Three Stars of the Weekend: Carter Hart Continues Strong Season in WHL

Carter Hart was the first goaltender taken in the 2016 NHL Draft, selected by Philadelphia with 48th overall pick.

If he’s a success, Hart will be the answer to the generations-long problem that is the Flyers goaltending; a large reason the Stanley Cup hasn’t paraded down Broad Street since 1975. If he’s the latest to come up short in the Philly crease, he’ll be further proof of why goalies aren’t worth the risk atop the draft (Ilya Samsonov, taken 22nd overall in 2015 by Washington, is the only goalie to go in the first round in the last four drafts).

Of course, the jury remains out on the type of netminder Hart will be, and will remain that way for a long time. But if his first year of hockey as property of an NHL organization is any indication, the Flyers have something to look forward to in net.

In 20 games for Everett, the 18-year-old is 13-3-3, with a 1.67 GAA and .937 save percentage, both WHL highs. He has a shutout streak of two-plus games, having not allowed a goal since a 2-1 loss to Lethbridge on November 19, when Tyler Wong beat Hart with 8:25 left in regulation.

He followed up the loss with a pair of shutouts; 37 saves in a 3-0 win over Seattle on Wednesday before stopping 26 of 26 in a 3-0 win over Prince George on Friday.

In 115 games since making his WHL debut in February 2014, the 6-2, 180-pound Hart has 66 wins, a 2.12 GAA and .920 save percentage. His clean sheet on Friday was his third of the season and 13th in major junior.

Other CHL Stars

Alexandre Goulet, Victoriaville: The 20-year-old had a pair of four-point games this weekend to extend his point streak to five games. His 38 points lead the Tigres, and is fourth in the Quebec League.

Keanu Yamamoto, Spokane: Yamamoto had six assists in the Chiefs 10-1 thrashing of Vancouver on Friday. He has 14 points in his last nine games and is third on Spokane with 26 overall. Keanu’s brother, Kailer, leads the team with 31.

AHL

Teemu Pulkkinen, Iowa: The right winger had three goals and five points over the weekend for the Wild. He has points in 10 of his last 11 games.

Kyle Wood, Tucson: The rookie had two goals and six points over the weekend. His 16 points leads all AHL rookie defensemen. Only Jake Guentzel (7-10=17) has more points among all rookies in the American League.

Dan DeSalvo, Manitoba: DeSalvo had four points on the weekend, including his third multi-point night of the season on Saturday, with three points in a 4-3 overtime win against Milwaukee. He has five goals and 10 points in the eight games.

NCAA

Stefanos Lekkas, Vermont: The freshman goaltender stopped 73 of 76 shots over the weekend at the Friendship Four in Belfast, Ireland, including 40 of 41 in a 5-1 Catamounts win over Quinnipiac in the championship game. He’s ranked fourth in the nation in both save percentage (.940) and GAA (1.72). He’s allowed nine goals in his five games, stopping 165 of 174 shots that have come his way.

Dylan Sikura, Northeastern: The junior forward had three goals and an assist on Friday night as the Huskies beat 11th-ranked Minnesota, 6-4. He’s tied with teammate Zach Aston-Reese for fourth in the nation with 22 points. Northeastern has three players in the top 10 for points.

Alex Kerfoot, Harvard: The senior had four assists in the Crimson’s lone game this weekend, a 5-2 win over Bentley.

USHL

Gabriel Mollot-Hill, Bloomington: The Providence recruit stopped all 32 shots that came his way in Bloomington’s 2-0 win over Green Bay on Saturday. He has a .932 save percentage and 1.91 GAA for the Thunder this season.

Jacob Hamacher, Dubuque: The RIT recruit had three goals and five points on the weekend as the Fighting Saints picked up a pair of wins.

Reggie Lutz, Chicago: Lutz, committed to Minnesota State, had two goals and four points over the weekend. He’s 13th in the USHL with 18 points.

Women’s NCAA

Cassidy MacPherson, Providence: Had four assists for the Friars on Sunday, assisting on all three goals Blair Parent scored, as PC took the Mayor’s Cup against crosstown rival Brown.

Heather Schwarz, Syracuse: The junior had two goals and an assist on Friday as the Orange shutout seventh-ranked North Dakota.

Kelly Pannek, Minnesota: Pannek had two goals and four points on the weekend for the second-ranked Gophers. She leads the nation in points (32) and assists (24).

Thoughts Are My Own: Hey, guys, there’s good Canadian teams this year

My thoughts as we get into the mind-numbing chatter of the possibility of a Montreal-Edmonton Stanley Cup final.

