Friday, December 30, 2011

The Unreal

Before I get into the Friday night report for both New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects, I found today that I have a problem with my C3-C4 disc in my neck.

My neck is not why you are here so let's talk about the kids and come back to this when I know more. If anybody has any idea about voice recognition software that will help me be able to type, it would be a great help.

The Edmonton Oil Kings are establishing themselves as a legitimate contender for the WHL championship; thanks in large part to Michael St. Croix establishing himself as a legitimate NHL prospect. "The Predator" is what I have taken to calling St. Croix because of how he senses the other team on the ropes and goes to finish them off.

On Friday night, it was the Brandon Wheat Kings who became the latest victims of the Predator. St. Croix had a 2 goal, 1 assist evening to help the Oil Kings to a 7-1 win. It started off with an assist on Edmonton's 2nd goal of the game in the 1st period then finished by his 21st and 22nd goals of the season in the third period. It was an excellent way to put an end to an excellent month for St. Croix.

In 11 games in December St. Croix went 8-16-24, scoring two or more points in eight of the nine games where St. Croix put up points. For the season, St. Croix is now 22-38-60 in just 38 games as he is now running away with the Ranger's prospect scoring title.

Time and now we go from the unreal to the truly embarrassing as what more can we say about performance put out by Team USA? After a 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic, Team USA is on their way to the relegation round. Why they are is actually quite simple as a hockey game a team is supposed to play 60 minutes not 20 or 40 and that right there is where you start to point fingers at.

Maybe the worst thing to happen to USA hockey was defeating Canada for the gold a couple of years ago. Since then rather than building on that win they have taken huge leaps backwards. What started out against the Czech Republic as a pretty good performance by a Ranger draft pick JT Miller turned into a nightmare for the entire team.

Miller we think has played well here despite only having a 1-1-2. For us the only thing that matters now is watching to see, Miller handles adversity liked what is expected to be a very loud a very crude and a very rude happy Canada.

But the really happy ones have to be the Islanders fans as two of their top prospects have put on quite a show. We already knew about the kind of player that Ryan Strome is but  surprise so is Johan Sundstrom of Sweden as the Islander's 20112nd round pick has had a good accounting of himself. For us this was our chance to take a first look at him and we liked what we saw.

A 6'3 195 lb forward who looks comfortable whether he is playing as center or as a right winger. Sundstrom had a 3 point game as his Team Sweden just put a beating on Peter Ceresnak and his Team Slovakia 9-1.

If you watched how Canada play in the third period against Denmark and then watched how Sweden played against Slovakia; then the one thing that stood out was how well Sweden kept playing with discipline and composure. Sundstrom is one of the alternate captains for Sweden and his teammates were following his lead.

SoSwitching to the East Coast, Kirill Kabanov and his Shawninigan Cataractes metimes a player can do more to help his team by setting the example as Sundstrom has been doing. And the other hand, there's really not much you can say about Team Slovakia. And they are heading back to the relegation round for the third straight year. Not sure why only one team will find themselves demoted but once again Slovakia will dodge a bullet.

Ceresnak has not played badly but also has not done much to stand out. When they did stand out is that teams look to use speed to get around and and that's his biggest weakness.

Getting back to the CHL, Dylan McIlrath and his Moose Jaw Warriors were shut out 2-0 by the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Warriors had a 40-22 edge in shots but just could not figure out how to get one passed Seattle's Calvin Picard.

Brandon Kichton and his Spokane Chiefs were on the road to play the Kootenay Ice one day afterthe Chiefs traded away their leading scorer in a bid to improve their goaltending. For one night at least it worked as Spokane edged the Ice 3-2 in the shootout.

Kichton was scoreless, took a minor for interference and while the ice did not score during the power play Kichton had barely left the penalty box when the Ice did eventually score.

Back east in the QMJHL, Kirill Kabanov and his Shawininigan Cataractes would beaten in every area of the game losing 5-1 to the Victoriaville Tigres. Give the Tigres The credit for swarming and keeping the Cataractes of balance while limiting Kabanov to just two shots on goal.

Taking a look at the NCAA's, Chris Kreider and his 3rd Boston College Eagles salvaged their weekend with a 2-1 win over Michigan Tech in the consolation game of the Great Lakes Invitational. Kreider scored his 13th goal of the season to get Boston College on the scoreboard in the first period.

There really was not a whole lot else to say about this game as Kreider was held to three shots and a -1.

The North Dakota Fighting Sioux hosted the Crimson of Harvard in a nonconference game that wound up as a 4-4 overtime tie. Brock Nelson was held to three shots, no points and was on the ice for 3 Harvard goals.

I guess I wanted one more chance to be able call the North Dakota hockey team their Fighting Sioux nickname. In this rush to be politically correct, sometimes people don't stop and realize that not everything has a bad meaning behind it.

Down in Florida, one has to feel for the promoters of the Florida College Hockey Classic as their tournament featured two very struggling members of Hockey East. UMass with Danny Hobbs took on the Maine Black Bears in what turned into a penalty fillled game before Maine came away with a 5-2 win.

Hobbs had an assist on UMass's 1st goal for his 7th assist and 11th point of the season.

In the OHL, Andrew Yogan saw his 4 game scoring streak (4-3-7) come to an end after his Peterborough Pete's were shut out by the Ottawa 67's 2-0. This game was actually a lot closer than the score says because Ottawa was only able to score one goal themselves as their second goal was an empty netter.

Mitchell Theoret was held scoreless as his Niagara IceDogs edged out the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors 6-5 in the shootout. It was a good win for the IceDogs on the road against a team they have struggled with..

Christian Thomas was named the game's second star after Thomas Scored his 15th goal and registered his 15th assist to help his Oshawa Generals earn a 5-2 road win over the Kitchener Rangers. Both of Thomas's points came via the power play as part of the three goal first period.

Those two points brought Thomas to 15-15-30 on the season making him the sixth New York Ranger's prospect to reach 30 points.

Give the Rangers some credit here because we're not talking about the end of the season; we're talking six players at mid-season. At this pace we expect one more prospect to reach 30 point to make it seven prospects.

Right now we have one prospect on a pace for over 100 points two more possibly three lead a shot at 80 and even if the remaining prospects wind up in the 50-60 point range that's pretty good.

The only goalie prospects that either team has at the moment where both dressed as backups for their respective teams.

(St. Croix -Edmonton Oil Kings) 

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