Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Offering Up a Helping Hand

The only thing that keeps us sane this season is that we know that no matter how badly the Rangers will stink up the place, we can always count on a New York Ranger prospect or 2 to do something that will wash away the stench of a Ranger loss.

Tonight it was 4 different Ranger prospects who with their play offer up a hope that one day we will see a Ranger's future where hard work and a 60 minute effort is the norm rather than a miracle.

Today's First Star Ryan Bourque

Thank you Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) for putting on a magnificent performance on a night when the Ranger put on one of their worst. Bourque had a season high 4 assists in leading his Quebec Remparts to a 10-4 beating over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

Bourque who awarded the games "first star" for his efforts by the home team got his night going with a secondary assist on the Rempart's first goal at 15:07 of the first period as the goal tied the game at 1-1. Bourque did not do anything in the 2nd period but turned it on in the 3rd period.

In the 3rd period, Bourque set up what proved to be the game winning goal when he fed Etienne St-Germain for Germain's 2nd goal of the season on the power play at 6:07 for a 5-2 Quebec lead. Then just 1:24 later Bourque set up Jonathan Audy-Marchessault's 23rd goal and a 6-2 lead.

Bourque then finished off his night with another secondary assist at 16:33 on Quebec's 8th goal of the game. It was the fitting way for Bourque to end his best night in a couple of months but more importantly to see him show off his playmaking skills.

In earning his first star of the game, Bourque improved his season numbers to 13-22-35 in 35 games with Quebec. Now we want to see him have more nights like this.

Second Star Chris Doyle

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) made it a QMJHL evening as he had 2 assists of his own to help lead his Victoriaville Tigres to a 7-4 win over the Acadie-Bathhurst Titans. It was a nice all-around game for Doyle who was a +2 and got credited for a good hit as well.

Doyle's assist had an impact as he set up Yannick Dube's 10th goal of the season in the 3rd period at 1:56 to break a 4-4 tie. The goal proved to be the game winner as the Tigre moved into a tie for the 2nd best record in the QMJHL.

Doyle's second assist was on the Tigre's last goal of the game an empty netter at 19:48 but what needs to be pointed out is that Doyle was on the ice at the end of the game. Doyle for the early part of his career was strictly a one way player and a defensive liability.

The Tigre do not appear afraid of putting Doyle on the ice when defense is needed and that helps Doyle's stock. Doyle is now 18-26-44 on the season but a respectable 3-8-11 in 11 games with the Tigre.

The Rest of the Ranger Prospects

When the Rangers forget to play defense then it is always a pleasure to watch Sam Klassen's (2009 UFA) efforts as Klassen's nickname should be Captain Crunch. No Ranger prospect has provided some of the best CLEAN "seek and destroy" hits we have seen in years.

Klassen thinks defense first and has worked on improving his offense but as we have seen when Klassen has a "plus" game then odds are that his Saskatoon Blades have won their game.Case in point was how his Blades were able to survive a 3rd period comeback and defeat the Moose Jaw Warriors 5-4 in overtime.

Klassen was a +2 to bring his season totals to +33 which is good for 3rd in the WHL with Klassen playing 6 fewer games than the leader.

Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and his Medicine Tigers played the Prince George Cougars the day after badly beating the Cougars 9-3. Wednesday night the Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first period and it looked like the Tigers were going to cruise like they did on Tuesday evening.

After all as we pointed out on Tuesday the Cougars are out manned, out gunned and badly beaten up; they have lost 10 straight games. Someone forgot to tell the Cougars they were supposed to roll over as the Cougars fought back and gave the Tigers one heck of a scare.

The Cougars did fall 5-4 but the 1690 fans who attended the game gave their team a standing ovation for their effort. The worst team in the WHL, a bunch of inexperienced kids poured their hearts and soul in a game that they really had no chance.

We loved every second of it after the Ranger game and forgot our objectivity to where we were hoping the Cougars would tie the game. All a hockey fan really wants to see is a team give it their best shot and the Cougars did earning our respect and admiration.

Kundratek had a secondary assist on the Tiger's 3rd goal for his 27th point of the season and a +2 to bring that number to a +9.

It was not a perfect evening for the prospects as Roman Horak's (2009 5th) Chilliwack Bruins were just whipped by the Spokane Chiefs 4-1. The score does not tell how the Chiefs just dominated this game as other than a goal in the 3rd period the Bruins could hardly mount any offense.

Horak was scoreless and a rare -2 for the game.

Horak's fellow 5th rounder Scott Stajcer gave up 5 goals on 29 shots as his Chilliwack Bruins lost to the Plymouth Whalers 5-2. The loss ended a 2 game winning streak for Stajcer who fell to 17-16-3-1 3.51.

(Bourque and Doyle courtesy of Katherine Ep)

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