Thursday, February 10, 2011

Win One Lose One

For New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects this is the time of year where the prospects start show whether or not their potential is real of not.
You see it in the big plays and you see it when an opportunity is missed.

Thursday was one of those nights where a prospect took advantage of his chances while others let their slip away. Without a doubt among Islander prospects Casey Cizikas (2009 4th) of the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors is showing with each passing game how badly he wants to win.

Against the Barrie Colts we are not sure which impressed us more; was it the defensive effort that just completely shut down the Colt offense or the workman like effort to come from behind with a 3 goal third period leading to a 5-3 Majors win.

Take the defense as the Majors allowed only 15 total shots for the game as the Majors just dominated them. Holding Barrie to just 1 shot on goal in the 3rd period was one of the better defensive efforts seen this season.

The Majors were trailing 3-2 going into the 3rd period and they tied the game up at 4:02. Cizikas then did what you want from your captain in crunch time as he scored what proved to be the game winning goal at 8:24

It was the type of play one has grown to expect from the Majors as Gregg Sutch forced a Barrie turnover in Barrie's defensive zone, got the puck over to Cizikas who just deked once then fired it in for his 27th goal of the season and a 4-3 Majors lead.

Cizikas at 27-28-55 leads all Islander prospects in scoring, is 5th in the OHL in game winning goals (6th) and plus/minus (+35) . The win was the 7th straight for the Majors and restored their 8 point lead over the Niagara IceDogs.

There are very few coaches at the CHL level that when he speaks we listen very carefully for what he is wanting to talk about. Stan Butler is one of the coaches as his views on hockey go beyond just developing players for the NHL but how to improve the game as a whole.

Butler who is the coach of the Brampton Battalion in the OHL has developed more players for the NHL than anyone we have ever seen was coaching in his 1000th game on Thursday night. It was just fitting that Butler was facing the very team that got his OHL start with in the Oshawa Generals.

Hard to feel bad for the Generals as Butler's Battalion gave their coach a 3-1 win in this milestone game. At the same time when you watched this game it was hard not to see the lessons that Generals need to learn as they try to become a playoff team this season.

It was not that the Generals played a bad game but rather Brampton played a smarter game and stuck to the coach's game plan almost to the letter. It is not like Butler has any kind of special magic but rather throughout the years the lesson has always been this; get the entire team to play as one and trust the system.

For a young Battalion team that was the key as they kept Christian Thomas (NYR 2010 2nd) from doing any kind of damage. Thomas who is 4th in the OHL in goals with 37 was blanketed all night and saw his 3 game scoring streak stopped.

The "Troop" were held to just 26 shots for the entire game and never got to double digits in any of the 3 periods. The Generals "New York Blue Line" of Calvin De Haan (NYI 2009 1st) was a -2, Tony DeHart (NYI 2010 5th) -1 and Dan Maggio (NYR 2009 5th) even were never factors in this game.

The loss for the Generals prevented them from clinching their spot in the OHL playoffs and kept the Generals from gaining ground on division leading Ottawa. The Generals unless they totally fall apart should finish no worse than 4th in the OHL's Eastern Conference.

For the Battalion win drew them to within 3 points of 5th seeded Kingston Frontenacs which would most likely be against the same Generals.

Still congrats to Coach Butler for his 1000th game as a coach.

(Cizikas/Mississauga, Butler/Bramption)

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