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  • Koekkoek has been limited to 68 games in the past 2 seasons (Getty Images)

    Going through surgery and the subsequent recovery is does not always harm a player's draft status, but the news about Slater Koekkoek makes it two first-round picks this month who have been reinjured.

    Koekkoek played only 26 games last season for the Peterborough Petes due to surgery to repair a torn labrum on his left shoulder, but the Tampa Bay Lightning went ahead and invested their No. 10 overall pick in the strong-skating defenceman. By no means should anyone suggest that meant the Windsor Spitfires took on too much risk when they traded for Koekkoek at the OHL trade deadline; GM Warren Rychel had a chance to get a talented player who could be a focal point of his 2013-14 squad and Koekkoek had held up through 40 games of playing major minutes for Peterborough. However, Koekkoek, barely removed from a rough situation in Peterborough, is out for the season.

    From the Windsor Star's Jim Parker (@winstarparker):

    Read More »from Tampa Bay Lightning first-rounder Slater Koekkoek shut down, after only 2 games with Windsor Spitfires
  • Connor Honey was playing his second game since returning from injury (Kyle Scholzen, Seattle Thunderbirds)No. 1 star: Connor Honey, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

    First-star honours should be in order when a team ends its 15-game losing streak by beating the top team in the league. The 18-year-old Honey, after getting his game legs back on Friday when he dressed for the first time in the new calendar year after being out with an injury, was part of Seattle's top line as they held off the mighty Portland Winterhawks 4-3. Honey (1G-1A, +1) set up impressive Latvian rookie Roberts Lipsbergs for the first Thunderbirds goal midway through the opening period to erase an early Winterhawks lead. The line with Honey, Lipsbergs (1G-1A, +1) and fellow 18-year-old Alex Delnov connected again before the first period was over to give Seattle its first lead and a triple-expresso shot of confidence. (OK, not more Seattle/coffee plays on words, we get it.)

    Seth Swenson (2A, +2), who was traded away from Portland in the deal last year that led to top-ranked NHL draft prospect Seth Jones becoming a Winterhawk, later had the primary assist on the next two Seattle goals. That provided just enough of a cushion for Seattle to hang on for its first win since Dec. 7. The Winterhawks, who got three-point nights from league scoring leaders Nic Petan and Brendan Leipsic, had accounted for the first, fourth and eighth consecutive losses of Seattle's skid.

    No. 2 star: Brandon Alderson, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

    Alderson guaranteed himself a very happy 21st birthday this week, as he had his first hat trick in 245 OHL games during the surging Greyhounds' 7-3 divisional road win over the Plymouth Whalers. The 'Hounds, coming off a flat performance one night earlier in Saginaw and facing a chance to pull within a point of Plymouth in the playoff race, took control with three goals in a six-minute span early in the second period. The 6-foot-4, 202-pound Alderson (3G, +1) buried the 3-0 goal on the power play, then scored again later in the frame with help from Philadelphia Flyers prospect Nick Cousins (1G-1A, +3) and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect David Broll (2A, +1). Plymouth pulled to within two goals in the third period, but Alderson dismissed the comeback bid by scoring the clincher with 8:56 left. Pittsburgh Penguins-drafted goalie Matt Murray kicked out 41 shots for the 'Hounds.

    Read More »from Seattle Thunderbirds’ Connor Honey helps break 15-game losing skid: Saturday’s 3 Stars
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    The Moose Jaw Warriors are nine points off the playoff pace with 26 games left as Morgan Rielly returns to junior. Will his next playoff game be with the Moose Jaws or the Toronto Marlies? (Moose Jaw Times-Herald)

    Coach Ryan Huska's Kelowna Rockets go for their 19th home win in a row tonight vs. Vancouver, which would kind of but not really tie a team record. (Kelowna Daily Courier)

    Remember when Kelowna was barely above .500 at the 15-game mark? (Spokane Spokesman-Review)

    What happens first: a Seattle Thunderbirds victory or an end to Manti Te'o jokes? (Seattle Times)

    The Edmonton Oil Kings had perimeteritis during their home loss to eighth-place Medicine Hat. (Edmonton Journal)

    For two traditional rivals, the Saskatoon Blades and Brandon Wheat Kings sure trade often. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    OHL

    There are about 2,600 reasons — the seating capacity difference between the WFCU Centre and Budweiser Gardens — why the London Knights have to be the front-runner over the Windsor Spitfires to host the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup. (London Free Press)

    Read More »from London Knights slump official: weekend coast-to-coast
  • Eric Locke has 29 goals this season for Saginaw (photo: OHL images)No. 1 star: Eric Locke, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

    Locke figured in all five goals in Saginaw's crucial 5-3 home win over Sault Ste. Marie, picking up a hat trick and two assists. It's the first five-point game in the OHL for the 19-year-old, who last had a hat trick when he scored four times on Dec. 11, 2010.

