Thursday, November 12, 2009

Smiley Gives Us A Reason to Smile

We have not had many chances to talk much about Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) this season in part because he has been having a quiet season and because others have been putting up better offensive numbers. It is a shame too because Gaulton is one of the nicer prospects one would get to meet.

Those of use who have followed him gave him the nickname of "Smiley" in part because he always has a happy smile on his face but mainly because of his positive attitude despite going though some really tough times.

So it was nice to see on Veterans Day that Mitch had his best all around performance of the season as Gaulton recorded one assist with a +4 to help his Erie Otters win their 3rd straight game 5-2 over the Saginaw Spirit.

Give Gaulton and his Otter teammates a lot of credit for how well they have handled all that has happened with the Michael Liambas suspension and the media circus that has followed it. Instead of falling apart the Otters have played some of their best hockey of the season rallying as a team to not only win 3 straight games but also to go 6-3-1 in their last 10 games.

Gaulton's assist was a secondary one on the Otter's first goal of the game but it was his play in the 3rd period that caught our eye. With the Otters trailing 2-1 entering the 3rd period, Gaulton and company turned up the pressure scoring 4 unanswered goals including 3 in a span of 4:13 to break open what had been a close game.

Now we hope to see more of this out of Gaulton as the season goes on as we know he has a lot more offense in him than he has shown so far (1-8-9 in 17 games).

We admit it; when it comes to Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and his Medicine Hat Tigers that we have no idea what to expect when they play. When this team shows up ready to play they can play with the best teams in the WHL but at the same time when they don't they will drive you nuts.

Case in point, on Wednesday night the Tigers were hosting the Tri-City Americans who entering this game had the best winning percentage in the WHL and the 2nd best overall record. In all honesty we were expecting the Tigers to get beaten badly by the Americans.

So of course Medicine Hat scores 6 unanswered goals over the last 25 minutes of the game to whip the Americans 6-1. Kundratek did not score but was a +1 and a big part of a Tiger penalty kill that held the Americans to just 1 for 7 on their power plays.

Perhaps the best way to describe the Tigers is to compare them to the Rangers of 2008-09 as they could beat the best in the NHL then turn right back around and lose the next night to the worst in the NHL. An inconsistent team if there ever was one; on one hand the Tigers lead the WHL in goals scored with 103 but at the same time, they also have given up the 3rd most goals in the WHL.

Craig Cunningham (Traverse City) and his Vancouver Giants have for the most part owned Roman Horak's (2009 5th) Chilliwack Bruins over the last couple of seasons. Wednesday was no different as Cunningham set up what proved to be the game winning goal on the power play in the 3rd period as the Giants won going away 5-1.

The Giants scored 4 goals in the 3rd period in this one to break open the game as they held the Bruins to just 6 shots on goal to win their second straight game. The Bruins dropped their 2nd straight.

Cunningham leads Rangers prospects with a 12-19-31 mark and Horak in his first season in North America is a respectable 6-11-17.


The Flu is Bugging the QMJHL

A lot of people have gotten upset that some teams in sports have reportedly gotten shots for the H1N1 flu ahead of the general public. At first we thought the same until we start doing a little thinking after watching the QMJHL postpone a game here and a game there and now 3 games this weekend.

We got this from the QMJHL today:

BOUCHERVILLE, Wednesday, November 11, 2009 – The Commissioner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Gilles Courteau, today announced that three additional games have been postponed due to the H1N1 virus.

The following games have been postponed: Shawinigan at Acadie-Bathurst (Friday), Baie-Comeau at P.E.I. (Friday) and Shawinigan at P.E.I. (Saturday). An announcement will be forthcoming as to when the games will be replayed.

"Since a few players from both the Shawinigan Cataractes and P.E.I. Rocket organizations have contracted the virus, we have decided to postpone three games as per outlined in our prevention protocol. These steps have been taken after consulting with our chief physician, Dr. Sylvain Boutet, and both team doctors. Thankfully, none of the players need to be hospitalized. Our goal is to remain proactive in regards to the health and security of our players. We will not take any unnecessary risks. I would like to thank both organizations for their cooperation in this matter," said the Commissioner.

We heard that half of the Prince Edward Island Rocket is out with the flu and started doing some math. Actually more often than in the NHL, players in the juniors do a ton of public appearances as a group.

They visit schools, hospitals, senior care centers and other places where the public gather. They play in front of a few thousand people so if say half the Rocket team is carrying the flu bug wonder how many people they could potentially expose the virus to in just a couple of days?

Scary thought when you look at it huh?

(Gaulton courtesy of OHL Images, Kundratek courtesy of the Medicine Hat Tigers)

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