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Hunter Skinner

Zac Jones Two Helpers Helps Massachusetts Win

Zac Jones (Massachusetts Athletics)

Saturday night saw eight New York Ranger prospects in action but only three saw the scoresheet. You will also notice some tied college games in the report and that is because there is no shootouts in non-conference college games. There is the typical five minute overtime but if the game is tied after overtime then that is how it ends.

Zac Jones (2019 third) is fast becoming a prospect to watch with his play for the fourth-ranked Massachusetts Minutemen.Following his three-point performance on Friday, Jones added two more assists as the Minutemen shutout Union College 5-0 for the weekend sweep.

What is most impressive about Jones is his shot as it is so accurate that his teammates are able to easily deflect it into the net. Here is Massachusetts’ second goal of the night as Jones fires the puck on net and teammate Cal Kiefiuk deflected it in.

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Now the second assist that one came from Jones making the play and feeding teammate Bobby Trivigno for the one-timer.

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The two assists make Jones Massachusetts’ leading scorer with a 2-5-7 mark after four games. Think if the young defenseman can keep this scoring pace up then he will earn himself an invite to try out for Team USA’s 2020 World Junior team this December.

Hunter Skinner (London Knights)

Defenseman Hunter Skinner (2019 fourth) had two assists as his London Knights defeated the Kingston Frontenacs 6-3. Skinner earned his assists on London’s first (secondary) and fifth (primary) goals as he improved to 2-7-9 in nine games this season.

Goalies Tyler Wall (2016 sixth) continued his solid start to his season stopping all 25 shots that he faced but he had to settle for a 0-0 overtime tie. His UMass-Lowell River Hawks were hosting the Colgate Raiders in the second game of their two-game series.

For Wall, the tie improved his record to 3-1-1 with a 1.18 goals against (second in the NCAA) and a 0.953 save percentage. His three wins are also third-best in the NCAA.

Eric Ciccolini (Michigan Wolverines)

Forward Eric Ciccolini (2019 seventh) earned a secondary assist as his Michigan Wolverines defeated Lake Superior State 4-3 and earn a two-game sweep of their series. After being the extra forward last night, Ciccolini was dressed as the fourth-line left wing as he has been moved all over the lineup.

The young forward earned his third point of the season on the power play as Michigan used a three-goal first period to jump out over Lake Superior State and then held on for the win.

K’Andre Miller (2018 first) was scoreless as his Wisconsin Badgers defeated second-ranked Minnesota-Duluth 3-1. The win gave the Badgers a two-game sweep over the defending NCAA champions.

Riley Hughes (2018 seventh) was scoreless on two shots as his 14th-ranked Northeastern Huskies played to a 2-2 overtime tie with the Holy Cross Crusaders.

Simon Kjellberg (2018 sixth) was scoreless for the first time this season as his Rensselaer Engineers whipped the Canisius Golden Griffins 7-2. Kjellberg took two shots but he is second on the team in scoring with a 2-2-4 mark.

Tyler Nanne (2014 5th) and his Minnesota Golden Gophers skated to a 4-2 win over the Niagara Purple Eagles. Nanne was scoreless and did not record anything statistically.

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Jones Three Point Night Keys Minuteman Win

Zac Jones (Massachusetts Athletics)

Friday night was a busy night with eight New York Ranger prospects seeing action and a pretty good night from the defensive prospects. Zac Jones (2018 third) led the way with a three-point evening to lead his fourth-ranked University of Massachusetts Minutemen to their second win of the season.

It was Jones’s 19th birthday and he was in the middle of all the action for the Minutemen as they defeat Union College 6-1. The freshman defenseman was 1-2-3 setting up what turned out to be the game-winning goal. With the Minutemen up 1-0 in the second, Jones set up Bobby Trivigno for a power-play goal at 10:33 of the second. You will like this one as Jones spots Trivigno on the right side for a one-timer.

