Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thoughts on Kingston from February 15

This afternoon the Kingston Frontenacs visited the Gatorade Garden City Complex here in St. Catharines, to take on the Niagara Ice Dogs. Despite the shot total being 41-31 in favor of the Fronts, the game was completely one sided in favor of the Ice Dogs. Niagara completely dominated last place Kingston en route to a 4-1 victory. Niagara got goals from Andrew Agozzino, Chris DeSousa, Marco Insam, and Thomas Middup, as well as sensational goaltending from Jeremy Smith.

Here are my thoughts on a few of the Frontenacs...

Taylor Doherty - NHL Draft eligible in 2009

Doherty did not have a good game, probably the worst I've seen him play in the past two seasons. He was a complete non factor. On the first Ice Dog goal by Middup, he failed to tie up his man going to the net, and Middup was able to bang home a juicy rebound. I don't think he attempted to rush the puck up ice once this game and looked tentative and scared with it on his stick. Early in the third period, he took a lazy hooking penalty in his own zone and I don't think he saw the ice again in the game. This was also the first game I've noticed his skating being a potential issue. I've heard a lot of people say they felt it was, however I always disagreed. And I still disagree to a point, as I think his straight away speed and skating is fine and allows him to bring the puck out of his zone (should he choose to). But today, I noticed that his backward mobility could be an issue, as a few times I noticed him getting caught flat footed, as players were close to blowing by him. I hope there weren't any scouts in attendance today seeing Doherty for the first time.

Erik Gudbranson - NHL Draft eligible in 2010

This kid is going to be good. At 6'3 already, his skating is excellent, as is his defensive play. Also impressive is the fact that at just turning 17 and an OHL rookie, he's currently wearing an "A." That shows the type of character and faith the coaching staff has in his ability. He actually showed more of a physical edge than I had seen before from him and he appears to be becoming more confident in using his size to his advantage. The one thing I was disappointed about was not seeing him on the powerplay. In my previous viewings of Kingston this season, he was playing on the first powerplay unit. However, today I don't think I saw him out there once, with Zack Fenwick taking his spot with Brian Lashoff on the point of the first unit. He has great puck skills and a big shot, so it's disappointing to me that Coach Killer doesn't have him out there gaining experience on the PP.

Colt Kennedy - NHL Draft eligible in 2009

Colt had a very solid game playing on a line with Ethan Werek. He brought a lot of energy and was consistently attacking on the forecheck. He worked the corners and he was very physical and aggressive. He also showed some good speed as he entered the zone and on the aforementioned forecheck. I'm not sure how much offensive ability he really has, but he's a good energy guy. He's a former first rounder in the OHL priority draft, but he's already on his third OHL team. Read into that what you like. I've heard he is getting some minor attention for the 2009 draft though and could end up as a late pick with the hopes that he develops an offensive game (ala Washington late rounder Stefan Della Rovere).

Nathan Moon - Drafted by Pittsburgh in 2008/120th

Fresh off his mugging at the hands of James DeLory, Moon did not have a good game. Overall Moon is just one guy who consistently underwhelms me. I see the flashes of skill, but I don't see the effort level. The Fronts went down 4-0 at the beginning of the 2nd period, and he appeared to just give up. He stopped battling for loose pucks, and began to float. If I wasn't watching for number 10, I probably wouldn't have even noticed him playing. For a guy who brings little to the table except offense and perhaps a slightly pesky playing personality, the fact that his offensive numbers are down this season has to be somewhat alarming.

Brian Lashoff - Signed as a free agent by Detroit

Lashoff has gotten better everytime I've seen him this season. He played probably half the game for Kingston and is clearly their work horse on the backend. He's also their captain, which is an impressive feat for a player who joined the team mid season and I think it speaks volumes of his character. On the ice, his skating and puck rushing ability is top notch. He enters the offensive zone effortlessly, and does a good job running the point on the powerplay, although I'd like to see him move around a little more as I found him to be a little stiff at the point. He does a good job of getting his shot through though. At 6'3 and with his skating ability, it is a wonder as to how he went undrafted last season. Another good find by the Red Wings scouting staff after they invited him to training camp and immediately signed him. There are a ton of similarities between Brian and his brother Matt (former Boston Bruins first rounder), and I think Brian is only going to continue to get better.

Ethan Werek - NHL Draft eligible in 2009

The best player on the ice for Kingston, no question. Werek was just about the only player generating real offensive chances for the Fronts. He was absolutely robbed by Smith on one occasion as he brought the puck from his skate to his stick while on the rush and rifled a wrist shot top corner, only to have Smith snag it. He scored the lone Kingston goal on a similar play as he came down the wing and ripped a wrist shot, this time blocker side, to beat Smith. His skating is solid, he wins battles along the boards, and he plays both ends of the ice. I think this guy is a big NHL draft riser as he continues to get better and better.


On another note, the highlight of the game for me was Chris DeSousa's hit on Taylor Doherty in the opening shift of the game. I think it really set the pace of the game in favor of Niagara. Just for the record, DeSousa is nearly a foot smaller than Doherty, yet he sent him flying to his rear, as he came down on the forecheck. The hit was similar to the one the equally small statured Nathan Gerbe (Buffalo Sabres) threw on Brian Lee (Ottawa Senators) last week, in case anyone saw it. DeSousa also scored a wicked goal off the face off. I just don't understand how this guy can be left off the CSB. Makes me wonder if they've even see Niagara play.

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