Saturday, September 15, 2012

Friday Night Hockey

Michael St. Croix (Edmonton Oil Kings)
It wasn't a bad way to start our final weekend of CHL preseason as the New York Rangers signed 2011 4th round pick Michael St. Croix to an entry level contract. The message from the Rangers is crystal clear; if you work hard and follow their plan for your development then you will be rewarded.

St. Croix becomes the 2nd member of the Ranger's 2011 draft class to sign an entry level contract. It continues a greatly improved effort by the Rangers to sign their draft picks and turn them into professional players.

Since the 2008 draft class the Rangers have signed 18 out of 22 draft picks (this includes Oscar Lindberg who the Rangers traded the rights to Ethan Werek for). Call that another feather in the cap for Gordie Clark and his scouting staff.

Friday St Croix was in the lineup for his Edmonton Oil Kings as they faced the Red Deer Rebels. One of my favorite people in the prospect world, Guy Flaming of The Pipeline Show was at the game and we exchanged tweets.

Guy (@TPS_Guy) and his partner Dean (@TPS_Dean) are 2 very knowledgeable guys who cover the world of North American prospect college. They are insightful on both the juniors and the NCAA.

Guy said that St. Croix was "average" while Corey Graham the voice of the Oil Kings said St. Croix was good. Poor Guy no sooner than he calls St. Croix "average" when the Predator strips a Rebel of the pick and almost scores the game winner.

St. Croix didn't get the game winner but the defending WHL champions still found a way to earn a 2-1 overtime win over the Rebels. Either way the Oil Kings won and next Thursday will open the WHL season with a banner raising ceremony as they begin their quest to repeat as WHL champs.

In Tri-City, the Spokane Chiefs and their arch rivals the Tri-City Americans had a typical war of a game for them. Spokane with New York Islander prospect Brendan Kichton (2011 5th) wearing the "C" on his jersey jumped out to a 4-0 lead and then held on for a 4-2 win.

Kichton playing in just his 2nd preseason game of the year contributed a power play goal and a secondary assist. It is looking more and more that Kichton will have to start the season in Spokane because of the NHL lockout.

Bad news for Kichton and the rest of the WHL but the Spokane Chiefs have to be very happy. Kichton was only the best defenseman in the WHL's Western Conference last season and led all WHL defenders in scoring 17-57-74.

Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) was not in the Saskatoon Blade lineup as they visited the Regina Pats. McColgan has been nursing a minor knee injury and it is doubtful that he plays until the regular season.

In the OHL, Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) set up one goal in regulation then scored scored the game winner in the shootout as his Niagara IceDogs defeated the Windsor Spitfires 4-3 (SO). If Strome was upset about being assigned back to the IceDogs by the Islanders; he didn't show any sign of it.

No word on the status of Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) but CT Whale Asst Coach Jeff Buekeboom's son Brock had a very strong game for the IceDogs. Rumors have been circulating that the Rangers are interested in Brock and if that is the case then give young Buekeboom credit for putting on a great show.

Only one other game with an Islander prospect and that was Andrey Pedan (2011 3rd) and his Guelph Storm defeating the Brampton Battalion 4-1. It gave the Storm a split of their home and home series with the Battalion who suffered their first loss of the preseason.

No details on Pedan and not sure if Pedan even played as he did not dress on Thursday and the Storm only dressed 19 for this game. Hope Pedan is not starting the season in the coach's doghouse.

Oscar Lindberg (Skelleftea)

Swedish Ranger Prospect Action

The Swedish Elite League got underway on Thursday evening with 2 Ranger prospects standing out on their opening evenings. Jesper Fast (2010 6th) made sure his first goal of the season counted scoring at 3:18 of overtime to lead his HV71 to a 3-2 win over Färjestad.

2012 4th rd pick Calle Andersson was not in the lineup for Färjestad. Andersson is listed as a junior player by the team so he will most likely split his time with Farjestad's Under-20 squad.

Oscar Lindberg (Trade) had a 1-2-3 evening in his debut as his team Skelleftea jumped all over MODO for 5 straight goals enroute to a 5-1 win. Lindberg is playing with former Los Angeles King Oscar Moller and former Seattle Thunderbird Bud Holloway and they combined for a 4-6-10 on the night.

Lindberg had a secondary assist on Skelleftea's first goal, scored Skelleftea's 4th goal with 1 second remaining in the first period and then the primary assist on the team's 5th goal. Not bad for a guy who is supposed to be a defensive forward.

Thomas Spelling (2012 6th) did not dress in Rogle's loss to 3-1 loss to Lulea. Like Andersson, Spelling is listed as a junior so it looks like he will be splitting time with Rogle's Under-20 team.

College Hockey on NBCSN

Those of you who think there won't be any hockey to watch while the NHL is on lockout should think again.

Here is the schedule for the NBC Sports Network and the games involving Ranger and Islander prospects.

10/12: Notre Dame (Steven Fogarty NYR, Anders Lee and Robbie Russo NYI) vs. Maine, 7 pm in the opener of the Ice Breaker Tournament. If Notre Dame wins then you can see them play in the championship game the next night.

11/30: Wisconsin vs. Denver (Scott Mayfield NYI) at 10 pm.

12/7: Michigan State vs. Notre Dame at 7:30 pm.

1/11/13: Nebraska-Omaha vs. Denver at 10 pm.

2/1: Dartmouth vs. Union (Cody Rosen NYI) at 7:30 pm.

2/22: North Dakota vs. Denver at 10 pm.

(All Times Eastern)

There will also be college hockey on the CBS Sports Network as well as the Big Ten Network.

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