Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mindgames and misconducts

Adam Pelech (OHL Images)
Okay Friday night prospect hockey from the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects was very much on the strange side. It was a night where there were more misconducts handed out (2) than goals scored (1).

Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) was as close to earning a star than anyone else as Pelech had a 2 assist evening to help his Erie Otters earn a 6-2 win over the Ottawa 67's. The win was the first for the Otter's new head coach Kris Knoblauch.

Pelech had the secondary assist on the Otter's 1st goal which was a power play goal and then the primary assist on their 3rd goal which was also a power play goal. But then you toss in being a +2 on the night and Pelech looks like playing for Knoblauch will help his game a lot.

Pelech is now 4-22-26 on the season and will play one more game for Erie before he heads to Calgary to attend the Team Canada selection camp.

The featured game on the NHL Network USA was the Niagara IceDogs taking on the London Knights in a rematch of last season's OHL finals. If the IceDogs were looking for revenge; they did not come close to getting it losing 5-2.

The Knights came in with a 16 game winning streak as well as the best record in the OHL and they knew exactly how to stop Ryan Strome which they did perfectly. Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) saw his 15 game scoring streak (13-28-41) ended thanks to some well played defense on him by London.

London took away Strome's space to basically do anything as the Knights kept a body on him as much as possible and kept sticks on his to take away his passing game. It also kept Strome from getting the puck in a good shooting position from his linemates.

Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th)
did not play like a 7th round pick as I really liked how hard he kept working on every shift. Theoret (14-21-35) played a physically "clean" game and it was one of the few highlights Niagara had.

Theoret had a secondary assist on Niagara's 1st goal to extend his own scoring streak to 5 games (3-6-9). It will be very interesting to see how Theoret does when his linemates Strome and Brett Ritchie are away with Team Canada.

Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) had it rough as the Knights punished physically him in the defensive zone and it helped create the Knight's 1st goal. Graham also got caught flatfooted at the point and had to take down a Knight player to prevent a breakaway but the resulting penalty resulted in a power play goal for London.

Graham had the primary assist on Niagara's 2nd goal for his 10th point of the season (1-9-10) and there is so things to like about Graham's game. For starters, he can skate very well and he has some very good vision on the ice.

But Graham is just too small to take seriously as a defensive prospect at the NHL level. Move him to forward and put his speed to good use but as a defenseman; I would target him physically in the corners all night long as he doesn't have the strength to stop anyone.

Of all players, Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) was the only one to score a goal on Friday evening as his 6th ranked Denver Pioneers skated to a 2-2 overtime tie with 9th ranked North Dakota. It was Mayfield's 2nd goal of the season (his 5th career goal) and it was Denver's 2nd goal of the game.

Denver played this game with just 10 forwards because of injury and that they came away was a tie was one of the more impressive feats of the season so far. The 2 teams play each other on Saturday evening and it will be interesting to see how much Denver has in the tank.

4th ranked Notre Dame was on the NBC Sports Network taking on the Michigan State Spartans. Notre Dame won this one 3-2 but not before losing their captain and leading scorer Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th) early in the 2nd period to a "checking from behind" major and the game misconduct that goes along with it.

You know the saying "The luck of the Irish"? Well that sure came into play as during the 5 minute major; Michigan State took 2 minor penalties 26 seconds apart turning a Notre Dame penalty kill into a 4 on 3 power play that Notre Dame cashed in to take a 2-1 lead.

Robbie Russo (NYI 2011 4th) had a secondary assist on that goal to extend his scoring streak to 7 games (2-7-9) and overall to 4-9-13 which is 2nd on the team. Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) was scoreless and 1-4 on his faceoffs.

In Guelph, Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) and his Guelph Storm hosted the Owen Sound Attack in a game that turned ugly in the 3rd period. The Storm defeated the Attack 4-1 but one area that really bothers me is that misconducts are not included in penalty minute counts.

In this game there were 9 misconducts and 1 game misconduct handed out but if you look at the scoresheet then you will see that Owen Sound was called for 17 infractions for 28 minutes and Guelph 10 infractions for just 18 minutes. It looks a whole lot nicer than adding 100 PIMs in.

Pedan was scoreless, a +2 and 4 PIMs for 2 minors before he was called for an Unsportsmanlike Conduct Misconduct at 14:13 of the 3rd. Yes fighting is down in the CHL as they are just calling it everything but fighting.

In the QMJHL, Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar were in
Chicoutimi to face the Saguenéens. The Drakkar were shut out 1-0 for their 4th loss in their last 5 games.

The Drakkar ran into a goalie who they threw everything at and just could not get one past him. Noreau was credited for 3 hits for his efforts in this game.

Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) was scoreless and a +2 as his Spokane Chiefs continued to win on their Eastern road trip. The Chiefs improved to 5-0 on the trip after a 5-2 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Don't look now but Spokane are unbeaten in 9 straight (8-0-1-0) and are just 2 points behind Portland for the US division lead and 4 points behind Kamloops for the Western Conference lead.

In Edmonton it was "Teddy Bear Toss" night as the Calgary Hitmen took on the Edmonton Oil Kings. The highlight of the night was of course Edmonton scoring their 1st goal of the game which led to 10,835 bears hitting the ice which in turn is being donated to 630 CHED Santas Anonymous.

After that the night really belonged to Calgary as they turned a 0-2 deficit into a 5-2 win. And there was nothing that Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) or Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) could do about it.

Calgary and Edmonton are battling it out for the WHL's Central Division lead but Calgary has owned Edmonton this season as this was their 4th win in 4 games. It was funny the Edmonton announcers were talking about how Calgary had gotten into the Edmonton heads but I say they had the crowd and the announcer too.

Reinhart was scoreless and a -1 while St. Croix was scoreless and -3. They gave Griffin Reinhart the 3rd star but really he didn't earn it. But if there is one thing I think you should take from this game and that is this image:

Edmonton Oil Kings

This is what the NHL and NHLPA have forgotten about during their labor issues; it is a huge part of what makes hockey what it is. It is more than just the game it is the experience and what happens when the sport opens it's heart.

Finally Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) was a "coach's scratch" and I will be honest I have no idea what that means or if there is any kind of message to this.

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