Saturday, February 9, 2013

Big game efforts

This is a first for this blog as the first and second stars of the night came from the same game as New York Islander and New York Ranger prospects went against each other in one of more exciting games to watch this season. Man I wish I found this job when I was younger as Friday was a blast with some big games on the schedule so to quote Warner Wolf "Lets go to the videotape."

Thanks to Notre Dame Athletics and CBC Sports Networks as number 12 Notre Dame was hosting unranked Michigan. In this clip you are watching for Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th) of Notre Dame (#9 in white) and Cristoval "Boo" Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) of Michigan (#12 in blue).

Anders Lee (Notre Dame)
First Star Anders Lee Notre Dame

As you saw in the video clip, Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th) the captain of the Notre Dame hockey team came up big in a must win game for the Fighting Irish. The Irish have been struggling to find goals and wins as of late so they needed a win to keep their hopes alive of winning the CCHA regular season title.

It was not as easy as the 7-4 score may seem but it was a hard fought win for the Irish and Lee did his part starting with an early goal just a 1:16 into the game. It was Lee's 15th goal of the year and it got Notre Dame off to a good a start.

As you saw in the clip, Michigan would not go away and fought back to tie game at 2-2 and then at 3-3 but Lee would score the goal that would give Notre Dame the lead for good. Barely 40 seconds after Michigan had tied the game at 3-3, there was Lee beating a defender to the slot and scoring his 16th goal that gave the Irish a 4-3 lead.

Michigan never recovered as the Irish earn themselves a 4-3 lead on their way to the 7-4 to remain in 3rd place of the CCHA. Lee who earned the game's 3rd star is also Notre Dame's leading scoring at 16-10-24.

The 2 teams will meet again on Saturday with Notre Dame looking to earn a 4 game sweep of the season series for the first time since 1972.

"Boo" Nieves (
Second Star Cristoval "Boo" Nieves Michigan Wolverines

Excuse me while I give Gordie Clark a call as he told me that the main reason the Rangers drafted Cristoval "Boo" Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) was because of his playmaking skills not for his goal scoring. I am pretty sure nobody told Nieves that as right now this freshman from Baldwinsville, N.Y. has been scoring big goals for the Michigan Wolverines.

Nieves in a losing effort did his part to keep Michigan in the game with a secondary assist on Michigan's 1st goal and then tying the game up at 2-2 in the 2nd period with his 8th goal of the season. This may not be a winning season for Michigan but if you are a Ranger fan then the development of Nieves this year is a winner.

Nieves with his 1-1-2 is now 8-15-23 on the season. Nieves is also 4-3-7 in his last 3 games but pretty sure he would trade his stats for some wins. At this rate I could see Nieves do like Chris Kreider and leave after his junior season.

Third Star Griffin Reinhart and Michael St. Croix Edmonton Oil Kings

One does it on offense while the other on defense but the end result of this 2 headed monster is that the Edmonton Oil Kings went into Brandon and walked out with their 11th straight win 6-2. Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) didn't score but he was a +3 on the night and the only one in the game to do so.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) had 2 assists on the night extending his scoring streak to 12 games (7-12-19). St. Croix had a secondary assist on the Oil Kings 1st goal then followed that up with a primary assist on the 2nd goal which was a power play goal.

St. Croix is 28-40-68 for the season but the numbers that John Tortorella is dreaming about is St. Croix's 18-17-35 on the power play. The other thing about the Oil Kings is that while they are running away with the WHL's Eastern Conference; this win streak has also gotten them back in the race for the WHL's best record.

Edmonton now trails the Portland Winterhawks by 4 points 91-87 but Portland does hold 2 games in hand. I wonder who else is circling the 27th on the calendar?

The rest of the prospects

Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) and Robbie Russo (NYI 2011 4th) did not score in Notre Dame's win over Michigan. Neither took any shots but Fogarty was 4-3 on his faceoffs.

Minnesota may be number 1 in the polls but in the WCHA standings they trailed St. Cloud State by 5 points (Minnesota holds 2 games in hand). Make it 3 points after Minnesota came away with a 4-2 win as Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) registered a primary assist on Minnesota's 4th goal which was scored by Skjei's partner Nate Schmidt.

