Neate Sager

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Neate Sager is a blogger for Yahoo! Sports.

  • Cassels was signed by the Canucks last season (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)Cassels was signed by the Canucks last season (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    Just put the fact Cole Cassels got a penalty for checking too hard under the heading 'details.'

    The Vancouver Canucks signing plays with an edge that makes him "a kind of player you don’t find too often anymore," and on Sunday, the Oshawa Generals centre threw an old-school devasting check on the Peterborough Petes' Matt Spencer. During the second period, Cassels flattened Spencer full force, shoulder to chest. While a penalty was called for charging, by no means was it borderline or predatory, either. In real time, the impact looked so thorough that calling a penalty was an understandable instinctive reaction.

    The final judgement belongs to Spencer. The second-year defenceman, at least according to Cassels, told his foe, "Good hit" when they passed within earshot of each other later in the game.

    The play belies the notion that the OHL's strict supplemental discipline is leading to softer hockey. Cassels had a 10-game head-checking suspension earlier this season, but the 19-year-old

    Read More »from Canucks prospect Cole Cassels throws crushing check of the year in OHL (VIDEO)
  • Yakov Trenin has taken over the scoring during Gatineau's surge back into a playoff spot (The Canadian Press)Yakov Trenin has taken over the scoring during Gatineau's surge back into a playoff spot (The Canadian Press)Now that he's no longer a rookie and has someone to play off him, Yakov Trenin is delivering as promised for the Gatineau Olympiques.

    The 'Piques resurgence has come with their first-year import and Los Angeles Kings second-rounder Valentin Zykov, who missed a portion of the year due to hernia surgery, finding their form. It's made a team that was outside the Quebec League picture thanks to being a revolving door of players from four-plus months an intriguing wild-card factor.

    Here is the weekly look at who is flowing and who is fraying entering the third-last week of regular-season play.

    OHL

    Hot: Niagara IceDogs

    Pull those Marty Williamson vs. Stan Butler in the playoffs narratives out of the drawer, since the IceDogs' three-game win streak and past-10 record of 8-2-0-0 includes wins over potential first-round opponent North Bay. That's not to say the 'Dogs would be a favourite, but with New York Rangers-drafted defenceman Ryan Mantha chipping in from the blueline (three goals in the

    Read More »from Trenin gets Gatineau back on track, OHL's Rangers hit rough patch: CHL Hot & Cold
  • Brandon Carlo is ranked No. 16 by NHL Central Scouting (Marissa Baecker, Getty Images)Brandon Carlo is ranked No. 16 by NHL Central Scouting (Marissa Baecker, Getty Images)

    Towering Brandon Carlo appears to be on a fast track to pro hockey success.

    The big man's skills need refining, but the Tri-City Americans' Carlo passed a major checkpoint earlier this season when he was one of two draft-year defencemen, along with Boston College's Noah Hanifin, to play for Team USA in the world junior championship. That helped Carlo, who has manchild dimensions at 6-foot-4¾ and 198 pounds, improve his anticipation.

    "World juniors was an unbelievable experience for me, I definitely came back with confidence," Carlo, who is NHL Central Scouting's No. 16-ranked domestic skater, said in a recent interview. "Along with that, the speed of the game there was unbelivable. So coming back, it was a little easier to play in the WHL."

    Tri-City, racked by injuries, has been bar-the-door defensive team for much of the season, which has limited opportunities for Carlo and other defencemen to freewheel. There is a belief that the Clorado Springs, Colo., native has the agility and

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Brandon Carlo, Tri-City Americans
  • Duclair dealt, Storm's Leslie bows out: the coast-to-coast

     Zac Leslie played his last OHL game Sunday as he readies for shoulder surgery (Aaron Bell, OHL Images) Zac Leslie played his last OHL game Sunday as he readies for shoulder surgery (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Calgary's win over Kelowna last Saturday came while the Rockets were short-staffed. Reading between the lines, it wouldn't be a surprise if Josh Morrissey has to sit out a game or two to heal. (Calgary Herald, Regan's Rant)

