This gameday update will bemainly focusing on our fellas from Sarnia, but overall it was a good night all-around for Devils prospects.
First-off the Albany Devils won 4-2 today against the Providence Bruins. Goals scored by Joseph Blandisi, Blake Pietila and Reid Boucher (X2). Vojtech Mozik had 3 assists tonight. It's great to see the young guys contributing.
In the NCAA, Miles Wood recorded 1G+1A for Boston College as they beat Michigan State 6-4.
Now as for the more specific game notes for Sarnia vs. Flint...I apologize since I wasn't paying too much attention to our prospect for Flint, Connor Chatham.
Zacha was clearly the best player on the ice for both teams. He had some good chances, but Flint did a good job blocking his shot attempts. He was physical and pretty much did whatever he wanted out there. Clear Top-10 talent display. His passing was crisp and accurate, and when he did make a wide pass to a teammate across the ice, it would be the exception rather than the rule.
In terms of his passing, it seems like many of his teammates were just not ready for the passes he was making. You remember how he liked to do those nifty, behind the back (sometimes drop) passes to teammates in the prospect tournament earlier this season? Yeah he's been doing more of that, not necessarily a bad thing, but you have to know that your teammates are ready for a pass like that before you drop such a beauty. It was very frustrating though because you can clearly see how well Zacha is reading the ice and how he's thinking the game, almost always looking for the open teammate. I was hoping at this point he would be a bit more selfish with the puck considering the team in general seemed to have trouble handling the puck or the passes.
At the beginning of the game Flint got to a 4-0 lead. It seemed to me that Sarnia was on the penalty kill so very often, but they only had 23 PIM tonight (which is still a lot, but not awful comparatively), so I don't know if Zacha was on the first or second penalty kill unit, but he was out there a lot for the PK. Very impressed with his play there. Also, there were two scenarios where Sarnia had to kill off a 5-on-3 powerplay, and Jacobs (who's wearing an "A" by the way) was out on defense for both of them...Flint didn't score at all on the PP.
Flint began to crawl back into the game, and when they were down 4-2 they went on the powerplay. This is when Pavel Zacha got the puck behind the Flint net and proceeded to bull his way into the slot where he shot a strong backhand that snuck through to the back of the net. Zacha had registered 3 shots on goal tonight (including some very good chances he created while missing the net), but this goal was the weakest shot he had all night, which is quite good news because he needs to just keep ripping the puck. He's over 0.5 goals/game at this pace, and I think his stats like that will only improve. Also some good news as Josh Jacobs got the assist on Zacha's goal.
Mid-way through the third period, the Flint OHL TV announcer said this on air
Taken in by Jacobs, man he's one heck of a hockey player, isn't he? Great pick-up by Sarnia
It's interesting to note Zacha's role on the power play as well, he seems to be the roving kind of trigger-man, since nobody else on Sarnia moves around the zone as much as he does...I mean he's ALL over, handling the puck along the blue line, or patrolling around either face-off circle, or even taking the puck behind the net like he did for his goal. He was playing center (I believe second line, may have been bumped to top line...not quite sure) throughout the night but would switch to wing on the power play. Whichever side the face-off in the offensive zone (for the PP), Zacha would be on the wing closest to the boards. I think he was moved to the wing because of not only his skillset for wing, but also to allow his flexibility to move throughout the offensive zone to make plays.
All in all, I was very impressed with Zacha's night, and Jacobs is really turning into a stud. Jacobs is now up to 11 points in 19 games. Zacha is up to 12 points in 14 games...highest in PPG pace on the team, and good for being tied for second place in the team in total points.
Boucher, Blandisi, Pietila, Mozik, Wood, Zacha and Jacobs all had stellar games tonight...not to mention MacKenzie Blackwood's 25 save shut-out for Team OHL against Team Russia in the CHL/Russia Super Series.
The Future is bright my friends.
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed! You can follow me on Twitter @DTJ_AHockeyBlog for more updates.