I bring that up because Schmidt is a junior and is the 3rd leading scorer on Minnesota so if you are looking at Skjei's 1-2-3 and saying that Skjei is having a tough year then you would be wrong. I would say that Minnesota who is a legit NCAA contender must think something of Skjei to have the freshman partnering with their best offensive threat.

Remember that when you are complaining about Del Zotto's defense.

Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) and his Saskatoon Blades took their 6 game winning streak into Swift Current to face the Swift Current Broncos and after a 4-1 win now claim a 7 game winning streak. McColgan had a secondary assist on the Blades 4th goal of the game to improve to 12-39-51 on the season.

McColgan is playing some solid hockey these days at both ends of the ice, McColgan is losing out on some points because he is the power play quarterback. Pretty sure McColgan doesn't care as the Blades are winning and are now contending for the Central Division title trailing the division leader by 4 points with a game in hand.

8th ranked Denver with Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) is also watching the WCHA standings but first they wanted to reclaim the "Gold Pan" Trophy given to the winner of the season series between Denver and in-state rival Colorado College. Going into the game all Denver needed was 1 point to win the trophy after losing it last year.

Denver got that 1 point as they skated to a 1-1 overtime tie with Colorado College so now they can look at the WCHA standings and see they are in 5th; they are 1 point behind the 3 team logjam in 2nd place with 7 WCHA games remaining. Mayfield took 2 shots, was a -1 and took a minor for roughing.

I really like Mayfield's chip on the shoulder brand of defense as he is not afraid to take the body or take a hit himself. Not to mention that I don't think many will want to drop their gloves with the 6'4 sophomore defender.

Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) lost his spot on the Barrie Colt's first line but he is not complaining as he is being replaced by Mark Scheifele who was just sent back to the Colts by the Winnipeg Jets. The Colts were visiting the Plymouth Whalers and found themselves trailing 3-1 after the first period.

Theoret got the comeback started when he scored his 21st goal at 10:44 of the 2nd period to bring the Colts to within 1 at 3-2. The Colts would tie the game in the 3rd and eventually win 6-3. Theoret improves to a career best 21-27-48 for the OHL Eastern Conference leaders.

Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) had a secondary assist on his Erie Otter's first goal as his Erie Otter's defeated the Oshawa Generals on the road 7-4. Erie despite being out shot 43-33 jumped on the Generals for 5 goals in the first 2 periods then held the Generals off for the win.

Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar are in Sydney, Nova Scotia for a 2 game series against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. This was a mismatch as the Drakkar were facing a team that was missing 4 starters including Islander prospect Loic Leduc (more on him in a bit).

The Drakkar actually had a harder than expected 5-3 win as despite the score, the Drakkar could never really put away the Eagles. Noreau did not score but was a +1 on 1 shot and had 1 hit. The Drakkar jumped past the Rimouski Oceanic with the win into 2nd place in the QMJHL.

Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) was held scoreless but took 2 more minors as his Guelph Storm needed the shootout before defeating the Kitchener Rangers 4-3. Pedan added to his PIM totals with 2 minors but neither hurt the Storm as Pedan added to his OHL leading totals as he now is up to 117 PIMs.

Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) and Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) led their Niagara IceDogs into Mississauga to face the Steelheads trying to hold on to 6th place in the OHL's Eastern Conference. They did not do well as the Steelheads defeated the IceDogs 4-2 to pull to within 2 points of the IceDogs in the standings with a game in hand.

Strome was held scoreless while Graham had a secondary assist on the IceDogs 1st goal. Graham after a very slow start has improved to 2-24-26 as he is on a 5 game scoring streak (0-5-5).

The Spokane Chiefs traveled to Kootenay to take on the Ice and when they left after a 4-1 loss they can only blame themselves for a missed opportunity. Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) was scoreless but the Chiefs missed a chance to jump past the Tri-City Americans and the Victoria Royals for 4th place in the WHL's Western Conference standings.

The Chiefs were nothing like the team that dominated the Kelowna Rockets stopping their 17 game winning streak. If they find themselves on the wrong end of home ice in the WHL playoffs they should look back at this game.


Cody Rosen (NYI 2010 7th) Clarkson DNP

Loic Leduc (NYI 2011 4th) Cape Breton-- Knee injury has returned home to undergo Physical Therapy and it does not look like he will play again this season. With Cape Breton not likely to make the QMJHL playoffs then it is better if Leduc heals up and works on his off-season workouts to be ready for next season.

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