Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Wild Wild Wednesday

Michael St. Croix (Edmonton Oil Kings)
It was a very wild Wednesday evening of prospect hockey as New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects went a bit crazy as we have a little of everything for everybody. The biggest game was out west as the prospect I like to call "The Predator" was so good Wednesday that Michael St. Croix was named the "Buzzing the Net" first star of the night and very deservedly so.

In Calgary, Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) had been pretty quiet during the first 3 games of the WHL Eastern Conference Finals with just 2 assists so far. Missing their captain Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) to a "lower body injury", St. Croix's Edmonton Oil Kings were in danger of a possible 3-1 series deficit with a loss to the Calgary Hitmen in game 4.

The Oil Kings needed "The Predator" to show up and boy did he. St. Croix needed just 1:15 in to the game to set up linemate T.J. Foster for the first goal of the game and off the Oil Kings went. Calgary took a slashing minor at 1:55 and St. Croix made them pay by teaming with Martin Gernat to feed Foster for his 2nd goal of the game at 2:10.

St. Croix was given the secondary assist on the play as Edmonton was up 2-0 in just 2:10 but St. Croix was far from done. After Gernat had scored to make it 3-0 at the 5:33 mark, St. Croix recorded his 3rd assist of the period again a secondary one as Edmonton scored to make 4-0 at the 10:15 mark of the period.

By the end of the 1st period, the Oil Kings were up 5-1 and looking pretty good. Edmonton would add another goal in the 2nd period while Calgary would score 2 to make it a 6-3 game after 2 periods.

In the 3rd St. Croix put the game away with a goal for his 4th point of the game at the 1:30 mark. This time it was Foster feeding St. Croix who got the puck at the blue line, charged into the offensive zone and into the slot then stopped to set up his shot and then beat Calgary goalie Mac Shields under the glove with a blistering snap shot to make it 7-3 which was the final score.

The 4 point game for St. Croix was a career high as he was named the game's 2nd star and Edmonton really needs this kind of performance with the Oil Kings down 2 of their top 4 defensemen. At 7-11-18, St. Croix jumps up to 6th in the playoff scoring race.

As for Reinhart, sorry it's playoff time and nobody will say more than "lower body injury" but the scowl on Coach Derek Laxdal's head says Reinhart might be lost for at least Friday's game 5.

In Blainville-Boisbriand, the fans were treated to a hockey game followed by a WWE riot as Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar took on the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in game 4 of their QMJHL semifinal series. The game part was in favor of the Armada 4-3 to tie the series up at 2-2.

The Drakkar dug themselves into a 2-0 hole in a penalty filled first period. The 2nd period was the Drakkar's starting with Noreau earning a secondary assist on the Drakkar's first goal. It was Noreau's first assist of the playoffs and second overall point.

Still Noreau took a cross checking minor during the period that the Armada scored their 3rd goal 5 seconds after the power play expired. The teams traded goals in the 3rd period as the Armada would get the last one to earn the win.

Now on to the riot with a stick tap to Neate Sager of Buzzing the Net for doing the legwork here.

Forget trying to decide who started this as really the tone of this game was set in the 1st period when the teams combined for 12 minors totaling 24 minutes. The 2nd was slightly better with 5 minors total but still the fuel was there for what happens after the final whistle.

This was an ugly dangerous situation that the QMJHL has to crack the whip on. Here is the YouTube clip with Noreau (#8) and the Drakkar in white.

If you want to look at it from a New York Ranger point of view then you want them giving Noreau a contract because despite several attempts to get someone to fight him, none of the Armada wanted anything to do with him.

As a hockey fan then you want to think "how stupid these players were" because when game 5 starts on Friday there might not be enough players for both teams. Both starting goalies got hit with "fighting after the original altercation" game misconducts so instead of being in the nets for the pivotal game 5 both might be in the stands.

In Plymouth, Tommy Hughes (NYR UFA 2013) played a much "smarter" game on defense for his London Knights as they defeated the Plymouth Whalers 6-4 to take a commanding 3-1 lead. Hughes was scoreless but a +3 for the game as this game was almost a carbon copy of game 3 where London would get a lead only to give it back and then win in the latter part of the game.

A very dangerous brand of hockey that catches up to a team in the end. Still despite 3-1 lead, don't call this series over as Plymouth is a very good team coached by a very good coach.

In Barrie, a name very familiar to NHL fans for scoring clutch playoff goals was the reason why Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) and his Barrie Colts earned a 4-3 overtime win over the Belleville Bulls. Brendan Lemieux son of former NHLer Claude scored his first career OHL playoff goal at 5:26 0f the first overtime period to give his Colts the win and a 3-1 series lead.

Theoret was scoreless with a -1 and a roughing minor in the first period. The Colts get their first shot at ending this series on Friday but they have to do it in Belleville. Good Luck boys.

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