Tuesday, May 14, 2013

WHL Top 2013 Draft Prospects Year End Rankings

1. Seth Jones D Portland - Seth Jones got off to a slow start early on this season, but got stronger as the season went on, as expected. Jones is an all purpose, all situations type defender. Equally strong at both ends of the ice, all while being a big minute eater on the backend. Jones is a gifted athlete with a strong sense of how to play the game. A very fluid skater for someone with his size. Jones won a gold medal with Team USA at the World Junior Chamionships and a WHL title with Portland to go along with being the rookie of the year in Portland. He has forced his way to the top of many lists and figures to be the #1 pick in the upcoming NHL Draft 61GP-14G-42A-56PTS +46 Last Rank: #1

2. Ryan Pulock D Brandon -  Pulock has many of the traits that Seth Jones exhibits. Perhaps not quite the mobility that Jones has but has an A+ above average slapshot. That slapshot has helped him tally a few times this season and throughout his WHL tenure. Pulock should become an all situations defender at the pro level. Pulock's team in Brandon fell on hard times as the season wore on essentially hindering the numbers that otherwise would have been there. It will be interesting to see how his team's success will help/hurt Pulock draft stock. Felt he should have made the Team Canada World Junior Club, especially when Ryan Murray went down to injury. His all around defender play would have made for a better fit for that team. 61GP-14G-31A-45PTS -7 Last Rank: #2

3. Curtis Lazar C Edmonton - Curtis Lazar has run hot and cold to start the season. Lazar's skill and ability to attack on the rush is undeniable, but his skillset is more defined in a team setting. Lazar is at his best when he makes plays in a team setting as opposed to being a player that makes strictly individual plays. It's that kind of player that allows the Oil Kings to have lots of success through the past couple of seasons. Lazar plays both ends of the ice very well, something rare for a player of his age. Lazar's game improved dramatically as the season went as he took a bigger offensive and attacked the net more off the rush. Lazar is a very dynamic player that can contribute as either a winger or center and be highly effective at both. 72GP-38G-23A-61PTS +25 Last Rank: #4

4. Hunter Shinkaruk LW Medicine Hat - Shinkaruk struggled early on as he got acclimated with becoming the go-to offensive player with the Tigers. Shinkaruk took on more of a playmaking role and handled that very well. Shinkaruk is a dynamic offensive player, be it a playmaker or a scorer. Even though his Tigers team had inconsistancy issues all season long, Shinkaruk has given the Tigers a chance to be in a lot of games. Slick offensive player that can create offense on his own or in a team environment. Shinkaruk is "offense in a bag", he can create it at any given time. Very crafty player. 64GP-37G-49A-86PTS -13 Last Rank: #3

5. Josh Morrissey D Prince Albert - Josh Morrissey had a fine season for his surprising Prince Albert team. Morrissey has played in a variety of situations for the Raiders team this season. Has established himself as the #1 all situations defender in Prince Albert. Though somewhat undersized, he is still firmly built, but its his size that sets apart Pulock and Jones from Morrissey. Morrissey brings a little of everything, offense, defense, puckmoving, physicality. Tough to say how he'll handle the rigors of the pro game but he is a very smart defender. 70GP-15G-32A-47PTS +14 Last Rank: #6

6. Eric Comrie G Tri-City - Eric Comrie has taken the next step in his development and cemented himself as the undeniable starting goaltender for Tri-City to go along with being one of the top tier goaltenders in the WHL. That was until a hip injury cut his season short and put him on the shelf for the rest of the season. Comrie is one of those rare hybrid goaltenders. Structurally sound enough to stop the first shot, but athletic enough to go from side to side quickly. Sky is the limit for Comrie as he has all the tools that most scouts look for in a goaltender. The debate with Comrie now will be how much will the hip injury hinder his abilities going forward because prior to that, he had all the making of an NHL starting goaltender. 37GP-20W-2.62GAA-.915S% Last Rank: #5

7. Morgan Klimchuk C Regina - Morgam Klimchuk had a fairly consistent year with an inconsistant Regina Pats team this season. Klimchuk is a very cerebral player with an excellent knack of finding offensive opportunities. Klimchuk is a dependable player all over the ice. Klimchuk ended the season 2nd on the Pats behind veteran Lane Scheidl. Klimchuk has this Patrick Marleau type of ability of being stealth like and then before you know it, he pops two past your goaltender. Even though the Pats missed the playoffs, Klimchuk has managed to keep his +/- respectable. 72GP-36G-40A-76PTS -1 Last Rank: #7