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That proved to be the game-winning goal for the Minutemen. With seconds remaining in the second period, Jones picked up his second point when Reed Lebster deflected a Jones shot for the point for Massachusetts’s third goal of the game. The even-strength goal came at 19:50 and put the Minutemen up 3-1.

In the third with Massachusetts up 4-1, Jones capped off his birthday with his second goal of the season and third point of the night. Teammate Anthony Del Gazio won a faceoff back to the point and Jones fired a snapshot that beat Union’s goalie for a 5-1 lead at the 38-second mark of the third period.

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The 1-2-3 night came on four shots and with a +2 as Jones improves to 2-3-5 after three games. The same two teams play Saturday afternoon.

Eric Ciccolini (Michigan Wolverines)

Forward Eric Ciccolini (2019 seventh) was named the game’s third star after his first two NCAA points as his Michigan Wolverines defeated Lake Superior State 4-0. Ciccolini was listed as an extra forward when the game started but was playing a regular shift by game’s end.

Ciccolini earned two secondary assists on Michigans’ first two goals as the 6′ 170 lb. forward got his first point on a power-play goal. Ciccolini’s first assist was more due to his keeping the puck in the offensive end as he swept at the puck and it wound up on the goal scorer’s stick for a 1-0 lead.

The second assist was Ciccolini winning a puck battle below the goal line which led to the puck getting out to the point where Michigan scored for a 2-0 lead. Michigan goes on to win 4-0 for their first win of the season.

The same two teams will play on Saturday evening.

Simon Kjellberg (RPI)

Defenseman Simon Kjellberg (2018 sixth) had a goal and assist in a losing effort as his Rensselaer Engineers dropped a 5-2 decision to the UConn Huskies. The Huskies would score the game’s first four goals before Kjellberg would get his team on the scoreboard in the third period. Kjellberg would add an assist on the Engineer’s second goal.

In the clip, Kjellberg’s goal starts at 1:20, a nice shoot from the middle of the blueline that found it’s way into the UConn goal.

Kjellberg is Rensselaer’s leading scorer after three games with a 2-2-4 mark. His team will host Canisius on Saturday evening.

Matthew Robertson (Edmonton Oil Kings)

Matthew Robertson (2019 second) had a goal to help his Edmonton Oil Kings earn a 5-1 win over the Red Deer Rebels. Robertson recorded a power-play goal in the second period for Edmonton’s fifth goal of the game and his third goal of the season.

The young defenseman has a four-game scoring streak going 3-3-6 which is also his total points on the season.

Tyler Nanne (2015 fifth) was scoreless as his Minnesota Golden Gophers defeated the Niagara Purple Eagles 3-2 in overtime.

K’Andre Miller (2018 first) was scoreless as his Wisconsin Badgers knocked off second-ranked Minnesota-Duluth 6-2. Miller took two shots and was a +2 on the night. Wisconsin will look to sweep Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday evening, a game you can catch on Fox Sports Wisconsin.

Hunter Skinner (2019 fourth) was scoreless as his London Knights dropped a 4-2 decision to the Windsor Spitfires. The defenseman is 2-5-7 after eight games second among Ranger prospect scorers.

Nico Gross (2018 fourth) and his Oshawa Generals saw their nine-game winning streak ended by the Sarnia Sting 9-5. The Generals were due for a bad game after playing so well to open the season. Gross is the leading scorer among the Ranger prospects with a 5-4-9 mark after 10 games.

Goalie Tyler Wall (2016 sixth) did not play as his UMass-Lowell River Hawks lost in overtime to Colgate 4-3. Wall is expected to get the start on Saturday evening when the same two teams meet again.

