Thu May 12 01:00am EDT
No. 1 star: Maxime Clermont, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Of all the Olympiques who played in the longest game in a QMJHL final, a 99-minute marathon with a humidex of about 95, none deserved a better fate than Clermont. The 19-year-old goaltender made 60 saves in a the 4-3 double-overtime loss to the Saint John Sea Dogs that put the 'Piques in a 3-1 hole. There was nothing more he could have done as he traded stops with the Sea Dogs' Jacob DeSerres (soid in his own right with 35 saves).
Clermont foiled Sea Dogs star Jonathan Huberdeau on yet another breakaway in the first period and kept it up on a very warm night. Despite the humidity in the Robert Guertin Arena, the New Jersey Devils draft choice didn't wilt; his best period might have been the fatal second OT, when he kicked out 18 shots before Ryan Tesink, thanks to a turnover, had all the time in the world to complete a deke for the winning goal. Even then, Clermont got a piece of the puck. —
No. 2 star: Jesse Ismond, Kootenay Ice (WHL)
Ismond helped start and end the night off right in the 5-4 Kootenay Ice overtime victory which gave them a 3-1 series lead over the Portland Winterhawks. The Kindersley, Sask., native had two goals and two assists, including a helper on the power-play overtime winner by Matt Fraser 13:08 into the sudden-victory session. Ismond, whose big night speaks to the depth of the ice, also had a big go-ahead goal in the next-to-last minute of the second period; Kootenay never trailed after that despite a big Portland push in the third.
No. 3 star: Stanislav Galiev, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Lost in the tumult of an instant classic in Gatineau is that Galiev drew assists on all four Sea Dogs goals. The Russian right wing, who is a Washington Capitals draft choice, had one of his most inspired nights of the playoffs, using his reach to win puck battles and help the Sea Dogs sustain pressure in the offensive zone. He was Stanislav-on-the-spot on Tesink's OT winner, hitting him with the return pass to send him in alone on Clermont. Galiev also seemed to ratchet up his game after his regular centre, Zack Phillips, left with an injury in the first OT.
The Sea Dogs are wearing T-shirts with team slogans in emblazoned in Russian and Slovakian in recognition of their two imports. Tomas Jurco did not have a point but was also one of the better men on the ice, drawing the penalty which led to Nathan Beaulieu's third-period tying goal.
First honourable mention: Ryan Johansen, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
The Johan, as he's known to the Winterhawks flock, scored two goals in the loss to Kootenay, both of which came with Portland down by a pair. In other words, the Columbus Blue Jackets first-round choice was able to give his team a lifeline, which is all the more impressive considering Johansen is soldiering on without his regular left wing Brad Ross, who's suspended for a play in Game 2.
Adding insult to absence for Portland, Matt Fraser, the player whom Ross collided with, scored the overtime goal for Kootenay. So it goes.
Second honourable mention: Philip-Michaël Devos, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
The overage centre was, after Clermont and does-he-ever-leave-the-ice defenceman Nic Deslauriers, a major reason Gatineau made lift so difficult for Saint John. The regular-season scoring champion scored two goals, including a third-period tally that elicited a triple-digit decibel roar from the 'Piques faithful. Alas, such sweetness seldom lasts, does it? Devos' work on faceoffs, winning 22 of 34 draws, also helped the 'Piques stay in the game against a superior Saint John team.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.