Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Dream Year For a Prospect

After 2 huge blowouts, the question as to what kind of game we would see between Chris Kreider's Boston Collge and Wisconsin with Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh, It turned out to be a good tactical game from Boston College.

Boston College was the smaller sized team but they dominated play in the first period thanks in large part to their team speed. The Eagles just took the game right to the larger Badgers who in the first period could not solve Boston College's forecheck.

Boston College kept Wisconsin bottled in their own defensive end and used it to keep the Badgers off-balanced and unable to mount a sustained attack. Boston College dominated the majority of the period  outshooting Wisconsin 12-5.

Wisconsin's main consolation is that 4 of their shots were high quality scoring chances but it was Boston College who ended the period with a 1-0 lead.

On Boston College's first goal which came thanks to a suspect penalty call; McDonagh was finishing his check while his defensive partner Jake Gardiner was slow getting back to the crease which allowed Boston College to set up a perfect screen that fooled Wisconsin's goalie for the 1-0 lead.

Kreider (1 shot) and Stepan were for the most part had quiet periods but McDonagh found himself in the middle of the action. McDonagh took a cross checking penalty but we credited him with 3 hits but no shots on goal.

The story of the second period has to be about missed opportunities as Wisconsin started to find it's offense but just could not find ways to finish which led to the period ending scoreless. Credit Boston College for making sure that Wisconsin could not use their size advantage against them.

In the 3rd period it was the quick strike offense of Boston College which blew the game open but it also led to an injury to Derek Stepan as he had to be helped off the ice after he missed a check on Kreider who wound up scoring Boston College's 3rd goal.

Boston College quite simply took the game to Wisconsin and the best way to describe how Wisconsin reacted was "shell shocked" as 2 quick goals just took everything out of Wisconsin. Stepan did not return to the game not as if he would have made a difference after Boston College added first a 4th goal when McDonagh got caught pinching.

Add an empty net goal and Chris Kreider can say he had the best 12 months of his life; first round pick of the Rangers, a gold medal in the WJC, an ESPN highlight goal in the Beanpot, a Hockey East championship and now an NCAA championship on his resume. Not bad for a prospect who was a high schooler 12 months ago.

The question now is will Ryan McDonagh and/or Derek Stepan return to Wisconsin for next season after such a bitter loss. Selfishly we want McDonagh to leave Wisconsin as he is ready for the pro game but Stepan needs one more season .

As the US college season was coming to an end, there remains now just 3 Ranger prospects playing this season. Of those 3, only 1 has advanced to their league semi-finals (Chris Doyle) while the remaining 2 are fighting for their season. Sam Klassen and his Saskatoon Blades were tied 2-2 in their series with the Brandon Wheat Kings going into game 5.

In this series the road team had been winning each of the first 4 games until the Brandon Wheat Kings held home ice with a 3-2 win over the Blades and now a 3-2 lead in the series. Klassen was scoreless and a +1 in the losing cause but when your season is on the brink of elimination you need more of everything. 

Now on Monday night, Klassen and his Blades will try to force a Game 7 back in Bandon.

(Kreider courtesy of Dennis Pause)

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