Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dull this evening wasn't

Shane McColgan (Saskatoon Blades)
Tuesday evening was one of those nights where if you had a weak heart then watching New York Ranger or New York Islander prospect hockey was not a good idea. Take your pick of the 3 games involving the prospects and yes you got your money's worth and then some.

The big one was in Edmonton as Michael St. Croix (NYR 11 4th), Griffin Reinhart (NYI 12 1st) and their Edmonton Oil Kings were hosting the Saskatoon Blades with their Ranger duo of Shane McColgan (11 5th) and Josh Nicholls (13 UFA). Guess anyone who called the Blades 18 game winning streak as suspect might want to retract those words as the Blades came from behind and earned a 3-2 shootout win over the Oil Kings.

This one was a dandy as you had everything from hard hitting to some outstanding goalies putting on highlight reel saves. The first period was really quiet as both teams played more of a chess match type of game with both teams trying to avoid making the first mistake.

Edmonton struck first when Keegan Lowe (yes son of Kevin only with better offense) blasted a shot past Blade goalie Andrey Markov for the game's first score at 11:02 of the first period. It would also be the only score of the period as the two teams combined for just 13 shots on goal.

The Oil Kings would make it a 2-0 game in the second period when Dylan Wruck cashed in a rebound and it looked like Edmonton was going to start to pull away from Saskatoon. The game opened up more in the second and that favored the more offensive Edmonton team as they took that 2-0 lead into the 3rd period.

In the third, the Blades turned physical and it paid off as Blade captain Brenden Walker cashed in an Oil King turnover to end the shutout bid at 4:13 to make it a 2-1 game. Then it was the Ranger prospects dynamic duo of Josh Nicholls and Shane McColgan who brought the Blades to 2-2 when McColgan pounced on a rebound of a Nicholl's shot for his 19th goal of the season at 8:31.

That would do it for the scoring in regulation and neither team scored in the overtime setting up the shootout. Edmonton would shoot first and they missed on their first attempt but Shane McColgan didn't miss on his chance putting the Blades up 1-0.

Edmonton would miss on all three of their attempts and McColgan's goal would wind up being the game winner for the Blades 3-2. McColgan has been kind of overlooked as of late as he doesn't have the numbers that St. Croix and Nicholls have but his efforts tonight were huge.

McColgan is the smallest prospect listed at a generous 5'9 170 but he was right there outfighting the Oil King defenders in the crease. His game is supposed to be playmaking but Saskatoon could not have asked for a better effort out of McColgan who improves to 19-46-65 on the season.

Josh Nicholls had the primary on McColgan's game tying goal for his 36th assist of the season (45-36-81 15th WHL). Michael St. Croix and Griffin Reinhart were scoreless for the Oil Kings who saw their 6 game winning streak become a 7 game unbeaten in regulation streak.

Huge win for the Blades as they are 21-1-1-0 since Edmonton defeated them back on January 23rd.

Peter Ceresnak (Peterborough Petes)
In Peterborough for what might be their last home game of the season, Peter Ceresnak (NYR 11 6th) and his Peterborough Petes sent their fans home happy with a 3-2 shootout win over the Mississauga Steelheads. Happy because it was the Pete's 3rd straight win as well as keeping the Pete's hopes alive for a playoff spot.

Peter Ceresnak has gone from going 41 games between goals to scoring goals in two straight games for his Petes. Ceresnak's 3rd goal of the season gave the Petes a 2-1 lead at 9:22 of the second period.

The Petes might regret not holding the lead as Mississauga tied the score 1:04 after Ceresnak's goal and neither team would score again in regulation which gave Mississauga a point in the standings. That point is what has Mississauga in 7th place in the OHL's Eastern Conference with 58 points and ahead of both Kingston and Peterborough in the standings.

Kingston has one more win than Peterborough so the Petes remain in 9th place with 2 games left to play. The Petes have to sit and watch as Kingston plays on Thursday against Barrie and then it will be the Petes against Kingston on Friday.

Rather than explain the possibilities facing the 3 teams and what it will take for Peterborough to earn a playoff spot; the most points the Petes can wind up with is 61. If it is more than what the other two teams have then the Petes are in; if not then who knows.

Don Nachbaur (Spokane Chiefs)
If you are wondering who the gentleman in the image is then allow me to introduce Don Nachbaur the coach of the Spokane Chiefs. Now after Brenden Kichton (NYI 11 5th) and his Spokane Chiefs finished defeating the Prince George Cougars 6-4 on Tuesday evening there is a good chance that Coach Nachbaur has fewer hair and those remaining have turned gray.

That is because the Spokane Chiefs took a 5-0 lead 1:50 into the third period and then watched as Prince George scored 4 goals in 7:44 to pull to within 1 goal at 5-4. Even worse for the coach was when the Cougars scored at 17:14 to make it a 5-3 game that he watched the Cougars score 27 seconds later for that 1 goal margin.

Thankfully for the coach and the Chiefs that Alessio Bertaggia would score an empty net goal 26 seconds later to save themselves from what would have been an epic collapse. Brenden Kichton had a secondary assist on Spokane's 4th goal to set a new career high in assists with 59 and tying his career high in points with his 81st.

One thinks the Chiefs were very guilty of scoreboard watching as in Seattle, the Seattle Thunderbirds were pulling off a monster of an upset against the Tri-City Americans 8-3. Behind a 16 year old goalie who in 15 previous games was 0-6-2-0, the Thunderbirds clinched a playoff spot for themselves while doing Spokane a huge favor in beating the Americans.

Spokane's win combined with Tri-City's loss gives Spokane a 2 point lead in the battle for 4th place and a 2 win difference in the event that the 2 teams are tied. Now both teams will face each other on Friday and Saturday but Spokane will have the edge.

Want to know how you have a veteran coach behind the bench? With Tri-City in Seattle for a 7:05 start, the Spokane Chiefs some delayed their start for a full ten minutes.

That put the Seattle game running ahead of Spokane's so the Chiefs were watching the Americans getting whipped and forgot to play their own. Friday and Saturday night ought to be fun games.

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