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  • Andrey MakarovNo. 1 star: Andrey Makarov, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

    After only allowing two pucks get past him in two games for Russia against Team WHL in the Subway Super Series, Makarov picked up for the Blades right where he left off for his country. The Buffalo Sabres prospect stoned the Prince George Cougars, turning 42 shots away in a 4-0 win.

    Every period was practically identical. The Cougars put 14 shots on net every period; the Blades posted 12 a period.

    When Makarov is on his game, he is nearly impossible to beat. He proved that once again against Prince George in the CN Centre, posting his first shutout of the season.

    Nevertheless, it is tough to say whether tonight's outstanding performance will trigger a strong latter half of the season or if it will start a short hot streak that will fizzle out. The 6-foot-1, 193-pounder has been a hot-and-cold goaltender in Saskatoon. His worst cold stretch of the season came at the beginning of October when he allowed 19 goals against in the first five

    Read More »from Saskatoon Blades’ Andrey Makarov stones the Cougars: Friday’s 3 stars
  • Nathan MacKinnon is the top prospect for the 2013 NHL draft (Richard Wolowicz, Getty Images)

    Most of the great goal posts in this space involve an individual effort, like a goal scorer deking around one or two defenders before scoring from next to no angle. Or maybe it's a two-man effort that involves something passing the puck through an eye of the needle.

    But how often do you see a goal that came about after two pretty passes like the ones that distinguished this tic-tac-toe collaboration between the Halifax Mooseheads' Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon and the finisher, Stefan Fournier on Friday night? The concept of defenders having an 'active stick' makes it nearly impossible for two long passes to go tape-to-tape-to-tape. Yet the two highly ranked prospects for the NHL draft and Halifax's captain morphed into — take your pick, the old WHA Winnipeg Jets, the Soviet KLM Line, the 1980s Edmonton Oilers? — for a sweet spot in time. You can't blame the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies if they did stand around watching Drouin, Fournier and MacKinnon play, because this was sweet.

    Read More »from Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon and Stefan Fournier with the prettiest passing play you might ever see (VIDEO)
  • Milan Doczy bumps current NHLer Taylor Hall in a 2009 game (The Canadian Press file photo)

    It was a tough way for Milan Doczy to become a pioneer — but on Friday, the Owen Sound Attack grad surely went to bed satisfied after succeeding in his two-year quest to be the first European player to access the OHL's educational package.

    The 22-year-old Czech's precedent-setting push might have provided a new appreciation for the hardships faced by Europeans who cross the Atlantic Ocean to chase a fleeting NHL dream inculcated by agents, coaches and GMs. Typically, import players are seen for a time and often never heard from again ("They expect Europeans to go back to their country and that was why there was nothing about education in my contract," Doczy said last week) if the NHL dream does not pan out. For Doczy — who spoke to Yahoo! Canada Sports prior to the OHL confirming he will receiving education funding, including about $7,400 Cdn. for this school year — it was pretty straightforward. Canada, with a higher per-capita income than Eastern Europe, offers more.

    "I love it here because I think I have a much better opportunity to succeed in my life," said Doczy, who is now studying at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., while playing defence for the Badgers in the Ontario University Athletics men's hockey league. "I fell in love in Canada since the first time I came."

    Read More »from Brock Badgers’ Milan Doczy wins long fight for OHL education package, offers lesson about looking after European players
  • Russia won the Subway Super Series for the second time in three years (WHL.ca)

    Russia headed home with its second Subway Super Series victory over the Canadian Hockey League in three seasons on Thursday, but not without leaving a lot of talking points for the six weeks leading up to the world junior championship.

    The first time Russia won the event in 2010, it presaged their gold-medal triumph at the world juniors a month and a half later in Buffalo. This victory might have been more impressive, as its 5-2 win on Thursday gave it victories over all three CHL leagues for the first time in the event's 10-year history and a 10-8 win on points, since Team WHL's Game 5 win on Wednesday came in a shootout.

    Here's what you need to know about the Russians after six games in Canada. Coach Mikhail Varnakov's squad, the host team for the world junior in Ufa, will have a rematch with Team Canada on New Year's Eve. Here's some observations gleaned from the final two games in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C.:

    — Nail Yakupov and Co. came out hard in Victoria. Varnakov and his

    Read More »from Russia shows its staying power, scoring punch with Subway Super Series win
  • Matt Petgrave might be out until January (Getty Images)

    It's painful news for Matt Petgrave and the Oshawa Generals, who have seen another frontline star go down with a signficant injury.

    Over the past two-plus seasons, Petgrave, a puck-moving defenceman who did wrangle an invite to a Hockey Canada summer development camp but is a NHL free agent, has become an enjoyable player to watch in the Ontario Hockey League. It's a great story, given that he was undrafted out of minor hockey before being signed by the Niagara IceDogs four years ago. However, the OHL's No. 2 scorer among defenceman (with 25 points in 23 games, he's close behind Boston Bruins uber-prospect Dougie Hamilton) has had last chance to make an impression on NHL scouts interrupted by a broken wrist. Petgrave left the Oshawa-London Knights game on Thursday — in which the Gennies lost after being up 3-0 with 15 minutes to play — and the news is, well, not good.

