3/19 Recap: Eids guides Sioux; McNabb chips in

Brad Eidsness made 23 saves Friday as #5 North Dakota trumped #1 Denver in the WCHA semifinal, 4-3. The Chestermere, Alberta native, who made a highlight reel save with his skate midway through the third period, was beaten by a 4-4 wrister from the dot, another wrister from the point, and a quick backhand down low in the final minute. Corey Fienhage finished +1 on the Sioux blueline. North Dakota moves on to face #6 St. Cloud State for the Broadmoor Trophy on Saturday. An Eidness start would be the second consecutive weekend of back-to-back-to-backers for the sophomore.

Connor Knapp stopped all four shots he faced in the final 12:53 of relief as #2 Miami lost their CCHA semifinal to #17 Michigan, 5-2 in Joe Louis Arena. Knapp is expected to get the start when the RedHawks play what should be a hotly contested third place game with #8 Ferris State on Saturday afternoon. A solid performance could see him keep the starting gig into the NCAA tourney after three poor showings by Hobey Baker finalist Cody Reichard.

In the Hockey East semifinal, Drew MacKenzie (-1) posted three shots on goal as #14 Vermont was shut out by #4 Boston College, 3-0. Jimmy Hayes (TOR) had a goal and two assists, while Chris Kreider (NYR) added a goal and an assist to pace the Eagles. The Catamounts season is for now on hold as they will be in the running for an at-large bid when the NCAA tournament field is announced on Sunday.

In the WHL playoffs, Brayden McNabb hit for a pair of assists as Kootenay defeated Medicine Hat, 6-3. Trailing 1-0 in the first period, the 6'4 defenseman helped put Kootenay on the board when his high wrist shot was deflected past the Tigers Tyler Bunz. Earlier in the day, McNabb was named a WHL Eastern Conference First Team All Star. The Ice will look to hold serve entering game #2 Saturday in Cranbrook.

In the QMJHL, Luke Adam (-2) and Jacob Lagacé (-2) each had assists as Cape Breton opened their playoff year with a 6-3 loss to Moncton. Adam, who won just 8 of 21 faceoffs, saw his line get outplayed by the Cats counter-punching trio led by Kelsey Tessier (3G, 1A). Maxime Legault (-1) picked up a pair of minor penalties for the losing side. Game #2 will be played on Saturday.

Jordon Southorn registered a game-high six hits as PEI got blasted 8-3 by Saint John. The Rocket fall behind 1-0 in their best-of-seven first round series, with the two clubs playing it back on Saturday.

In the USHL, Mark Adams was -1 as Chicago lost to Team USA, 5-3.
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Anonymous
admin
Saturday, March 20, 2010 ×

I think Drew MacKenzie is an underrated defenceman on a good Vermont team. I think the Sabres would be wise to sign him to a contract in a couple years.

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Kris Baker
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Saturday, March 20, 2010 ×

very real possibility. He has been on the ice in all key situations down the stretch. He's good up-ice, can play physical, and will be a very mature player by the time he graduates. He turned 21 as a sophomore after playing the season of Jr. A.

I expect the Sabres to tackle forwards with their premium picks this draft. With McNabb entering the system next year, that's one less defensive decision the Sabres will have to make when MacKenzie is ready to turn pro.

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Anonymous
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Saturday, March 20, 2010 ×

Mr. Baker,

I have read that a few teams are interested in Vermont's Brayden Irwin (EDM and TOR, to be specific). Do you think the Sabres still have their sights on him following his appearances at the prospect camps?

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Kris Baker
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Saturday, March 20, 2010 ×

They absolutely do. Teams under the cap, including the Sabres, are monitoring NCAA seniors as much as possible. The Sabres could make a move and I strongly believe Irwin to still be on that short list. Scouts have been impressed with his leadership and overall play in this bounceback year.

The pool is thinning some with Wellman, Carman, and Bishop signing, but there are a handful of developed forward prospects ready to go.

Irwin is one of a few names that will (likely) be in the NCAA tourney that they could be looking at along with Miami's Jarod Palmer and UNH's Bobby Butler. Those higher profile guys are going to go where they have the best shot to play. Toronto and Edmonton probably have more room.

I'm not ruling out the Sabres looking at a goaltender for Portland depth with Enroth on the mend, and I still could see hometown defenseman Nick Schaus out of Lowell as a dark horse for next season depending on what transpires with names like Kostka, Generous, Southorn, Crawford, and Biega. I think Schaus will get a few looks from other orgs who have greater D needs though. Again, these guys are more developed and will go to the best NHL opportunity.

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Anonymous
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Sunday, March 21, 2010 ×

Agreed on MacKenzie. He shows a lot of poise and consistency.

Thank you for posting the rankings and for everything you do on this website.

Though I trust your judgement, the biggest surpise on that list was Gragnani. I'd like to hear you take on Grags because I thought he improved his defensive game this year and we have an IMMEDIATE need for a blueline sniper (which I know Brennan will be and has the edge over him in toughness).

I'm sure as you work your way down the list it gets harder to determine who's in the top 25 and who's out, but I actually like our undrafted pickups Turnbull and Kostka, plus our late round picks in Generous and MacKenzie. I wish our undrafted signings were given more of a chance by the Sabres. I like how Turnbull is a center that really skates hard to the net (though not as crafty as Adam). I like Kostka's overall game and Generous is also a smart, tough, stay-at-home defenseman. I don't think Persson has lived up to expectations or will live up to expectations, but i hope he proves me wrong.

Also, what do you think will become of Mancari?

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