Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Night Fun

While the Rangers struggle their way though the exhibition season, the prospects are getting a chance to show off what they learned at Traverse City.

Prince Edward Island 5 Halifax 2

Chris Doyle has to be the most pleasant of surprises starting off the season as 3 games in and Doyle is 1-4-5 after a second straight 2 assist game for the Ranger's 2008 5th Round pick.

The difference tonight was while Doyle's assists were of the secondary nature, they helped Doyle's Prince Edward Island Rocket erase a 2-0 deficit as the Rocket earned their first win of the season 5-2 over the Halifax Moosehead.

Doyle has turned up his game since returning to PEI after a rather weak performance in Traverse City but for us it is a time when a weak performance motivated a prospect in the right way.

Doyle has established himself as the Rocket's first line center going 15-13 on his faceoffs in addition to a +1, 3 shots on goal (1 called a good scoring chance) but not credited with any hits. We wanted to see Doyle step up and for now, the young man is doing exactly that so let us hope to see this more often.

Oshawa 6 Niagara 4

While everyone's eyes in the CHL world are going to be on super prospect (and teammate) John Taveres, we have a message for the rest of the OHL; key your eye on Michael Del Zotto or he is going to make you pay.

Del Zotto in his first game back with Oshawa after the Ranger's returned him to Oshawa had an assist to help the General's erase a 2-0 deficit of their own in defeating the Ice Dogs.

Del Zotto sporting the "A" on his jersey made have had the quiet nice statistically but actually his play on the defensive end was what stood out for us. To see that Del Zotto took the lessons learned from his first Ranger camp and incorporate them into his overall game is a great sign for this prospect.

Del Zotto very much looks like he plans on erasing those question marks about his defensive game as you could see very clearly that Del Zotto is more confident in his positioning, not looking over his shoulder to see where he is on the ice.

Another thing that stood out tonight was what did not stand out which was that Del Zotto was quietly consistent on the defensive side. A sign that a player is getting his job done is that you can not single out either good or bad plays, just a steady flow of plays.

Del Zotto cleared his zone cleanly, he did not make risky passes and more importantly for his mostly young teammates, never tried to force plays even when trailing by 2 goals. Memo to the General fans, enjoy Del Zotto this season as we really doubt he will be back next season.

Other Games

Medicine Hat is very much going to be a more dangerous team when Tomas Kundratek joins their lineup. If Friday's 1-0 Overtime loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes means anything it is that the Tigers are a team to contend with in the WHL.

Without Kundratek in the lineup the Tigers have gone 1-0-1-1 and Kundratek is expected to be a difference maker at both ends of the ice. We can not wait to see Kundratek in the Tiger lineup (possibly tomorrow night according to rumors).

The Brampton Battalion do not appear concerned that Evgeny Grachev has not been returned by the Rangers but instead sent to the Hartford training camp. Either that or they are great actors as they are still giving off the impression that they are expecting Grachev to return to them before long.

In the meantime the very shorthanded Battalion playing in front of a very disappointing 1495 (smallest crowd in Brampton history) whipped the Peterborough Petes 5-2.

The Battalion are missing 3 key players and sorry Troop fans but those players who remained behind really could use some fan support. We could understand if this was Portland Oregon where a lame duck ownership has destroyed their relationship with the fan base but not Brampton.

Hope the fans realize that these are good young players who are busting their butt trying to win without their stars and deserve better.

Guess the only ones who are not surprised that Tysen Dowzak is still with the Rangers (Hartford training camp) are those with the Kelowna Rockets and us at Prospect Park. When you are 6'5 220, tougher than nails and one of the best in shape prospects then you can always find someone to be interested in your potential.

Do not let that smile fool you as Rocket fans will tell you that it is more than his size that stands out, it was his +29 last season for the Rockets that did. Dowzak went from a -24 in 2006-07 season to that +29 which in case you are not realizing is a swing of 53 which is almost unheard at any level of hockey.

As is the case at this time of the season, Dowzak's shorthanded teammates were missing players from their lineup but the Rockets had little trouble with the Kamloops Blazers 6-2. They are also acting just like those in Swift Current that they do not think Dowzak will be returning to them.

We shall see if they too are right.

Keep an eye on

We thought it is was a nice surprise to see that the Charlotte Checkers had signed PJ Corsi to their team this year as PJ was a player we got watch a lot of last season. PJ played with Ryan Hillier as a member of the Halifax Mooseheads on the same line.

Despite being just 5'10, PJ was always around the puck and it seems that when the Mooseheads needed a key goal it was PJ who was scoring it. While we raved about Hillier's performance during the QMJHL playoffs last season, it was PJ Corsi who was even better as in 15 games, Corsi was 8-11-19 after a 31-39-70 regular season.

Memo to Ken Germander, put those 2 together with Tom Pyatt or Brodie Dupont if you want some serious offense generated. Corsi has this knack of showing people that he is much better than others believe.

(pictures: Doyle-Prince Edward Island, Del Zotto-Oshawa, Kundratek-Medicine Hat, Grachev-Brampton, Dowzak-Kelowna, Corsi-Halifax)

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