8. Nicolas Petan C Portland - Nicolas Petan took the Portland Winterhawks by storm this season. Tied the team lead in points with Brandon Leipsic as a 17 year old and this is a team that includes perennial high scorer Ty Rattie. Petan plays a gutsy game. Hangs in plays a little longer than he likely should, but that style has done well for him this season. Petan has established himself as a go-to offensive forward in Portland. His size may hold him back at the next level, as he is undersized, but his courageous play and gawdy numbers shouldn't go unnoticed. Petan's ability to create offense despite his size is nothing short of a marvel. The team that drafts him will face some challenges but you know Petan will do everything in his power to overcome them. The question about Petan is he the straw or the drink? 71GP-46G-74A-120PTS +68 Last Rank: #9

9. Madison Bowey D Kelowna - Madison Bowey could very well be the fastest skater coming out of the WHL this season. Effortless skater with a smooth pass. Bowey's hockey sense is still a work in progress as he is prone to brain cramps from time to time, but he is a player that keeps the other team honest by constantly trying to push the puck up the ice. There is still room for him to grow into his game. His plus/minus rating steadily climbed all season on a strong Kelowna team, a good sign for Bowey as he tries to stabilize his game and become more reliable at both ends of the ice. 69GP-12G-18A-30PTS +41 Last Rank: #10

10. Shea Theodore D Seattle - Shea Theodore is as smooth with the puck as any of the draft eligibles this season. Theodore often plays like a 4th forward on the ice. Rarely hesitates to grab the puck and rush up the ice. Very dangerous with his vision and decision making with the puck. Theodore could stand to add some muscle but not too much to hinder his skating which is a big asset for him. Away from the puck remains a work in progress. Part of it physical, the other part is understanding his positional assignments.71GP-19G-31A-50PTS -24 Last Rank: #8

11. Mirco Mueller D Everett - Mirco Mueller had a solid season to his first year in North America. Played well depsite not having the injured Ryan Murray by his side for the majority of the season. Mueller is tall player that stands 6'4" with a long reach, much like some of the other European defenders that have invaded the WHL over the recent years. Mueller plays the game with a lot of composure with and without the puck. Has some offensive acumen, what the ceiling on that potential is, remains to be seen. Excellent puck distributor. Mueller could stand to bulk up a bit, something that would help with his endurance. Ran out of gas as the season wore on, a trait that is common with many first year Europeans. 63GP-6G-25A-31PTS -10 Last Rank: #13

12. Jamal Watson RW Lethbridge - Jamal Watson started off the season slowly but emerged as one the Hurricanes go-to scorers as the season wore on. Watson's flying off the wing, crash the net style, is reminiscent of how WHL alumni Emerson Etem played in his time with the Tigers. Watson's overall game is still a bit raw, but his skating and fearless style makes him very intriguing as a prospect going forward. If Watson bulks up a smidge without losing any speed, much like Etem did, he could have himself a very prosperous future.  An under the radar type prospect that could yield dividends for some fortunate team. 72GP-20G-18A-38PTS +3 Last Rank: #11

13. Oliver Bjorkstrand RW Portland - Oliver Bjorkstrand came over from Denmark to play in the WHL this season. Bjorkstrand is a shifty, nose for the net type player. Quick trigger release makes him a natural goal scorer off the wing. A little on the thin side as of now, like a lot of players that seem to come from Europe. He landed in a good spot in Portland. He was a solid complementary scorer on a team stacked full of offensive talent. Not sure if he can become a go-to offensive talent at the pro level, but he was able to put up some solid numbers with Portland this season. 65GP-31G-32A-63PTS +38 Last Rank: #16

14. Tristan Jarry G Edmonton - Tristan Jarry likely didn't see as many games as he would have liked heading into his the NHL draft. While Oil Kings starter Laurent Brossoit was entrenched as the starting goaltender, Jarry is made the most of his opportunities by posting miniscule numbers this season. Still prone to the odd, flaky goal, but has solid mechanics and athletic enough to make the big saves. All he needs now is the experience and the volume of games. Jarry is the beneficiary of playing behind a strong defensive club, but is full value for his numbers this season. His coming out party was the Top Prospects game where he was spectacular. 27GP-18W-1.61GAA-.936S% Last Rank: #24

