Friday, April 20, 2012

The night before

For 3 New York Ranger and 2 New York Islander prospects; it is the evening before they step on the ice to play in for the biggest games that they've ever played in.

It is the conference championships, one step away from their league championships and two steps away from the Memorial Cup. Trying to imagine being 16 to 20 years old and playing games with this much importance placed upon them.

In the OHL, Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) and Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) are making their 2nd consecutive trip to the OHL's Eastern Conference Finals as they will be taking on the Ottawa 67's. Last year they faced the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors and were defeated in five games.

For Ryan Strome, the conference finals last season were very bad memory as he went from scoring a goal a game against the Oshawa Generals in the second round to being shut out by the Majors.

Strome took a lot of heat for not being able to score against a very tough Major's defense. Whether it's fair or not, it's not for us to say but a year wiser and we believe Strome is not going to go goalless in this series.

Mitchell Theoret is mainly a checker but if he can chip in with a couple goals then that will greatly improve Niagara's chances against the Ottawa 67's.

Since we didn't have any prospects playing on the Ottawa 67's, we didn't really get them much coverage so we are going to send you over to our friends at Buzzing The Net where Neate Sager has a very good preview to check out.

In the WHL, we have to admit that we are really pumped up about this series because for the first time we have two New York Ranger prospects going head-to-head in the WHL's Eastern Conference finals.

Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) AKA "The Truck" and his Moose Jaw Warriors with their Philadelphia Flyer "Broad Street Bullies" attitude are taking on Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) AKA "The Predator and the the highly explosive offense of the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Both teams are facing each other for the first time in the playoffs in part because this is Edmonton's longest run in a WHL Playoffs since joining the league five years ago.

This one has only one thing that people could agree on and that is it's gonna be a nailbiter that goes seven games. For us, we have picked Moose Jaw over Edmonton in large part because of the very large defense of the Warriors.

Dylan McIlrath has found his game at the right time of the year and he will be looking to stop Michael St. Croix who, while his numbers aren't anything like the regular season remains a major threat to score from everywhere.

Edmonton has a high-powered offense and a very good defense, while Moose Jaw looks to beat you down physically. In any event, this is going to be one of the more entertaining conference finals that you're going to find in the Canadian juniors.

And to be fair, here is Buzzing The Net's Kelly Friesen breaking down why he says Edmonton is going to win.  The only thing better than this would've been if we got to see this matchup in the WHL Finals.

Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) and his Penticton Vees are in Brooks, Alberta to take on the champions of the AJHL in the Doyle Cup. The winner of this series gets to move on to play in the RBC Cup, which is the national championship for the Junior A level.

We did a little digging and the format is rather interesting as the series starts in Brooks in a best-of-seven format with a twist, if there is a sweep of the first two games than the series will move on to Penticton for the remainder of the series.

Penticton could wind up hosting five games in the series was to go to seven games. But if there is a split of the first two games, then game three will be played in Brooks with the remaining four being played in Penticton.

It's interesting to note that the Brooks Bandits actually have a connection to the Rangers as current CT Whale Goalie Chad Johnson played for the Bandits before attending the University of Alaska.

Back to Fogarty who in the playoffs has gone 4-4-8 in 15 games with 2 of his goals being game winners.  Between regular season and playoffs combined Fogarty is 37-53-90 with 12 game-winning goals and 2 game-tying goals.

Next year Fogarty is playing for Notre Dame but we know the Rangers really wish he would instead play for the Edmonton Oil Kings. We understand why Fogarty wants to play college hockey, but at the same time, the thought of Michael St. Croix and Steven Fogarty on the same team is very appealing.

As for who will win the series, it's really hard to go against Penticton because of the way we've watched them play all year. But Brooks had a 20 game winning streak of their own and I think you can't overlook anyone in hockey.

The way the scheduling works Brooks really needs to win two games at home to have any chance of winning this series. Giving Penticton as many as five home games where they were 29-0-1 during the regular season is asking for trouble.

We have to say Penticton, because of the home ice advantage.

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