Jesse Graham (OHL Images)
The holiday break is ending for the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects but many a team is shorthanded because of the World Under-20 and Under-17 challenge. It is a good time for the lower round prospects to step up and help their own dreams of earning a professional contract.
First Star Jesse Graham Niagara IceDogs
Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) is exactly the kind of player that I am talking about as his Niagara IceDogs are missing their 3 best players who are playing for Team Canada. Graham tied a career best with a 1-2-3 night to help his Niagara IceDogs earn a 4-3 overtime win over the Sudbury Wolves.
The game's first star, Graham stepped up like the player of last season who was 4-37-41. This season points have been hard to come by for Graham but he had started scoring right before the break and maybe this is what Graham needed to get going.
Graham scored his 2nd goal of the season in the 2nd period while the IceDogs were on the power play giving the IceDogs a 2-1 lead at 3:07. Graham would earn a secondary assist on the IceDog's 3rd goal of the game at 1:19 of the 3rd period while the IceDogs were on the power play.
The lead did not hold as the Wolves would tie the game and force overtime but that was when Graham put the finishing touches on his evening. Graham fed Steven Shipley for the game winning goal at 3:44 of overtime for the 4-3 win.
Graham tied his career high with his 3 point effort (he did it twice last year) and improved to 2-12-14. Graham at 5'11 is a tad on the short side to be a defender and with his skating ability learning to play forward would greatly help his dream of an NHL contract.
Ryan Strome (CP/Nathan Denette)
Second Star Ryan Strome Team Canada
So what exactly does Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) have to do to get some notice from the TSN talking heads? No I am not talking about Strome's scoring (3-2-5) but with Canada shorthanded it was Strome doing the things that he is reportedly weak at.
There was Strome out there killing penalties, there was Strome making defensive plays and yet all the praise is being handed out to everyone else. Maybe if TSN and the rest of the Canadians would stop complaining that they aren't dirty then they would notice that Strome has been making all the big plays when Canada needed them the most.
Really one has to wonder if Strome doesn't get Canada on the board when he did then how much it would have affected the outcome? Right before Anthony Camara got ejected for what appeared to be a clean hit but was ruled differently.
Strome had 2 goals to bring him up to 3-2-5 after 2 games but with Canada still shorthanded when they face Team USA then Strome will be needed to have another strong day if Canada wants to win.
Michael St. Croix (Edmonton Oil Kings)
Third Star Michaal St. Croix Edmonton Oil Kings
There is some good news (for the Oil Kings) and some bad news (for the rest of the WHL) as Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) looks like he is starting to heat up. St. Croix and his Edmonton Oil Kings were looking for a little revenge after losing on their home ice Thursday evening to the Red Deer Rebels 5-3.
Friday night in Red Deer was a different story as the Oil Kings jumped on the Rebels for 3 first period goals and cruised to a 6-1 win. St. Croix recorded a primary assist on the Oil King's 2nd goal (which wound up as the game winner) and then added his 21st goal of the season for the Oil King's 3rd goal of the game.
The goal was also St. Croix's 14th power play goal which is tops in the WHL. For St. Croix it improved his numbers to 21-27-48 on the season which is good for 8th in the WHL.
The Rest of the Prospects
Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) picked up where he left off before the Holiday break as he scored a shorthanded goal in a losing effort as his Saskatoon Blades fell 5-4 to the Prince Albert Raiders. This was a tough loss for the Blades who were looking to try to catch up to the division leading Raiders.
Instead of being 6 points behind now the lead is 10 as this one was tough to lose for the Blades. McColgan in picking up his 1st shorthanded goal of the season extends a scoring streak he started before the break to 5 games (3-6-9) and is now 10-26-36.
Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) was held scoreless but his Spokane Chiefs were able to earn a 1-0 win over the Kootenay Ice. The win keeps the Chiefs in 4th place in the WHL's Western Conference.
The Western Conference is starting to see some separation from the leaders to the rest of the conference. Spokane has a 6 point lead over 5th place Tri-City but trail division (and conference) leading Portland by 12 points.
Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar took on the Quebec Remparts in their return from their holiday break. The Drakkar came away with a key 4-2 win over the Remparts which allowed them to move ahead of the Remparts in the QMJHL standings.
Noreau was scoreless on 2 shots but he was also a +1.
Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th) was scoreless and a -1 as his Cape Breton Screaming Eagles dropped a 4-1 decision to the QMJHL leading Halifax Mooseheads 4-1. The Eagles are in the midst of reshaping their roster as in 5 trades during the current QMJHL trading period saw 3 players traded with 2 coming back.
Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) had the secondary assist on Steven Shipley's overtime game winner in the Niagara IceDogs 4-3 win. Theoret extends his scoring streak to 9 games (6-8-14) and overall to a career best 17-23-40.
Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) and his Erie Otters were spanked by the Owen Sound Attack 6-1. The Otters fell behind 3-0 before scoring only to see the Attack score 3 more after that.
Pelech was scoreless as the Otters saw a 3 game winning streak ended.
Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) and his Guelph Storm ran into a Belleville Bull team that ran all over the Storm 6-3. The score does not tell the story of this game as Belleville had a 5-1 lead before Guelph would score a couple of meaningless goals.
Pedan had a primary assist on the Storm's 1st goal for his 25th point but was a -2 and took a minor for goalie interference to bring that total to 72.
Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) had an assist on what turned out to be the game winning goal for Canada in their win over Slovakia. His line was 0-1-1 +2 but that is what you expect from Reinhart; he does his job and by the end of the night you realize that he had an impact.
Peter Ceresnak (NYR 2011 6th) in the same game went the other direction as he had a good 1st period but then disappeared once Canada made their comeback.