Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Tale of Two Lukes

For a welcome change the New York Ranger prospects had a mostly productive Saturday evening including a return from an almost lost prospect.

First Star: Luke Pither

It has been quite a while since last we saw Luke Pither (Traverse City) at the top of our report as he started his season on fire then cooled off. Saturday evening Pither led his Barrie Colts with a 3 point evening as they cruised to a 6-1 win over the Peterborough Petes for their 8th win in a row.

Pither had 2 goals as well as an assist as he earned the game's "First Star." Pither got his night going when he scored Barrie's first goal of the evening just 11 seconds into the game.

Pither had a secondary assist on Barrie's fourth goal and then finished off the evening with a power play goal in the 3rd period. Pither improved his season numbers to 14-16-30 which gives him the goal scoring lead and ranks him 2nd among Ranger prospects in scoring.

Second Star Luke Walker

Just like Luke Pither it has been a while since we have seen Luke Walker (Traverse City) of the Portland Winterhawks here. Walker has played well this season as the Winterhawks have been on of the surprise teams in the WHL.

Facing the defending WHL champion Kelowna Rockets, Walker's unassisted goal at 17:12 of the second period tied the game up at 2-2 as the Winterhawks went on to earn a 3-2 win. It was Walker's 12th goal of the season as it broke a 4 game mini goal scoring slump.

Walker on the season is 12-11-23 but also a +12 which is not bad considering that Walker is playing on Portland's top line. Last season Walker scored 29 goals and it is not hard to expect him to blow right past that number this season.

Third Star Roman Horak

It is rare that someone earns a star when his team loses but Roman Horak (2009 5th) of the Chilliwack Bruins earned this one with a 2 assist effort as his Bruins lost to the Red Deer Rebels 5-2.

After a strong October, it has been a somewhat quiet November for Horak who only had 2 points in his last 6 games. Of the class of 2009, Horak has been the extra present as he has shown flashes of offensive skill especially as a playmaker.

It will be interesting for us on Sunday as we will be seeing how Horak does against Luke Walker and his Portland Winterhawks.

The Rest of the Ranger Prospects

Ryan McDonagh (2009 Trade) had one assist while fellow prospect Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) who had 2 assists as they helped their Wisconsin Badgers to a 6-2 win over the Alaska Anchorage Sea Wolves.

McDonagh and Stepan teamed up for the assists on Wisconsin's 2nd goal of the game as they broke a 1-1 tie and never looked back. The win gave the Badgers a 2 game sweep of the weekend.

Chris Kreider (2009 1st) scored his first NCAA goal as his 16th ranked Boston College Eagles avenged an earlier loss to 15th ranked Vermont with a 7-1 whipping. Kreider scored the Eagle's 6th goal at 2:46 of the 3rd period but otherwise had a quiet game.

Boston College improved to 4-2-1 on the season and will face Vermont again on Sunday afternoon.

Max Campbell (2007 5th) had 5 shots on goal but just 1 assist as his Western Michigan Broncos dropped the 2nd game of their weekend series to the Ohio State Buckeyes 4-2. It was a rough weekend for Campbell and Co. as Ohio State kept their offense in check in both games.

For the first time since 2005, the Michigan Wolverines have a 4 game losing streak after being shut out 2-0 by in state rivals Michigan State. Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) and his teammates are sporting a 4-6-1 record which by it's self is shocking as we are not used to seeing Michigan with a losing record.

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) saw his 3 game scoring streak come to an end as his UMass Minutemen lost for just the 2nd time this season falling 4-2 to the University of New Hampshire. Hobbs was 1-3-4 during his streak.

Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) did not score but his Medicine Hat Tigers are showing signs that they are turning things around with their 3rd straight strong effort in a 4-2 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Sam Klassen (UFA 2009) and his Saskatoon Blades depending on how you want to look at things have a 2 game winning streak; have not lost in regulation in 11 games or are 9-0-0-1 in their last 10 games. In any case, the Blades defeated the Prince George Cougars 3-2 as Klassen was scoreless but a +1.

Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) was used as a center for the first time this season for an entire game and did not play bad at all. Bourque had an assist but was 10-5 on his faceoffs as his Quebec Remparts defeated the Rimouski Oceanic 6-3.

It was a very good effort by Bourque but his future in the NHL is on the wing because of his small size.

Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) gave up 3 goals in facing 32 shots as his Owen Sound Attack lost to the Brampton Battalion 4-1. With the loss Stajcer dropped to 7-10-1-1 with a 3.87 GA and a 0.904 save percentage.

The numbers are really not all that bad considering that Owen Sound is rebuilding and Stajcer does not always get a lot of support from his teammates.

Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) and his Erie Otters saw their 4 game winning streak come to a crashing halt as they got whipped 5-2 by the Windsor Spitfires. The Spits fired 55 shots on goal and if not for Erie goalie Jarslov Janus this score wound have been a lot worse.

Gaulton had an assist to give him a 3 game scoring streak and points in 4 of his last 5 games. Gaulton is playing better and it is good to see as to earn a contract from the Rangers he is going to need to show still even more given the glut of defensemen in the system.

(Pither courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images, Luke Walker courtesy of the Portland Winterhawks, Horak courtesy of Bob Frid/Freemotion Photography)


Jerry said...

I appreciate your covering Luke Pither, Luke Walker & Craig Cunningham, who played for the Rangers' rookie squad in the Traverse Tourney in September. But I don't believe the Rangers ever signed any of them. Hence Pither, who is an overaged junior, will be a free agent after this season. And Walker & Cunningham, who were born in 1990, are eligible for next year's draft. You refer to them as "Ranger prospects," but the Rangers don't actually any rights to them, do they?

Jess Rubenstein said...


The Rangers do not own the rights to them and yes both the younger ones could re-enter the draft if the NYR do not sign them prior to.

I include these 3 because the NYR have signed several UFAs as prospects and their play so far has earned them the right to continue being covered.