*So how about those Edmonton Oilers? Just keep chugging along, tossing aside the Capitals en route to a 6-1 start.

*A group is reportedly exploring options of building a 20,000-seat arena in Scottsdale, Arizona, a potential new home for the Arizona Coyotes. This would be huge for the future of the Coyotes franchise, which now appears to be there to stay after years upon years of relocation rumors. They’d be in the thick of things, closer to Phoenix, than they are currently in Glendale.

*Another stinker for the Bruins. Two nights, two losses by a score of 10-2. Chalk it up as a combination of bad defense and shaky goaltending. That combination is no way to go through life.

*Last time a team started four goalies in four consecutive games? That would be the 2010-11 New York Islanders, according to Elias.

*The more you watch Montreal, the more you realize just how good they are.

*Montreal in the first seven games over the last three seasons: 19-1-1 (6-1, 7-0, 6-0-1).

*Corey Perry passed Paul Kariya on Anaheim’s all-time points list.

*Brendan Leipsic had three more points on Wednesday for AHL Toronto, a 4-3 overtime win over Providence. The 22-year-old has 12 points in six games.

*The Albany Devils finally lost a game, denied the 6-0 start no AHL franchise in Albany has ever accomplished. The Devils fell to 5-1 with a 3-1 loss at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

*A pair of four-point nights for Stockton Heat forwards Daniel Pribyl (1-3–4) and Morgan Klimchuk (2-2–4), as the Heat beat San Diego, 7-5. Klimchuk is a former first round pick by the Flames.

*Nice little night for 2017 draft hopeful Nico Hischier, who had three goals and six points in Halifax’s 6-4 win over Acadie-Bathurst.

*Carolina prospect Spencer Smallman had his first career hat trick in the QMJHL on Wednesday, a 5-2 win by Saint John over Charlottetown.

*Kole Lind had a goal and three assists in Kelowna’s 6-4 win over Victoria. Both of Calvin Thurkauf’s goals were assisted by the 17-year-old.

*Still no Nolan Patrick in the Brandon lineup. He hasn’t played since Oct. 11.

Links

A profile on Maxime Comtois of QMJHL Victoriaville, who a scouting director of an NHL team said ‘reminds (him) of Rick Nash at that age.’

A look at how the OHL’s top prospects are faring after about a month of action.

The evolution of Brad Marchand into an elite hockey talent.

Kings sign Anders Lindback to a tryout contract.

Oilers sending shockwaves through the NHL as they race out to a 6-1 start.

A ‘golden era’ of Canadian NHL franchises on the horizon.

 

Three Stars of the Weekend: Max Jones Continues Stand-out Season

A 6-foot-3 and 203 pounds, Max Jones is built like a freight train. He plays like one, too.

It’s why the Anaheim Ducks made him a first-round pick in this past June’s NHL Draft, taking him with 24th overall pick.

A power forward whose size is complemented by his strength on the puck, Jones is an impact forward with a net drive and presence in the house that is paralleled by few his age. After putting up 28 goals and 52 points in 63 games last season, helping OHL London to its first Memorial Cup title in 11 years, Jones has followed it up with a blazing start to 2016-17.

With Aaron Berisha, Christian Dvorak, Mitch Marner, and Matthew Tkachuk gone to challenge the waters of pro hockey, Jones is now one of the centerpieces of what remains a strong London team, which also includes Toronto prospect and 30-goal scorer J.J. Piccinch, and Cliff Pu (second round pick by Buffalo in 2016) up front while fifth-overall pick Olli Juolevi and Montreal prospect Victor Mete lead the charge on the back end.

Playing just six of London’s 11 games this season, Jones has five goals and 15 points, his 2.5 points per game tops in the OHL.

The 18-year-old played two of the Knights three games this weekend, putting up two goals and seven points; a three-assist performance on Thursday before posting a pair of goals and two assists on Friday.

The other two stars from CHL play this weekend:

Dylan Wells, Peterborough: The Petes netminder and Edmonton prospect had a rough go of things on Thursday, allowing four of 13 shots to go in during a 6-1 loss to Sarnia, but came back and willed Peterborough to victory on Friday, stopping 49 of 51 shots as the Petes stole a 4-2 win from Sudbury, despite being outshot 51-20. Despite his inflated GAA (3.15), Wells’ .920 save percentage is tied for fourth in the OHL.

