Saturday night was a crazy night for Ranger prospects but can be expected since for some it was the end of their regular season, others advanced to play some more and sadly two saw their season end.
First Star Derek Stepan
If it is a big game then it should come as no surprise that Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) played a big game as he has been doing that all season long. On Saturday, it was Stepan with a goal and 2 assists to help lead his Wisconsin Badgers to a 7-2 win over the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves and a 2-0 sweep of their series.
Stepan's goal which was his 9th of the season came at 18:11 of the second period which broke a 2-2 tie and sent the Badgers on a run of 5 unanswered goals. Stepan also had a primary assist on Wisconsin's 2nd and 5th goals all of which came at even strength to also give him a +3 for the evening.
Stepan is now up to 9-36-45 on the season and maybe if he had a few more goals then people would be considering him as a serious Hobey Baker candidate. Still Wisconsin in on the way to the WCHA's Final 5 next weekend with a chance to win not only the WCHA Championship but a 1 seed in the NCAAs.
Second Star Mitch Gaulton
Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) picked a great time to have his best game of the season as Gaulton's 5th goal of the season turned out to be his 1st game winning goal of the season as Gaulton's Erie Otters whipped on the London Knights 8-3 in the final regular season game for the Otters.
Gaulton's goal which was also his 1st goal since December 11 came as part of a 6 goal outburst as the Otters are trying to move out of the 8th seed to avoid having to play the Windsor Spitfires in the first round of the playoffs. The answer to that will come on Sunday when the results of the Saginaw/Plymouth matchup are known.
Still for Gaulton who also had 2 assists as well as being a +2, it was a long overdue night for the defenseman. There are very few prospects who get the media to root for a player but Gaulton is one.
The Rest of the Prospect Report
We have to start with Chris Kreider (2009 1st) and his 4th ranked Boston College Eagles as they ended Danny Hobb's (2007 7th) UMass Minutemen's season thanks to a 5-2 win for a 2-0 series sweep of their Hockey East playoff series.
Neither player was much of a factor in this one as both were a -1 for the game with a couple of shots between the 2. Still Kreider and his Eagles move on to play next weekend while Hobb's season comes to an end.
Hobbs wound up a 3-6-9 -4 with 12 PIMs in 33 games and did nothing to enhance his status as a Ranger prospect. Hobbs has talent, we have seen it in the past which frustrates us when a prospect just can not figure out how to elevate his game.
Keeping with season endings, Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) ended his season by sitting on the bench for the 2nd straight game as his Owen Sound Attack played out their season with a 3-0 loss to the Guelph Storm.
Stajcer struggled during the last month and why his team failed to make the playoffs can not be placed on Stajcer. Stajcer finished the season 21-23-3-3, 3.67 GAA and a 0.897 while playing in 55 games which was 5th most in the OHL.
We will save the season review of the Blueshirt Bulletin but needless to say not all of Stajcer's failings were because of him.
Back to those who's seasons are still going as Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) and his Michigan Wolverines are heading to the CCHA semi-finals after finishing off the sweep and upset of rival Michigan State with a 5-3 win.
Hagelin set up the game tying goal at 3:54 of the second period and then helped to hold off Michigan State in the 3rd period. For Hagelin it was his 26th assist of the season to go along with 17 goals.
Hagelin now has points in 3 straight playoff games as his Wolverines are heading back to the CCHA semi-finals for the 21st straight season. The sweep has Michigan on the edge of earning their 20th straight NCAA invite as they have moved up in the Pairwise rankings to 16th but they still need help to get in.
Ryan McDonagh (2009 Trade) may not have scored but he was a +2 in Wisconsin's win over Alaska Anchorage. Wisconsin will not know who they face in the WCHA's Final Five until the outcome of the rest of the WCHA series as the 3 of them are going to a 3rd game to decide the winner.
In the OHL, Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) told us tonight he was robbed of an assist in his Kingston Frontenacs 4-2 loss to the Barrie Colts. Werek was only credited for 1 assist in the loss and that leaves him with 62 points going into the last day of the regular season.
Werek and Chris Doyle are in a friendly competition for the prospect scoring race with Doyle leading in points but Werek in goals and power play goals. Hopefully one day both will be doing this for the Rangers.
The WHL was basically games that did not matter as all the playoff spots have been decided but 3 games were played on Saturday with only Tomas Kundratek and his Medicine Hat Tigers earning a win.
Kundratek (2008 3rd) was scoreless but earned the game's Third Star as his Tigers defeated the Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-1. The Tigers will play the Kootenay Ice in the first round of the WHL playoffs.
Roman Horak (2009 5th) saved his worst game of the season for the last regular season game as his Chilliwack Bruins were spanked by the Everett Silvertips. Horak the normally very clean playing center was called for 3 different minors and was a -2.
Finally Sam Klassen continued his min-vacation as his Saskatoon Blades were spanked by the Prince Albert Raiders 7-3. The Blades will be facing the Red Deer Rebels in the first round of the WHL playoffs.
But unless the Blades figure out a way to get out of the funk they have been for the last few weeks they will be the ones to pick to be upset in the first round.
(Stepan courtesy of Melody Hasse, Gaulton courtesy of the Erie Otters)
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