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  • Jarry was his team's player of the game in the CHL Top Prospects Game last month (The Canadian Press)

    Tristan Jarry likely could not have asked for a better two-year apprecenticeship.

    Even highly touted young goalies typically face a lot of dues-paying at age 16 or 17. It might come through patiently waiting for spot starts thanks to the presence of a more mature goaler or by being thrust into the starter's role due to the lack of same, perhaps on a defensively deficient team. Jarry, 17, has spent his first two seasons with the reigning WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings as the netminding partner of one of major junior's best puck-stoppers, Calgary Flames prospect Laurent Brossoit. Essentially, that's given Jarry a fly-on-the-wall view of what a drafted goalie on a team with championship ambitions puts himself through daily.

    "It's been great," says Jarry, who is NHL Central Scouting's No. 3-ranked North American netminder behind the Halifax Mooseheads' Zachary Fucale and Tri-City Americans' Eric Comrie. "I get to learn from him [Brossoit] and get to see his downs and his ups. I find that's really helped me this year. When he does have an off game, you see he's right back in practice — first one on the ice, last one off and he's always the hardest worker."

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Tristan Jarry, Edmonton Oil Kings
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Please take some time, if you did not already, to plow through Randy Turner's treatise on the insanity that is spring hockey. Which, based on Canada's recent world junior championship results, could be more of a bubble than a boom. Oh, and it's completely outside of Hockey Canada's purview. (Winnipeg Free Press)

    If this isn't the coolest junior hockey-related news tidbit you've heard in a while: the film rights have been optioned for the Gregg Drinnan co-authored book Sudden Death. (Taking Note)

    Winnipeg Jets third-rounder Adam Lowry is having an ideal final junior season with the Swift Current Broncos. (Winnipeg Free Press)

    Kamloops Blazers coach Guy Charron wants his team in a mindset suited to the playoffs, where there is no 4-on-4 overtime or shootouts. (Kamloops Daily News)

    Getting to know Swift Current's draft-year defenceman, Dillon Heatherington. (The Pipeline Show)

    Note to self: watch out for Vancouver Giants rookie defenceman Reid Zalitach. (Regan's Rant)

    The Spokane Chiefs had a one-shot period during their Saturday loss to Portland, whom not so long ago they beat a couple times. (Spokane Spokesman-Review)

    OHL

    New York Islanders first-rounder Ryan Strome is getting into the whole being-captain thing with the Niagara IceDogs. (St. Catharines Standard)

    Sheldon Keefe took a strip off his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds publicly, even though they pulled off two weekend road wins. (Sault Star)

    Read More »from Ryan Strome helps IceDogs mush forward: Monday’s coast-to-coast
  • Windsor Spitfires' Kerby Rychel (OHL Images)No. 1 Star - Kerby Rychel, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

    Kerby Rychel was on the receiving end of a pair of nifty feeds Friday night leading to his two-goal game against the Guelph Storm. The Spitfires won 3-1 and, thanks to Saginaw's loss to Peterborough, are now four points out of the final playoff spot in the OHL's Western Conference. In the first period of the Friday game, Alexander Khokhlachev dipsied around the offensive zone with speed, circling behind the net and with his head up, spotted a streaking Rychel and connected with a pass in the slot to give the Spits a 1-0 lead.

    In the third period, with the score tied 1-1, Rychel was again caught in stride, this time by Josh Ho-Sang who deftly tipped a Graeme Brown clear right onto Rychel's stick, who flew down the right wing and beat Storm goaltender Garret Sparks with a slapshot from right at the top of the circle. It was Rychel's 28th and 29th goals on the season for the prospect who is first-time eligible at the NHL draft in June.

    No. 2 Star - Ryan Sproul, Sault-Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

    An odd game played out between Plymouth and the Soo. Michael Vellucci's squad got up to a quick 3-1 lead 11:30 into the first period and Sheldon Keefe pulled young Matt Murray, replacing him with the even younger Justin Nichols. Nichols could very well have been a "star" in this one, stopping 34 of 36 shots from that point on, but the Greyhounds needed offence.

    Read More »from Rychel’s two-goal effort paces Spitfires – Friday’s 3 stars
  • Nathan MacKinnon (right) and Jonathan Drouin (The Canadian Press)No. 1 Star - Jonathan Drouin, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

    Jonathan Drouin has arguably been the better of the two Halifax top prospects since the IIHF U-20s. Since that tournament, what's keeping Nathan MacKinnon above Drouin in the rankings is body of work, and I think the recent production of Drouin leading up to the draft could keep his name fresh in the minds of casual fans following along.

    Drouin finished off January with 7 goals and 11 assists, punctuated by a two goal-two assist performance in the Mooseheads' blowout win over Chicoutimi Thursday night. The pedestrian MacKinnon has only 8 goals and 5 assists in the month of January and only had a goal to go along with his two assists against the Saguenéens.

