Thursday, January 5, 2012

Predator/Player Of The Month/Day

With the World Under-20 Championships coming to a disappointing end for both Team USA and Team Canada, our main focus turns back to the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects and their teams as they get their 2nd half of the season.

For Micheal St.Croix (NYR 2011 4th) then Wednesday was a very good day before he even took the ice. First the prospect we have nicknamed "The Predator" was named the "Husky WHL Player Of The Month" for December.

St Crox as the press release said:

The 18 year-old forward led all WHL scorers collected 26 points through the month of December finding the net 10 times and accumulating 16 assists to go along with a +11 rating. St. Croix picked up points in 10 of 12 games played which included eight multi-point games and five games where he gathered three or more points. Some highlights include a two goal and two assist performance in an 8-3 victory over Eastern Conference rivals the Saskatoon Blades and another four point night in a 6-3 win over the Victoria Royals.

He was also named WHL Player of the Week, for the week ending December 4. St. Croix currently sits third among all WHL scorers with 62 points (24 goals, 38 assists) in 39 games played. His consistent play helped the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 9-2-0-1 record in the month of December and currently sit 1st in the WHL Eastern Conference with a 25-10-1-3 overall record for 54 points.

St. Croix’s efforts have also earned him a Three Star selection six times, with three being 1st Stars.

The Winnipeg, MB product is playing in his third full WHL season with the Oil Kings who selected St. Croix 4th overall in the 2008 WHL Draft. The New York Rangers made the centreman their 4th round selection in the 2011 NHL Draft. This is St. Croix's first WHL Player of the Month Award.

The day got even better for St. Croix and Edmonton Oil King teammates as they found themselves ranked 7th in the BMO Mastercard Top 10 Rankings but there was a game to be played and the Oil Kings were short 2 players as they hosted the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Poor Lethbridge never had a chance as the "Predator" struck again for a goal and 2 assists during a 9:31 span in the 2nd period turning a 2-2 game into a 5-2 lead after the 2nd period as the Oil Kings won 6-3.

What more can we say about St. Croix who was named the game's 2nd star for his efforts? With the score 2-2, St. Croix set up Cole Benson for a even strength goal at 8:48 to give Edmonton a 3-2 lead.

5:54 later it was St. Croix who made it 4-2 with his 25th goal of the season at 14:42 on the goal that became the game winner (his 4th) but St Croix was not finished as 3:37 later St Croix made it a 3 point evening when he set up Dylan Wruck for Edmonton's 5th goal.

Edmonton with the win increased their lead over Moose Jaw for the WHL's Eastern Conference to 3 points as Moose Jaw was losing to Tri-City while this was being written.

And now the fun stuff, the 3 points bring St. Croix to 25-40-65 +21 on the season (3rd in WHL), St Croix now has his 3rd 6 game or more scoring streak (7-8-15), St. Croix has 19 multi-point games on the season and if St Croix continues on this pace he will wind up 43-68-111.

Can we get him a contract please?

Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) and his Penticton Vees returned from their holiday break looking to keep going an 18 game winning streak from before the holiday break. No need to worry as the Vees scored 3 goals each in the first and second periods to cruise to a 6-1 win over the Vernon Vipers.

Fogarty had a primary assist on the Vee's 4th goal in the 2nd period while the Vees were on the power play. It was Fogarty's 25th assist on the season and 41st point.

In Kelowna, it was the battle of the 2011 fifth round picks as Islander fifth rounder defensemen Brendan Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) leads his Spokane Chiefs against Ranger fifth round pick Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) and his Kelowna Rockets. The 2 teams meet 8 days ago with Spokane winning 4-1.

This time the outcome was different as Kelowna held their home ice with a 5-2 win. Kichton was held scoreless while McColgan was credited for two secondary assists. McColgan with two assists improves to 10-28-38 on the season.

The difference in this game was that the Rockets scored three goals in the second and held off Spokane in the third period.

In Tri-City, Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) and his Moose Jaw Warriors were spanked 5-0 by the Tri-City Americans. All McIlrath has to show for his game was his 7th fighting major of the season.  

We understand why McIlrath will fight during games like this with the outcome as long decided but we would rather see McIlrath work on the things that will decide whether one day he is a part of the Ranger blueline.

Going cross country, Kirill Kabanov (NYI 2010 3rd) recorded his 14th goal along with his 15th assist of the season to help his Shawininigan Cataractes defeat the Rimouski Oceanic8-3 in QMJHL action. Kabanov set a new career high in points thanks to his assist which brought his season totals to 14-15-29.

Kabanov last season had 28 points for the Lewiston Maineaics. We still think that Kabanov can do better and honestly we'd like to see more out of him. We see a very talented young man who has true world class skills.

And in the OHL, Christian Thomas (NYR 2012 2nd)  had a lot of the almosts that don't show up in the score sheet but doubt he's complaining as his Oshawa Generals won their fourth straight game 4 to 1 over the Belleville Bulls. Thomas didn't score but give some credit to the Belleville team they checked and closely and to Bull's goalie John Chartrand who kepted beating him.

But like we said Thomas is more than happy with the win since then pulls them to within 1 point of 8th seeded Mississauga. The OHL Eastern Conference is getting very bunched up as the win gets the Generals back to within 5 points of 5th seeded Sudbury.

World Under-20

They are breaking out the party materials as Team USA was able to win 7th place by a 2-1 win over Switzerland. Forgive us if we don't join in as this was a very embarrassing outcome from a team that 2 years ago won the gold medal.

One is supposed to build on winning not fall backwards as the USA has. Was that gold medal a fluke and the hockey program not as good as it thinks it is? These are fair questions to ask especially when you watch the Under-18 program winning 3 straight golds.

JT Miller we were not worried about because he has been a part of those gold medal wins. A medal would have been nice but a OHL title will do more for his development. Miller finished 2-2-4 as he heads back to Plymouth.

Peter Ceresnak and his Slovakian team can claim a win for their program as they finished 6th overall after barely fending off relegation for 2 straight years. Ceresnak played the role of stay home defender with no points to show.

They need Ceresnak in Peterborough so he will be interesting to watch,

(St Croix- Edmonton Oil Kings-Andy Develin)

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