Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Fun Friday For Most

Friday was a very good night to catch the New York Ranger prospects in action as the Canadian Juniors were entering their final weekend while the NCAA prospects were getting serious about their playoffs.

Coast to Coast we had a blast as several of the lower draft picks elevated their games which is a must for them at this time of the with Chris Doyle sending out the loudest message

First Star Chris Doyle

Having spent time chatting with Chris Doyle (2008 5th) over the last month, he has a major desire to win a QMJHL championship and the trip to the Memorial Cup that comes with it. On Friday night he gave a glimpse at what those playing him in the QMJHL playoffs will be facing.

Doyle earned the game's "First Star" after a 2-1-3 performance in leading his Victoriaville Tigres to a 5-0 win over the Lewiston MAINEaics and clinch the 4th best record in the QMJHL. This might have been Doyle's best overall game of the season as he played a very strong game at both ends of the ice.

Doyle got his night going with a secondary assist on linemate Brandon Hynes's 40th goal of the season on the power play which gave the Tigres a 1-0 lead at 9:50 of the 1st period. Doyle then gave the Tigre a 2-0 lead when he scored his 24th goal of the season on the power play at 9:44 of the second period.

Doyle then added his 25th goal of the season when he converted a feed from Samuel Grouix at 12:04 of the 3rd period to finish the scoring for the Tigre. It was Doyle 8th power play goal of the season which is 1 behind Ethan Werek and raises his point total to 25-42-67; tops among all Ranger prospects.

Doyle has all but wrapped up the prospect scoring title as he will enter his final game on Sunday with a 6 point lead over Werek. But the more important item for Doyle was getting that 4th seed as in the QMJHL after the 1st round all the teams are re-seeded based on record and the Tigre are assured of home ice advantage in the 2nd round.

Second Star Ethan Werek

It is not often that a player earns a star when his team loses but Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) was very much deserving of one despite his Kingston Frontenacs losing to Daniel Maggio's Sudbury Wolves 5-3. Werek had a goal as well as an assist in the losing effort and for Werek it was the second straight game with a 1-1-2 effort.

If Kingston is to go anywhere in the OHL playoffs they are going to need Werek to produce these kinds of numbers every night. Against Sudbury, Werek got Kingston on the scoreboard first with his 29th of the year at 4:30 of the 1st period (which was also his 9th power play goal).

Sudbury as we will explain later badly needed this game and played like it so they had grabbed a 4-2 lead until Werek got an assist on another power play goal which pulled the Fronts to 4-3 but that would be it as Sudbury won 5-3.

Werek is now 29-32-61 for the season.

We got some video from the game and to be honest Werek's goal is hard to tell but there was a pretty good fight at the end of the clip worth checking out.

The Rest of the Ranger Prospects

With several Ranger management in attendance, Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) and Ryan McDonagh (2009 Trade) put on a good show in leading the Wisconsin Badgers to an easy 4-1 win over the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves. Stepan had a great assist on the Badger's 1st goal of the game (his 34th) that can best be described from the Badger's own report to do it justice.

After a UAA shot missed, Davies took the puck up ice and passed it off to Stepan. From there, Stepan slid a pass through a crowd of Seawolves and hit Davies in stride, literally.

Stepan finished the game with the 1 assist and a +1 on 4 shots while McDonagh did not score but he too was a +1 as the Badgers grab a 1-0 series lead with game 2 on Saturday.

Getting back to that Sudbury/Kingston match-up to bring up Daniel Maggio's (2009 6th) play as Maggio did not score but was a +1 as the Wolves with their 5-3 win clinched the last playoff spot in the OHL's Eastern Conference.

Sticking with the OHL, Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) was scoreless as his Erie Otters lost to the Guelph Storm 3-2. It was a bad loss for the Otters as they fell to the 8th seed in the OHL's Western Conference with 1 game remaining and the 8th seed gets the defending Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires.

That series will be an early exit for whoever faces the Spitfires.

With his team eliminated from post-season competition, goalie Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) watched from the bench as his Owen Sound Attack fought back from down 2 goals only to lose 5-4 to the Kitchener Rangers on a goal scored with just 11 seconds left in regulation.

