This past weekend, Ryan was able to take in two games at the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre. These were the February 6 game against the Niagara Ice Dogs, and the February 7 game against the Guelph Storm.
The following are his reports...
February 6 - Thoughts on the Niagara Ice Dogs
Alex Friesen - LC - YOB: 1991 - 5’9” - 183lbs. NHL: Eligible in 2009
Report: Feb/6/09: Friesen showed off some good bursts of speed at times tonight in Sarnia he had a quick release and Friesen flew up the ice. It was hard to notice too much as both teams seemed to be playing a shutdown style of hockey. Friesen played with a bit of an edge which was a little unexpected from a smallish player.
Andrew Agozzino - LW - YOB: 1991 - 5’9” - 188lbs. NHL: Eligible in 2009
Report: Feb/6/09: I’m very surprised Agozzino isn’t rated by CSB this kid may be small but he’s got a lot of speed, and has a laser of a shot with quick release. It was hard to really gauge how good this guy really is offensively in a 1-0 win but he definitely looks like a player who could be of interest in a team come draft day. (Agozzino had 2 PIM)
Alex Pietrangelo - RD - YOB: 1990 - 6’4” - 210lbs. NHL: 1st Round - 4th Overall by St. Louis in 2008
Report: Feb/6/09: What can I really say about Pietrangelo that hasn’t already been said. He looked like a man among boys. He knew when to pinch and when to play back, his positioning in general was amazing, although he didn’t play the 45 mins. I saw him last time he definitely logged about 25-30 which is impressive considering they played the night before. Pietrangelo moved the puck very well and at one point passed the puck blue line to blue line and across the rink past one sting player and through the legs of another player to hit the tape on a streaking forward, it was ridiculous witnessing that kind of passing. If he was on about 2/3rds of the other NHL teams he never would have been sent back to the OHL. (Pietrangelo had 2 PIM)
Jeremy Smith - G - YOB: 1989 - 6’0” - 170lbs. NHL: 2nd Round - 54th Overall by Nashville in 2007
Report: Feb/6/09: Jeremy Smith going to Niagara may have been the best thing for him. He’s the undisputed starter and last night looked very impressive tonight he had outstanding recovery, and his reflexes were great. Smith looks like he’s recovered from a disappointing first half in Plymouth. (Smith stopped 27 of 28 shots)
February 7 - Thoughts on the Guelph Storm
In the most exciting game all season at the SSEC Jamie Arniel lit up his former team when it counted late in the third then again in overtime to get a critical two points from the Guelph Storm. The game was a fierce and extremely physical back and forth battle with a playoff feel to it. It was also full of current and soon to be NHL prospects.
Peter Holland - LC - YOB: 1991 - 6’2” - 190lbs. NHL: Eligible in 2009
Report: Feb/7/09: This is a guy I spent a lot of time watching. He never really stood out, but at the same time he appeared to play 23-25 mins. Of mistake free hockey so that may in it’s own stand out for Holland. He only took one shot, it just missed top corner and it was an absolute laser with a quick release, I was also impressed with his composure with the puck. He actually appears to be able to protect the puck surprisingly well, he didn’t look like a big man on the ice, but when he needed to protect the puck in the cycle he certainly acted like one. Holland seemed to make some decent tape to tape passes, and his never quit attitude helped him earn a few assists tonight. Holland’s positioning on the ice was exceptional. He also displayed good patience and maturity well beyond that of most 17 year old players. He didn’t take the game over, or make any dynamic plays but you could tell from the action tonight his hockey sense is extremely impressive. His speed was decent but not great, hopefully he can add 10lbs. To his frame and not affect his speed. (Holland had 2A, 2 PIM)
Taylor Beck - LW - YOB: 1991 - 6’1” - 207lbs. NHL: Eligible in 2009
Report: Feb/7/09: Taylor Beck has greatly improved his skating. I have heard that his skating has been his one key weakness, but tonight he looked slightly above average for someone his size, and considering he’s 17 years old. Beck’s positional play was very good, if he wasn’t in the right position during the play, he quickly put himself there. Beck was willing to throw his weight around, but could still stand to play a little more physical as he would be best suited as a power forward. Beck had a decent shot with a good release. The biggest knock on Beck tonight would have been that he took a bad penalty and didn’t play with quite enough intensity edge that you’d expect out of a player his size and skill. He looks like he could be a decent early-mid second rounder. (Beck had 2 PIM)
Michael Latta - RC - YOB: 1991 - 5’11” - 197lbs. NHL: Eligible in 2009
Report: Feb/7/09: Latta was the least impressive of Guelph’s big 4 forwards (Holland, Beck, Latta, Buck). Latta showed some decent skating, but certainly could use some work for a player under 6ft. Latta played well defensively, but didn’t put out much offensively which might have been part of the reason why he wasn’t very noticeable. I have heard Latta plays with an edge but I really didn’t see it tonight. Latta left the game late in the 3rd period and didn’t return for the rest of regulation or overtime as Miroslav Preisinger caught him with his head down and absolutely hit Latta clean, but like a truck in the open ice putting him down for a few minutes before leaving the ice with a little assistance. The hit actually caused enforcer Ryan Baldwin to attack both Miroslav Preisinger and Jordan Hill which landed Baldwin an instigating penalty that resulted in a late tying goal for Sarnia. Latta is a player I would not remove from the top 50 as CSB has indicated him (42nd) but he isn’t someone I’m completely sold on either. Hopefully I will see him later on in the season and get a bit better result. (Latta had 2 PIM)
Brandon Buck - LW - YOB: 1988 - 6’1” - 191lbs. NHL: Free Agent
Report: Feb/7/09: Buck was extremely impressive and arguably Guelph’s best player on the ice. He plays on a line with Holland and Kennedy which has really helped him get that extra space to show off his skills, which include impressive skating ability, and absolutely roofed a laser of a shot to give Guelph the 3-2 lead, then banged home another to give his team another 4-3 lead, both goals would have been clutch if Guelph walked out with a win tonight. Buck may be someone to watch after the Storm’s season is over as he may earn himself a pro tryout contract. Buck has recorded atleast a point in his last 7 of 8 games, for a total of 11 points over those 8 games. (Buck had 2G)
Corey Syvret - LD - YOB: 1989 - 6’3” - 205lbs. NHL: 6th Round - 181st Overall by Florida in 2007
Report: Feb/7/09: Syvret played a strong physical game, however was fortunate to have lenient referee’s as he was continuously clutching and grabbing as well as playing hard physically. If this was 2004 Syvret may be a lot more valuable but since wrapping your arms around your opponent whenever they move past you is no longer a play you can get away with most games, he will likely see himself getting called for several minor penalties if the Panthers choose to give him an entry level contract and he plays in a faster league such as AHL/ECHL. His positioning wasn’t bad at all, but he didn’t show any offensive potential. All in all this is the first time I’ve seen him actually look like a NHL level prospect, and he has gotten noticeably stronger, but he needs to be more disciplined and was very fortunate not to get several holding calls if he ever wants a shot at being a reserve defenceman in the NHL.
