Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Prospects Coast to Coast

Tuesday evening was one of those rare nights where we could get to watch hockey from the Atlantic seaboard all the way to the west coast non-stop.

Forget the Olympics and their tape delay nonsense as if you want to see real excitement then come follow the Ranger prospects as it is crunch time for them as team's jockey for playoff positions.

Our evening started in a place called Baie-Comeau as Ryan Bourque's Quebec Remparts were on the road to face the Drakkar. Bourque was out missing his 2nd game in a row due to a neck injury suffered a week ago against the same Drakkar.

Bourque we believe is not going to return to the Quebec lineup until March 4th or 5th when the Remparts face Chris Doyle and his Victoriaville Tigres in what could be the battle to decide who will wind up with the 4th seed in the QMJHL playoffs. Bourque's Remparts blew a 3rd period lead but were able to escape with a 4-3 win in overtime over the lowly Drakkar.

As we headed westward, our next stop was in Boston where Chris Kreider and his 7th ranked Boston College Eagles were hosting the Merrimack Warriors. Kreider has been hot as of late with goals in 8 out of last 9 game as his Eagles make a late season push towards the top of the Hockey East standings.

Kreider had a secondary assist as Boston College just whipped on Merrimack with an easy 7-0 win. The win pulls Boston College to within 2 points of first place new Hampshire with just 3 regular season games left.

Kreider and his Eagles are starting to play their best hockey of the season at the right time as the last 2 games of the Hockey East regular season is also going to be against first place New Hampshire. Krieder has improved his numbers to 10-4-14 (and 6-1-7 in the WJC).

Before we leave Boston, we also got word that current Ranger and Boston College Alumni Brian Boyle was named to the Boston College "All-Decade Team". The announcement was made during tonight's game and can be found right here.

Congrats Brian and in 10 years we hope to announce Chris Kreider's name to the next team.

From Boston we got to jump up to Saskatoon where Sam Klassen and his Saskatoon Blades were hosting Roman Horak and his Chilliwack Bruins. It is funny how for the second time in the last 10 days the current 8th seeded Chilliwack Bruins went into the home of a WHL conference leader and beat them.

The Bruins took the Blades to the shoot out where for just the second time this season, the Bruins won a shoot out this time 5-4. The win vaulted the Bruins into 7th place of the WHL's Western Conference and reduced their "magic" number to 1 for clinching a playoff spot.

Horak did not score but he made several key plays like a defensive zone faceoff win with just 9 seconds remaining in regulation. When it comes to defensive zone faceoffs; Horak reminds us of how Craig MacTavish used to own the faceoff circle late in games.

We ended our evening on the west coast tracking the Portland Winterhawks who for the lack of a nicer term just royally stunk up the place this evening. Portland gave up 3 goals in the first 52 seconds of the game (no that is not a misprint) as the Tri-City Americans scored at 0:27, 0:40 and 0:52 chasing Portland start Mac Carruth after just 4 shots.

It got worse for the Winterhawks as they were out shot 17-4 in the first period and then they just lost any sense of on ice discipline in the 2nd and 3rd periods. By the time the Americans had whipped the Winterhawks 6-0, the Winterhawks were called for 26 penalties totaling 103 minutes and we are expecting the WHL to levy fines and a possible suspension or 2 on both teams.

All in all that was 7 hours of hockey to watch non-stop but it was a lot of fun to do win or lose.

(Kreider image courtesy of Dennis Peace)

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