K’Andre Miller’s Two Goals Power Wisconsin Blowout Win

K’Andre Miller (Wisconsin Badgers)

Eight New York Ranger prospects saw action on Saturday night with some plenty of positive efforts from the prospects. K’Andre Miller (2018 first) led the way with a two-goal evening as his 15th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers earned their first win of the season with a 11-5 win over the Merrimack Warriors

Miller would put the Badgers on the scoreboard at 4:51 of the first when he converted a pass from teammate Alex Turcotte for a power-play goal and a 1-0 lead. It was a nice goal as Miller was all alone on the right side of the Merrimack goal and one-timed a shot in for the lead.

The Badgers used defenseman Miller as a forward on the power play at times. A move that made a lot of sense as the 6’4 Miller towered over most everyone on the ice both friend and foe.

In the third period with Wisconsin up 9-3, Miller would earn his second goal while on the penalty kill. It was the first shorthanded goal of Miller’s NCAA career.

With the win, Wisconsin evened it’s record at 1-1. The Badgers head home for a weekend series against defending national champions the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.

Riley Hughes (Northeastern)

Riley Hughes (2018 seventh) scored his first NCAA goal to help his Northeastern Huskies earn a 2-1 road win over Union College. In just his second game with the Huskies, Hughes scored the game-tying goal at 8:54 of the third period on a breakaway.

Hughes was a one-man show on the play as he forced a turnover at the blueline in the defensive zone and took the puck all the way to the goal. Hughes then used a backhand to lift the puck over the Union goalie for the goal. The goal starts at the 25-second mark of the video clip

Simon Kjellberg (RPI)

Defenseman Simon Kjellberg (2018 sixth) earned his first two points at the NCAA level with a goal and an assist to help his Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers earn their first win of the season 5-3 over UConn.

The 6’3 defender from Nashville scored his first NCAA goal on a snapshot from the top of the right faceoff circle. Kjellberg had joined the rush and teammate Nick Bowman spotted him unguarded hitting him with a perfect pass to score an even-strength goal at 3:58 of the second period. The goal gave the Engineers a 2-1 lead as they earned their first win of the season.

Kjellberg would earn a primary assist on the Engineer’s fifth goal when he gave the puck to Chase Zieky. It was a power-play goal putting them up 5-1 as they held on to win 5-3. The win evened the Engineers record at 1-1. Kjellberg’s goal starts at 1:35 of the video clip.

Matthew Robertson (Edmonton Oil Kings)

Matthew Robertson (2019 second) earned “second star of the game” honors as his Edmonton Oil Kings defeated the Calgary Hitmen 6-4. Robertson has two power-play assists (one primary, one secondary) as the Oil Kings used a four-goal second period to take control of the game.

Robertson earned his first assist when he set up Riley Sawchuk for the Oil Kings’ second goal which at the time tied the game at 6:32 of the second period. 3:06 after that goal, Robertson would earn his second point when he was credited for a secondary assist on the Oil Kings’ third goal at 9:38.

For Robertson, the points improved him to 1-3-4 after six games. All of his points though have come in his last two games.

Tyler Wall (UMass-Lowell)

Goalie Tyler Wall (2016 sixth) saw his winning streak end at three games as his UMass-Lowell River Hawks lost to top-ranked the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs 2-1. The loss was the first for both Wall and his team this season.

Wall has nothing to feel bad about as he stopped 36 out of 38 shots, surrendering one even-strength goal and one shorthanded one.ย  Wall stopped nine shots in the first, 14 out of 15 in the second and 13 out of 14 in the third.

On the season Wall is 3-1 with a 1.50 goals against and a 0.942 save percentage.

Defenseman Tyler Nanne (2014 fifth) had an assist as his Minnesota Golden Gophers earned a 4-3 win over Colorado College to earn a split of their weekend series. Nanne is 1-1-2 after two games.

Defenseman Hunter Skinner (2019 fourth) had a secondary assist but his London Knights were doubled up by the Saginaw Spirit 6-3. Skinner’s assist came on London’s first goal which was a power-play goal.

Forward Eric Ciccolini (2019 seventh) was scoreless on two shots as his Michigan Wolverines dropped a 3-1 decision to the 11th- ranked Clarkson Knights.ย  Cicolini went from an extra forward on Friday night to the starting right wing on Saturday.

