Saturday, March 30, 2013

A somewhat black Friday

St. Croix and Reinhart (Edmonton Oil Kings)
Don't blink because if you do then you might miss seeing the end of the season for a New York Ranger or New York Islander prospect. On Friday 4 Islander and 1 Ranger prospect saw their season come to an end while 2 prospects (1 from each franchise) moved on to the next round.

Not going to breakdown anyone's season here as there will be plenty of time to do that during the off-season.

In Edmonton, the Edmonton Oil Kings defeated the Kootenay Ice 4-1 to win their WHL Eastern Conference playoff series 4-1 and move on to face the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2nd round. Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) had the primary assist on Edmonton's 3rd goal late in the 3rd period that pretty much sealed the game as well as the series.

It was a workmanlike effort from the Oil Kings as they took care of business and eliminated the Ice with the very first opportunity. The Oil Kings took their cue from their captain Reinhart and played their game under control and didn't give the Ice any chances to find momentum.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) was scoreless as he and his linemates were just not in sync with each other as they had chances to put some points on the board but for whatever reason they just didn't convert. The Oil Kings will have at least a week off before they start the next round.

Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) and his 2nd seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers saw their 2012-2013 come to a disappointing end when the 15th seeded Yale Bulldogs scored just 9 seconds into overtime to earn a 3-2 win. While others will call this a major upset; I won't as I saw this as what the Golden Gophers deserved because they tried to win this on reputation not effort.

Yale who barely earned an invite to the tournament took the game to Minnesota turning a scoreless 1st period into a 2-0 lead after 2 period. Only a 3rd period rally kept this from being an even more embarrassing loss than it was.

Skjei was scoreless on no shots and a +1.

Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) and his 9th seeded Denver Pioneers saw their season end at the hands of 7th seeded New Hampshire 5-2. In many ways Denver like Minnesota got the outcome they deserved as they limped into the tournament after losing in the WCHA playoff's 1st round to Colorado College.

Against New Hampshire in front of a New Hampshire crowd, Denver let a 2-1 lead after the 1st period slip away as New Hampshire rallied to take a 3-2 after 2 periods. The big blow to Denver came in the 1st minute of the 3rd period when Denver's leading scorer Nick Shore was ejected after a contact to the head major.

As for Mayfield, it is only fitting that he ended his season getting called for a penalty at the final buzzer. Mayfield was scoreless on 2 shots, a -1 and 4 PIMs.

Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) most likely played his last game as Niagara IceDogs were eliminated by the Oshawa Generals in 5 games after a 3-2 loss. Strome had a goal for the IceDogs but he and his linemates were never able to get untracked in this series.

Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) was scoreless as he didn't have a bad playoff series. So now the question is how fast will the Islanders get Strome to Bridgeport to get a jump on next season?

Will Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) be joining Strome in Bridgeport now that his Guelph Storm have been eliminated by the Kitchener Rangers? Pedan's Guelph Storm fell to the Rangers 4-2 and were eliminated in 5 games 4-1.

In the end what did the Storm in was their own undisciplined play as it was fitting that they ended the series killing off a 5 minute major. The Rangers really didn't win this series as it was the Storm who handed it to them on a platter.

The Rangers jumped out to a 3-0 lead behind 3 second period goals including a power play and a shorthanded marker. The Storm rallied to cut the lead to 1 goal in the 3rd period before Scott Kosmachuk took a major penalty for a "Check to the Head" at 15:00 which effectively killed Guelph's comeback.

Pedan was scoreless in this one but whether I like Pedan's antics or not there is no doubting that the 6'5 defender has NHL potential. If the Islanders don't get him signed then they might regret it as Pedan if he can grow out of his "loose cannon" ways has 2 way defenseman stamped all over him.

Despite my own dislike of the antics; I wouldn't think twice about giving him an NHL contract. Pedan with the right coaching could become a star on the Islander blueline.

The only prospect still playing in their regular season is Jake Bischoff (NYI 2012 7th) of the Omaha Lancers in the USHL. Bischoff earned his 2nd point of the season with a secondary assist on Omaha's 4 goal as they held off the Sioux Falls Stampede 4-2.

The Lancers are in a dogfight with the Waterloo Blackhawks for the 4th and final playoff spot in the USHL's Western Conference standings. The Lancers trail the Blackhawks by a point with 5 games remaining in their schedule but the Blackhawks hold 2 games in hand.

Who is left?

While St. Croix and Reinhart earned their ticket to the next round who is left might be a good question. The duo of McColgan and Nicholls will like it or not will be in the Memorial Cup.

Brenden Kichton and his Spokane Chiefs should advance to the 2nd round of the WHL's Western Conference playoffs. Don't doubt for a second they are rooting for Seattle to knock off Kelowna so they can avoid playing the Portland Winterhawks who are making Everett pay for embarrassing them in game 1.

Mitchell Theoret and his Barrie Colts are in the 2nd round of the OHL's Eastern Conference playoffs but Theoret is the only prospect left in the OHL.

While Samuel Noreau is nursing a broken hand, his Baie-Comeau Drakkar are in the 2nd round of the QMJHL playoffs. Going to say this as don't hand the QMJHL title to the Halifax Mooseheads not as long as Eric Velleux is coaching the Drakkar.

In the NCAA all that is left are Anders Lee, Robbie Russo and Steven Fogarty and their Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Really there isn't a team in the NCAA field that Notre Dame can't beat as this is as wide open a tournament as you can get.

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