15. Jesse Lees D Kelowna - Jesse Lees enjoyed a fine season on a stacked blueline for the Rockets. Lees may not have the natural ability that his teammate Madison Bowey has, but what he does bring is a reliability and stability to the defense position. Known for his puck movement but has shown that he can play in a variety of situations. Brought a modest amount of offense from the backend, something that was a strength for the Rockets. Rockets vastly improved this season as shown by Lees' gawdy +/- number. Matched Bowey point for point this season. 66GP-12G-18A-30PTS +37 Last Rank: #15

16. Jackson Houck RW Vancouver - Gritty player that I had doubts on how effective his offense would be. His offense came around this season and with the way the Giants purged players, Houck ended being the leader point getter on the Giants. Kind of a sleeper pick. Plays the game with a lot of energy and tenacity. With the offense coming around, he's the type of player scouts look for. Demon on the forecheck. Look for Houck to become a leader on the Giants in the future. 69GP-23G-34A-57PTS -16 Last Rank: #17

17. Matt Needham C Kamloops - Matt Needham has had a lukewarm start to the season. Everytime I see Needham play, I think of Steve Ott. Needham didn't get the offensive looks as a lot of his teammates did and that forced Needham to play down the lineup. Needham has played a lot of center this season out of necessity, though I think he is better on the wing. Needham continues to be a thorn in the opposition side, definitely plays on the edge. Will likely get more minutes next season as some of his high profile teammates will be moving on. 58GP-12G-21A-33PTS +10 Last Rank: #18

18. Greg Chase C Calgary - Greg Chase took his offensive game up a notch this season. Might be better off playing on the wing at the next level as he is dynamic in attacking off the edges on the rush. Is very good at using his speed and leverage to cut towards the net. Excellent vision and playmaking skills he has displayed. Chase settled into a secondary scoring role with the Hitmen this season. Will likely get a bigger piece of the offensive pie next season as the Hitmen 20 year olds move on. 69GP-17G-32A-49PTS +11 Last Rank: #14

19. Connor Rankin C Tri-City - Rankin is a jack of all trades type forward that can play up and down the lineup. Still hanging out below a point per game and seems to have secondary production totals even though he's put into a primary scoring position. Rankin is a very opportunistic scorer that plays a solid two-way game. Rankin found more comfort in being one of the go-to scorers for the Americans as the season wore on. Half full, half empty type season from Rankin. Not a bad season but I'm thinking the Americans were hoping for more from him. 71GP-32G-26A-58PTS +9 Last Rank: #19

20. Dillon Heatherington D Swift Current - Heatherington makes his hay through being a shutdown defender, although he may have some untapped offensive ability. Not a lot of flash to Heathington's game, but there is a high degree of dependability to it. Heatherington's offense marginally improved as the season went along. Others have Heatherington ranked higher but I don't place as much value into strictly defensive defensemen. Another prospect to watch to see where the ceiling stops. An intriguing prospect nonetheless. 71GP-4G-23A-27PTS +25 Last Rank: #22

21. Macoy Erkamps D Lethbridge - Macoy Erkamps enjoyed a fine season. Slowly came around but became one of the go-to defensemen on the Hurricanes club. A smidge undersized, but a slick puckmoving defenseman. Has a bit of feistiness to his game. Erkamps continues to move up the depth chart. His offense continued to improve on a game to game basis. 72GP-5G-30A-35PTS -5 Last Rank: #21

22. Jaedon Descheneau RW Kootenay - Descheneau continued to improve throughout the season for the Ice. As the Ice team got better Descheneau's game picked up offensively. Crafty player who knows how to navigate through traffic in order to create offense. He created a dynamic duo with 2014 eligible Sam Reinhart. Look for him to become one of the leaders going forward on the Ice club. 69GP-30G-48A-78PTS +9 Last Rank:NR

23. Jay Merkley C Swift Current - Merkley's season was one of great drama. Was having an OK season with the Hurricanes until his world got turned on its ear and he was traded to the Broncos where he faded in the background and struggled down the stretch offensively. Merkley is a crafty player with offensive acumen but that dissipated as the season went on. Tough to say what becomes of Merkley now, but I have no choice but to push him down the list until we see more of his game on his new club. He could be a steal but right now, I'd have to list him as a gamble heading into the draft. 73GP-16G-14A-30PTS Even Last Rank: #12