Wall Leads UMass-Lowell To Big Upset Win

Tyler Wall (UMass-Lowell)

The first major upset of the 2019-2020 NCAA Men’s Hockey season took place when goalie Tyler Wall led his UMass-Lowell River Hawks to a 3-2 win over defending NCAA champions the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. The senior Wall stopped 32 out of 34 shots as the River Hawks built a 3-0 lead and then held off a furious third-period comeback from the Bulldogs.

Wall had a pretty easy first period facing only four shots but made one very tough save to keep the game scoreless. In the second, Wall stopped all 13 shots he faced including two breakaways while his teammates scored three times. It was the third period where Wall played his best despite giving up two goals (one was a power-play) on 17 shots.

It might have been Wall’s biggest win knocking off the team that is holding down the top spot in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll. Wall improves to 3-0 on the season with a 1.33 goals against and a 0.939 save percentage. The same two teams will face each other on Saturday evening.

Zac Jones (Massachusetts Athletics)

2019 third-round pick defenseman Zac Jones had a happy NCAA debut as the freshman from Glen Allen, Va recorded his first NCAA goal and assist to help his fourth-ranked Massachusetts Minutemen win their season opener 5-3 over the Rensselaer Engineers. Jones earned his first NCAA point when teammate Mitchell Chaffee slammed home a rebound of a Jone’s shot.

The goal at 10:48 of the second period put the Minutemen up for good in the game 2-1. Jones would score his own goal 69 seconds later off a blast from the high slot. It was a power-play goal giving the Minutemen a 3-1 lead. Jones overall was 1-1-2 on six shots and a +1. The Jones goal starts at the one minute mark of the clip

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Massachusetts is off until Tuesday when they open up their Hockey East season on the road against Northeastern.

Nico Gross (Oshawa Generals)

Defenseman Nico Gross (2018 fourth) set a new career-high in goals when he earned his fifth goal as his CHL leading Oshawa Generals remained unbeaten with a 5-4 road win over the Sudbury Wolves. This one wasn’t easy at all as the Generals trailed 3-0 into the third period.

Gross’s goal was a power-play goal as he fired a blast from the right face-off circle at 10:30 of the third period for Oshawa’s second goal of the game. Gross is 5-4-9 in nine games after his goal on three shots and a +1.

The Generals are off until next Friday when they will host Sarnia Sting.

Tyler Nanne (Minnesota Golden Gophers)

Tyler Nanne (2014 fifth) score the Minnesota Golden Gophers’ first goal of the season but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Gophers from dropping a 3-2 decision to Colorado College. In the season opener for both teams, Nanne’s goal at 1:53 of the game stood for almost 50 minutes of game action.

The third-generation prospect who is also cousin to Hartford’s Vinni Lettieri has overcome a heart condition to be able to play hockey at the NCAA level. Nanne is 5’11 185  and a righthanded shot.

Nanne is entering his senior season and is serving as one of the co-captains on the team. The same two teams will meet on Saturday evening.

K’Andre Miller (Wisconsin Badgers)

Sophomore K’Andre Miller (2018 first) had a quiet debut to his season going scoreless as his 15th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers dropped their season opener to sixth-ranked Boston College 5-3. Miller who was suspended for a violation of team rules last week was credited with only one shot and was a -2 for the game.

Miller is a 6’4 211 lefthanded defenseman from Hopkins, Mn. Wisconsin will travel to face Merrimack on Saturday.

Defenseman Hunter Skinner (2019 fourth) had a secondary assist as his London Knights rallied from down 3-0 only to fall in overtime 5-4 to the Owen Sound Attack. It was a frustrating loss on home ice for the Knights who saw their three-game winning streak turn into a four-game unbeaten streak.

Skinner is 2-4-6 in six games for the Knights who travel to Saginaw for a Saturday matchup against the Saginaw Spirit.

