Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sharing The Spotlight

An interesting Wednesday night ended the month of November on a positive note for some of the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects who have been a little forgotten as of late.

Scott Stajcer (NYR 2009 5th) and the Owen Sound Attack all say the right things when it comes to this 2 headed goalie rotation the Attack have been using since the Rangers sent Stajcer back after the European trip. In our eyes despite our very clear bias it is time for the Attack to decide which goalie they want and move the other one.

When we see Stajcer have nights like he did against the Barrie Colts stopping 38 out of 39 shots to help his Owen Sound Attack to a 3-1 win then it is time to decide which goalie to keep. Stajcer the game's first star was the key for the Attack staying in this game holding the Colts at bay during the first 2 periods of this game.

Stajcer faced 17 shots in the 1st period, 19 in the 2 period before his teammates finally tightened up their defense to limit the Colts to 6 shots in the 3rd period. Stajcer was strong throughout this game as he lowered his goals against to 2.32 (4th in the OHL) and raised his save percentage to 0.933 (2nd in OHL).

While Stajcer's W/L record is just 4-3-2-2 on the season, we think it is time for the Attack to move either Stajcer or Jordan Binnington as this 2 headed tandem is not helping Binnington. If we are Owen Sound we have to be concerned that Binnington is not getting better (currently 25th in the OHL) as they had hoped.

And yes we have an agenda here as we want to see Stajcer moved to a team like the Oshawa Generals who are struggling badly on defense with a rookie goalie in the net. We selfishly want to see Stajcer here in the hope of jump starting Christian Thomas (NYR 2010 2nd) but we doubt it happens.

We honestly felt bad for Brendan Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) last night as his solid performance was lost in the shadow of what Michael St. Croix did but Kichton was even better on Wednesday as his Spokane Chiefs took on John Persson (NYI 2011 5th) and his Red Deer Rebels.

The battle of Islander 2011 5th round picks was very one sided as Kichton earned the game's first star after a 1-2-3 performance to lead Spokane to a 5-2 win over the Red Deer Rebels. This one was not a pretty game at all to watch as Spokane was very tired from their game on Tuesday evening while Red Deer has been losing players to injuries, illnesses and suspensions left and right.

You know it is ugly when neither team can reach double figures in shots in any of the periods. Spokane was bad with just 22 but Red Deer got worse as the night progressed managing just 15 shots for the game.

Persson returned to the Red Deer lineup after missing Tuesday's game due to illness and he actually provided some spark for Red Deer as he he set up Colton Mayor at 14:57 of the first period. Red Deer with a 1-0 lead on Persson's 18th assist of the season was for the most part the only highlight for the Rebels.

The lead lasted all of 35 seconds as Kichton earned his first point of the evening with a secondary assist on Darren Kramer's goal at 15:32 which tied the game up at 1-1. That was how the period ended and Kichton needed all of 49 seconds into the 2nd period to break that tie.

Kichton scored his 4th goal of the season on the power play to give Spokane a 2-1 lead that they never were seriously threatened after that. Spokane added 2 more goals to go up 4-1 before Kichton registered his 3rd point of the night setting up Mitch Holmberg for Spokane's 5th and final goal of the game.

The loss extended Red Deer's winless streak to 7 games (0-5-0-2) and Spokane is now 1-1 on their current road trip.

Persson with an assist in a losing effort remains the leading prospect scorer among the Islanders with a 11-18-29 mark. Kichton with his 2nd three point game in his last 3 games is now 4-20-24 which is 4th among WHL defensemen.

We have to admit that we have a soft spot for the Beach Boy of the Ranger prospects cause he may be just 5'9 but Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) has a heart that is twice that.

We also know that the voice of the Kelowna Rockets Regan Bartel calls it like he sees it and he told us before the season that McColgan needed to be a more consistent scorer in order for Kelowna to have a good season.

Well if you checked out the link then you saw that Bartel said that McColgan "played one of his best games of the season and ended the night with two assists."

Kelowna as a team played what most observers said was their best game of the season in defeating the Tri-City Americans 6-2. Tri-City are leading the WHL's Western Conference and saw a 4 game winning streak stopped by the Rockets .

McColgan was involved in 2 key plays that helped Kelowna earn this win as he first set up Brett Bulmer at 1:18 of the 2nd period to tie the game up at 2-2. Then McColgan earned a secondary assist on Colton Sissons power play goal at 13:16 of the 2nd to give Kelowna a 3-2 lead on the way to a 6-2 win.

Remember that consistent remark from earlier? McColgan with the 2 assists gave him a 2-10-12 mark in 11 games for November and overall a 7-22-29 in 25 games this season. McColgan has points in 19 of his 25 games so think he is doing a good job addressing the consistency.

In case you have forgotten this is what Dylan McIlrath (2010 1st) looks like as McIlrath returned to the Moose Jaw Warrior lineup after serving a 3 game suspension for a charging major picked up on November 23rd. McIlrath really does need to consider himself a very lucky young man with all that has happened to him this season.

We are not going to kid anyone and say that McIlrath has played up to what we had hoped he would this season. Our expectations were for McIlrath to dominate the WHL this season not on the offensive end but on defense and we have not seen it.

Pretty sure McIlrath himself will say this season has not gone as planned either but the bottom line he will say is that his Moose Jaw Warriors are winning (3rd in WHL's Eastern Conference) and that is what matters. McIlrath returned to the Warrior lineup with a secondary assist on the only goal Moose Jaw would need as they shut out the Prince Albert Raiders 3-0.

It was McIlrath's 7th assist and 9th point of the season but for the Warriors the win extended their unbeaten streak to 4 games (3-0-0-1). But Moose Jaw if they are going to be a serious contender in the WHL needs a dominating McIlrath as they have lost key defenders to injury as well as suspensions.

Then we had the rare game out of Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) in where he did not score anything. His Penticton Vees earned their 10th straight win as they won a defensive battle with the Vernon Vipers 3-2.

The Vees have been averaging close to 5.5 goals a game so it was interesting to see them have to fight for a win. Even better was watching Fogarty upping his defensive game when his own offense was not there.

Fogarty is a legit 2 way center and his play is making the trading of Evgeny Grachev look more and more like a bargain with each game. People ask all the time if the BCHL is a tough league and our answer is to take a look at some of the names who played in this league.

From Brett Hull to Paul Kariya, the BCHL has produced high quality NHL players and down the road you will add Fogarty to that list. Fogarty finished November 9-14-23 and is 15-19-34 overall which is good for 2nd among NYR prospects.

We just have to wait a while for Fogarty to show up but it will be worth the wait.

(Stajcer- Aaron Bell of OHL Images, Kichton- Spokane Chiefs, Persson- Red Deer Rebels, McIlrath- Moose Jaw Warriors, Fogarty- Penticton Vees)

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