In sports, there’s nothing quite like the fun and passion of a geographical rivalry.
Imagine, then, what it’s like when that geographical rivalry features four different teams all from the very same city. Oh, and mix in the raucous attitudes of college sports, too.
One of the most interesting traditions in NCAA hockey is an annual event called the Beanpot, which is a mini-tournament showdown between four different schools in the Boston area: Boston University, Boston College, Harvard University, and Northeastern University. First hosted in 1952, the event draws sellout crowds and has the stakes of major bragging rights in the city’s college hockey scene on the line.
As the starting goaltender for the Boston University Terriers, Dallas Stars prospect Jake Oettinger was front and center for much of this tournament. This was his second appearance in the Beanpot and he certainly made his presence felt.
On Monday, February 5, in the first of the tournament’s two rounds, Oettinger stole the show as he stopped 47 of 49 shots in a nail-biting double-overtime win over Boston College to help BU advance to the championship game.
The Beanpot finale was last night (February 12), and in a dramatic fashion the Northeastern Huskies skated away with a resounding 5-2 win. This was their first victory in the four-team tournament in 30 years.
Oettinger’s final stats from the night aren’t notable (22 saves on 26 shots), but don’t let them fool you: the 19-year-old netminder was sharp once again.
Boston University was whistled for three power plays in the game, while Northeastern’s lethal power play (led by the NCAA’s leading scorer Adam Gaudette and its third-highest point-getter Dylan Sikura) dissected the BU penalty killers with laser precision and left Oettinger little help.
Those weren’t the only times that the Stars’ goaltending prospect was left out to dry, but on many of them, Oettinger came up big, and he made at least one highlight-reel save:
Jake Oettinger kept Northeastern from increasing its lead with this ridiculous save. Catch the rest of the 2018 Beanpot final on NESN. pic.twitter.com/cTog7GLKd5— NESN (@NESN) February 13, 2018
Longer game highlights can be found here.
It’s always great to see top prospects getting big-game experience, even in losing situations. With the World Juniors first and now the Beanpot, hopefully this season is a memorable and beneficial one for Oettinger’s development.
North American Juniors
Rhett Gardner returned to action with the University of North Dakota this past weekend after missing five games due to injury. He picked up one assist in two contests, and it came on a pretty wonderful goal:
It has been a difficult season for Michael Prapavessis and the R.P.I. Engineers, who have only mustered a meager total of five wins so far. Prapavessis is doing what he can, and sits third on the team in scoring and first in terms of assists, with zero goals and 15 assists in 30 games. A free agent at the end of this year, is the puck-moving defender a talented player that is being held down by playing for an awful team, or is he simply not a good enough prospect on his own accord to earn a contract? Stars scouts will have to do their due diligence on this one.
Ondrej Vala and the Everett Silvertips keep rolling, going 7-1-1-1 in their last 10 games to bump up to first place in the WHL’s Western Conference. Vala’s scoring has slowed down since being traded from the Kamloops Blazers to the Silvertips. Everett is a defense-first team and Vala is being used in a more defense-focused role, but he did pick up two assists in three games last week. And as much as plus-minus is a very flawed statistic, it is nevertheless notable and impressive that Vala is up to a +13 in 15 games with his new club.
Liam Hawel picked up his ninth goal of the season last week for the Guelph Storm, displaying some incredible hand-eye coordination on the rush (video of which can be found here). Hawel is currently being used as the second line center for the Storm, while also playing as a main fixture on the team’s penalty kill.
It was a quiet week for the other Stars prospects in the OHL. Jason Robertson and Nick Caamano both recorded just one assist in three games apiece. Robertson still leads the OHL in shots, with a total of 251 in 53 games for an average of 4.73 per contest. Only Florida Panthers first rounder Owen Tippett has a higher shot rate in the league, at a whopping 5.8 per game.
The start of men’s hockey at the 2018 Winter Olympics is fast approaching, as games officially kick off on Wednesday. That’s when defenseman Miro Heiskanen will make his Olympic debut, as Finland takes on Germany in their opener. Heiskanen scored a pretty goal last week against the Czech Republic in a pre-Olympic exhibition match:
Jim Nill had some glowing praise for Heiskanen recently, as reported yesterday by Mark Stepneski in his weekly Stars prospect update:
“It’s good experience for him,” said Stars general manager Jim Nill. “He’s 18 years old, you’re playing in the Olympics, you are playing against men, and it’s high pressure. It’s a big part of his development. He’s a big part of their team; he’s kind of their go-to defenseman. That’s a big compliment to him, and it’s great experience for his resume.”
Fredrik Karlstrom picked up his second goal of the season last week on a nice individual effort (video of which can be found here). Karlstrom has overall struggled this season after a change to go play for Linkopings, and there are rumors that he might get loaned to Oskarshamn in Sweden’s Allsvenskan league. A change of pace might be the right call for his development.
It was a down week for the Texas Stars, who dropped a pair of losses to the Tuscon Roadrunners in their only action. All of the Stars prospects on the team were held without a point, while Landon Bow allowed four goals on 22 shots in a period and a half of action on Friday before getting pulled.
On Monday, the Dallas Stars assigned Jason Dickinson and Dillon Heatherington back down to Texas, so hopefully that can act as a nice shot in the arm for the group.
2018 NHL Draft Watch
One of the more challenging situations in scouting is trying to accurately assess the talents of a prospect playing on a terrible team. On one hand, a great player may suffer because he simply doesn’t have enough talent around him to make a notable impact. On the other, a player may also look better because he plays on a bad team, getting an abundance of power play time and favorable situational deployment.
This challenge is what makes Flint Firebirds center Ty Dellandrea such an interesting prospect heading into the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Dellandrea is, without a doubt, the heart and soul of that Flint team. He is their first line center and plays in all situations for the club. The Firebirds are one of the OHL’s worst teams, which likely plays a part in why Dellandrea’s scoring totals don’t fly off the page (46 points in 52 games), but there are some moments where the young center flashes dynamic skill.
And at the CHL Top Prospects Game in January, Dellandrea turned some heads, showing what he can do when he actually gets to work with other players that are similar in terms of talent.
Dellandrea will be one of the key players for the Canadian team at the 2018 IIHF U18s in April, and a strong performance there could go a long way to illuminating just how good of a prospect he really is.