24. Eric Roy D Brandon - Eric Roy hasn't quite enjoyed the success his Wheat Kings teammate Ryan Pulock has so far this season. Eric Roy is a solid puck distributor from the backend but has issues away from the puck. Not as dynamic as a Shea Theodore, but makes solid contributions as a puckmover. Doesn't hesistate to rush up the ice. Continues to need to work on strength and defensive coverage. Had a rough year with the plus/minus going -32. Really struggled when Ryan Pulock was out due to injury forcing him up the lineup. If a team can get him dedicatted to the defensive end, a team could have a steal on their hands. 72GP-17G-22A-39PTS -32 Last Rank: #23

25. Axel Blomqvist RW Lethbridge - Axel Blomqvist is the WHL version of Dustin Penner. Big man with soft hands and nice offensive skills, but isn't the most graceful skater. Creates space for his smaller Lethbridge teammates. At this stage Blomqvist looks to be more of a playmaker than a player looking to score. Blomqvist plays like your prototypical European big man. Like Mirco Mueller above, faded as the season went on like many first year Europeans. 59GP-7G-26A-33PTS -3 Last Rank: #26

26. Marc McNulty D Prince George - Tall, lanky 6'6" Dman with a heavy shot. Fairly good skater for a player his size. Uses his reach well defensively and a nice set of offensive. Looks like a player that had a late growth spurt as, at times, he seems unsure how to use his body in certain situations. A player of his height needs more muscle in order to play more complete game. A raw project but one with decent amount of untapped potential. 52GP-8G-7A-15PTS -18 Last Rank:NR

27. Cole Ully LW Kamloops - Ully did very well as a role player with the Blazers this season. Scored 22 times in limited ice time this season. Ully is a smart, reliable player that produces from third line. It will be interesting to see how Ully's game progresses as he moves up the lineup. Reminds me very much of a Fernando Pisani in his time with the Oilers. 62GP-22G-28A-50PTS +27 Last Rank:NR

28. Keegan Kanzig D Victoria - Keegan Kanzig is a player trying to develop a name for himself as a shutdown defender. Has the size and strength to do so, but I'm not sure the temperment is there for him to play ultranasty when the need arises. Kanzig is a big man and takes up a lot of space on the ice, but hasn't quite developed that timing of when to play tough and when to back off. Don't think there is much of an offensive pedigree here, so he will have to find a way to establish "fear" into his game a la Dylan McIlrath. Someone will gamble on his size alone. 70GP-0G-7A-7PTS -10 Last Rank: #29

29. Colby Cave C Swift Current - Cave put up modest numbers this season and plays a fairly dependable two-way game. Cave got off to a hot start this season but has levelled out his point production. Cave ook on a secondary scoring role for a decent Broncos team. Look for Cave to take on a bigger offensive role next season for the Broncos. 72GP-21G-20A-41PTS +1 Last Rank: 30

30. Kohl Bauml C Everett - Kohl Bauml is another diminutive, gutsy plater that you can't help but cheer for. Bauml is a jack of all trades forward for the Silvertips this season, that pitched in on the offense. The Silvertips got very little in terms of scoring from the forward position this season. Bauml's offense faded in and out as the season wore on. 66GP-21G-15A-36PTS -14 Last Rank: #28

Monday, March 18, 2013

Playoff Matchups Round #1 2013

Eastern Conference

(1) Edmonton Oil Kings vs. (8) Kootenay Ice
Oil Kings:
- Strengths - Very deep. Balanced scoring. Formidable defense.
- Weaknesses - Complacency. Shaky goaltending at times.
- Strengths - High octane top line. Enthusiastic club.
- Weaknesses - Not very deep, lack of offense from blueline.
Prediction: Oil Kings in 4

(2) Saskatoon Blades vs (7) Medicine Hat Tigers
- Strengths - High end top line. Defense is stout, goaltending strong.
- Weaknesses - Underachieved a lot of the year. Bottom end scoring.
- Strengths - High energy offense. Goaltending can steal a game.
- Weaknesses - Defensively suspect. Club not deep.
Prediction: Blades in 5

