Sunday, January 27, 2013

Game Report: Red Deer 3 Lethbridge 2 (SO)

No Scoring

No Scoring

LET M. Erkamps (5) (J. Watson, R. Duke) 11:22 (PP)
R.D B. Gaudet (4) (B. Maxwell, R. Dieno) 14:43 (PP)
LET S. Mckechnie (22) (G. Hood, B. Ramsay) 16:28
R.D R. Dieno (15) (T. Elson, J. Hamilton) 18:28

No Scoring

Axel Blomqvist Miss
Brady Ramsay Miss
Reid Duke Miss

Red Deer
Rhyse Dieno Goal
Dominik Volek Miss

Ty Rimmer 43/45

Red Deer
Patrik Bartosak 29/31

1. Jamal Watson RW - Watson continues to be a player that flies under the radar of a lot of scouting services but remains high on my personal list. Watson has a ton of physical tools and a projectable frame to become a scoring power forward. While the numbers haven't backed him up this year, you can see the projection in his game. The key for him to stay with the program and keep the intensity up. If he wants it bad enough, he has the tools to become a top flight power forward. He has the speed and the power is slowly starting to show in his game.
2. Ty Rimmer G - Ty Rimmer has been nothing short of amazing for the Hurricanes this season. The Hurricanes boast a highly skilled but young club this season, and with a team that takes as many chances as they do, sometimes that backfires. Rimmer has been there many times when things have gone awry. He faces a lot of rubber night in, night out, but he keeps his team in games, like tonight, where they were able to squeak out with a point, although two points was within their grasp. Rimmer is a top flight goaltender in the WHL and one has to wonder if pro scouts have taken notice of his game this year.

Red Deer
1. Rhyse Dieno RW - Dieno was quiet for the majority but when it was time to make a play, he made one. Tied the game late and then scored the lone shootout goal. Dieno is what one calls an "opportunistic" scorer. When he gets a chance he rarely makes a mistake. Dieno has burst onto the scene this year. Scouts like myself continue look at Dieno with intrigue as we wonder whats coming next with him, but as long as he continues to make head turning plays, he'll continue to turn heads.
2. Patrik Bartosak G - Bartosak matched Rimmer save for save, especially early in the game when Lethbridge came out guns ablazing. He kept the game scoreless long enough to allow his team to gain some traction as the Rebels couldn't match intensity early on. Bartosak is a lot like other European goaltenders, plays big in the net, doesn't waste a lot of movement, but athletic enough to make the lateral save. Bartosak and Rimmer were fantastic in this game when it looked like the entire game was going to be scoreless.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Game Report: Victoria 6 Vancouver 4

VIC B. Magee (20) (S. Hodges, A. Gogolev) 3:52
VAN C. Popoff (6)  6:36
VAN C. Franson (19) (R. Zalitach) 11:02

VIC B. Fushimi (4) (S. Hodges) 3:43
VAN J. Houck (14)  4:52 (PS)
VIC B. Magee (21) (A. Gogolev, B. Cote) 8:05 (PP)
VIC B. Magee (22) (B. Cote, A. Gogolev) 13:38 (PP)

VIC B. Magee (23) (A. Gogolev, A. Carroll) 0:32
VIC B. Fushimi (5) (J. Crooks, J. Hicketts) 2:21 (PP)
VAN J. Houck (15) (B. Kulak, C. Franson) 17:35 (PP)

Payton Lee 15/20
Jared Rathjen 8/9

Patrik Polivka 20/24

1. Jackson Houck RW - Houck plays the game hard and this game was no different for the most part. Scored on a penalty shot and scored a late one on a sharp angle shot. Was a pest on the forecheck while the game was still being contested. If Houck can continue to score consistantly he may be looked upon being more than just a checking/energy player, but a player that can get offensive looks and become an offensive threat. Houck plays the game the right way and continues to impress. Look for him to be drafted in the upcoming 2013 Draft.
2. Mason Geertsen D - Geertsen has been given more responsibility since moving from Edmonton to Vancouver. Is still a work in progress but the foundation is there. When they traded David Musil for Mason Geertsen, what Vancouver was essentially getting was a younger verion of Musil in Geertsen. Geertsen is already wearing a letter with the Giants which speaks to his style of being a gamer. Geertsen isn't as much of a slam dunk to get drafted as much as Houck is, but Geertsen is likely to hear his name during the 2013 NHL Draft.