Alexandre Alain, Blainville-Boisbriand: The 19-year-old, who leads the Armada in scoring, had four goals and six points this weekend, including a 3-2-5 performance against Sherbrooke on Friday night.

AHL

Charlie Lindgren, St. John’s: The 22-year-old stopped 73 of 76 shots this weekend, including 50 of 51 in a win over Providence on Friday.

Sven Andrighetto, St. John’s: The forward, who played 44 games with Montreal last season, scored three goals and assisted on three others in three games for the IceCaps.

Gabriel Dumont, Syracuse: The AHL veteran, in his seventh season in the American League, had three goals and an assist on Friday for the Crunch, who fell to Utica, 5-4.

NCAA

Brock Boeser, North Dakota: The Canucks prospect had five goals in two games this weekend, including a hat trick in Friday’s 3-2 win over Bemidji State.

Jake Oettinger, Boston University: The 2017 draft prospect stopped all 46 shots he faced this weekend for BU, which beat Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac to the tune of a combined 10-0 margin. His .947 save percentage is fifth in the nation, one of five freshmen ranked in the top six of that category.

Mike Vecchione, Union: The senior had four goals and an assist on Saturday against Niagara, a 5-2 win for Union. He currently leads the nation in scoring with 8-5–13 totals through six games.

Women’s NCAA

Sarah Nurse, Wisconsin: The senior had four goals for the top-ranked Badgers in Sunday’s 5-2 win over North Dakota. She’s scored goals in four consecutive games.

Sarah Potomak, Minnesota: The sophomore forward had a hat trick on Friday night against Ohio State, following up the performance with another goal on Saturday.

Katie Burt, Boston College: The junior was airtight in net as the sixth-ranked Eagles secured a win and tie in the weekend doubleheader with third-ranked Quinnipiac. She stopped 39 of the 40 shots that came her way.

 

 

Three Stars of the Midweek: Marian Hossa Latest in 500-goal club

NHL

Marian Hossa: Hossa scored his 500th career goal on Tuesday night, a 7-4 win over Philadelphia. He’s the 43rd player in NHL history to reach that mark, but just the third among players that made their debut after the 1994-95 lockout. The other two? Jarome Iginla and Alex Ovechkin.

Mike Green: Goal scoring has never been a weakness for the defenseman, his 123 goals ranking sixth among blue liners going back to the start of the 2005-06 season. He’s the only defenseman to score 30 goals over that span, scoring 31 in the 2008-09 season. On Monday night, he added the hat trick to the list of accomplishments, scoring three goals in a game for the first time in his career.

Patrik Laine: Facing Auston Matthews for the first time, the young Jets sniper registered his first career hat trick as well.

AHL

Anthony Mantha, Grand Rapids: The Red Wings top prospect found the net three time in a 4-3 win over the Iowa Wild on Tuesday night. He now has five goals in three games this season, his third for the Griffins. He played 10 games for the Wings last season. Expect him to be in Detroit at some point this season.

Mark Jankowski, Stockton: The former first round pick and Providence College standout had a goal and three points in a 5-1 win over the Texas Stars on Wednesday.

Nick Ellis, Bakersfield: Another strong showing for a former Providence Friar. The Condors netminder made 30 saves on 31 shots in a 4-1 win over Manitoba on Tuesday night.

CHL

Taylor Raddysh, Erie: The Lightning prospect had two and four points in the Otters 6-5 win over Niagara on Wednesday. He has 21 points in eight games.

Dmitri Sokolov, Sudbury: The Minnesota Wild prospect registered his second hat trick in four games in the Wolves’ win over the Soo Greyhounds on Wednesday. He has eight goals in his last five games.

Reilly Pickard, Acadie-Bathurst: Made 37 saves in a 3-1 win for the Titan over Saint John, who outshot A-B, 38-28.

Melnyk Buys Sens’ AHL Affiliate, Plans to Move Team to Belleville

If you can’t go home, the next-best thing is to at least get closer.

That’s been the modus operandi in the American Hockey League in past seasons, with the trend of clubs moving closer to their respective big league affiliates, a result of NHL teams buying AHL franchises. For years, a majority of franchises were privately owned, serving as a pillar in communities across the East Coast and Midwest for generations, but that practice going the way of the line brawl.

The latest to join that crop is the Binghamton Senators, which has been purchased by Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk. He intends to move the franchise to Belleville, Ontario for the 2017-18 season.

With the move, the AHL Senators will not only be within the same border as the parent club, but also about 140 miles closer. Belleville sits approximately 125 miles from Ottawa, compared to roughly 265 from Binghamton. Belleville sits within the same television market as Ottawa.

