By Brad Vandenberk
The final day of the Prospect Tournament in Oshawa, Ontario wrapped up Tuesday with the Chicago Blackhawks playing their final contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both teams entered the game 0-2 for the tournament, looking for a win. The Hawks had the slight edge by having a total of 6 goals throughout the tournament, while Pittsburgh had just 1 through 2 games.
Johan Mattsson was the starting goalie, with Shawn Lalonde and Ryan Stanton on defensive. The forward line saw Jimmy Hayes and Brandon Saad, centered by Phillip Danault. [Tuesday’s line up]
The game didn’t take long to get started. 15 seconds after the puck dropped, Rob Flick set the tone for the day dropping his gloves against Keven Veilleux of the Penguins. Fists were flying as Veilleux took Flick to the ice. Just 5 minutes later, after a delayed offside, Shawn Lalonde decided to take on Dominik Uher.
The Hawks did get their first power play opportunity when Ryan Gibbons hooked Danault, who went crashing into the Pens’ tender. The power play was unsuccessful with one shot on net.
Both teams had their fair share of scoring changes as Mark McNeill and Peter Leblanc headed in on a 2-on-1 with Leblanc shooting wide. Byron Froese also took advantage of a great opportunity that was presented to him during this period. While jumping onto the ice, he found the puck in the slot and let a slap shot go from the top of the circle; Penguins’ goalie Maxime Lagace made a nice save. The period ended in a 0-0 tie.
The second period started much like the first with Jimmy Hayes and Brandon Defazio getting tangled up in front of the Hawks’ bench. Again, like in the first period, it took only 15 seconds in for a fight to break out. This one was short lived with no decision to be had.
The Hawks had another chance to test their power play with Penguins’ Daniil Tarasov heading to the box for slashing. While Hayes was still in the box serving his fighting major, the power play saw Danault centering Saad and Andrew Shaw to start. Joe Lavin and Shawn Lalonde started on the point. Byron Froese was used as a defenseman for the remainder of the power play. Finally, at 12:45 of the second, Mark McNeill found the back of the net. His speed took him into the offence zone. As he circled behind the goal, he came to the side of the crease and shot over the glove of Lagace. 1-0 Hawks!
Mac Carruth came in half way into the game to share the goal tending duties. Mattsson shutout the Pens prospects through the first 30 minutes.
While a penalty was about to be called on Brian Strait for interference, Flick lived up to his agitator role and started a scrum which sent Andrew Shaw to the box for roughing. Leblanc and Hayes started the 4 on 4.
With 2 seconds left until Andrew Shaw’s penalty expired, the refs were ruthless in their penalty calls sending Simon Danis-Pepin to the box for slashing. During the Pens’ power play, Froese found his way to the box for a hooking call. This gave the Pens a 5-on-3 for a minute. Ryan Stanton was hit hard trying to get the puck out of the zone on the penalty kill. This brought the towels out as Stanton’s nose began to bleed.
The Hawks got into some more penalty trouble with Ben Youds being called for slashing and Danis-Pepin for interference. The penalty killers, Leblanc, Lalonde and Stanton as well as Froese and David Gilbert were able to kill the extended 5-on-3’s.
With 4:21 remaining in the second period, Froese was rewarded. The teams played 4 on 4 with Joe Lavin carrying the puck into the offensive zone and setting Froese up in the slot, who went high glove again, making it 2-0.
Finally, with just over a minute and a half remaining, Shaw was sent up by Leblanc, and was in all alone. Even though he was hauled down, he was able to get the puck passed the Pens’ net minder. The period ended 3-0 Hawks.
With a 3 goal lead, it was really important for the Hawks to have a penalty free period. At 4:35 into the frame, Danault was called for tripping. Shaw and Flick were the Penalty Killers for the first half of the penalty, while Chris DiDomenico and Peter Leblanc helped finish the other half of the PK.
As Danault was released from the penalty box, Leblanc had cleared the puck out of the zone sending Danault on a breakaway. He tucked the puck through the five hole making it 4-0 Hawks.
With 5:26 left of the third, the Pens were finally able to solve a Hawks’ goaltender. With Carruth down and out from making the first save, Kevin Veilleux put the puck in the top corner trimming the Hawks’ lead to 4-1. Chicago had two more attempts on the power play before the game ended, however were unsuccessful. The game ended 4-1. The Hawks ended the tournament 1-2.
The 3 Stars:
3. Andrew Shaw
2. Johan Mattsson
1. Mark McNeill
The top line saw Phillip Danault centering Jimmy Hayes and Brandon Saad. This line was effective all game. Danault used his speed to get the puck to Hayes and Saad. Hayes finally realized he could be effective as a screen in front of the net. Saad was held off the score sheet after having a huge weekend.
Mark McNeill centered the next line with Chris DiDomenico and Peter Leblanc. McNeill had a big game by scoring a nice goal and getting plenty of chances to get another one. Leblanc had a great game having 3 shots on net and adding two assists. DiDomenico was not as good as he was in game 1.
Rob Flick centered the checking line with Andrew Shaw and Paul Zanette as his wingers. Flick played a good game with a fight and played the role of a checker to a tee. Shaw was just as effective as Flick playing the role of the agitator. Paul Zanette was the quicker one on this line, and had a few scoring chances.
Finally, Byron Froese centered David Toews and David Gilbert. Froese was used multiple times on the point during the power plays. Toews had a noticeable tournament taking the puck to the net hard and almost getting a goal. He did get an assist in today’s game. Gilbert spent some time on the PK and was also used as a center man when called upon.
The defensive pairings were; Shawn Lalonde and Ryan Stanton. Both had big games. Stanton did have the nose bleed after taking a big hit, but was quick to return after a seeing the trainer. Lalonde was the vet on the back end seeing power play time, and taking control of the puck when he had to.
Simon Danis-Pepin and Neil Manning, didn’t see a lot of ice due to the second period being filled with penalties. Simon needs to use his 6’7 size and hit his opponents in the defensive zone versus trying to use his stick. Neil Manning had some nice breakout passes.
Joe Lavin and Ben Youds was the strongest pairing. Lavin had 2 nice assists and may not be far from playing at an NHL level. He did make a few mistakes. But a full season with Rockford will prep him for a successful future. Youds saw some PK and power play time. He also is not afraid to hit and block shots.
Jeremy Morin, Philippe Paradis, Ludvig Rensfeldt and Dylan Olsen did not dress. Morin did not appear at all in the three contests. Paradis only played on Saturday, a game he left after the first period with an undisclosed injury. Olsen was a scratch Sunday and Tuesday as well.
With training camp less then 3 days away. A handful of these young prospects should find themselves making some impressions.