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  • Medicine Hat Tigers left wing Hunter Shinkaruk.Medicine Hat Tigers forward Hunter Shinkaruk thinks outside of the box to better his hockey career.

    Heading into his third season with the Tigers, the 18-year-old made a PowerPoint to breakdown what he wanted to accomplish.

    “I made the PowerPoint at the start of the year to look at my goals and what I wanted to improve on this year,” said Shinkaruk. “It helped me visualize what I needed to work on and what I wanted to focus on. It helped with everything in front of me what I wanted to work towards.”

    The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder’s season ended up having its ups and downs. He did tally an impressive 37 goals and 86 points in 64 games, but was unable to raise his game, stats wise anyways, from his previous 91-point season largely because of nagging injuries.

    “It seemed as soon as I started going on a roll, I’d have to deal with an injury,” he said. “I would have liked to have done more, but the circumstances made it hard to.”

    Shinkaruk taking on a bigger role with Medicine Hat was a

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat Tigers
  • Nathan MacKinnon celebrates Halifax's Memorial Cup win with Mooseheads co-captain Trey Lewis (Steve Hiscock photo)

    MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Nathan MacKinnon seems to wear it well.

    A script about a hockey phenom starring for his hometown Halifax Mooseheads and teaming up with fellow prodigy Jonathan (Jo) Drouin to bring a MasterCard Memorial Cup to a championship-starved fanbase would probably get rejected for being too good to be true. Yet MacKinnon, whose perks of fame included dabbling in acting, pulled it off with aplomb. In interviews, the 17-year-old centre who will likely be the youngest player in the National Hockey League come October was unfailingly engaging, finding a balance between youthful enthusiasm while being confident enough to joke around with journalists sometimes twice his age.

    So in light of that, BTN sat down with NHL Central Scouting Service's second-ranked North American prospect to interview him about his interviews, and some other stuff. Here's a transcript:

    BTN: "What do you recall most vividly about the Mooseheads' victory parade on Tuesday?"

    NM: "I remember walking down

    Read More »from Halifax Mooseheads’ Nathan MacKinnon, on being in the spotlight: ‘I’ve autographed a few foreheads’
  • Jonathan Drouin, the CHL player of the year, is Central Scouting's third-ranked North American skater (Steve Hiscock photo)

    MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Being one of the three can't-miss 17-year-olds on the Halifax Mooseheads gave playmaker par excellence Jonathan Drouin a buffer zone by times this season.

    The scrutiny was continual, but with centre Nathan MacKinnon and goalie Zachary Fucale also garnering hype, it was not necessarily constant. That allowed Drouin, to some extent, to let his game speak for itself during his first full season in the QMJHL. Over time, Drouin has become more expansive in interviews, much the same way he seems to explore the space on the ice when he passes the puck through the eye of a needle to set up a goal.

    [Cam Charron: Drouin's case to go first overall]

    The attention has been later arriving for Drouin than for either MacKinnon or fellow top prospect Seth Jones, but it's still a challenge. Buzzing The Net had a brief sitdown with Drouin on Thursday at the NHL combine, where he and his two contemporaries were introduced as spokesmen for Reebok/CCM's line of hockey equipment. Here's

    Read More »from Halifax Mooseheads’ Jonathan Drouin: ‘You’re not just drafting a player, you’re drafting a person’
  • Top draft prospect Seth Jones won a world junior gold medal and a WHL title this season (Michelle Siu, The Canadian Press)

    MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin were front and centre at the NHL combine Thursday, like they were all season long.

    The tight-knit trio have arguably had more scrutiny than any three NHL draft prospects in any given season in recent memory. The combo of a lockout-delayed NHL season, making their respective countries' national junior teams and their status as stars on stacked major junior teams which met in the MasterCard Memorial Cup final ratcheted up the attention. Representing three distinct puck archetypes — Jones being a 6-foot-3 defenceman, MacKinnon a speedy centre and Drouin a playmaking left wing — also created more debate fodder.

    Some young players get a little geeked out by all the attention; sometimes it seems like the bigger the prospect's profile, the blander his answers. Over the season, all three have been open and engaging by teenager standards. In the spirit of that, Buzzing The Net opted to interview Jones about his interviews. Here is what the 18-year-old Portland Winterhawks D-man had to say:

    Read More »from Portland Winterhawks’ Seth Jones, on handling the media crush
  • Jacques Beaulieu was 69-55-12 in 2 seasons with Sarnia (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    The firing is not necessarily because of the assault charges, but evidently it is necessary. One month plus a day after Jacques Beaulieu and his 20-year-old son, Montreal Canadiens prospect Nathan Beaulieu, were were each charged with two counts of assault, the elder Beaulieu has been discharged from his duties with the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting.

    The Sting specified that their decision did not stem from the club's performance across the past two seasons, which might arch an eyebrow because of Beaulieu's legal situation.

    “Effective immediately the ownership group of the Sarnia Sting has relieved Jacques Beaulieu of his duties as General Manager and Head Coach. The reasons for his dismissal are not related to the on ice performance of our hockey club. As per the advice of our lawyers we cannot comment any further at this time.” (sarniasting.com)

    Read More »from Sarnia Sting axe Jacques Beaulieu as coach-GM, in wake of assault charges last month
  • Red Deer Rebels goalie Patrik Bartosak, not taking away a spot from a Canadian (Larry MacDougal, The Canadian Press)

    If you're feeling ill, don't ask Hockey Canada or the Canadian Hockey League to diagnosis the malady. That's just judging from the two stakeholders' seriously discussing banning European goalies from major junior hockey on the premise that will improve the lot of Canadian goalies.

