Saturday, October 20, 2012

Big play Friday

Michael St. Croix (Edmonton Oil Kings)
Friday night prospect hockey saw several of the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects make key plays that helped their team win. Yes it is early in the season but for the younger prospects; making big plays now hopefully will give them the confidence to make those same plays come playoff time.

Tonight's Star Michael St. Croix Edmonton

People have been talking about the fast start Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) had gotten off to but there remained one thing missing from his game. The player I like to call the "Predator" just had not dominated a game like he did so many times last season.

I had not seen St. Croix put a team on the ropes then finish them off; that is until Friday night when St. Croix led his Edmonton Oil Kings to a 5-1 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors. St. Croix recorded his first hat trick of the season as he rang up 3 power play goals including the game winner.

With the score tied at 1-1, St Croix picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired it up and over Moose Jaw goalie Daniel Wapple to give the Oil Kings the lead for good at 12:12 of the first period. The game's first star, St. Croix's hat trick gave him 5 power play goals on the season along with his 2nd game winner.

In the second period with the Oil Kings already up 3-1, St. Croix put the game away first taking a pass from linemate Dylan Wruck and converting to make it 4-1 at 11:43. St. Croix made it a hat trick when he grabbed a rebound and converted that one to make it 5-1.

The game was over as far as the scoring goes as Edmonton picked up the win. For St. Croix, the hat trick improved his stats to 8-9-17 (9th in the WHL) and his 99th career goal as a member of the Oil Kings.

Adam Pelech (OHL Images)
Honorable Mention Adam Pelech Erie

Last night I got on Adam Pelech's (NYI 2012 3rd) case for getting into a fight over a clean check and the resulting penalties that led to the only goals that Windsor scored and costing his Erie Otters the game. Friday night showed just how important Pelech is to the Otters by scoring a huge goal to help his Otters defeat the London Knight 3-2 in the shootout.

Pelech scored his 2nd goal of the season; a power play goal at 4:39 of the 2nd period which tied the game at 2-2 and led to the Otters earning the win in the shootout. It was a huge confidence building win for the young Otters especially since this was already their 8th road game (out of 11) as they try to rebuild the franchise.

This is why Pelech needs to concentrate on staying on the ice and be very selective as to when he fights. Yes I know defending a teammate is important but Pelech is the "veteran" defensemen and the Otters need him on the ice not in the box or in the locker room.

Pelech's goal was the kind that coaches want to see from their point men; Pelech found himself a spot in the high slot and positioned himself for a one timer. It was a nice goal that froze London's goalie Kevin Balle as it went through traffic to find it's way into the net.

Pelech is now 2-6-8 on the season.

Cristoval Nieves (
Honorable Mention Cristoval Nieves Michigan

Forget calling him "Boo" as Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) setup his 2nd straight game winning goal to help his 6th ranked Michigan Wolverines to an 6-3 win over the Bentley Falcons. Call him "Money" if he keeps setting up game winning goals.

In the 3rd period with Michigan up 3-2 off a face off Nieves grabbed a loose puck and put it right into the slot where teammate Alex Guptill was waiting and Guptill tapped it in for a 4-2 Michigan lead. Nieves has 3 assists on the season but 2 have set up game winning goals for Michigan and I seriously doubt anyone expected this kind of start out of Nieves.

Robbie Russo (Notre Dame)
Honorable Mention Robbie Russo Notre Dame

Defenseman Robbie Russo's (NYI 2011 4th) first goal of the season proved to be the game winner as 10th ranked Notre Dame earned a split in their series with 13th ranked Minnesota-Duluth after a 4-1 win. Russo scored a power play goal at 17:28 of the 1st period giving Notre Dame a 2-0 lead.

Russo (1-1-2) had a very strong game taking 6 shots on goal and a +2. With the win Notre Dame improves to 3-1 on the season.

The Rest of the Prospect Action

Sticking with the Notre Dame game, Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th) was credited for the primary assist on Russo's goal for his 2nd assist of the season and 3rd point of the season. Lee also had 6 shots on goal and was even for the game.

Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) took 2 shots and was a +1 for the game.

In the first big upset of the college hockey season, Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) and his top ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers were defeated by Michigan Tech 5-3. Skjei was scoreless on 1 shot and a -1 but also took a holding penalty that Michigan Tech turned into a power play goal.

In Denver, defenseman Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) and his 8th ranked Denver Pioneers made their season debut hosting UMass-Lowell. Denver did have much trouble defeating UMass-Lowell 5-1 as Mayfield was scoreless with no shots, a +1 and a minor for tripping.

In Edmonton, defenseman Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) was scoreless and a +1 in his Edmonton Oil King's 5-1 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors. Reinhart and his teammates blanked the Warriors on their 6 power plays.

In Spokane, defenseman Brendan Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) and his Spokane Chiefs defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 2-1 to earn a split in their home and home series. Kichton was scoreless with a +1 for the Chiefs who held Seattle to just 15 shots for the game.

Everyone talks about Kichton's offensive skills so it is easy to overlook that he can play defense too.

In Swift Current, center Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) and his Saskatoon Blades dominated the Swift Current Broncos in every area except on the scoreboard. The Broncos despite being out shot 44-28 defeated the Blades 2-1.

McColgan was held scoreless breaking a 4 game scoring streak as Saskatoon saw their 3 game winning streak end as well.

In Guelph, defenseman Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) and his Guelph Storm extended their unbeaten streak to 7 games (6-0-0-1) after whipping the Sarnia Sting 6-3. Pedan scored his 3rd goal of the season to improve to 3-2-5 on the season.

The Storm are 7-2-0-1 good for the 2nd best record in the OHL's Western Conference. Pedan also earned also picked up a minor penalty to give him 36 for the season (3rd in the OHL).

In the QMJHL, Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th) and his Cape Breton Screaming Eagles were whipped on the road 5-1 by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. This one was much worse than the score shows as the Screaming Eagles were out shot 54-23 as they extended their winless streak to 5 games (0-4-1-0).

Leduc was a -3 and had a single hit for his evening.

Defenseman Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) had a very quiet night as his Baie-Comeau Drakkar were defeated at home by the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.

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