Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Newest Hat Trick

Saturday evening offered up some better efforts as at least we had players who did enough to earn some stars in their games. Still not all the news was good and it has done enough to make us wonder how these prospects are going to fare during crunch time.

Tonight's First Star Scott Stajcer

Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) got the start for his Owen Sound Attack and thanks to stopping 38 out of 40 shots earned a 3-2 win in overtime over the Guelph Storm. Once again Stajcer's work when he faces more than 30 shots in a game is impressive.

Overall Stacjer has a 18-16-3-1 record but when he faces 30 or more then the record becomes a very good 15-9-1-1. And that does not include that Owen Sound like the Rangers does not always play a strong supporting defense in front of this 18 year old goalie.

Against the Storm, Stajcer had an easy start with just 8 shots in the first period but then it was 15 shots in the second and 17 more in the 3rd period. Stajcer earned the game's 3rd star as with the win the Attack not only got back to 500 at 23-23-4-2 but also opened up a 6 point lead for the 8th seed in the OHL's Western Conference.

Second Star Carl Hagelin

Here is what we do not understand, Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) leads the Michigan Wolverines in scoring and is going to be on the ballot for the Hobey Baker but yet other than us few view him as a serious Ranger prospect. Hello people the Michigan Wolverines are one of the true traditional college hockey powerhouses not a once in a while pretender.

Hagelin during his 3 seasons at Michigan has shown this knack for the clutch play when his Wolverines need it most. Against arch rival Michigan State, Hagelin just might have saved Michigan's hopes of earning a NCAA bid with an assist.

Michigan State was 5 minutes away from defeating Michigan for the 4th straight time this season after the Wolverines had blown a 3-0 lead. The Spartans had scored 4 straight goals to grab a 4-3 lead when Hagelin showed why we are so high on him.

With Michigan shorthanded, Hagelin using a great forecheck stole the puck deep in the MSU end and went on the attack. Hagelin fired one shot on net; the rebound came right back to him, Hagelin got the puck right back on the rebound.

With 2 MSU defenders focused on him along with the MSU goalie, Hagelin spotted an unguarded Matt Rust to the left of the MSU net which was wide open and got him the puck for the tap in and a 4-4 goal. Michigan then scored the game winner with just barely 2 minutes left in regulation for the 5-4 win.

Video highlights can be seen here and you should watch it to see Hagelin in action. Hagelin also had a secondary assist on Michigan's 2nd goal to give him 17 points on the season. At 13-17-30, Hagelin is Michigan's leading scorer on the season but also cracked the national Top 20 right at 20th.

Third Star Luke Walker

We would like to congratulate Luke Walker (Traverse City) for forcing us to come up with a new kind of stat; Luke Walker became the first person we have ever seen earn a "WWE Hat Trick". A "WWE Hat Trick" is when you score a goal, an assist and get called for headbutting in the same game.

For the life of us we have never seen someone called for headbutting but Walker received a double minor for it at 18:41 of the first period. Walker all kidding aside had a very solid game as he scored his 21st goal of the season and added 2 assists to lead his Portland Winterhawks to a 6-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Walker was named the game's first star for his efforts as he improved to 21-25-46 +18 on the season. For most of the season we were trying to figure out who Walker reminds us of and now we know; Walker reminds us of Matt Barnaby with more offense as you love how hard he works.

Walker is so much fun to watch because you know you are going to see 100% when he is out on the ice, that if you try to run a teammate there he is. If you need a play to be made there is Luke Walker and nothing is better than a player who does whatever he is asked to do if it helps his team win.

The Rest of the Ranger Prospects

Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) and Ryan McDonagh (2009 Trade) had quiet games as their 2nd ranked Wisconsin Badgers were shut out for the first time this season 4-0 by Minnesota-Duluth. Neither player played well as did their team as we wonder if they were looking past them towards next Saturday's big outdoor game against the Michigan Wolverines (more later in the week).

Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) and his Saskatoon Blades earned a weekend split of their home and home series with the Swift Current Broncos as they won 7-4. Klassen had an assist on the Blade's 4th goal of the game for his 24th assist of the season (tied a career high) and 27th point of the season.

The win allowed the Blades to pull within 1 point of the Brandon Wheat Kings for the 1st seed in the WHL's Eastern Conference. The Blades also have 4 games in hand over the Wheat Kings.

Sticking with the WHL, Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and his Medicine Hat Tigers played their 4th game in 5 nights and it showed badly. The Tigers finished up a British Columbia road trip by getting whipped 7-2 by the Kelowna Rockets.

Kundratek did not play badly like several of his teammates but now we want to see if he steps it up for the big games.

The Tigers return home for a key "home and home" series with the Calgary Hitmen next weekend. The Tigers lead the Hitmen by 6 points for the WHL Central Division race but the Tigers have played 6 more games than the Hitmen.

Max Campbell (2007 5th) and his Western Michigan Bronco should be thankful that they got outstanding goaltending as they were out shot 49-16 by the Miami of Ohio RedHawks and only lost 2-1. This has been a lost season for both Campbell and his Broncos.

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) had an assist but it was not enough as his Victoriaville Tigres lost their 2nd straight 4-2 to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. For Doyle it was his 12th point since joining the Tigres and his 45th on the season (18-27-45).

Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) and his Kingston Frontenacs played one of their worst games of the season as they were whipped 6-1 by the Mitch Gaulton-less Erie Otters. Werek at the least did not have the bad numbers that some of his teammates did.

Still this is the kind of loss that hurts the Frontenacs as they try for first round home ice in the OHL playoffs.

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) missed his 2nd straight game as his UMass Minutemen defeated the Providence Friars 4-1. We have been told that it is an injury not a healthy scratch but the only details we have is that Hobbs was hurt in practice last Tuesday.

No word of course as to what kind of injury or how long Hobbs will miss.

And we still do not know why officially as to why Chris Kreider (2009 1st) did not play Friday night but experience with the US Colleges says that if they say nothing it is an injury. They are very quick to tell us when someone is a healthy scratch.

(Pictures courtesy of: Stajcer/Owen Sound, Hagelin/Scott Galvin, Michigan Photo Services, Walker/Portland Winterhawks)

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