You don’t go to a prospect tournament for necessarily good hockey, or winning hockey. You’re going to see a lot of missed passes, shots that go nowhere, and players still trying to figure out where they fit in.
For the third year in a row, the Blackhawks prospects started out slow and cautious, got burned on a few weird goals, and didn’t have quite enough time to make up the difference. After two periods, they trailed the Rangers squad 2-0, squandered nearly six minutes straight of power play time in the third, and only got on the board with around four minutes left. They defended their empty net well, which is more than I can say for how well they defended their not-empty net in the first period.
- Alex DeBrincat picked up two points — an assist and a power play goal — and led the team in shots with six. (His goal was a pretty, sneaky shot right over the goalie’s left shoulder.) He and Alexandre Fortin made for a formidable set of first line wingers, and I’ll be excited to see what they can do once they get used to being on a line together. Fortin is faster and more agile than DeBrincat, so he can often use his speed to draw players to him and open up space for DeBrincat. Assuming they both start the year out in Rockford, I’d be delighted to see them on a line together up there.
- Matt Iacopelli had a strong game, and along with DeBrincat and Fortin, was one of the most noticeable players on the ice. He had several good chances, including one in the first where he lost control of the puck before he could shoot, and a shorthanded chance in the second where he just waited too long to release the puck. If he can get his timing down with his linemates, he will be a great asset to this team.
- No one seemed to want to be the guy to shoot the puck. Overpassing was rampant, whether on the power play or at even strength. I really desperately just want to see Robin Press shoot the puck instead of immediately looking for someone else to hand the puck off to.
- I’m always impressed with the fact that the Blackhawks prospect teams are generally well disciplined. So many times in these prospect games, a team gets down a few goals and starts getting frustrated and chippy. The whole team kept a level head and kept pressing on to get on the board in the third, rather than getting feisty. It doesn’t make for the most exciting game, sure, but it’s encouraging to see that they’re not taking liberties.
- I’m interested to see more from Collin Delia in net. He started out slow, but looked more comfortable as the game went on, including a sprawling save on a Rangers shorthanded chance in the third period. All three goals against were weird — the first one may have taken a bounce off some players, or at the least was well screened; the second came during a scramble in front of the Hawks’ net after they lost possession; third was a very strange, bouncing, fluttering puck that got knocked in.
(F) Alexandre Fortin, David Kampf, Alex DeBrincat
(D) Luc Snuggerud, Robin Press
(G) Collin Delia
View stats and boxscore from tonight’s game here.
The Blackhawks take the ice again at 4:00 PM Eastern time against Detroit.
(Photo: Sarah Avampato)