Right wing Eric Ciccolini (2019 seventh) made his NCAA debut with the Michigan Wolverines as they skated to a 1-1 overtime tie with 11th-ranked Clarkson. Ciccolini who is a freshman was dressed as an extra forward for the Wolverines was scoreless on two shots and a minor for interference.

Defenseman Simon Kjellberg (2018 sixth) was a healthy scratch for his Rensselaer Engineers in their loss to Massachusetts.

Gross’s Hat Trick Propels Generals

Nico Gross (Oshawa Generals)

The first big surprise of the 2019-2020 New York Rangers prospect season came from defenseman Nico Gross of the Oshawa Generals. The 2018 fourth-round pick recorded his first-ever OHL hat trick to lead his Oshawa Generals to a 5-1 win over the North Bay Battalion. Gross who had all of three goals last season equaled that in one game.

Gross got his first goal of the season off a nice “two-man” play with teammate Oliver Suni. Gross handed off the puck to Suni and then just stood at the right faceoff circle as Suni gave the puck back to a wide-open Gross. Gross would let go a blast from the spot which beat the Battalion’s goalie for the goal.

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The goal came just seconds after the Generals saw a power-play end at 14:09 of the first period and gave the Generals a 1-0 lead.

In the second with the Generals already up 2-1, Gross recorded his second goal of the game, this time a power-play goal. This time Gross snuck in from the left point and teammates Oliver Suni found him alone in front of the net. The goal at 15:24 put the Generals up 3-1.

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And for the hat trick goal, in the third Gross was the recipient of an unselfish teammate who passed up an empty net to get Gross the hat trick. Stick tap to Brett Harrison who had a wide-open net but gave the puck to Gross who scored into the empty net for the Generals fourth goal of the game.

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Nico Gross was named the game’s first star as his Generals improved to an OHL best 5-0. Gross finished the game 3-0-3 +2 on four shots an a minor for “delay of game”. The Generals are the last unbeaten team in the OHL and head to Hamilton for a Saturday game against the Hamilton Bulldogs.

In London, Hunter Skinner was scoreless on two shots with a +1 and a minor for holding as his London Knights shut out the Ottawa 67’s 3-0. The game wasn’t as close as the score shows as the Knights just dominated at both ends of the ice firing 47 shots on net while holding the 67’s to just 18 shots for the game. The Knights improved to 3-2 on the young season and will be off until next Friday.

Matthew Robertson was not in the Edmonton Oil Kings lineup as they took on the Winnipeg Ice in Winnipeg. No word as to why Robertson was not playing as he was in the lineup for Edmonton’s last game on Wednesday against Swift Current. Robertson was a -2 for that game but not a word anywhere regarding his status. I will update if I can find out anything.

Quiet Night For Defensive Trio

Matthew Robertson (Edmonton Oil Kings)

With the NCAA hockey season still a couple of weeks away, there are only three New York Ranger prospects playing at the CHL level. All three are defensemen and on Friday night they all had quiet nights for their respective teams.

Defenseman Matthew Robertson (2019 2nd) made his 2019-2020 debut for his Edmonton Oil Kings as they played the Calgary Hitmen on the road. Wearing an “A”, Robertson was scoreless on one shot with a -1 and a minor for “delay of game”. His Oil Kings lost in overtime 4-3 to the Hitmen as they saw their record fall to 2-0-1 after three games.

Edmonton heads home to host the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon.

Defenseman Hunter Skinner (2019 4th) and his London Knights had little trouble defeating a shorthanded Erie Otters team 6-2 for their first win of the season. Skinner who got the start was scoreless with a +1 but no shots on goal were recorded.

Skinner who was 2-1-3 after his first two games not recording a shot on goal was a surprise considering he had five shots each in his first two games. London improves to 1-2 on the season and hit the road for a game against the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday evening.

