Spoiler Warning If you do not want to know how the USA Under-20 team did against North Dakota then stop reading here and come back after the game is shown on the NHL Network tomorrow. The game will be shown starting at 12 PM EDT/ 9 AM PDT.
Otherwise then here is tonight's report
First Star Chris Kreider
For those who have been worried about Chris Kreider (2009 1st) not putting up big stats we have been saying all along not to worry. The Boston College freshman has been playing well enough to be the starting left wing all season and that is good enough for us.
But if stats are what you want then you will very much like Kreider's performance for Team USA against North Dakota on Saturday night. Kreider led Team USA with 2 goals as they defeated North Dakota 4-2 in exhibition play.
We view this season as a learning year for Kreider as he adapts to a higher level of play; this performance in our eyes just about guarantees that Kreider is going to be a part of Team USA Under-20 team. Kreider was poised and played with a purpose that you want to see from a hungry player.
In the second period while Team USA was on the power play; Kreider deflected a shot from teammate Cam Fowler's shot past North Dakota goalie Brad Eidsness for a 1-0 USA lead at 6:51. Fellow Ranger prospect Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) got the secondary assist on the play.
In the 3rd period with the scored tied 1-1, Kreider got his second goal as he took a pass from Matt Donovan in the crease and then just powered the puck past North Dakota goalie Aaron Dell. The goal gave Team USA a 2-1 lead at 3:36 of the period as they went on to win.
Kreider looked good and appears to have gained more confidence in his game since the first USA camp.
Second Star Daniel Maggio
It has been an up and down season for the Ranger's 2009 6th round pick but Daniel Maggio has shown positive signs that suggest he has some serious professional potential.
Against the red hot Barrie Colts, Maggio played perhaps his best game of the season scoring his 8th goal of the season and adding his 10th assist in a losing effort as Barrie won their 21st straight game 5-4 over Maggio's Sudbury Wolves.
The Wolves put up much more of a fight than anyone expected against the Colts even holding Luke Pither (Traverse City) scoreless. In the end the Colt experience and depth was too much for the Wolves.
Third Star Derek Stepan
In that same USA exhibition game Derek Stepan showed why he is also going to make this USA roster as Stepan had 2 assists in the USA win. But what is going to stand out for us from this game was a touch of class shown by Stepan.
Last week Stepan and his Wisconsin Badgers were in North Dakota playing in a very hard fought series with the Fighting Sioux. Danny Kristo plays for North Dakota normally but tonight he was Stepan's linemate.
With the USA up 3-2 and North Dakota having pulled their goalie, Stepan found himself with the puck and a shooting lane but instead gave the puck to his new teammate so he could score in front of his home crowd. It was a nice gesture by Stepan and a message sender to his teammates.
It is this kind of unselfish play which is why we think so much of Derek Stepan.
Rest of the Ranger Prospects
Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) was held scoreless as his Erie Otters lost to the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 3-1. Gaulton was very quiet in this game.
Luke Pither (Traverse City) was held scoreless by Sudbury and had a -2 in Barrie's 21st straight win.
Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) had the night off as his Owen Sound Attack lost to the Oshawa Generals 6-5. Stajcer should get the start tomorrow in the last game before the holiday break.
Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) and Luke Walker (Traverse City) were both healthy scratches in the Team USA exhibition win. Team USA makes it's next set of cuts tomorrow and we expect Walker to be cut mainly because of his mouth injury. Bourque should make the squad due his past experience with the USA program but we will not take anything for granted.
Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) had an assist (#15) for his 18th point of the season as his Saskatoon Blades got the split of their home and home with the Prince Albert Raiders 5-2.
Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) had an assist as part of his Medicine Hat Tiger's 5 unanswered goals as they used those 5 to earn a 5-4 win over the Calgary Hitmen. Kundratek's assist was his 21st of the season and 22nd point overall.
(Kreider courtesy of Dennis Pause, Maggio courtesy of Terry Wilson OHL Images, Stepan courtesy of Melody Hasse)
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