Friday, February 5, 2010

Back To the Future

Even though the premise of this place is to provide a look into the future of the New York Rangers there are times when we jump at a chance to look at the past of hockey. For us it was well worth a trip to Portland where they were holding a tribute to the old Portland Buckaroos.

The Buckaroos were one of the best teams in the old Western Hockey League which was a professional league and not the current Canadian Junior league. Former Rangers Dale Role and Andy Hebenton wore the uniforms of the Buckaroos who despite ending in 1974 remain a big part of Portland Oregon history.

From 1960 until 1972 the Buckaroos were the winning hockey team anywhere. If you are into hockey history then I very much recommend checking out the Buckaroo website

It is also fitting because with the Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds wearing retro jerseys of the Buckaroos and Seattle Totems that we get to see some of the best young talent in junior hockey today.

The Winterhawks boast Nino Neiderreiter, Brad Ross, Troy Rutkowski, Luca Sbisa and our favorite Luke Walker. The Thunderbirds have Calvin Pickard who is expected to be one of the first goalies taken in the 2010 NHL draft.

For us the chance to meet Andy Hebenton who was the original hockey iron man and Ranger legend was too good to pass up. At 80, Hebenton may well be the oldest living Ranger so this is well worth the trip.

Tonight's First Star Scott Stajcer

Last night we said that Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) had to step himself up and carry his Owen Sound Attack out of the 8th seed in the OHL's Western Conference and up the standings as far as he could carry them. Stajcer got that started by backstopping the Attack to a 5-3 win over the Sarnia Sting.

Stajcer stopped 36 of the 39 shots he faced as the Attack improved to 24-24-4-2 on the season still in 8th in the Western Conference. Stajcer is 19-16-3-1 but when he has faced 30 or more shots he is 13-4-1-2 on the season.

In this one Stajcer was tested early facing 19 shots in the first period and 13 in the second. Stajcer held his ground and that allowed the Attack to build a 3-1 lead after 2.

Thanks to Stajcer the Attack were able to keep pace with the Erie Otters and Saginaw Spirit as the 3 teams are separated for seeds 6,7, and 8 by 1 point.

Second Star Max Campbell

It has been a very rough season for Max Campbell (2007 5th) as what should been his breakout season has been one of serious disappointment. Campbell's Western Michigan Broncos have not been a winning team during Campbell's 3 seasons and this year Campbell took steps backwards.

Campbell only has 6 goals this season down from his 16 last season which led the Broncos. So it was a shocker that the Broncos were able to upset Notre Dame on Friday evening.

Campbell had 2 assists as the Broncos upset the Fighting Irish 7-2 for just their 7th win of the season. For Campbell it was his 10th and 11th assists of the season to bring him to 17 points on the season.

For Campbell, it will take a bit for him to reach even double figures in goals this season as he will have one more season to try to earn a contract from the Rangers.

Rest of the Ranger Prospects

Chris Krieder (2009 1st)
scored Boston College's 6th goal of the game for his own 6th goal of the season as the Eagles just whipped on UMass team missing Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) winning 7-1. Boston College now heads to the Beanpot Finals on Monday in sole possession of 2nd place in the Hockey East.

Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) was held scoreless but his Kingston Frontenacs defeated the Guelph Storm 4-2. The win opened up a 3 point lead for the Frontenacs over the Peterborough Petes in the battle for first round home ice.

Daniel Maggio (2009 6th) also was scoreless but his Sudbury Wolves dropped an 8-5 decision to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The loss dropped the Wolves into 8th place in the OHL's Eastern Conference.

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) had an assist as his Victoriaville Tigres defeated the Drummondville Voltigeurs 5-2 in a key QMJHL matchup. The win for the Tigres gave them a 2 point lead over Drummondville and 3 points on Quebec.

It was Doyle's 29th assist on the season as the trade to the Tigres has turned his season around. Doyle now has 14 points in 16 games with the Tigre.

Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) was a +1 as his Saskatoon Blades needed 6 rounds of the shoot out before escaping from the Regina Pats with a 5-4 win. The Blades are going to need to start playing better if they do not want to find themselves losing home ice advantage in the first round.

The Erie Otters pulled off one heck of an upset as despite missing Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) and a couple of others they defeated the Windsor Spitfires 5-3. Gaulton is expected to be out for another 10 days with an elbow injury.

Luke Walker (Traverse City) was scoreless for the 2nd game in a row after removing his birdcage but his Portland Winterhawks defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 6-3 for the 9th time this season. We got to talk to Walker after the game and he told us he has to enter the draft again but he appreciates the support Ranger fans have given.

We hope the Rangers put aside a draft pick for Walker as he is the perfect team player who always gives 100%. One of the best things about watching the Winterhawks is counting how many of their players will find themselves drafted at the 2010 Draft.

We think that as many as 7-9 could find themselves getting their named called in LA at the draft. The best of the best is Nino Neiderreiter who some people think is a mid-teen pick but not us as the more we see him the more we see a special player.

Neiderreiter has 30 goals but we see a full package player who not only has all the tools but he also has a charisma about him that fans will just go crazy over.


We at Prospect Park wish to express our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Brian Burke and his family over the passing of their son Brendan due to injuries suffered in a car accident. Brendan was the student manager of the Miami of Ohio hockey team but he was more know for his coming out as a gay man.

That took more guts than we could be possibly imagine given who his father is and the impact of being a gay person in a very macho sport. The Hockey world lost someone who was challenging the system and maybe we lost too.

(Buckaroo image courtesy of the Portland Buckaroos, Stajcer courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images, Campbell courtesy of Western Michigan)

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