February is crunch time in the world of hockey, with the playoffs looming and teams trying to shake that end-of-the-season fatigue. Luckily for UMass Lowell and their hot start to 2019, goaltender Tyler Wall has shown no signs of weariness. Wall turned aside all 28 shots he faced against Boston College on Feb. 8 for his fourth shutout of the season. It was the second time the New York Rangers’ 2016 sixth-round pick (174th overall) faced the Eagles in a two-week span, after he only let in one tally in the 3-1 victory on Jan. 25.
Wall earned the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week honor on Feb. 3 after the junior posted wins in each of his last four appearances between the pipes. During that stretch, he posted a 0.50 goals-against average along with a .981 save percentage (103 saves on 105 shots). He now ties for third in the NCAA in save percentage and fourth in goals-against average. But Wall rounded out the stars from two weeks ago, and it was another successful week for Rangers prospects.
Morgan Barron Leads Cornell in All Categories
If there is any Ranger prospect worth paying attention to, it’s Morgan Barron. Against Cornell’s two opponents this past week, Barron registered three points (one goal, two assists), including the game-winner against St. Lawrence on Feb. 9. His three-point week extended his point streak to five games, in which he’s posted four goals and four assists over that span. He’s collected points in 12 of the last 13 contests and has managed to register multi-point performances in eight of the last 11 games.
The 20-year-old’s 27 points lead Cornell, with the next closest point producer sitting six points below him. Barron leads the Bears in goals (12), assists (15) and power play goals (six). He has accumulated the highest amount of shots this season (114), with a hefty 47-shot difference separating him from the rest of the team. Barron has scored four game-winning goals this season, which ties as the most for Cornell, as well. He also has the team’s third-best plus/minus rating at plus-12.
In the NCAA, Barron slides in at third in shots on goal per-game with almost five shots each contest (4.96). He averages 1.17 points-per-game this season, tying for 18th in the NCAA, but good for fourth among players who are either freshmen or sophomores. Barron is a repeat standout among Rangers prospects this season, with his long point streaks and clutch plays when Cornell needs them most. He’s by far been the most entertaining prospect to keep up with in the 2018-19 season.
BCHL Rookie Standout Riley Hughes Rides Point Streak
Over in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Riley Hughes recorded five points (two goals, three assists) through the Victoria Grizzlies’ three-game week. This week’s performance extended the 18-year-old’s point streak to six games, in which he’s registered three goals and seven assists in that stretch. He is also currently riding a five-game assist streak, as well.
I've started watching some of NYR 7th-round pick Riley Hughes' games. pic.twitter.com/u0mZWNhUut
— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) June 24, 2018
The Rangers’ 2018 seventh-round pick (216th overall) has put forth multi-point showings over the last five contests, contributing to the Grizzlies’ winning four out of their last five games. Through 49 appearances with Victoria this season, Hughes has tallied 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists), ranking him fourth among all BCHL rookies in goals and points. He also ranks fifth among BCHL rookies in assists this season.
Tarmo Reunanen Can, and Will, Skate His Way Into NHL
If there’s anything to be sure of, it’s that Tarmo Reunanen can eat up some minutes on the ice. This past week Reunanen registered a single-game season-high 29:48 of ice time on Feb. 6 against Mikkelin Jukurit. He also led all skaters with 27:25 of ice time on Feb. 8 against Saimaan Pallo (SaiPa). Reunanen, who currently plays for Lukko Rauma in the Liiga, the top Finnish league, has skated for at least 24 minutes in 17 of the last 20 games.
The 6-foot defenseman has also logged 25 minutes or more of ice time in 10 of the last 16 games, as well as 26 or more minutes of ice time in seven of the last 14 contests (Are you feeling tired yet?). In the last 21 games for Lukko, Reunanen has registered 12 points (two goals, 10 assists). The Rangers’ 2016 fourth-round pick (98th overall) has posted 19 points (four goals, 15 assists) in 47 games this season, and has already set career highs in goals, assists and points.
Out of all defensemen in the league under 21, Reunanen sits at first place in goals and points. He also ties for first in assists, as well. The 20-year-old ranks 13th among all Liiga players in average ice time (21:17), and he also sits second among players younger than 21 years old in average ice time this season. There’s nothing more valuable than a player who can be left out on the ice, and from what we’re seeing out of the Finn, you can leave him out there all night.
A senior sports journalism major at the University of Massachusetts with bylines in the New York Post, Stan Fischler’s newsletter The Fischler Report and the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, MA.