Saturday, April 21, 2012

It's the playoffs

Friday night was the opener of conference finals involving New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects, and tell us if you've heard this before?

The star of the night was a third line player who scores the game-winner in overtime. How many times have you seen that happen?

Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) picked a perfect time to score his first playoff goal of the season when he cashed in a rebound at the 5:10 of the first overtime, giving his Niagara IceDogs 2-1 win over the Ottawa 67's in game one of their OHL Eastern Conference Final.

It's the playoffs and sometimes your heroes are the last players that anyone would expect. Here is your video highlights of game one courtesy of the folks at Rogers Sportsnet

And you have to be happy for kids like Theoret who at times gets overlooked on a team that is so full of high level NHL prospects. Theoret was in the right place at the right time as a shot taken by linemate Brett Richie dropped right at Theoret's feet and all he had to do was tap in. It was Theoret's first playoff goal of the season and just his 3rd career playoff goal.

Teammate Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) as you saw in the highlights set up Niagara's other goal the game on a really nice feed to linemate Tom Kuhnhackl. It was Strome's 12th assist of this year's playoffs (to go along with 6 goals for a total of 18 points) as the IceDogs protect home ice with the win.

Game two will be Sunday afternoon in Niagara.

In Edmonton, the Edmonton Oil Kings and Moose Jaw Warriors may have finished 1-2 in the WHL's Eastern conference standings, but if game one is any indication of how the series might go then there's a huge gap. The Oil Kings behind a 4 goal second period whipped the Warriors 6-1 to grab a 1-0 series lead.

The biggest difference in this game was special teams as the Oil Kings was dominant, especially on the penalty kill not allowing the Warriors to score on 6 power-play opportunities. Edmonton's secondary scoring also was a huge factor as they were getting contributions from their second and third lines.

As for the Ranger prospects first Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) had a decent first period but was invisible in the second when the Oil Kings broke the game open and had a couple of good chances in the third. During the second, Edmonton's other lines were playing so well that St. Croix and his line got to sit as Coach Derek Laxdal did the smart thing and went with his hot players.

Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) had a frustrating game because it just seemed what could go wrong did. For example, McIlrath blocked a shot only to have it go right on the stick of an Oil King who promptly scored.

It was that kind of night for McIlrath as he would make a couple of plays, but the Oil King's team speed was too much as they got to every loose puck and were able to make plays all night long.

McIlrath frustrations got the best of him and he took a 10 minute unsportsmanlike misconduct late in the second, which kept him off the ice for most of the third. One penalty and McIlrath more than doubled his total PIMs that he had received in nine previous games.

Edmonton's win was also their 20th consecutive win dating back to the regular season as they improved to 9-0 in the playoffs this year. As for Moose Jaw, a very disappointing effort by the entire team and they have more questions than answers with only a single day off to find answers.

In the Doyle Cup, the Brook Bandits of the AJHL discovered the hard way what the Penticton Vees of the BCHL can do. In game one of the best-of-seven series, the Vees had little trouble defeating the Bandits 7-2 to take a 1-0 series lead.

Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) was scoreless but while serving a high-sticking minor in the first his teammates scored a shorthanded goal. The way this series is set up, Brooks has to win Saturday night in game two or the series will shift to Penticton for the rest of the series.

If Brooks does win then game three will be played Sunday in Brooks. Otherwise, game 3 will be Tuesday in Penticton.

(Theoret- Terry Wilson of OHL Images)

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