Monday, December 28, 2009

The Best is Yet to Come

Day 2 of the World Under-20 gave New York Ranger fans another reason to think positive about the future of the franchise as once again it was Ranger prospects playing an important role in a Team USA win.

Chris Kreider, the Ranger's 2009 1st round pick scored what turned out to be the game winning goal and was named player of the game for Team USA as the USA defeated a much tougher than expected team from Switzerland 3-0 to go 2-0.

This one in many ways was a Ranger type of victory as a young 17 year old goalie kept a slow starting US team in a game that they could have lost in the first period if not for the efforts of one Jack Campbell. Campbell who normally plays for the USA Under-18 team make his World Under-20 debut with a shutout is a 6'2 188 lb goalie who is eligible for the 2010 draft.

The one thing that is keep us from jumping on the USA bandwagon has been these back to back slow starts which if the US does not find a way to stop will eventually cost them as they play against better competition down the road.

Kreider however is sending a loud and clear message to Ranger fans that he is not going to become another Hugh Jessiman as despite not having monster numbers as a freshman at Boston College; Kreider is getting the job done for the Ranger Universe to clearly see.

Even better is that Kreider once again teamed with fellow Ranger prospect Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) on his goal as the duo are already showing some chemistry together which could pay major dividends as both prospects head towards their Ranger's future. Kreider scored the USA's first goal when he took a feed from Cam Fowler and Stepan to beat Swiss goalie Ben Conz on the power play at 5:57 of the 2nd period.

For Kreider it was his 1st goal of the tournament and 2nd point while Stepan who is leading the USA in scoring added his 3rd assist to go 1-3-4. Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) also joined the scoring parade when he fed Matt Donovan for the US's 2nd goal at 2:35 of the 3rd period.

It was Bourque's first point of the tournament but until the 3rd period he has for the most part remained on the quiet side. Luke Walker (Traverse City) took an 1st period penalty as he and his fellow 4th liners hardly saw much ice time during the 2nd and 3rd periods.

All in all the USA has a day off before facing Latvia and we hope that the US coaching staff makes sure that the team does not look past Latvia and towards their New Year's Eve match up against host Canada.

Roman Horak (2009 5th) scored what should have been a winning goal for his Czech Republic team as his goal gave the Czechs a 3-0 lead over Finland but the Czechs stopped playing in the 3rd period and gave up 4 unanswered goals to lose 4-3. Horak played well on his part but this Czech team is headed towards the relegation round and perhaps being bounced from the top division might be the wake up call their hockey program needs.

The Rest of the Ranger prospects

Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) who played for the Czech Republic on last year's World Under-20 team had an assist as his Medicine Hat Tigers got their 2nd half of the WHL season off to a very good start with a 5-2 win over the Regina Pats.

Kundratek had a secondary assist on the Tiger's 2nd goal of the game is now 1-22-23 on the season.

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) and his Prince Edward Island Rocket were shut out 3-0 by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in their return. Doyle was held to just 2 shots on goal but at least this season he is healthy so hopefully he will start to heat up in the 2nd half.

(Kreider and Stepan courtesy of Jeff Winnick/IIHF Images)

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