Sunday, March 11, 2012

Turning out their lights, their party is over

It doesn't matter if you are a New York Ranger or New York Islander fan; when the season is over there is a sense of loss. This will be a lengthy post so go grab a snack and get comfortable in your chair before you start reading.

This is the crummy part about doing this as you watch dreams come to an end and it's hard not to get attached to these prospects. We get to see a side of them that you guys don't mainly because we still see the kid in them.

We watch teenagers become young men and for every prospect that gets to sign the professional contract, there are 2-3 who don't. It's an awkward time when you have to do like this and write about the end of someone's dream.

One thing is for sure and that is with the exception of a couple of prospects that we can say honestly that both the Rangers and the Islanders do look to draft young man with the kind of character that you the fans want to see wearing your uniform.

Danny Hobbs (NYR 2007 7th) is someone we have covered longer than any other prospect and sadly Hobbs was unable to play on Saturday due to some kind of hand injury that he suffered in Friday's game. Hobbs and his UMass Minutemen were eliminated by top-ranked Boston College Saturday evening after a 3-2 loss which swept the two out of three series for Boston College.

Hobbs ends his career at UMass 28-35-63 with 120 games played and as the captain of the UMass team. The hand injury had to have been severe enough for Hobbs to be unable to go and if that's the case then it also probably means any hope of being offered an ATO by the Rangers is also gone. The Rangers will hold onto his rights until August 15 but it's very hard to see them signing him to a contract.

Chris Kreider (NYR 2009 1st) set up what proved to be the game-winning and series ending goal assisting on Brian Dumoulin's goal at 19:11 of the second period. Kreider (20-18-38) and Boston College advance to the Hockey East semi-finals next weekend against TBD.

Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th) and Robbie Russo (NYI 2011 4th) saw their season come to an end when their Notre Dame Fighting Irish lost to Michigan 3-1 and were eliminated from the CCHA playoffs in two straight games.

Lee (17-17-34) finishes his sophomore season with questions about his potential after suffering through a mid-season slump that saw him score only three goals in 25 games. Russo (4-11-15) on the other side ended his freshman season with hints of promised potential as he established himself on the Notre Dame blueline.

In Edmonton, sometimes how you handle winning is equally as important as how you handle losing. Both the Red Deer Rebels and the Edmonton Oil Kings should be embarrassed at how their game lowered itself after 37 penalties led to 156 PIMs.

Both teams should be counting their blessings that I'm not the Commissioner of the WHL as I would be handing out fines and suspensions to the coaches. I am a firm believer that at the Junior level the coach is the one who has to be held to a higher accountability than an NHL coach.

The Junior coach is responsible for helping to develop teenagers and turn them into young men. Unlike the NHL, the coaches at the Junior level have a ton of power and we have the right to expect that they use that power to demand the best behavior from those they are responsible for.

Our belief includes when a player is suspended then so should the coach and there is no excuse to let the coach off the hook. When coaches start seeing their paychecks being hit with fines for the actions of their players then you watch how fast coaches put an end to the cheap shots.

John Persson (NYI 2011 5th) we can only guess at how many times he played through injuries when other teammates were hurt worse or suspended. While he may not make the playoffs this season, his stock still remains high because he never quit despite all that happened.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) on the other hand now has set the bar for next season super high after he reached the 100 point mark (42-58-100) with a goal and an assist. St. Croix was not around at the end of the game having been hit with a 10 minute misconduct at 12:33 of the third.

Up in Prince George, the Penticton Vees did something that they had not done since November 2 and that was lose a game in regulation. After 42 straight wins, the Penticton Vees lost their final regular-season game 5-2 to the Prince George Spruce Kings.

Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) had an assist to finish his regular season 33-48-81 and emerge as the surprise prospect of the year.

Back to the WCHA, Brock Nelson (NYI 2010 1st) and his North Dakota Fighting Sioux are on their way to Minneapolis and the WCHA Final Five after they defeated Bemidji State 4-3 to sweep their best-of-three series in two games.

