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

    WHL

    When Brent Sutter thinks childen play too much hockey, maybe people should start listening. (Edmonton Journal)

    Alec Baer, the 15-year-old Minnesotan whom the Vancouver Giants recently signed, was on the ice for an overtime winner in his first game. (Vancouver Province)

    Visit Lethbridge Hurricanes play-by-play announcer Pat Siedlicki's Twitter page to see how bad the snow and wind was in southern Alberta. There was a lot of risk involved in not postponing league games last weekend. (Taking Note)

    The Calgary Hitmen are likely to score on more than 4 per cent of their shoots very soon. Their next few opponents should take note. (Calgary Herald)

    Overage Brendan Ranford has set the Kamloops Blazers' games played record, but Gregg Drinnan points out he could have been moved before his final season. (Kamloops Daily News)

    OHL

    Charlie Sarault, the Sarnia Sting's 100-point man, has signed with the

    Read More »from OHL top scorer Sarault lands Ducks deal: Monday’s coast-to-coast
  • As Petes captain, Mathers has helped his team push for a playoff berth (OHL Images)

    Perhaps surprisingly, it took until the third-last weekend of the regular season for a player to step across the Ontario Hockey League's fight threshold.

    The league passed the rule before the season with an eye to eliminating "needless fighting." Sunday, Peterborough Petes captain and Philadelphia Flyers sixth-rounder Derek Mathers became the first player to incur a suspension for having more than 10 fights, which the OHL confirms will keep him out of four of the Petes' last five games since he took the instigator penalty.

    Mathers and burly signed Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick David Broll tussled at the end of the first period in the Petes-Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds contest. The 11th fight is supposed to meant at least a two-game ban. It's doubled due to the instigator, as per league rules. That leaves the Petes without a team leader until the last regular-season game on March 17.

    Read More »from Flyers pick Derek Mathers to be first OHLer suspended for breaking 10-fight limit, won’t return until season finale
  • Here's a Dictionary.com-worthy video definition for "donnybrook." Midway through the third period of a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League game on Saturday, the Melfort Mustangs' Bryden Serafini and Battlefords North Stars' Ben Greenaway squared off for a fight in the neutral zone.

    Tabling the debate over fighting for the moment, this was a dandy scrap, as the two Junior A players threw right hands rapidly until they collapsed to the ice in exhaustion. Melfort play-by-play man Branden Crowe getting caught up in the moment — "They're just throwing absolute haymakers! Look at the hair on Serafini!" — just adds to it. Throwing to a commercial with, "They are both exhausted and bleeding, we'll clean up the mess in Aisle 2" was also pretty smooth, if a little cavalier since both players were injured. Apparently both players were hurt.

    Read More »from Bryden Serafini, Ben Greenaway have epic fight in Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (VIDEO)
  • Brayden Point has 51 points as a 16-year-old rookie (The Canadian Press)

    No. 1 star: Brayden Point, Moose Jaw Warriors (OHL)

    What was that? The Warriors salved their disappointment over being mathematically eliminated one night earlier by scoring five unanswered goals to win 5-4 and snap the Saskatoon Blades' 18-game win streak.

    Point (2G-2A, +2) had two goals and an assist in a span of just more than 5½ minutes in the third period when the Warriors treated a crowd the local Times-Herald described as "the 1,200-or-so fans that braved the blizzard" to a treat by tying the game. The 16-year-old Calgarian, who turned heads when he joined Moose Jaw for their playoff run last spring, deked out a defenceman to set up Jordan Messier for the 4-2 goal 6:55 into the third period. Point, who has 51 points in 61 games as a rookie on a team which does not score much, then potted a rebound goal to shave the Blades' lead to one. Then he tied the game, going down 1-on-1 and wiring a shot between the legs of Colorado Avalanche-drafted defenceman Duncan Siemens and by two-time Russia world junior goalie Andrey Makarov.

    Point wrapped up the night with an assist on Tanner Eberle's overtime winner.

    Read More »from Brayden Point part of a Moose Jaw miracle: Sunday’s 3 Stars
  • Toronto Maple Leafs first-rounder Morgan Rielly had the overtime assist for Moose Jaw on Sunday (The Canadian Press)

    If the Saskatoon Blades had not lost the way they did, then Bridge City's most famous fabulist, Yann Martel, would have had to cook up the plot.

    Generally speaking, a MasterCard Memorial Cup host team should not blow a four-goal third-period lead and lose 5-4 in overtime to the out-of-contention Moose Jaw Warriors, even though the Warriors do boast Morgan Rielly. It's not exactly a show of killer instinct; in fact, Blades assistant coach Jerome Engele said in a post-game interview that the unravelling really started in the second period, when Saskatoon began to miss the mark with its passes and thus failed to bury the Warriors.

