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  • Kevin Bailie stopped 16 of 19 Mississauga efforts in shootout marathon (QMI Agency file photo)No. 1 star: Kevin Bailie, London Knights (OHL)

    London's epic 19-round shootout win over Mississauga is the talk of the junior hockey world, and our own Neate Sager weighed in about it earlier today.

    But London netminder Bailie didn't even get a star at the Hershey Centre, despite denying the last 12 shooters he faced in the circus. So here's some recognition to a guy who gave up just three goals in 19 rounds and also stopped 36 of 39 shots in regulation and overtime.

    The Knights were outshot 39-25 during the game, yet still led 3-1 late in regulation before giving up two goals to send it to OT. Bailie's heroics in the shootout wrapped up the Knights' 15th win in a row, the longest such streak in the CHL this season.

    Give star 1A to Mississauga goalie Spencer Martin, who went 15-for-19 in the shootout and stopped 11 in a row before London's Seth Griffith became the first OHLer to score twice in a shootout to win it.

    No. 2 star: Josh Morrissey, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

    The Raiders started the season strong, then endured a rough stretch before rounding back into form as of late. Prince Albert wrapped up a weekend sweep of the Regina Pats with an 8-2 pasting at the Brandt Centre. The Raiders outshot Regina 107-38 over the two games this weekend (P.A. won 5-3 on Saturday).

    Morrissey, a defenceman who was recently listed as an "A" prospect by Central Scouting for the 2013 draft, had his second career multiple-goal game Sunday, netting two and adding an assist. He was also a stout +5 on the night.

    One of the goals was pretty sweet, according to WHL blogger/commentator Cody Nickolet:

    Cody Nickolet ‏@WHLFromAbove
    Talk about a goal. #2013NHLDraft prospect @Morrissey_10 just scored one of the nicest the WHL has seen yet this season. Great patience/hands

    The Raiders maintained a one-point lead over Edmonton for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with the win, though the surging Oil Kings have two games in had.

    No. 3 star: Vincent Dunn, Val-d'Or Foreurs (QMJHL)

    There's no doubt that Dunn is a particularly unpopular figure in the Q right now, given his recent suspension for race-related comments made toward Halifax captain Trey Lewis.

    Hopefully, the 17-year-old centre learned from his mistakes and can shift the focus away from his mouth and onto his play, like his three-goal, one-assist performance in the Foreurs' 6-2 win at Shawinigan Sunday.

    It's first career hat trick for Dunn, who now has 16 goals and 36 points in 27 games after having just five goals and 13 points last season as a rookie.

    Read More »from Bailie stops 12 in a row in epic shootout to run London win streak to 15: Sunday’s 3 Stars
  • Boston Bruins pick Seth Griffith (OHL Images)

    If Seth Griffith had not gone 2-for-2 — a record itself — the London Knights and Mississauga Steelheads might have set a world record. As it is, they broke the OHL's record for the longest shootout in league history by a country mile.

    Two years ago, Straubing Tigers and EHC Munich were credited with setting a world record after needing 21 rounds to decide a winner after playing to a 4-4 tie. On Sunday, the Knights and Steelheads were within two rounds of tying that mark when Griffith, after every team had run through its entire lineup, beat the Steelheads' Spencer Martin for a 4-3 win. Griffith had been London's first man up about 17 minutes earlier; he was also the day's last since he gave the Knights their 15th consecutive win, the longest win streak in major junior so far this season.

    In November 2008, the Windsor Spitfires prevailed over the Saginaw Spirit in a 14-round shootout. So this was the first time the teams batted around before deciding a winner. In Round 19, Knights goalie Kevin Bailie turned away second-timer Dylan Smoskowitz for his 12th consecutive stop. Griffith then snapped Martin's roll of 11 in a row by snapping a shot in glove side.

    Read More »from London Knights, Mississauga Steelheads have OHL’s longest shootout, using entire benches
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has already played in the senior world championship (The Associated Press)A good chunk of Canada loves to live vicariously through 22 teenagers as the IIHF World U20 Championship draws near. That holiday ritual of having national pride staked on a six-game tournament only stands to increase in a NHL lockout year.

    Five of the first nine players chosen two NHL drafts ago — an unheard-of bounty now that many of the top teenagers turn pro before age 20 — could be available for Canada if the the NHL's Nuclear Winter III continues through December. That should stoke interest and up the pressure on the Steve Spott-coached Canucks to end a three-year victory drought, even though this tournament will be held in far-off, forbidding Ufa, Russia.

    With Hockey Canada's selection camp roster set to drop Monday, Buzzing The Net took a stab projecting the lineup that Spott might to Russia, in three weeks. It appears Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will play (no reason to think otherwise) and this exercise no end to the lockout. Careful consideration was given to roles, potential line combinations and defence pairings, but all players are listed alphabetically.

