Call us cruel, call us mean but at this time of year, our favorite games are the ones where teams are facing elimination whether they be New York Ranger or New York Islander prospects. Saturday night featured several teams who's season is down to just a few games and the guys we named as stars gave their all trying to keep their teams hopes alive.
Islanders First Star John Persson
It's been a rough season for John Persson (NYI 2011 5th)
as what started out as a very promising season turned into a disaster for Persson and his Red Deer Rebels. Injuries, suspensions, and any other possible way to have bad luck hit the Rebels this year.
Back in November, John Persson was one of the leading scorers in the WHL and his Red Deer Rebels were challenging for the WHL's Eastern Conference lead. At the end of February, John Persson and his Rebels find themselves in 9th place 10 points behind 8th place Brandon.
Everything is against the Rebels right now with their only real hope are the 3 games in hand that Red Deer has over Brandon. That hope will only work as long as Red Deer finds ways to keep getting points out of every game.
On the road against the Saskatoon Blades, John Persson played his best game in a couple of months as he put up a 2-1-3 performance helping the Rebels earn a 4-3 shootout win. The only thing that Persson didn't do was make his shootout attempt but he did make everything else.
Both of Persson's goals tied the game but his second goal of the game which came at 18:45 of the 3rd period may have been the biggest goal that Persson has scored the season. It was that goal which tied the game at 3-3 forcing overtime and then the shootout where Red Deer was able to get that all-important second point.
For Persson, the 2 goals broke a 7-game goalless streak and improves Persson to 21-32-53 while earning him the game's second star. The rest of the Islander report is a mixed bag but you can find that right here
Rangers First Star Danny Hobbs
Danny Hobbs (NYR 2007 7th)
and his UMass Minutemen started Saturday evening in 9th place in the Hockey East standings needing to defeat New Hampshire and get some help from Maine in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Maine helped UMass by defeating Northeastern and then Danny Hobbs made sure that entering the final weekend of the Hockey East season that he still had one last shot at making the playoffs. The senior captain of the Minutemen had a 2 assist night as UMass earned a 4-2 win.
Hobbs had a primary assist on the goal which gave UMass the lead for good then followed up with a secondary assist on what proved to be the game-winning goal. The win pushes UMass into a tie for 8th place in the hockey East and here's where it gets interesting.
Tiebreakers in the Hockey East work like this:
1. Head-to-Head.-- both teams split season series
2. Number of wins in conference play. -- both teams have same number of points
3. Best record against the first-place team(s), then the second-place team(s), then the third-place team(s), and so on. -- UMass holds edge with Boston College as 1st place team;
4. Coin Flip.
So now Danny Hobbs's UMass career could be down to just two games next weekend as they have a "home and home" series against Merrimack. Northeastern as a tougher team going against Boston University.
Hobbs improves to 10-12-22 on the season and we shall see if Hobbs can lead the Minuteman to their first postseason appearance in over four years. As for the rest of the Ranger prospects their evening like the Islanders was a mixed bag and you can find it right here
Here is the updated list
Shawinigan Cataractes- Kirill Kabanov (NYI)
Baie-Comeau Drakkar- Samuel Noreau (NYR)
Plymouth Whalers- JT Miller (NYR) -- 21st straight year in playoffs
Niagara IceDogs- Ryan Strome and Mitchell Theoret (NYI)
Spokane Chiefs – Brendan Kichton (NYI)
Edmonton Oil Kings- Michael St. Croix (NYR)
Hockey East- (top eight teams qualify)
Boston College- Chris Kreider (NYR)-- also clinched first-round home ice
Penticton – Steven Fogarty (NYR)-- also clinched best record league
Notre Dame – Anders Lee and Robbie Russo (NYI) – seeded 8th and will host Ohio State in 1st-round
(Persson -Red Deer Rebels, Hobbs – UMass Athletics)