Unless you live in a cave, you know that the young Leafs beat the young Blackhawks 4-2 last night in the rookie tournament in Oshawa. Goaltending looked ok, with potential on show. Mark Owuya had trouble dealing with rebounds on occasion, but thatâ€™s to be expected from a European goalie just trying to figure out the new angles. Other than that, he was very solid. Garrett Sparks looked somewhat nervous in net, but settled down as the game progressed and made some nice saves later on.
Jesse Blacker and most notably, Jake Gardiner looked like men amongst boys at times. Their superior skating ability caused major problems for the young Chicago team. Although we have to keep in mind this was just a rookie game, we canâ€™t but admire his yesterday night showing. Dazzling rushes up ice, he scored two vintage goals which put his name on everyoneâ€™s lips. Blacker showed that he worked extremely hard on his game, which seems more mature now, coupled with the physical attributes he always possessed.
From Maple Leafs.com: Jamie Devane opened the scoring for the young Maple Leafs team late in the opening frame as he tucked the puck high over a sprawling netminder from a sharp angle. Devane’s goal came after he brought the fans to their feet earlier in the period with an extended bout with Shawn Lalonde in front of the Chicago net.
“I picked it up behind the net and tried to walk out front and see if there’s anyone available, the goalie was still down so I backhanded it in,” Devane said modestly.
The other forwards that impressed include Kenny Ryan, who drove the net with authority, blocked shots and scored a goal which would make any NHL scoring star proud. Sondre Olden had an unspectacular game, but donâ€™t take that negatively. He played an extremely good game, but was overshadowed by Ryanâ€™s and Gardinerâ€™s performances, which were spectacular. No shame in that. The Norwegian showed off his responsible two way play, excellent mobility for a big man and a very good hockey IQ.
The bad thing is that our prime offensive prospects didnâ€™t impress. Greg McKegg and especially Matt Frattin looked quite average amongst younger competition and we certainly expect them to contribute more during this tourney.