Monday, November 28, 2011

Players Of The Week

The prospects of the week for the New York Rangers and New York Islander basically picked themselves by having solid weeks. Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 5th) of the Edmonton Oil Kings and Brock Nelson (NYI 2010 1st) were major factors in why their teams had winning weeks.

We are not even sure how best to describe what Michael St. Croix did to the Lethbridge Hurricanes after St. Croix put up 9 points in 2 games against them. It was part of a 10 point week for the Oil King center as he went 6-4 for the week jumping all the way up to 13th in WHL scoring and 2nd for Ranger prospects.

Last Wednesday night in Lethbridge, St. Croix had a goal and 2 assists as part of a 5 goal outburst by the Oil Kings just in the first period. St. Croix then added 2 more goals in the 2nd and 3rd periods as Edmonton won 10-3.

It was the first hat trick and 5 point night from a Ranger prospect this season but St. Croix was not done. On Friday night St. Croix scored a goal in Edmonton's 3-0 shutout win over the Medicine Hat Tigers but we walked away impressed by the team's collective effort shutting down 2 of the best goal scorers in the WHL.

And Saturday night, the Lethbridge Hurricanes were the victims of another St. Croix barrage as St. Croix went 2-2-4 to help Edmonton to 5-2 win. In this one St. Croix was a key reason why his Oil Kings were able to break open a close game with a 4 goal 3rd period.

St. Croix started the period with a secondary assist at 2:55 to give Edmonton a 2-1 lead. Just 1:59 later at 4:54, St. Croix scored a goal to make it 3-1 and then added a primary assist 1:46 after the goal at 6:40 to make it 4-1. Finally St. Croix added an empty net goal for his 4th point of the period and 10th point of the week.

Brock Nelson (NYI 2010 1st) is at times the forgotten prospect of the Islanders as he is not the flashy player that Nino Niederreiter is nor is he the 100 point scorer that Ryan Strome is. Still we actually think at the end of the day that Nelson might wind up being the best of the 3 Islander first round picks and weeks like Nelson just had is why.

Nelson went 3-3-6 in helping his North Dakota Fighting Sioux to a weekend sweep of then 4th ranked Colorado College. It was an impressive performance by the 6'4 sophomore forward as Nelson was a big part of the game winning goals in both games.

First on Friday night, Nelson had a 2-1-3 game as both his goals were power plays but the 2nd goal of the game which came at 11:54 of the 3rd period proved to be the game winner. That earned Nelson the game's 3rd star as North Dakota won 7-6.

On Saturday it was Nelson going 1-2-3 with Nelson scoring another power play goal but it was his primary assist on Danny Kristo's shorthanded goal at 6:09 of the 3rd period which proved to be the game winner. Nelson wound up being the game's first star for his efforts on Saturday night.

Nelson's 3 goals for the weekend all came on the power play giving him 6 power play goals for the season. That ties Nelson for the NCAA lead in power play goals as Nelson also took over as the leading scorer for North Dakota on a 10-7-17 mark.

National Team Invites

Hockey Canada sent out it's invites for their World Under-20 championship camp and there was no real surprise from who was or was not invited. For the Islanders Ryan Strome (2011 1st)) and Brendan Kichton (2011 5th) were given invites.

On the Ranger side only Christian Thomas (2010 2nd) was invited and it is hard to argue about why Dylan McIlrath did not get invited. One look at those who did get invited and McIlrath has not had a better year than any of them.

We were hoping that Michael St. Croix would have gotten an invite but we also knew that was a long shot to happen. Canada is going to have a strong lineup but we believe that from a Ranger or Islander standpoint, we see Team USA as having more Ranger/Islander prospects on the roster in the end.

(St. Croix- Edmonton Oil Kings, Nelson- NHL Media)

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