There are times when we really look forward to watching how New York Ranger prospects handle pressure. Seeing if a prospect will step up when his team needs it the most is something that is not taught; a prospect either has it as part of his makeup or he doesn't.
Today's First Star Tomas Kundratek
It has been a mostly quiet season for Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) but that is all right with us as what we wanted to see from Kundratek was for him to show some maturity on the ice especially in his decision making process. We also wanted to see Kundratek rise to a big occasion and make the big play.
Until Saturday night we had not seen big play from Kundratek but we will give him credit for picking the right time to make one. Kundratek and his Medicine Hat Tigers were in Saskatoon to take on Sam Klassen's Saskatoon Blades in the race for the top spot in the WHL's Eastern Conference.
The Tigers trailed the Blades by 8 points going into the matchup and were very close to losing the game but a 3rd period goal sent the game into overtime. Kundratek then made his play of the season as he picked up the puck carried it into the offensive zone, blew by a defender and bounced the puck off the post and in for the game winner.
Oh yea and Kundratek did this while falling down after being checked. It was an excellent goal for Kundratek to score off a coast to coast rush.
It earned Kundratek the game's third star from the home team so now we want to see how Kundratek responds to being the hero.
It was just Kundratek's 2nd goal of the season but it was a big goal as it gave the Tigers the badly needed 2nd point and gave the Tigers a huge psychological boost with a win on the Blade's ice. The Tigers were able to pull within 7 points of the Blades and also stayed 2 points ahead of the Calgary Hitmen in the race for playoff seeding.
Second Star Derek Stepan
We might as well just start cutting and pasting the Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) report as the Wisconsin Badger sophomore forward has been putting up the points now for 2 months.
Against Colorado College Stepan had 2 assists as part of a 3rd period rally as Stepan's 3rd ranked Badgers fell behind 4-1 after just one period. The Badgers put on a furious rally but came up 1 goal short losing 6-5.
While the loss put an end to Wisconsin's 7 game unbeaten streak; Stepan keeps on scoring as he has put up points in 8 out of last 9 games with the Badgers and 7 straight with Team USA. That is 7-25-32 points which at any level is outstanding.
Rest of the Ranger Prospects
Ryan McDonagh (2009 Trade) did not score in the Wisconsin game, was a -2 and took a roughing penalty in the Wisconsin loss. McDonagh is more suited for the pro game where his physical play will be more of a factor.
Maybe Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) should cut his fingers more often as Gaulton played one of his best games of the season at both ends of the ice. Gaulton had 2 assists for his 10th point in his last 7 games as his Erie Otters defeated the Sarina Sting 4-3.
We asked Gaulton to show some more offense in his game and he has responded but we have to also point out that Gaulton was a +4 in an important game for the Otters as they fight for a playoff spot.
Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) is also on a run of his own as he added his 15th assist of the season as his Michigan Wolverines tied the Alaska Nanooks in regulation 3-3 but lost the shoot out 1-0. Hagelin now has a 6 game scoring streak (3-8-11) going (which ties his career high set earlier this season) as Michigan's leading scorer is now 12-15-27 on the season.
Daniel Maggio (2009 6th) did not score but his Sudbury Wolves won the battle 4-3 in overtime over Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) and his Owen Sound Attack. Stajcer had 24 saves while facing 28 shots as his record dropped to 15-15-3-1, 3.56 goals against and 0.906 save percentage.
Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) was held scoreless as his Kingston Frontenacs dropped a 7-4 decision to the Peterborough Petes. The loss hurt the Frontenacs as they fell 6 points behind the Petes in the race for the 4th seed in the OHL's Eastern Conference.
Chris Doyle (2008 5th) was scoreless as well but his Victoriavilla Tigre won their 7th straight game 6-4 over the Gatineau Olympiques. The Tigres are now 7-1 with Doyle in the lineup.
Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) did not score but his UMass Minutemen won a key matchup with rival 15th ranked UMass Lowell 2-1 to jump into 3rd place of the Hockey East conference. The win also pulls the Minutemen within 2 points of Chris Kreider's Boston College Eagles.
Roman Horak (2009 5th) had an assist but his Chilliwack Bruins dropped their 4th straight game 5-1 to the Everett Silvertips. Horak now is 13-18-31 on the season.
Luke Walker (Traverse City) had an assist but his Portland Winterhawks simply can not find a way to defeat the Tri-City Americans as they lost for the 6th time in 6 meetings this season.
(Kundratek courtesy of the Medicine Hat Tigers, Stepan courtesy of Melody Hasse)
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