    Point being, though, maybe it's just a bunch of stuff that happened. Saskatoon, who by dint of the loser point moved ahead of the Calgary Hitmen for the second-best record in the WHL's Eastern Conference, probably had some puck luck during their streak, along with favourable schedule. It probably just evened out on Sunday, because the events that helped Moose Jaw come back to win were as far-fetched as the plot of Life of Pi.

    Read More »from Saskatoon Blades’ 18-game win streak ends on a series of strange plays on a snowy night
  • Patrik Bartosak set a WHL season high for saves in a shutout SaturdayNo. 1 star: Patrik Bartosak, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

    The Red Deer Rebels might be the WHL's quietest success story, and if Bartosak keeps playing like he did between the pipes on Saturday, the Rebels could be a nightmare to deal with in the postseason.

    Bartosak stopped all 52 shots he faced in a 3-0 win over the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday night, and set the WHL's season high in shots faced in a shutout. The 19-year-old Czech netminder now leads the league with a .935 save percentage in 50 games, and has posted at least .930 in every month this season other than September (during which he only played three games).

    Bartosak's fourth clean sheet of the season was his crown jewel, as he stood tall in the third period as the Broncos fired 24 shots his way. With the win, the Rebels moved into sole possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference as Prince Albert lost at home to last-place Brandon.

    No. 2 star: Reid Boucher, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

    Boucher became the first CHLer to hit 60 goals with a hat trick in a wild 8-7 win at Saginaw in an important battle for playoff seeding. In the process, he erased the single-season franchise record previously held by Steven Stamkos.

    Stamkos defenders will probably note that he compiled his 58 goals for Sarnia in 61 games in 2007-08, while Boucher took 63 games to break the record. But Boucher's run has been impressive in its own right, considering the New Jersey Devils prospect only scored 28 times last season and leads the CHL goal-scoring race by 13 this season.

    By beating the eighth-place Spirit on Saturday, the Sting moved eight points ahead in the race to avoid the league-leading London Knights in the first round of the playoffs.

    Boucher scored all three of his goals in a bizarre second period in which the Sting scored six times on nine shots. Two of Sarnia's goals came in the last 30 seconds of the period, and Boucher's 60th at the 19:52 mark but the Sting up 8-5 and chased Saginaw goalie Jake Paterson from the game. Paterson only faced 17 shots in 40 minutes and allowed all eight goals.

    The Spirit rallied with two goals in the third on 19 shots, but couldn't pull even.

    No. 3 star: Tyrell Goulbourne, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

    Though he's just 5-foot-11, Goulbourne is well-known for his willingness to go toe-to-toe physically with anyone in the WHL. What he's not well-known for is scoring goals.

    In fact, the 18-year-old from Edmonton never had a multiple-goal effort in 148 previous WHL games until he lit the lamp four times Saturday in a 7-1 rout of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

    Goulbourne scored once in the first period, then twice more in the first 5:48 of the second to wrap up the hat trick. He got one more in the third to cap off a night he'll never forget.

    The Rockets remained five points clear of the Kamloops Blazers for the B.C. Division lead heading into their meeting Sunday in Kamloops.

    Read More »from Bartosak repels 52 shots as Rebels blank Broncos: Saturday’s 3 Stars
  • The Moncton Wildcats were debating what to do about Ross Johnston's 15 game suspension and they finally acted Friday.

    The team announced they will appeal Johnston's suspension in an effort to get him back in the lineup sooner. Johnston has sat the last four games, and, if the suspension is upheld, he will sit until the third game of the QMJHL playoffs.

    Normally, league rules state that the appeal must be announced three days after the announcement of the suspension, in this case Feb. 24. Johnston's suspension was announced Feb. 21.

    Johnston was suspended after breaking the jaw of Halifax's Brian Lovell with a stick swing in a game last month. No penalty was called on the play, but an isolated video of the play that the Mooseheads posted to YouTube went viral.

    Read More »from Moncton Wildcats appeal Johnston’s 15-game suspension
  • Portland Winterhawks coach-GM Mike Johnston (Portland Winterhawks)When the Western Hockey League suspended Portland Winterhawks head coach-GM Mike Johnston for the remainder of the 2012-13 season for his involvement in player-benefit violations in late November, everyone in the organization was stunned to say the least.

    “We were all blown away by it,” says Winterhawks interim-head coach Travis Green, who was the team’s assistant prior to the suspension. “Everyone was a little in disbelief. No one seen it coming and didn’t think anything like that would happen.”

    The players were confused, having no precedent to know what would happen next.