The other good news we have is that Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) returned to play for his Quebec Remparts as they defeated the Rimouski Oceanic 5-2. Bourque did not score but he was a +1, went 4-0 on face-offs and recorded 1 good hit.

The win gives the Remparts a 1 point lead for the 5th best record in the QMJHL over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies with both teams having 1 game remaining. Finishing 5th would mean a possible home ice advantage should any of the top 4 seeds fall in the first round OR if they do not then a date in the 2nd round with Chris Doyle's Victoriaville Tigres.

Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) got his Michigan Wolverines off to a great start by scoring the Wolverine's 1st goal of the game at 7:06 of the first period. It was an unassisted goal for Hagelin as his Wolverines fed off that goal and went on to upset Michigan State in game 1 of their best of 3 series 5-1.

It was Hagelin's 17th goal of the season and if Michigan can win on Saturday they will be headed to Detroit for the CCHA semi-finals next weekend. Right now thanks to a huge upset in another conference the only way we see Michigan earning their 20th straight invite to the NCAAs is to win the CCHA playoffs and get the automatic bid.

Chris Kreider (2009 1st) scored his 13th goal of the season as his 4th ranked Boston College Eagles jumped out to a 5-2 lead and then held on for dear life to escape with a 6-5 win over Danny Hobb's (2007 7th) UMass Minutemen.

The Eagles lead the best of three Hockey East series 1-0 and look to eliminate the Minutemen on Saturday evening. Hobbs had a very quiet evening despite the wild score.

Out west in the WHL, it was one of the wilder games and then finishes we have seen in a while as Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and his Medicine Hat Tigers rallied from down 3-1 in the 3rd period to grab a 4-3 lead only to have the Lethbridge Hurricanes tie the game.

In a game that featured a line brawl that led to 7 players being ejected including both starting goalies; 9 fighting majors and what is sure to be some fines and suspensions for both teams. A total of 33 penalties totaling up 149 PIM were called in this "game"

Then with 4:20 left in regulation Kundratek fed Matt McKay for what proved to be the game winning goal as Medicine Hat won 5-4 to remain 1 point behind Kootenay for the 4th seed in the WHL's Eastern Conference. The Tigers and Kootenay both play their final game on Saturday to determine who will have home ice when the 2 teams meet in the playoffs.

Roman Horak (2009 5th) found out how fast you can go from hero to goat as his Chilliwack Bruins rallied back in the 3rd period from down 3-1 only to lose in the last 5 seconds of overtime to the Portland Winterhawks 4-3.

Horak had started the comeback in the 3rd period when he scored his 21st goal of the season shorthanded at 2:42 of the 3rd period. It was his prospect leading 5th shorthanded goal which also is a new Ranger prospect record for us.

However Horak also found the other side as on one of the very few times Horak lost a face-off, it cost the Bruins the game. With 11 seconds remaining in the overtime, Horak lost a face-off and the Winterhawks on a pretty tic-tac-toe play scored with just 5 seconds left in the game.

A heartbreaking loss for Chilliwack who still were able to move up the the 7th seed with the OT point in the WHL's Western conference.

Finally with nothing really to play for the Saskatoon Blades rested Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) in order to get some playing time for their younger players as they defeated Prince Albert.


NCAA History was made on Friday evening as the Quinnipiac Cougars defeated the Union Dutchmen 3-2 in an ECAC playoff game that went 5 OT and a total of 150:22 of playing time. It was the longest game in NCAA history as it broke the record of 141:35 in a game that Union also happened to lose 3-2 only it was to Yale.

The reason I brought it up is because they can blame me for the loss as when I had heard the game was still on I had decided to listen to it. After getting the link I got the game's audio going just in time to hear the Quinnipiac announcer go "Holt has the puck he shoots; he scores" and the game was over.

I got to listen to all of 10 seconds and I am pretty sure the folks at Union will be rather unhappy with me.

(Doyle courtesy of Benoit Dery, Werek courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL images)

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