1. Brandon Magee RW - Magee had one of those games that many players dream of. Having the puck land on your stick with a gaping net to look at. It happened 4 times for Magee tonight. He and Alex Gogolev were in sync on this night as Gogolev assisted on each of his goals. Gogolev was driving wide, attracting defenders which allowed Magee to pick up loose change around the net. Magee has uncanny knack of disappearing into traffic but emerging with the puck. Happened often on this night. Magee doesn't play as physical as he has in years past, but is looked to more for offense.
2. Joe Hicketts D - Continue to be impressed with Hicketts potential. Plays with a lot of composure and is very comfortable using his stick in defensive situations. He's a player of short stature, but doesn't get rattled when its time to make a play. Made a countless amount of seem passes that revved up the Royals offense. Hicketts is equally effective with the long pass or the short pass. His passing and mobility make him a handful on a Royals breakout. Plays with a lot of poise considering he is only 16 years old. Hicketts is 2014 NHL Draft eligible.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Game Report: Calgary 5 Prince George 3

CAL J. Zgraggen (3) (C. Lang, J. Virtanen) 2:55
P.G D. Ehrhardt (2) (C. Witala, T. Bourke) 7:04
P.G M. McNulty (7)  12:11 (PP)
CAL A. Roach (11) 13:49

CAL G. Chase (13) (J. Virtanen) 6:45 (SH)
CAL V. Rask (4) (Z. Jones, C. Sylvester) 17:36

CAL Z. Jones (17) (V. Rask, C. Mayor) 12:03
P.G Z. Pochiro (6) 19:22

Prince George
Brett Zarowney 29/34

Chris Driedger 19/22

Prince George
1. Troy Bourke LW - Bourke was the best of forward bunch for Prince George on this night. Bourke was doing his best to get the puck towards the opposing net as often as he could. Prince George suffers from a lack fo scoring depth at forward these days from the departure of Alex Forsberg and Daulton Siwak. Bourke is a shifty playmaker who along with Colin Jacobs are the two go to offensive players left on the Cougars.
2. Marc McNulty D - The Cougars suffer from a serious lack of underexposure in these parts. McNulty likely should have been on previous top 30 lists of mine, but this is the first time I have seen him play. He has a decent all around game. Chips in offensive with a nice low shot, uses his reach effectively defensively, but he is one lanky son of a gun. Sits at 6'6" 190 lbs, could stand to bulk up a bit but has some nice skills and uses them effectively in both the offensive and defensive zones. Decent enough skater but has that hitch in his step. You can tell he must have had a massive, quick growth spurt.

1. Zane Jones LW - That curious deal that sent Alex Goglev to Victoria and landed Zane Jones in Calgary has really worked out well for both clubs. Jones has emerged as a big bodied secondary scoring forward that makes life tough on opposing defensemen. Jones has really fit like a glove on this squad. He plays up and down his wing, produces and doesn't need a lot of minutes in order to be productive. The depth of the Hitmen forwards has been eqally impressive ast heir top line has this season.
2. Alex Roach D - Second game in a row where I've seen the Hitmen play and Roach be one of the more impressive players. Scored a beauty goal by going end to end, then ripping a shot that sent the water bottle flying off the net. Unfortunately for Roach, he only made it through 23 minutes of the game before taking a shot to the throat area and had to leave the game. Alex Roach is one player that has really caught my eye over the last couple of weeks and seems to have the momentum of a runaway locamotive. Hopefully his injury doesn't keep him out too long.