    “I didn’t see it coming, but I don’t think anyone did,” says Winterhawks leading goal-scorer Brendan Leipsic. “We didn’t know what would take place after. Everyone was just shocked and couldn’t really believe it happened.”

    “It was a tough time for our team,” says star forward Nicolas Petan. “We didn’t think it was fair and the league didn’t explain everything to us in much detail. No one really knew exactly what was

    Read More »from Portland Winterhawks’ motto: ‘win it for Mike’
  • Zach Nastasiuk is Central Scouting's 33rd-ranked North American skater (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

    There is little not to like about Zach Nastasiuk, what with that big-bodied frame NHL teams crave and a family tree that has all manner of sports equipment hanging off seemingly every branch.

    The 6-foot-1, 191-pound right wing, who turns 18 at the end of this month, is having a superb sophomore season while helping the Owen Sound Attack get in contention for the Ontario Hockey League championship. Nastasiuk, who was lauded for his play away from the puck even during his 16-year-old season, has given Owen Sound a good confluence of two-way play, size up front and decent hands. His two-goal night Thursday in an Attack loss to his hometown Barrie Colts — Owen Sound fans would be quick to tell you their beloveds prevailed 4-1-0-1 in the Highway 26 season series — gave him 16 goals and 32 points in 54 games, with a +18 plus/minus. Those numbers are in line with what another Barrie-area winger, Garrett Wilson, produced in his age-17 season before going on to be a 40-goal scorer and captain of an OHL championship team in his final season.

    Nastasiuk notes his skating will need to catch up to his growth, but he seems mature beyond his years. For that, he credits his father Paul Nastasiuk, who earned a Grey Cup ring during his CFL career with the Toronto Argonauts. Zach wears his father’s old No. 27 for the Attack. His older sister, Samantha Nastasiuk, sports the same digits for the Western Mustangs women’s hockey team.

    "I think I'm pretty strong mentally,” says Zach Nastasiuk, who is NHL Central Scouting’s 33rd-ranked North American skater. “My dad has helped me with knowing what it takes. He played professional football and knows what can happen sometimes in sports. You're going to get yelled at, this can happen, the fans can get on you. You just have to zone it out.”

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Zach Nastasiuk, Owen Sound Attack
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    With Saskatoon Blades skipper Lorne Molleken on the verge of 600 career coaching wins, people might want to start talking about him reaching Ken Hodge's all-time Western League record of 742. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    The prospect of the Regina Pats missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons has team president Brent Parker feeling rueful: "I don't think people believe me when I say that it bothers me. I think people think we're backing the Brink's truck up over here, and nothing could be further from the truth." (Regina Leader-Post)

    Speaking of milestones, with little fanfare Tri-City Americans captain Justin Feser is about to set the league's iron-man record with 312 consecutive games played. How is the man he's tied with, Dwayne Newman, doing these days? Newman: "I'm 41 and I'm still playing." (Tri-City Herald)

    Draft-year goalie Eric Comrie, a potential NHL first-round pick, is progressing well in his recovery from hip surgery. (Tri-City Herald)

    Aside from Henrik Samuelsson getting a two-game suspension, the Edmonton Oil Kings' excursion to Portland could not have gone much better. Somehow one doubts the defending champions slip up against Everett. Nice try, Derek Laxdal. (Edmonton Journal)

    The Portland post-mortem from Paul Buker has all caps! "It’s hard to ignore the fact the Oil Kings MUSCLED THE HAWKS all over the ice. They beat them up physically, wore them down, dominated the third period, and finally broke through to win the game. (Oregon Live, Portland Tribune)

    Young defenceman Colby Harmsworth is getting a lot of on-the-job training while the Calgary Hitmen wait for injuries to heal. (Calgary Herald)

    Young centre Logan Fisher likely joins the Victoria Royals' MIAs for a crucial two-game series against Spokane that could decide the fifth seed in the Western Conference. (Victoria Times-Colonist)

    Spokane Chiefs first-rounder Tanner MacMaster has committed to Boston College. Going to McMaster University was ruled out since it doesn't have a hockey team and its football team got walloped in the Vanier Cup. (Taking Note)

    Interesting read: Kamloops Blazers defenceman Travis Hansen might forgo playing an overage season in order to begin his two-year Mormon mission. (Kamloops Daily News)

    The Brandon Wheat Kings have joined the ranks of the mathematically eliminated; three down, nine to go across the CHL. (Luber's Lounge)

    OHL

    Patrick King looks at what goes into the handling of a 15-year-old exceptional player through the eyes of one player and one GM. (Sportsnet)

    Read More »from Faksa, Murphy return for Rangers; milestone nights for Feser and Molleken: Friday’s coast-to-coast

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