The Rangers dropped their opening game of the Traverse City Prospects tournament, 5-2, to the Minnesota Wild. 2015 fourth-round pick Brad Morrison scored the game’s opening goal, while tournament invitee Adam Brooks scored the Rangers’ — and the game’s — final goal with just over one minute remaining.
Prior to the game, Rangers 2012 first-round pick Brady Skjei was named team captain for the tournament. Rangers 2013 draft choices Adam Tambellini and Ryan Graves were both named alternate captains.
“It’s an honor for sure,” Skjei told BlueshirtsUnited.com following the match. “Any time you get to put this jersey on — it was the first time I put it on so it was really cool. To have that ‘C’ on there — it’s not the big club, but it’s still definitely an honor. The staff has interest in you in being a leader, so that’s good for me. It was a pretty cool feeling.”
Skjei, who was paired alongside Petr Zamorsky, said the pace of the opening game was fast and at times a bit sloppy on both sides.
“The pace was good,” Skjei stated. “I think it’ll probably slow down over the week here. It was the first game, trying to get the kinks out.”
While several players within the organization have skated with each other briefly at prospect camp and a Traverse City Tournaments in the past, nearly all are playing together for the first time, requiring the players to build chemistry on the fly.
“It’s tough,” Skjei said. “I know some of the guys from development camp but still don’t chemistry with them on the ice. I think as the week goes on that should improve. I think we’ll be able to crisp our passes up and should be able to sneak a couple wins.”
Morrison’s goal came on a wrist shot from the slot that beat netminder Brody Hoffman 13:22 into the contest. The play was nearly identical to one minutes prior when Morrison’s shot missed the net by a few inches. He made the most of the second chance.
“The first play they left the whole middle of the ice open,” Morrison recalled after the game. “I was surprised, so I took the room and got a good shot off but unfortunately it missed the net. The next time was basically the exact same thing. I got a nice pass from [Hayden Hodgson] and put it in.”
Morrison, who scored 23 goals and 49 points in 67 games for Prince George of the Western Hockey League, said that’s the type of goal that should be expected from him.
“Close to the slot. I’ve got really good accuracy, good lift on the puck,” Morrison said. “Anywhere in there is where I score most of my goals.”
Goaltender and Traverse City-native Brandon Halverson did not play in Thursday’s game. Free agent invitee Jacob Smith got the start and allowed all five goals before leaving the game in the third period after he collided with a Wild forward. Fellow invitee Taylor Dupuis finished the contest.