Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hockey can be a strange game at times

Brenden Kichton (Spokane Chiefs)
Friday night was one of those nights that left one scratching their heads by the performances from the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects. There was some good, some bad and some that makes one wonder.

First Star Brenden Kichton Spokane Chiefs

So Monday Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) of the Spokane Chiefs was totally invisible against the Portland Winterhawks who happen to have the best record in the WHL. Four days later the Spokane Chiefs found themselves hosting the Edmonton Oil Kings who in addition to being the defending WHL Champions have the 2nd best record in the WHL.

Another beating for the Spokane Chiefs? Not this time as Spokane using their special teams earned a 6-4 win over Edmonton.

Against the Oil Kings, Kichton has a 3 assist evening to help his Spokane Chiefs earn a 6-4 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings. The 3 assists were all on the power play against the team that leads the WHL in penalty killing.

Kichton's 1st assist was a secondary one on the Chiefs 3rd goal of the game coming at 11:04 of the 2nd period. 1:48 later at 12:52 with Spokane again on the power play, this time Kichton had the primary assist to make it a 4-1 lead.

In the 3rd period with Spokane up 4-2 and once again on the power play; Kichton earned assist number 3 when he had a secondary assist on Spokane's 5 goal and the goal that turned out to be the game winning goal.

In addition to being in on the 3 power play goals; Kichton was on the ice when Spokane scored not one but two shorthanded goals. Spokane took it to Edmonton who just might have overlooked the Chiefs but at the same time one has to wonder about the Chiefs.

They have wins against the top teams in the WHL but when they play the teams at the bottom of the WHL; they tend to lose those games. But Friday night as Kichton who was the 3rd star of the game improves his stats to 18-52-70; if the Islanders don't sign him they will be making a major mistake.

Kichton was last year's best defenseman in the WHL's Western Conference and this year it is hard to find a defender who has played better than Kichton has.

Shane McColgan (Steve Hiscock)
Second Star Shane McColgan Saskatoon Blades

Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) and his Saskatoon Blades set a new franchise record as they made it 14 straight wins with a 7-4 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings. Nobody is questioning whether or not the Blades deserve to host the 2013 Memorial Cup these days.

The 14 game winning streak ties the Portland Winterhawks and Kamloops Blazers for the longest winning streak in the WHL this season.

McColgan has been a big part of this winning streak as after adding 2 assists in the win over the Wheat Kings has gone 5-11-16 during the streak. McColgan started by setting up Darren Dietz for the Blades 2nd goal of the game at 12:30 of the 1st period.

McColgan's other assist came on linemate Josh Nicholl's empty net goal which sealed the win. And McColgan didn't plan to but he was involved in what was the turning point in the game when he was hit in the head by the Wheat King's Nick Walters.

Walters was handed a 5 minute major for the check to the head and while the Blades only scored 1 goal in the resulting power play, it was a key point in the game. McColgan's 2 assists brought his season totals to 16-45-61 as McColgan is 3rd on the Blades in scoring but leads the team in assists.

McColgan was also the subject of a pretty good writeup by Daniel Nugent-Bowman who covers the Blades for the Star Phoenix. The article includes a couple of quotes from Adam Graves on what he likes about McColgan including this one:

“He’s very strong on his skates,” he said. “He’s got that tripod style of skating and he’s very aware on the ice.

“Even if someone has height or weight on him, his balance is so good that he’s a hard guy to knock off the puck, especially when he’s moving his feet.”

The article also mentions that the Rangers have until May 31st to sign McColgan who along with Samuel Noreau and Peter Ceresnak who were taken in the 2011 draft.

Ryan Strome (OHL Images)
Third Star Ryan Strome Niagara IceDogs

It was in a losing cause but Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) was the biggest reason why his Niagara IceDogs were able to make a game of it against the Guelph Storm. Strome had 2 assists and was named the game's 3rd star but he was unable to prevent his IceDogs from dropping their 4th straight 5-3 to the Guelph Storm.

Strome got the IceDogs going when he set up Shayne Rover for a shorthanded goal with just 1 second remaining in the 1st period. The goal gave Niagara a 1-0 lead going into the 1st intermission and it was their only lead of the game.

