Monday, May 7, 2012

Adversity is calling

Sunday was not a very happy day for the two remaining New York Ranger prospects still playing hockey at this time of year. Both suffered losses that they really have to blame themselves for and now both find their teams scrambling for answers.

Oh yes, that is for the third straight day a picture of Brendan Leipsic of the Portland Winterhawks. Why it's not because we like him (okay yeah we do) but would you like to guess who wound up with the game-winning goal in the Portland Winterhawk's 4-3 win over Michael St. Croix's (NYR 2011 4th) Edmonton Oil Kings?

Portland's win in game three of the WHL Finals was not easily earned but to Portland's credit; they took full advantage of Edmonton's mistakes and forced Edmonton into a situation of where they had to play catch-up all night long.

Edmonton played some very undisciplined hockey and it cost them this game and if they don't figure it out fast enough, quite possibly a trip to the Memorial Cup. This was the story of the first two periods of this game as you can point right to two badly timed penalties that gave Portland back-to-back power plays.

First with Portland already up 1-0, Edmonton was called for high-sticking. Portland cashed in with a power-play goal at 12:06 for a 2-0 lead. At the same time as the goal was being scored, Edmonton was being called for slashing putting Portland right back on the power play.

It only took Portland 29 seconds to score on this powerplay to make it a 3-0 game. Just a lack of discipline by the Oil Kings but good teams will always take advantage of your screw ups.

Edmonton would finally get back into the game in the third period as Michael St. Croix earned a secondary assist on Henrik Samuelsson's power-play goal 20 seconds into the period to make it 3-1. Edmonton dominated the third and if not for Leipsic's third goal of the finals at 4:37 then maybe Edmonton could have forced overtime.

Michael St. Croix earned his second assist of the game when he set up Martin Gernat's goal at 7:16 to make it a 4-2 game. Edmonton pulled to within one at 4-3 with a goal by the son of former Ranger Kevin Lowe, Keegan Lowe but that was as close as they got.

Portland now holds a 2-1 lead in the series as Edmonton finds themselves trailing in a series for the first time in the playoffs. You have to go back all the way to November 9th-12th to find the last time Edmonton had lost at least two straight games.

Another reason why we keep hyping Portland's Leipsic is that he is raising his own draft stock by elevating his game in the most important times of the season. Come draft weekend Leipsic, who really started the season as a 5th-6th round possibility is now more likely late second to early third because of his clutch play and the always 100% effort he gives you.

In the meantime Michael St. Croix who was 45-60-105 during the regular season; now St. Croix can't find the back of the net when his team needs it the most.

Game 4 will be in Portland on Tuesday night, we suggest St. Croix bring his A++ game with him.

In Humboldt Saskatchewan, Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) and his Penticton Vees had entered the RBC Cup as the top seed and one of the favorites to win the Cup.

After 2 games, the Vees find themselves 0-2 after a 3-2 overtime loss to the host team, the Humboldt Broncos. Just like the Oil King's, the Vees are in the position they are in because of a lack of discipline.

For a team used to winning and winning big, the Vees are having trouble dealing with low-scoring close games. Even Fogarty who we think deserves serious merit for Ranger prospect of the year have what we had to call a very dumb penalty.

Fogarty had broken into the Broncos zone and had made a couple of good moves to give himself a scoring chance. But when he was stopped by Humboldt's goalie, Fogarty slashed him out of nowhere and rightfully was called for.

Fogarty wasn't the only one on the Vees not playing with a lot of discipline as his teammates weren't much better at times. And we hate to say this, because it looks bad or as an excuse but we really want to see the replay of the call that was made at the end of regulation.

Humboldt got to play the first 5 minutes of overtime on a power play because of a major assessed to Kyle Beaulieu. Penticton came 3 seconds from killing off the penalty in overtime when I think they relaxed and it cost them.

And to be honest because we are new to covering the RBC Cup that we want to give the benefit of the doubt to the Referees, but we really hate the outcome of the game determined by a call.

Penticton has Monday off and returns to action Tuesday night against the Woodstock Slammers of the Maritime Junior hockey league.

Before we go we wanted to share an article written by former Windsor Spitfire Goalie John Cullen. Cullen, who just finished his junior career is writing about learning of his father's being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

We put hockey players at times on pedestals and very often don't consider that they are just as human as the rest of us.

( Leipsic - Portland Winter Hawks, Fogarty - Penticton Vees)

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