It's been a while since I've seen the Spitfires play, so I decided to watch the Majors take on the Spitfires tonight on the Action Pack. Watching games on TV isn't ideal, but it's better than nothing when you haven't seen a team play in a while.
This was a great game and one that would have been even better to see live. A ton of energy, and it almost seemed like a playoff game. It was a tight battle until the start of the third period, when the Spitfires pulled ahead 3-1 (thanks to back to back goals from Taylor Carnevale). But for the second straight game, the Spits gave up a solid lead (lost to Kitchener on Sunday after being up 4-0). The Majors stormed back late in the third period to tie it, and then won it in the shootout on the strength of goals from former Spits Justin Shugg and Marc Cantin.
Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
#2 - Justin Shugg (Drafted By Carolina)
Shugg had some good rushes and showed some good speed tonight, but was largely unable to get through the Windsor defense to the net. While the first line of Cizikas, Smith-Pelly and DeSousa has clicked very well, I think Dave Cameron has had some difficulty finding consistent playing partners for Shugg this year (in terms of chemistry). He scored a beauty shootout goal though, leg fake, avoid the pokecheck, back hand passed Campbell who had sprawled out on the pokecheck.
#5 - Stuart Percy (Draft eligible in 2011)
Percy played as usual, solid game at both ends of the ice. You know what you're getting from him, night in and night out. He had an outstanding shift in overtime where he controlled the pace of play, deked out the Windsor unit, put a good shot on net, got his own rebound, found an open teammate for the point shot (although it was stymied). It often makes me think there is more offense to his game then he shows on a nightly basis.
#11 - Casey Cizikas (Drafted by New York Islanders)
Cizikas had a quiet game. He had a couple nice rushes, but was largely ineffective on the night. Which was the case for most of Missy's big offensive guns on the night.
#13 - Maxim Kitsyn (Drafted by Los Angeles Kings)
I've seen him play some really solid games so far in his OHL career. There's no doubt he's been a bit snake bitten lately, despite producing good opportunities. He was pretty much invisible in the game though, so hopefully he's not losing confidence based on his lack of scoring success in recent games.
#16 - Joseph Cramarossa (Draft eligible in 2011)
This was the best game I've ever seen Cramarossa play. The first Majors goal was a thing of beauty. Took the puck at the red line, exploded into the Spits end, side stepped a check/ran over Nick Ebert along the boards, took it to the net, toe dragged around a sliding Ryan Ellis and put a wrist shot over Campbell's pads. He was also involved in the two other Majors goals with nice plays. On the 2nd goal he dipsy doodled into the slot and made a one handed pass to Schoenmakers at the side of the net for the goal as he was about to lose his balance. On the 3rd goal, he took the puck hard to the net, cut to the middle and used the defender as a screen for a weak shot, but Schoenmakers put home the rebound. Cramarossa is a hard nosed player (also fought on the night, but didn't do as well), who has more offensive upside than his numbers would indicate. If he was on a team where he was getting more ice time (specifically powerplay time), he might be a guy people might talk more about.
#34 - J.P. Anderson (Signed by San Jose Sharks)
JP had a really solid game. He really kept his team in the game when they were getting outplayed for portions of the 1st and 2nd period. He made a tremendous save on Kassian as he broke through the Majors defense and went in on Anderson, went backhand, but Anderson sprawled to make the save. He never gives up on the play and uses his athleticism to make some big saves. His rebound control has come a long way this year too. It still needs work for the next level, but tonight was evidence of his hard work, as he controlled his rebounds really well (which is key against Windsor and Ryan Ellis' point shot). The third Windsor goal was a bit weak, wrist shot through the body, but he played well and got the W.
