Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to spend a Monday

Portland Memorial Coliseum
The Calendar said it was President's Day in the USA and Family Day in many parts of Canada but for several New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects it might as well be "Kicked Butt day" or "Got My Butt Kicked" Day.

That view was from my seat in the press box at the Portland Memorial Coliseum as I was there to see how Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) and his Spokane Chiefs would do against the Portland Winterhawks. Spokane was coming off a 6-0 loss on Saturday to Tri-City and they did not do much better against Portland losing 8-3.

This was 1 vs 4 in the standings and 1 being Portland showed that the 29 point gap between the teams is well earned. If I had not seen Kichton over the last 2 years I would have said he had no chance at the NHL.

Truth be told it wasn't just Kichton that the Winterhawks silenced but rather the entire team. That 8-3 score is very misleading as if Portland really wanted to pour it on they could have.

Kichton I had down for 35 shifts but 1 attempted shot and really that was it. Portland didn't do anything special to stop Kichton or the better Spokane players. This was a matter of Portland following their game plan and earning a really easy win.

If I am a WHL coach getting ready to play Portland and I was looking at this tape then I would be nervous as Portland's best line which is Ty Rattie, Brenden Leipsic, and Nic Petan was scoreless and a combined -3. You are talking about the players who are 1st, 2nd and 4th in the WHL's scoring race.

The damage was done by Portland's 2nd line which is made up of Taylor Leier (Phi 2012 4th), Oliver Bjorkstrand (2013) and Chase De Leo (2014) who as a unit combined for 6-10-16 and Yahoo's "Buzzing the Net's 1st Star.

Portland hits the road for 3 games and their next home game will be on the 27th against the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Michael St. Croix (Andy Devlin)
Those same Edmonton Oil Kings were in action on Monday afternoon as they hosted the Prince George Cougars. The event wound up being a record setting day for the Oil Kings as a franchise and for one individual.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) owns just about all the Oil King offensive records and after a 1-2-3 game which helped the Oil Kings to a 6-0 win; St. Croix owns another one. St. Croix is the first Oil King to record 300 points.

It was only fitting that the power play specialist would earn his 300th point on the power play as St. Croix earned a secondary assist on the Oil King's 1st goal. St. Croix on the power play is 18-18-36 this season and the lesson he could teach the current Rangers is constant movement is why he is so lethal on the power play.

In the 2nd period with the Oil Kings already up 2-0, the first star of the game St. Croix made it 3-0 with his 31st goal of the season and the primary assist went to Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st). St. Croix's 3rd point was a primary assist on the Oil King's 6th goal so the 1-2-3 effort brings St. Croix's season to 31-43-74 and his career numbers are 122-180-302.

Griffin Reinhart may had only 1 assist (6-15-21) but I bet that leading a defense that recorded their 11th shutout of the season means more to him than the points. Edmonton has one more home game before they hit the road and towards the rematch of the 2012 WHL Finals against Portland.

Andrey Pedan (OHL Images)
So imagine the surprise I had when checking out the Yahoo's "Buzzing the Net 3 Stars" and finding Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) as the 2nd star of the day?
The 6-foot-5 defenceman, who has shown increasing ease with the OHL as his third season in the league has unfolded, led the Storm to a big 5-3 win over the Kitchener Rangers. With the Storm missing two regular defencemen, Matt Finn and Saverio Posa, Pedan (1G-2A, +2) turned in an all-around effort. The New York Islanders selection helped contain the Rangers' potent forwards, got assists in the first period and chipped in the eventual game-winning goal during the second period.

Actually my reaction was "why doesn't he do this more often?" because there is no denying that Pedan is very talented and would very much be an improvement to the Islander blueline. The problem sadly is Pedan doesn't always bring these kinds of efforts on a consistent basis.

I have to give Pedan his credit as a loss here and the Storm don't have any chance at catching Kitchener for 4th place. The 6'5 Pedan was named the game's 1st star and improves to 12-24-36 on the season.

Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th)
and his Saskatoon Blades hosted the Brandon Wheat Kings on Monday afternoon as they looked for their 12th straight win. Look no further as other than scoring the 1st goal the Wheat Kings could not stop the Blades losing 5-1. McColgan did his share with his 4th multi-point game of the month (1-1-2) to help his team.

McColgan scored his 16th goal of the season for the Blade's 4th goal and then added a secondary assist on their last goal. That brings McColgan to 16-43-59 for the season and hopefully a shot at a Ranger/AHL contract.

One other thing about this win which is coaches preach about making sure you cash in your games in hand; that is exactly what Saskatoon has done here. The win moved the Blades 4 points in front of the Prince Albert Raiders for the East Division lead and the 2nd spot in the WHL's Eastern Conference standings that goes with it.

It wasn't all happy wins for the prospects as Mitchell Theoret's (NYI 2011 7th) Barrie Colts dropped a 3-0 decision to the Belleville Bulls and that allowed the Bulls to overtake them for the OHL's Eastern Conference lead. Remember the part about winning the games in hand?

That is what happened here and now while Barrie drops to second; it is Belleville who holds 2 games in hand on the Colts. Theoret besides the scoreless part was also a -1 which is his first minus number in almost a month.

Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) might be getting a call from the OHL office after taking a cross-checking major in his Erie Otter's game against the London Knights. The Knights who have the best record in the OHL were embarrassed last week by losing to the Otters made sure that would not happen again.

The Knights rolled all over the Otters 8-1 jumping on them from the start and not letting up. Pelech was ejected in the 2nd leaving his undermanned teammates even more shorthanded. If Pelech wants to earn an NHL contract then he just like Pedan has to play much smarter and not hurt his team.

The loss along with a win by Saginaw reduced Erie's number for elimination to just 1.

It looks like Peter Ceresnak (NYR 2011 6th) was a healthy scratch for the 3rd time in the last 4 games by the Peterborough Petes. His team lost to the Owen Sound Attack 3-2 as they fell 4 points back of the Kingston Frontenacs for the 8th playoff spot in the OHL's Eastern Conference.

No comments: