How many times have you found yourself lost at the water cooler as the daily banter steers towards a discussion of the Florida Panther prospects currently playing in the Canadian Hockey League? Or how about Mondays when the whole office is buzzing about Rocco Grimaldi’s big weekend at the University of North Dakota (aka “the other UND”) and you are unable to participate due to your lack of information about the latest out of Grand Forks??
To you we say: Fear not, friend!
Because if this sounds like you then a) you should be happy that are working in such an awesome office and b) we have you covered with our new feature “Farm Cats” where we will provide you with regular updates on all the important goings-on in the Florida Panthers farm system (if you ended up here because you were looking for content about actual cats on actual farms then I apologize….maybe try YouTube I bet they have tons of lovely videos to satisfy all your “cats frolicking on farms” needs.)
Anyway let’s get right into it….
San Antonio Rampage (AHL):
The American Hockey League is the top minor hockey league in North America. If you make it to the AHL, you are just a phone call away from realizing your NHL dreams. The Panthers’ AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage (@sarampage), is where Florida’s top prospects go to cut their teeth and adjust to the professional level of play before making the leap to join the stars in Sunrise. Here is the latest from the Rampage:
Through 40 games, the Rampage are led in scoring by 20-year-old forward Vincent Trochek (@trochek_89) who, in his first season out of juniors, has tallied 27 points (12-15-27) in 37 games. Bobby Butler, a talented 26-year-old winger who many thought had a chance to make the Panthers out of training camp, is second on the team in scoring with 24 points (12-12-24) through 39 games.
San Antonio’s record is 15-21-1-3. With 34 points they currently occupy the 14th position in the Western Conference, eight points behind the final playoff spot. Last week the Rampage went 2-1 with both wins coming in shootouts, 3-2 and 5-4 versus the Utica Comets and the Milwaukee Admirals respectively. They followed up the victories with a 3-2 home loss to the Rochester Americans on Saturday.
Here are some quick hits:
*Quinton Howden scored his 5th and 6th goals of the season last week while Joey Crabb added two power-play goals of his own against Milwaukee to bring his season total to six as well.
*Jacob Markstrom left Thursday’s win over the Admirals with an injury but he is expected to be back in the net this weekend. Marky has accumulated a 7-9-1-0 record with San Antonio so far to go along with a 2.67 GAA and a .918 Sv%.
*There were a couple players on the move this week as San Antonio acquired F Derek Nesbitt from the Oklahoma City Barons in exchange for F Jack Combs, and C Ryan Martindale was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for C Steve Pinizzotto.
Further Down the Farm
The Panthers farm system extends far beyond just the AHL. The Panthers and the Nashville Predators share a joint affiliation with the Cincinnati Cyclones (@CincyCyclones) of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). The Panthers also have a plethora of prospects scattered throughout the college ranks and junior leagues throughout the continent.
Here is what you need to know about this crew:
The Cyclones went 1-2 in their three home games last week. It was an uncharacteristically tough week for the Double C who sit in second place in the Eastern Conference.
Speaking of Double C’s Chris Clapperton, Florida’s 5th round draft choice in the 2013 draft, has been red-hot for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (say that 5 times fast!) of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He has tallied seven points (4-3-7) in seven January games including two goals in two games last week.
MacKenzie Weegar (7th round, 2013), had three points (1-2-3) in three games last week for the Halifax Mooseheads of the “Q”. Weegar now has 11 goals and 26 assists in 41 games this season. His 37 points rank him first amongst defensemen on the Moosehead, meaning he is not a laggard (or, for our Halifax beer aficionados, a Moosehead Lager).
Panthers' defensive prospects Mike Matheson (1st round, 2012) (@MMatheson7) and Ian McCoshen (2nd round, 2013) (@IJMcCoshen3) helped the Boston College Eagles maintain their #2 ranking with three wins in three games over the past week. The Eagles topped their local rivals, Boston University, 6-4 on Friday, Jan 17. McCoshen scored his fourth goal of the year on Saturday as part of a 7-2 win against Maine.
Rocco Grimaldi (2nd round, 2011)(@RGrimaldi23) and the University of North Dakota managed a win and a tie in their two-game weekend series against Bemidji State. Grimaldi scored the only goal for UND in their 1-1 tie on Friday. Grimaldi’s goal was his team-leading 8th of the season and along with his team-leading 12 assists, he leads the Fighting Sioux with 20 points in 22 games.
Sam Brittain (4th round, 2010) of the University of Denver (#16) was named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Goalie of the Week. Brittain posted a .940 Sv% and a 1.85 GAA on the way to a win and a tie in two games against Minnesota-Duluth over the weekend. The honor marks the fifth time Brittain has been named NCHC goalie of the week during his senior season.
Brittain’s success means limited playing time for his backup and fellow Panthers prospect, freshman Evan Cowley (4th round, 2013)(@ECtendy31). With only one start under his belt this season, Cowley figures to see a jump in playing time next season after Brittain graduates.
Kyle Rau (3rd round, 2011)(@KyleRau) tallied an assist for the top-ranked University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in their 1-0 win over OSU on Friday. The assist was Rau’s 16th of the season and with 21 points he is currently the Gophers’ third leading scorer.
Stay with us as we continue to bring you the latest on an extremely exciting crop of prospects here on the Panthers farm!