Sunday, December 30, 2012

The calm before the battle

Ryan Strome (CP/Nathan Denette)
It is Canada vs Team USA time at the World Under-20's and at stake just could be the bye into the semi-finals. Really when it comes to both nation's fans, the game could be for a bunch of doughnuts but the intensity will be equally as high.

The game is going to start at 1:30 AM PDT so those of us on the west coast can stay up and watch the game live. Canada needs the win to go into Monday's matchup with the Russians with a 1 point edge while the US with a win will clinch a spot in the medal round eliminating Slovakia.

Canada will be shorthanded because of suspensions but they still in my book have more than enough firepower to defeat Team USA. If Team USA can force Canada to take penalties as well as playing a physical game then they could wear the shorthanded Canadians down.

As for the prospects playing in North America, two prospects looked like they would earn a star but looking closer told a different story. 2012-2013 is fast becoming the year of the strange.

Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd)
was our almost star as the Erie Otter defenseman had a 0-2-2 +3 evening in helping the Otters to a 6-4 win over the Barrie Colts. The assists turned out to be secondary one and Pelech took a penalty that led to a Barrie power play goal that cut Erie's lead to 1 goal in the 3rd period.

Still kudos to Pelech and this year's Otter's team as they have passed last year's win total's with their 12th win. The Otters remain in the hunt for a playoff spot something they did not look like could happen earlier this season.

Pelech and his 2 assists improve his numbers to a career best 5-24-29 but his 67 PIMs are 9th in the OHL.

Last night's star Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) and teammate Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) were on the wrong end of the score as their Niagara IceDogs were spanked 7-3 by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

Neither player scored as Graham (-2) and Theoret (-1) saw their team give up 4 goals in the 1st period then 3 more in the 2nd. For Theoret, his 9 game scoring streak ended (6-8-14)but Theoret is having a career season at 17-23-40.

Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) had 2 assists but his Spokane Chiefs were beaten on home ice by the Kootenay Ice 7-3. Kichton had the primary assists on Spokane's 2nd and 3rd goals which at the time gave Spokane a 3-2 lead but Kootenay then scored 5 unanswered goals to avenge a 1-0 loss on Friday night to Spokane.

For Kichton, the assists improved his stats to 9-33-42 on the season.

Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) set up the first goal of the game for his Saskatoon Blades but the Prince Albert Raiders then scored 5 straight goals on their way to a 5-2. Back to back losses for the Blades to the di leading Raiders leave them 12 points behind the Raiders but also in 6th place in the WHL's Eastern Conference as they lost their 3rd straight.

The assist for McColgan was his 27th on the season as he is now 10-27-37. McColgan is also on a 9 game scoring streak (4-9-13).

Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) and his 15th ranked Denver Pioneers played host to the 6th ranked Boston University Terrier but were not so nice hosts handing the Terriers a 6-0 beating.

Mayfield was scoreless on no shots and "even" for the game.

Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) returned to the 4th ranked Minnesota Golden Gopher's lineup after not earning a spot on Team USA's Under-20 squad. Minnesota was hosting the Mariucci Classic and faced the Air Force Academy in their opener.

Forgive the corny "Minnesota shot down the Air Force 4-0" but really the game that the folks in Minnesota are wanting to see is Sunday's matchup against top ranked Boston College. It will be a rematch of last season's Frozen Four semi-final which was won by Boston College. This one should be a dandy and a learning experience for Skjei.

Yes Skjei did not score but while we all want to see him scoring hat tricks every game; that is not going to happen. Minnesota has several freshman on their roster but it is Skjei who is getting regular play which to me says he is doing something right.

Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) looks like he is going to be on a history setting team. Sadly the history that they will be making is Michigan's streak of NCAA appearances coming to an end.

Michigan is playing in the Great Lakes Invitational which involves the 4 Michigan schools that play Division 1 hockey. Michigan was taking on Michigan Tech in the opener and got shut out 4-0.

Michigan fell to 6-10-2 on the season and looks more and more that the 22 year streak of making the NCAAs is in serious jeopardy. Nieves of course was scoreless but it is looking more and more that Nieves who is 3rd on the team in scoring (3-9-12) will remain as the 2nd line center rather than play right wing.

Finally we missed this due the timing but Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th) suffered a lower body injury in Friday's game. His status is unknown but last reports said it was a awkward fall that caused his injury.

Go USA (not sure where)

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