    Read More »from Canada’s world junior projected roster: this team has 22 tough choices
  • Max Domi is in the top 10 in OHL scoring (OHL Images)

    No. 1 star: Max Domi, London Knights (OHL)

    The Guelph Storm had a good chance to deal the Knights a loss, but could not keep Domi out of the dirty areas to score two crucial goals in London's well-earned 3-1 win. Storm goalie Garret Sparks was sharp and the teams were level heading toward the five-minute mark of regulation when the potential NHL first-round pick made base camp in the goalmouth and got his stick on a Brett Welychka rebound a hiccup before he was crushed by a cross-check by 6-foot-5 defenceman Andrey Pedan. That sent the OHL-leading Londoners on to their 14th consecutive win, a 3-1 verdict.

    Domi (2G, +2) also opened scoring with another close-range strike. He and linemates Alex Broadhurst and Seth Griffith worked the cycle perfect, with Domi slipping into the slot to smack in Griffith's centring pass. The Knights' other highly touted 17-year-old forward, Bo Horvat, also scored. The two-goal night gave Domi 16 goals and 40 points in 29 games, top among OHLers in next summer's NHL draft class. (The suspended Sean Monahan has 36 points in five fewer games, but is also a third-year junior.)

    Read More »from Max Domi, London Knights run win streak to 14: Saturday’s 3 Stars
  • 'Free Mike' T-shirts supporting Mike Johnston have popped up in Portland (via Taking Note)At the end of the day, the Portland Winterhawks' deadly sin was pride. The Western Hockey League's might have been envy. Or wrath. Wrath could work too.

    Four days in, the furore between the WHL and the Rose City Rogues shows little sign of abating. League commissioner Ron Robison belatedly did the media rounds to explain and expound (see Hour 3 in that link on why the Winterhawks' "lack of disclosure on these benefits" justified the penalty.

    Ed Willes also reported that the "smoking gun" came when Portland traded Seth Swenson to Seattle last season, which seems to be have been corroborated by Elliotte Friedman's reporting about a player with a side deal. Coincidentally, the Thunderbirds were Portland's opponent on Friday when fans broke out the "Free Mike" shirts in support of suspended coach-GM Mike Johnston, who's banned from WHL arenas for the rest of the season.

    It will not end there. The WHL's choice for a cone of silence and the way Portland responded — mounting a PR offensive instead of going through back channels in time-honoured hockey fashion — blew it up. It might have also given officials in the Oregon city cold feet about renovating an arena for a team which might struggle in 2016-17 and '17-18 if the penalty stands. That is an odd unintended consequence for Robison's WHL, which has really worked hard to get all 22 teams playing in modern arenas.

    [Sunaya Sapurji: WHL, Portland in a winter of discontent]

    That, unfortunately for the WHL, will leave people wondering if Portland got whacked for rebuilding too well. Friedman, even while trying to be circumspect for a CBC readership, starts off by saying the "the rest of the WHL" hates the Winterhawks but, "Is it because they're cheaters or because they're successful?" People will draw their own conclusions, of course.

    Read More »from Portland broke rules, but WHL’s motivation for stiff sanctions still questioned
  • Sarnia's Reid Boucher scored 13 goals in 12 November outingsNo. 1 star: Reid Boucher, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

    Boucher wrapped up a huge November with his first hat trick of the season as Sarnia rallied from an early deficit to beat Saginaw 7-4. The New Jersey Devils draftee started slow this season, but now has 13 goals in his last 11 games to raise his season total to 19.

    It's the latest streak in what's been an up-and-down OHL career for Boucher. He started out last season with 10 goals in first nine games, then later endured an entirely goal-less month of January.

    This year, he had a solid, if unspectacular start. But his recent run has been huge for the Sting, who need Boucher to produce alongside Alex Galchenyuk and Charles Sarault to become a serious threat.

    In addition to his three goals, Boucher added assists on the Sting's final two goals. Sarault had five points of own (2G-3A), and scored the "Burger Goal" into an empty net late in regulation to win fans a free burger at the local Harvey's. The Sting have scored at least seven goals in consecutive home games (the benchmark for free ground beef), making it reportedly the first time the team's ever given fans such a gift in consecutive games.

    No. 2 star: Reid Gow, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)

    Our all-Reid top two is rounded out by the Spokane defenceman who came into Friday's game in Swift Current with all of seven goals in 121 WHL games.

    Gow erupted for two goals and two assists as the Chiefs stomped the Broncos 7-2. Gow, an 18-year-old in his third full season, is now averaging a point a game with 22 in 22 contests. Todd Fiddler also scored twice for Spokane to move, shockingly, into a tie for second in the league with 20 goals.

