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Rangers Prospects Watch: Dec. 4-10

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
· Prospects Weekly Review

Here's a look at some of the upcoming games involving Rangers prospects from Dec. 4-10:

Games of Dec. 4

Tonight's main match features Ryan Russell and the Kootenay Ice facing off against the Seattle Thunderbirds. Both teams currently rank third in their respective division, but more important to Russell than anything else is getting back in game shape after missing an extended amount of time with a hand injury. On Friday, the wiry center scored his first goal in three games since his return. Russell has always had success against the Thunderbirds, recording four goals in two games against them last season including a hat-trick on Dec. 13 in a 6-3 Ice victory.

Games of Dec. 6

Lukas Zeliska and the Prince Albert Raiders face off against their Eastern Division rival Swift Current Broncos in a pivotal match for Prince Albert if the Raiders have any hope of re-entering the playoff picture. Ranked last in the league with 17 points, the Raiders have played strong lately and will look to creep closer to second place Swift Current with a victory. Zeliska notched his second consecutive multi-point game on Oct. 21 against the Broncos, notching a goal and an assist to be named the game's third star in a 6-3 loss. More impressively, Zeliska is riding a six-game assist-scoring streak, notching eight assists in that span.

Games of Dec. 7

Marc Staal and the Sudbury Wolves, currently sitting in third place in the Central Division, will look to move in on first place Barrie Colts when they face off against the Western Division basement dwelling Windsor Spitfires. Facing a team with only 20 points on the season, Sudbury can not afford to look past this game towards the next night's match against the streaking Plymouth Whalers. Staal notched a power-play assist in the teams' only meeting last year.

Games of Dec. 8

Brodie Dupont leads the Calgary Hitmen, who are on a 6-3-1 tear over their last 10 games against the Regina Pats. Calgary, which plays in arguably the toughest division in all over junior hockey, have closed the gap on the Medicine Hat Tigers who sit atop the Central Division, and will rely on Dupont to bring them even closer. The center has notched three goals in two games vs. the Pats this season, including the game winner on Oct. 27. In 32 games this season, he has 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points and 40 penalty minutes.

Games of Dec. 9

No. 3 Maine travels to Boston to taken on Northeastern in an attempt to reclaim the No. 1 ranking in the country that they held when the season began. The Black Bears have relied heavily on Billy Ryan this season, the playmaking pivot who has notched two goals and eight assists in 13 games. Ryan has a strong history against Northeastern, having come up with the first multi-point game of his collegiate career against them on Nov. 12, 2004, when he registered a pair of assists.

Games of Dec. 10

A pair of high-scoring Rangers prospects butt heads when Eric Hunter (pictured) leads the Prince George Cougars into Calgary to face Brodie Dupont and the Hitmen. Hunter has been sensational of late, and is riding a seven-game point scoring streak, tallying six goals and four assists for 10 points in that span. Last season, he notched one assist in three games against Calgary in a trio of hardly fought games. The Hitmen shut-out the Cougars on Nov. 19 by a score 2-0, followed by a narrow 3-2 loss on Jan.20 before posting a shut-out of their own on Jan. 21 with a 3-0 win. For Calgary, Dupont struggled, failing to hit the scoresheet in any of those games. Based on his strong start this season, it will be tough for the Cougars to keep him in check, but that is what it will take in order to knock off the streaking Hitmen.
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