Thursday, January 27, 2011

Do You Know Me?

If you are a New York Ranger fan then consider the return of Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) to the Kingston Frontenac's lineup a good omen. Out since injuring his wrist on December 10, Werek made sure he made his return count with a 3 point night to help lead the Frontenacs to an 8-5 win over the Belleville Bulls.

Werek's surprising return (he was reportedly expected not to return for another 10 days) could not have come at a better time for the Frontenacs as they lost star defenseman Erik Gudbranson to an indefinite suspension by the OHL (we side on the player here for defending his goalie).

Werek picked the right team for him to return against as after this game Werek has 9 points in 4 games this season against the Bulls. The Bulls actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and had a 2-1 lead after the first period.

Werek needed just 34 seconds into the 2nd period to score his 16th goal of the season and tie the game up at 2-2. Werek earned a secondary assist on Kingston's 4th goal which also tied the game this time at 4-4.

In the 3rd period, Werek got the primary assist on Kingston's 7th goal to cap off his return to action. We have the video highlights of this game (courtesy of MisterDB) where you can see Werek's goal at the 2:40 mark of the video.

Werek is 16-17-33 on the season and while it would have been great to see him break the 40 goal mark, now the goal is to see him finish healthy and lead Kingston to at least 2 rounds in the OHL playoffs.

We were actually looking forward to seeing Nino Niederreiter (NYI 2010 1st) and his Portland Winterhawks go up against Roman Horak (NYR 2009 5th) and his Chilliwack Bruins. We saw it as a very possible first round matchup in the WHL playoffs with Portland as the "1" seed and Chilliwack the "8" seed.

But then the game started and it turned into a horror show for the Chilliwack Bruins who found themselves down 3-0 almost 11 minutes into the first period as the Winterhawks just whipped on them 9-2. Niederreiter could have taken the night off as he scored Portland's final goal of the game off the power play at 6:15 of the 3rd period.

This one was bad for the Bruins as Horak had 2 primary assists on both Chilliwack goals but Horak and his linemates were a combined -17 (Horak -6) as the Winterhawks 2nd and 3rd lines just did as they pleased against the Horak line. For the Winterhawks the win extends their winning streak to 6 games as they have shaken off the mid-season slump but the Bruins now are winless in their last 3 games.

The Bruins lost their 2nd straight game and it will be interesting to see how the Bruins bounce back after such a bad beating. Horak is now 18-34-52 on the season while Niederreiter is 21-16-37.

Someone forgot to tell David Toews (NYI 2008 3rd) and his Brandon Wheat Kings that they had thrown in the towel and given up on this season. The Wheat Kings earned a hard fought 5-4 win over the Kootenay Ice to pull within 1 point of 8th place in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

Toews got the Wheat Kings going scoring his 12th goal of the season at 16:44 of the first period on the power play. It was Toew's 8th power play goal of the season as he is now 12-14-36.

The teams went into the 3rd period tied at 2-2 but Brandon outscored the Ice 3-2 in the 3rd to hold on to a 5-4 win. With the win 6 points now separates the 6th seed from the 11th seed in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

Ryan Bourque (NYR 2009 3rd) had 2 assists during a 4 goal 3rd period outburst as his Quebec Remparts came from behind to defeat the Rimouski Oceanic 5-4. Bourque had a secondary assist on Quebec's second goal then a primary on Quebec's 3rd goal.

 The assists (21 and 22) extended Bourque's scoring streak to 11 games (10-4-14). The last time Bourque failed to score in a QMJHL game was November 28th against these very Oceanics.

 If you want to take it further then Bourque has points in 27 of the 32 games he has played in for the Remparts going 23-22-45 +12 with just 9 PIMs. And as strange as people might find this we think Bourque is a better overall player than Mats Zuccarello so size should no longer be viewed as a factor in gauging his potential.

(Werek/Aaron Bell/OHL Images, Niederreiterr/Portland Winterhawks, Toews/Brandon, Bourque/USA Hockey)

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