|Brady Skjei (Minnesota Golden Gophers)|
In watching Team USA at the World Under-20 Championships against Canada; there were 2 areas in which if Team USA had followed then the outcome of the 2-1 loss might of been different. The first was getting bodies in the crease area to set screens and to force the defense to concentrate on his presence.
Instead all 5 players on the ice whether it was at even strength or on the power play spent their time on the outside which made Canada's defense look way stronger than what it really was.
Team USA by not getting pucks and bodies to the net at the same time was making Canadian goalie Malcolm Subban look like a future Hall of Famer. Really Subban has it easy for most of the game as he had clear vision on just about every shot and a defense in front of him to clear rebounds.
The old cliche of "Good things can happen when you get the puck on the net" is the truth here as the more bodies in the crease area then the harder you make it for the goalie.
The other area which cost the USA was whatever caused their brains to stop working as they were trying to tie the game. They had the game's momentum turning into their favor but then on ice discipline disappeared.
5 straight penalties that were all bad penalties and sorry one can't complain about the officiating here. The IIHF has made it clear about head shots and the refs have been consistent in calling them.
So now the US has to beat Slovakia to grab the 3rd spot in the medal round. Don't take Slovakia lightly as they put scares into Russia and Canada despite losing.
Rest of the Prospects
Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) and his 4th ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers were taking on the top ranked Boston College Eagles in a rematch of last year's Frozen Four semi-final won by Boston College 6-1. This was the finals of the Mariucci Classic and really a Minnesota home game with a sellout crowd of 10230 in attendance.
Minnesota got payback and then some with a 8-1 whipping of the Eagles to win the Mariucci Classic. No Skeji did not register points as Minnesota treated this as a NCAA tournament preview.
Too many people are seeing that he is a 1st round pick and forgetting that he is just 18. In my lifetime I have only known 2 players who at 18 had their game perfected and sorry Skjei is not the next Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky.
Skjei got time on both special team units because of the game being a blowout late in the game. Defeating number one in the USA is a huge confidence booster and it will pay dividends down the road.
Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) and his Michigan Wolverines defeated Michigan State 5-2 to claim 3rd place in the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit. It helped stop the bleeding for a Michigan team that is under 500 (7-10-2) which is a rare event for this program.
Nieves had a secondary assist on Michigan's 4th goal as that raises Nieves to 3-10-13 which is good for 2nd on the Michigan team. Nieves also was 9-9 on faceoffs and a +1.
Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) was scoreless while taking 4 shots as his Baie-Comeau Drakkar defeated the Chicoutimi Saguenéens 2-1 for their 3rd straight win. The win helps keep the Drakkar in 4th place in the QMJHL standings and 3 points behind division leading Rimouski.
Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) and his Saskatoon Blades are back to struggling as the Blades dropped their 4th straight game; this time it was 6-2 to the Regina Pats. McColgan was held scoreless to end his 9 game scoring streak (4-9-13).
This is a team that really not good enough to play in the Memorial Cup let alone host it.
World Under-20 Preview
It is really this simple; show up ready to play from the first puck drop. Heep the game simple and keep (a) playing a disciplined game and (b) get pucks and body to the net.