    The victory kicked off a six-games-in-nine-days trip through the Eastern Division, and the Chiefs need a good showing to keep pace with the recently newsworthy Portland Winterhawks, who lead them by six points in the U.S. Division.

    The Broncos, meanwhile, continue to tread water in the Eastern Conference race and fell to 1-4 at home against American teams (they only managed to beat Seattle).

    No. 3 star: Gabriel Desjardins, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)

    Desjardins came back to haunt his old club, notching the game-tying and game-winning goals in the Huskies' 4-1 win over the Quebec Remparts at Le Colisée.

    Quebec traded Desjardins to the Huskies in the offseason after acquiring him from Halifax midway through last season. An overager from Montreal, Desjardins is up to 13 goals and 35 points in 26 games this season.

    The Huskies had been sliding as of late, and needed the win to regain a solid position in the top eight. Meanwhile, the Remparts are winless in their last three and are slowly losing contact with Halifax and Blainville-Broisbriand for the league's top spot.

    Read More »from Boucher caps off monster month with five-point night: Friday’s 3 Stars
  • Amherst Stadium, home of the Ramblers (Wikipedia)Chirping and heckling at a hockey rink is a time-honoured part of hoserism, but it can go too far sometimes.

    Keeping people from swearing in public — let alone in a hockey rink, where it can sometimes seem that English in superfluous to profanity — may be "like trying put out a fire with an eyedropper." However, the community of Amherst, Nova Scotia is vowing to sure as h-e-double-hockey-sticks try at games involving the Maritime Hockey League's Ramblers. In reaction to concerns about some of the taunting directed at players during a Bridgewater Lumberbacks-Amherst affair last Saturday, anyone caught swearing will be booted.

    Really.

    Drop the f-bomb at the next Amherst Ramblers game and it's going to be your last.

    The Town of Amherst is responding to complaints of unruly behavior and foul language directed at players and fans at last Saturday's game between the Ramblers and the Bridgewater Lumberjacks by putting Amherst Stadium staff and security on notice: anyone caught using inappropriate language is to be escorted out of the stadium immediately.

    Read More »from Junior A team will ban fans caught swearing
  • (CP Images)A pair of separate studies seem to point out that the effects of checking and collisions in various levels of hockey lead to, surprise surprise, more injuries than previously thought.

    The first study, which I think is a little more complete, was a joint study between researchers at the University of Laval and the University of Calgary (due to recent football results, I'll refer to this as the 'Laval' study). They followed 150 minor hockey teams featuring peewee players ages 11 and 12 and compared the health effects on players in Alberta, where checking is allowed at that level, versus Québec, where it is not.

    The players from Quebec walked away with one-third the number of injuries as the players in Alberta, and they also sustained fewer concussions: 73 Albertans over the period of a year, to just 20 Québecois kids. Going further, 14 concussions were listed as "severe" in Alberta to just four in Québec.

    "We know that the long-term effects on concussions were underestimated in the past.

    Read More »from Minor and amateur hockey players still getting concussed
  • Suspended Winterhawks coach-GM Mike JohnstonRon Toigo, a rich man indeed, cannot be expected to keep track of all his financial wheeling-dealing.

    The owner of the Vancouver Giants — a big-market Western Hockey League team with ample resources, like those renegades in the Rose City, the Portland Winterhawks — spoke on the record about the WHL's sanctions on Thursday. One has to think that, given this is an owner of long standing in the league, that is something close to the WHL's party line. Toigo said the rules Portland broke are in place to save major junior hockey in smaller centres. He might have forgotten about favours he's paid to past Giants players out of the goodness of his heart that were within the rules, but might have been too rich for the Swift Currents and Prince Georges of the world.

    Read More »from Winterhawks’ punishment by WHL likely no boon to small-market teams
  • Western Hockey League commissioner Ron Robison (Aaron Bell, CHL Images)

    The Western Hockey League might be judge and jury in BenefitGate — but it's not faring well in the court of public opinion after punishing the Portland Winterhawks.

    A commissioner in sports is like a politician who has to direct and lead opinion. Being out front on controversy is the name of the game in politics, as is understood from everyone in the various inner circles down to people who were really into The West Wing a few years back. The WHL and commissioner Ron Robison were bold to drop the hammer on league-leading Portland and coach-GM Mike Johnston, especially in a season when they seem capable of bringing the Dub its first MasterCard Memorial Cup title since 2008 (the current four-year drought is the league's longest since the host-team tournament format was adopted in 1983). They felt compelled to shoot now, rather than hold their powder and try to revise the rules that were broken by sitting in a boardoom next summer.

    As bold as it was, though, now it has to face the question of whether the juice is worth the squeeze. Based on a survey of the opinion out there in the media, it looks like the WHL might have bitten off more than it could chew.

    Read More »from Winterhawks’ punishment from WHL widely seen as heavy-handed

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