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Prospects eye showdown with Atlanta today

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

· Rangers work OT to beat Atlanta 3-2 in opener
· Prospects Tournament Preview and Roster

Coming off Friday night's double-overtime victory over Tampa Bay, the Rangers prospects go right back to work in the annual Traverse City Prospects Tournament this afternoon at the Detroit Red Wings' training facility in Traverse City, Mich. At 4 p.m., the Blueshirts will face Atlanta in the second game of the three-game round-robin format.

The Thrashers prospects are also 1-0 in the tournament, coming off a 4-3 win over host team Detroit on Friday. Jordan LaVallee led the way with two goals for Atlanta, and Brett Sterling notched the game-winner with an unassisted shorthanded tally at 5:47 of the third period. The winner of today's game will have the inside track on capturing the group title Monday and playing for the tournament championship on Tuesday.

Atlanta's prospects are coached by Jeff Pyle, the head coach and director of hockey operations for the Thrashers' ECHL affiliate, the Gwinnett Gladiators. Behind Pyle, the Gladiators finished last year atop the ECHL's American Conference with a 50-15-7 record, and excelled in the playoffs, reaching the finals before falling to Alaska. Here is a look at some of the top players on Atlanta's roster:

Bryan Little -- The Thrashers' first-round selection and the 12th overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, is making his Atlanta debut in the tournament. Staring for the Barrie Colts of the OHL, the 5-foot-10, 200-pound pivot tallied 42 goals and 67 assists for 109 points and 99 penalty minutes in 64 games. On Friday, Little assisted on one of the four Thrashers goals. With Barrie, the All-Star center skated alongside Rangers prospect Jakub Petruzalek, who had two assists for the Blueshirts on Friday.

Alex Bourret -- Taken with the 16th overall pick in the first round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, this right is a physical and high-scoring forward who weighs in at a stocky 5-10, 210-pounds. Bourret skated for the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL last season. He tallied 44 goals and 70 assists for 114 points and 133 penalty minutes.

Boris Valibik -- The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Slovak is the leader of the Thrashers prospects' defense. Atlanta's firs- round selection, 10th overall, in the 2004 draft skated for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL last season and earned his first All- Star selection. He tallied one goal and nine assists for 10 points and registered 216 penalty minutes in only 52 games.

Chad Denny -- The 19-year-old offensive defenseman scored Atlanta's second goal against Detroit on Friday. He was chosen in the second round, 48th overall, of the 2005 draft. Playing on the same Lewiston MAINEiac squad as Ranger prospect Marc-Andre Cliche last season, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder was one of the top scoring defenseman in the QMJHL. In 63 games, Denny scored 19 goals and 28 assists for 47 points and 150 penalty minutes.

David Caruso -- The recent free agent signee who hails from the Atlanta-area got the victory with 29 saves on Friday against Detroit. Caruso backstopped Ohio State in the CCHA last season, and in 34 games, he posted a 13-18-5 record with a 2.15 GAA.
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