Ryan Strome (OHL Images)
One thing this year's Thanksgiving weekend of hockey for the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects had plenty of and that is surprises. From a classic 3rd period comeback to a shocking loss, this weekend definitely was not dull.
First Star Ryan Strome Niagara IceDogs
Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) has had some outstanding performances over the last couple of years as an Islander draft pick but his game against the Sudbury Wolves is very much one of his best. With the IceDogs trailing 5-1 in the 3rd period, Strome keyed a 4 goal comeback that forced a tie and an eventual 6-5 shootout win.
Strome had 4 assists (3 primary, 1 secondary) over a span of 5:26 in one of the most thrilling comebacks in recent years. First Strome set up Steve Shipley for a power play goal at 14:34 to make it 5-2 then 42 seconds later earned a secondary assist on Mitchell Theoret's 11th goal making it 5-3.
In the last minute of regulation with the extra attacker, Strome fed Dougie Hamilton who fired a blast from the point to make it 5-4 at 19:32. With just 7 seconds remaining in regulation, Strome fed Brett Ritchie who scored to tie the game at 5-5 and force overtime.
Neither team scored in overtime so they went to the shootout where Strome scored on his attempt as the IceDogs finished off the comeback. Strome was named the game's "Third Star" as he registered his 3rd game this month where he recorded 4 assists.
Strome extended his scoring streak to 10 games (8-21-29) as the leading scorer in the OHL improves to 17-33-50 on the season. One other Strome fact and that is Strome has played 26 games this season and he has points in 24 of them.
Anders Lee (Marcus Snowden)
Second Star Anders Lee Notre Dame
6th ranked Notre Dame has been struggling to find offense this season and if not for having the 2nd best defense in Division 1 hockey then it would be doubtful that they would have a winning record. Saturday's game against 7th ranked North Dakota may have been a non-conference matchup but down the road it could have an impact on NCAA Tournament seedings and invites.
With Notre Dame already lost game 1 of this series, they needed a win on Saturday and it was their captain Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th) who put the team on his back and carried them to a 5-2 win.
Lee the game's "First Star" had a 2-1-3 9 shot +2 performance as Lee dominated this game at both ends of the ice. Lee got Notre Dame going with his 7th goal of the season at 7:23 in the first period as teammate Sam Calabrese made a perfect pass to Lee who was just to the left of the North Dakota net.
In the 2nd with Notre Dame up 2-1, Lee made it 3-1 off another great pass this time from Jeff Costello in the high slot. It was Lee's 8th goal of the season and this turned out to be the game winner (his 1st).
In the 3rd, it was Lee's turn to play passer as he set up Jeff Costello to make it 4-1 at the 18:34 mark. Lee leads the Irish in scoring with a 8-5-13 record and here are the game highlights courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics.
The Rest of the Prospect Action
Robbie Russo (NYI 2011 4th) had the primary assist on a shorthanded goal in Notre Dame's 5-2 win. Russo's assist was his 5th of the season (4-5-9) as he did not take any shots but was also a +3 for the game.
Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) had just 1 shot and was a -1 while going 4-5 on faceoffs.
Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) had just one assist in the matchup between his Edmonton Oil Kings and the Medicine Hat Tigers. St. Croix set up the game winning goal with just 1 second remaining in the overtime period giving the Oil Kings a 2-1 win. It was St. Croix's 20th assist and 34th point on the season.
Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) was scoreless in the game as the Oil Kings extended their unbeaten streak to 6 games (5-0-1-0).
Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) return to the Tri-State area did not go as planned as his Michigan Wolverines were beaten by the 13th ranked Big Red of Cornell 5-1. Nieves who lists Kent in Connecticut as his home had a not-so-nice game in front of family and friends as he did not take any shots and was a -3 on the night.
Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) is going to put the Islanders in a really tough position. Theoret has been given an opportunity by his Niagara IceDog coach Marty Williamson to play on his top line with Ryan Strome and Brett Ritchie; both are top NHL prospects.
Give Theoret some serious credit as he is going way above and beyond anyone's possible expectations with his play. A 10 game scoring streak (7-11-18) after scoring his 11th goal of the season in Niagara's 6-5 shootout win.
At 11-15-26, Theoret is one goal from tying his career high and he is giving new meaning to late bloomer. Teammate Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) picked up a secondary assist for his 6th point of the season but he still has a ways to go to get back on track.
Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) was scoreless and an "even" on 2 shots as his 4th ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers made it a 2 game sweep over Vermont with a 3-1 win.
It was the 2nd straight start for Skjei and may have been a message to Skjei's critics as to where Skjei stands with the Minnesota staff. If you want to put into perspective then think about would John Tortorella put an unproven JD Miller when he already has Marian Gaborik?
Minnesota has a team built to make a run at the NCAA title so ice time is going to be earned not just handed out just because someone is a NHL first round pick.
Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) and his 2nd ranked Denver Pioneers let a 3-0 first period lead slip away and were defeated by the 3rd ranked New Hampshire Wildcats. Mayfield was scoreless as Denver gave up 4 unanswered goals in the 3rd period.
Think it is safe to say that the season has gotten away from Peter Ceresnak (NYR 2011 6th) and his Peterborough Petes. The Petes dropped their 4th straight after losing to the Sarnia Sting 8-2.
It is very hard to see the Rangers as offering Ceresnak any kind of contract but in fairness to Ceresnak; the problems with the Petes go way deeper than anything Ceresnak could have done. Nobody likes to see any prospect not make it but sometimes situations don't allow for a prospect to develop like you hope.
Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) and his Erie Otters are trying to be competitive but they hurt themselves by falling behind early in games. The Otters fell behind to the Kitchener Rangers and lost 4-2.
Pelech was scoreless but he too needs to cut down on the number of penalties he is taking. A double minor late in the game when Erie had closed to within 1 gave the Rangers a power play that put the game out of reach.
Pelech is now up to 51 PIMs and in his case being the only real veteran defender on the Otters really hurts his team when he is sitting in the penalty box. The Otters need Pelech on the ice more and he needs to be on the ice to help his own development.
Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) is another prospect who hurts his team by taking too many penalties. Pedan has talent to be a Top 4 defensemen as seen by the 2 assists he picked up in his Guelph Storm's 7-5 win over the Ottawa 67's.
Pedan assisted on a shorthanded and a power play goal to help the Storm jump out to a 2-0 lead. The Storm almost blew a 4-1 lead but held on for the win.
Pedan is now 8-12-20 with 56 PIMs.
Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar dropped a 6-5 decision as they did blow a 3-1 lead to the Moncton Wildcats. The Drakkar scored 4 unanswered goals to grab a 5-3 lead and then held off the Drakkar.
Noreau was a -1 on 3 shots as his offense is sputtering a bit on a rough road trip (4 games in 5 nights is a bit much for any team).
Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th) and his Cape Breton Screaming Eagles dropped their 4th straight game; this time it was a 4-1 loss to the Saint John SeaDogs. Leduc had it rougher than normal as he was a -3 on 2 shots with 2 roughing minors.
Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) had a secondary assist on his Spokane Chief's second goal as the Chiefs earned a 5-2 win over the Tri-City Americans. The assist was Kichton's 20th and 29th point on the season.
Kichton's coach Don Nachbaur was coaching in 1000th WHL game joining 3 other coaches Ken Hodge, Ernie McLean, and current Saskatoon Blade's coach Lorne Molleken. Congrats to the coach on this milestone.