Game Report: Medicine Hat 2 Edmonton 1

M.H T. Cox (13) (T. Lewington, L. McVeigh) 14:41 (PP)

M.H E. Pearce (20) (T. Cox) 11:03
EDM K. Lowe (11) (M. St. Croix, D. Musil) 15:16

No Scoring

Medicine Hat
Cam Lanigan 28/29

Tristan Jarry 25/27

Medicine Hat
1. Trevor Cox C - Dimiutive forward was the best skater on either side on this night. Cox tallied the opener with a solid one-timer on a 5 on 3. A rather sleepy game from both sides. Tigers competed while the Oil Kings looked lethargic. Cox looked for open ice all night and made plays when he had the chance. Talied an assist as well on the goal by Elgin Pearce.
2. Cam Lanigan G - Lanigan got stronger as the game went on as the Tigers offense slowly waned throughout. Lanigan only faced 5 shots in the first period as the Oil Kings got off to a very slow start. Lanigan left very little in terms of second shot opportunites. A lot of "one and done" on this night for the Oil Kings. It's always a feel good story when an ex-player of a certain team is one of the best players of the opposing club.

1. Travis Ewanyk C - To say the Oil Kings forwards were lethargic would be an understatement. No flow, very little battle, a lot of one on one play. Traivs Ewanyk was the best of the bunch as he tried to get things going early with a fight with Tyler Lewington 2 1/2 minutes into the game. But things didn't get much better from there. Ewanyk answered the beel early but it was as if it didn't matter.
2. Keegan Lowe D - Scored the lone goal for the Oil Kings when he tried to make a cross slot pass that hit a Tigers' stick and beat Lanigan blocker side. Lowe had some chances with some clear looks on shots but very little was coming easy for the Oil kings on this night. Gotta give credit to the Tigers for making the Oil Kings battle for every inch of ice and taking advantage of a back to back situation for the Oil Kings. Lowe has gotten more and more reliable as the season has worn on.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Game Report: Team Orr 3 Team Cherry 0

ORR Adam Erne (1) (Seth Jones, Laurent Dauphin) 3:39

ORR Laurent Dauphin (1)  4:07
ORR Nicolas Petan (1) (Anthony Duclair, Oliver Bjorkstrand) 7:24

No Scoring

Team Orr
Spencer Martin 16/16
Philippe Desrosiers 4/4

Team Cherry
Zachary Fucale 17/20
Tristan Jarry 16/16

Team Orr
1. Laurent Dauphin C - Got a chance to play in the game when Hunter Shinkaruk was out with the flu and made the most of it. Tallied a goal and an assist and play very well with Quebec Remparts Adam Erne and Nick Sorensen. Most dangerous line of the night, at least early on. Dauphin played a well rounded game did a little bit of everything helping Team Orr to victory. This game at least put him on the map for the 2013 Draft.
2. Nikita Zadorov D - Very impressed with the way Zadorov played defense tonight. Won a lot of battles, threw some bone jarring hits, all while being composed with the puck. Between Zadorov and Seth Jones, Team Cherry was locked out of the Team Orr zone for most of the night. If Zadorov can find any comfort in his shooting, he could become a top 15 pick, but as it is, I have him ranked to go in the bottom end of the first round.

Team Cherry
1. Ryan Hartman RW - Hartman did what he could to try and get some emotion on his team's side by starting the game hitting and then getting into a scrap, but Team Orr defense was just impenetrable. Hartman rode shotgun with the Nathan McKinnon/Jonathan Drouin combo, but had very few good looks on the Team Orr net. Hartman may have a future as a pest/moderate scorer/ 2nd or 3rd line type player type. Plenty of character in this player who represented Team USA at the World Junior Championships and won gold.
2. Tristan Jarry G - The goaltenders were the stars for Team Cherry. Zach Fucale started and eventually could hold back the pressure of Team Orr, while Jarry faced the same pressure and stood up to it making all of his saves even though there were a few hairy moments. Jarry was the player that likely improved his stock the most in this game as he doesn't get the chance to start a lot with the Edmonton Oil Kings with Laurent Brossoit getting the majority of the games. Jarry proved tonight that its just not the Edmonton Oil Kings' defense that is the reason for his miniscule numbers this season.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Game Report: Kelowna 6 Tri-City 3

