Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Race to the Next Race

Taylor Cammarata (AP)
As we enter the final 2 weeks of the 2013-2014 regular season there remains plenty for the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects to play for. Most teams have qualified for the playoffs so it is now a matter of what kind of seeding will they have as they enter their league playoffs.

First Star Taylor Cammarata Minnesota Golden Gophers

Taylor Cammarata (NYI 2013 3rd) with a 1-2-3 performance led his top ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers to a 5-1 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes. Cammarata was involved in the first 3 Minnesota goals as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Ohio State could answer but Ohio State just could not solve Cammarata or his Golden Gophers.

Cammarata got going when he set up Justin Kloos for a goal at 2:03 of the first period and really Minnesota never looked back. Cammarata would add a secondary assist on Kyle Rau's power play goal at 16:05 of the first as the goal would also be the eventual game winner with Minnesota up 2-0.

In the 2nd period Cammarata would make it a 3-0 Minnesota lead when he scored his 9th goal of the season on the power play at 10:14. It was the second time this season that Cammarata registered a 3 point game as he did it earlier this season against Notre Dame as Cammarata improves to 9-12-21 on the season.

With the win Minnesota has clinched a first round bye in the Big Ten playoffs and with a win on Saturday can clinch the regular season championship as well. That game will be televised on ESPNews starting at 7:30 PM check your local listings.

Mackenzie Skapski (Kootenay Ice)
Second Star Mackenzie Skapski Kootenay Ice

With teammate Tim Bozon in a Saskatoon hospital fighting for his life with meningitis, Mackenzie Skapski (NYR 2013 6th) and his Kootenay Ice were looking to keep their faint hopes of catching the Medicine Hat Tigers for 4th place in the WHL's Eastern Conference alive by hosting the Tigers. Skapski would stop 30 out of 32 shots as the Ice defeated the Medicine Hat Tigers 5-2 to halt a 3 game losing streak.

Skapski was strong all night as he held the Tigers to a first period goal and a meaningless power play goal in the 3rd period. The win which clinched a spot in the WHL playoffs for the Ice also boosted Skapski's record to 27-17-2-1 with a 2.67 goals against and a 0.918 save percentage. The win also cut Medicine Hat's lead over the Ice to just 6 points with 5 games remaining for the Ice (Tigers have 4) so unless the Tigers fall totally apart the Ice will finish 5th in the WHL's Eastern Conference and face these very Tigers in the first round of the WHL playoffs.

Cristoval Nieves (Michigan Wolverines)
Honorable Mention Cristoval Nieves Michigan Wolverines

If Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) is finally starting to heat up then that will bode well for his 11th ranked Michigan Wolverines hopes of earning an invite to the NCAA tournament. Nieves had 2 assists to help the Wolverines knock off in-state rival Michigan State 6-1.

It was the 2nd straight 2 point game for Nieves who earned a primary as well as a secondary assists during the game's 2nd period registering those points on Michigan's 3rd and 4th goals of the game. Nieves is up to 2-15-17 which still is poor but if Nieves gets hot then Michigan is in a much better place.

The Rest Of the Prospects

Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 2nd) had a secondary assist on his top ranked Michigan Golden Gopher's 4th goal as part of the Gopher's 5-1 win over Ohio State. For Skjei, the assist was his 5th of the season giving him 8 points overall (3-5-8). Teammate Jake Bischoff (NYI 2012 7th) was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch last Saturday but he was scoreless.

It was the battle of Islander 1st round picks as Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) and his Edmonton Oil Kings took on Ryan Pulock (NYI 2013 1st) and his Brandon Wheat Kings. The Oil Kings took this one 6-3 and it wasn't as close as the score says because Edmonton jumped all over Brandon for 4 goals in the first period and cruised from there.

Reinhart would have an assist for his 19th point of the season while tossing in a +3 but he also took a high sticking call that led to a Brandon power play goal. Pulock was held scoreless with a -3 to show for his evening. The win gave Edmonton a 2 point lead over Calgary in the race for 1st place in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile Brandon falls into 8th place with the loss and only hold a 3 point lead over 9th place Prince Albert who defeated Calgary and hold a game in hand.

The Oil Kings extended their lead over the Calgary Hitmen because Adam Tambellini's (NYR 2013 3rd) Hitmen are picking the wrong time of the season to go on a losing streak. The Hitmen dropped their 2nd straight game this time 5-2 to the Prince Albert Raiders. No excuse for the Hitmen here as this was a winnable game but they spotted the Raiders a 2-0 lead, rallied to tied the game only to see the Raiders score 3 unanswered to earn the win.

Tambellini had an assist on Calgary's 2nd goal of the game for his 18th assist and 34th point but the Hitmen can only blame themselves if they wind up as 3rd seed instead of 1st. Calgary has also played one more game than Edmonton which adds even more pressure to this loss.

Kyle Burroughs (NYI 2013 7th) and his Regina Pats moved to a combination of 4 points away from clinching the WHL's East Division after defeating the Lethbridge Hurricanes 5-2. While Burroughs was scoreless, the Pats used a 4 goal second period to break the game open and cruise to the win.

The hottest team in all of junior hockey right now is Loic Leduc's (NYI 2012 4th) Rimouski Oceanic who spanked the Baie-Comeau Drakkar 7-1 to earn their 13th straight win. More importantly is that the win cut the Drakkar's lead over the Oceanic for first place in the Telus East Division and 1st overall in the QMJHL to 3 points with the Oceanic holding a game in hand.

Leduc was a busy young man while he was scoreless, Leduc was a +2 on one shot with 3 hits but also 16 minutes in PIMS on 3 minors and a misconduct that ended his evening early. Leduc was involved in a full ice scrum that saw all 10 skaters on the ice windup with a penalty or two.

Ryan Graves (NYR 2013 4th)
and his Val-d Or Foreurs registered a big 4-3 win over the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada to pull to within 1 point of the Armada for first place in the QMJHL's Telus West Division. Both teams have 4 games remaining which ought to make this race to the finish come down to the final game of the season.

Graves had the primary assist on what proved to be the game winning goal in the 3rd period as the Foreurs broke a 3-3 tie en route to the win. For Graves it was his 16th assist of the season and 21st point as he was a +1 on 2 shots with 2 hits.

Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) had 2 assists while teammate Troy Donnay (NYR 2013 UFA) had 1 as their Erie Otters spotted the Windsor Spitfires 1 goal then scored 6 unanswered for a 6-1 win. Donnay would earn the primary assist on Erie's first goal which tied the game while Pelech would have a primary assist on Erie's 3rd goal and a secondary on Erie's 5th.

Donnay who was also a +3 for the game is now 1-14-15 while Pelech was a +1 is 9-42-51.

Anthony Duclair (NYR 2013 3rd) missed his 3rd straight game with his "Upper Body"/Concussion and has no timetable for a return. Neither Eamon McAdam (NYI 2013 3rd) of Penn State or Stephon Williams (NYI 2013 4th) of Minnesota State saw action for their respective teams.

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