Monday, February 20, 2012

Staying alive Sunday

Depending on which league you play and whether or not it is CHL or NCAA then for the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects; their season is down to as few as 4 games and as many as 13.

Forget all the cute little corny sayings because for some teams there really is no more margin of error. Teams either win or start packing your bags and get ready to go home.

Sunday for us was 2 key matchups in the WHL, starting with John Persson (NYI 2011 5th) and his Red Deer Rebels visiting the Vancouver Giants. For Red Deer, it's as simple as this, they are in 9th place of the WHL's Eastern Conference.

Starting play with three games in hand, the Rebels were trailing Brandon by 9 points in the standings and will going against one of the toughest teams in the WHL to play against in their house. In other words this was supposed to be a mismatch, but because this is hockey; it wasn't as Red Deer handed Vancouver a 3-1 loss.

Red Deer scored just 18 seconds after the puck was dropped for a 1-0 which they were able to hold onto for the first period. In the 2nd, Vancouver eventually tied the game but Red Deer took the lead for good 4:03 later scoring to take a 2-1 into the 2nd intermission.

In the third period, it was Red Deer holding on for dear life until the game's final seconds when John Persson set up Turner Elson for an empty net goal at 19:53 and the win. For Persson, the assist improved him to 19-31-50 on the season.

For Reds Deer the win puts them now 7 points behind Brandon in the hunt for the last playoff spot in the WHL's Eastern Conference. Persson's team winning actually helped a fellow Islander prospect's team as well.

In Seattle, Brendan Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) and his Spokane Chiefs were looking to end a four-game losing streak that not only cost them 4th-place in the WHL's Western Conference standings but had them trailing the Vancouver Giants by 5 points.

The race for 4th place is about whether Spokane or Vancouver would wind up hosting a game 7 in the first round of the WHL Playoffs. Neither team has a realistic chance of moving up in the conference standings, but at the same time, both are safe from dropping in the standings.

There really wasn't much to say about this game Spokane shutout Seattle 3-0. Kichton was scoreless and a +1 as the Spokane defense held Seattle to just 18 shots for the game.

Spokane in breaking their losing streak has cut Vancouver's lead to just 3 points but Spokane holds 2 games in hand, which could be a difference maker.

In the QMJHL, Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar hosted the Gatineau Olympiques on Sunday afternoon. The Drakkar have been in a freefall losing 8 out of their last 10 games beginning play on Sunday.

The Drakkar defeated the Olympiques 2-1 as a loss would've dropped the Drakkar into 12th place in the QMJHL standings. Noreau was scoreless on 1 shot but was a +1 and took 1 minor penalty.

The Drakkar are currently 11th in the QMJHL standings and with 11 games remaining could possibly finish as high as 9th or as low as 14th depending on how they play.

Finally, in the OHL, the Owen Sound Attack playing their third game in 3 nights went back to Jordan Binnington in goal, sending Scott Stajcer (NYR 2009 5th) back to the bench as the backup.

Binnington had won his previous five starts wound up taking the loss as Owen Sound lost to the Saginaw Spirit 4-2. The loss also ended Owen Sound's 6-game winning streak which saw them rise in the standings up to 4th place in the OHL's Western Conference.

In many ways we feel sorry for Owen Sound coach Greg Ireland, who's team had to play 3 games in 3 nights so how does he rotate his goalies? Does he play the guy who's on a hot streak in all three games?

Or does he do what he wound up doing, which was rotate a rusty Scott Stajcer then back to Binnington who saw his winning streak end? In either case, it was a tough decision for the coach to make but now we hope he doesn't knee-jerk his next choice.

If Jordan Binnington earned the starting job then one loss should not change that status. The Attack have 11 games left and alternating goalies would be a disaster for both goalies and player confidence.

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