TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - The Blackhawks Prospects wrapped up their last divisional matchup with a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Monday evening in Traverse City. Despite a 2-0 lead early, the Blue fought their way back and added two last-minute goals, one via an empty net, to complete the comeback.
CLASS OF 2018
Another game, another strong showing from a 2018 draft pick - this time from Mikael Hakkarainen following in the footsteps of Adam Boqvist and Philipp Kurashev. The fifth rounder scored his second goal of the tournament off a little luck, seeing a Cole Moberg shot from the point deflect off his leg after he tumbled to the ice in the slot. On the very next shift, he showcased a little more skill, flying off the bench in a shift change, forcing a neutral-zone turnover and speeding in on a breakaway that Mickal Teply tapped home on the doorstep.
"I just saw them go D-to-D and I thought I could jump that and I did," Hakkarainen said of the play. "I thought I had the five-hole but the goalie made a nice save. Luckily Teply was right behind me and he put it in. It was a good effort."
Brandon Hagel, who has put together an impressive tournament as a whole in his first time out as a member of the Blackhawks, was again a noticable contributer on the evening. He led Chicago with 4 shots - bringing his now-team-leading total to 9 for the tournament - but was also a presence on the forecheck, blocking shots, forcing turnovers and nearly setting up linemate Kurashev on a pair of chances. A goal and two assists also have him tied for the team scoring lead on the extended weekend.
"I'm trying to play my game but also play within the Blackhawks system because that's where I want to be," Hagel said. "I thought our line was pretty good tonight and the opportunities, we just didn't capitalize on them."
For me, he's got a slight edge on the top spot for Chicago's best all-around performance in the tournament. At the very least, he's been the most consistent. The WHL's fourth-leading scorer a year ago with 102 points, it's easy to see why Chicago wanted to ink the winger just weeks into his 2018-19 campaign.
"I think he compliments players. It doesn't matter who he plays with, he plays the same way," IceHogs head coach Derek King said. "He plays hard, he plays hard minutes ... I like the way he plays. He's a good hockey player and I like the way he works."
WILD ON DECK
The Blackhawks will face another Central Division foe in their final game of the tournament as they play the Minnesota Wild in the seventh-place game on Tuesday at 11 a.m. CT.
Chicago held a 2-0 lead after the first, but the Blues were able to climb back into the game late and pulled ahead with 58 seconds to play before adding an empty-netter for good measure. The win, and the full 3 points that came with it, saw St. Louis jump Chicago, leaving the Hawks with a last-place finish in the division after a thrilling opening win in OT. Minnesota has gone 0-1-2 in their three games in Traverse City.