Saturday, October 13, 2012

Speed learning

Cristoval "Boo" Nieves (
Friday night hockey for the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects wasn't a bad one as the NCAA prospects joined their Junior peers in regular season play. For one young freshman, it was an opportunity to recover from a rocky first night and play well.

First Star - Cristoval "Boo" Nieves Michigan

Thursday even was a rough NCAA debut for Cristoval "Boo" Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) and we looked at how the young forward would respond. With a stick tap to Michigan coach Red Berenson, Nieves recovered quite well recording his first 2 points at the NCAA level to help 3rd ranked Michigan earn their first win of the season 7-2 over RIT.

We give Coach Berenson some props because he let Nieves know that the coach had faith in him by starting him. And to Nieve's credit, he took advantage of the opportunity. Nieves got his first NCAA point when he fed defenseman Lee Moffie who blasted a slapshot for Michigan's first goal of the game at 9:11 of the 1st period.

The 2nd assist was better as in the 2nd period, Nieves made a defensive play intercepting an attempted clearing pass then feeding Phil Di Giuseppe who wristed a shot for Michigan's 3rd goal of the game. The goal at 15:16 of the 2nd period wound up standing as the game winner.

Here are the video highlights courtesy of, the first assist is at 27 seconds. The play that I really liked was on Nieves's 2nd assist starts at 1:25 but you really want to watch how Nieves plays this.

For starters, Nieves first gets himself out of the attacking zone and positions himself so he can watch the RIT player try to clear the puck but Nieves had read the play so well that it took little effort to intercept the clearing attempt. Nieves gobbles it up then drops the puck to Di Giuseppe who scores what turns into the game winner

Overall very good bounce back effort by Nieves but his defense still needs improvement despite the scoring plays. Nieves earns points for not trying to redeem himself all at once; got to like how Nieves adapted to the flow of the game and looked really comfortable out there.

Shane McColgan (Saskatoon Blades)
Second Star Shane McColgan Saskatoon

When the Saskatoon Blades traded for Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) in the off-season, they were wanting his offensive skills to help them build scoring depth. Both the Blades and McColgan got off to a rough and slow start to their season.

Entering their game against the Kootenay Ice, McColgan was still looking for his 1st goal of the season while his Blades were looking to end a 4 game losing streak. McColgan got his first goal (and an assist) but the Blades lost to the Ice 4-3 to extend their losing streak to 5 games and the worst record in the WHL.

McColgan tried his best to end the losing streak but the Blades dug themselves a hole and once again were having to play from behind. Entering the 3rd period trailing 1-2, McColgan set up Josh Nichols at 2:34 to tie the game at 2-2. The Ice would score to regain the lead but McColgan answered back at 15:16 with his first to tie the game again.

Unfortunately the Blades coughed up the puck in their own defensive zone and the Ice scored what turned out to be the game winner just 1:08 later at 16:24. McColgan was a much improved player from his last game but it looks like he is going to have to do a whole lot more to help turn things around for the Blades.

Michael St. Croix (Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings)
Third Star Michael St. Croix Edmonton

Last year at this time Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) after 9 games (2-3-5) was struggling to find his game. What a difference a year makes as after 9 games this season, St. Croix is 5th in the WHL in scoring (5-9-14).

St. Croix had a 3 assist evening for his Edmonton Oil Kings but for the 3rd straight time this season the Calgary Hitmen defeated the Oil Kings this time 5-4 in the shootout. Can't fault St. Croix as he did his job, recording 1 primary and 2 secondary assists all on the power play.

St. Croix in his previous seasons with the Oil Kings has never had a start like this before and what is scary good is the possibility of St. Croix heating up like he has done in the past.

Right now St. Croix is on a 40-72-112 pace but think the player I gave the nickname "The Predator" is going to blow that number out of the water.

The Rest of the Prospects

Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) in the same Edmonton/Calgary game was scoreless and for a welcome change only had to kill just 2 Calgary power plays. Reinhart on defense is a guilty pleasure to watch; great on ice vision, rarely ever gets caught out of position and even better sometimes knows what the other guy is going to do before the other guy decides what he is going to do.

Islanders got a winner here. no question about it.

Brendan Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) and his Spokane Chiefs found out the hard way that the Kamloops Blazers are for real as the Blazers rolled all over the Chiefs 5-1. Kichton was scoreless as the Blazers ended Kichton's 5 game scoring streak (2-7-9) while dealing the Chiefs their 2nd loss of the season.

Defenseman Robbie Russo (NYI 2011 3rd) had a secondary assist on the game's only goal as his 13th ranked escaped their opening game of the Ice Breaker Tournament defeating Maine 1-0. Captain Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th) was held scoreless and limited to just 1 shot.

Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) making his NCAA debut had 2 shots but for the most part had a quiet game. The Irish move on to Saturday's championship game against Nebraska-Omaha.

The game will be televised on the NBC Sports Network beginning at 7:30 PM/ 4:30 PM.

Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) had a quiet NCAA debut as his top ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers had little trouble with Michigan State defeating them 5-1. Skjei was used as a 3rd pair defensemen and really don't think Skjei isn't a good player but rather he is a freshman trying to crack a lineup loaded for a NCAA run.

Let's see how Skjei works his way up the depth charts as if he can do that as a freshman on a very good Minnesota team then it will say a lot about him.

Goalie Cody Rosen (NYI 2010 7th) had a rocky debut to his season getting pulled after giving up 5 goals on 25 shots as his Clarkson Golden Knights lost to Colorado College 5-4.

Rosen a senior with little playing time during his first 3 years at Clarkson just didn't look sharp and got the yank at the 7:45 mark of the 3rd period with Clarkson trailing 5-2. The late rally just makes Rosen look even worse but can't judge him on one game.

Given how little he has gotten to play over the last 3 years, it is going to be hard to see Rosen as a serious prospect unless he has a monster season.

Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) had an assist for his 4th point of the season but it did not help his Baie-Comeau Drakkar from losing to the Rimouski Oceanic 4-2.

Noreau had a primary assist on the Drakkar's 2nd goal which gave them a 2-1 lead that the Drakkar took into the 3rd period. The Oceanic scored 3 unanswered in the 3rd to earn the win.

Noreau is 2-2-4 on the season had 2 shots, 2 minor penalties as well as 1 hit. His Drakkar fell to 4-4 on the season with the loss.

In the battle of Islander prospect defensemen, Andrey Pedan (2011 3rd) and his Guelph Storm jumped on Adam Pelech's (2012 3rd) Erie Otters for 2 goals in the first 2:22 en route to a 6-3 win. Neither player scored for his team but Pedan had a cross checking minor for his OHL leading 34th PIM.

Pelech got into his first fight of the season but for those keeping score under the new OHL rules on fighting; this one will not count towards Pelech's totals because he was not the instigator. New rules will take time and more math work to keep up with.

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