Nelson was scoreless and a -2 as North Dakota will not know who they face in the next round until after Sunday's game between Scott Mayfield's (NYI 2011 2nd) Denver Pioneers and the Wisconsin Badgers minus Jason Clark (injured NYI 2010 3rd).

Mayfield's Pioneers forced a game three with a 3-1 win thanks to a three goal third period. Mayfield was scoreless on three shots and a +1 as the deciding game three takes place Sunday evening.

Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) and his Moose Jaw Warriors got a measure of revenge defeating the Regina Pats 3-2 in overtime to split their "home and home" series. McIlrath was scoreless but added to his fighting majors with his 11th after taking on Regina's Jack Rodewald.

Brendan Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) set up the game-winning goal as the Spokane Chiefs came from behind to defeat the Kootenay Ice 3-2. Kichton earned the games third star after a two assist performance which improves his numbers to 14-54-68 which remains tops among Islander prospects and WHL defensemen.

Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) was scoreless as his Kelowna Rockets loss to the Prince George Cougars 3-1. The Rockets lost both games on the trip to Prince George.

Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) had an assist on his teams only goal as his Baie-Comeau Drakkar were whipped 6-1 by the Drummondville Voltigeurs. It was the Drakkar's 5th straight loss as they dropped to 13th in the QMJHL standings.

Noreau is now 4-12-16 on the season.

And finally the New York Islanders announced on Saturday that they had signed the captain of the Owen Sound Attack Mike Halmo (NYI 2011 UFA). Halmo leads Owen Sound in in scoring 40-44-84 and PIMs with 158.

It's hard to say this is a good signing by the Islanders when Halmo goes out and more than likely got himself suspended when he laid a hit on Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov. Here's the video as the hit starts about 20 seconds in.

Our point of view is that Halmo would've been okay if he had not led with his forearm but the OHL takes into account the offenders behavior when handing out suspensions. Those 158 PIMs are going to cost Halmo. Our friend Neate Sager of Buzzing The Net offers his own take but we also agree that 10 games is what most likely will cost Halmo.

For what it's worth, the Sting without their star player still shutout the Attack 4-0. This time with Scott Stajcer (NYR 2009 5th) was on the bench as a backup.

It doesn't matter who the Attack play in goal because the team does not play defense. And guess which two teams have a good chance of facing each other in the first round WHL playoffs?

Oh yeah this one will be ugly.

(Hobbs - New York Rangers, Russo - New York Islanders, Lee - Notre Dame, St. Croix - Edmonton Oil Kings)


hokygod said...

What do you want Halmo to do in that situation, let Yakupov walk into the slot, he glided into him, NO penalty was called originally, and there should have been none, he got a fighting major - didn't throw one punch, he should have stayed in the game - Domi hit on Gavrus was much worse - no call - no suspension, Halmo should have stayed in the game and NO suspension.
It's quite surprising that you don't quite have the insite into the games that you used to in the past years.

Jess Rubenstein said...

Halmo led with the forearm and stuck the head. The rules have been made clear to the players no head shots.

If Halmo goes in shoulder first then yes it is a legal hit with no call.

As for my insight, given that I am not alone in saying Halmo deserves a suspension then I would say I am doing quite fine.

hokygod said...

If you watch the play develop and watch the multiple angles, Halmo simply turned - Yakupov decided to stroll into the middle of the ice with his eyes on puck, not paying attention - then reach for the puck and dropped his head. Unless Halmo steps out of the way he's going to hit him, his arm was down - NOT extended.
The second part of the comment is for your benefit, let me explain - I used to quite like your column, and still do, but maybe not as good as it has been in the past, this year you've gotten some things wrong in games and some times all you quote is numbers, in past you used to describe a bit more of what actually happened in games and to the prospects, it wasn't just about numbers.

Jess Rubenstein said...

You are more than welcome to have your own opinion regarding the hit. A blow to the head is still going to be a blow to the head.

Halmo knew he hurt someone the moment it happened.

As for the rest again you are entitled to your opinion. And sorry constructive or valid criticism carries more weight when the person is not hiding behind a screen name or a brand new profile.