T.C M. Plutnar, (4) (R. Chynoweth), 2:18
T.C B. McCue, (14) (J. Feser), 12:18
KEL R. Stadel, (2) (J. Barnett, C. Rigby), 13:35
KEL R. Chartier, (10) (J. Lees, M. Bowey), 16:23 (PP)

KEL D. McKinlay, (14) (M. Johnston), 3:51
KEL D. McKinlay, (15) (C. Heffley, J. Lees), 8:42
T.C C. Rankin, (18) (M. Topping), 9:11

KEL R. Olsen, (20) (D. McKinlay, Z. Franko), 5:58
KEL M. Bowey, (9) (J. Barnett, D. McKinlay), 8:16

Luke Lee-Knight 24/30

Jordon Cooke 26/29

1. Justin Feser C - Feser was the most dangerous forward on this night for the Americans. Tallied only one assist but had a few other failed opportunites. Feser a shifty forward with a quick release. Feser is the clear offensive leader of the Americans, 20 points clear of the next Americans player. It will be interesting to see if Feser gets any attention from the pro ranks as he plays in his 20 year old season and finishes up his WHL tenure.
2. Michal Plutnar D - Americans had a tough time dealing with the tenacity at which the Rockets play with. Plutnar held his own against the Rockets to go along with opening the scoring on a wrist shot from the point that found a Rockets stick and found the top of the net. Plutnar is a puckmoving Dman that has a solid, understated defensive game.

1. Dylen McKinlay RW - McKinley was the most productive player for either side on this night. Scored twice to go along with 2 assists. McKinley has a knack for getting off quick shots no matter the angle. Scored twice off of rebound opportunities, catching the goaltender off guard. McKinley has emerged as one of the go-to offensive forwards on the Rockets this year. Leads the Rockets with a +36 which tells me he is getting things done at both ends of the ice.
2. Madison Bowey D -  The game itself was a Madison Bowey style game. Up and down the ice with authority. Bowey added a goal and an assist to the Rockets cause. Bowey could very be the fastest/agile skater in the WHL. Effortless he is in getting around the ice. Scored a goal on a nice one-timer, something that I wasn't sure was in his repertoire. Rockets have an excellent blend of defensemen. Bowey is their push the pace guy, that is looking to create open space for his teammates and himself.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Game Report: Edmonton 4 Lethbridge 0

EDM M. Moroz (9) (D. Musil, A. Sautner) 16:16

EDM C. Lazar (16) (K. Lowe, T. Ewanyk) 0:42
EDM T. Cheek (19) (K. Lowe) 16:09

EDM D. Wruck (13)  9:44

Ty Rimmer 42/46

Tristan Jarry 23/23

1. Jamal Watson RW - Since the Hurricanes mustered very little in terms of offense, I was there mainly to see how Watson was adjusting to life without the recently departed Jay Merkley and the outcome did not go well for Watson. Had a couple of rushes where he could use his speed to the outside but they ultimately did not end up to amount to anything. I mentioned that when the Merkely deal went down the biggest loser in the deal would be Jamal Watson as they had composed some mild success early on in the season. We'll have to see what kind of adjustments Watson and the Hurricanes can make to maximize his game.
2. Ty Rimmer G - Rimmer was the only reason why this game was close. The Oil Kings really took advantage of the youth of the Hurricanes. Rimmer gave up a softy of a first goal, one that essentially went into the net via a whiffed shot. He didn't have a chance on the other 3 goals. Rimmer made many 10 bell saves tonight as the Oil Kings handily won the possession battle. It will be interesting to see if Rimmer gets a shot at the pros. I must admit when Rimmer was a part of Tri-City, I thought he was a product of the system, but playing in Lethbridge where the hockey has been a little loose at times, Rimmer has been their best player up to this point of the season.

