By Matt Calamia
Despite a strong power play, the Rangers Thursday dropped the opening game of the Traverse City prospect tournament, 4-3, against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Rangers' next game is against the Buffalo Sabres Friday at 4 PM.
New York went 2-for-5 with the man advantage, with powerplay goals from Josh Nicholls in the second period, and a late tally from one of their top prospects, Oscar Lindberg, with just five seconds remaining in the game.
Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Victor Rask and Sergey Tolchinsky, before Nicholls cut the lead in half at 15:24 of the second period, with defenseman Jimmy Oligny recording an assist. Nicholls, 21, finished his WHL career last season with the Saskatoon Blades where he registered 47 goals and 85 points in 71 games. The Rangers signed him as a free agent in March.
Zack Mitchell made it 3-1 ‘Canes 2:52 into the final period before Rangers tournament captain Andrew Yogan scored to bring New York to within one with just under five minutes to play. Yogan, the Rangers’ fourth round pick in 2010, split last season between the AHL and ECHL. In 43 games with the Connecticut Whale, he scored seven goals and 19 points. Michael St. Croix, who was drafted in the fourth round by New York in 2011, picked up an assist on Yogan’s goal.
The Hurricanes answered back with a goal by Brock McGinn just 1:08 later to make it 4-2. Lindberg’s goal from fellow top prospects Danny Kristo and Jesper Fast made it 4-3. Lindberg, 21, has spent the past four seasons playing for Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Elite League. His most productive campaign came last season when he scored 17 goals and 42 points in 55 games. In the playoffs, he scored four goals and 12 points in 13 games en route to a league championship and playoff MVP award.
Mackenzie Skapski, the Rangers’ 2013 draft pick, finished with 21 saves in the loss. Kristo led all skaters with eight shots on goal, while forward Paxton Leroux fought Austin Levi in the second period.