Saturday, April 28, 2012

Everybody's a winner (almost)

The New York Rangers and the New York Islanders should have a night like their prospects did as 4 prospects got to raise a trophy to the sky on Friday night.

In Penticton, Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) had a 4 point (2-2-4) night to help lead his Penticton Vees to a 6-2 win over the Brooks Bandits to capture the Doyle Cup in 5 games. The Vees win the Doyle Cup for the 1st time since 1986 and earn a berth in the RBC Cup (Canadian Junior "A" Championship).

For Fogarty, this was his breakout game as he had a rather quiet BCHL Playoffs and only registered a single assist in the previous four games of the Doyle Cup. Fogarty didn't wait very long to get his night going as he set up Joey Benik for Penticton's 1st goal of the game; an even strength goal at 5:05 and Penticton never looked back.

At 9:40 of the 1st, Fogarty made 2-0 with his 1st goal of the game on the power play when he jumped on a rebound and put it in the net. In the 2nd with Penticton up 4-1, Fogarty scored his 2nd of the game with another power-play goal as he fired a shot over the goalie's shoulder from the high slot.

Fogarty also added a secondary assist on Penticton's 5th goal of the game to complete his 4 point night.  For his efforts. Fogarty was named the game's 2nd star.

Next up for the Vees will be the RBC Cup which starts on May 5 in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. The Penticton Vees when they were known as the Penticton Knights won the Centennial Cup in 1986 just like they did the Doyle Cup.

Ryan Strome's (NYI 2011 1st) 1st goal in 8 games got his Niagara IceDogs going and the IceDogs held off a very tough Ottawa 67's team 3-2 to win game 5 of their OHL Eastern Conference Championship series.

The win gave Niagara the series 4-1 as the IceDogs won their first OHL Eastern Conference Championship since the franchise moved to St. Catherines from Mississauga in 2007. The IceDogs move on to the OHL Finals where they will face the London Knights for the OHL Championship and a sport in the Memorial Cup.

Strome scored his 7th goal of the OHL playoffs just 2:02 into the game on a power play for a 1-0 Niagara lead. The lead lasted for just 1:02 when Ottawa would tie the game with a power play goal of their own.

Strome would get to spend time in the penalty box when he found himself in his 2nd fight of the year with Ottawa's Tyler Toffoli in the 1st period. Niagara would take the lead while Strome was in the penalty box and added another goal in the 2nd period to make it a 3-1 game.

Ottawa would not go away as they pulled to within one goal and in the 3rd period would press to try to get the equalizer. Niagara went into a defensive shell and it was a risky move, but it paid off.

Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) who had 2 game winning goals earlier in the series was held scoreless. Now Theoret, Strome and the IceDogs will be off until next Thursday when the OHL finals will begin.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and his Edmonton Oil Kings made it a hat trick of Championships after the Oil Kings eliminated Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) and his Moose Jaw Warriors in 5 games after a 4-1 win.

The win gave the Oil Kings their very 1st WHL Eastern Conference Championship since the franchise was reborn 5 years ago. The Oil Kings move on to face the Portland Winterhawks for the WHL Championship and there's a great story right here about how both teams have a common history.

St. Croix got his Oil Kings going when he scored his 5th goal of the playoffs just 2:46 into the game into the game at even strength. The story of this game was special teams as Edmonton dominated both the penalty kill and the power play.

Edmonton stopped all 7 of Moose Jaw's power plays while cashing in on 2 out of 3 power plays of their own. There was going to be no miracles from the 16-year-old goalie Justin Paulic who gave it his best but it wasn't good enough against a very determined Oil King team.

Edmonton will host the first two games of the WHL Finals Thursday and Friday.

Dylan McIlrath saw his WHL season (and career) come to a sad ending but while this door is closing; a new one will be opening as we expect McIlrath will be signed to an ATO by the Rangers and sent to join the CT Whale as they get ready to play in the 2nd round of the AHL playoffs.

We're been lucky enough to watch Dylan over the last couple years and yeah he has some rough spots that he needs to polish before he becomes a permanent member of the New York Rangers.

But what we're going to remember is this picture of a young man giving up his Friday night so he could read to a bunch of younger children. McIlrath may be 6'5, but his heart is twice that size and we believe Ranger fans will love him, not only on but also off the ice.

But I really feel sorry for the first NHL player who decides to try.  McIlrath on as it will be a surprising result for that player.


What a wonderful year this has been for the prospects and it's still going


Chris Kreider - NCAA champion

Steven Fogarty- BCHL champion, Doyle Cup champion

Michael St. Croix- WHL Eastern Conference Champion

The Islanders didn't do too badly either

Brock Nelson - WCHA Final Five champion and MVP

Ryan Strome - OHL Eastern Conference Champion, bronze medal winner at World under-20.

Mitchell Theoret- OHL Eastern Conference Champion

(Fogarty- Penticton Vees, Strome - Aaron Bell of OHL Images, St. Croix- Edmonton Oil Kings, McIlrath- Moose Jaw Warriors)

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