Saturday, January 12, 2013

John Tortorella would love these guys

Brendan Leipsic (Kelvin Harrison)
OK the reason was to get a look at Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) but that I got to watch a machine like effort out of the Portland Winterhawks that was the flavor of icing that your mom used to spread on a cake. Seriously as I watched the Winterhawks rally from down 2-1 for a 5-2 win; I could see John Tortorella just jumping for joy at the effort the Winterhawks put out.

It is about a team that comes together to play a system that requires of them to put personal gains/goals off to the side and work for a common goal. Players supporting each other, only once did the Winterhawk defense breakdown and the players did not need Travis Green to tell them what they did wrong as they did it among each other.

The game tying goal was the work of a player who had gone 15 games without a goal. Chase De Leo is barely 5'9 but nobody was outworking him for the puck behind the Spokane net.

De Leo kept at it and his hard work was rewarded as he came from behind the net and poof it was behind Spokane goalie Garrett Hughson for a 2-2 tie. Then you could picture Tortorella on the bench telling the team to trust the system as Portland scored 3 goals in 1:39 and this game was over.

First a tic-tac-toe 3 man game created space with each pass so Brendan Leipsic was all alone in front of Hughson and it was 3-2. 17 seconds later while the PA announcer was trying to give the call of the last goal; here is Presten Kopeck digging the puck out of the corner feeding it to the point where Troy Rutkowski fired towards the net where Kopeck right after making the pass headed back to the net and he deflected the shot for a 4-2 Winterhawk lead.

1:22 later it was Rutkowski with the dagger scoring to make it 5-2 and an FYI Rutkowski the Portland captain had a primary, a secondary and then a goal on those 3 goals. Like I said John Tortorella would have loved these guys.

As for Brendan Kichton, he had a power play goal for Spokane's first goal of the game, a rocket that found it's way to the back of the net. It was Kichton's 13th goal as the Chiefs had a 5 on 3 power play going.

That was all the offense he was able to generate as the Winterhawks just smothered him from that point on.

The Rest of the Prospects

It is 2 AM as I started to write this so I did not have the chance to watch enough video to hand out stars. I feel bad for those who played hard but too many games plus arranging interviews for the Blueshirt Bulletin (Yes I do have Gordie Clark and Cristoval BOO Nieves for the season opening issue thank you very much).

Excuse me for this rant but quite honestly I have bitten my tongue for too long. Will the next scout/Director of player personnel/general manager who thinks he knows more than Gordie Clark or any other New York Ranger scout tell them to their faces that Brady Skjei was a mistake.

Wow it is way past old to see this constant trashing of Skjei, he is all of 18 trying to attend college full-time while also playing on the top ranked college team in Division 1 Men's hockey. Minnesota is only the pick to win the 2013 NCAA hockey title and their roster is loaded with some very talented players.

Stop reading scoresheets and why not talk to those who cover college hockey FULL TIME. Want to bet that you will hear the same thing that I just wrote? I am the first to admit that I do not have all the answers but rather than jumping on the "Trash him he sucks" bandwagon, I make the effort to see what is happening and how the player is being used.

Boy will I be so happy to see the Rangers playing so people will have Ranger players to trash. Sometimes I think some people just have to have someone to dislike when the team loses and really that makes no sense at all.

So Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) was the 7th defenseman for Minnesota in their win over Alaska-Anchorage. The Golden Gophers remain at the top of the college polls as they are unbeaten in their last 7 games (6-0-1) and yes Skjei has played in each of those games.

3rd ranked Notre Dame with their 2 Islander and 1 Ranger prospects visited Michigan State for a game that was much harder than they may have expected. Notre Dame thanks to a Robbie Russo (NYI 2011 4th) goal (5-11-16 2nd on team) shut out Michigan State 1-0.

Winners of 7 out of their last 8 games, the Fighting Irish with Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th) and Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) are looking like they might be the final champions of the CCHA (story for another day).

Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) and his 9th ranked Denver Pioneers had a wild game with 13th ranked Nebraska-Omaha earning a 7-4 win. Mayfield earned the game's 3rd star with a primary assist on Denver's 2nd goal and then a secondary assist on Denver's 3rd goal.

Mayfield is 2-7-9 for Denver in his sophomore season. Going to watch his game tomorrow to see how he has grown.

What's wrong with the Michigan Wolverines is the question people want to know as Cristoval Nieve's (NYR 2012 2nd) team is 2-4 in their last 6 after losing to Alaska 5-4. Michigan who has gone to the NCAA's for 22 straight years fell to 7-12-2 as Nieves was scoreless but a very impressive 16-6 on his faceoffs.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) were scoreless as their Edmonton Oil Kings had little trouble with the Lethbridge Hurricanes cruising to a 4-0 win. St. Croix is goalless in his last 5 games which is a bit of a concern because if Edmonton plans on repeating as WHL champ then they need St. Croix to score.

(UPDATE Griffin Reinhart is heading to the New York Islander training camp. Stick Tap to Gregg Drinnan for the info)

The new look Saskatoon Blades with Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) lost to the Red Deer Rebels 3-1. McColgan had the primary assist on the Blade's only goal for his 42nd point.

The Blades with the loss fell into 7th place in the WHL's Eastern Conference. Boy will people have a field day if the Blades who are the hosts of the 2013 Memorial Cup fail to make the playoffs.

Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) had the secondary assist on the game tying goal for his Baie-Comeau Drakkar but the Drakkar fell in overtime to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 4-3. The Drakkar are unbeaten in their last 8 games as they hold on to the 2nd spot in the QMJHL.

Give Noreau a lot of credit as he has been the biggest surprise of the Ranger prospects this season. Nobody could have imagined Noreau being 6-17-23 on the season or his playing on the power play.

It is called taking advantage of an opportunity when given one.

Peter Ceresnak (NYR 2011 6th) and his Peterborough Petes can claim being unbeaten in their last 5 games after taking the Oshawa Generals to the shootout before falling 4-3. Ceresnak was scoreless and a -2 but he really is in a no-win situation playing on a team that is 12 points out of a playoff spot.

Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) and his Erie Otters let an opportunity slip by them when they lost 4-3 to the Saginaw Spirit. Saginaw holds the 8th playoff spot in the OHL's Western Conference and now lead Erie by 9 points.

Pelech had a primary assist on Erie's 2nd goal of the game for his 32nd point (6-26-32).

Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) had a secondary assist for his 2nd point as a Barrie Colt but the Colts lost to the Guelph Storm 3-2. The Storm are playing without Andrey Pedan for this game and one more as a result of a 2 game suspension that Pedan received for his actions on January 8th against Kitchener.

Finally Loic Leduc remains out with no timetable for any return and Cody Rosen was again a "DNP".

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