The Senators are the latest in a long line of clubs bringing its top minor league affiliates closer to the home market.

Over the past decade, the average length between AHL clubs and their affiliates has been nearly slashed in half; from 850 in 2006 to 480 this year. Much of that, of course, has to do with the league’s western expansion, in which Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose moved its clubs out to California from the Northeast in 2015. Phoenix joined this spring, when it moved its AHL club from Springfield, Mass. to Tucson, Ariz. Vancouver, whose AHL affiliate plays in Utica, N.Y., is now the lone franchise with a cross-coast affiliation.

The Senators have played in Binghamton since 2002, winning the Calder Cup in 2011. With Ottawa’s long-standing pedigree of being strong in player development, fans have been treated to the likes of Ben Bishop, Brian Elliot, Erik Karlsson, Jakob Silfverberg, Jason Spezza, Antoine Vermette, and Mika Zibanejad over the years.

The AHL is reportedly looking to remain Binghamton, a city with a strong tradition in minor league hockey. If all else fails, the upstate New York municipality could become the latest market to join the ECHL circuit after being abandoned by the American League.

Kicking Around the Minors: Khokhlachev, Griffith, Czarnik Continue Hot Streaks

A look at the the happenings from around minor league, college, and junior hockey over the weekend:

*The Providence Bruins returned home from a six-game road trip on Sunday, beating Rochester, 5-2. The Bruins, who play 10 of their next 12 games at the Dunkin Donuts Center, began the two-game homestand on a winning note after the 1-5 roadie.

*Alex Khokhlachev, sent down on Saturday after a one-game stint in Boston, tied a season high with four points, scoring two goals. The left-shot center is on a tear, with 7-9–16 totals in 12 games since returning from a hand injury at the beginning of December.

*P-Bruins leading scorer Seth Griffith, sent down along with Koko following a one-week stint in which he saw action in two NHL games, assisted on three goals, including both of Khokhlachev’s. He leads the Baby B’s with 30 points in 25 games.

*Both Griffith and Khokhlachev rank in the top 10 in scoring in the AHL, with Griffith (10-20–30) tied for sixth and Khokhlachev (11-18–29) tied for ninth.

*Austin Czarnik had three assists for the second time in three games. The rookie out of Miami (Ohio) has seven helpers in his last three games, despite having just one goal in his last seven. Czarnik has 18 points in his last 12 games.

*Providence had four powerplay goals in six opportunities. The Bruins have seven goals in their last 15 man-advantage situations. The powerplay unit is the best in the AHL, its success rate currently standing at 24.1 percent.

*Posting a minus-one rating, defenseman Tommy Cross was a minus for the fifth time in his last seven games. He has just one point since the start of November and four since putting up seven in his first six games of the season. The 26-year-old is on a one-year deal that pays $600,000, and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

*Matt Irwin scored 4:27 into the game to open the scoring, extending his goal-scoring streak to three games. The 28-year-old defenseman, in his fifth AHL season, is a plus-four since the start of December. Irwin, who was signed to a one-year deal by the Bruins over the summer and began the season on the NHL roster, playing two games, should be atop the pecking order if Claude Julien is in need of a blueliner.

*Colton Hargrove scored for a third consecutive contest with his tally at 9:49 of the second period. Hargrove has four goals and six points in his last three games.

*Malcolm Subban stopped 27 of 29 shots, shutting out the Amerks in the final 40 minutes, making 18 saves. He hasn’t allowed more than three goals in a game since Nov. 20, a streak of 13 games.

*In World Junior quarterfinal action on Saturday, Team USA advanced to the medal round for the first time since 2013 with a 7-0 win over the Czech Republic. Auston Matthews had a hat trick while Bruins prospects Brandon Carlo and Ryan Donato notched assists.

*It was learned over the weekend that Bruins forward David Pastrnak suffered a finger injury during the tournament, though Julien said the injury isn’t serious. Pastrnak hasn’t played since Oct. 31, missing nearly two months of action before a rehab stint in Providence preceded the World Juniors go-around. The 19-year-old has two goals and four points in 10 games this season.

*Pastrnak finishes the tournament with a goal and four points in foue games. Bruins 2015 top draft pick Jakub Zboril finished with a point. Eighteen-year-old goaltender Daniel Vladar didn’t see any action in the tournament.

*Defending champion Canada was eliminated by Finland, 6-5. The Fins will face Sweden, who beat Slovakia, 6-0, in its quarterfinal match. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson had two points in the win.

