Michael St. Croix (Edmonton Oil Kings)
While it was Hockey Day in the USA, New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects were trying to make it their day in Canada as well. Unfortunately out of 6 games there were only 2 wins on a Sunday where losses could come back to haunt teams later on.
It was the battle of royalty in Edmonton as the Victoria Royals took on the Edmonton Oil Kings in WHL action on Sunday. Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) along with Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) and their Oil Kings were looking to hold off Calgary for the WHL's Eastern Conference while at the same time trying to catch the Portland Winterhawks for the best record in the WHL.
Victoria would not make it easy as the Royals would strike first scoring 2 first period goals to take a 2-0 lead after the first period. The Royals would take that lead into the first intermission but the Oil Kings would regroup.
In the 2nd period the Oil Kings would score a power play goal to cut the Royals lead to 1 at 2-1. Michael St. Croix would tie the game with his 29th goal of the season at 13:51.
37 seconds later; St. Croix would set up David Musil for a goal at 14:38 giving Edmonton a 3-2 lead and Victoria never could catch up. In the 3rd period the Oil Kings would add on another goal and then Michael St. Croix would finish off the scoring with rather nice play.
St. Croix using his speed caught a Victoria defender trying trying to move the puck behind their goal. St. Croix stripped him off the puck then skated out the other side of the Victoria goal and put the puck in the net before anyone could react.
The goal at 6:38 of the 3rd made it 5-2 and it was St. Croix's 30th goal of the season. The 2-1-3 effort improved St. Croix to 30-41-71 (11th WHL) for the season but it also brought St. Croix to a career mark of 121-178-299.
Griffin Reinhart may not have scored as after the 2 defensive breakdowns in the 1st period, the Oil King defense clamped down on the Royals. Reinhart did not score but was a +2 and took minors for interference and unsportsmanlike conduct in the 2nd period.
Remember Friday night when we wrote that the outcome of this game would determine if Anders Lee would deserve a "stick tap"? Going to give Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th) a double tap; one for Friday and one for Sunday as the captain of the 12th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish led them to a 2-1 win over 3rd ranked Miami as part of the "Hockey City Classic".
The game which was played outdoors at Soldier's Field in Chicago wasn't textbook hockey but Notre Dame needed a win and they got it. Here is a clip of the highlights courtesy of Notre Dame/Comcast.
It wasn't pretty in part due to the conditions and Notre Dame put themselves in a hole taking a 5 minute major in the 1st period. Unlike Friday's game, the Irish were able to kill it off in part because Miami took a minor during the major.
A scoreless 1st period gave Notre Dame a chance in the 2nd period and it started with Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) winning a faceoff getting the puck to RW Brian Rust who found Mario Lucia in the slot and Lucia broke the ice with his 10th goal of the season to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.
That lead would carry into the 2nd intermission and into the 3rd period when Anders Lee would fire a shot on net that teammate Jeff Costello would cash in the rebound for a 2-0 lead and what turned out to be the game winning assist.
Lee got the primary assist on the goal for his 13th assist and team leading 30th point (17-13-30). Fogarty would earn a secondary assist for his 9th point of the season (5-4-9). Robbie Russo (NYI 2011 4th) was scoreless for the Irish.
The win was big for Notre Dame as they clinched a bye for the first round of the CCHA playoffs and home ice for the 2nd round. The win also moves them to within a point of 2nd place Western Michigan who the Irish face next weekend and 3 points behind 1st place Miami.
Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) had a goal for his Barrie Colts but it was not enough as the Colts lost to the Brampton Battalion 5-3. The goal was Barrie's 3rd of the game and at the time made the score 4-3 but Barrie could not get any closer than that.
For Theoret, the goal was his 24th (24-30-54) and it extended Theoret's scoring streak to 4 games 3-3-6. The loss however for Barrie could prove costly as they hold a 1 point lead over Belleville for the OHL's Eastern Conference lead but Belleville holds 2 games in hand.
2nd ranked Minnesota took on rival Wisconsin in the 2nd half of the "Hockey Classic" in Chicago. Minnesota had won the first half of series on Friday 3-2 but Wisconsin reversed the favor and earned a 3-2.
Brady Skeji (NYR 2012 1st) was scoreless with on 1 shot and a +1. With 6 games remaining in the WCHA schedule, Minnesota finds themselves in 4th place 3 point out of first place.
In Niagara, the Icedogs were defeated by the London Knights 5-1 in OHL action. As has been said before, unless the IceDogs can find some scoring help for Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st); they could find themselves possibly falling all the way out of the OHL playoffs.
Strome had the primary assist on the only goal scored by Niagara with Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) earning the secondary. Strome is now 31-48-79 (6th OHL) and Graham is 2-26-28 on the season.
Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar hosted the the Val-d'Or Foreurs on Sunday and really can only blame themselves for a 5-4 loss. The Drakkar had a 3-0 at the midway point of the game only to give up 5 straight goals to the Foreurs.
Noreau was a -1 on 3 shots and had 2 hits.