Defenseman Nico Gross (2018 4th) was scoreless as his Oshawa Generals held off the Mississauga Steelheads 6-5 on Friday to remain unbeaten at 3-0. Gross took a cross-checking minor in the second period which led to a Steelheads goal and had one shot on goal.

On Thursday, Gross was also scoreless as the Generals defeated the Niagara IceDogs 4-3 in overtime. Gross had two shots on goal in this contest.

The Generals head home for a Sunday night game against the Kingston Frontenacs.

Skinner Scores Twice In OHL Debut

Hunter Skinner (London Knights)

Defenseman Hunter Skinner, the New York Rangers 2019 fourth-round selection in the NHL Entry Draft was actually headed to Western Michigan University before the Rangers selected him. It was a pretty good idea at the time as Skinner was viewed as a long-term project who had solid offensive skills but was suspect on the defensive side. Western Michigan also was coached by former NHL coach Andy Murray so it seemed as if Skinner was making the right move.

However, after attending the Rangers Prospect camp last July, Skinner decided to forego the NCAA route and signed with the London Knights of the OHL. The Knights are coached also by a former NHL coach in Dale Hunter but given the choice of the two coaches, I would pick Hunter to help Skinner speed up his development and possible professional career.

Skinner made his OHL regular-season debut on Friday night scoring twice in a losing effort as his London Knights lost to the Peterborough Petes 6-4 (game highlights and boxscore). Skinner earned the game’s third star with his two goals on five-shot performance.

The young defenseman opened the scoring for the Knights when he got the puck at the point and fired a laser that beat Peterborough goalie Hunter Jones at 15:53 of the first period. The goal gave the Knights their only lead of the game as the Petes would respond with two goals to take a 2-1 lead after one.

The Petes would add two more goals in the second and built their lead to 4-1 before the Knights would respond in the third period to cut it to 4-2. The Knights would give up another goal before Skinner would answer with his second of the night another blast from the point to pull the Knight to within two goals once again.

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I like Skinner’s offensive skill set as he has one of the better shots among the prospects but his defense is going to need some serious work. The Knights are right back in action Saturday Knight against the Barrie Colts.

Nico Gross (Oshawa Generals)

Defenseman Nico Gross had a secondary assist on four shots with a +1 and a high-sticking minor as his Oshawa Generals opened their season with a 4-1 road win over the Kingston Frontenacs. Gross the Rangers 2018 fourth-round pick earned his assist on Oshawa’s first goal, a power-play goal just 2:31 into the contest.

Gross is playing for a contract in his second year as a Rangers draft pick, he has good size (6’2 185) and solid defensive skills. But he needs to step up his game on the offensive side and be more active on the ice to earn that NHL contract. Gross is a very likable person and one wants to root for him but hopefully Gross got the message being cut by the Rangers so quickly at training camp.

Now That’s A First Impression

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Seriously what more can someone add after watching 2019 first-round pick Kaapo Kakko carry the Baby Rangers on his shoulders to an impressive 4-3 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild prospects? As much as I am a fan of Vitali Kravtsov, watching Kakko with a 1-3 effort was pretty jaw-dropping. Kakko led a third-period comeback as the Baby Rangers had to rally from being down 0-2 and 2-3 to earn the win.

The Rangers entered the third period trailing 2-0 but working on a five-minute power play after the Wild’s Drake Pilon bloodied the Rangers Lewis Zerter-Gossage with a cheap shot to the head. Vitali Kravtsov got the Rangers going with his first goal at 1:06 with assists going to Karl Henriksson and Kakko. Henriksson got to be the center between Kravtsov and Kakko showed that he could hang with the very talented first-round picks so file that piece of news for the future.

If the Rangers were hoping that Kakko and Kravtsov would start developing some kind of chemistry then they did not have to wait long. Kakko set up Kravtsov for his second goal of the game with a very nice cross-ice pass that Kravtsov “one-timed” past the Stars Hunter Jones at 2:44 of the period. Forget which line these two will play on but rather ask which center will get the luxury of playing between them.

