Prospect Park: A Tale Of Two Game Sevens

In News by Jess Rubenstein

Two New York Ranger prospects played Game sevens on Tuesday with only one advancing. Game Sevens are either the most exciting or most heartbreaking of games. At the same time, the WHL needs to stop and take a very long hard look at both playoff format as well as scheduling.

Brett Howden and his Moose Jaw Warriors spent all season at the top of the WHL standings. The Warriors should not have had as hard a series as they did against the Prince Albert Raiders. Yet they did and one can honestly say that they escaped with a 5-4 win to advance to the WHL’s second round.

Howden had a secondary assist on the series-winning goal which came at 16:10 of the third period. While Howden was not the offensive hero, he was very much one when it came to faceoffs. Howden was 25-11 on faceoffs as Moose Jaw went with just two centers for the majority of the game. The other center was 5-14 which made Howden’s efforts that more important.

Prince Albert jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead and held a 3-2 lead after the first period. The Warriors would trail until late in the second when they tied the game on a power-play goal. Moose Jaw would add another power-play goal to take a 4-3 lead but Prince Albert would use a shorthanded goal to tie the game setting up Howden’s only point.

Moose Jaw advances to face the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL’s second round. More about this matchup later.

Ty Ronning saw his WHL career come to an end on Tuesday when his Vancouver Giants lost game seven to the Victoria Royals 4-3. A disappointing way for Ronning to end his WHL career with Ronning going scoreless.

Still, Ronning and the Ranger fans have a lot to look forward to down the road with Ronning set to turn pro next season. The Giants dug themselves a hole falling behind 3-0 in the second before getting on the scoreboard.

To their credit, the Giants never quit even when they fell behind 4-1 fighting back with two late goals to make it 4-3 entering the third. Give Victoria credit they held off the Giants for the win.

Ronning and his team threw everything they had at the Royals in that final period. It was not enough and the Royals get to advance to the second round.

Did not mention that the Royals are run by former Rangers assistant GM Cameron Hope. In a classy move, the Royals named the three overage players of the Giants as the game’s three stars. Ty Ronning (first), Brennan Riddle (second) and Darian Skeoch (third) played their final game in the WHL.

Ronning finished the regular season 61-23-84 and was 1-6-7 in the playoffs. The question I wish I had an answer for is does Ronning head to Hartford? The Wolfpack have five games left with no hope of the playoffs.

The Ty Ronning I know would be on the first plane to Hartford tomorrow if it was up to him. Honestly if up to me I would tell him to rest and get ready for the July camp. We will find out in next day or so.

Soap Box Time

Count me in as one who has a serious dislike of the “Wild Card” format used by the WHL and NHL. If you really want to read why I dislike it then head over to Taking Note as he does the best job explaining why things are wrong.

To me, if you have the eight best teams in the conference then those are the one who should qualify for the playoffs. Give the division winners the first and second seeds then rank the rest in order of finish. If lower seeded teams wind up in the finals it will be because they knocked off the top teams. Instead, the WHL is going to have the top seeds in both conferences playing in the semifinals while lower seeded teams are assured of a place in the conference finals.

It just isn’t right or fair to the fans or teams, they deserve better.