Prospects Claim Championship in Traverse City
One year after finishing fourth in their first trip to this event, the Blueshirts were unstoppable, winning four straight games, including a 5-1 win over defending champ Columbus on Tuesday night.
|Lauri Korpikoski was one-third of the tournament's most dominant line. Korpikoski and linemates Brandon Dubinsky and Alex Bourret combined for a total of 16 points in four games.|
Alex Bourret and Brandon Dubinsky led the way for the Rangers throughout the tournament, as each player finished the four games with three goals and four assist for seven points. They also figured in the big second period that buried the Jackets on Tuesday.
The knockout punch came early in the second, when Bourret and Jordan Owens put the Rangers in the driver's seat for good. Bourret gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead at the 2:00 mark, scoring off assists from David Skokan and Artem Anisimov, and Owens then stretched the advantage to 3-1 at 4:55, with Michael Sauer and Dubinsky getting the assists.
New Jersey native Bobby Sanguinetti, the Rangers' No. 1 draft pick in 2006, made it a 4-1 game when he connected on a power play at 7:32 of the third, converting a pretty pass from Bourret. Skokan, selected in the 2007 draft last June, also assisted on Sanguinetti's goal.
Skokan then nearly scored one of his own late in the game, but his apparent goal was disallowed because the net was off its moorings. Bourret quickly made up for the disappointment at the 18:12 mark, scoring off an assist from Skokan to make it 5-1.
By the end of the game, play had become quite chippy, and emotions boiled over in a fight between Dubinsky and Columbus' Derek Dorsett with three minutes to go.
Jarred Boll scored a shorthanded goal for the Blue Jackets just 1:10 into the first period, but that was as good as it got for Columbus. The Rangers came right back to tie it on a power-play goal by Tomas Zaborsky, which ended up as the first of five unanswered goals.
Set up by Mark Lee and Brodie Dupont, Zaborsky beat Columbus goaltender Tomas Popperle for the 1-1 tie at 6:17 of the first.
Through 40 minutes of action, the Rangers had dominated play and outshot the Jackets 19-12, including a 10-5 margin in the second period. Shots in the third period were an even more lopsided 16-6.
Rangers head coach Ken Gernander kept the same lineup from Monday night's 3-2 win over Detroit but stuck with his plan of rotating his two goaltenders, putting Lafleur in net for the championship game.
Columbus countered with Popperle in goal. Last season Popperle saw two games of NHL action with the Jackets.
In other games on Tuesday, Dallas beat Tampa Bay 6-5 in a shootout for seventh place, St. Louis downed host Detroit 5-3 for fifth place, and Atlanta toppled Minnesota 3-1 despite being outshot 36-19.