Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dallas Stars Fan Appreciation Night and Central Hockey League Playoffs

Tonight is the Dallas Stars Fan Appreciation night and the last chance to keep any dying playoff hopes alive. A loss to the surging St. Louis Blues who are in a playoff fight right now and they would be offically elinmated from playoff contention. A few things that the fans have appreciated this season is fighting really hard through an ever changing roster and massive injuries, espically to Sergei Zubov and Bredan Morrow who almost were nonexisnt this season. Also, despite the pre season expections of a possible cup run, the fans have made the best of a bad situation by supporting them and seeing an opprunity for young players in their moments in the spotlight with guys like Loui Eriksson and Fabian Brunnstrom who have been doing well.

Now I have mentioned a couple of things in my last post about what the Stars need to do in the off season to over come this situation next season like Brett Hull explaning himself on bringing in Sean Avery and finding a strong back up goaltender to relieve Marty Turco for about 20-25 games a season. So as for tonight and the 3 road games next week against Minnesota, C0lorado, and Anaheim to close the season on April 10, just watch the team because the fans love the Stars and the sport as a whole, it's just the end of the season and hope that next year will be better.

As for tonight's game, the Stars have called up a player that I thought we were going to see more in Ivan Vishnevskiy who was the team's first round draft pick back in 2006 (27th overall). So far this season, Vishnevskiy has played for the Rouyn-Nornda Huskies in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) who has scored 45 points this season (17G, 28A) in 45 games this season, probally his biggest deal from his junior career was playing in the CHL Top Prospects game back in 2006.

Central Hockey League Playoffs Update

The Texas Brahmas have becomed the first team last night to advance to the Conference Final finishing off the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in a sweep, after 4-2 and 5-4 wins at home in North Richland Hills, the team won twice in Rio Grande City won 6-2 and 3-1 in a 4 game sweep. Right now, the Brahmas will now rest and await the winner of the Southern Conference Semifinal between the Laredo Bucks and the Odessa Jackalopes who are currently tied 2-2 in their first round series, game 5 is tonight in Odessa where the road team has won every game in the series.

Here's a more in depth story on the Brahmas advancing into the last 4.

After a 3-2 OT Win and then an impressive 5-1 win in Odessa, Laredo was in prime shape to possibly shock the southwest Division Champions Jackalopes, however, the Jackalopes got back in the series with a road sweep of their own in which both games went to OT in which Odessa Jackalopes dynamic goal scoreers Dominic Leveille and Sebastien Thinel have scored 3 goals combined, but the goals they have scored have been imporant and have changed momentum in the games. Game 5 is back in the Ector County Coliseum where Odessa will hope to end the road win trend and take a cricitcal 3-2 lead going into game 6 which is comming up on April 7 and then game 7 would be April 9 if needed. For Laredo to win, Darryl Smith and Bobby Russell which have 7 of the 14 goals in this series and will need to contuine to lead the team on the offense while Andrew Martin and Sebastien Centomo have basically split the time in net with both goalies which are 1-1 in the series. I would reccomond that they try to figure out which goalie is better so they can get into a rythm and get a style of play so they will know how to play to their strength and weakness for the rest of the series.

Up North, after the Oklahoma City Blazers won the 1st game in OT, the Mississippi Riverkings have won the last 3 to take a 3-1 series lead and a chance to close it out in Desoto, Mississippi tonight. Despite the Blazers keeping the games close, the Blazers have had to score by committee as they don't have a single player with more than 3 points so far in this series. Players like the Vandermeer Brothers (Ted and Bill), DJ Jelitto, and Eric Przepiorka. This could be good or bad, for istince, the Riverkings never know who could be the main scoring threat on the ice, it could also be bad as they don't have a single player that they have to fear that much and have to focus primally on anyone in partically and don't get many chances to open up the game for someone unexpected to come up big. Despite having good goaltender, they also don't have anyone that could be realibale to play game in and game out in which just like the Laredo Bucks, they can't settle in on one kind of goaltending so they can get an idea on how to protect them opposing offences.