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The Wild were able to regain their lead but after the Rangers pulled goalie Igor Shesterkin for the extra attacker. Kaapo Kakko made it a three-assist game for him when he got the puck to Patrick Newell who scored his first goal of the tournament tying the game at 3-3 and forcing overtime. Kakko, as you saw in the first clip, did the rest to help the Rangers win.

So for the first time since the 2016 tournament, the Rangers have 2 wins and will play for the fifth-place trophy. They will face the St. Louis Blues prospects starting at 12:30 PM/9:30 AM and for those outside the MSG viewing area, the game will be streamed on Fox Sports GO.

Thoughts:

Forgive me if I am confused but it seems silly that a prospect’s tournament would be subject to the same blackout rules as an NHL game. I hope those of you who got to watch the Rangers stream go someone to do the play-by-play. If not then I strongly suggest that the Rangers copy what the Minnesota Wild did and send their AHL broadcasters or even better John Giannone.

The Wild guys to their credit treated the broadcast as professionals and it made the game a lot easier to follow. Stick taps to them and the Wild for giving their fans a solid broadcast.

Igor Shesterkin (Russian Hockey Federation)

Igor Shesterkin played much better against the Wild stopping 20 of 23 shots including some very good saves keeping the Rangers in the game during the first two periods. That said I would give him the start against St. Louis as a test to see how he handles back to back games. Adam Huska also knows how to play in the smaller North American rinks so he doesn’t need the work.

Pretty sure the Rangers backup job will start with Alexander Georgiev while Shesterkin gets the lion’s share of starts in Hartford. If Traverse City is any indication then Shesterkin needs as much playing time as possible to adapt to North American hockey something he won’t get backing up Henrik Lundqvist.

It is hard to see anyone other than Kakko, Kravtsov, and Fox making the Rangers in training camp. Yegor Rykov hopefully is not injured seriously but missing any time will hurt his cause to make the Rangers. It would be better if Rykov started in Hartford so he can get major minutes there instead of being a 6-7 on the Rangers.

Other than that Tarmo Reunanen needs to step up more if he wants to show he belongs in North America. He looks like he has a skillset but considering the glut of young defensive talent he needs to stand out or will get lost in the number’s game. Nico Gross is playing for a contract this year but I think he needs a monster season (including adding more offense) to earn that contract.

Right now I can’t see the Rangers offering Gross an NHL deal when you look at how many defenders they already have in the prospect pool. And that is not including K’Andre Miller, Zac Jones, and Simon Kjellberg who aren’t at Traverse City since they play NCAA hockey.

Ryan Dmowski (Hartford Wolf Pack)

In the time I have been doing this, the Rangers have signed several players to AHL deals hoping to see them become late bloomers which none ever have. Of this year’s group, I think Ryan Dmowski might break the glass ceiling. Been following him for the last couple of years because of goalie Tyler Wall and Dmowski has found ways to play better than expected. His former school UMass-Lowell tends to play a more defensive style of hockey so Dmowski I think has a shot at being a shutdown defensive forward.

Dmowski was 1-3-4 in 10 games with Hartford so if he can add some offense to being a potential blue-collar player then even better.

Are You Excited Yet?

Vitali Kravtsov (Bildbyrรฅn)

It only seems like it has been forever since a team wearing New York Rangers uniforms played a hockey game but it has only been 152 days. On Friday at 3:30 PM EDT the 2019 Baby New York Rangers will open the Traverse City Prospect’s Tournament against the Baby Columbus Blue Jackets and hopefully begin a new chapter in the history of the Rangers franchise.

The Rangers are sending a 24 man squad that will most likely the most talented team they have sent but it will also be the most inexperienced. If it is like previous years then it will be sloppy, mostly ugly hockey and honestly, I for one don’t care. It is Rangers hockey and while it sounds like Kaapo Kakko might not play (reportedly under the weather), there will several others that one should be excited to watch.

