Wednesday, January 5, 2011

ET Came Home?

Oh what a strange day Tuesday was for New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects. For some it was a good day, for others it was disappointing and for one well we have no idea because he was not in the lineup for reasons unknown.

It was if ET came back and messed with every's mind because you have to look between the lines to see what is happening. How about we start with what is supposed to be the gold and bronze medal games being more like the opening games of the 2012 World Under-20 Championship which are going to be held in Edmonton/Calgary.

See the outcome of the gold/bronze games will decide where the 4 teams involved will be seeded for next year's tournament. If Canada wins the gold and the USA loses the bronze medal then guess who will be in the same group for next year's tournament?

Kudos to the IIHF for setting things up this way because it adds that much more value to the medal round games.  Using the IIHF formula to rank teams then this right now BEFORE the medal games is how next year's groups will look like (seeding in parentheis)

Group A Gold Medal winner CAN/RUS (1), loser of bronze game SWE/USA (4), Switzerland (5),
Slovakia (8), Latvia (9)

Group B Silver medal CAN/RUS (2), Bronze medal winner SWE/USA (3), Finland (6), Czech Republic (7), Denmark (10)

Wonder how the organizers of next year's games are rooting for the outcome of this year's games?

The 5th and 7th place games were played on Tuesday as traditional national rivals faced off starting with Nino Niederreiter's (NYI 2010 1st) Switzerland needed the shootout before defeating Finland for the first time since 2002 (5 straight).

Niederreiter set up the tying goal in the second period for his 4th point of the tournament (2-2-4) but missed on his shoot out attempt. For Switzerland, the 5th place finish followed by last year's 4th place finish says the Swiss are for real.

Niederreiter returns to Portland of the WHL along with teammate Sven Bartschi (who should be back next year for the Swiss).

Also heading out west will be Roman Horak (NYR 2009 5th) but the question of the day is why Horak was not in the lineup for the Czech Republic in their final game against neighboring Slovakia. The 2011 tournament has been one giant disappointment for Horak as he registered just one assist in 5 games.

We really doubt that Horak was a healthy scratch but if he was injured that would be another hit to a Ranger prospect pool that has lost over 120 games to injury.

For the record, the Czechs defeated the Slovaks 5-2 to claim 7th place.

Maybe Kirill Kabanov (NYI 2010 3rd) should get stranded in London airports more often as the prospect who nobody knows what to expect made a rather nice return to his Lewiston MAINEaic lineup with a goal and an assist as the MAINEaics romped all over a very shorthanded Drummondville Voltigeurs 7-0.

What was nice of Kabanov's effort was that he stepped up his game when his own team was shorthanded when first liner Stefan Fournier missed the game and Kabanov moved up to replace him.

Kabanov got both of his points in the first period as he earned a secondary assist on Lewiston's second goal then blasted a one-timer at the 14:40 mark of the first period for a 3-0 lead. Kabanov is now 4-5-9 +5 in 14 games with the MAINEaics.

We have seen some cruel ways to lose games this season but we think none are going to top the way David Toew's (NYI 2008 3rd) Brandon Wheat Kings lost their 4th straight game 6-5 to the Prince Albert Raiders. The Wheat Kings had taken a 5-4 lead at 19:06 of the 3rd period thanks in part to Toew's 2nd assist of the game.

The lead lasted all of  14 seconds as Prince Albert scored at 19:20 to tie the game at 5-5. It looked like the Wheat Kings were going to at least salvage one point by going into overtime but the Raiders scored with just 15 seconds remaining in regulation at 19:45 for a 6-5 win.

Toews as we said had 2 assists and he had a good view as he was on the ice for the game winning goal. Really feel for Toews and his Wheat King teammates as it is not like they are not trying but this one might be the straw that breaks their season.

Toews is now 9-13-22 -9 for the season.

Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) was scoreless but a +2 as his Moose Jaw Warriors rebounded for a loss to Prince George by defeating the Kamloops Blazers 4-2.

The Warriors have 1 game remaining on a road trip that so far has been a huge success winning 4 out of 5 games with 1 more game remaining before getting to return home.

Call us a biased point of view because of McIlrath but while everyone talks about which teams are serious playoff contenders, nobody is talking Moose Jaw which to us is a mistake. Moose Jaw has pulled to within 2 points of 3rd place in the WHL's Eastern Conference and if they could get themselves one more scorer (Hello Brayden Schenn) then watch out.

For just the 2nd time this season Cody Rosen (NYI 2010 7th) appeared in goal for the Clarkson Knights. Rosen came on in relief in the 3rd period with Clarkson trailing 4-0 to 5th ranked Minnesota-Duluth and at least held serve stopping all 8 shots as Clarkson lost 4-2.

Rosen is just a sophomore for Clarkson but honestly we can see why the Islanders risked a 7th round pick on him. The Islanders can let him stay in college for a couple of years then a season or 2 in the AHL and either they have a goalie or someone they can use to fill a hole in the franchise.


There are a couple of people who have been giant helps in how to become a better writer/scout over the years. We talk all the time about how NHL scouts, coaches and others who have taught us how to look at and evaluate the prospects. 

We also owe people like Bruce Berlet who covers the Ranger farm team the CT Whale and Gregg Drinnan of Taking Note who have forgotten more about how to be real journalists than most of today's "experts". We are long overdue in giving them the credit for helping us improve especially after Drinnan is being denied access to anyone with the Kamloops Blazers

It sadly seems the new way to try to bully writers into writing what the sports teams want instead of being journalists. It is also a violation of WHL policy but the WHL has only offered to sit in on a meeting

As someone who has seen what kind of coverage WHL teams; this is not going to help your attendance because it is not the words of Drinnan that convince fans to buy tickets. It is the product you put on the ice so remove the ban as in the long run instead of one writer being critical of your franchise you will wind up with several. 

Finally as much as we have been really critical of the empty seats at the Buffalo World Under-20 Championships we could not help but to rub some salt into their empty seats when we saw this nugget on the IIHF website. 

50,000 fans expected for an outdoor hockey game in Mexico; this is not a joke it is actually going to happen when Mexico opens the World Under-20 Division 3 Championships against Bulgaria on Sunday. Yes Mexico has a hockey program as Division 3 consists of the host Mexico, Serbia, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Chinese Taipei, North Korea and Turkey. 

And while you are laughing, Mexico is actually ranked 32nd out of 49 nations that take part in the World Championships. The wonderful thing about hockey is that you can dream the impossible 

¿Usted cree en milagros? SÍ

Cmon now you have to know what that is?

(ET/Amblin Entertainment, Niederreiter/Portland Winterhawks, Horak/Chilliwack Bruins, Kabanov/NHL Media, Toews/Brandon Wheat Kings, McIlrath/Moose Jaw Warriors, Rosen/Clarkson Golden Knights)

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