Sam Reinhart is at the top of many 2014 NHL draft rankings (Larry MacDougal, The Canadian Press)
Being a top NHL draft prospect means Sam Reinhart will be a focal point of Team Canada talk as the 18-year-old tries to show he can handle a leading offensive role at the world junior.
At the very least, the Kootenay Ice's star centre is headed into the proving ground of the Subway Super Series flush with confidence after a five-goal binge in two Kootenay Ice home wins over the Brandon Wheat Kings over the weekend. The third-year centre exhibited the maturity in his game on Saturday, outworking New York Islanders first-round pick Ryan Pulock for his first goal of the night and later finding a skew of space to snap off a shot for a dagger power-play goal.
Providence Friars star goalie Jon Gillies (The Associated Press)With the world junior championship only 5½ weeks away, one storyline for reigning champion Team USA is whether it will get goaltending on the level that Anaheim Ducks prospect John Gibson furnished last winter in Ufa, Russia.
It doesn't appear to be a serious situation, but anyone associated with USA Hockey was likely held rapt Saturday when Jon Gillies, the favourite to fill Gibson's goalie skates for the Americans, elected to play hurt during a big Hockey East tilt for the Providence Friars. The 19-year-old Calgary Flames draft choice injured a hamstring on Friday vs. New Hampshire and was unable to play in the third period. Following the Friars' loss and a MRI, Gillies played on Saturday and had a 32-of-34 night in net during a bounce-back win.
Consider that bullet dodged for Team USA.
Nate Leaman on Gillies: 'Jonny was spectacular. Jonny’s not 100% right now. It was very gutsy of him to play when he’s not 100 percent.'
The 19-year-old Los Angeles Kings pick trained with former OHL 50-goal scorer Tyler Toffoli this summer. On Saturday, he scored like Toffoli, bagging four goals from his defence spot in Guelph's 6-2 win. The game was closer than the final tally suggests, but it ought to extinguish Storm's frustration from suffering their first home loss on Friday against the Windsor Spitfires. Leslie's big night gives Leslie 17 points in as many games, making him one of just three OHL defenders who are averaging at least one point per night.
The Ottawa native, whose sister Rebecca Leslie is on Canada's national women's under-18 team, opened the scoring 4:11 into the proceedings. Zac Leslie then put Guelph ahead to stay 16 seconds before the end of the second period, scoring on a setup from his namesake, overage forward Zack Mitchell (2A, +1). Leslie completed his hat trick with 7:39 to play and added an empty-netter.
High school basketball season is barely underway across Canada, but there is already an early leader for dunk of the year at that level. Apparently, the choicest hops in Nova Scotia belong to Johneil Johnson, a 16-year-old combo guard who plays for the Auburn Drive Eagles in the Halifax area.
Brassard was drafted No. 166 overall by the Senators in 2012 (The Canadian Press)
François Brassard has gone from underestimated in his formative years to unmatched in QMJHL history.
Midway through the third period on Friday, the Ottawa Senators sixth-round choice who plays for the Quebec Remparts established a league mark for consecutive scoreless minutes. The skein reached 212:10, stretching over four games, before it was finally broken by the Victoriaville Tigres' Philippe Hudon. In any event, the goalie who was left off Team QMJHL for the Subway Super Series has a place in the QMJHL record book.
Jonathan Drouin is reigning CHL player of the year with Halifax (The Canadian Press)
The compleat Jonathan Drouin was in full effect on Friday. The Tampa Bay Lightning's No. 3 overall pick is the undisputed best player in the Canadian Hockey League, as conveyed by his effort and output on the Halifax Mooseheads' first goal during their 9-2 blowout over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
First Drouin, who is now averaging a gaudy 2.44 points through 18 games, generated a scoring chance. Then the 18-year-old, after getting back on defence, created something special. After a quick exchange of passes with Darcy Ashley, Drouin challenged the Titan defence with a series of feints that made rearguard Alexandre Gosselin topple over. Finally, he threaded a pass by the foot of goalie Jacob Brennan to create a tap-in goal for Andrew Ryan.
18-year-old Brandon Robinson is a former OHL first-rounder (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)
The pattern of the North Bay Battalion dealing players who are in a pivotal season continues unabated, with Friday's swap that sees 18-year-old wing Brandon Robinson cross conference lines to retooling Kitchener, with overage New Jersey Devils draft choice Ben Thomson taking his bashing style of play to northern Ontario.
Superficially, the Battalion get a 6-foot-4 bruiser to work the corners and walls at Memorial Gardens. The Battalion should know especially well that Thomson can bring that junior scale Milan Lucic act to the table. The more notable part, though, is Robinson changing teams early on in his third season.
So, to correct. #OHLBattalion receive Ben Thomson and 2017 fourth from Kitchener for Brandon Robinson.
Zadorov returned to London this week after starting the season with the Sabres (OHL Images)
Buzzing The Net's 3 Stars from Game 3 of the Subway Super Series, won 5-2 by Russia over Team OHL to pare the CHL's points lead to 6-3 at the event's midpoint:
No. 1 star: Nikita Zadorov, Russian selects
The big man affirmed how far he's come since beginning his North American career 15 months ago by shoring up a leg-weary Russia blueline. Zadorov (3A, +1), had the bearing of a matured defenceman in his first junior game all season, drawing assists on the game's final three goals as Russia pulled away for just its second win over Team OHL in 21 tries.
Zadorov helped hold down the fort as Russia played the rope-a-dope defence that has become teeth-gnashingly familiar to North American fans during under-20 competition over the past few years. Team OHL mustered 43 shots against a Russia side that had played just one night earlier, but weren't able to make the visitors panic.
It was 2-2 in the second period when Zadorov showed off his burgeoning offensive upside by springing Ildar Shiksatdarov for a short-handed breakaway and the go-ahead-for-good goal. The 18-year-old Muscovite then got the primary helper on Vladimir Butuzov's dagger goal 6:36 into the third which came after sustained Russia pressure. In the final two minutes, Zadorov helped clear the zone to set up the empty-netter.
Humber Hawks guard Brandon Sam-Hinton learned a hard lesson: heroes never die, they just hit a fadeaway.
On Tuesday, a rivalry game in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association came down to the final possession. Humber, up two, was poised to hand the Sheridan Bruins their first loss all season. Humber's well-timed trap to cut off the passing lane forced Sheridan guard Trevor Williams to back up for a fallaway, stepback three-point shot.
Sam-Hinton's body language makes the moment, since he stood over Williams with his hands on his hips in what some have taken as posturing in premature celebration ... rather than disappointment at allowing a potential game-winning three to be tried instead of a game-tying two-pointer. (Friends don't let friends shoot long twos.) Then Williams' three-ball banked in to seal a 73-72 Sheridan victory and cause fans to storm the floor, March Madness-style.
Sixteen-year-old Portland rookie defenceman Keoni Texeira might soon be known for more than having a cool name. (Portland Tribune)
London Knights defenceman Nikita Zadorov, due to visa issues and his stint with the Buffalo Sabres, did not receive his 2012 championship ring under yesterday. Knights assistant GM Rob Simpson: “It was just staring at me by my phone every day. He was pretty excited to get it." (London Free Press)