Subscribe for 99¢
Nikita Alexandrov

The Blues selected Nikita Alexandrov with the 62nd overall pick in the NHL Draft on Saturday, June 22, 2019. Photo courtesy Charlottetown Islanders

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — After two tough games to open the NHL Prospect Tournament here in northern Michigan, the Blues stayed out of the penalty box. And got into the victory column.

After spotting the Chicago Blackhawks’ prospects a 2-0 lead in the first period, the Blues scored the game’s final four goals — including three in the final period — to register a 4-2 victory Monday at Centre Ice Arena.

Goals by Nikita Alexandrov, a second-round draft pick in June, and 2017 first-rounder Klim Kostin tied the game 2-2. Defenseman River Rymsha, a free-agent invitee from Miami (Ohio), scored the winner through traffic from the left point with just 58 seconds remaining in the game. Another free agent invitee, forward Kevin Hancock of Owen Sound of the Ontario Hockey League, finished off the Blues’ scoring with a short-handed empty-net goal with just two seconds remaining.

(Hancock’s goal mistakenly was credited to Mitch Reinke in the tournament boxscore.)

All in all, it was a dramatic turn of events for the Blues’ prospects, who were outscored by a combined 13-5 in losses to Toronto and Detroit to begin the tournament.

The Blues had six penalties in their tournament opener, a 6-2 loss Friday to Toronto. They had eight penalties, one a double-minor, in a 7-3 loss to Detroit on Saturday.

Even in those defeats, Blues prospects coach Drew Bannister generally was pleased with the team’s five-on-five play. Well, the Blues stayed out of the box for the most part Monday — with two minors and a fighting major — and walked away with their first victory of the tournament.

“In the third (period) we kind of took over,” said Bannister, head coach of the Blues’ San Antonio affiliate in the American Hockey League. “We started to create a little bit more offensive opportunities.”

The Blues close the tournament Tuesday in the fifth-place game with an 11:30 a.m. contest against New York Rangers prospects.


Last year in Traverse City, forward Tanner Kaspick suffered an upper-body injury that limited him to only two games in the tournament, getting his season off to a slow start.

This time around he made it through only one game in Traverse City. The 21-year-old forward from Brandon, Manitoba, suffered an upper-body injury in the Blues’ opener Friday and hasn’t played since.

“He’s gonna be questionable, I think, for the start of camp,” general manager Doug Armstrong said. “We’ll get more information when we get back home. That’s sort of the yin and the yang of these tournaments.

“They’re competitive and people get hurt. I know Tanner was really looking forward to having a good camp and getting ready. So it’s difficult, but that’s just the ‘rub of the green.’”

As in back luck.

“He’s a competitive player,” Armstrong said. “He’s tenacious. He’s a good worker. He’s a guy that sort of plays the style that we like to play. Like all young players they gotta find a consistent role on a team and excel. I thought last year, his first year of pro, there were some ups and downs. The second year’s gonna be a better year for him.”

Kaspick, a fourth-round pick (No. 119 overall) in the 2016 draft, had four goals and four assists in 48 games last season in San Antonio. He also played six games for the Blues’ Tulsa affiliate in the ECHL, with one assist.

Quick Hits: Jim Thomas on the Blues