1. Trevor Cheek LW - Cheek didn't waste any time notching his first goal as an Oil King. Cheek was brought in to be a depth scorer, bring leadership and hustle, and be able to play up and down the lineup. He will fit in well. Cheek is plug and play like so many of the Oil Kings players, that's one of the reason he will make a positive contribution. A very responsible player who takes care of his own ice and his minutes.
2. Tristan Jarry G - Jarry had what I like to call the "Chris Osgood shutout", meaning the team was so good in front of him that the barrages and defensive zone pressure were kept to minimum. That being said Jarry didn't give away any cheapies tonight and looked confident. Jarry has played well over the last month earning more starts and the trust of the coaching staff. It will be interesting to see how the Oil Kings handle their goaltending when playoff time rolls around. I believe incumbant Laurent Brossoit will still be the go-to guy, but Jarry hasn't given them any reason to think he couldn't get the job done.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Game Report: Calgary 6 Moose Jaw 4

CAL J. Zgraggen (2) (K. Helgesen, B. Hurley) 11:42
CAL B. Brassart (15) (C. Sylvester) 14:42
M.J T. Bell (2) (C. Hansen) 17:08

CAL B. Macek (22) (A. Roach) 0:06
M.J J. Messier (7) (J. Kirsch, T. Brown) 4:46 (PP)
M.J J. Kirsch (14) (B. Point) 5:22 (PP)
CAL A. Roach (10) (B. Macek) 11:11

CAL B. Brassart (16) (C. Sylvester, J. Zgraggen) 12:48
M.J B. Doucette (2) (T. Eberle, T. Bell) 18:24
CAL C. Sylvester (23) (B. Macek) 18:33

Mack Shields 13/16
Chris Driedger 15/16

Moose Jaw
Daniel Wapple 27/33

1. Brady Brassart C - The line of Sylvester-Brassart-Macek feasted on the Warriors tonght. They were on the ice for 5 of the 6 goals. Brassart tallied twice with strong, quick wrist shots that beat Wapple clean. Brassart is a good blend of offense, defense and agitation. He's always in the battle but can also make plays with the puck. Had an impressive +5 stat line on this night. A player that can play in any type of game.
2. Alex Roach D - Roach had a goal and an assist tonight. Made conscious effort to make offensive plays. Often pinching in from the points and attacking off the edges. Roach has taken the reigns of the offense from the backend, leading his team in defenseman points. Doesn't seem like the most explosive skater but always finds a way to get where he needs to be. Has a gawdy +/- this season with a +30.

Moose Jaw
1. Justin Kirsch LW - The stick of Justin Kirsch was the reason why the Warriors hung around this game. Scored once and notched an assist. His goal was a smooth one-timer off a faceoff that caught the goaltender off guard. Kirsch's shot is the thing that stood out most tonight in this game. Didn't really notice him until he had the puck on his stick and started unloading. Kirsch was biggest contributor to the Warriors offense on this night.
2. Travis Brown D - Brown played the role of puckmoving Dman with Morgan Rielly still absent from the Warriors backend. Brown did an admirable job of puck distributing and skating with the puck. Tallied one assist on this night as he setup Kirsch for one of his one-timer goals. Played a lot tonight and in all situations. If Rielly sticks with the Leafs, Brown will likely get the bulk of the work for the Warriors.