Tim Campbell - LD - YOB: 1991 - 6’0” - 185lbs. NHL: Eligible in 2009
Report: Feb/7/09: Campbell looked like a pretty decent player out there. Campbell got 3rd pairing minutes, but he played with the puck a lot during the first half of the game. His passes were always tape to tape and didn’t make a mistake out there, and was also willing to engage physically. His offensive potential doesn’t look high, but he is a player to watch as he may get grabbed up very late this year if scouts notice him. He could also be drafted as an 18 year old when players like Syvret, Martine and Priamo leave, because as it stands he could very easily earn the #2 defensive spot with Chiarot next season and get a chance to prove himself. Campbell; a rookie, is leading the Storm in +/- with a +13 rating this season.
Ben Chiarot - LD - YOB: 1991 - 6’3” - 214lbs. NHL: Eligible in 2009
Report: Feb/7/09: Chiarot was a big physically intimidating force out there. He can hit very hard, however will put himself out of position to do so. Chiarot was surprisingly willing to carry the puck up ice and had decent skating for a player his size and age. Chiarot is still finding himself in the OHL but has put up 8 of his 10 points in the last 20 games played (and 2 in his first 31). Scored his 2nd career goal in an intelligent play to pinch up from the point and put the puck past Spence for the first goal of the game. However there is also the bad, poise and patience may be a big concern as Chiarot panicked in overtime when he received the puck looking to clear the zone, he launched it into the stands with practically zero pressure and had the room to carry the puck out of the zone. The delay of game penalty resulted in an Overtime/Power Play goal that ended the game. Chiarot looks like a project at this point with some boom or bust potential. He’ll pegged as Guelph’s #1 defenceman next year and should have his trial by fire on whether or not he is a legitimate NHL prospect. He has his good and bad, but a few more viewings may make his potential more clear, but he already has NHL ready size as a 17 year old. (Chiarot had 1G, 2 PIM)
Denis Hollenstein - LW - YOB: 1989 - 6’0” - 167lbs. NHL: Eligible in 2009
Report: Feb/7/09: Hollenstein is a very streaky player in his second OHL season. He’s unlikely to be drafted but if he can continue to improve he may give himself an outside shot at a pro contract at the end of next season. He showed tremendous patience with the puck and scored a nice goal due to his poise. (Hollenstien had 1G)
Joe Rogalski - RD - YOB: 1991 - 6’2” - 185lbs. NHL: Eligible in 2010
Report: Feb/7/09: I usually don’t comment on Sting players outside mid-season and final report, but Rogalski deserves an exception of this rule with the way he has played lately. The jury was still out on Rogalski mid-way through the season but recently he’s been playing with a confidence he’s never had before. Getting more and more shifts with Katic has seemed to spark his creativity. He must have been given the green light by coach MacQueen because he’s been rushing the puck up ice, and occasionally has looked similar to Katic when doing so. Rogalski has extremely deceptive speed for a 6’2” defenceman who looks bigger than his listing. He is easily Sarnia’s second fastest defenceman, and his puck moving skills are becoming more evident every game. Proof of this came in last night’s only goal as he hit Matt Martin with a tape to tape pass through 3 defenders, the pass came from his own goal line and hit Martin who scored the winning goal on a breakaway. Rogalski also played solid tonight vs. Guelph. As the game picked up physically Rogalski showed that he’s not just a tall puck carrying defenceman that he can also throw the body as well. Rogalski set up Jamie Arniel late in the 3rd period with a perfect tape to tape pass once again through a couple defenders that was clutch for Sarnia. The only knock on Rogalski might be that he doesn’t contribute as much as he could offensively, and that if he could add 20lbs. To his frame without losing much speed could really raise his stock. Rogalski is already arguably the best North American defenceman in the 2010 draft, and his recent play is reinforcing that possibility. (Rogalski had 2A in 2GP this weekend)
Ryan will be in Windsor Thursday to check out the brand new WFCU Center, and to see the Sarnia Sting take on the Windsor Spitfires.