We thought that Friday night was a pretty good night for the New York Ranger prospects but the prospects went out and topped that with a very good Saturday night.
First Star Chris Doyle
Chris Doyle (2008 5th) came one assist away from becoming the first New York Ranger prospect in the time we have been doing Prospect Park to record a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with an actual Hat Trick.
Doyle's first hat trick of the 2009-10 season powered the Prince Edward Island Rocket to a 5-3 road win over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. It was Doyle's second career Hat Trick in the QMJHL.
Doyle also had his second fight of the season as he took on Vincent Arseneau in a bout that depending on which team you rooted for that player won. We did not see the video on the fight so we have no idea which way it went.
Doyle got his night going when he scored his 12th goal of the season at 3:28 of the first period to tie the game at 1-1. In the second period, Doyle gave the Rocket a short lived 3-2 lead when he cashed in a feed from Adam Polasek for his 13th goal of the season (4th on the power play) at 12:23.
Finally in the 3rd period, Doyle put the game away with his 14th goal of the year at 19:02 when he got the hat trick on an empty net goal off a feed from Jarrad Struthers. Doyle is now 14-14-28 as he was awarded the game's second star by the local Titan media.
Doyle overall had a solid line for the night 3-0-3, +1, 5 PIM, 8 shots, 5-3 on faceoffs 1 "good" hit.
Second Star Craig Cunningham
At the same time Craig Cunningham (Traverse City) came 1 fight away from being the first prospect to record a Gordie Howe with an actual Hat Trick as Cunningham recorded his second 4 point night of the season to lead his Vancouver Giants to a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings.
In scoring his first WHL career Hat Trick, Cunningham scored first at 17:35 for his 15th goal of the season on the power play and a 1-0 Giant's lead. Cunningham made it 2-0 when he scored his 16th at 10:24 at even strength.
Cunningham then turned playmaker and set up linemate Brendan Gallagher's 20th goal of the season and the eventual game winner at 15:58 of the 2nd period. Gallagher had set up Cunnigham's first 2 goals in the game and eventually also wound up with a 4 point night too.
After Edmonton had cut the Giant's lead to 3-1, Cunningham and Gallagher teamed up again to put the game away with his hat trick goal (# 17) at 3:45 of the 3rd period. Cunningham wound up 3-1-4, +4 and the game's first star.
Cunningham at 17-30-47 not only leads Ranger prospects in scoring but is now 3rd overall in the WHL.
Third Star Derek Stepan
OK we can say it now, Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) is not just hot, he is on fire. Give the sophomore from Hastings Minnesota 3 more assists as Stepan has a 4 game scoring streak (2-9-11) after his Wisconsin Badgers blew out Michigan Tech 6-0 for the weekend sweep.
Stepan's 3 assists were all primary assists including one highlight reel pass to Brendan Smith left Smith so wide open he had no trouble scoring. That also was the first assist and goal of the game as Stepan and his Badgers took advantage of a 5 minute power play to score 3 times on that power play.
Stepan had assists on Wisconsin's 1st, 3rd and 5th goals as they improved to 10-5-1 on the season. Stepan improves to 5-15-20 as the 2nd leading scorer on the Badgers and with those 20 points in 15 games is right on track to where we expected him to be.
The Rest of the Ranger Prospects
Ryan McDonagh (2009 Trade) in the same game did not score but took 3 shots and was an even for the evening. When people wonder why we get so excited about both McDonagh and Stepan's potential; it is because Wisconsin's coach Mike Eaves teaches team defense.
McDonagh is 2-7-9 +8 on the season (Stepan is a +4) but as a team Wisconsin has only 1 player who is a minus on the season (out of 24). In 16 games, the Badgers have only allowed 32 goals total and this is what we have to look forward too from these 2 prospects.
Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) had a secondary assist to extend his own scoring streak to a career high 5 games (4-3-7) as his Michigan Wolverines edged the Ohio State Buckeyes 2-1. Hagelin was also a key performer on a Michigan penalty kill that has now killed 23 straight power plays (over 5 games).
Hagelin shares the team lead in scoring with 8-7-15.
Luke Pither (Traverse City) set up what proved to be the game winning goal as his Barrie Colts won their 17th straight game 6-1 over the Niagara Ice Dogs. Pither's assist was his 21st on the season as he is now 21-21-42 and has his own 4 game scoring streak going (2-3-5).
Roman Horak (2009 5th) was scoreless but a +2 as his Chilliwack Bruins fell to the Calgary Hitmen 6-3. Horak was introduced to a North American tradition in this game as the Bruins held their annual Teddy Bear Toss (no word on how many Bears hit the ice).
Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) was scoreless as his Saskatoon Blades were whipped by the Red Deer Rebels 5-1. Klassen did take a roughing minor as he took exception to being interfered with and responded.
Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) was also scoreless but a -2 on 3 shots and 6-7 on faceoffs as his Quebec Remparts were beaten at home by the Val-d'Or Foreurs 5-2. We still do not think Bourque's NHL future is at center the more we see his play there.
Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) had a power play assist as his Erie Otters needed to go to the shoot out before edging the Sarnia Sting 3-2. For Gaulton it was his 12th assist which is a new career high for the young defenseman.
Chris Kreider (2009 1st) was scoreless but took 5 shots and was more active as his 14th ranked Boston College Eagles defeated Boston University 4-1. Kreider's potential should not be measured in how many points he has in his freshman season but how he is being used and so far Boston College is using him in all situations.
That alone is a good sign.
Max Campbell (2007 5th) was back in the Western Michigan lineup after being a healthy scratch as the Broncos went to a 4-4 overtime tie but lost in the shootout round to the Alaska Nanooks. Campbell was the 3rd line center and was scoreless despite 4 shots.
Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) had an assist but his 9th ranked UMass Amherst Minutemen lost to the 8th ranked UMass Lowell Riverhawks 5-3. For Hobbs it was his 5th assist of the season and 7th point as his Minutemen lost their 3rd straight game all to ranked teams.
Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) had the night off as his Owen Sound Attack defeated the Belleville Bulls 5-3.
Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and his Medicine Hat Tigers saw their game against the Lethbridge Hurricanes postponed due to bad weather.
Finally they may not have any Ranger prospects on their team but we are going to post this over the next few days because the Seattle Thunderbirds are going to donate 100% of the online ticket proceeds to the Lakewood Police Independent Guild during a 12 hour period on Wednesday December 9th for tickets to their game on Friday night.
I have one brother who is a police chief in a town in Oregon, another who just retired from the Federal Way (Wash) PD and a brother-in-law who is a homicide investigator in California. I am proud of all 3 but I am also thankful that I have never gotten that phone call that family members dread.
Please if you can read this and follow the instructions on Wednesday to help the T-Birds support the men and women of the Lakewood Police Department. Sell Out the Showare Center.
(Doyle courtesy of Katherine Ep, Cunningham courtesy of the Vancouver Giants, Stepan courtesy of Melody Hasse)
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