Monday, January 7, 2013

WHL Top 30 2013 Draft Prospects Midseason Rankings

1. Seth Jones D Portland - Seth Jones got off to a slow start early on this season, but has picked up his game, 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. Went from a +8 to a +27 during the 2nd quarter of the season. Jones is fresh off winning a gold medal with Team USA at the World Junior Chamionships. While he had some flaky moments defenisvely during the tourney, his overall game was a big part of the American team. 31GP-8G-20A-28PTS +27 Last Rank: #1

2. Ryan Pulock D Brandon - Ryan Pulock has started this season with an absolute bang. 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 in the 2nd quarter. 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. 36GP-10G-21A-31PTS +7  Last Rank: #2

3. Hunter Shinkaruk LW Medicine Hat - Shinkaruk struggled early on as he got acclimated with becoming the go-to offensive player with the Tigers. Shinkaruk has to take on more of a playmaking role early on this season and seems to be handling that well now. Shinkaruk is a dynamic offensive player, be it a playmaker or a scorer. Even though his Tigers team has underachieved so far this season, 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. Should continue to put up a pile of points with the Tigers this season. 37GP-23G-29A-52PTS -5 Last Rank: #3

4. 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 offensive game is a little behind in terms numbers, but the skill is there for it to come to the forefront. On a stacked team like the Oil Kings, it will be tough for Lazar to move up the depth chart, but is excellent insurance if injuries arise. 40GP-15G-12A-27PTS +10 Last Rank: #4

5. 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. 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. What makes his start more impressive is the Tri-City team has struggled on and off offensively but his goaltending has kept his team afloat. 36GP-10W-2.66GAA-.913S% Last Rank: #6

6. Josh Morrissey D Prince Albert - Josh Morrissey has had a fine start to the 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, physicality. Very smart defender. 40GP-8G-18A-26PTS +13 Last Rank: #5

7. Morgan Klimchuk C Regina - Morgam Klimchuk has had a fairly consistent start 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 should emerge close to the top for point totals with the Pats this season. Even though the Pats are having a middling season, Klimchuk has managed to keep his +/- respectable. 43GP-21G-28A-49PTS -2 Last Rank: #7

8. Shea Theodore D Seattle - Shea Theodore is as smooth with the puck as any of the draft eligibles this season. Away from the puck remains a work in progress but he has made some strides as his Thunderbirds team has improved early on 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. 40GP-7G-18A-25PTS -8 Last Rank: #8

9. Nicolas Petan C Portland - Nicolas Petan has taken the Portland Winterhawks by storm early on this season. Leads the high scoring team in points 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 early on 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 early on shouldn't go unnoticed. The question about Petan is he the straw or the drink? 39GP-27G-40A-67PTS +43 Last Rank: #13

10. 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 has been steadily climbing all season, a good sign for Bowey as he tries to stabilize his game and become more reliable. 40GP-8G-10A-18PTS +27 Last Rank: #12

11. Jamal Watson RW Lethbridge - Jamal Watson started off the season slowly but has emerged as one the Hurricanes go-to scorers. 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. Watson's 2nd quarter wasn't quite as productive as his 1st quarter. 43GP-9G-12A-21PTS +2 Last Rank: #9

12. Jay Merkley C Swift Current - Jay Merkley has emerged as a top flight center with the vastly improved Hurricanes this season. Merkley is known as a two-way center that has shown some offensive acumen early on this season. Merkley's mental makeup has gotten stronger as he has gained more experience. It really showed in plus/minus end of things as they crept closely to the even mark. Merkley has morphed nicely into a scorer early on this season. EDIT - In a stunning turn of events Merkley is now a member of the Broncos as I publish this article. 43GP-14G-8A-22PTS +1 Last Rank: #10

13. Mirco Mueller D Everett - Mirco Mueller has had a solid start to his North American hockey career. Has played well depsite not having the injured Ryan Murray by his side. 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, but all in all, a solid start to the season for him. Showed well for the Swiss team at the World Junior Championship. 34GP-2G-16A-18PTS +4 Last Rank: #11

14. Greg Chase C Calgary - Greg Chase taken 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 to this point of the season. Chase has settled into a secondary scoring role with the Hitmen this season. 39GP-11G-16A-27PTS +4 Last Rank: #15