    With 29 goals on the season, Locke's up to a tie for third in the OHL in that category. Garret Ross scored the other two goals for the Spirit on Friday, giving him 26.

    The Spirit moved within two points of the seventh-place Greyhounds in the Western Conference with their sixth consecutive victory.

    No. 2 star: Jonathan Drouin, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

    Really, you could pick from among a half-dozen or so Mooseheads as they embarrassed the Quebec Remparts 11-2 in front of more than 13,000 fans at Le Colisée. Drouin seems as good as any for this slot, as he scored once and added three assists in a balanced effort that saw 15 of 18 Halifax skaters hit the scoresheet.

    MacKenzie Weegar had four assists, and Konrad Abeltshauser, Dominic Beauchemin and Stephen MacAulay each contributed two goals and a helper. Nathan MacKinnon had a quiet night, with "just" a goal.

    The Remparts have lost five straight and eight of 10, tumbling to seventh place overall and clinging tenuously to home-ice advantage for a first-round playoff series.

    No. 3 star: Jaedon Descheneau, Kootenay Ice (WHL)

    Sam Reinhart gets all the buzz in Cranbrook, but Descheneau is putting together a nice 17-year-old season for the suddenly resurgent Ice.

    Descheneau scored both goals as the Ice improved to 8-1 in January with a 2-1 road win at Regina. The centre from Edmonton is riding a nine-game point streak and has 41 points in 43 games this season.

    Kootenay, left for dead in December, has stunningly rallied to move within two points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Goaltender Mackenzie Skapski has been a big key to the run, posting a 2.23 GAA and .928 save pct. in January. He stopped 29 shots in Friday's win.

    Read More »from Saginaw’s Locke picks apart Greyhounds for 5 points: Friday’s 3 Stars
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Quelle surprise: The Moose Jaw Warriors' Morgan Rielly will not make the Toronto Maple Leafs after all. It's like he's an 18-year-old defenceman or something. (Toronto Sun)

    Jess Rubenstein paints a picture of Gary Bettman hoping the New York Islanders draft the Portland Winterhawks' Seth Jones ahead of their move to Brooklyn. Mostly this is about how the Islanders wasted everyone's time bringing Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Strome to training camp. (The Prospect Park)

    Regina's Carson Samoridny and Calgary's Colten Mayor, good friends from St. Albert, Alta., got traded for each other last week. (Calgary Herald, Regina Leader-Post)

    Red Deer's Patrik Bartosak ruined Thursday night for the Edmonton Oil Kings. (Edmonton Journal)

    Adding Swiss world junior forward Alessio Bertaggia has made the Spokane Chiefs a dangerous potential playoff darkhorse, notes Regan Bartel. (Regan's Rant)

    OHL

    Ottawa Senators prospect Matt Puempel is finally clear to play after struggling with a shoulder ailment for the better part of two months. (Waterloo Record)

    Read More »from Morgan Rielly back to Moose Jaw: Friday’s coast-to-coast
  • 157459994 (1)_opt

    Debating the merits of Eric Comrie vs. Zachary Fucale is going to involve a lot of what-might-have-been on former's part.

    Major junior hockey's top two goaltending prospects for the NHL draft did not get to match up in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday. Now it turns out that what kept Comrie, whom you might recall was the starter for Canada's summer under-18 team last year and thus a possibility for next season's national junior squad, out of the Prospects Game is going to keep him out for the rest of the season.

    The youngster who had played in 37 of Tri-City's 45 games — a heavy workload a goalie who will celebrate being drafted before celebrating his 18th birthday in early July — will have season-ending hip surgery. To be fair, one shouldn't play doctor after the fact and attribute this was a result of overtraining or playing too much hockey. Fucale has played in 35 of 42 Halifax Mooseheads games — 110 out of 127 since September 2010 — and has not been injured. Correlation does not mean causation, eh.

    After consulting with doctors and family members, Comrie will undergo minor hip surgery on February 5th in Vail, Colorado and will then return to California for his rehabilitation. He is expected to make a full recovery and return to the ice in 3 to 4 months.