(3) Calgary Hitmen vs. (6) Swift Current Broncos
- Strengths - Great blend of skill and grit. Solid defense.
- Weaknesses - Immobile defense. Scoring comes and goes.
- Strengths - Solid defensively, Great goaltending.
- Weaknesses - Lack of scoring depth. Overall team speed.
Prediction: Hitmen in 7

(4) Red Deer Rebels vs. (5) Prince Albert Raiders
- Strengths - Balanced scoring. Strong goaltending. High energy club.
- Weaknesses - Lack of high end scoring. Smallish club.
- Strengths - Very balanced team. Methodical. Solid goaltending.
- Weaknesses - Lack of high end scoring. Inconsistent club.
Prediction: Rebels in 7

Western Conference:

(1) Portland Winter Hawks vs. (8) Everett Silvertips
Winter Hawks:
- Strengths - Top end scoring. Great team defense. Solid goaltending.
- Weaknesses - Smaller team. Battling complacency.
- Strengths - Decent defensively. Gritty, hard working club.
- Weaknesses - Lack of scoring. Lack of depth.
Prediction: Winter Hawks in 4

(2) Kelowna Rockets vs. (7) Seattle Thunderbirds
- Strengths - Great team depth. Solid goaltending. Solid defense group.
- Weaknesses - Team size is average. May have already peaked.
- Strength - Solid goaltending. Run & gun club.
- Weaknesses - No high end scoring talent. Defensively weak.
Prediction: Rockets in 5

(3) Kamloops Blazers vs. (6) Victoria Royals
- Strengths - High end offense. Defensively sound. Solid goaltending
- Weaknesses - Lack of offense from defense. Smaller forwards.
- Strengths - Excellent blend of skill & grit. Goaltending can steal a game.
- Weaknesses - Defensively weak. Easily give up on games.
Prediction: Blazers in 5

(4) Spokane Chiefs vs. (5) Tri-City Americans
- Strengths - High team hockey IQ. Solid top line. Strong team defense.
- Weaknesses - Inconsistant goaltending. Lack of scoring depth.
- Strengths - Balanced club. High gamesmanship.
- Weaknesses - Inconsistant goaltending. Smallish club.
Prediction: Chiefs in 7

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Game Report: Saskatoon 3 Edmonton 2 (SO)

EDM K. Lowe (15) (D. Wruck, D. Musil) 11:02

EDM D. Wruck (22) (C. Lazar, D. Musil) 10:44

SAS B. Walker (32) (M. Stransky) 4:13
SAS S. McColgan (19) (J. Nicholls, D. Siemens) 8:31

No Scoring

S. McColgan Goal
M. Stransky Miss

H. Samuelsson Miss
S. Legault Miss
T. Cheek Miss

Andrey Makarov 39/41

Laurent Brossoit 35/37

1. Brenden Walker C - Walker played a hard nosed game for the Blades on this night. Constantly finishing his checks on the forecheck and in the face of Oil Kings defenders all night. His hard work was rewarded as he scored the opening tally for the Blades that started the comeback. Walker plays a griity style but has a n offensive dimension to his game as shown by the 32 tallies this season. Comparable to a Brad Marchand type. An agitator who can manufacture offense. Walker is a key piece on a deep Blades forward unit.
2. Andrey Makarov G - Makarov started slowly but got much stronger as the game went on. The more shots he faced, the more into the game he was. Gave up a softy to Keegan Lowe, had no chance on Dylan Wruck's spectacular goal, but didn't give the Oil Kings a sniff after that, including the shootout where he kept all three shots out of the net. Makarov is a cool customer that doesn't get rattled in the net too often. Has a short memory and just keeps making saves regardless of the score. It's a good trait for a goaltender to have. Short memory but solid structure.

