Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Team Canada U-20 Intrasquad Game Roundup

I attended the Team Canada U-20 intra-squad game tonight so I thought I'd quickly post my thoughts.

The shots may have been close after the first period, but team White dominated team Red with their forecheck and cycle. Red had absolutely no counter when team White gained the zone, and the chances for White were about 8-1.

In the second period team Red decided to show up and held zone control for long periods of time. They actually managed to tie it up 2-2 at one point. However, the 2nd half of period 2 saw White adapt and mostly keep Red to the outside, and in fact they pulled ahead later on.

The third period was more domination for Red. They scored two (including a highlight reel 3-1 goal) to put the game away, then scored a 6th to really put an exclamation point on the win.

Of particular interest to Flames fans is goaltender Leland Irving who played the 2nd half of the game. I was impressed with him, he seemed very composed and had excellent rebound control. Hard to say a lot more about him as he didn't have to make very many saves, but he only let in 1 goal, the least of any goalie in the game. I would say he's the front runner for the number 1 position. Price didn't look very impressive, and Cann really didn't make the saves when he needed to either. Bernier let in a couple but he was being bombarded so he looks like the possible backup.

Of interest to Oilers fans was Andrew Cogliano. I thought he played a real sharp game. He made an excellent defensive play in the 2nd period to check a man in front with the puck, he used his speed to create room for his teammates, including a dominating shift in the third where he simply owned the ice which resulted in a goal. He had one breakaway in which he went glove side on Price, but was denied. I thought he got better as the game went on. He ended with an assist and a tip in goal.

Therealdeals of the night had to be Sam Gagner and Steve Downie for team white, Brendan Mikkelson and James Neal for red. The 17 year old Gagner had an 'encouter' with Bourdon in the first after the whistle, and as he skated off the ice he kept his eye on Bourdon. On his next shift he challenged Bourdon a second time, proving that he wasn't going to back down from the returnee. From then on he dominated in the offensive zone and transition for the rest of the game, getting a goal and two assists, including a shorthanded highlight reel marker (seriously, its on TSN's highlights of the night) on a 3-1 from Downie.

Downie had 3 assists and was nasty all game. He took two penalties in the first and went after Bourdonwith a slash in the offensive zone in the third, resulting in Bourdon retaliating with a roughing penalty. I really respect Downie a lot and he reminds me of Messier the way he retaliates to get room for himself. He's proven that he can hold back when he needs to as well.

James Neal created a few of the few offensive zone chances for team Red all night and got one of their 3 goals. He did have some neutral zone giveaways though.

Brendan Mikkleson in my opinon was Team Red's best defenseman. He provided good outlet passes all night, made good defensive decisions and he skated well. He got Red's first goal as well, not a bad night for a new fish in a sea of returning defenseman. I would say he's got a very good chance of being the 6th or 7th defenceman based on tonight's performance.

Also of note was 17 year old Drew Doughty on defence for team White. He looked extremely composed with the puck, making several very good outlet passes and dominating on the point in the offensive zone. Cogliano's tip in was shot by Doughty, and in tonight's game he was one of the top 4 defenceman.


Kent said...

Thanks for the scouting job...

I wonder why Daniel Ryder didn't get an invite to the camp?

Kyle said...

I haven't really seen him play that much so anything I said would purely be speculation, but there are a lot of good hockey players in the age range and only about 12-13 forward spots, so I would think it was purely logistics.