Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Toughing it Out Prospect Style

Playing a game during the middle of the week is actually a lot harder for prospects than most fans will realize. Unlike at the NHL level, the majority of these kids are attending some type of school during the day whether it be high school or college.

People also are not aware that just like at the college level a player's grades can keep him out of a lineup as the CHL leagues do have grade standards that players are expected to adhere to.

Having said all that, it was still good to see the 3 prospects toughing it out in their own ways to help their teams as best they could.

Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) continued his excellent play as his setting up of Travis Toomey for a shorthanded goal in the third period turned out to be the game winning goal as Klassen's Saskatoon Blades won their 6th straight 4-3 over the Regina Pats. Klassen made an almost impossible pass between the Regina defense to send Toomey in on a shorthanded breakaway.

Klassen talked about how much he wanted to improve his offensive skills but that pass was a work of art. Klassen has been a factor in each of these wins as the Blades are now in first place of the WHL's East Division with a record of 8-2-0-2.

Klassen in addition to his assist finished the game with a +2 to bring his season numbers up to 1-5-6 and a prospect leading +9 with 18 PIMS.

Luke Walker (Traverse City) did not score but was such a factor at both ends of the ice that the home town Lethbridge media gave him the game's "second star" as Walker's Portland Winterhawks won their second straight this time a hard fought 4-3 overtime win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

With the win the Winterhawks have taken over as the top team in the WHL's Western Division with a 10-5 record. Not bad for the team that many considered to be one of the worst in all of the Canadian Juniors just last year.

Walker was getting the job done at both ends of the ice, using his body, breaking up offensive plays and being the on ice leader that the Winterhawks need as they continue this impressive start to their season.

Walker is 8-8-16 +8 with 28 PIMs (including 2 fighting majors) and as he told us the confidence he gained from playing at Traverse City has taught him he can play at the next level. The Rangers did not make any promises to him but one has to think that the Rangers are watching Walker very closely this season.

Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) returned to the Kingston Frontenac lineup after missing the last 2 games with a "lower body" injury and to be honest we were surprised to see him back so soon. We were expecting Werek to be out of the Kingston lineup for at least another game or 2.

It says a lot about Werek's courage to play hurt as his Kingston Frontenacs had dropped 2 straight games without their leading goal scorer. The Frontenacs hosted the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors on Wednesday evening and even with Werek back in the lineup dropped a 4-3 decision to the Majors.

The Frontenacs were hurt by giving up 3 goals in the second period as they were playing catch up for most of the game. Werek was not at 100% but was able to notch an assist on a late power play goal for his 13th point of the season.


We typically just list the sites that allow us the use of their images to help show the kind of effort that Ranger prospects give on a given night. Tonight we would like to give some special thanks to the folks who help us show you what your prospects look like.

For example tonight's images starting with the first one of Sam Klassen was provided to us by Steve Hiscock Photography. Our second image of Luke Walker comes to us courtesy of the Portland Winterhawks. The last image which is of Ethan Werek was taken by Aaron Bell of the OHL Images.

We also are lucky enough to get pictures of our QMJHL prospects Chris Doyle and Ryan Bourque from a very nice young lady by the name of Katherine Ep. Our college images are given to use from the Sports Information Departments of the various colleges.

And we even have to say thanks to the New York Rangers and National Hockey League for the use of their images as well. We mention these names because too often when traveling the web most of the images we see posted are not credited back to those who took those pictures.

As much as we want credit for our own work, it is only fair that those photographers who provide us with some great action pictures receive credit for their own hard work.

(Klassen: Steve Hiscock Photography, Walker: Portland Winterhawks, Werek: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

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