1. Dylan Wruck LW - Most dangerous Oil Kings forward on this night, including scoring a highlight reel goal that gave the Oil Kings a 2-0 lead. The Oil Kings are blessed with skilled offensive forward, but Wruck is as important as any of them. Player with a high motor that senses when its time to make a play. A great blend of determination, hustle and skill wrapped in the stout frame of Wruck. It will be interesting to see how the rest of Wruck's hockey career goes once his time with the Oil Kings is done.
2. Keegan Lowe D - Lowe may have the quietest 15 goals from a defenseman I have ever seen. For a player that is known for battle level and "in your face" type hockey, Lowe has developed an offensive facet to his game this season. Not sure how his offense will translate at the pro level but his 15 goals are needed on a defensive unit that is known more for its defense than offense. Lowe has grown exponentially in his time with the Oil Kings. He came into the WHL as a greenhorn, but will be walking out as an all around, dependable defenseman.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Game Report: Moose Jaw 4 Regina 3

M.J B. Point (15) (T. Brown, M. Rielly) 13:39 (PP)

M.J S. Fioretti (29) (B. Point, T. Eberle) 3:00
M.J J. Wyton (5) (J. Uhrich, B. Potomak) 8:09
REG B. Christoffer (8) (D. Stevenson) 15:01

REG D. Stevenson (15) (T. Ouellette) 1:59
M.J M. Rielly (12) (T. Eberle, B. Point) 6:31
REG M. Klimchuk (31) (C. Stephenson, L. Scheidl) 12:03

Matt Hewitt 24/28

Moose Jaw
Justin Paulic 18/21

1. Morgan Klimchuk LW - Klimchuk has had a fine NHL Draft eligible season. Continues to pot the goals as he scored his 31st of the season in this one. Klimchuk knows how to score, be it using his quick shot or crashing net and having a puck go off his body like he did in this one. Klimchuk has impressed with his determination. Everyone in the building knows he is most dangerous scorer on the Pats but that doesn't stop him from scoring. Klimchuk has a Patrick Marleau type game about him. There are times he disappears into the play and emerges with the puck and a scoring opportunity. Opportunistic scorer is what he is. I feel he should be a 1st rounder in the upcoming NHL Draft, albeit a back half pick.
2. Matt Hewitt G - Hewitt stole a game from Edmonton on Wednesday night and did everything he could to keep his team in this one but he didn't get the bounces tonight. There were some odd goals that were scored on him tonight, a lot of pucks ping-ponging in his crease. He battled but it wasn't meant to be tonight. The upside to Hewitt's game is his battle level, the downside is his size and ability to cover a lot of the net.

Moose Jaw:
1. Brayden Point LW - Everytime I see Point play, he always seems to be the best Warriors forward on the ice, but he only has a mere 15 goals this season, on a team that struggles to score. He is only in his 16 year old season and there is time for him to grow into his frame and game. He has a knack for being able to make a play with the puck everytime its on his stick. Known more for his playmaking, but has the ability to shoot the puck himself. As he grows and the talent around him evolves, he has the potential to become a point scoring machine.
2. Morgan Rielly D - Easily the best player on the ice and looked like he was a notch or two above every other player on the ice. Controlled the puck and pace with ease tonight and was dangerous everytime he touched the puck. The Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick looks very close to NHL ready, could be as soon as next season. It's good for him to formly establish himself at the WHL level and he is doing that right now. Dominated this game through puck possession tonight. Has been playing the right side lately and as a left handed shot, he has the ability to do that due to his mobility. His vision is already at a very high level. Tallied the winner in this one by banking a shot off of a Pats defender.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Game Report: Regina 3 Edmonton 2

No Scoring

EDM C. Lazar (33) (H. Samuelsson, D. Musil) 2:03
REG L. Scheidl (32) (K. Burroughs, C. Stephenson) 4:38 (PP)
REG L. Scheidl (33) (C. Stephenson, D. Stevenson) 15:43 (PP)

EDM T. Foster (25) (C. Corbett, G. Reinhart) 5:31
REG M. Klimchuk (30) (C. Williams, D. Stevenson) 9:06

Matt Hewitt 53/55

Tristan Jarry 13/16

1. Lane Scheidl LW - Like many of the Pats on this night, he was very quiet, but very opportunistic. Tallied twice, once on a sweet one-time bomb from the point and the other from a back door tap in. Showed a nice set of hands on both occasions. The 20 year old is the leading scorer for the Pats this season. A very heady player that has taken on a leadership role on the Pats club this season. Might get a look in the pros because of his cerebral play. He and Klimchuk really carry the offense on this Pats club.
2. Matt Hewitt G - Could very well be the best goaltending performance I see this season. Stopped 53 out of 55 tonight but it was how he was stopping the pucks that made his performance impressive. Hewitt's anticipation and side to side movement was top notch. Really battled out there and didn't show at any point that he was going to break. Took one shot off the coconut half way through the 2nd period that I initially thought would take him out of the game. But he shook it off, got back at it and kept making saves amongst the barrage. Gutsy perfomance but Hewitt tonight that allowed the Pats to walk out of Edmonton with a win.

