One advances, one is close to advancing and one heads home
It was a very mixed Friday evening for the three New York Ranger prospects who saw action. One prospect saw his team advance to his league’s conference finals, one saw his team move to within a game of advancing and sadly one prospect saw his season come to an end.
That the New York Rangers can boast having five prospects still playing is a good sign of things to come. Nothing helps a player learn how to play in big games than getting to play in big games.
Adam Tambellini (2013 third) returned to his Calgary Hitmen’s lineup after missing game four due to an undisclosed injury. Tambellini had a primary assist on the Hitmen’s first goal of the game but the Hitmen needed a goal at 7:45 of the second overtime before earning a 4-3 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers.
The win in game five gave the Hitmen the series winning 4-1 as the Hitmen get to advance to the WHL’s Eastern Conference Finals against the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Wheat Kings had the best record in the Eastern Conference during the regular season while Calgary finished second.
Tambellini’s assist improves his playoff numbers to 9-11-20 which is the best in the WHL. Calgary will need every point that Tambellini can score if they want to earn a trip to the WHL Finals.
Keegan Iverson (2014 third) and his Portland Winterhawks needed overtime before earning a very hard fought 2-1 win over the Everett Silvertips in game four of their WHL’s Western Conference semifinals series. The Winterhawks now hold a 3-1 lead in their series and will look to end this series Sunday afternoon in Everett.
Iverson did not score but he was making a difference in the game as the Winterhawks use him in so many different ways from setting screens in the crease during power plays to checking the Silvertip’s best players. Iverson is a playoff veteran who knows what it takes to win championships as he has played in two WHL finals already in his career.
Ryan Mantha (2014 fourth) we are sorry to say saw his 2014-2015 come to an end when his Niagara IceDogs lost to the Oshawa Generals 4-2 in game five of their OHL Eastern Conference semifinals. The IceDogs lost the series 4-1 but they have a lot to build off of for next season.
Mantha scored his first career goal in this game when he scored in the second period to cut Oshawa’s lead to 2-1. It was not enough as the Generals had too much for the IceDogs in this series.
Still there is a lot to like from Mantha as the young man started the season as a “project” developed much more than anyone other than the Niagara coaching staff expected of him. Because Mantha who was originally planning on attending North Dakota changed to play in the OHL, the Rangers are permitted by rule to sign Mantha and send him to Hartford next season.
As tempting an idea this may be, Mantha would be better served by another season in Niagara where he could continue to develop his game at both ends of the ice. Who knows Mantha might even earn an invite to Team USA’s summer evaluation camp.
A 6’5 225 lb. defenseman who is still growing and has a cannon ball of shot from the point will generate interest for sure.