    Swift Current defenceman Dillon Heatherington has signed an entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets organization. (FOX Sports Ohio)

    Today, a playoff berth for the Regina Pats; somewhere in the near future, world domination. Okay, that might be an overstatement. (Regina Leader-Post)

    Saskatoon is out of the playoffs, but is bent on causing considerable angst for teams that are playing into the spring. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    Dallas Stars second-rounder Brett Pollock is closing in on a 30-goal season for Edmonton. (Edmonton Sun)

    Kirk Wood, a former WHL official, had a unique moment over the weekend as he worked a game with his teenage nieces as the lineswomen. (

    Read More »from Duclair dealt, Storm's Leslie bows out: the coast-to-coast
  • For most goalies who scores goals, it's once-in-a-lifetime thrill, yet François Brassard has made Quebec Major Junior Hockey League history by doing it twice in a season.

    Exactly 11 weeks after scoring a goalie goal, the overage netminder who's finishing up his junior tenure with the Gatineau Olympiques repeated the feat on Saturday night. This time, the 21-year-old Brassard retrieved a shoot-in by the Saint John Sea Dogs behind his own net and, with textbook hand placement, wristed it 185 feet into the empty cage to wrap up a 6-2 Olympiques victory.

    Brassard's earlier goal came Dec. 13, when he was playing for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, during an 8-5 win over the Quebec Remparts. That tally involved shooting the puck off the glass in his own zone and having the puck ricochet down the ice and into the net.

    There are 17 players who have appeared in a game for Gatineau this season without scoring more than one goal. And their goalie has two.

    Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo!

    Read More »from Gatineau Olympiques' Francois Brassard becomes first QMJHL goalie to get 2 goals in a season (VIDEO)
  • Samuel Blais (#19) of the Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL), Drummondville, Que., Dec. 18, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Ghyslain BergeronSamuel Blais (#19) of the Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL), Drummondville, Que., Dec. 18, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Ghyslain Bergeron

    No. 1 star: Samuel Blais, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)

    Blais had four points in the third period, among his five on the night, to help the Tigres outlast the Sherbrooke Phoenix 7-4.

    The 18-year-old St. Louis Blues pick had an assist on an early second-period goal by linemate Angelo Miceli, as the teams were square 2-2 after 40 minutes. In the final frame, it got frantic, is Blais (1G-4A, +2) assisted on power-play goals 90 seconds apart with a Phoenix tally sandwiched in between. The teams were tied again with 6:19 left when Blais created a chance that Miceli (3G-1A, +2) capped off to put Victoriaville ahead to stay.

    Blais, a sixth-round pick of the Blues, also scored a dagger goal with 3:32 left in the game.

    No. 2 star: Jansen Harkins, Prince George Cougars (WHL)

    Harkins (1G-3A) gave a huge boost to the Cougars' Western Conference playoff hopes, scoring 33 seconds into overtime for a 5-4 road win against the Seattle Thunderbirds as Prince George pulled within one point of Vancouver

    Read More »from St. Louis Blues pick Samuel Blais records 5 points for Tigres: Friday's 3 Stars
  • NHL draft tracker: Vince Dunn, Niagara IceDogs

    Vince Dunn of the NIagara IceDogs. Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images.Vince Dunn of the NIagara IceDogs. Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images.

    Over his two full seasons, the Niagara IceDogs' Vince Dunn has emerged as the prototype modern defenceman who can be counted on to kick-start his team's transition to the attack.

    The Lindsay, Ont., native is bent on extending the IceDogs' line of offensively savvy rearguards that includes the St. Louis Blues' Alex Pietrangelo, Boston Bruins' Dougie Hamilton, New York Islanders farmhand Jesse Graham and Dunn's teammate Blake Siebenaler, a Columbus second-rounder. Dunn is ninth in defenceman scoring in the Ontario Hockey League entering the final three-week sprint of the regular season.

