Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Islanders strike back

Ryan Strome (OHL Images)
Well not exactly the New York Islanders but rather their prospects on Wednesday evening struck back in the best way they could which was on the ice. One Islander prospect got his ticket punched for the playoffs and others had strong performances.

Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st)
must like using the Erie Otters to fatten his stats as Strome with a 2-1-3 effort led the Niagara IceDogs to a 6-3 win over the Otters. Strome is 5-3-8 in 4 games this season against the Otters.

Strome's 30th goal of the season gave Niagara a 1-0 lead and off the IceDogs went as they led from wire to wire. The goal was an even strength goal coming at 7:23 off a nice feed to Strome from his linemate Brett Ritchie.

After the IceDogs scored a 2nd goal midway in the first, Strome played playmaker setting up Trevor Petersen's 6th goal at 19:36 to give Niagara a 3-0 lead to take into the first intermission. That goal's importance came sooner than expected as Erie scored 2 quick goals in the 2nd period to cut Niagara's lead to 3-2 but that was as close as the Otters would get.

Niagara responded with 2 goals and Strome would apply the dagger goal scoring his 2nd of the game at 16:35 of the 2nd again off a feed from Brett Ritchie and it was 6-2. Erie would score one in the 3rd period for the final goal of the game but Niagara's defense clamped down and that was the game.

Strome was named the game's 1st star for his 3 point effort as he improved to 31-45-76 on the season (5th in the OHL). Teammate Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) was scoreless with a minor for slashing while Adam Pelech of Erie (NYI 2012 3rd) was scoreless and a -3 as he was on the ice for all 3 Niagara first period goals.

In Ottawa Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) and his Barrie Colts left no doubt about clinching their spot in the OHL playoffs with a 10-1 whipping of the Ottawa 67's. Barrie coach Dale Hawerchuk took a page from the Niagara IceDogs and moved Theoret to his 1st line and Theoret made the coach look very smart.

Theoret was 1-1-2 and a +4 for the game as he earned the primary assist on Barrie's 2nd goal of the game which despite being scored at 5:57 of the 1st period turned out to be the game winner. Theoret would score Barrie's 7th goal of the game which was his 22nd goal of the season at 14:48 of the 2nd.

Theoret who is having the breakout season for the Islander prospects is now a career best 22-29-51 and if the Islanders don't sign him then someone else will. Theoret has shown that he can play with the best players in the OHL first Ryan Strome in Niagara and now Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg 2011 1st) who was taken 2 picks after Strome was.

Barrie who leads the OHL's Eastern Conference as already mentioned clinched a playoff spot with the win as they maintain a 3 point lead over Belleville in the conference. Getting Scheifele back from Winnipeg is a major boost for the Colt's playoff chances.

In Spokane, Brenden Kichton's (NYI 2011 5th) 18th goal of the season erased a Calgary 2-0 lead as Kichton and his Spokane Chiefs scoring 4 unanswered goals earned a 4-3 win over the Calgary Hitmen. Calgary jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals in the 1st and early in the 2nd before Spokane rallied.

Kichton's goal was a power play goal (his 8th) as Spokane moved closer to 4th placed Victoria tying them in points but Victoria has games in hand. Kichton has run away from the other WHL defenders as his goal gives him a 18-47-65 mark on the season.

The only New York Ranger prospect to see action on Wednesday evening was Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) as Noreau's Baie-Comeau Drakkar earned a 4-1 win over the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. Noreau had a good game with the only assist on an empty net goal that sealed the win but it was the 3 hits that stood out to use.

That Noreau is on the ice for the Drakkar in the last minute of a game also says something about the improvements that Noreau has made to his overall game. It would be a surprise if the Rangers don't offer Noreau at the very least an AHL contract but he could turn it into an NHL deal with strong play in the QMJHL playoffs.

The Rangers are not at all surprised by Noreau's improvement as a player which also says something about his chances for a pro contract.

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