15. Jesse Lees D Kelowna - Jesse Lees has enjoyed a fine start to the 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 early on this season that he can play in a variety of situations. It will be interesting to see how Lees emerges on the backend for the Rockets. Rockets have vastly improved this season as shown by Less' gawdy +/- number. 37GP-4G-12A-16PTS +29 Last Rank: #14

16. Oliver Bjorkstrand RW Portland - Oliver Bjorkstrand has come over from Denmark to play in the WHL this season. Bjorkstrand is a shifty, nose for the net type player. A little on the thin side as of now, like a lot of players that seem to come from Europe. He has landed in a good spot in Portland. He should be a solid complementary scorer on a team stacked full of offensive talent. Not sure if he can become a go-to offensive talent, but he should be able to put up some solid numbers with Portland this season. 32GP-16G-16A-32PTS +21 Last Rank: #16

17. Jackson Houck RW Vancouver - Gritty player that I had doubts on how effective his offense would be. His offense has come around this season and with the way the Giants have purged players this season due to a slow start, things are setting up nicely for Houck to have a breakout season. 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. The Giants have had a lacklustre season thus far but the fact that Houck remains on the plus side of the ledger is a testament to his efficiency. 41GP-10G-25A-35PTS +2 Last Rank: #17

18. 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 is kind of at the mercy of the Blazers hot start. Needham hasn't gotten the offensive looks as a lot of his teammates are off to torrid offensive starts which has 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. 42GP-6G-14A-20PTS +1 Last Rank: #20

19. Connor Rankin C Tri-City - Rankin's offense came around during the 2nd quarter of the season. Still hanging out below a point per game and seems to have secondary production even though he's put into a primary scoring position. Rankin is a very opportunistic scorer that plays a solid two-way game. Ranking is slowly finding his stride after a slow start and finding more comfort in being one of the go-to scorers for the Americans. 40GP-17G-11A-28PTS -3 Last Rank: #18

20. Alex Forsberg C Prince George - Forsberg has been disappointing so far this season. I expected him to grab the offensive reigns of the hockey club. Newcomer Colin Jacobs has come in and stole the spotlight which has relegated Forsberg to a secondary scoring role. His defensive play has been subpar as well. He seems content for the time being in being a secondary scoring. If he doesn't improve his overall game, he could stand to fall further in the rankings. Still needs work on his hockey sense. A change of address may be best for Forsberg going forward.  31GP-9G-19A-28PTS -18 Last Rank: #19

21. Macoy Erkamps D Lethbridge - Macoy Erkamps has enjoyed a fine start to the season. Slowly coming around and becoming 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 continues to improve on a game to game basis. 44GP-3G-16A-19PTS +4 Last Rank: #22

22. 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 over the 2nd quarter as he starts to get looks in more offensive situations. Another prospect to watch to see where the ceiling stops. 42GP-2G-12A-14PTS +7 Last Rank: #27

23. 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 2nd quarter, going -20 in that stretch, really struggled when Ryan Pulock was out due to injury forcing him up the lineup. 42GP-7G-17A-24PTS -24 Last Rank: #21

24. Tristan Jarry G Edmonton - Tristan Jarry is starting to get more games under his belt as he heads into his draft year. While Oil Kings starter Laurent Brossoit looks entrenched as the starting goaltender, Jarry is making the most of his opportunities by posting miniscule numbers to start the 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, but I'm not sure that will come this year. Jarry is the beneficiary of playing behind a strong defensive club, but is full value for his numbers this season. 15GP-10W-1.80GAA-.930S% Last Rank: #28

