All the fun of round robin play was done after the first three days of games at the 2010 NHL Prospects Tournament. Only one day of games remained to determine the final pecking order. Columbus and St. Louis clashed in the 7th place game, while I got to call the 5th place game between Dallas and New York (the third game I got to see for both of these teams).
New York looked to set the tone to start the 5th place game, as Dylan McIlrath (Moose Jaw – WHL) pinched in deep into the offensive zones trying to create chances. Derek Stepan (Wisconsin – WCHA) circled the net and was left alone for a few wristers from the slot in front of Dallas starting goaltender Tyler Beskorowany (Kingston – OHL). Ryan Bourque (Quebec – QMJHL) continued to stay aggressive on the forecheck to disrupt any Dallas momentum in the neutral zone. But Dallas did generate a few offensive chances, one being a 2-on-1 break by Mathieu Tousignant (Texas – AHL) and Jace Coyle (Medicine Hat – WHL), with the end result being Tousignant running into Rangers’ goalie Scott Stajcer (Owen Sound – OHL) after the whistle (no penalties were handed out despite a scrum which developed in front of Stajcer, much to the chagrin of the Rangers’ bench). Dallas continued to press as Philip Larsen (Frolunda – SWE) and Jordie Benn (Allen – CHL) moved the puck up the ice quickly with some crisp stretch passes after New York dumped the puck into the Dallas zone.
However, New York would strike first with 7:40 left in the opening frame when Andrew Yogan’s (Erie – OHL) shot from the left wing fooled Beskorowany. Stepan found the twine from another chance in the slot just over five minutes later on a feed from Evgeny Grachev (Hartford – AHL) to increase the lead to 2-0, which is how the first period would end. The Rangers had the edge in shots at 10-7.
New York continued to pour it on as Jason Bast (Moose Jaw – WHL) took a pretty tap pass from Tomas Kundratek (Medicine Hat – WHL) with just over three minutes gone in the second. But Dallas’ Scott Glennie (Brandon – WHL) scored quickly into a 5-on-3 power play with 14 minutes to go to cur the Rangers’ lead to 3-1. The Stars threatened to keep pressure on Stajcer when Kevin King (Kootenay – WHL) had a scoring chance scoot across the crease (and fooled the goal judge). But a shorthanded breakaway by the Rangers’ Roman Horak (Chilliwack – WHL) drew a hook on the Stars’ Alex Theriau (Everett – WHL), ending the Dallas power play chance. Sam Klassen (Saskatoon – WHL) fired a laser from the point quickly on the 4-on-4 with 11 ½ minutes left to restore the three goal lead for the Rangers. Beskorowany was peppered with an additional 13 shots in the middle stanza, while Dallas was able to land 11 shots on net at Stajcer.
Play got rather testy towards the end of the second period, and that continued into the third. The Stars’ Etienne Boutet (Rimouski – QMJHL) and the Rangers’ Jason Wilson (Owen Sound – OHL) dropped the gloves with 5 ½ left in the second (4 fights total broke out), and both would be involved in separate tilts prior to the end of this game. But despite the rough edge Dallas chose to play with as the game wore on, New York seemed only more motivated to push the offensive flow. Wilson scored just 1:24 into the third on a shot along the right boards that Beskorowany though he had, but slowly trickled through his pads and behind him, crossing the goal line for a 5-1 New York lead. Grachev made it 6-1 by gracefully floating into the left slot and firing in a pass from behind-the-net from Stepan (the chemistry between these two players seemed effortless) with 7 ½ to play.
When Dallas wasn’t taking silly penalties, it did mount a few offensive chances. But Stajcer made a cricket-style save with the paddle on a slapper from Cole Grbavac (Medicine Hat/Kamloops – WHL), which was originally redirected by Blueshirts blueline Ryan McDonagh (Wisconsin – WCHA). Coyle finally solved Stajcer with a power-play goal with about 5 to play, only to be answered by the Rangers’ Ethan Werek (Kingston – OHL), who found nothing but twine not quite two minutes later.
FINAL SCORE: New York 7, Dallas 2
In the 7th place game, St. Louis kept Columbus as the only winless team in the tourney, beating the Blue Jackets 5-2. I got to see Alex Pietrangelo (Niagara/Barrie – OHL) find the back of the net on a power play (the second of five PP goals for the Blues), as well as Blues’ netminder Jake Allen (Montreal/Drummondville – QMJHL) standing up to plenty of Columbus traffic in front of him, making 38 saves for the game.