This is going to be a different update than ones in the past because we are at the part of the year where teams are returning from their holiday break and playing a partial schedule. There are also quite a few teams icing much different lineups due to the World Junior Championships currently going on right now. So, instead of looking at each player individually, I’m going to go over each league and talk about any possible standouts from Carolina’s prospect pool since it doesn’t make much sense to review each player if they only played one game. We’ll also look at how Victor Rask and Ryan Murphy are performing for their respective countries at the WJC in Ufa.
World Junior Championship
Things appear to be going pretty well for Ryan Murphy and Team Canada on paper, as they have won their first three games and outscored their opponents 17-7 but their last two wins didn’t come easy. Canada had to battle back from being down 3-1 to Slovakia and were given a run for their money by Team USA before putting them away 2-1. Murphy is mostly playing the role of a 7th defenseman and powerplay specialist for the Canadians and he has been mostly unimpressive going by the eye-test. He has yet to record a point and seems to get knocked off the puck relatively easily. His skating and puck-moving skills has helped the Canadians’ powerplay but he has struggled mightily at even strength, especially when getting matched up with bigger forwards. He has taken some heavy criticism from Team Canada fans because of this. Murphy was also the victim of a headshot by Team USA’s Ryan Hartman in their game on Sunday but he appears to be no worse for wear.
Meanwhile, Victor Rask is playing a 3rd line role for Team Sweden and has a goal and an assist in Sweden’s three games. Rask’s goal came in the shootout to clinch a victory over Switzerland on Friday. Rask is also tied for third on the team in shots on goal with 9, but he has a ways to go to catch up to Filip Forsberg who has 20. Sweden has won all three of their games but has a big matchup with Team Finland later today.
Canadian Hockey League
The only goal-scorer this week was Brock McGinn, who netted his 10th of the season in Guelph’s 6-3 loss to the Belleville Bulls. It’s also worth mentioning that McGinn was tagged witha -3 in that game so his play at the other end of the rink may have been less than stellar. Still good to see him improve his point total on the year as he now has 26 poitns in 35 games. The only other prospect to record a point was Trevor Carrick, who had an assist in Mississauga’s 4-3 loss to Oshawa. Another standout was Plymouth Whalers goaltender Matt Mahalak stopping 47 of 49 shots in a 4-2 win over Saginaw. Unfortunately, things weren’t as good for other goaltending prospect Daniel Altshuller, who gave up 7 goals on 69 shots in two games.
The skid that the Michigan Wolverines have been on all year continued this weekend with two losses to Michigan Tech in the Great Lakes invitational but Carolina’s second round pick Phil Di Giuseppe made an impact on Sunday with a goal and a assist. He still has only three goals and 11 points on the year but his play has been improving as of late. He was the only Carolina NCAA prospect to make a dent in the scoresheet this weekend, though as Alt and Biega were both blanked. Alt’s team had quite a showing in the Mariucci Classic, though with the Gophers taking home the first place trophy after thumping Boston College 8-1.