    It's an interesting debate no doubt, although I would point out that Drouin's January shooting percentage, i.e.: the time we've seen of him in the "Q" since the world juniors, is 26.0%, well above his normalized career shooting rate of 17.6%. MacKinnon's 15.6% shooting percentage is closer to his career total of 15.0%, so MacKinnon is producing at a normalized rate.

    Still, who wants to worry about math? Both players had exceptional games, will go high in the draft, and Zachary Fucale also got a 26-save shutout.

    No. 2 Star - Blake Clarke, Brampton Battalion (OHL)

    Here's some more math for you: Blake Clarke, who turned 17 a week ago, now has his third two-goal game at the OHL-level. The Wildwood, MO native and former St. Louis Midget had two goals and an assist for the Battalion over their Kennedy Rd. rivals down in Mississauga.

    Read More »from Drouin finishes off productive January with four-point night – Thursday’s 3 Stars
  • Ivan Barbashev (QMJHL)It's a problem without an easy solution.

    The CHL Import Draft can be a costly endeavour for small-market clubs across the league, especially as some of the elite prospects taken in the annual draft seek representation. The apparent cost to transfer a prospect from his country's junior league is $2,400, according to La Presse reporter Steve Turcotte. However, he points out, that number can multiply if an elite prospect has an agent pitting a large market CHL team in a bidding war against his European junior league.

    Turcotte's report suggests a fairly radical rule change that is being discussed among CHL brass that could modify the way the Import Draft is executed. The idea would be to prevent the trading of import picks and then, in addition, have teams hold on to those import players for at least a year. Similar to rules in the OHL Priority Selection that forbids the trading of first-round picks. The rule change is not official, but the three leagues are getting together to discuss discrepancies in player recruitment. Currently, large-market teams have an advantage where small-market teams don't.

    However the recruitment discrepancy may be stronger when looking at domestic players. Windsor and Portland have been dinged with sanctions by their respective leagues for improper recruitment and benefits, but the best imports have been diversified across the major markets. This season, Leon Draistatl plays in Prince Albert while Nikolay Goldobin has replaced Sarnia's scoring that they lost when Nail Yakupov chose to play for his hometown KHL club over the Sting.

    Read More »from Changes to import draft system discussed among CHL members leagues
  • Val-d'Or Foreurs Anthony ManthaNo. 1 Star - Anthony Mantha, Val-d'Or Foreurs (QMJHL)

    We'll give our first star of the night to a rising star in the QMJHL, Anthony Mantha, who has been a very pleasant story in Val d'Or this season. When TSN released its mid-season draft rankings Wednesday night, Mantha was listed at No. 19. He is, of course, a single day from the cut-off of being eligible for the 2012 draft, but the extra year gives him an advantage over other prospects from the 2013 class.

    Mantha is fifth in the "Q" in scoring, notching his 40th goal of the season in a wild contest between the Foreurs and Blainville-Boisbriand at le Centre d'Excellence Sports Rousseau. Down 3-1 early in the second, Mantha knocked in his 39th on the powerplay to make the score 3-2. Midway through the third period, his team down 5-4, Mantha knocked in his 40th to tie the score and sent the game to a shootout, where he easily beat Armada goaltender Guillaume Decelles in the fourth round for the winner.

    No. 2 Star - Daniil Zharkov, Belleville Bulls (OHL)

    While Nail Yakupov was off scoring overtime winners in Phoenix at the NHL-level, his fellow Russian Edmonton Oilers-select from the 2012 draft scored his first career hat-trick for the Belleville Bulls in an absolute romp over the Kingston Frontenacs. His third goal sounds as if it were easy on the eyes:

    Read More »from Top prospects Anthony Mantha; Nic Petan come up big in wins – Wednesday’s three stars
  • Screen grab of the tweet via @ivegotyour6

    The Ontario Hockey League has suspended referee Joe Monette for the rest of the 2012-13 season and the playoffs for his inappropriate use of social media.

    As you may recall, this weekend the 28-year-old official made headlines when he took to his Twitter on Friday night and posted a derogatory comment about Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

    "@MONZY25: Soo Saint Marie, two words, Slim Pickens. #noteeth #hicktown #allfaties"

    Monette, a native of Windsor, Ont., was supposed to work the Saturday game between the Soo Greyhounds and the Oshawa Generals, but was pulled because of the uproar.

    "There is a responsibility to ensure that at all times we conduct ourselves in a most professional manner," said OHL commissioner Dave Branch in a press release on Wednesday. "Mr. Monette displayed extremely poor judgment and the “tweet” not only contravened the League’s Social Networking Policy, but as well was detrimental to the welfare of the League, the officiating staff and fans of the OHL. The League

    Read More »from OHL suspends referee Joe Monette for dissing Sault Ste. Marie
  • Mikhail Grigorenko went 12th overall to the Buffalo Sabres (Getty Images)

    January is quickly becoming a month the Quebec Remparts would like to put behind them.

