Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Mixed Wednesday

Wednesday at least for the New York Ranger Prospects started out to be a very good day but sadly ended with the 3 prospects playing all on the losing end of the stick.

First though the good news as expected Chris Kreider (2009 1st), Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) and Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) all were named to the Team USA World Under-20 Championships preliminary roster.

It is the first time that anyone can recall 3 Ranger prospects all making it this far in the same year on an American team.

All 3 are deserving of this chance to try to make the final roster as they attend a pre-tournament camp in Grand Forks, North Dakota December 17-19th. We believe that Stepan and Bourque are heavy favorites to make the US roster while Kreider we believe is going to need a very strong camp to earn a spot.

What we did not expect to happen was that Luke Walker (Traverse City) of the Portland Winterhawks also received an invite to the US camp which gives the Ranger prospects 4 names on the roster. Walker is a huge long shot to make the team but that he received an invite says a lot about the Winterhawk forward featured in the current edition of the Blueshirt Bulletin.

Canada also released their invites to their camp and while no Ranger prospect is on the list at the moment, Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) remains a possible injury replacement or secondary invite. We hold out hope that Werek will be given a call based upon his 15-15-30 numbers with the Kingston Frontenacs.

The Czech Republic also invited Roman Horak (2009 5th) to take part in their pre-tournament camp which will be held we are told in Regina. Horak is a very deserving invite having a surprising season with the Chilliwack Bruins. Should Horak make the roster he will follow in the footsteps of his own father as a member of a Czech National Team.

Team Russia has invited Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) to try out for their team but the Russian Hockey Federation is claiming that the Rangers have refused to release Grachev so he can play for them. Laurie of Beyond the Blueshirts calls the Ranger refusal a mistake and we agree with her.

The Russians have appealed to the International Ice Hockey Federation to get the decision changed but we believe the Rangers will not change their mind. It would be a second mistake by the Rangers as Grachev is in the need of a confidence booster and if they are fearing that Grachev would return to Russia that would be still another mistake.

Grachev wants to play in the NHL and knows that his best chance is to develop at Hartford; going back to Russia would make his dream of playing in the NHL that much harder.

No other Ranger prospects are expected to take part in the 2010 Championship but even if 5 do make it then that would still be an acceptable number.


The Prospect Game Report

It was Chris Doyle (2008 5th) and his Prince Edward Island Rocket's turn to try to beat the Saint John Sea Dogs and they failed 4-1 as the Sea Dogs won their 18th straight game. The Sea Dogs now own the 5th longest winning streak in QMJHL history (record is 25 games set back in 1973-74 by the Sorel, Éperviers)

Doyle set up the Rocket's only goal as he fed Jarrad Struthers for a power play goal in the 2nd period which at the time cut the Sea Dog's lead to 2-1. Doyle thought struggled the rest of the night finishing with a -2, 1-4 on his faceoff, and 2 PIMs.

Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) and his Saskatoon Blades were 4th in the CHL Weekly Rankings that came out on Wednesday. They then went out and proceeded to get whipped by the Brandon Wheat Kings 7-2 for a rare 2 game losing streak.

Klassen had an interesting evening in his own right; first he got a secondary assist on the Blades first goal of the game on the power play for his 13th point of the season. Then Klassen earned more PIMs in this game than he had in all of November (13-10).

Klassen took 3 cross checking penalties (including a rare double minor for it), a hooking call and his first fight of the season against Matt Calvert that was not much of a fight. Neither landed any serious blows as both were off balanced and fell down.

Honest call is that Calvert came to the aid of a teammate that Klassen had crosscrecked into the boards so give Calvert marks for defending a teammate.

Craig Cunningham (Traverse City) and his Vancouver Giants became the latest to lose to the Kootenay Ice on their British Columbia swing as the Ice won their 4th straight game 6-2. Cunningham was held scoreless and was a -1 with 2 PIMs.

An FYI for those living in the Northwest (thanks to Gregg Drinnan):

A note from the Seattle Thunderbirds, who are offering four free tickets to all police officers for Saturday’s game against the visiting Everett Silvertips:

The Seattle Thunderbirds organization appreciates all that the law enforcement community does to keep citizens safe and secure. The entire Thunderbirds organization was shocked and saddened by the tragic events that unfolded in Lakewood on Sunday.

The Lakewood Police Independent Guild will be in attendance at the game against the Everett Silvertips on Saturday at ShoWare Center accepting monetary donations for the Guild. All donations and proceeds that the Guild obtains go to the children of fallen officers in a trust.

(Bourque courtesy of Katherine Ep)

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