    ... “This is very unfortunate for Eric and our team,” said [GM Bob] Tory. “However, this is the best option to ensure that Eric has no further complications and that he can return to play 100% healthy. Ultimately, it’s the best decision for both Eric’s health and for our hockey club now and for the future.”

    Read More »from Tri-City Americans’ Eric Comrie shut down for season due to hip surgery
  • These next 23 seconds will show what perseverance is all about in junior hockey.

    Charlie Millen, a goaltender like his father Hockey Night in Canada commentator Greg Millen was, is what players refer to as a "suitcase." That's not meant in a mean way, it's just of way of noting the 20-year-old has been through more leagues than Jules Verne during his time in junior hockey, playing for an even dozen teams in his five seasons spread from Saint John, N.B., to Sault Ste Marie, Ont. The younger Millen has finally found a home with the Ottawa Jr. Senators of the Central Canada Hockey League, where his team is in first place and he's one-thousandth of a point off the lead in goals-against average.

    He must be standing on his head on a nightly basis there, judging from the excitement of the FastHockey crew — wowww! — after Millen made a Sportscentre-worthy stop on the Cornwall Colts' Alexandre Gendron. Gendron stole the puck from a Jr. Senators defenceman inside the blueline and had all the time in the world to plan a move on Millen. He went backhand to get Millen into a lunge that left goal gaping, but the goalie got the glove out for a superlative stop. Count how many wows the colour commentator lets out.

    Read More »from Charlie Millen, son of Greg Millen, makes amazing save (VIDEO)
  • Pavelka's 32 saves was good for No. 2 star honours for Thursday (OHL Images)

    No. 1 star: Rhyse Dieno, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

    Dieno (3G, +2) got his first WHL hat trick to help Red Deer score a big Central Division win over the Edmonton Oil Kings, winning 4-1. The contest was dead even with 11:40 to play when Dieno, a 19-year-old Davidson, Sask., native who was playing Junior A this season, got behind the Oil Kings defence to take a pass from Scott Feser and beat goalie Laurent Brossoit. Tanner Elson delivered a backbreaker goal six minutes later to put away the Oil Kings. Dieno, who also got the empty-netter, has 26 points in 25 games for Red Deer since being called up. That point total is double what he had in his first two partial seasons int the league.

    Read More »from Red Deer’s Rhyse Dieno, Windsor’s Jaroslav Pavelka lead Thursday’s 3 Stars
  • Ryan Strome has 62 points in 32 OHL games this season (OHL Images)

    Evidently, the New York Islanders don't want to make the same mistake with Ryan Strome as they did with Nino Niederreiter. Niederreiter was also a No. 5 pick in the draft to New York, and after scoring 41 goals in 55 games with Portland and getting nine games of experience in the National Hockey League in 2010-11, the franchise decided to keep him aboard for the 2011-12 season rather than sending him back to junior for another year.

    Niederreiter's season could not have gone worse. He played just 55 games, scoring a single goal and missing time due to a groin injury and a concussion. He was plagued by bad shooting luck, which kept his point totals remarkably low for such a highly-touted rookie.

    Thursday, in quite surprising fashion, the Islanders sent Strome back to the Niagara IceDogs, despite scoring 22 goals in 32 games this season. He's also played with the IceDogs in two deep playoff runs and has two years experience on Canada's National U-20 team. That's not good enough to make a team that was 25th in both wins and goals scored last season.

    Read More »from New York Islanders send OHL scoring sensation Ryan Strome back to Niagara
  • Saint John's Mike Kelly added 3 players and 9 draft picks by moving veteran players at the deadline (CHL Images)Saint John Sea Dogs coach and director of hockey operations Mike Kelly didn’t hide the fact that the offers were not there for star Sea Dog and Florida Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau at last week's QMJHL trade deadline.

    “Nobody was close,” he said.

    “We were pretty honest with everybody. We were told there was a 99.9 per cent chance he wasn’t coming back.”

    Huberdeau, 19, was the Panthers' No. 3 overall draft pick in 2011. He came within a hair of making the Florida lineup last season, before the Panthers thought better and returned him to Saint John. He is a virtual lock to make the team , but had to wait for the NHL and NHLPA to come to terms with a new collective bargaining agreement. He had 45 points in 30 games this season for the Sea Dogs.

    Read More »from Saint John Sea Dogs’ Mike Kelly happy with rebuild, despite no return for Jonathan Huberdeau

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