Hunter Skinner (Terry Wilson/ OHL Images)
With just six New York Rangers prospects seeing action on Friday night, it was a very good night for the prospect who plays for the London Knights. When 2019 fourth-round pick defenseman Hunter Skinner was selected, he was at the time expecting to attend Western Michigan University.
WMU is a good hockey school coached by former NHL coach Andy Murray and in most cases, my personal preference is for those selected after the third round to attend an NCAA school if given the chance. Skinner thought otherwise and de-committed from WMU and signed a junior contract to play for the London Knights of the OHL.
The Knights are coached by former NHL player and coach Dale Hunter (who is also one of the owners), Hunter is a demanding coach and that made him perfect to help Skinner become a better two-way defender. Entering Friday’s game against the Windsor Spitfires, Skinner was leading the North American Rangers prospects in scoring at 3-14-17.
Skinner would earn the game’s first star with a solid three-assist, +4 effort to help the Knights earn a 6-3 win. All three of the assist were primary assists as Skinner improved to 3-17-20 after 22 games. The game highlights can be found right here
Hunter Skinner would all three of his points on London’s first three goals of the game. Skinner earned his first assist of the night when a shot of his missed the mark but bounced off the back -boards right onto the stick of teammate Connor McMichael who tucked it into the net. London led 1-0 at 16:39 of the first period.
On the second assist, Skinner would carry the puck into the zone handing it off to Nathan Dunkley who would beat Windsor’s goalie through the “five-hole” giving London a 2-0 lead at 13:15 of the second period.
Still in the second, Hunter Skinner would earn his third point of the night when the rebound of his shot went right to a teammate who would put it right in for the goal. Skinner, it should be pointed out was carrying the puck into the offensive zone leading the attack. The goal made it 3-0 as the Knights would go on to win their fifth straight game.
Hunter Skinner in addition to being 3-17-20 is also a +17 which is tied for third-best on the Knights. Skinner and his teammates held a team skills competition in which Skinner won the “hardest shot” recording a 99 MPH blast as well as the elimination shootout.
Tyler Wall (Rich Gagon)
Tyler Wall won his eighth game of the season when he stopped all 23 shots that he faced to lead his UMass-Lowell River Hawks to a 4-0 win over fellow prospect defenseman Simon Kjellberg’s Rensselaer Engineers. The non-conference game was part of the “Turkey Leg” Classic as the River Hawks improved to 8-3-4 on the season.
For Wall, it was his second shutout of the season and ninth career shutout as he earned the game’s second star. It was just another solid performance from the Ranger’s sixth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Check out the nice glove save Wall makes off a deflected shot (at the 40-second mark of the clip). Wall improves to 8-2-4 with a 1.60 goals against (6th NCAA) and a 0.947 save percentage (4th NCAA).
Saturday Wall will be one of his toughest tests this season when the River Hawks host seventh-ranked Penn State in the finale of the Turkey Leg Classic. You can watch the game via the CBS All-Access app starting at 6 PM EDT.
Tyler Nanne scored his second goal of the season an unassisted tally with the teams skating “4-on-4” but it wasn’t enough to prevent his Minnesota Golden Gophers from losing to second-ranked North Dakota 3-2.
Nanne in addition to the goal was a +1 on three shots while blocking three shots as well. For Nanne, the goal improved him to 2-4-6 on the season with a team-best 33 blocked shots.
Zac Jones (Thom Kendall/UMass Athletics)
Zac Jones didn’t show up on the scoresheet but one had to like what they saw from him as his 10th-ranked Massachusetts Minutemen earned a 3-0 win over Quinnipiac. Jones did have two shots but what stood out for me while watching him was how poised the freshman defender played.
Jones was the power play quarterback but one play really stood out as to why the Rangers drafted him in the third round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. With Massachusetts on the power-play, Jones started a play at the top of the point but after handing off the puck to a teammate was able to sneak down the left side and wind up in from of the Quinnipiac goalie ready to tuck a rebound home.
Zac Jones was used on the power-play as well as the penalty kill to go along with his regular shifts. In the third period with the outcome still in doubt, Jones was out there almost every other shift.
Jones and his teammates will host Quinnipiac on Saturday evening, a game that will also be streamed on the CBS All-Access app starting at 7 PM EDT.
Riley Hughes and his 13th-ranked Northeastern Huskies travel to Ireland to take part in the “Friendship Four” tournament. Hughes was scoreless as his Huskies earned a 4-0 win over Hockey East rival New Hampshire for their fourth straight win.
Want To Watch?
If you want to see some of the Ranger NCAA prospects play then I suggest you sign up for the CBS All-Access app which shows Hockey East games (Wall, Jones, and Hughes) or the ESPN+ app which shows the ECAC (Morgan Barron and Simon Kjellberg). Both are reasonably priced but with the ESPN+ app, you can typically also catch NHL games as well.