Saturday, March 27, 2010

School was Fun on Saturday

A strange scheduling quirk meant that the only New York Ranger prospects in action were the 4 remaining college prospects in NCAA tournament action.

Tonight's Star Carl Hagelin

Carl Hagelin has quietly been the hottest scoring Ranger prospect for the last couple of month. Bemidji State found out the hard way just how hot as Hagelin's 2 goals and 1 assist put Bemidji State out of the NCAA Midwest Regional semi-final 5-1.

Hagelin did all of his damage in the 3rd period as the 2007 6th round pick showed why he is a prospect to watch. On the first goal it was an excellent "give and go" where Hagelin teamed with Kevin Lynch to create a 2 on 1 as Lynch faked the shot and got the puck back to Hagelin who had an empty net to shoot at.

It was a key goal as exactly 2 minutes prior Bemidji State had scored to get back into the game at 2-1. Hagelin then ended any chance of Bemidji State coming back when he stole the puck and used his speed (and a sweet deke to the backhand) for a shorthanded goal and a 4-1 Michigan lead at 16:03.

Then Hagelin showed his unselfish side as he had a shot at a hat trick on an empty net but passed off to Brian Lebler who had a better angle for the score. It was typical Hagelin as with the 2-1-3; Hagelin extended his scoring streak to 6 games (5-6-11).

Hagelin also now has points in 17 of his last 18 games (7-16-23) as his Michigan Wolverines now have a rematch with Miami of Ohio who they defeated 8 days ago in the CCHA semi-finals 5-2. This one should be a great game as the winner heads to the Frozen Four which is going to be played in Michigan's backyard of Detroit.

Derek Stepan gets all the attention from Ranger fans but the player who is getting all the awards is Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh was named to the 2nd Team All-WCHA and this evening added being named to the West Regional All-Star team after Wisconsin earned a trip to the Frozen Four with a 5-3 win over St. Cloud State.

It was McDonagh who was making defensive play after defensive play trying to keep the WCHA rival from tying the game late in the 3rd period. McDonagh also had an assist on Wisconsin's 2nd goal as the Badgers avenged a 2-0 defeat in the WCHA Final Five.

McDonagh was a +2 on the game which is what we have gotten used to as McDonagh led the WCHA in plus/minus during the season. When people ask us which prospect is ready to turn pro, there is no question that of all the college prospects that McDonagh is ready to go.

Derek Stepan on the other hand had a mostly quiet evening as St. Cloud State having played Wisconsin 6 times during the regular season did a very good job keeping Stepan in check. Stepan was held to just 2 shots and a -2 as he never could find room to skate.

Next up for the Wisconsin Badgers will be the surprise of the NCAA tournament RIT.

Chris Kreider was also scoreless as Boston College defeated the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks 2-1 in their Northeast Regional semi-final. Credit goes to the Nanooks who are known for their defensive play as they clogged up everything and used the good old trap to try to stop Boston College.

It almost worked as Kreider never could find any space to skate but at the same time it was rather comical watching the Nanooks trying to body check Kreider only to bounce off him. The Nanooks looked so much smaller than Kreider and it had to be frustrating to them that checking Kreider was doing more damage to themselves than it was Kreider.

Kreider was credited with 4 shots on the game as Boston College moves on to face Yale who shocked many by taking out North Dakota. That game will start at 5:30 PM EDT and will be shown on ESPNU and ESPN360.COM.

That game will be followed by the Michigan/Miam match which is expected to start at 8 PM EDT.


Memo to Paul Kelly

Anything that helps the game of hockey grow is something we are all in favor of but if you really want to convince players to play US college hockey then the first thing you need to do is get college hockey on a better television deal.

How sad is it that so many hockey fans missed out on some great hockey action because you had a lot of trouble trying to find someone to carry the games. ESPNU is typically lumped in with the regional sports networks.

The Frozen Four semi-finals will be on ESPN2 and only the finals will earn a spot on ESPN.

In the meantime the CHL is going to be able to sell that their games are carried all over the place in Canada. That even every game of the Memorial Cup can be found on the NHL Network in the USA.

That is one huge selling point to a kid wanting to earn a shot at the NHL as like it or not TV coverage is a sign of a sport being taken seriously. You have your work cut out for you.

(Hagelin courtesy of the Michigan Wolverines, McDonagh courtesy of Melody Hasse)

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