The Final series as the Colorado Eagles and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs where the Eagles have won 3 one goal games. With scorelines of 4-3, 4-3 and 3-2 in OT, the Eagles have a chance to clinch a Northern Conference Spot comming up on Monday night in Sheveport, the Eagles have been lead by Kevin Ulanski and Riley Nelson both with 5 points with Aaron Schneekloth being their best defenseman with 2 goals and an assist. For the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs to steel a game they need to have a big game from their goaltending which despite having Travis Clayton which leads all scoreers in the playoffs with 10 points their goaltending has to improve with Ken Carroll which has a less than prime 3.97 GAA and a .841 SV%. What the Mudbugs needs to do in goal, is to let Jon Horrell start who's stats are better and can take a better pounding with a 3.02 GAA and a .909 SV% so far the in the playoffs, hopefully a great night can give this team a spark.

News and Notes
The top 2 junior leagues in the USA have either just started or about to get started. Last night, the North America Hockey League got their post season last night with all 8 matchups in the Division Semifinals now underway. The Regions only team, the Wichita Falls Wildcats will be in an uphill battle against the Topeka Roadrunners as they hoping not just to return to the Robertson Cup, but win it after a 3rd place finish last year. A great thing about this team is that they have done a great job finding and scouting players from across the Southwest where they have 3 players from the Dallas area in Matt Shost, Chad Hudson, Broderick Browne have played some time in different ways this season for the Wildcats. Last night, they lost game 1 3-2 against Topeka in which a great attempt to come back after a 3-0 deficit, they came back with goals from Aaron Quick and Ryan Amin and then the Wichita Falls Wildcats put in a great effort where they almost forced OT, but in the end they lost 3-2.

A couple of other players to watch for during the NAHL Playoffs will be in the Central Division Semifinal between the Bismarck Bobcats and the Alexandria Blizzard. For Alexandria, Flower Mound, Texas Native Kyle Clement who played in the Dallas High School League for Flower Mound who scored 17G and 14A in 53 games this season and also scored 2 goals in a surprise run to the Robertson Cup last season. He's more of a Steve Ott type of player who a very physical player and a pretty good fighter who also looks for ways to increase his goal scoreing. For the Bismarck Bobcats, John Wickman had a strong season for the Bobcats who are the top seed in the Central who scored 21 Goals and 19 Assists in 45 games this season and also had an impressive +17 this year. He is a very fast skater who can burn oppenents in their dust, if the Bobcats live up to expection, he be a big part of a pontential Robertson Cup Run come early May in which the Robertson Cup Tournament will be in Mason City, Iowa (Home of the North Iowa Outlaws) comming up from April 28 thru May 3.

Last night, the 2nd round matches of the Major Junior Playoffs got underway last night with all but one match getting underway. (The one acception was the Brandon Wheat Kings VS. Medicine Hat Tigers). A major highlight of the major junior playoffs last night was that the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and the Quebec City Ramparts had their game go into 4OT last night with Cape Breton Robert Slaney who eventully scored the game winner.

Here's a look at the 2nd round Major matchups.

Western Hockey League
Eastern Conference

#1 Calgary Hitmen VS. #7 Lethbridge Hurricanes
#3 Brandon Wheat Kings VS. #5 Medicine Hat Tigers

Western Confernce

#1 Vancouver Giants VS. #4 Spokane Cheifs
#2 Tri-City Americans VS. #3 Kelowna Rockets

Ontario Hockey League

Eastern Conference

#1 Belleville Bulls VS. #6 Niagara Icedogs
#2 Brampton Battalion VS. #4 Mississauga St. Michaels Majors

Western Conference
#1 Windsor Spitfires VS. #4 Plymouth Whalers
#2 London Knights VS. #3 Saginaw Spirit

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

#1 Drummondville Voltigers VS. #8 Montreal De Junior
#2 Moncton Wildcats VS. #7 Rimouski Oceanic
#3 Quebec City Ramparts VS. #6 Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
#4 Gatineau Olympqiues VS. #5 Shawinigan Catarcitcs

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