25. Carter Hansen RW Moose Jaw - Carter Hansen is a budding power forward who is still trying to find his offensive game. Has the tools to become so. Big frame, smooth skater, his puckhandling is a little sloppy at times. Hansen hasn't grabbed the offensive reigns on the Warriors team like I thought he would have, especially on a team that is looking for goals from the forward positions. The Warriors had a lacklustre 2nd quarter of the season and Hansen didn't improve his numbers much. Hansen will be an interesting case study throughout the rest of the season. 40GP-5G-7A-12PTS -12 Last Rank: #23

26. 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. All in all, has been a big part the Hurricanes emergence this season completes the quartet of Hurricanes players on the list. 42GP-3G-21A-24PTS -2 Last Rank: #24

27. Brian Williams C Tri-City - Brian Williams got off to very slow start but is now starting to come around with the offense. Most of the time is the smallest player on the ice but you have to admire the guts and tenacity he plays the game with. Not afraid to go to the dirty areas and has a nice set of hands in and around the net. Has put up modest numbers but thought he would taken on more of the offensive burden this season. 39GP-12G-9A-21PTS -3 Last Rank: #25

28. 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 is pitching in on the offense. The Silvertips are getting very little in terms of scoring from the forward position this season. Bauml should continue to get offensive looks on a thin Silvertips club. 37GP-12G-9A-19PTS -7 Last Rank: #26

29. 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. 38GP-0G-5A-5PTS -2 Last Rank: #29

30. Colby Cave C Swift Current - Cave rounds out the top 30 and is the lone newcomer to the list. Cave has put up modest number 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 has taken on a secondary scoring role for a hot and cold Broncos team. The Broncos will be looking at a late season playoff push and it will be interesting to see if Cave is a big part of that. 43GP-9G-14A-23PTS -6 Last Rank: NR

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Game Report: Edmonton 5 Vancouver 0

EDM C. Corbett (3) (D. Wruck, H. Samuelsson) 1:44 (PP)

EDM S. Legault (8) (T. Foster, C. Corbett) 14:31

EDM D. Wruck (12) (H. Samuelsson, M. St. Croix) 4:26
EDM B. Pollock (2) (B. Carroll) 8:23
EDM A. Sautner (1) (S. Legault, T. Foster) 18:24

Jared Rathjen 28/33

Tristan Jarry 24/24

1. Jackson Houck LW - Houck was likely the best Giants' forward on this night. A real pest but plays with a tenacious work ethic that is infectious throughout the lineup. Real yeoman's work on the penalty kill as the Giants were in penalty trouble a lot of the night, including being down 5 on 3 on a couple of occasions. Houck does have some offense to his game but that wan'r apparent from any Giant on this night. If Houck continues with his game, he should find a home as a 3rd line role player type in the pros.
2. Jared Rathjen G - Surprisingly impressed with how Rathjen played tonight. Stayed square to the puck and battled through traffic a lot on this night. Penalties kept him busy, but he was a big part of killing them off one by one. Kept his team in the game through 2 periods. Eventually the dam broke and the net was getting filled behind him in the third once it was inevitable that the Giants offense was a no show on this night.

1. Stephane Legault LW - This was the type of game that needed the spade work that Legault provides night in, night out. It was a hotly contested game for a lot of it and thats when Legault does his best work. Legault tallied the 2nd goal of the game that crushed the will of the Giants. Legault also had a rarity in this game where he took a point blank shot that hit the middle of the crossbar and then the base of the post on the same shot. A first for these eyes. Even though Legault doesn't come with a lot of fanfare, he is a very important piece to the Oil Kings winning ways.
2. Cody Corbett D - A goal and an assist and a +4 night. Corbett is a big reason why the Oil Kings keep winning even though they have more than half there defense out of the lineup.With Griffin Reinhart and David Musil at the World Junior Championship, Dysin Mayo at the U-17s and Martin Gernat on the shelf but close to returning, Corbett has been a steady rock for the Oil Kings. He is starting to contribute offensively now, to go along with his solid defensive game, he is proving to be a very important, unheralded piece of the Oil Kings juggernaut. Kudos to Tristan Jarry in the twine for pitching a shutout.