Matthew Robertson (Edmonton Oil Kings)

Whether it is goalie Igor Shesterkin, defensemen Adam Fox, Matthew Robertson or Igor Rykov or the prospect who I really want to see in forward Vitali Kravtsov. The only way this team could be more talented would be if K’Andre Miller and Morgan Barron were also on the team.

But it is more than the prospects to be excited that I want to watch, I want to see the Hartford coaching staff led by Kris Knoblach work. They along with the additions to the player development staff will finally bring to the Rangers some actual teachers to the coaching staff.

Hopefully, that will translate in the prospects being better prepared and developed as they become Rangers.

The last word about how to watch the tournament that I have is that the Fox Sports Go app will live stream the tournament. Pointstreak.com  will be the place to find the stats as well as lineups for the tournaments.

Enjoy the tournament, I know I will.

Why No Television For Traverse City?

New York Rangers (New York Rangers/NHL.com)

With less than five days before the prospect Rangers hit the ice for their first game at the 2019 Traverse City Prospect Tournament, there begs a question: Why aren’t the games at the Traverse City Tournament televised either by MSG Networks or on the NHL Network itself?

This is becoming an annual question especially for a rebuilding team like the New York Rangers. Why not spend the money and show the same fans who you are trying to sell tickets and merchandise what the Rangers future looks like?

It isn’t as if MSG Network has anything more pressing to show on their schedule that they can’t put aside a couple of hours a night to televise the games the Rangers play in. Heck, I seriously doubt that the fans would care if the games are tape-delayed and shown at night.

Nobody is asking for full-fledged TV production with Sam, Joe, and John between the benches.  Nor would you need to do a pre or postgame show but showing the games along with some interviews with the players, coaching staff and the player development staff would do more to excite the fans about the upcoming season.

If they are worried that fans would not watch the prospects in action then the Rangers (and Dolans) have not been paying attention this summer. Rangers fans are very excited about getting to see the prospects whether it is Kakko, Kravtsov, Shestyerkin or Rykov.

But someone at MSG whether it is the network or the team management doesn’t seem to think that showing the fans what they themselves have been pitching is a good idea. Dumb just flat out dumb as if there will not be a better advertisement than a Kakko highlight-reel goal against fellow NHL prospects.

The NHL Network is equally guilty as the Network that likes to bill itself as the home of hockey would rather show repeated content instead of getting hockey fans ready for the upcoming season. Not only is there the Traverse City Tournament but this year the Nashville Predators are hosting three other teams in a tournament of their own (and will televise their games on Nashvillepredators.com).

But nobody else seems to mention if Ranger fans (or NHL fans) will get to see their prospects play. And everyone loses there because someone is being shortsighted.

Prospect Action

Nico Gross (Oshawa Generals)

2018 fourth-round pick defenseman Nico Gross was scoreless as his Oshawa Generals lost 7-2 to the Mississauga Steelheads in OHL exhibition action. Gross was a -2 on one shot with a minor for roughing.  The loss evens the Generals preseason record at 1-1.

Gross was also scoreless on one shot and a +1 on Friday as his Generals earned a 5-4 shootout win over the Kingston Frontenacs. Gross is in his second year with the Generals as an “import player”.

Hunter Skinner (Lincoln Stars)

2019 fourth-round pick Hunter Skinner scored his first OHL goal on Friday evening as his London Knights defeated the Sarnia Sting 5-2. The Knights are excited to have Skinner as they talked about his point shot (he has three shots).

The Knights talked about Skinner in their post-game report:

“Hunter Skinner made is OHL pre-season debut a memorable one with a glimpse of his booming shot from the point and then an empty-netter that traveled about as close to 200 feet as possible on a hockey rink. Skinner shot the puck from deep in the left corner of his own zone and hit the Sting net almost dead centre.”

And this is a reason why MSG should be televising the Traverse City games as I want to check out this 6’2 righthanded defender.