Thursday, December 8, 2011

Strange Lessons Learned

As we get closer to the mid-point of the prospect season, the prospects of both the New York Rangers and New York Islanders are still finding ways to make us scratch our heads in wonder.

Hockey remains a game that at times will not make any sense as just when you think you have something figured out along comes a curve ball.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) was a player who had plenty of offensive talent but consistency and his defense were his question marks. St. Croix had a super quiet Traverse City followed by a suspect start that was making us wonder what the Rangers saw in St. Croix.

The one person who never lost faith in St. Croix was his coach Derek Laxdal as despite a 1-1-2,  -5 start never gave up on his 1st line center. On October 8th, St Croix played a terrible game (heck the entire team was terrible) in a 5-1 loss to the Saskatoon Blades.

The very next night, St. Croix was the starting center despite having gone 5 games with no points and more negatives than we could list.  St. Croix broke his slump with the primary assist on the game's first goal to help the Oil Kings to a 4-1 win. 

Since then St. Croix has gone 15-26-41, +16 in his last 26 games and his Oil Kings have the 2nd best record in the WHL. St. Croix with 2 assists helped the Oil Kings win their 8th straight game 7-3 over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Over the last couple of months we have watched St. Croix trigger an outburst from his Oil Kings and tonight was no different. St. Croix's 1st assist set up the Oil King's 2nd goal of the game tying the game at 2-2 and was the 1st of a 5 goal second period.

It is as if the Oil Kings wait for St. Croix to jump start them and as soon as he does then off the Oil Kings go. After their 7 goals against Brandon, the Oil Kings have scored 125 which is 2nd best in the WHL

And in case you are wondering about their defense; the Oil Kings have given up the 4th fewest goals in the WHL with 80. A +45 in goal differential is not strange is is more on the miraculous side.

In the OHL, it was Islander prospects taking on Ranger prospects as the Niagara IceDogs with Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) and Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) traveled to Peterborough to face the Petes with Ranger prospects Andrew Yogan (NYR 2010 3rd) and Peter Ceresnak (NYR 2011 6th).

Want to talk about 2 teams heading in opposite directions as Niagara has been on a roll looking to take over 1st place in the OHL's Central Division while the Petes were looking to end a 5 game winless streak. Even stranger is that the IceDogs are winning while their star Strome is in a mini slump (4 goals last 10 games) while Theoret has picked up his scoring (4 goals last 4 games).

Even stranger is that the Petes while they have been struggling to find ways to win are getting points out of Yogan (4-4-8)  and good defensive play from Ceresnak. So of course Niagara breaks the game open in the 3rd period with 3 goals to earn a 5-2 win.

Theoret scored Niagara's 4th goal off a feed from Strome for his 8th goal of the season and the game's 2nd star Strome's 14th assist. It was Niagara's 7th win in their last 10 games as they now lead the OHL's Central Division.

The Petes are winless in 6 (0-4-0-2) and just 3-5-0-2 in their last 10. Their saving grace is that the OHL's Eastern Conference is so close 1 or 2 wins can jump you as high as a division lead.

And again for the Pete's, Yogan played well earning the 3rd star as he really was the Peterborough offense. Yogan set up the Pete's 1st goal in the 2nd period then got hauled down for a penalty shot (missed on) and scored the Pete's other goal.

Ceresnak was scoreless but a +1 as he has been moved back to the top defensive pairing.

If you have watched Corey Trivino (NYI 2008 2nd) over his time with the 12th ranked Boston University Terriers then you knew that Trivino needs a monster season in order to get a contract from the New York Islanders.

After Trivino scored at 7:51 of the 2nd period of BU's game against New Hampshire; it gave the Terriers a 2-1 lead that they held on to for the win.

It was Trivino's team leading 11th goal of the season and his 2nd game winner. With 11 goals in 14 games he is well on his way towards his badly needed monster season.

In Barrie, Scott Stajcer (NYR 2009 5th) had a seat on the bench as the backup as the Barrie Colts defeated Stajcer's Owen Sound Attack 5-3. The score is very misleading as this game was over in the first period as Barrie scored 4 goals and never was really threatened by the Attack.

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