The Oshawa Generals are sitting pretty with a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Kingston Frontenacs after a 5-4 win. Thomas if he is not the OHL's player of the week after a 3-6-9 performance then something is wrong.
We will start with Thomas as he netted his 3rd goal of the playoffs and added his OHL leading 6th assist as his Oshawa Generals spotted the Frontenacs a 1-0 first period lead and then roared back with 4 unanswered goals to jump out to a 4-1 lead.
Tony DeHart (NYI 2010 5th) continued his own strong playoff performance adding 2 assists to give him 4 points in 3games. Calvin de Haan (NYI 2009 1st) and Dan Maggio (NYR 2009 6th) both were scoreless for the Generals.
Ethan Werek (NYR 2009 2nd) returned to the Kingston lineup after a 5 game suspension but tried just too hard to make up for lost time and hurt his team by taking 4 different minor penalties that led to 1 Oshawa power play goal. We like Werek we really do but if there is one area he has to work on is himself.
Werek tries too hard to make plays and that hurts him at times, we know that he will outgrow this as he gets older but we would pull him aside and tell him to let the game come to him. Trying to force things may have good intentions but most times it has bad results.
But our message to both the Generals and Frontenacs is the old adage that the toughest game to win in a playoff series is the 4th win. Both teams need to take it 1 game at a time and not try to as Werek did force things.
In Portland Oregon, Nino Niederreiter led a Portland Winterhawk attack with 2 goals and 1 assist as Portland had little trouble with the Everett Silvertips winning 7-2 to take a 2-0 series lead. Neiderreiter needed all of 38 seconds to get his Winterhawks going as he scored his first goal of the playoffs to set the tone for the Winterhawks.
In the second period after Everett had scored to cut Portland's lead to 2-1 Niederreiter took matters into his own hands by scoring his 2nd game of the game at 15:42 for a 3-1 lead (and what turned into the game winning goal).
Then at 19:35 of the period, it was Niederreiter who started the play that broke the game up as he and Troy Rutkowski teamed up to set up Brad Ross for a power play goal that make it 4-1 and it was game over.
Niederreiter in 2 games is 2-3-5 and setting a pace where the Winterhawks when they get a lead they do not let up. After the fourth goal, the Winterhawks added 3 more in the 3rd period to make it 7-1 before Everett added a goal for the game's final score.
At the Midwest Regional Final in Green Bay, it was not only repeat of the WCHA final from last week but also the battle of Islander prospects. North Dakota was taking on Denver once again and the results like last week were the same a big North Dakota win.
The difference this time was that it was Brock Nelson (NYI 2010 1st) who came up with the big plays for North Dakota instead of Jason Gregoire (NYI 2007 3rd). First Nelson had a secondary assist on North Dakota's 3rd goal at 19:07 of the 2nd period as Denver was coming off a double overtime game the day before.
Then at 14:43 of the 3rd period it was Nelson's 8th goal of the season that choked away any hope Denver had of making a comeback as Nelson broke in and using a nice backhanded shot gave North Dakota a 4-1 lead. North Dakota then added 2 more goals to make it a 6-1 win for the Fighting Sioux.
Gregoire had a secondary assist on North Dakota's 6th goal to extend his personal scoring streak to 16 straight games as North Dakota head to the Frozen Four on April 7th to face Michigan. For Denver, Matt Donovan (NYI 2008 4th) was scoreless and finishes his sophomore season with a respectable 9-23-32 +17.
In Manchester NH at the Northeast Regional Final, it was another matchup of Islander prospects as Anders Lee (2009 6th) and his Notre Dame Fighting Irish earned a trip to the Frozen Four after a 2-1 win over Blake Kessel's (NYI 2007 6th) New Hampshire Wildcats. Lee had a secondary assist on Notre Dame's first goal to improve to 24-20-44 while Kessel was held scoreless to finish his junior season 5-21-26.
The key to Notre Dame's win was a strong defense that kept New Hampshire's offense on the outside limiting rebounds and making sure their goalie had clear vision on the shots he faced. Lee and Notre Dame will be facing Minnesota Duluth on April 7th at the Frozen Four in what will basically be a home game for Minnesota Duluth since the game will be played in St. Paul Minnesota.
Jason Wilson (NYR 2010 5th) and his Niagara IceDogs scored 2 goals in the game's first 2 periods and then held on for dear life as they held off the Brampton Battalion 2-0 in game 2 and lead the series also 2-0.
Wilson was scoreless as his IceDogs built their lead but the Battalion outshot the IceDogs 11-2 in the 3rd period.
Now that Boston College's season is over one has to wonder when the first "Chris Kreider leaves Boston College for the Rangers" rumor is going to start. We know that we think it is a bad idea as our preference is for Kreider to spend 1 more season at Boston College and fine tune his game.
We know what the agruments for Kreider to leave school are going to start with why risk injury while playing for nothing? Boston College is going to lose other players who will take the lure of NHL money after a very disappointing end of season.
But for us the biggest thing is having patience with Kreider's development as we have seen over the years how many Ranger prospects had their development hurt by being rushed to the NHL. At the NHL level you have almost little to no time to work on your game during the season due to the demands of an 82 game season along with the travel they must endure.
Staying at Boston College for another season allows Kreider to play no more than 2 games a week and travel for the most part limited to the New England area. He will have time for personal development practice to improve on his game and next season at Boston College he will be asked to take on more of a leadership role as well as an increased responsibility to score more.
Had Kreider did better than 11-13-24 in 31 games after 15-8-23 as a freshman then we would have not have reservations about his leaving school. We look at Derek Stepan who was 12-42-54 in 41 games in 2009-10 after a 9-24-33 season in 2008-09 as a freshman to be an example of what should define forward progress in development.
We know that the odds are that Kreider will want to join his buddies Stepan and Bourque as pros and we hope our concerns are wrong but being a Ranger fan since the 1960's makes one more cautious.
(Images: Thomas/OHL Images-Aaron Bell, Niederreiter/Portland Winterhawks, Nelson/NHL Media)