted down after a nice start to his season.
Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) and his Saskatoon Blades were held scoreless by the Brandon Wheat Kings 3-0 on the road. Klassen is our early season pick for the post training camp hangover as he remains pointless since returning from the Hartford camp.
Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) gave up 5 goals on 22 shots and earning the hook from Coach Mark Reeds as his Owen Sound Attack lost to the Kitchener Rangers 6-5. Stajcer got the hook at 5:43 of the second period but was spared the loss when the Attack scored their 5th goal with 52 seconds remaining in the game.
Stajcer is now 1-3-1, 3.87 GAA and a 0.897 save percentage in 6 games. The loss drops the Attack to last in the Western Conference 1-5-1 3 points and winless in 4 straight.
Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) was scoreless (+1) as his Erie Otters lost a tough one in overtime to the London Knights 5-4. The Otters fell to 2-2-1-1 on the season but in this one they gave a good effort against one of the best teams in the OHL.
It is safe to say that there are 19 teams in the OHL who are rooting for Michael Del Zotto to be kept by the Rangers. Put Del Zotto on this already talented London team and they become serious OHL Championship contenders. They are 5-1 without Del Zotto, imagine them with him?
Daniel Maggio (2009 6th) also was held scoreless (-1) ending a 6 game scoring streak (2-5-7) as his Sudbury Wolves lost to the Peterborough Petes 5-3. Maggio is already on a pace to top his combined scoring totals of his last 2 season.
Chris Doyle (2008 5th) scored his 4th of the season but his Prince Edward Rocket gave up 5 goals in the 3rd period to lose 7-2 to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Doyle also took 2 minors (1 led to a PPG against) and had 1 good hit.
(Pics: Cunningham/Vancouver Giants, Hagelin/Michigan Wolverines, Pither/Barrie Colts, Hobbs/UMass Minutemen)
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