Friday, April 5, 2013

An almost perfect night

Mitchell Theoret (OHL Images)
Friday saw the return of playoff hockey for the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects as all but one prospect saw his team earn a win. It was a night for the home teams as in 11 games combined throughout the Canadian juniors the home team won 10 out of 11 games on the evening.

Somebody forgot to tell Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) that upon his return to the Barrie Colt's 2nd line that he wasn't going to score much. Theoret with his 1st career hat trick (regular season or playoffs) led his Barrie Colts to a 4-1 win over the Oshawa Generals in game 1 of their OHL Eastern Conference semifinals.

The game's 1st star; Theoret was returned to the Colt's 2nd line after Anthony Camara returned from a 3 game suspension but kept his scoring touch that has Theoret leading the OHL in goals scored with 8. With Oshawa leading 1-0, Theoret got his evening going with a shorthanded goal at 13:16 of the 2nd period to tie the score at 1-1.

Just 2:45 later at 16:01, Theoret would put his Colts ahead for good with an even strength goal. And Theoret would add a power goal/empty net goal at 19:15 of the 3rd period for his 1st career hat trick as the Barrie Colts take a 2-0 lead in the series.

For Theoret, the hat trick gives him 8 goals in 6 playoff games this year which is also a new career high. Prior to this year Theoret had 6 total playoff goals in 36 playoff games while with the Niagara IceDogs.

Game 3 in this series will be Sunday as the series shifts to Oshawa.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) set up Stephane Legault's 5th goal of the playoffs which proved to be the game winner as their Edmonton Oil Kings defeated the Medicine Hat Tigers 4-1 to grab a 1-0 lead in their WHL's Eastern Conference semifinal series. For St. Croix it was his 4th assist of the playoffs to go along with 4 goals for 8 points.

Teammate Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) was scoreless with a minor for roughing as he helped the Oil Kings kill 5 Medicine Hat power plays. The key for the Oil Kings was their ability to break the Medicine Hat trap using their speed and size to their advantage.

Medicine Hat had trouble generating a sustained attack on the Oil Kings who take a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 will be Sunday afternoon in Edmonton.

Tommy Hughes (London Knights)
The debut as a New York Ranger prospect saw "Fearless" Tommy Hughes (NYR 2013 UFA) and his London Knights earn a 4-1 win in game 1 of their OHL Western Conference semifinal playoff series. Hughes is very much a Dan Girardi clone as his defense is very much the kind of defense that John Tortorella wants the Rangers playing.

He won't win a lot of games with his offense but he will prevent some losses with his willingness to take the body or go down to block shots. The "fearless" nickname comes from his coach Dale Hunter who also coached Dan Girardi when Girardi was a London Knight.

Game 2 of this series will be on Sunday afternoon in London.

Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) and his Spokane Chiefs stayed close to the Portland Winterhawks for about half of their opening game in their WHL Western Conference semifinal series but Portland took advantage of a Spokane discipline implosion to blow out Spokane 6-2. The only reason why this score isn't higher was Portland was only 1 for 7 on their power plays.

Kichton had primary assists on both Spokane goals including a shorthanded goal which tied the score at 2-2 at 7:23 of the 2nd period. But you can trace the game changing when Kichton and Portland's Brendan Leipsic went off for penalties at 9:19.

From that point on, Spokane repeatedly shot themselves in the foot by killing off their own power plays with penalties or just taking some bad penalties. In the 3rd period, Spokane tried to goad Portland but the Winterhawks refused to take the bait which just frustrated Spokane even more.

This will be a very short series if Spokane tries to play with such poor discipline as Portland has way too much firepower to keep putting them on power plays. Game 2 will be Saturday evening in Portland.

Surprise look who is back in the Baie-Comeau Drakkar's lineup? Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) was back in the Drakkar's lineup for the 1st time since breaking his hand in a fight on March 9th.

Noreau was scoreless with no shots but was credited with 2 hits and was a +2 as the Drakkar made it 5 straight playoff wins going back to last year with a 5-3 win over the Victoriaville Tigre. The Drakkar listened to their coach Eric Velloux about not taking the Tigre lightly in game 1 of their QMJHL semifinal playoff series.

Having Noreau back in the Drakkar lineup was adding another physical presence to a size advantage that the Drakkar have on the Tigre. The Drakkar though need to clean up their game as they put the Tigre on 7 power plays of which the Tigre scored 2 of their goals on.

The 2 teams will be back at it very early on Saturday afternoon for game 2 with a 4 pm start time.

In the only non-playoff game; Jake Bischoff (NYI 2012 7th) and his Omaha Lancers were eliminated from USHL playoff contention after they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Lincoln Stars. It will be the first time in 24 years that the Lancers will not play in the USHL postseason.

Bischoff was scoreless on 4 shots and a -1 as the Lancers have 3 games remaining on their schedule. Bischoff will be heading to play next season for the University of Minnesota where he will join Ranger 2012 1st round pick Brady Skjei.

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