Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Stajcer Saturday Night

Saturday night was not as much fun as New Year's Eve was but the overall results were still interesting. While the USA trio were able to shake off the hangover from losing to Canada to advance to the World Under-20 semi-finals, the star of the night was once again a 5th round goalie.

Tonight's Star Scott Stajcer

The Rangers second pick in the 5th round of the 2009 NHL Draft, Scott Stajcer has quietly turned both his and perhaps his own team's season around. Stajcer earned his 4th straight win as he stopped 30 out of 32 shots to lead the Owen Sound Attack to a 5-2 win over the Ottawa 67's.

In fact since November 27th, Stajcer has gone 8-3-1 in net for the Attack as he has improved his numbers to 15-14-2-1, 3.48 goals against and 0.908 save percentage.

Stajcer's play is going to determine where Owen Sound winds up in the OHL Western Conference playoff seeding. His improved play has helped Owen Sound become a legit playoff spot contender rather than having the worst record in the OHL like they had earlier in the season.

Team USA

Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) had 2 more assists to take over as the leading scorer in the World Under-20 Championships at 3-8-11 as Team USA was able to hold off Finland 6-2 to advance to the semifinals against Sweden. Stepan had an up and down game like his USA teammates as he made the key plays when needed.

Still despite the assists and a nice hit on Jasse Ikonen; Stepan tried to be too fancy with his game instead of sticking with what had been working in the previous 4 games. If Stepan keeps his game simple then he is too much for the Europeans to handle.

Chris Kreider (2009 1st) had a case of the nerves in the first period again and like the rest of the team was guilty trying to be too fancy. However Kreider also showed how fast his reflexes and shot release was on his 5th goal of the tournament.

Kreider scored the USA's 4th goal of the game on a bang bang play where he was faster than a one timer. It was an impressive play from Kreider who offense has had a coming out party at these games.

Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) had a mainly quiet game but turned up his defensive game when the USA needed it the most. Still one thing we notice about Bourque is that when he makes a mistake it is typically a very noticeable one that directly leads to a very good scoring chance for the other team.

Do not let the 6-2 score fool you as the USA actually played a sloppy game that if they repeat it in either of their remaining games then they will lose to whoever they play. Next up will be our pick for the the gold medal which is Team Sweden as the game will start at 9 PM EDT/ 6PM PDT and will be shown on the NHL Network in the USA (TSN in Canada).

The Rest of the Prospects

Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) had an assist before being forced to leave Erie's game against the Guelph Storm with what was being reported to us by Victor Fernandes as a lacerated finger for sure and possibly a broken finger. Gaulton was injured in the first period as the Otters went on to win the game 7-5.

No report as to the extent of Gaulton's injury and how long he will be out this time but it came at the wrong time as Gaulton was on the verge of breaking out in our eyes. Gaulton had 5 points in his last 3 games and was starting to do what we were saying he was needing for a contract.

Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) was scoreless but got into his first fight of the season as his Medicine Hat Tigers took the home half of the "home and home" series with the Swift Current Broncos 4-1. Kundratek took on Michael Strickland and held his own (meaning he did not get beaten but did not win either) according to reports.

Sam Klassen (UFA 2009) gave himself a belated birthday present with 2 assists to help his Saskatoon Blades earn a hard fought 6-5 overtime win over the Portland Winterhawks. Even though the Winterhawks lost in our eyes they established themselves as a team to worry about as the Winterhawks were missing Nino Neiderreiter and Luke Walker among others.

For Klassen, the assists were his 19th and 20th of the season as he is now 3-20-23 in scoring which is 2 points off his career high.

Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) was held scoreless as his Kingston Frontenacs lost in overtime to the Belleville Bulls 3-2. It was a rare quiet night for Werek as he is 18-22-40 on the season.

Daniel Maggio (2009 6th) had an assist but his Sudbury Wolves lost 5-2 to the Niagara Ice Dogs. For Maggio it was his 11th assist and 20th point which ties his career high in points set during the 2007-08 season.

Max Campbell (2007 5th) and his Western Michigan Broncos went to a 0-0 overtime tie with 9th ranked Bemidji State. Even though it was a scoreless tie this was an exciting game that could have gone either way.

Since this was a non-conference game the CCHA shootout rules were not in effect but Bemidji State and WMU took part in an exhibition shootout that WMU won 2-1 thanks in part to Campbell scoring on his shootout attempt.

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) and his 15th ranked UMass Minutemen got whipped by the Boston University Terriers 7-3. Hobbs was on the UMass 2nd line but did not score and was held to just one shot on goal.

(Stajcer courtesy of Terry Wilson/ OHL Images)

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