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Saturday, September 25, 2010

The 'Nuge tallies in WHL opener

Red Deer Rebels star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in his team's season opener and win over the Edmonton Oil Kings Friday night, and I expect that it will be just the first of many goals to come for the explosive, dynamic forward who can score at will and who thinks the game at an elite level.

The 'Nuge scored the winning goal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August, firing off a wrister from the right side that goalie Steve Michalek had no chance of stopping unless it hit him (it was the only goal he gave up in the 1-0 gold medal loss to Team Canada).

Also scoring in the season debut for the Rebels was 16-year-old Matt Dumba, who is already on the Bruins 2012 Draft Watch list as a highly skilled two-way defenseman. He could take the WHL by storm this season; I've seen some video on him, and he's got some high-end tools. We'll see if he can put it all together and maintain that all season in his first WHL campaign after seeing spot duty last year, but my guess is that we'll be hearing a lot more from Dumba in the next 12-18 months.

One interesting import this year is German center Marcel Noebels, who made a splash at the World Under-18s b-pool last year, but it wasn't enough for him to get picked in Los Angeles. He left the Krefeld Penguins and is now skating for the Seattle Thunderbirds. He tallied in the T-Birds' 4-3 loss last night, and made some noise in the preseason. I think with his size (6-2, 205) and good hockey sense and stick, he could make a solid run for the 2011 draft.

Speaking of imports, Slovak winger Marek Tvrdon had a nice night and debut for the Vancouver Giants, who stomped the Chiliwack Bruins to the tune of nine goals and a helper. Tvrdon tallied twice, including one goal set up by B's prospect Craig Cunningham, who was returned to the Gints just in time to put on the captain's 'C' and chip in a 1-1-2 line Friday. Tvrdon, and top defense prospect David Musil (who provided an assist in the game and finished with a +3 rating) have given the Giants a nice skill boost from Eastern Europe, it would appear.

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