Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Heavy Heart

Might we offer some friendly advice to New York Ranger fans? There are going to be 2 very tough emotional nights this season with the first being opening night at the Garden and the other March 27th when the Rangers take on the Minnesota Wild.

The pain of all the hockey losses this off-season really hit hard on the opening night in the WHL since 4 of those who died were former WHLers. Derek Boogaard, Ryan Rypien, Wade Belak and Brad McCrimmon were all WHL players who came from the province of Saskatchewan.

As the WHL season got underway on Thursday night with the Brandon Wheat Kings helping the Moose Jaw Warriors open their new arena. The Wheat Kings are coached by Kelly McCrimmon, Brad's brother and one could not help feeling for him when a moment of silence for all 4 was held.

Trying to imagine how hard it must have been for Kelly McCrimmon when not only were the eyes of the arena on him but a National Canadian TV audience as well. That might have been one of the hardest moments we have ever witnessed in hockey but credit McCrimmon's Wheat Kings who went out and won this one for their coach 4-1.

Moose Jaw was missing 2 key defensemen in Dylan McIlrath and Collin Bowman who both are still with the Rangers but doubtful they would have made a difference on this night. It was the smallest player on the ice who came up big as 5'8 rookie Alessio Bertaggia recorded a hat trick in his WHL debut.

Bertaggia comes from Lugano in Switzerland was just something else to watch. This is a naturally gifted goal scorer who may not be the biggest but he does have himself some NHL level shots and you will be hearing a lot about him this season.

In the OHL, Islander 2011 3rd round pick Andrey Pedan was scoreless but his Guelph Storm scored 5 times in the 3rd period to earn a 6-3 win over the Windsor Spitfires.

This is one where the stat sheet is going to be misleading as the Storm dominated this game from the get go and only the play of Windsor goalie John Cullen kept it from being worse.

The only other game of note was the Niagara IceDogs minus Islander prospects Ryan Strome (2011 1st) and Mitchell Theoret (2011 7th) getting spanked by the Peterborough Petes 7-1. The Petes were playing without Ranger prospects Andrew Yogan (2010 3rd) and Peter Ceresnak (2011 6th).

The Petes were scary good minus the 2 Ranger prospects and when those 2 join them then this is going to be a tough team to defeat. The IceDogs were missing Strome and fellow 1st rounder Dougie Hamilton but doubt those 2 would have been able to stop the Petes tonight.

Ranger Cuts And Lineup For Tomorrow

Yes we noticed that none of the Ranger CHL prospects were in the lineup for the Devil's game on Friday. But think more people forgot that the Ranger's AHL team the CT Whale will be playing an afternoon game against the Devil's AHL team prior to the Ranger game.

Stick Tap to Bruce Berlet who posted this over at the CT Whale website

In a 1 p.m. prelim that is closed to the public, the Rangers’ prospects will play their Devils counterparts. The Rangers’ lineup is scheduled to consist of goalies Jason Missiaen and Scott Stajcer, defensemen Stu Bickel, Sam Klassen, Tomas Kundratek, Dylan McIlrath, Jyri Niemi and Sam Noreau and forwards Bourque, Miller, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Jordan Hickmott, Shane McColgan, Matt Rust, Michael St. Croix, Scott Tanski, Kelsey Tessier, Christian Thomas, Jason Wilson and Andrew Yogan.

For the Ranger CHL prospects it will be most likely their last game before being returned to their junior team. As we said yesterday, we expect Andrew Yogan and Scott Stajcer to be kept by the Rangers to see if they can earn spots on the Whale roster.

After watching Cam Talbot's efforts against the Devils then Stajcer will most likely be going back to the OHL while Yogan with his size and offense could steal a roster spot.

(Images courtesy of the Regina Pats and the Saskatoon Blades)

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