Strome also set up Steven Shipley for Niagara's 2nd goal of the game which at the time cut the Storm's lead to 3-2. Despite the losing streak Strome has a 6 game scoring streak (3-7-10) and overall is 31-5-1-82 which is 7th in the OHL.

The Rest of the Prospects

Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) was scoreless in the Niagara IceDog's loss to the Guelph Storm but was involved in a series of penalties that saw the IceDogs play shorthanded for 4:39. First Ryan Strome was called for hooking at 5:42 of the 2nd period and while the IceDogs were killing that penalty; Graham took a "delay of game" at 7:25.

That gave the Storm a 17 second 2 man advantage which they did not score on. The IceDogs then took a 2nd "delay of game" while Graham was still serving his penalty resulting in a 13 second 2 man advantage for the Storm.

Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) had a solid game for the Storm in their win over the IceDogs. Pedan was a +3 with an assist on Guelph's last goal an empty netter which sealed the win and improved his numbers to 12-25-37.

The win also moved the Storm to within 3 points of the 4th place Kitchener Rangers and the Storm have a game in hand on the Rangers.

Getting back to the Edmonton/Spokane game, Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) was held scoreless and took a "hooking" minor that led to a Spokane power play goal. Teammate Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) was also scoreless and he was called for a "checking to the head" minor.

Reinhart and the normally reliable Edmonton penalty kill gave up 3 power play goals as they start a 5 game swing of the WHL's US Division.

Cristoval "Boo" Nieves (NYR 2012 1st) had a primary assist on Michigan's 3rd goal of the game as they defeated Ohio State 5-3. Nieves had a bad game on his faceoffs going 2-11 against Ohio State on Friday evening.

Nieves is Michigan's leading scorer with a 8-16-24 stat.

This might read as confusing but 11th ranked Notre Dame played 7th ranked Western Michigan to a 3-3 overtime tie. Western Michigan won the shootout round 2-1 to earn a 2nd point which enabled them to stretch their lead over Notre Dame to 2 points for 2nd place in the CCHA.

Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) made a great play on the game's tying goal to help Notre Dame come away with 1 point. It was Fogarty's 5th assist of the season as he improves to 5-5-10 on the season.

Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th) didn't get any points but his skating helped Notre Dame score their 2nd goal. Lee and teammate Brian Rust were killing a penalty when they raced to the offensive zone; Lee outraced the Western Michigan players and created enough of a distraction for Rust to score a shorthanded goal.

Lee though missed on his shootout attempt as did Robbie Russo (NYI 2011 4th) who's miss ended the game. Russo though while he did not score made a good defensive play that helped Notre Dame score their 1st goal.

Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) and his 2nd ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers defeated Minnesota-Duluth 5-3 to pull to within 1 point of St. Cloud State in the race for the WCHA's regular season title. Skjei was scoreless on 1 shot as Minnesota with 5 games remaining tries to earn the top seed in the WCHA playoffs.

Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) and his 10th ranked Denver Pioneers also are trying to catch St. Cloud State but they have a way to go. Entering their game against 6th ranked North Dakota, Denver was in 6th place 3 points behind 5th place North Dakota.

Denver made that a 1 point lead after earning a 5-4 win. Mayfield was scoreless on 1 shot and a -1 as the 2 teams will play each other on Saturday evening.

Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th)
and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar had a much tougher time against the Sherbrooke Phoenix than they should have. The Drakkar were extended to the shootout by a team that trails them in the standings by 40 points.

The Drakkar did win 3-2 thanks to the shootout as Noreau was scoreless on 2 shots and was credited with 2 hits.

Mitchell Theoret's (NYI 2011 7th) Barrie Colts are picking the wrong time of the season to go into a slump. The Colts lost more than a game to the Sudbury Wolves 5-3 as their best player Mark Scheifele will most likely be suspended by the OHL after first taking a boarding major and adding an "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" game misconduct.

Theoret had a secondary assist on the Colts 3rd goal but this game was over after Sudbury scored 4 goals in the 1st period. Theoret is now 24-31-55 on the season as his Colts are winless in their last 4 games.

Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) sat out the 3rd game of his 5 game suspension but one wonders what one is supposed to say after his Erie Otter team was (you choose the word) 13-3 by the Sarnia Sting. Yes the score is correct and here is the boxscore to prove it.

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