If you take the performance of Nino Niedereiter (NYI 2010 1st) against the Tri-City Americans on Tuesday then you would have given Niederreiter 2 Staal points for his play. Neiderreiter had a 4 point night including scoring the game winning goal 1:53 into overtime as Niederreiter's Portland Winterhawks came from behind to defeat the Americans 5-4.
With his Winterhawks missing 7 regulars due injuries and participation in the CHL's "Top Prospects" game then the struggling Winterhawks (4-6 in last 10) needed someone to carry them and that is exactly what Niederreiter did.
Starting with Portland's first goal of the game when Niederreiter got the only assist on Jason Trott's 1st goal of his WHL career at 2:49 of the first period and a 1-0 Portland lead. In the second period with Portland trailing 3-2, Neidereiter scored his 17th goal of the season unassisted at 17:02.
Portland once again found themselves trailing this time 4-3 when Niederreiter earned his 3rd point of the night earning the only assist on Ryan Johansen's 20th goal of the season at 14:58 to tie the game at 4-4. The game finished regulation all tied up when Niederreiter saved his finishing touch for overtime.
In the overtime, Niederreiter pounced on a rebound in the crease and shoved it past Tri-City goalie Drew Owsley giving the Winterhawks a 5-4 win and earning himself rightfully the game's 1st star. It was Niederreiter's 18th goal of the year as well as his 33rd point of the season as well as a +4 but it also tied Niederreiter's single game high set last season.
The Winterhawks really needed this one as they have fallen out of first place in the WHL's Eastern Conference as well as the US Division. With both Spokane and Tri-City red hot as of late; what was a runaway season has turned into a dogfight among the 3 teams.
Speaking of Spokane, the Chiefs were in Chilliwack to face Roman Horak (2009 5th) and his Bruins or a better description would be provide target practice for the Chiefs. The Bruins discovered why the Chiefs are right now one of the hottest teams in the WHL if not junior hockey as they were beaten 6-1.
This game was over in the first period as the Chiefs just smothered the Bruins scoring 3 goals and dominating the Bruins 16-4 in shots. The Chiefs were up 5-0 when the Bruins scored early in the 3rd period but the game was long decided.
Horak was held scoreless and a -1 as his Bruins were passed for the 8th seed in the WHL's Western Conference by the Kamloops Blazers who defeated Seattle Tuesday night. The only good thing to say is that the WHL's BC division is so wide open that a minor win streak can turn a last place team into a first place one and vice versa.
Excuse me as I get on my soapbox for a minute here as maybe it is because I am dealing with my own medical issues that I am more forgiving of what coaches Dan Byslma and Tom Renney are dealing with at the moment.
Without getting into detail, for the last couple of months I have been suffering from pains on my right shoulder. My own doctor has tried physical therapy, cortisone shots, rest and still here I am not closer to being fixed than I was 2 months ago.
It is easy for all of us in the media to sit back and judge the coaches for not seeing players with concussion AFTER the fact. Medicine remains a "hit or miss" proposition especially in the area of head injuries as we know so little about them even today.
Yes I am biased when it comes to Tom Renney because of the help he gave me when I first started doing this but if I can sit here with a condition that nobody has figured out after 2 months then I can understand how hard it is for a coach or a team doctor to diagnose a concussion.
But you know it is also funny how fans goes crazy when one player takes out another with a monster hit or 2 tough guys duke it out at center ice. How so many rise up in protest when someone suggests outlawing fighting or the very heavy hits that are leading contributors to concussions.
When someone has a 100% way to determine a concussion then we can point fingers at someone. Until then let us not be in such a hurry to blame someone when someone suffers a concussion.
I have a real pain in my neck to show for it.