Friday, March 19, 2010

Surprise Surprise

Friday prospect hockey brought out some outstanding efforts, some surprising efforts and a couple of huge disappointments. But what was the best part of the Friday night was that it was not the top draft picks who stood out it was the late round diamonds in the rough.

First Star: Chris Doyle

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) told us that he really wanted to win a QMJHL championship and that he was ready to do whatever it took to get to the Memorial Cup. After game 1 of the Victoriaville/Shawinigan series we have no doubt that Doyle is going to do whatever he has to do in order make his dream come true.

Doyle put up a 4 point night to get his 2010 playoffs off to a great start as his Tigres defeated the Cataractes 6-2. Doyle was 2-2-4 on the evening as the Tigre jumped out to a 1-0 series lead.

Doyle got going when he fed Phillip-Michael Devos for a 2-0 Tigre lead at 12:26. Doyle then scored his first of the playoffs exactly 58 seconds later at 13:24 for a 3-0 Tigre lead and what proved to be the eventual game winning goal.

Doyle had a secondary assist on the Tigre's 4th goal and then finished off his evening with an empty net goal at 18:20 of the 3rd period for the game's final tally. Doyle's overall game was very good; in addition to the 4 points, Doyle was a +3 on 4 shots on goal and credited for 2 "good hits" as he was also named the game's "second star."

Second Star: Ryan Bourque

At first Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) was not going to be awarded a star for Friday night in part because his Quebec Remparts had to go to overtime for the 2nd straight game with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan before winning 5-4.

Still a 2-1-3 evening deserves notice when you look at when Bourque scored his points. Bourque started in the 2nd period when he earned a secondary assist on a Rempart power play that tied the score at 2-2.

From there Bourque scored the first of his goals later in the period at 15:43 to tie the score at 3-3. In the third period, Bourque scored at 16:16 to tie the score at 4-4 and that goal sent the game into overtime and earned Bourque a "first star of the game"

Still Quebec needing to go to overtime in both of their first 2 games against a team that was 30 points behind them in the standings also is a major concern as the longer you let a team think they can win then the better the chance of an upset.

Third Star: Carl Hagelin

In December Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) and his Michigan Wolverines were going through the team's worst losing streak in years. Many including us wrote the Wolverines off and did not think they had a shot at the school's 20th straight NCAA appearance.

Carl Hagelin and his Wolverines are on the brink of that very appearance as well as a CCHA Playoff Championship after just whipping on 2nd ranked Miami of Ohio 5-2. Hagelin in what has been a career defining season had 3 key assists in this win.

Hagelin basically played fundamental hockey in following the rules "good things happen when you get the puck to the net" along with "using motion to create space for others."
On Hagelin's first assist, he brought the puck behind the Miami net and spotted a wide open Tristin Llewellyn at the point who blasted the puck past Miami's goalie Cody Reichard for 1-0 Michigan lead. The second assist was due to Hagelin digging out the puck and trying to jam it past Reichard but it bounce off people right on to the stick of Kevin Lynch.

Hagelin finished off his evening by leading a 3 on 2 odd man rush when he fired a low hard shot that Reichard made a kick save on but put the puck right on the stick of Lynch who beat an out of position Reichard for a 5-1 Michigan lead.

Hagelin finished the evening as the game's "3rd star" as he was also a +2 on 4 shots. Hagelin improved his season numbers to 17-29-46 as now Michigan faces Northern Michigan (coached by former Ranger assistant Walt Kyle) for CCHA title.

Fourth Star: Chris Kreider

At the beginning of the year, people were worried about the offensive numbers that Chris Kreider (2009 1st) was not putting up. People were worried that Kreider might be another Hugh Jessiman.

Fast forward to the Hockey East semi-final against Vermont and Kreider scored his 12th goal in his last 16 games and added an assist to lead 4th ranked Boston College to a 3-0 lead

Kreider's goal was not as fancy as some of his other goals but it was an exhibition on the eye-hand coordination that he has. With a puck at his feet, Kreider was able to in one motion move the puck to his stick while firing it past Vermont goalie Rob Madore.

Even more impressive was that Kreider was a +3 for the game as Kreider improved 14-5-19 as Boston College plays in the Hockey East title game for the 5th time in the last 6 seasons. Boston College with a win on Saturday should enter the NCAAs as the number one seed as all 3 teams ranked above them lost on Friday.

Rest of the Prospects

When your league has 4 of the nation's top 6 teams and all 4 teams were playing in the WCHA semi-finals then it is not an upset if you lose like Derek Stepan (2008 2nd), Ryan McDonagh (2009 Trade)and the Wisconsin Badgers did to St. Cloud State 2-0. The price that Wisconsin pays most likely will determined after the outcome of the WCHA 3rd place game against top ranked Denver.

As for the game itself, it was the typical WCHA game as it was decided by the team that made the most mistakes which Wisconsin did. Stepan and McDonagh were held in check by an excellent St. Cloud defense but at the same time the Badgers took penalty after penalty which eventually cost them the game.

Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) and his Kingston Frontenacs made their return to the OHL playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season but the Frontenacs were facing an old friend of ours in Stan Butler and the Brampton Battalion. The Troop may not have the weapons that they have had in the past but they have the coach who has more experience than most of his peers.

Werek was held scoreless as the Battalion took game 1 4-2 for a 1-0 series lead. The OHL has a different way of running the playoffs as teams play in a alternating pattern instead of the typical 2-2-1-1-1 or 2-3-2 which means Game 2 is going to be played in Brampton after the Frontenacs lost the home ice advantage.

In the WHL, Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and his Medicine Hat Tigers opened their series with the Kootenay Ice with a 6-2 loss in Kootenay. The Tigers and Ice actually looked like the game was going to be a wild shootout with a 2-2 tie after the first period.

But in the second period the Ice took control and just dominated the Tigers over the game's final 40 minutes. Kundratek was scoreless and a -1 but also got hit with a 10 minute misconduct in the game's final minute during a scrum.

In the last game of our evening for 40 minutes it really looked like Roman Horak (2009 5th) and the 8th seeded Chilliwack Bruins were going to pull off a major upset of the top seeded Tri-City Americans. The Bruins were just playing their hearts out and giving the Americans the fight of their lives.

In the 3rd period, the Americans showed why they were the best team in the WHL's Western Conference as they exploded for 4 goals in a span of 4:03 to go on to defeat the Bruins 4-2. The Americans though know that the Bruins have beaten them before so they are not going to take this team lightly.

(Pictures: Doyle/Benoit Dery, Bourque/Katherine Ep, Hagelin/Scott Galvin: Michigan Photo Services, Kreider/Dennie Pause)


Anonymous said...

I still am amazed at how well Ryan Bourque has been doing. He is a third round pick that probably could have went early second. I know he has the concussion problems and all, but right now, he sure seems to be a diamond in the rough.

Kudos to Gordie Clark.

Jess Rubenstein said...

Bourque says he has only had one concussion as the other 2 were a nerve injury and a neck injury.

When he plays he produces but people are always going to be worried about his size. That will never go away