Friday, February 22, 2008

Playing the Game

First Star

Mickey Renaud was laid to rest Friday in his hometown of Tecumseh Ontario as the shock and grief over his sudden passing at age 19 is still very raw and painful for his family, friends, teammates and even those who played against Renaud.

Over 1200 mourners packed the St. Anne Church to say good bye to Mickey as he was remembered as a good hearted person who always looked out for others. Those who spoke talked about Renaud's passion for eating but most importantly his willingness to always give to others.

The "Mouse" as Renaud was known as touched the hearts of his community as many talked about all the good things that Renaud gave to his community despite his young age. They talked about how so many of the younger kids looked up to him as a hero who looked after them.

His uncle Chris Renaud delivered the eulogy recalling his nephew as an inspiration to others. His Spitfire teammates formed an honor guard of sorts lining up as the hearse carrying their captain left the church.

Perhaps the most fitting of tributes came from the various youth hockey players who lined the streets of Tecumseh wearing their hockey jerseys in an unplanned tribute. From the bantams to the Junior Spitires they lined up and tapped their hockey sticks as the hearse passed in the traditional hockey salute to a peer.

(Information from the Windsor Star/OttawaCitzen.Com, The Toronto Star, and the Sporting News was used in this report)

Second Star

For the second night in a row Bobby Sanguinetti and his Brampton Battalion gave us a very exciting game to check out. Sadly for the second night in a row the Battalion also lost.

The Battalion traveled to Plymouth to face the Whalers but wound up losing 7-6 via the shootout. Our young prospect Sanguinetti has been providing us with excellent evidence why Sanguinetti is going to be a huge impact player for the Rangers in the not so distant future.

Just like last night's game with the Saginaw Spirit, the Battalion got into a wild shootout game full of leads, comebacks, ties and in the case tonight 12 goals in regulation play.

The Battalion appeared to have all the was back from being down 5-3 when Sanguinetti scored his 23rd goal of the season at 18:43 of the 3rd to give his Battalion their first lead of the game at 6-5. However the Whalers pulled their goalie and using the extra attacker tied the score at 6 at 19:35 of the 3rd period.

Neither team scored in the overtime period and during the shoot out period Sanguinetti missed on his attempt. For Sanguinetti, February is turning into a bounce back month for him as Sanguinetti is now 6-4-10 for the month. Make our future blueliner a very nice 23-37-60 on the season.

Third Star

After going 9 games without a goal, Tomas Zaborsky now has 4 goals in his last 7 games and Zaborsky has picked the right time to break out of his slump.

Zaborsky tallied his 28th goal of the season, this one an empty netter as his Saginaw Spirit won their 2nd straight 5-3 over the London Knights.

In addition to his goal, Zaborsky was a +2 which gives him a +5 over his last 2 games. This late season push is exactly what the Spirit needed from one of their overaged players but more importantly it will help the Rangers see what kind of player the 2006 5th round pick could possibly become.

The Rest of the Prospect Action

We welcome back to our prospect report Greg Beller the Ranger's 2005 6th round pick who was MIA from our reports since leaving Yale.

Beller has been playing in the BCHL which best can be described as a very talented league for those players wishing to maintain amateur status for NCAA eligibility.

Since leaving Yale during the holiday break (a decision we believe was the correct one for his career), Beller has been playing for the Vernon Vipers and has not done a bad job as we can tell.

Friday evening Beller's Vipers took on the division leading Pendleton Vees and with Beller scoring an assist came away with a 3-1 win. For Beller he has gone 9-8-17 in 22 games for the current 4th place Vipers and we will be trying to make contact with them to get more information about both them and Beller himself.

Antoine Lafleur gave up 4 goals on 38 shots faced as his Prince Edward Island Rocket were shut out 4-0 by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

Danny Hobbs returned to the Ohio Junior Bluejacket's lineup after missing 3 games to an undisclosed illness but was scoreless as his Junior Bluejackets lost a road game to the Des Moines Buccaneers 5-3.

Jordan Foote was scoreless as his Michigan Tech Huskies lost on the road to St. Cloud State 4-1'

Max Campbell and his Western Michigan Broncos were shut out by 4th ranked Miami of Ohio 2-0.

Carl Hagelin did not score as his top Ranked Michigan Wolverines lost a key road game to in-state rival Michigan State 5-2. The 2 teams will meet again on Saturday on a game televised by FSN Detroit at 8 PM EDT/ 5 PM PDT or you can catch it on tape delay over the Big Ten TV Network at 11 PM/8 PM.

David Skokan missed his 2nd game in a row due to his muscle injury as his Rimouski Oceanic dropped a 5-2 decision to the Victoriaville Tigres. Skokan's presence at both ends of the ice was missed but mainly on the penalty kill as the Tigres went 3 for 7 on their power plays.

Let the Awards Start Rolling In

Eric Hunter and his University of Alberta Golden Bears have a bye this week as they await to see who will face them in the Canada West semi-finals next week but the league announced their conference all-star teams.

Hunter earned 2nd Team All Conference and was also named to the All-Freshman Team as well. Hunter was the only freshman to earn a spot on either first or second team rosters. We congratulate Eric for his comeback as we know what he went though last April suffering a very badly broken ankle.

Brother Can You Spare a Few Million?

In a follow up to what we wrote regarding the situation regarding the Portland Winterhawks and all the various problems the franchise is facing, the Oregonian reported in their Friday editions that WHL Commissioner Robison has ordered the franchise to shake up their front office.

When we wrote our piece last night we called for the Winterhawks to hire a real director of hockey operations, a role that one of the owners Jim Goldsmith had appointed himself to.

We said that he had neither the background or the experience to hold such a role and it turns out that Commissioner Robison agrees saying "We don't believe he's experienced or qualified for that position."

In the same story the rumor over the Winterhawks refusing medical treatment to their injured players was refuted directly by the player in question 20 year old Kevin Undershute who denied all the rumors.

"They never said that at all," Undershute said. "They totally left it up to me."

We believe the young man and while we are also glad to see that the rumors about poor treatment of these young players were proven to be false at the same time we remain steadfast in our belief that for now we would not recommend any prospect agreeing to play for the Winterhawks until all promised changes are carried out.

Another issue where we are concerned is that while the franchise is acknowledging that they are slow in paying bills, that they have to be prodded by the WHL to pay them disturbs us.

The owners and now the WHL Commissioner are making noises about wanting changes to the current lease the Winterhawks have in Portland. With Commissioner Robison saying:

"If a new deal cannot be struck, he said, the team might need to find a new home, in Portland, or elsewhere."

The owners of the lease are the Portland Trailblazers who are claiming that if the Winterhawks were drawing better there were not be any complaints about losing money. The WHL claims that at least 10 percent of ticket sales is the cost of rent. A number that the WHL claims is the too high and will be conducting a study to prove that contention among the 22 WHL teams.

We will be watching that too as we have very little faith in the current Winterhawk ownership at the moment. On the ice the Winterhawks lost their 17th straight game so now the sad joke is will the team win another game this season with just 10 games remaining.

(Picture Credits Mickey Renaud/The OHL, Bobby Sanguinetti/Brampton Battalion(OHL), Tomas Zaborsky/Saginaw Spirit (OHL), Greg Beller/Yale)

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