Friday, December 14, 2012

Let the games begin

Thomas Spelling (Henning Blue Fox)
Who ever would have thought it would be hard to get information on a New York Ranger prospect playing ice hockey in France? Yes that was sarcasm but trying to keep track of the New York Ranger's 2012 6th round pick Thomas Spelling as he plays for Team Denmark has been an interesting experience.

Spelling and the Portland Winterhawk's Oliver Bjorkstrand are playing for Team Denmark in the 2013 World Under-20 Hockey Championships Division 1 Group A which is taking place in Amiens France. There is no medal round in this group just a single game against the other 5 teams in the group.

It is really a sudden death competition where every game does count. Thomas Spelling has played quite well here but has been wearing a different hat than the skinny on him has said. Spelling is known as a goal scoring sniper but at this competition has been a playmaker.

After 4 games, Spelling is 1-7-8 which is 3rd overall in points but 1st in assists. His linemates Sebastien Ehlers (1st) and Bjorkstrand (4th 4-3-7) are right there with Spelling.

Team Denmark entering the last game is in 2nd place with a record of 3-0-1-0 10 points and needing help to win this group and earn a promotion to the top level. The Danes are trailing Norway by 1 point having lost to them in overtime.

So Denmark needs a regulation win over Belarus (worth 3 points) while Norway loses to Slovenia in regulation or overtime. If you are a bit confused no worries then it means you were paying attention.

Canada names it's roster

Canada is very much benefiting from the NHL lockout as the roster they announced has 7 players on it who would in a normal year be playing in the NHL and not available for the Under-20 Championships. No surprise that Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) and Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) made the squad while Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) did not.

It is a very talented group of players and I think that it is hard to see the gold medal not going to Canada. What a shame that this year the tournament is being played in Russia as you have Russia, Canada and the USA in the same group.

Game Action

With prospects heading all over the place for tryout camps or competition there was only one game with any prospects in it on Thursday as Adam Pelech to his credit made it back from the Canadian camp to play for his Erie Otters as they took on the Niagara IceDogs.

The IceDogs will be really tested over the next month as not only is Ryan Strome playing for Team Canada so are Brett Ritchie and Dougie Hamilton. You are only taking the 3 best players that the IceDogs have out of their lineup.

So it was not a surprise that the IceDogs lost to the Otters 4-2. Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) had a goal (his 15th) and Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) a secondary assist on Theoret's goal (his 10th) but they are going to have to elevate their game even more while the IceDogs are shorthanded.

Friday Night Hockey on TV

For those real hockey fans wanting something to watch then the NHL Network USA will offer the Victoria Royals visiting the Red Deer Rebels in WHL action starting at 9:30 PM EDT/ 6:30 PM PDT.

Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) and his Michigan Wolverines will host Western Michigan on the CBS Sports Network starting at 7:30 PM EDT/4:30 PM PDT. Michigan is in a slump with just 1 win in their last 7 games.

It is really strange seeing an unranked Michigan team taking on 7th ranked Western Michigan. It used to be the other way around.

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