It is that time of the year for the Ranger prospects; to see how well they handle the pressure of the playoffs. For the NCAA prospects, they are at the "win or go home" phase of single elimination games.
The prospects in the junior begin their quest towards the Memorial Cup this week with first round matchups. For us the observers it is a chance to see how well the future Rangers stand up.
Wisconsin Vs St Cloud State Friday in the WCHA Final Five.
The WCHA has a different way of doing things as they have the 4th and 5th seeds play in for the last spot in semi-finals. Wisconsin as a 2 seed is facing a St Cloud team that had split the 4 games the 2 teams had played this season. Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh are just a couple of the names on the Wisconsin roster who bring a wealth of experience playing in either international NCAA tournament games. For Wisconsin, they are almost a lock for the NCAAs but win the WCHA and they will earn a 1 seed. Game will be shown on Fox Sports Ohio live starting 3 PM EDT.
Boston College VS Vermont Hockey East Semi-Finals
Chris Kreider and his Eagle face upset minded Vermont on Friday, like Wisconsin Boston College is almost a lock for the NCAAs and could grab a 1 seed of their own by winning the Hockey East. The danger in this game is that Boston College could be overlooking Vermont for one more showdown with Boston University. This game will be televised on NESN starting at 5PM EDT.
Michigan Vs Miami CCHA Semifinals
Carl Hagelin and the Wolverines continue what has been a comeback push towards an NCAA bid for the 20th straight season. It is believed that Michigan must win the CCHA or that bid will not happen due to upsets in other conference tournaments. The problem Michigan is facing is that they are playing a Miami team that has owned them this season and is currently ranked 2nd in the NCAAs. This one will be a tough one for Michigan to overcome. This game will be shown on the Big Ten Network at 8 PM PDT
Ryan Bourque and his Quebec Remparts start their playoff series against the Acadie-Bathurst Titans on Thursday. On paper the Remparts who finished 30 points better in the standings should not have much trouble in this series. Bourque is healthy and could become a huge factor in this series if he is used as a forechecker first.
Chris Doyle and his Victoriaville Tigres are going to have a tougher match up in facing the Shawinigan Cataractes and like the Remparts will be heavy favorites over the Cataractes who finished 25 points behind them. The difference in this series is that the Tigres will have a lot of inexperienced playoff performers on their roster. This one starts on Friday
These games will not be shown in the USA but can be viewed on the web for a discounted price of 74.95 Canadian (good until 3/23)
Daniel Maggio and his Sudbury Wolves get to face the Barrie Colts in what is not expected to be a close series. The Colts finished with the best record in the OHL while Sudbury squeaked in as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. Barrie in 4
Ethan Werek and his Kingston Frontenacs make their return to the playoffs after missing them for the last few years. As the 4th seed in the east they are facing Stan Butler and the Brampton Battalion a team we know all too well. Brampton was supposed to rebuilding after losing Grachev and company but Butler always has some tricks up his sleeve. A very dangerous series for the Fronts who will escape in a 7 game showdown.
Mitch Gaulton and his Erie Otters like Dan Maggio are going up against the best in their conference in the defending Memorial Cup champions the Windsor Spitfires. This one will also be no contest as if Erie can win a single game that will be victory enough. Windsor in a massacre 4 straight.
The OHL offers a variety of online packages for viewing and can be found right here
Sam Klassen and his Saskatoon Blades fell to the 3rd seed in the WHL's Eastern Conference and the result is they get 6th seed Red Deer. This one is a dangerous matchup for the Blades who have been in a slump for the last month and are ripe for a 1st series upset. On paper the Blades have too much everything for the Rebels but we have not liked how the Blades have played. Blades in 7 games
Tomas Kundratek and his Medicine Hat Tigers have been a lot like the Rangers as one moment they can beat anyone and everyone but in the next stinking up the place. They are the 5th seed drawing a tough 4th seed in the Kootenay Ice who were one of the WHL's better teams in the 2nd half of the season. If the real Tigers show up then they should win and it is really hard not to think they won't. Tigers in 6 games
Roman Horak and his Chilliwack Bruins were not supposed to make the playoffs this season but they did as the 8th seed in the WHL's Western Conference. They draw the Tri-City Americans who won the conference title on the last day of the season. Normally one would call this easy pickings for the Americans but the Bruins won the last 2 meetings against them. Still Tri City has too much everything and this one should go to them in 5 games.
Congrats to Sam Klassen named by his Saskatoon Blades as the winner of the "Hardest Hitter" award and the "Fan's Choice" award
Chris Kreider was named to the Hockey East 2010 All-Rookie team.
This is just the beginning of what should become a rather long list of awards for Ranger prospects
(Kreider courtesy of Dennis Pause)
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