Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sorry hockey never left just the NHL did

Mitchell Theoret (Barrie Colts)
Actually the word is not sorry but a word I can't use here in response to the NHL's claiming that hockey is back. Memo to Gary Bettman but hockey was going on quite well without the league that is responsible for giving the sport of hockey more embarrassments and black eyes than any other league.

Hockey was going on as witnessed by the breakout season that Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) is having.

Tonight's Star Mitchell Theoret Barrie Colts

When the Niagara IceDogs traded Mitchell Theoret to the Barrie Colts, it was thought because his linemates Ryan Strome and Brett Ritchie were not expected to be sent back by their respective NHL team. Which led to those who looked at Theoret's breakout season and thought that Theoret's numbers were inflated by playing with Strome and Ritchie.

That is turning out to be not the case as Theoret is fitting in quite nicely going 2-3-5 in 6 games. Theoret may not have scored a bigger goal than he did on Saturday against the Kitchener Rangers.

Theoret's goal at 7:11 of the 3rd period tied the score at 3-3 as Barrie behind a 5 goal 3rd period defeated the Kitchener Rangers 6-3. Theoret's goal was his 20th of the season and it came on the power play.

This one was a wild one from several 5-on-3's, penalties for illegal equipment as Kitchener wound up with 9 power plays and Barrie is lucky that they only scored on one of them. Theoret is 20-27-47 with a +24 to go with his career high scoring stats.

The Rest Of The Prospects

If you want to talk rivalries then any time the Tri-City Americans and Brenden Kichton's (NYI 2011 5th) Spokane Chiefs get together; it is "buckle the seat-belts" and hang on. Saturday's matchup had a little of everything but in the end it was Tri-City leaving with a 4-3 overtime win.

Brenden Kichton had 2 primary assists in the losing effort but he made his points count. His first assist was on Spokane's first goal which came at 19:49 of the first period.

Assist number 2 was the goal on that helped Spokane tie the score and force overtime. It came at 14:40 of the 3rd period while Spokane was on the power play.

They also gave Kichton an 11 game scoring streak 6-11-19 and an overall 15-42-57 which is tops among WHL defensemen and 11th overall in the WHL. The OT loss helped Spokane keep possession of 4th place in the WHL's Western Conference as the Chiefs are 1 point ahead of Tri-City.

Keeping with the rival's theme then the Brandon Wheat Kings and Shane McColgan's (NYR 2011 5th) Saskatoon Blades are right up there. Saturday Brandon and Saskatoon went to 12 rounds in the shootout before Brandon came away with a 3-2 win.

While McColgan went scoreless during the game, he was the only Blades player to score on his shootout chance. The game winning goal came from a Brandon defenseman who in 41 games has all of 1 goal this season.

Cristoval "Boo" Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) was back playing center for his Michigan Wolverines and scored his 1st goal in 8 games. Nieves got Michigan going with his 4th goal while on the power play but it was not enough as Michigan lost to Lake Superior State 3-2.

Take a look as Nieves created some space for himself coming down in the slot and finished on a nice feed from Phil Di Giuseppe. What really is impressing me more than the offense Nieves is creating is how well this freshman is doing on face offs.

For the 3rd straight game at center, Nieves led Michigan going 15-7 on his face offs. Think about having a kid beating 23-24 yr old players on face offs and is 83-57 for the season which leads Michigan.

Going to be fun watching Nieves grow into becoming a polished player.

The Niagara IceDogs with Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) and Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) took on the Peterborough Petes who were missing Peter Ceresnak (NYR 2011 6th) from their lineup. The Petes defeated the IceDogs 5-4 handing them their 4th straight loss.

Jesse Graham had a secondary assist for his 19th point (2-17-19) and Ryan Strome had 2 assists to raise his season totals 23-42-65. As for Ceresnak, I tried to get confirmation regarding his status and didn't but I am going to bet that he was a healthy scratch.

In the Pete's last game (a 5-3 loss to the Guelph Storm), Ceresnak was beaten badly for a goal and Peterborough's interim coach Jody Hull was angry with the overall performance of the Petes. I seriously doubt that Ceresnak is injured and as one of the older players was made an example of.

Don't get me wrong, I support a coach who will hold his players accountable but my concern is given all that has happened in Peterborough over the last 2 years that I would rather see Peterborough release Ceresnak. To me, the Rangers know that Ceresnak wants to play, the lockout cost the Rangers a good chance to see how well he has progressed since his draft day.

As a player who was drafted by the NHL before he was selected by the OHL means that Ceresnak can play for the CT Whale. But before people go crazy; what I would like to see the Rangers do is bring him to the Whale on an ATO FIRST.

Give Ceresnak a chance to show where he is in his development and let a real defensive coach like Jeff Beukeboom look him over. If Beukeboom thinks there is something to work with then keep him with the Whale as an inactive player who attends practices and gets a chance to get away from what is a royally screwed up situation in Peterborough.

If he is not going to make it then let him go home so he can find a team in Slovakia to play for. That is the Ranger way and I have more faith in Gordie Clark and the Ranger staff looking out for both the team and the prospect.

Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) of the Erie Otters I have to admit gives me a reason to check out Devin Williams a 17 year old goalie who I am pretty sure you will be hearing a lot about next season. Don't get me wrong I like Pelech but there are times that I think he plays his best defense when his younger teammate is in net.

That to me was the case Saturday evening when Pelech and his fellow defenseman helped Williams earn a 4-2 win over the Saginaw Spirit. Pelech didn't score and I seriously doubt that it matters since they got the win.

Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) and his top ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers played 6th ranked North Dakota to a 4-4 overtime tie. Skjei was 3rd pair defender and did not score but was also even for the game.

Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) and his 7th ranked Denver Pioneers had a nightmare of a weekend playing against St. Cloud State as they lost 5-1 to be swept for the weekend by a combined 10-3 score. Mayfield was a -2 for the game and took a boarding call that he was lucky did not cost his team.

4th ranked Notre Dame joins Denver in having a lost weekend as they dropped the 2nd half of their weekend series with the Alaska Nanooks 2-1. Two power play goals scored 35 seconds apart was the difference in this game as Notre Dame lost their 4th straight.

The trio of Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th), Robbie Russo (NYI 2011 4th) and Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) were all held scoreless. The Irish have been hit hard by injuries but that is no excuse for a team ranked as high as they are,

Cody Rosen (NYI 2010 7th) was DNP for Clarkson and Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th) remains out of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles with a "lower body injury"

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