1. T.J. Foster C - Foster tallied the goal that tied the game at 2, only for the Pats to score 3 1/2 minutes later. Foster had a few good looks tonight. It's players like Foster that allows the Oil Kings to win the possession battles. Good in his own zone and can make plays in the offensive zone as well. The Oil Kings are filled with these 3 zone players and its these 3 zone players that allow the Oil Kings game in, game out. Foster has been a fantastic Oil King in his time in Edmonton. I hope he gets his shot in the pros because he deserves the opportunity.
2. Griffin Reinhart D - Reinhart was pretty physical in tonight's game, Very effective in taking his man out of the play. Seems to be caught in between on the offensive side of the puck. Not getting the looks to use his effective shot. Reinhart is a part of a stable of Dmen that are solid in all 3 zones, much like the forwards. When your team is great in all 3 zones, you're going to have the puck a lot and when you have the puck a lot, you will get many chances to score, like the Oil Kings did tonight. The bounces just didn't go their way. As for Reinhart, he has been a fine captain for the Oil Kings this season and an effective defender. Really knows how to use his reach in the defensive zone. He's agile enough to handle speed and strong enough to handle power moves.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Game Report: Edmonton 5 Victoria 2

VIC J. Crooks (29) (S. Hodges, B. Magee) 7:09
VIC S. Hodges (25) (B. Magee) 15:21

EDM T. Ewanyk (7) (C. Corbett, S. Legault) 8:49 (PP)
EDM M. St. Croix (29) (T. Cheek, C. Corbett) 13:51
EDM D. Musil (8) (M. St. Croix, T. Foster) 14:28

EDM C. Lazar (30) (M. Gernat, E. Kulda) 5:35
EDM M. St. Croix (30) 6:38

Coleman Vollrath 32/37
Michael Herringer 1/1

Laurent Brossoit 17/19

1. Taylor Crunk LW - The Royals came out hitting in this one and Taylor Crunk was leading the way. Played the agitator role for the Royals. Started the game off with a couple of big hits on the forecheck, then  got into a stick swinging episode with Michael St. Croix that ended in a 2 minute penalty for Crunk when he slashed St. Croix behind the legs during a faceoff. Later had to answer for that by fighting Keegan Lowe in a very spirited scrap. Crunk doesn't have a lot of offense in his game but kept the energy up for the Royals as they were playing their 3rd game in 3 days in 3 different venues. The Royals eventually ran into fatigue and the Oil Kings took over the game.
2. Tyler Stahl D - Hockey pacifists would hate this player but a hockey purist like myself loves the way he plays the game. He plays for keeps out on the ice. Stahl plays with authroity. Punishing hitter on the backend for the Royals who has some offensive dimension. Stahl wears the "C" for the Royals and one can tell he is the pulse of this hockey club. Plays on the edge and sometimes go over that edge. One can call him dirty but he keeps his game pretty honest out there. I wonder if he will get a pro contract, I think he should as a punishing shutdown defender.

1. Michael St. Croix RW - St. Croix had a slow start to the game but picked up speed as the game went along. The offensive catalyst for the Oil Kings executed at a high level in this one. Scoring two of the prettier goals on the evening. St. Croix has been known more for his playmaking ability, but is just as gifted a goal scorer with his quick trigger release from in close. His shot accuracy is precise. St. Croix should have continued success at the next level. He has the confidence and ability to thrive at the pro level. St. Croix tallied twice in this game to bring his goal total to 30 for the season.
2. Cody Corbett D - The Oil Kings defense is ridiculously good, but I feel Corbett gets overlooked at times as a legitmate stand alone defender. Corbett had all of his skills on display. A solid first pass, strong positioning, and a knowing what to do in every situation should make him a sought after commodity. Corbett's game continues to get better and better with every outing. Tallied 2 assists in this game. Lots of talk about Reinhart, Lowe, Musil and Gernat in how they are all pro ready. I feel Corbett should be right in the thick of that conversation.