Tuesday, April 26, 2011

And Then There Was Just Two

Tuesday Night playoff hockey saw one New York Islander prospect advance while one New York Ranger prospect saw his season as well as his junior career come to an end.

Casey Cizikas and his Mississauga St. Michael's Majors became the first CHL team to earn a spot in their league finals when they eliminated Jason Wilson's Niagara IceDogs in 5 games with a 4-1 win.

As he has done all season long, Cizikas set the tone for his Majors as the captain got the Majors on the board with his 3rd goal of the playoffs at 6:47 of the 2nd period.

The IceDogs would rally to tie the game with a power play goal less than 4 minutes later but the Majors went ahead for good 5 minutes later at 15:46. Then the Majors as they have done all year went for the kill and got it scoring just 37 seconds later at 16:23 for a 3-1 lead.

Any idea of a IceDog comeback was quickly ended when the Majors put the finishing touches with a goal just 1:10 into the 3rd period. A 4-1 lead which silenced the Niagara faithful and sent the hosts of the 2011 Memorial Cup into the OHL finals.

The cheering you might have heard came from Owen Sound who with a win Wednesday get a triple bonus. First they eliminate the 2 time Memorial Champion Windsor Spitfires and win their first conference championship.

Second they earn a spot for the first time since the team moved to Owen Sound in 1986 in the OHL finals. And what the best part of Mississauga's win is that with a win, Owen Sound will be also heading to their first Memorial Cup.

Of course they first have to defeat Windsor and despite the game being in Owen Sound will not be an easy task.

As for Jason Wilson and his Niagara IceDogs, they had a great season of their own as they will see 2 of their players go in the top 10 of the NHL Entry Draft. Jason Wilson ends his OHL career with a 5-7-12 playoffs but a career season going 18-25-43.

The Rangers should have a contract for the 6'3 forward rather soon and we look forward to seeing him begin his career next season with the Whale. The bad news is that the Rangers are down to 2 prospects left playing.

In addition to Scott Stajcer, Ryan Bourque is still playing as his Quebec Remparts regain control of home ice after a come from behind 2-1 win over the Gatineau Olympiques in game 3 of their series. Bourque did not score but his defensive work has been just outstanding.

The Remparts have held Gatineau's leading scorer Jean-Gabriel Pageau scoreless in all 3 games. The series was billed as the bulk vs the speed and so far the speed is winning out.

The Remparts go for a commanding 3-1 series lead Wednesday night.

The Lewiston Maineaic's Cinderella story is sadly about to come to an end as the Saint John Sea Dogs after a 5-2 win have a commanding 3-0 lead. The Maineaics have no reason to feel any shame as they are just outmatched by a team that has led the QMJHL all season long.

But depending on whether you are a Ranger or Islander fan there is some good news and some bad news. For Ranger fans the bad news is that Kirill Kabanov is having a coming out party during this year's playoffs.

For the Islander fans that is the good news as the 3rd round pick the Islanders used to select Kabanov is looking more and more like a great move. Kabanov earned the game's 3rd star despite the loss as he tried to carry the Maineaics scoring his 8th goal of the playoffs.

Kabanov was credited with 6 good scoring chances on 8 shots as he extended his scoring streak to 11 games which ties him for the best in the playoffs. At 8-11-19 which is good for 6th in the QMJHL, Kabanov is 2nd behind Nino Niederreiter in Islander prospect scoring but Kabanov has clearly been the best Islander prospect during the playoffs.

If Islander fans wanted to have hope then imagine a line of Niederreiter, Kabanov and either Cizikas or Anders Lee. There is your future which is also going to be a nightmare for the rest of the NHL.

(Images: Cizikas/Aaron Bell-OHL Images, Bourque/Jonathon Roy, Kabanov/Ron Morin-Lewiston Maineaics)

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