    "My strength is definitely my skating and my passing," says Dunn, who was ranked No. 53 on NHL Central Scouting's North American midterm ranking. "I think I have really good vision on the ice and I'm able to beat guys one-on-one and dish the puck off.

    "I think I can work on my defence part of the game. Maybe be a little tougher in the corners, hitting guys when they're coming down on me. I think I use my

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Vince Dunn, Niagara IceDogs
  • Buffalo Sabres prospect Justin Bailey will miss at least two weeks for Sault Ste. Marie with an ankle injury (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)Buffalo Sabres prospect Justin Bailey will miss at least two weeks for Sault Ste. Marie with an ankle injury (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

    Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Captain Dalton Sward might be done for the season in Vancouver due to a fractured left hand. (Vancouver Sun)

    It's not known when Tri-City will have either Eric Comrie or Evan Sarthou available, so Nick Sanders will stay in goal for at least one more game. (Tri-City Herald)

    Remember when it seemed Portland was finally going to have that average season? (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    Why the Seattle Thunderbirds, with Shea Theodore and Mathew Barzal, might be able to win a playoff round. (MyNorthwest.com)

    Victoria's utility forward Jack Walker has a better deal weather-wise than his brother Ben Walker, who plays for the American League's St. John's IceCaps: "Benny is deep in snow and I keep reminding him about the weather in Victoria." (Victoria Times-Colonist)

    Too good to be true, except it is: after scoring a goal in Regina on Wednesday, Tim Bozon gave the stick and puck to a 13-year-old

    Read More »from Justin Bailey out 2 weeks for 'Hounds, sticker shock in Flint: the coast-to-coast
  • Sonny Milano scores 4 points in Plymouth Whalers' win: Thursday's 3 Stars

     

    Sonny Milano pulls on a Columbus Blue Jackets sweater after being chosen 16th overall during the first round of the NHL hockey draft, Friday, June 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)Sonny Milano pulls on a Columbus Blue Jackets sweater after being chosen 16th overall during the first round of the NHL hockey draft, Friday, June 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    No. 1 star: Sonny Milano, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)

    Milano (2G-2A, +1) scored two third-period goals as Plymouth pulled away for a 6-3 win against the Sarnia Sting to move within five points of the final OHL Western Conference playoff berth. The Columbus Blue Jackets first-round pick capitalized on a power play with 11:23 left in the third to open a two-goal margin, then struck unassisted with 5:50 left to ice the game.

    The 18-year-old left wing also assisted on a first-period goal by Victor Crus Rydberg. Milano also assisted on a goal 6:02 second that put Plymouth ahead for good. 

    No. 2 star: Timo Meier, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

    Meier (2G) ran his point streak to 27 games during the course of Halifax's 6-3 win at Chicoutimi, which would be the longest skein in his league if teammate Nikolaj Ehlers wasn't on a 33-game roll. The 18-year-old NHL draft prospect took a pass from Ehlers (1G-1A, +1) in the first period and scored on a wraparound to open a 2-0 Mooseheads lead. Meier struck

    Read More »from Sonny Milano scores 4 points in Plymouth Whalers' win: Thursday's 3 Stars
  • There is a way to recognize the comeback season of London's Christian Dvorak (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)There is a way to recognize the comeback season of London's Christian Dvorak (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

    There is no debate over who will be named the Ontario Hockey League's most outstanding player, because Connor McDavid.

    With 25 days left in the season, though, there is some robust debate around the league's other subjective honours, such as coach, overage player, rookie, defenceman and goalie of the year. Since no two people's criteria for making a pick are exactly alike, there's bound to be a wide variance in who should be recognized.

    There is also still time for opinions to, well, evolve. With March around the corner, here's a survey of who ought to be in the driver's seat for the league's major awards. 

    Read More »from OHL awards leaderboard: Colts' Blandisi, Knights' Dvorak among front-runners for top honours

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