Sunday, December 18, 2011

Give Me A Break

With the end of Sunday's action, most New York Islander and New York Ranger prospects are off on a break until after Christmas. A select few are getting ready for the World Under-20 Championships which begin on December 26th.

Three Ranger prospects saw action on Sunday and they entered their holiday break with losses. No Islander prospect saw action on Sunday due to a light schedule.

Andrew Yogan (NYR 2010 3rd) and his Peterborough Petes might be very happy that they have the holiday break as they have fallen to 8th place in the OHL's Eastern Conference.  Hosting the Barrie Colts, the Petes trailed 2-0 entering the 3rd period before mounting a come back.

Yogan got the Petes back in the game with his 15th goal of the season just 30 seconds into the 3rd period. Barrie scored to make it 3-1 when Yogan earned a secondary assist on a power play goal at 11:32 to bring the Petes to 3-2.

The Petes forced overtime with another goal but Barrie scored in the overtime period to earn a 4-3 win. Yogan earned the game's second star as he improves to 15-16-31 on the season but we have to like how Yogan finished up before the break.

Yogan was 5-5-10 in his last 7 games but there is a more important item that we have been watching and that was penalties. It was penalties that got Yogan in Coach Mike Pelino's doghouse earlier in the season but only 1 minor in his last 12 games is a giant improvement considering 17 minors in his first 20 games.

You can't score from the penalty box and the Petes need the offense that Yogan can bring. We have said all along that Yogan is a very talented player who's biggest enemy is himself; fix himself and the Rangers will get a 6'3 center with a huge upside.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and his Edmonton Oil Kings saw their franchise record 11 game winning streak come to an end with a 6-5 loss to the Regina Pats. It sounds crazy but we think it was the perfect time for the streak to end as reminds the Oil Kings that they still have a lot to work for.

St. Croix had 2 primary assists in the loss as St. Croix leads all Ranger prospects in scoring at 18-34-52 which is also the fastest a prospect has reached 50 points.  Even more importantly has been St. Croix's improvement on defense which is going to be key to whether or not the Rangers sign him.

St. Croix has been a key performer for the Oil Kings and one of the big reasons why the Oil Kings are contending for a WHL conference championship.

Christian Thomas (NYR 2010 2nd) and his Oshawa Generals entered their holiday break on a sour note losing 5-3 to the Ottawa 67's for their 4th straight loss. Thomas was scoreless in this game as a rough first half came to an end.

Thomas had a hot streak which raised his numbers to 13-14-27 which is acceptable for other prospects but not for a guy who has been a back to back 40 goal seasons. We have to wonder if maybe Oshawa might move Thomas after the holiday break as the trade return would be huge.

Oshawa is not out of playoff contention just 6 points out of a spot in 9th but the gap is growing.  The biggest problem for Oshawa in our eyes is defense as they have the 4th worst defense in the OHL. The Generals were going with a 17 year old rookie in net but he lost his starting job to a OHL career backup.

A player like Thomas could be the difference between just making the playoffs or winning in the playoffs. If not then contact Owen Sound and trade for Scott Stajcer to mentor their rookie goalie while greatly improving the defense.

The Schedule

With everyone at our level on their holiday break; we will do a first half breakdown this week for the prospects as we also get ready for the 2012 World Under-20 championships which opens on December 26th.  If you have the NHL Network then you will be able to watch Team USA and Team Canada in action.

(Yogan- Aaron Bell Of OHL Images)

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