*Jake DeBrusk posted a game-high five points (3-2) in Red Deer’s 10-0 win over Brandon in WHL play on Saturday night. DeBrusk has five goals and 10 points in four games since being traded to Red Deer from Swift Current. He had just a goal and three points in eight games leading up to the trade.

Kicking Around the Minors: P-Bruins Win in Springfield

The Providence Bruins snapped a four-game losing streak on Wednesday night, getting the first win of their six-game road trip on Game No. 5, a 4-3 win over Springfield.

The Bruins got three powerplay goals while Malcolm Subban made 17 of his 34 saves in the third period to get the win.

Here’s some other notes of interest from the game

*Austin Czarnik had three assists, his sixth multi-point effort of the season and fifth of this month. He now has 22 points in 25 games, which now leads all active P-Bruins, as leading scorers Seth Griffith (27 points) and Alex Khokhlachev (25) were called up to Boston this week.

Czarnik 14 points in 12 December games.

*Khokhlachev, who was promoted to Boston on Thursday morning, had a goal and an assist, landing five shots on net. The 22-year-old forward has points in 10 of 11 games since returning from a hand injury on Dec. 4.

In other words, a promotion well-earned. Ditto Griffith – called up on Tuesday – whose 27 points is good enough for seventh in the AHL. Sixteen of those points came Griffith’s previous nine games.

*Colton Hargrove scored two goals and assisted on another, erasing a four-game pointless streak. His goal at 2:20 of the second period to put Providence ahead, 2-1, was his first since Dec. 13 against Hartford, a span of five games.

*Robbie Czarnik (cousin of Austin), who was loaned to Providence from Reading of the ECHL, made his P-Bruins debut, posting a minus-one rating to go along with a pair of penalties. Czarnik had 27 points in 29 games for the Reading Royals.

*After an equipment malfunction forced Zane McIntyre to start the game, Subban returned midway through the first period and turned in one of his better performances, stopping 34 of 37 shots, 17 of which came in the the third period.

Subban’s third pro season got off to a rocky start, but has turned a corner of late. The 22-year-old netminder is 5-3-1 in December with a 2.34 GAA and .926 save percentage, averages far more representative of his career totals (2.38/.917).

Elsewhere in the minors:

*Bruins forward David Pastrnak picked up an assist in the Czech Republic’s 5-3 win over Belarus on Wednesday. The Czechs are 2-0 since Pastrnak joined the team, after being released by the Bruins for the tournament. He has a goal and an assist in two games, landing 12 shots on goal, which ties for sixth among players in the tournament.

*Sweden improved to 3-0 in pool play with a 5-0 win over Denmark. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was one of 12 Swedish skaters to record a point, assisting on Gustav Forsling’s powerplay goal at 10:22 of the third first period, which put the Swedes ahead, 2-0.

Sweden has posted two consecutive shutouts, and have outscored opponents by a 14-3 margin.

*Bruins prospects Brandon Carlo and Ryan Donato both had goals as Team USA beat Switzerland, 10-1. Carlo, a 2015 second-round pick currently playing for Tri-City of the WHL, scored on a feed from Zach Werenski at 10:13 of the first period to make the score 3-0. Donato’s goal, which was unassisted, wrapped up the scoring with 9:02 left in the second period.

Consensus 2016 first overall pick Auston Matthews led the Yanks with a game-high four points. BC forward Colin White had a goal and three points.

*Finland defeated Slovakia, 8-3, in the other WJC action on Wednesday.

*In the WHL, Bruins prospect Jesse Gabrielle scored three goals in Prince George’s 6-3 win over Vancouver. It was Gabrielle’s second hat trick in his 154-game WHL career, the first coming in Sep. 2014 as a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings. The 18-year-old has 23 goals and 40 points in 37 games, the point total already a career-high. He entered the season with 70 points in 117 games since making his WHL debut in March 2013 for Brandon.

Three Stars of the Day

  1. Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL) special teams units: The Phoenix were a combined 11-of-16 in special teams situations, going 4-for-9 on the powerplay while killing all seven penalties in their 4-0 win over Gatineau.
  2. Michigan-commit Quinn Hughes scored four goals and landed 10 shots on net for the USA Under-18 team’s 7-4 win over Muskegon in USHL play.
  3. Hughes’s teammate, Scott Reedy, had a game-high five points (2-3–5) in the win. The Minnesota recruit has five goals and 15 points in 12 games for the U-18s.