September 12, 2011

B’s hopefuls draw first blood with 8-5 win on Long Island

By Kirk Luedeke

The Boston Bruins rookies won their third consecutive game against the New York Islanders prospects dating back to last season, with an 8-5 victory at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Mon. in a game that was closer than the score indicated.

Up 6-3 in the third period on the strength of two goals and two assists from electric center Ryan Spooner, the Isles got late goals from Calvin de Haan and Nino Niederreiter (his second) to pull to within one of Boston with about three minutes remaining.

However, a late penalty to New York gave Boston a power play and center Carter Camper put home his shot to make it 7-5, with Jared Knight scoring his second tally of the night into an empty net to seal it.

Knight scored earlier in the period on a laser shot that would have beaten just about any NHL netminder, while the B’s also got goals from Dylan Hood, Yannick Riendeau and Dave Warsofsky (who assisted on Spooner’s second goal).

Spooner showed fans why he’s received a lot of attention as one of Boston’s top prospects and the best offensive player in the system when he tallied the first and third goals of the game, getting Boston on the board just a few minutes into the contest, and then blowing the equalizer (3-3) past Mikko Koskinen from the outside late in the second period.

Boston defenseman Dougie Hamilton showed glimpses of his fine skating ability and talent, but had a quiet game overall, struggling on some plays while dealing with an aggressive Islanders forecheck. He did register an assist on the final B’s goal of the evening.

Craig Cunningham played a strong game, adding a pair of assists in the winning effort while serving as one of Boston’s alternate captains. Former U.S. Army officer Zach McKelvie wore the other ‘A’ while defenseman Ryan Button wore the ‘C’ for the Bruins futures.

It was not a stellar night for goaltenders Mike Hutchinson and Koskinen, who gave up more than a few goals they would no doubt like back, but in the end, Hutchinson was a little sharper, posting his second win over the Islanders in the three games the prospects have played against each other.

Nino Niederreiter (two power play goals) and Ryan Strome the Isles’ first-round picks in 2010 and 2011 (both fifth overall) showed why they were taken so high with some impressive showings of offense and creativity. Bigger things are in store for both.

With the 8-5 win, Spooner and Knight delivered the goods as expected. While Spooner is the more dynamic of the two, Knight took the puck to the net all night and played a gritty, up-and-down game from the wing. These two figure to be topics of conversation among the hardcore element of Bruins fans who follow the team’s prospects and could make a run at roster spots when Boston’s main camp kicks off later this week.

New England Hockey Journal will cover Tuesday night’s prospects game, so be sure to check back on hockeyjournal.com for notes and updates.