Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Don't forget about us

While the big story of the day was the New York Rangers coming to terms with Chris Kreider, the night belonged to the rest of the prospects of both the Rangers and New York Islanders.

It's playoff hockey and you want your best prospects showing up in crucial games. Tuesday night was for everybody that played a Game 3 and as you know, the third game of the series can be the turning point of said series.

Tonight was a very impressive showing from coast to coast and no matter which team you root for you came away a happy camper.

We have to start with Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) of the Niagara IceDog as Strome had 4 assists (3 were primary) to help his IceDogs to a 6-3 win over the Brampton Battalion in game 3 of their series. The win gives the IceDogs a 3-0 series lead, which may have taken all of the fight out of the Battalion.

Brampton had actually jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the 1st period and was looking pretty good. That is until Strome and his linemates Freddie Hamilton and Tom Kuhnhackl went to work. First Strome set up Tom Kuhnhackl to get Niagara on the scoreboard at 15:34 of the 1st period.

The IceDogs tied the game early in the second period and then Strome set up Freddie Hamilton for a goal at 7:18 giving the IceDogs their first lead of the game at 3-2. Brampton did not quit as they scored yet again to tie the game at 3-3.

The IceDogs would regain the lead for good on a power-play goal and then in the 3rd period, Strome earned his 3rd assist of the evening setting up a shorthanded goal for a 5-3 IceDogs lead.

Strome was credited with the secondary assist on Niagara's 6th goal of the game for his 4th point of the night. Altogether, Strome and his linemates combined for an 11 point evening (Hamilton 3-2-5, Strome 0-4-4 and Kuhnhackl 2-0-2) as they swept the stars of the game (Strome got second star).

Strome is 6-9-15 which is good for 5th in the OHL playoff scoring race. Teammate Michell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) was scoreless and a +1 for the night as Niagara will look to end the series Thursday night in Brampton.

So while all the attention has been focused on Chris Kreider and JT Miller this season, there has been a third Ranger first-round pick who is going to be quite capable of being an impact player himself. His name is Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) and he is thinking about taking the next step himself.

While everybody wants to talk about all the offense the Rangers will be having in the future, McIlrath is gonna be there taking care of the defense. Against the Medicine Hat Tigers in game 3 of their series, McIlrath was a defensive force all night long.

McIlrath put on a clinic on how to play defense without taking a single penalty. Whether he was disrupting shooting lanes or passing lanes or forcing players to change direction; McIlrath was a force and because of that force his Moose Jaw Warriors won game 3 4-2 to take a 3-0 series lead.

McIlrath was special tonight, on the road with just an assist earning the game's first star because his presence dictated how Medicine Hat tried to run their offense.

McIlrath turned Emerson Etem, the Tigers leading scorer into a nonfactor as Etem had neither time or space to get into any offense flow. Moose Jaw goes for the sweep on Wednesday night with a birth in the WHL's Eastern Conference Final has the prize.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and his Edmonton Oil Kings spotted the Brandon Wheat Kings a 1-0 first period lead, only to score 5 unanswered goals over the course of the 2nd and 3rd periods to overpower the Wheat Kings 5-1 to take a 3-0 lead in their playoff series.

Everybody talks about Edmonton's high-powered offense but for us what turned this game around for them was a total shutdown of Brandon's offense in the 2nd period. There was nothing that Brandon could do to get anything offensively going as Edmonton held them to just two shots in the 2nd while tying and taking the lead.

St. Croix had 2 primary assists in tonight's game (but still no goals) as he earned the game 2nd star. The first assist came on Edmonton's first goal game in the 2nd period and the other was a power-play assist in the third, which pretty much put away the game.

St. Croix now is 2-5-7 as Edmonton also looks for the sweep Wednesday night for their spot in the WHL's Eastern Conference final. By the way here is a nice feature on St. Croix getting the chance to to play in front of friends and family

Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) and his Penticton Vees put on an amazing comeback in the third period where they twice came back from being down by 2 goals scoring the tying goal with 16 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Vees capped the comeback with a game-winning goal at 5:01 of the first overtime for a 4-3 win over the Powell River Kings and a 3-0 lead in the Fred Page Cup(BCHL Finals).

Fogerty didn't score but he was a key part of scoring the tying goal in the third as the River Kings goalie Sean Maguire stopped him on one shot then Fogarty hit the post on the second. Fogarty and his linemates kept up the pressure in the attacking zone, enabling the game-tying goal to be scored.

Penticton goes for their 2nd Championship in 5 years on Wednesday night, which would give the Ranger prospects their 2nd championship in less than a week.

JT Miller (NYR 2011 1st) if you go strictly by the scoresheet would look like he didn't play a very good game on Tuesday night. No points, two minor penalties, including one that led to a Kitchener Ranger goal, but he was a +2.

We will turn to our friend Neate Sager of Buzzing The Net; who wrote this about Miller and his linemates:

So the Whalers are 2-for-2 with No. 1 pivot Stefan Noesen out of the lineup? Whalers coach-GM Mike Vellucci's temporary Rickard Rakell-J.T. Miller-Wilson first line, which might well consist of three first-round NHL picks depending on how high Wilson is selected in June, scored the first three Whalers goals. Make no mistake, though, they were reaping the reward from Plymouth keeping perpetual pressure on Gibson and the Rangers defenders. The Whalers had 40-plus shots for the third consecutive game, firing 41 on the Anaheim Ducks second-round pick.

Miller and his Plymouth Whalers scored 4 times in the third period to come from behind and defeat the Kitchener Rangers 4-2. The win gives Plymouth a 2-1 series lead, but more importantly for them regains the home ice advantage they lost in game one.

Game 4 will be Wednesday night in Kitchener.

Kirill Kabanov (NYI 2010 3rd) set up the game's first goal for his Shawinigan Cataractes as they were able to edge the Chicoutimi Saguenéens 2-1 to take a 2-1 series lead and regain the home ice advantage they had lost.

Strong defensive game by both teams which limited Kabanov to a playoff low 1 shot on goal. Game 4 will be Wednesday night.

For a while it really looked like Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and the Baie-Comeau Drakkar were actually going to pull off an upset in game three of their QMJHL playoff series with the Saint John Sea Dogs. The Drakkar even lead 2-1 almost to the end of the second period.

But one mistake allowed Saint John to tie the game at 18:55 of the second and then, as they say, good teams find ways to win. The Sea Dogs scored 3 times in the 3rd to win 5-2 and take a 3-0 series lead.

Noreau as he has been throughout the playoffs was scoreless on three shots. Game 4 will be Wednesday night in Baie-Comeau.

(Strome- Niagara IceDogs, McIlrath- Moose Jaw Warriors, Forgarty- Penticton Vees

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