Blues Rookies Defeat Nashville To Win Tournament Championship
In what was a hard fought game from start to finish, the Blues youngsters avenged last years loss to the Pred’s with a 2-1 victory. St. Louis went undefeated in the round robin tournament with a strong team effort. All but three players contributed to the scoring, and goaltenders Alex Westlund and Kenrick Exner played solid in goal. The Blues got on the scoreboard first with a goal by James Desmarais at 9:56 of period one. Ladislav Nagy and Barret Jackman assisted on the play. Nashville then tied the score with an early second period goal at 3:49. Jeremy Reich put the Blues on top with his first goal of the tournament at 9:19 of the second period. Dean Stock and Brad Twordik assisted on what stood to be the game winner. The third period was scoreless as the Blues held on for the 2-1 win.
This win, no matter how small it may seem, is a huge step for an organization with a history of not producing prospects. The Blues, having concentrated on building from within, have more depth at the minor pro level than ever before. With each draft year comes a list of capable young players that are groomed for the NHL. Instead of rushing a player through the organization or trading away top picks for quick fix, the Blues have held the hard-line and eventually will be rewarded for that. This victory for the Blues rookies gives us just a glimpse at what will filter down in the coming years. No more big free agent signings, no more headline stealing trades, and no more “sell the farm” tactics. Yes, the Blues prospects are good; very good! Maybe even under rated.
Looking back at the tournament, some players exceeded our expectations and some fell short. A number of players had strong efforts in the tournament, but one in particular comes to mind. Tyler Rennette had an outstanding camp scoring 3 goals and adding an assist, leading the team in points and in spirit. Tyler has started to show the leadership qualities that he developed playing in the OHL. Last season for Erie, he played his best hockey in the playoffs. Now add this performance to his resume and one begins to wonder what the future holds for this talented yet young prospect. His next test will be the AHL. Another player that caught a few glances was defenseman Peter Smrek. After the first game he seemed more relaxed and became one of the best defensemen on the ice for the Blues. He made good strong passes out of his own zone and chipped in on the offense as well. As for Ladislav Nagy, one could say that maybe expectations were too high for him in this tournament. He looked tentative and almost out of place in the first two games. But he did finish on a strong note, collecting two assists and creating numerous scoring chances. However, after a 70 goal season in juniors last year and a good showing for Worcester in the playoffs this was a bit of a disappointment. Although still rated the best prospect in the organization, must Nagy make a splash in his first NHL training camp to keep that title? Most likely not, however, a strong year at Worcester is definitely a qualification.