Thursday, April 12, 2012


Maybe it is an omen about what lies ahead but for the second time in a week, a New York Ranger prospect got to lift the championship trophy over his head. Congratulations to Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) and his Penticton Vees after they defeated the Powell River Kings 3-2 to earn a 4 game sweep and win the Fred Page Trophy as the 2012 BCHL champions.

It was a truly hard fought win for the Vees as they really had to hold on for dear life in the later stages of the 3rd period. Powell River threw everything they could at Penticton and had the Vees on their heels.

Penticton was also got some help as what looked to be the tying goal was waved off by the refs after they said the puck had been kicked in.

Junior A hockey in Canada is a bit different as now Penticton moves on to face the winners of the Alberta Junior Hockey League in the Doyle Cup which will begin on April 20. If Penticton wins that then they will move on to play in the RBC Cup which is given to the Canadian National Junior A Champion.

As for Fogarty, his play during this series is not going to win style points for his offense because pucks just were not going in for him. Still Fogarty was a very important player for Penticton especially during the late stages of games with 3 of the 4 games being one goal games and Fogarty was just flat out impressive defensively.

It seems like every defensive draw was taken by Fogarty and we would say he won at the very least 75% of them (BCHL did not offer stat sheets). It sounds a little crazy singing the praises of a player who got our attention because of his offense during the regular season but really defensively Fogarty offers the potential to be a shutdown defensive forward who can come in with size and win face-offs in the close games.

We can boldly make one prediction that will come true and that is a New York Ranger prospect will get to play for the WHL Championship. That's the good news as the bad news is to Ranger prospects will be facing off for that right as Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and his Edmonton Oil Kings will be taking on Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) and his Moose Jaw Warriors.

First Michael St. Croix and the Oil Kings eliminated the Brandon Wheat Kings in four games after a very convincing 6-0 win in game four. If you want to talk about a message sending game then for Edmonton this was it as this game was a no contest after 15 minutes as Edmonton scored 4 times on their first 12 shots to grab a 4-0 lead and never looked back.

Edmonton was able to do a lot of damage without getting any kind of significant contribution from St. Croix who hasn't scored a goal in six games. It's not like St. Croix is playing badly but rather the efforts of being focused to stop his line and as good teams do, other players are stepping up.

Still for Edmonton to be able to get past their next opponent the Moose Jaw Warriors, St. Croix has got to find the back of the net. It's basically going to be the speed and skill of Edmonton going against the huge physical force called Moose Jaw.

If you were to ask us who would be our Ranger prospect playoff MVP then right now the leading choice has to be Dylan McIlrath. Sure it's great when you get people who can score highlight reel goals but what about the people who shut down the offensive weapons that the other team has?

Yes Emerson Etem really wasn't out there for two games because of his ejection and then suspension but when he was there he was rendered ineffective. If anything ineffective would be the way to describe the Medicine Hat Tiger offense in the series.

Moose Jaw was able to climb out of a 1-3 hole in the first period and come all the way back for a 4-3 overtime win that eliminates Medicine Hat.If you wish to talk difference maker then go look at McIlrath's stats for the series as the first thing we want to point out was zero penalty minutes.

McIlrath was a disruptive force, a physical force, and a one-man wrecking crew but not once was he called for single penalty. Etem after going 7-5-12 in four games in the opening round was held to one single assist and that came in game four. In fact offensively the Medicine Hat Tigers scored three goals just once during the series and that came in the first period of game four.

Moose Jaw held the Tigers to just four goals over the rest of the entire series. That is shut down defense and if Moose Jaw plays like this in the Eastern Conference final then they will defeat Edmonton.

Unfortunately were going to have to wait until April 20 for the start of the series.

In the OHL, the series between the Plymouth Whalers and Kitchener Rangers is all tied up at two games each after Kitchener defeated Plymouth 5-1 in game four. A complete and total turnaround from Tuesday night's game as JT Miller (NYR 2011 1st) and his linemates were dominating in game three but in game four they were the ones who were dominated.

Miller has just not produced offensively in this series with just one assist in the first four games. If Plymouth has any hope of advancing to the OHL Western Conference finals then they need Miller to start scoring before it's too late.

Game five will be Saturday night in Plymouth with game six Sunday in Kitchener.

In the QMJHL, Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar saw saw their season come to an end after losing game four 5-3 to the Saint John Sea Dogs. We got to give a lot of credit to the Drakkar for putting up a really good fight despite outclassed and outplayed during the first two games of the series.

Games three and four were competitive and the Drakkar had chances to win but failed to take advantage of them. It will be interesting to see how the Drakkar shape up for next season as while they struggled with inconsistency this year, in the end they showed some good promise.

Noreau in eight games did not score and had two fights during this series. We would be surprised if the Rangers brought him to the CT Whale to play as Noreau has not shown us anything that offers NHL potential.

Noreau finishes the season 5-12-17 +1 with 92 PIMs. He has a lot of work to do this off-season if he wishes to merit consideration for contract next season as Noreau we know can fight but he has to do a lot more than that especially on the defensive side.

Kirill Kabanov (NYI 2010 3rd) was the only New York Islander prospect playing on Wednesday night and his Shawinigan Cataractes dropped a 2-1 decision to the Chicoutimi Saguenéens in game four of their series tying it up at two games each.

Kabanov had an assist on the Cataractes only goal but he also only took one shot and he has to do a whole lot more than this if the Cataractes are to advance any further in the QMJHL playoffs. We're seeing the numbers, we see the scoring chances but not what should be the finished product.

The Cataractes maybe the host of the 2012 Memorial Cup but what they do not want to see happen is for them to have close to a month off before getting to play again. Game five will be in Shawinigan on Friday night.

(Fogarty- Penticton Vees, St. Croix- Edmonton Oil Kings, McIlrath- Moose Jaw Warriors)

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