    On Tuesday, the Buffalo Sabres announced that they would be keeping Remparts star forward Mikhail Grigorenko in the NHL for the rest of the season, ending speculation that the big Russian would be returning to Quebec. Grigorenko, who won bronze with Russia at the world junior championship earlier in the month, scored his first NHL goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 4-3 overtime loss on Tuesday night.

    Sabres GM Darcy Regier said if the season had started on time and the decision was to be made in September, Grigorenko would have spent the season with the Remparts, where he’s registered 50 points in 32 QMJHL games this season.

    While that’s good to know, it doesn’t help a floundering Quebec team looking for a life preserver.

    Quebec's 6-2 loss to the Moncton Wildcats on Sunday snapped a three-game winning streak, but the Remparts still finished January with a sub-par 4-6-0-0 record. The month

    Read More »from Losing Grigorenko latest blow to Quebec Remparts in turbulent January
  • Portland Winterhawks goaltender Brendan Burke (Getty)Aside from being a key B.C. Division battle, the Kelowna Rockets' game against the Kamloops Blazers Monday night was also important in determining which Western League team would jump to the top of the Buzzing the Net Dynamic Dozen rankings for this week. The Rockets lost the game 6-5, but it went to overtime, and they maintain a healthy lead over the Blazers for the top spot in the division.

    The Portland Winterhawks, U.S. Division foes (who beat both the Rockets and the Blazers in the playoffs last season) went 2-0-1 this past week, although both of their wins were shutouts: they beat Spokane 3-0 and Tri-City 7-0. Both goaltenders, Mac Carruth and Brendan Burke, earned individual shutouts and Carruth finds himself tops in the Western Hockey League among goaltenders in save percentage, three points ahead of Red Deer's Patrik Bartosak. Portland gets a lot of credit for their offence, especially the point production of top prospects Nic Petan and Seth Jones, but this team is scarier because they've allowed just 110 goals this season in 49 games. Only Edmonton has allowed fewer (109), but they've played 51 times.

    The wise money may be spent betting on a WHL championship final identical to last season's.

    1. Portland Winterhawks, WHL (.581 RPI, 1.8 SRS, +2) — Nic Petan and Brendan Leipsic remain No. 1 and No. 2 in the WHL points race, but Petan is within striking distance of Spokane's Todd Fiddler for most goals. Fiddler has the advantage of playing on a team without as many offensive weapons. Part of why Portland's been able to find continual success in the WHL is the development of imported players: first Nino Niederreiter, then Sven Bärtschi, and now Oliver Bjorkstrand, who leads WHL rookies in scoring.

    Also to note from that link is longevity. Tyler Wotherspoon and Troy Rutkowski represent such a sturdy one-two punch of defensive defencemen. Rutkowski broke the team record for games played this past week, and barring catastrophe this week, he should tie Andrew Ference's team ironman record with 217 straight games played on Saturday.

    2. Kelowna Rockets, WHL (.576 RPI, 1.6 SRS, -1) — The Rockets, as described by Neate last week, are not the best at anything, but are very good at everything. It may have been for the best for Colton Sissons to get hurt when he did—rather than play for Canada at Ufa, Sissons was back in Kelowna on December 30 and has been a big part of their recent run. He has points in seven straight, and while I hate +/- as a statistic, it's probably worth noting that he hasn't been a "minus" rating in a game since October 27, not bad for an 18-year old who plays his teams' toughest defensive minutes.

    Read More »from Portland flips with Kelowna to re-take top spot in BTN’s Dynamic Dozen
  • The Kingstone Courtyard MarriottWhen you hear stories of junior hockey road trips, typically they don't end up being about pillow fights and "twisted games of hide-and-go-seek." But maybe the London Knights prefer to travel differently, and while they're at it, allegedly ruined the chances of a 15-year-old girl to compete at the world championships in fencing.

    Or at least that's the story coming out of Kingston this week. This past weekend, the team was on an Eastern Conference road trip and earned wins over the 67s and Frontenacs which bookended a 3-1 loss to Belleville on Saturday night. The night before the one loss, they stayed at a hotel in Kingston, where the team was reportedly up quite late, according to one restless neighbour and her daughter:

    Laurie-Anne Manel said that she and her 15-year-old daughter Paige were staying at the Marriott Courtyard on Dalton Avenue on Friday night as Paige was competing in the Canada Cup fencing tournament at the Royal Military College.

    She says that players from the Ontario

    Read More »from Mother of fencer claims London Knights cost her daughter world cup opportunity

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