Saturday, April 20, 2013

An almost perfect night

The Canadian junior's 3rd round saw 5 games played on Friday night with 4 games involving New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects. It almost was a perfect evening as teams with the prospects wound up going 3-1 and for the most part competitive games.

In Edmonton, the Edmonton Oil Kings turned a 1-0 lead into a 6-0 spanking of the Calgary Hitmen in game 2 of their WHL Eastern Conference Finals. The storyline of this game won't be that Edmonton got the series evened at 1-1 but Calgary's 3rd period discipline melt down.

Calgary for the game was called for 29 penalties totaling 101 minutes and resulting in 14 Edmonton power plays. In the 3rd period alone the Hitmen were called for 10 minors, 5 ten minute misconducts and gave Edmonton 5 power plays.

Those numbers are important because just like game 1, Edmonton had trouble solving Calgary goalie Chris Driedger managing just 1 goal on 26 shots through the first 2 periods. And Edmonton's exceptional power play was very Ranger like going 0 for 9 during the first 2 periods.

In the 3rd, Edmonton scored 5 goals on 24 shots thanks in part to finally connecting on power play opportunities as the Oil Kings went 3 for 5 in the 3rd period. Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) had a secondary assist on Edmonton's 3rd goal which came during a 5 on 3 power play.

For St. Croix it was his 14th point of the playoffs (6-8-14) which is 8th best among WHL scorers and 2nd on the Oil Kings. Teammate Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) was scoreless and a +1 but with 3 minor penalties which doubled his PIMs to 12.

The 3 minors weren't bad ones as he went off for "roughing" twice taking a member of the Hitmen with him but a high sticking call at the 20:00 mark of the 2nd period could have been a momentum changer for Calgary had they cashed it in but they didn't.

The series now shifts to Calgary for games 3+4 on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

In London, the London Knights opened the OHL Western Conference Finals series against the Plymouth Whalers with a 2-1 win that was more about goaltending than offensive stars. Tommy Hughes (NYR 2013 1st) was part of a London defense that limited Plymouth's scoring chances.

Plymouth despite registering 33 shots wasn't able to solve London's goalie Anthony Stolarz who gave up just 1 goal. Hughes and his fellow blueliners were able to keep Plymouth from scoring on any of their 6 power play chances.

London grabs a 1-0 series lead with game 2 scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

In Baie-Comeau, Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar also scored a 2-1 win as they opened their QMJHL semifinal series against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. The Drakkar just like London relied on solid goaltending as Philippe Cadorette stopped 33 out of 34 shots allowing just a single goal that came when the teams were playing 4 on 4.

For Noreau, he was on the ice for the Armada's only goal but he was also part of a Baie-Comeau penalty kill that blanked the Armada on 5 power play attempts. The Drakkar scored both of their goals on the power play as they went 2 for 4 for the night.

It was good enough to grab a 1-0 series lead as the two teams will face each other on Saturday afternoon in game 2.

Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 5th) and his Barrie Colts were the only team to not win on Friday night as they dropped game 1 of their OHL Eastern Conference Finals 3-2 to the Belleville Bulls. Theoret returned to the Colt's lineup after missing the 4th game of the Oshawa series with an undisclosed injury.

Theoret was scoreless with just a boarding penalty to show for his efforts. Theoret put up some strong offensive numbers in the Colt's 1st two playoff series and to get past the Bulls, the Colts will need him to contribute on the offensive end.

Game 2 of this series will be Saturday night in Belleville.

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