As Americans hit the roads and grandmother's house for their extended Thanksgiving weekend, they have a lot to be thankful for.
In the case of hockey fans, most are thankful that there is still minor league hockey going on all across the world. The AHL season is now nearing its second full month of games and the junior hockey leagues have just hit their one-third mark to their tedious season.
The international game is also getting into the middle portions of their season.
Junior hockey junkies are revving down from watching a captivating Subway Super Series and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 2013 IIHF Under-20 World Juniors Championships from Ufa, Russia during the Christmas holiday.
In the mean time, grab yourself some turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing and kick back to watch some quality hockey during the extended break for Americans.
Here is how Red Wings prospects have been doing so far this season:
Marek Tvrdoň, Left Wing/Vancouver Giants: Things took a turn for the worse this week for the leading scorer on the Vancouver Giants. Team doctors found a blood clot in his left shoulder that was quickly removed at the expense of missing the rest of his 2012-13 season (according to The Vancouver Sun). It's a shame that this happened to such a key cog in Vancouver's offense. He had 22 points in 18 games this season. Tvrdoň should be vying for a spot with the Red Wings' AHL affiliate, Grand Rapids Griffins.
Chad Billins, Defenseman/Grand Rapids Griffins: Going undrafted truly is a blessing for some. Billins went undrafted after coming out of college from Ferris State University and the improbable run to the Frozen Four. And then shortly after that run the Griffins gave a tryout to Billins. The team inked him to a contract July 11, as shown on his bio page. He has 14 assists in 14 games and his game is very reminiscent of Brian Rafalski with the way he distributes the puck. This signing could have been a steal for the Red Wings organization as Billins could push for a roster spot in a few seasons.
Martin Frk, Right Wing/Halifax Mooseheads: There is a lot to like so far this season from the Red Wings' first draft pick from the 2012 NHL Draft. In 22 games, Frk has given the Mooseheads a major lift in the scoring column with 11 goals and 20 assists. Frk has also maintained his plus-minus rating for the season to a respectable +7. As Frk continues to develop and grow in his third season in Halifax, there might be a chance we could see Frk in Grand Rapids next season. Halifax has won their last four games and look to add on to that streak on Saturday when they travel to Moncton.
Ryan Sproul, Defenseman/Sault Ste. Marie: After a solid 2011-12 campaign, Sproul was looking to start where he left off. Unfortunately Sproul suffered a forearm fracture only seven games into the 2012-13 campaign. At that point he was a point-per-game player: he had a goal and eight assists. Wednesday's game against Saginaw saw Sproul return to the ice for the first time since his injury. The Greyhounds lost to the Saginaw Spirit 4-3 but Sproul helped his Greyhounds compete with a goal and assist on the night. It might take a little while for this prospect to get back to normalcy. When he does, expect Sproul to be among the best.
Calle Järnkrok, Center/Brynas IF (Sweden): In a season where Järnkrok was expected to be a team leader, he has far excelled on those expectations. In 25 games this season, he has five goals and 15 assists. He continues to be an impact player on the ice with only four penalty minutes and with a daunting five games in seven nights, Järnkrok looks to pad the stats even more.
Gustav Nyquist, Right Wing/Grand Rapids Griffins: Nyquist added two goals Nov. 16 and an assist Nov. 23 against Chicago to continue his chase for the AHL lead in scoring. He has 18 points in 15 games and with a busy weekend with games in Peoria and then a mid-afternoon affair with Milwaukee, Nyquist needs to remain consistent for a Griffins team riding a seven-game winning streak. The following weekend the Griffins play a doubleheader on Friday and Saturday with the Texas Stars in Grand Rapids.
Xavier Ouellet, Defenseman/Blainsville-Broisbriand Armada (QMJHL): As the Under-20 World Junior Championships draw near, Ouellet has a fighting chance to make the already-loaded Team Canada back end. His stats this season may prove to be enough for the team: He has 25 points and a +9 rating in 25 games. He plays well on both sides of the puck and is a vital part of both of Armada's special teams units. After a convincing 3-0 win on Friday, Ouellet hopes to secure a win against the Gatineau Olympiques on Sunday and then against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar Nov. 30.
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