There was a sign on the ice at the Camp Randall Classic that said "It is a Great Day for Hockey" and overall it turns out for New York Ranger prospects a very true statement. While 55,031 braved a 26 degree temperature to see Wisconsin and Michigan play an outdoor game.
But for us it was win-win there was an even better day as Ryan Bourque made one heck of a return from his 2nd concussion with his best game of the season.
First Star Ryan Bourque
The Ranger's 2009 3rd round pick returned to the Quebec Rempart lineup after missing 3 games to his second concussion of the season. Bourque had a 4 point night including his first QMJHL hat trick as Quebec whipped the Gatineau Olympiques 9-5.
The Game's First Star; Bourque got his night going when he scored his 14th goal of the season at 9:35 of the first period which gave the Remparts a 2-1 lead. Bourque had a scoreless 2nd period which set up was the first real time that we got to see Bourque take over a game.
The Olympiques had cut the Rempart lead to 5-4 when Bourque scored his 15th goal for Quebec's 6th goal of the game at 6:33. That goal proved to be the game winner but Bourque was just warming up.
At 10:16, Bourque got the hats flying when he earned the hat trick on a unassisted goal to make the score 7-4 on his 16th goal of the season. Bourque was not done as he nailed the game shut when he set up Jonathan Audy-Marchessault at an 8-4 lead and the dagger was inserted in Gatieneau's hopes for the evening.
While we are very happy to see Bourque back in the lineup with such a big game; we remain concerned about his health. Still Bourque jumps up to 16-23-39 in 38 games which is still nice numbers to have.
Second Stars Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin
We just know you have heard this before; his team is trailing in the 3rd period and Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) makes the plays to turn things around for his team to win. Thanks to Stepan's 2 assists, Stepan's 3rd ranked Wisconsin Badgers rallied to defeat Carl Hagelin's Michigan Wolverines 3-2 in the Camp Randall Classic.
As we mentioned earlier this was an outdoor game played in front of a very loud 55,031 Wisconsin crowd. Stepan and his now all too typical 3rd period heroics was able to turn this event into a very happy one for the Badgers and their fans.
Trailing 2-1 after Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) had set up Kevin Lynch to break a 1-1 tie, Stepan went to work as he teamed with Michael Davies to set up Brendan Smith to tie the game at 2-2 at 14:28. Then with time winding down in regulation, Stepan teamed with Justin Schultz to set up Brendan Smith's 2nd goal of the game and game winner at 18:38.
It was a typical performance for Stepan but Hagelin also played his typical game. Hagelin who leads Michigan in scoring has been becoming more and more of an on ice leader for the Wolverines.
Hagelin is 13-19-32 as he set new highs in both assists (19) and points (32) but he did both in 11 fewer games so we expect him to finish closer to the 40 point mark. It was also interesting to watch Hagelin and Stepan go at it because the offensive force (Stepan) and the defensive checker (Hagelin) canceled each other out for most of the game.
Rest of the Ranger Prospects
Poor Ryan McDonagh (2009 Trade) as the only part of the Gomez trade still viewed as Ranger's property; people are not seeing numbers from him so they do not think his playing well. Think twice as McDonagh has been a steady force on the Wisconsin blueline.
Against the Wolverines, McDonagh was hitting anyone who came in his vision and was doing a good job in preventing the Wolverine power play from getting anything going.
Max Campbell (2007 5th) had his best weekend of the season as he had another assist on Saturday for a 3 point weekend as his Western Michigan Broncos defeated Notre Dame 4-1 and a sweep of their weekend series. For Campbell it was his 12th assist of the season and 18th point.
Guess we jinxed Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) but pointing out how great a record he has when facing 30 or more shots. Against the Plymouth Whalers, Stajcer faced 35 shots but only stopped 30 of them as his Owen Sound Attack lost 5-1 and lost ground on the Erie Otters who won tonight.
Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) and his Saskatoon Blades are battling the Brandon Wheat Kings for the top seed in the WHL Eastern Conference as the Wheat Kings already are heading to the Memorial Cup as the host team but Saskatoon needs to be better or the other WHL representative will be the winner of the WHL's Western Conference.
Klassen was a -1 but his Blades came from behind to win 4-3 in overtime to pass the Wheat Kings for the top seed in the East. The Blades and Wheat Kings both have 78 points but the Blades lead due to having playing 3 fewer games.
In the other half of the WHL's Eastern Conference, Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and his Medicine Hat Tigers faced off with the Calgary Hitmen on the 2nd half of a home and home series. The Tigers, Hitmen and Kootenay Ice entered the night all separated by 1 point for the 2nd seed in the WHL's Eastern Conference.
The Hitmen shut out the Tigers 2-0 to open up a 2 point lead over the Tigers who fell to the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Tigers also have the disadvantage of playing 3 more games than either Kootenay or Calgary.
Daniel Maggio (2009 6th) and his Sudbury Wolves continued to struggle as they lost to the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 8-3 to fall to 8th in the OHL Western Conference. Maggio did not score but took 3 penalties of which 2 led to power play goals for the Majors.
Roman Horak (2009 5th) and his Chilliwack Bruins have struggling in the 2nd half of the season as they have been falling in the standings. The Bruins have fallen from 6th to now 8th place in the WHL's Western Conference as they were shut out at home by the now red hot Kelowna Rockets 2-0.
As far as we are concerned when the 2010 NHL draft comes along and the Rangers have a chance to select any of the young Portland Winterhawks that they do so. What the Winterhawks have done this season with such a young team is awesome.
Last season the Winterhawks were 19-48-3-2 43 points and last in the WHL Western Conference but this year is a different story. After defeating the Seattle Thunderbirds 6-3 for the 2nd night in a row, the Winterhawks are now 34-20-2-1 71 points in just 57 games.
The Winterhawks in our book have 7-9 players who could be drafted and there is not a single one who we would complain about if the Rangers picked.
(Bourque courtesy of Katherine Ep, Stepan courtesy of Melody Hasse)
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