    Far be it to suggest talking about "opportunity" should focus on access at points much, much lower on the food chain in the (call it what it is) hockey industry — the already out-of-control costs of playing competitive minor hockey are that much higher for a goalie. Nevertheless, a measure that has been previously floated appears to have traction, according to the Toronto Star.

    Read More »from CHL banning European goalies either panicky or reactionary (or it could be both)
  • On Sunday, the Halifax Mooseheads went out and proved they were the no. 1 team, beating the Portland Winterhawks 6-4 to claim the Memorial Cup championship, but they had a secret weapon up their sleeves on Sunday.

    In the dressing room before the final, the players were shown a video made by Kevin Cowper as a personal message to pump them up and get them ready to play the biggest game in their season. The video obviously helped inspire the team, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Chill warning in effect, here is the video below, posted Tuesday on the Mooseheads YouTube account:

    Tournament MVP Nate MacKinnon and CHL Player of the Year Jonathan Drouin sure owned the moment Sunday, earning five points each, with MacKinnon scoring a hat-trick, earning the Nova Scotia squad it's first Memorial

    Read More »from 2013 Memorial Cup: Mooseheads reveal secret weapon: pre-game video shown to players shows Portland had no chance in Sunday’s final
  • Nathan MacKinnon stole the show at the 2013 Memorial Cup.Saskatoon, Sask. – Halifax Mooseheads star Nathan MacKinnon did just about everything he could at the MasterCard Memorial Cup to leapfrog Portland Winterhawks defenceman Seth Jones in the draft rankings.

    In the championship game, MacKinnon outperformed Jones with second-to-none heart and determination. It showed on the stats sheet as he scored a hat trick and two assists to lead the Mooseheads to a 6-4 victory over the Winterhawks. The 5-foot-11, 179-pound centre, who scored seven goals and 13 points in four games, was rightfully so crowned the tournament MVP.

    “I just try to keep it simple and work hard,” said MacKinnon after the Memorial Cup win. “Lately things have been going my way. I try to bring my best when the stakes are high.”

    That's not to suggest Jones had an off night or underperformed in the tournament, though. The 6-foot-4, 206-pounder shinned all the way through as an elite anchor. At times he would speed up the pace of the game by quickly rushing the puck down the ice

    Read More »from Memorial Cup 2013: MacKinnon makes his case against Jones, and other draft notes
  • Zachary Fucale is NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked goaltender (Liam Richards, The Canadian Press)

    SASKATOON, Sask. — Once it was over, Zachary Fucale could finally act 17 years old, practically running amok about the Credit Union Centre ice as the celebrating Halifax Mooseheads provided vocals and hundreds of their fans pounded on the glass to form the percussion section.

    The goalie who is always praised for being the epitome of calm, cool and collected could not stand still. He would stop to talk, then politely excuse himself to keep moving, like the shark without a swim bladder, to pose for another picture. It was like a delayed onset of having to hold it together through the breathless MasterCard Memorial Cup final, where the Mooseheads held off two big surges by the Portland Winterhawks before Nathan MacKinnon's hat-trick empty-netter with 22.4 seconds left sealed the 6-4 win.

    "I don't know how I feel, it's a feeling you can't describe," the Rosemère, Que., native, who made 40 saves on Sunday. "It's such an incredible feeling to win that last game. That was our goal all season.

    "It felt like the longest game ever but now it seems like it went so fast," Fucale added. "As if the past two years flew by. This feels as if it isn't even real."

    Read More »from 2013 Memorial Cup: Zachary Fucale, winning goalie at age 17, reaches a new level in young career
  • Nathan MacKinnon leaps to celebrate his clinching Memorial Cup goal (Steve Hiscock photo)

    "Nate the Great"? Sounds too cliché. "Nate the Skate"? Perhaps.

    The Great Nate Debate of 2013 is for more than a nickname, of course. The story of the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup was all about the top prospects headlining the event. Nathan MacKinnon's name perhaps wasn't in the biggest type on the marquee, but he out-played and out-produced his rivals on the largest stage he could—the Sunday finale.

    Final score: Halifax - 6, Portland - 4. MacKinnon's three goals, one in the first and one in the second (plus an empty netter), were followed up by an assist he earned by cutting to the net and teammate Konrad Abeltshauser followed up with the garbage. If MacKinnon's insurance goal didn't seal the game, and the QMJHL's first Memorial Cup in Western Canada since 1980,

    The Halifax Mooseheads are champions. Primarily, they're the QMJHL champions, but they won the CHL's showcase event as well in defining fashion. They beat WHL Champion Portland 7-4 in the round robin, and OHL Champs London 9-2. All that was left was a Sunday finish, and the Mooseheads showed up, taking an early lead and never relinquishing.

    No. 1 Star - Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax Mooseheads

    And it was MacKinnon's night. Perhaps Jonathan Drouin is the better playmaker and puck-carrier of the two. There have been other nights this season, surely, when MacKinnon was far and away the better player of the Mooseheads' dynamic duo. It helps that the world got to see his star shine after a disappointing December tournament at the World Juniors when Team Canada coach Steve Spott nailed him to the bench and kept him on the fourth line.

    MacKinnon, who had been propped up as a player who perhaps could have gone ahead of Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting last season if he had been draft-eligible, was quiet. It wasn't his fault, but MacKinnon showed what he can do in front of a national audience all week. With four points on Sunday, he cleared Portland's Ty Rattie in the tournament's leading point-getters, finishing with 13 in just four games, and two hat-tricks against the stingy defence of the Portland Winterhawks.

    Read More »from Memorial Cup 2013: Nathan MacKinnon takes spotlight in Memorial Cup finale – Sunday’s 3 Stars

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