The New York Rangers kicked off the 2019 Traverse City Tournament this afternoon with a 6-2 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets prospects. Kaapo Kakko was a last minute scratch from the lineup with an undisclosed illness, delaying his debut in Broadway Blue for at least another 24 hours.
As expected, the game started off rather sloppy for both teams with this being the first organized game of the year for these prospects. However, defensemen Adam Fox and Yegor Rykov looked very poised early on with clean transition plays and breakouts coming out of their zone. The Rangers were able to get on the board first midway through the first when Brett Kemp scored on an off-angle shot from the goal line. Kemp, a free agent invite from Medicine Hat of the WHL, somehow slipped a shot over the shoulder of the goaltender in close.
Columbus answered shortly after on a 2-on-1 below the circles, with netminder Igor Shesterkin not standing much of a chance on the quick transition play.
Columbus rattled off two more goals before the period ended. Nikita Korostelev scored on a partial breakaway when he snapped a shot under Shesterkin’s arm before Maxime Fortier found the back of the net with less than 30 seconds remaining in the frame.
The Blue Jackets picked up where they left off in the second period, as Trey Fix-Wolansky scored a pair of goals to give Columbus a four-goal lead. Korostelev added his second goal of the game shortly after with another wide open chance in front of Shesterkin.
Six goals against doesn’t seem like much of a ringing endorsement for Shesterkin, but he honestly didn’t stand much of a chance on any of the goals that were allowed. A majority of the goals were either odd-man rushes coming into the zone, or partial breakaways where the forward had plenty of time to pick a corner. The lack of a true defensive structure in these prospect games often leads to many scoring chances, and the Rangers just gave up way too many of them through two periods.
Kemp got New York within four early in the third when he fired a shot past past Elvis Merzlinkins on the far side.
The New York Rangers prospects will be back in action tomorrow afternoon as they take on the Dallas Stars starting at 7:00pm.