Friday night was a pretty good night for the New York Ranger prospects as once again several of them put on the kind of performances that made them each worthy of being the our first star.
Tonight's First Star Daniel Maggio
Earlier this week we called upon the Ranger's 6th round pick to decide what kind of defenseman he was going to be. On Friday evening Daniel Maggio showed the offense that had disappeared from his game since early this season.
Maggio scored his first 2 goals since October 23rd as he set a new career high with his 6th and 7th goals in helping his Sudbury Wolves come from behind to defeat the Brampton Battalion 5-4 in the shootout. Maggio earned the game's first star for his play as the Wolves rallied from down 2 goals in the game's final minute of regulation.
Maggio's night got going when he scored off a blast from the point at 16:28 of the 2nd period to cut the Brampton lead to 3-1. The goal came 9 seconds after Brampton had scored for that 3-1 lead.
Then with the Wolves down 4-2 and under a minute to play, the Wolves pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. Maggio scored what has to be his biggest goal of the season as he scored his 2nd of the game at 19:08 to cut the lead to just one.
28 seconds later, teammate Eric O'Dell scored the game tying goal to force overtime and then the shootout. Then O'Dell scored the only goal in the shootout to give the hometown Sudbury fans a very happy win.
Maggio is now 7-9-16 in just 31 games and he needs just 4 more points to tie his career high of 20 points.
Second Star Scott Stajcer
Sometimes we think Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) just deserves some better luck as he did on Friday night. Stajcer stopped 39 out of 40 shots but it just was not enough as his Owen Sound Attack lost a heartbreaker 2-0 to the Ottawa 67's.
Stajcer played in our eyes one of his best games of the season; for 53:13 Stajcer stopped shot after shot. But it was one of those nights where it was just not meant to be as Ottawa outshot the Attack 41-27.
Stajcer may have lost this game but he improved his numbers on the year to 10-12-1-1, new career bests in goal's against at 3.49 and save percentage 0.907. One has to wonder just what his numbers would be like if he was playing on a contender not a rebuilding team.
Credit to the 67's for awarding Stajcer the game's 3rd star on the road.
Third Star Carl Hagelin
There is no question that Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) is doing his best to try to carry the Michigan Wolverines as they struggle this season. Like Stajcer, Hagelin deserved a better fate as Hagelin scored a goal and an assist as Michigan lost 5-3 to the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Hagelin's 8th goal of the season brought the Wolverines to within 4-3 with just 3:04 left in regulation but the Wolverines gave up an empty net goal and that was it. Hagelin also had a secondary assist on Michigan's 2nd goal which at the time tied the score at 2-2.
Hagelin has a 4 game scoring streak going (4-2-6) which ties his career best. With the points, Hagelin now is Michigan's leading scorer for the first time in his career as he leads with 14 points (8-6-14).
Hagelin also leads the Wolverines in goals with 8.
Fourth Star The Badger Brothers
This is one of those good news, bad news type of deals; if you are a Ranger fan this is good news but if you going to have to face the Wisconsin Badgers then it is bad news. We decided to award a 4th star because Ryan McDonagh (2009 Trade) had a goal and Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) 2 assists as the Wisconsin Badgers whipped on Michigan Tech 8-2.
For McDonagh it was his 2nd goal of the season as he is starting to look like he is getting healthy again after struggling with some minor injuries. But Stepan is now on a hot streak as he improves his season numbers to 5-12-17 thanks to a 3 game scoring streak of (2-6-8).
Now that is good news for Ranger fans as these 2 prospects are going to play important roles in the Ranger's future. McDonagh as the defensive stopper the Rangers lack on the blueline and Stepan teaming with his fellow American prospects Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque to provide the offensive attack that is what John Tortorella wants to play.
Wisconsin now has 4 out of their last 6 games.
The Rest of the Ranger Prospects
Call it "Match Up Friday" as 3 different sets of prospects and their teams faced off with each other.
Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) and his Saskatoon Blades broke a 2 game losing streak when they came back to tie the game with 24 seconds left in regulation and then went on to win in the shootout over Tomas Kundratek's (2008 3rd) Medicine Hat Tigers. This was actually a pretty good defensive battle as both prospects played well even if neither scored in the game.
We are going to give the slight edge in this one to Kundratek as he and the Tiger penalty kill shut down the Blade power play 0 for 5 as Medicine Hat was 1 for 4 on theirs. It was one of the better defensive efforts by the Tigers we have seen this season which is saying a lot given their previous struggles on defense this season.
Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) returned from his lower body injury but really his Erie Otters were no match for the red hot Barrie Colts and Luke Pither (Traverse City). The Colts won their 16th straight game 6-3 as Pither earned a primary assist (20th assist, 41st point) on Barrie's 5th goal.
Barrie broke a 3-3 tie with 3 goals in the 3rd period for the win. Gaulton was a -3 but really the Colts right now are on one of those streaks where they can do no wrong.
Chris Kreider (2009 1st) did not score but his 14th ranked Boston College Eagles upset instate rivals 9th ranked UMass with Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) 3-1 on the road. Both Ranger prospects had rather quiet games in this one.
Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) had a secondary assist and was a +2 as his Kingston Frontenacs defeated the Mississauga St. Michael's Major's 3-1. Werek is now 15-16-31 +11 for the season.
Chris Doyle (2008 5th) had a mostly quiet night as his Prince Edward Island Rocket defeated the Halifax Moosehead 8-5. Doyle was used as the 2nd line center did not score but was 9-9 on his faceoffs, -1 with 3 shots on goal and 1 "good" hit.
Luke Walker (Traverse City) did not score but his Portland Winterhawks came back with 4 third period goals to defeat the Everett Silvertips 5-3. In case you missed it Walker earned an invite to the Team USA World Under-20 Camp along with Stepan, Bourque and Kreider.
Craig Cunningham (Traverse City) had 2 assists (#'s 28 and 29) to increase his prospect leading point total to 43 but his Vancouver Giants lost to the visiting Calgary Hitmen 5-4. Cunningham is 6th in the WHL in scoring at 14-29-43.
If it is December then sadly then it is time for Max Campbell's (2007 5th) annual healthy scratch. Western Michigan scratched the junior center as they went out and defeated the Alaska Nanooks 3-1. "Soup" is one of our favorite prospects but while we hope this lights a fire under him as it did last year; he will not get to the NHL this way.
Campbell is a natural goal scorer but when his coach has to do this for the 2nd year in a row it is hard to not be critical of him.
(Maggio and Stajcer courtesy of OHL Images/Terry Wilson, Hagelin courtesy of Mlive.com, Stepan and McDonagh courtesy of Melody Hasse)
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