#6 - Ryan Ellis (Drafted by Nashville Predators)
Ellis had a tremendous game at both ends of the ice. He absolutely laid out Jamie Wise with an open ice hit in the first period. Offensively, he was bringing up the puck very confidently. He made a tremendous play on Windsor's first goal by alluding the forecheck in his own end (along the wall), sucked in the defense by being patient and found Jeff Brown crossing the redline with a pass that ended up as a tic-tac-toe goal by Kuhnhackl. Defensively, he had a play that really showed his maturity as a defender. Late in the game the Spits came in with numbers, but the play was broken up until the puck bounced back into the slot. Ellis could have MAYBE had an opportunity to get it to put a shot on net, but instead recognized that if he missed, it'd be a two on one the other way, so he peeled back, skated hard and negated the 2 on 1 and the scoring chance. He's been a man among boys this year.
#8 - Craig Duininck (Draft eligible in 2011)
Duininck had a really solid game on the night. He's someone who's really growing on me as an NHL prospect. He's big, physical and a mobile defender (somebody built to play defense in today's NHL). He had one really impressive defensive play on Justin Shugg, as he came across the blueline full speed ahead, but Duininck came up to challenge him, skated with him, angled him off to the corner, and stripped him of the puck, starting the breakout the other way. Offensively, he saw limited time on the secondary PP unit, and is starting to get his shot through to the net more.
#14 - Tom Kuhnhackl (Drafted by Pittsburgh Penguins)
He had a very good game. Was all over the ice, constantly around the puck. Tic tac toe to open Windsor's scoring, where he finished off a play by going hard to the net. Around the net was where he seemed to be doing most of his damage largely, and also picked up a couple of assists finding Carnevale open in the slot and on the wing for goals 2 and 3.
#19 - Zack Kassian (Drafted by Buffalo Sabres)
Kassian had no points, but had a solid game. He was robbed by Anderson a couple of times, including when he broke through Mississauga's defense, got Anderson out of position on the deke to the backhand, but couldn't get it over his sprawling body. Along the boards, he's a man among boys in this league. On the night, he was very tough to get the puck off of, had a couple nice hits and a nice fight. Last year he really struggled to find that balance between physicality and offense. This year, he's been able to put together more consistent performances and understands his role on the ice. He's there to intimidate, but he's also there to score.
#22 - Nick Ebert (Draft eligible in 2012)
Ebert was exposed on the Cramarossa goal (went for the big hit and missed), but has so much potential and is having a great year. His skating is excellent and he has the skill to be a solid two way defender. I like his aggressiveness without the puck for such a young player. With added strength, that element will likely only improve (in quantity and quality), which will really nicely compliment his strong offensive game.
#77 - Taylor Carnevale (Draft eligible in 2011, but 3rd year eligible)
He might be making a case for a selection this year in the draft. I'm not exactly sure where he'd fit in at the next level, but he's solid both ways, good on faceoffs, and is a heady offensive player. He made a nice pass to Kuhnhackl in transition for the first goal, and showed good speed on the 3rd goal by coming down the wing and beating Anderson.
#89 - Alexander Khokhlachev (Draft eligible in 2011)
The Khok had a rough game, the worst I've seen him play this year. He was completely taken out of the play as the Majors didn't give him time and space to work. He was incapable of winning any battles along the boards. On the positive, his defensive play is really coming around and he made a couple nice plays in his own end to take the puck off a Majors player. But he's one of the youngest players in the draft. He obviously needs to add size. The skill and dynamic nature of his offensive game are there, even if they weren't on this night.
#1 - Jack Campbell (Drafted by Dallas Stars)
Campbell had a rough game, even if he only gave up three goals. His rebound control was really poor, especially on low shots. He was kicking out juicy rebounds into the slot, left, right and center. On the first Majors goal, he didnt come out far enough to challenge Cramarossa, and he was caught flat footed going right to left. On the 2nd goal, he was beat side to side by Schoenmakers, on what looked like a minor scoring chance. Where it was the poor rebound control that led to the third Majors goal by Schoenmakers, as Cramarossa got a weak shot away in the slot, that was kicked right back out into play and Schoenmakers put it into the back of the net. He also looked bad in shootout as he fell for the same move twice (the Crosby leg fake to the backhand) by Shugg and Cantin. Campbell needed to be better in a game where his team probably deserved to win.