Graves also wins in first game of semifinals
The New York Ranger prospects got their conference finals or league semifinals underway on Thursday with three prospects seeing action. With two prospects and their teams going “head to head” then it guarantees that at least one from this group will get to play in their league finals for a chance to play in the 2015 Memorial Cup.
We start in Sault Ste. Marie where goalie Brandon Halverson (2014 second) and his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds were hosting defenseman Troy Donnay (2013 UFA) and his Erie Otters in game one of their OHL Western Conference finals.
While for us the focus is on the current Ranger prospects, this series is featuring two of the top five prospects in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft in Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome of the Otters. Brandon Halverson is going to be seriously tested in this series but if the results of game one mean anything then Halverson will be more than up to the challenge.
Halverson stopped 39 out of 42 shots faced as the Greyhounds despite a Connor McDavid natural hat trick defeated the Otters 6-3 for a 1-0 series lead. It was Halverson’s ninth straight win in this playoff season and Halverson played big when his Greyhounds needed him to.
Halverson kept the Otters off the scoreboard before McDavid scored the first of three power play goals at 17:44 of the second period. At this point Halverson had stopped 25 out of the 26 shots he faced.
As the third period started the Greyhounds were once again trying to kill an Otter power play but McDavid scored his second goal just 16 seconds into the period. That cut the Greyhounds lead to 3-2 but they were called for playing with a broken stick putting the Otters right back on the power play.
McDavid would score his third goal of the game exactly 50 seconds later at 1:06 to tie the game up at 3-3. That the last goal the Otters would score as Halverson played big the rest of the way. He made glove saves on McDavid and Strome to deny them any more goals while his teammates regrouped to regain the lead and then the win.
Hard to fault Halverson for giving up power play goals especially under the crazy circumstances of the second goal which led indirectly to the third goal. And it is even harder to fault any goalie when he is facing the expected first pick in the upcoming draft.
Halverson held off the Otters for the remaining 18:54 of the third period to earn the win. Halverson improves to 9-0 with a 2.13 goals against and a 0.922 save percentage which is good enough to be second among OHL playoff goalies.
As for Troy Donnay, he took an interference minor which led to the Greyhounds third goal of the game. Overall he was scoreless with a -1 and he did not have a great game more like an average game but this time of the year your starting defenseman needs to be more than average.
Game two will be Friday night still in Sault Ste. Marie.
In the QMJHL, Ryan Graves (2013 fourth) and his Quebec Remparts are already assured of a spot in the 2015 Memorial Cup as the hosts of the tournament but they want to enter the tournament as the QMJHL champions. In game one of their QMJHL league semifinal series, the Remparts defeated the Moncton Wildcats 4-1 to steal away home ice advantage from the Wildcats.
Graves had a secondary assist on the Remparts third goal of the game which was a power play goal. Overall Graves was 0-1-1 on three shots and a +2 with two hits and two minor penalties in the first period. A very good start to the series for the Remparts and they look to go up 2-0 when they play game two on Saturday night in Moncton.