Ryan Strome (OHL Images)
A welcome relief from the Portland Winterhawk's "Bennygate" was the play of New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects on Friday. "Bennygate" remains a major story and does not show any sign of any kind of happy endings for either the Winterhawks or WHL.
In the meantime what a crazy Friday night as everywhere you looked there was some form of the number 2 in play. 8 different prospects put up a 2 or more point evening as we end November and head into a very crucial December.
First Star Ryan Strome Niagara
Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) once again finds himself as the star of the night with a 1-3-4 effort to help lead his Niagara IceDogs to a 6-4 win over the Mississauga Steelheads. The game's "First Star" capped off a November to remember by extending his points scoring streak to 13 games and added to his already OHL scoring race lead.
Strome got the evening rolling with back to back primary assists on his linemate's goals. First Strome set up fellow Islander prospect Mitchell Theoret for an even strength goal at 12:46 of the 1st period giving Niagara a 2-0 lead.
35 seconds later it was Strome setting up Brett Ritchie also for an even strength goal at 13:21 giving Niagara a 3-0 lead and an eventual 4-0 lead after 1 period. Mississauga came back scoring 3 goals over the course of the 2nd and 3rd periods cutting the lead to just 1 before Strome once again took over to preserve the lead.
Strome was originally credited with Niagara's 5th goal but that was changed to Mitchell Theoret (post-game change) at 13:06 to give Niagara a 2 goal lead but Mississauga would answer back 29 seconds later. The IceDogs were able to hold off the Steelheads but the win was in doubt until Strome finished off the night with his 18th goal of the season into an empty net at 19:56.
Strome scored in all 13 IceDog games that he played in putting up a very nice 8-27-35 and that has helped him grab the OHL scoring race lead with 18-38-56. To give you an idea how impressive his November was; just the 35 points Strome scored would have him 16th in the OHL.
2 Point Performers
7 players had 2 points in their game for their team, of those 3 earned stars but their teams went 6-1 so to be fair got to give them all some props.
Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) returned to his Saskatoon Blade's lineup after missing 3 games and earned 3rd Star honors for a 2 assist evening that helped the Blades earn a 4-0 win over the Calgary Hitmen. Both assists were primary ones on the Blade's 2nd and 3rd goals of the game.
For McColgan it boosted his season's totals to 6-19-25 as the Blades went over the 500 mark at 13-12-0-1 good for 27 points. That also moves the Blades into 6th place in the WHL's Eastern Conference.
Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) earned 2nd star of the game honors with a 1-1-2 performance to help his Guelph Storm defeat the Brampton Battalion 3-2. For Pedan it was his 9th goal of the season and his 13th assist as he is now 9-13-22.
Pedan though did take a tripping minor which led to a Brampton power play goal. Pedan is 6th in the OHL in PIMs with 58.
Robbie Russo (NYI 2011 4th) earned the game's 2nd star with 2 primary assists as Russo's 6th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish edged Lake Superior State 3-2. Russo set up 2 power play goals including the game winner as he improves to 4-7-11 on the season.
Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) had the primary assist on both of Edmonton Oil King's goals as the Oil Kings defeated the Kootenay Ice 2-0. St. Croix is now 14-23-37 and is on a modest 4 game scoring streak (1-5-6).
Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) thanks to a post game scoring change winds up here with a 2 goal effort as part of his Niagara IceDog's 6-4 win. Theoret scored the IceDog's 2nd and 5th goals of the game with the 5th one being the game winning goal.
Theoret is now 14-16-30 after a November that saw him go 10-12-22. In one month Theoret recorded more goals and points than he had done in 3 previous seasons.
Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) had a primary and a secondary assist as his Spokane Chiefs blew out the Swift Current Broncos 7-2. Kichton earned assists on the Chief's 4th and 7th goals as he improves to 9-22-31.
Kichton has a 4 game scoring streak himself (1-6-7) as the Chiefs are unbeaten in their last 5 games.
Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) had 2 assists but it was not enough to prevent his Erie Otters from going winless in their 5th straight game. The Otters lost to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 6-4 spoiling the debut of Kris Knoblauch as coach of the Otters.
Knoblauch replaced former Ranger Robbie Ftorek who was fired Wednesday evening. Knoblauch last coached the Kootenay Ice where he led them to a WHL Championship and Memorial Cup appearance.
For Pelech, his assists were both primary ones as he set a new career high with his 19th and 20th assists. Pelech is 4-20-24 for the Otters.
The Rest of the Prospects
Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th) scored his 9th goal of the season in Notre Dame's 3-2 win over Lake Superior. Lee who leads Notre Dame in scoring is 9-4-14 on the season also led the Irish in faceoffs going 13-5.
Teammate Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) was scoreless for the 5th straight game. Fogarty though had a good performance on faceoffs going 5-1 on his.
Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 5th) got some revenge on his little brother Sam Reinhart in Edmonton's 2-0 win over Kootenay. Reinhart was scoreless but he helped keep his brother scoreless after the younger brother was 1-2-3 on Wednesday evening.
Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 6th) and his Michigan Wolverines are doing something Michigan is not used to and that is lose. The Wolverines were shutout 5-0 by Ferris State to end the month with a 2-6-1 mark.
Nieves was moved to 2nd line center and was 5-4 on faceoffs despite the shutout. It was the first time Michigan had been shutout in 66 games going back to February 5th 2011.
Brady Skjei (NYR 2012 1st) was scoreless on 0 shots and a -1 as his 3rd ranked Minnesota Golden Gopher lost 3-2 to 14th ranked Nebraska-Omaha. Skjei was listed as the 2nd pair defense in this game.
Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) had a rather quiet night for his 5th ranked Denver Pioneers as they played to a 1-1 overtime tie with Wisconsin. Sorry but this kind of tie has to be seen as a loss as Denver should not be "tied" with a team that has just 1 win all season.
Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th) was way more active then he has been this season even though his Cape Breton Screaming Eagles lost 5-1 to the Rimouski Oceanic. Leduc was a -2 but he took a season high (for him) 6 shots as the Screaming Eagles lost their 6th straight.
You know if Leduc had better hands then I would move that 6'6 body up to forward and tell him to set up shop in the crease. Either someone is going to have to take a penalty or he will be setting one giant screen for a teammate.
Sam Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) was also very active despite being scoreless as Noreau was -1 on 5 shots and credited with 3 hits. But it wasn't enough as his Baie-Comeau Drakkar dropped their 3rd straight game; this time 5-2 to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
This is a nervous time for Drakkar fans as it was around this time last season when the Drakkar after a great start fell apart and barely made the playoffs.
Cody Rosen (NYI 2010 7th) was "DNP" for his Clarkson Knights as they lost to 12th ranked Cornell 3-1 to fall to 2-6-5.
For those still interested, the WHL went on a PR campaign on Friday after being smacked from Canadian coast to Canadian coast. The hockey media speaks here, here, here, here, and here.
And to think the best the NHL can do for publicity is lock out their players.
As for the team itself, the Winterhawks got a rousing ovation from the 6667 fans who showed up for the team's game against Seattle. The Winterhawks won 5-2 as the Great Dane, Oliver Bjorkstrand had 1-1-2 game to earn 1st star honors.