Each week we take an in-depth look at young members of the organization while providing an overview of Habs prospects playing at the junior (OHL, WHL), collegiate (USHL, NCAA), and professional (ECHL) level.
Northeastern and Providence faced each other this week in a battle for supremacy between two drafted Montreal Canadiens goalies: Cayden Primeau and Hayden Hawkey.
Primeau is more than four years younger than his counterpart, but has already drawn a lot of attention with his play as a freshman. The more experienced Hawkey looks to only be maintaining the performance standards he set for himself in his sophomore season; his first as a starting goalie.
This contest was an occasion for those players to have a statement game, to pull ahead of the other in the NCAA rankings, but also in how they are perceived internally by the organization.
Hayden Hawkey / Cayden Primeau
Providence, Hawkey's team, edged out Northeastern in overtime on Saturday, after the first game of the weekend finished in a tie. In terms of goalie performances, Primeau finished the weekend with .903 save percentage to Hawkey's 0.884. The 18-year-old netminder was also a lot busier, facing 62 shots to the 22-year-old’s 43.
On Friday, both defences did a good job of pushing the attackers to the outside, but often left some room for the occasional cut to the crease for a last-second shot. It was then a challenge of not giving dangerous rebounds to the front of the net, something Primeau managed quite well overall by tracking the puck precisely into his body.
To say that Primeau was perfect in that aspect would be exaggerating his ability however, as a few times he was lucky that the opponents were not able to pounce immediately on pucks he deflected to the slot. His quick lateral movements helped save him in those situations.
Primeau is in white for Northeastern; Hawkey is in black for Providence.
Hawkey had his own trouble with rebound control, but he covered his post tightly against multiple Huskies forwards attacking from the circles and trying to find holes. He didn't give them any hope of sneaking one in.
When Hawkey's defencemen couldn't intervene to push the opponents to hard angles and prevent a direct one-on-one with him, he struggled to seal the net appropriately and got beat five-hole two times in quick succession.
Those goals against were the turning point in the game where the victory slipped out of the hands of the Friars.
Primeau also misjudged a few shots that he would probably like to revisit, but his biggest blunder of the game was coming out on a breakaway and completely missing on a pokecheck, giving up a free goal to Providence.
While the game featured a good deal of mistakes, there was an equal number of great saves from both netminders. In overtime, they were called upon to keep the game alive for their team and responded with some beautiful stops in the last minutes of the game.
Jake Evans #18, C, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Evans had his first productive night in a while, recording a goal and an assist against Minnesota. The player who used to lead the NCAA in scoring had only registered a single point in the previous seven games.
In that stretch, Notre Dame suffered their first lost in 16 games and struggled to get on the board in a few contests. They also lost the number-one spot in the collegiate rankings.
But with their captain coming alive on Saturday, the Irish beat the Golden Gophers 4-1 in a game that could put their offence back on a track for the final month of the season.
There seemed to have been some adjustments for Notre Dame recently to get back to their winning ways.
In my previous viewings of Evans, he was slotted on the half-wall on the power play. Their second game versus Minnesota was the first time I saw him in the middle of a 1-3-1 formation, looking to get a quick shot off from short passes coming his way from all directions.
He is quite elusive in that spot, disappearing behind coverage only to make himself open a second later with a well-placed stick. It got him a few opportunities to fire at the net.
His goal came off positioning himself in an open passing lane on the far post after one of his teammates attracted a defender away from him. He only had to redirect the puck in a deserted cage.
Evans had a certain determination to his game on Saturday, doing things that are quite uncommon for him, like acting more physically on defence and using his body to separate attackers from the puck. He showed he's able to approach opponents from good angles to out-muscle them for possession.
This is not one of his primary talents, but he doesn't seem to shy away from doing so when it is required of him. He usually defaults to a more cerebral approach, cutting passing lanes and tying up sticks.
Evans finished the game with one of his more typical plays. He slid down to the side of the crease to give a better pass option, preparing the Irish’s fourth goal.
By looking directly at one of his teammates at the top of the circle on the opposite side, he had the defender place his stick down to block that passing lane. But Evans instead gave the puck to Dylan Malmquist through a now-unobstructed seam across the crease. Malmquist scored off of the pass.
Even his cross-ice teammate got fooled by the move, lifting his stick for a one-timer that would never come.
Ryan Poehling #11, C, St. Cloud
Poehling scored his seventh goal of the season on Saturday, jamming in a rebound.
He accomplished something else this weekend as well: with his 40th shot of the season, he surpassed his shot total of last season, in 16 fewer games. He is shooting at a more-than-respectable 17.5% in his sophomore season.
Follow David (@RinksideView) on Twitter for daily prospect updates.
NCAA/USHL weekly performances
|Jake Evans||C||Big Ten||Notre Dame||2||1||1||2|
|Ryan Poehling||C||NCHC||St. Cloud State||2||1||0||1|
NCAA/USHL season to date
|Jake Evans||C||Big Ten||Notre Dame||26||9||22||31|
|Ryan Poehling||C||NCHC||St. Cloud State||20||7||12||19|
Goalies weekly performance
Goalies season to date