    From Shawn Cayley:

    Read More »from Oshawa Generals’ Matt Petgrave breaks wrist, costing him time in his overage season
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Hockey Canada head scout Kevin Prendergast expects the national junior team selection camp will be confined to 30-32 players if the NHL lockout is still in effect next month: "Defensively, there are first-rounders who just won't be there." (Edmonton Journal)

    Ty Rattie scored a sweet goal Thursday, but suffice to say the OHL and QMJHL forwards were more impressive in the Subway Super Series. (Edmonton Sun)

    Ottawa Senators goalie prospect Chris Driedger will avenge being left off Team WHL by stoning more Western League shooters, thank you very much. (Calgary Herald)

    Montreal Canadiens prospect Tim Bozon will not join France for the Division 1 Group A world junior championship, as it would mean missing up to 10 Kamloops Blazers games. (Kamloops Daily News)

    Jesse Wallin handled his sacking in Red Deer with more grace than many of us would have mustered. (Red Deer Advocate, The Red Deer Scene)

    The Edmonton Oil Kings should learn today whether Travis Ewanyk suffered any serious injury when he was checked in the Subway Super Series game on Wednesday. (Edmonton JournalComing Down The Pipe!)

    The MasterCard Memorial Cup-host Saskatoon Blades headed out on their western swing minus three regulars, with winger Jessey Astles out three months after stepping on his own wrist. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    Everett overage forward Ryan Harrison has a slight tear in his knee that could keep him out one week or two months, depending on the treatment. (Everett Herald)

    The Brandon Wheat Kings have slipped out of a playoff position. (Brandon Sun, paywall)

    OHL

    Fun itinerary for potential NHL first-rounder Kerby Rychel and the Windsor Spitfires: they face both conference leaders this weekend. (Windsor Star)

    Oshawa Generals coach D.J. Smith after his team fiddled away a three-goal, third-period lead at London: "Those are signs of a team that needs to learn how to win." (London Free Press)

    Read More »from Team Canada to have more compact selection camp: Friday’s coast-to-coast
  • Toronto Maple Leafs first-round pick Morgan Rielly (Getty Images)When Morgan Rielly was in atom, his father sat him down to convince him to move to defence.

    "He told me that if I played D, I'd have a whole lot more ice time."

    What ended up happening was that a whole bunch of fathers had the same chats with their children. At the height of the dead puck era, when 1994-born hockey players were being influenced by the realities of the National Hockey League, Canadian hockey players started playing defence. As players battle for spots on Team Canada's World Junior roster, the most important position battle is going to take place on defence, where there will be far more guys in the mix.

    "It's a cycle. Some years you get a lot of centres, some years a lot of forwards, and at this particular age group, it was the D," said Don Nachbaur, the Spokane Chiefs coach who coached the Western Hockey League all-stars in Games Five and Six of the Subway Super Series. The tournament is the last chance players have to showcase themselves on the national stage prior to the final camp in December.

    Eight of the top 10 selections from the 2012 NHL entry draft were defencemen, five of whom suited up over the course of the WHL's two-game set against the Russian selects. Ryan Murray shut down Nail Yakupov effectively in the first game, but for the second contest, with Murray headed back to Everett, the more offensive-leaning rearguards had tougher times. The skills of Mathew Dumba, Morgan Rielly, Derrick Pouliot and Griffin Reinhart were more apparent at the north end of the ice rather than the south end.

    Read More »from Challenge for Team Canada’s brass to find right balance on blueline
  • Russia's Andrei Sigarev (The Canadian Press)No. 1 Star - Andrei Sigarev, Team Russia

    An unheralded player on that top Russian line with Boston prospect Alexander Khokhlachev and Edmonton prospect Nail Yakupov is Sigarev, an undrafted 19-year-old from SKA St. Petersburg. While the small contingent of loud Russian fans were indubitably in attendance to witness Yakupov, it was Sigarev who got off the mark, first drawing a penalty after an unimpeded chance in front, and scoring Russia's second goal of the game, taking advantage of some open space in the slot and firing it high on Laurent Brossoit.

    His highlight was an assist in the second period, however, on an offensive zone shift that never ended. Sigarev stole the puck after his own giveaway, and on a 2-on-1, outweighted WHL defenceman Mathew Dumba and slid a perfect pass over to Khokhlachev for the finish. That put Russia up 4-1 late in the period, and for all intents and purposes, was the dagger. Russia would wind up winning the game 5-2 on an empty net goal, and take the series winning three of the six games, but by virtue of one of the CHL's wins being a shootout victory.

    No. 2 Star - Mikhail Naumenkov, Team Russia

    It was a good night for the undrafted Russian 93 born players. Sigarev got our first star selection, and it was Mikhail Naumenkov, one of Russia's big minute defencemen, who got our second star. After a scoreless first game between the WHL and the Russians, Naumenkov got things going in the first period, albeit on a bit of a flukey bounce on a shot from the point that somehow eluded Laurent Brossoit.

    Read More »from Have a Sigarev — Russia takes the Subway Super Series: Three Stars
  • Windsor Spitfires centre Kerby Rychel (OHL Images)

    No. 1 star: Kerby Rychel, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

    Spitfires GM and vice-president Warren Rychel put his team on notice earlier this week and it responded by blowing out the Saginaw Spirit 6-1 for a big regulation win in a division that's more congested than a London metro platform at rush hour. Kerby Rychel is obvious untouchable as a likely NHL first-round pick and the GM's son, but he was at the forefront of the command performance with five points (2G-3A, +1) to lead the rout.

    The Spirit were still in striking distance until the 18-year-old Rychel beat Detroit Red Wings-drafted goalie Jake Paterson with six seconds left in the second period to put Windsor up 4-1. That chased Paterson from the game and Rychel kept the heat on, setting up Montreal Canadiens pick Brady Vail (2G, +1) and sniping another goal in the third period.

    [More news and results]

    Read More »from Kerby Rychel, Max Domi, Nick Ritchie win the night: Thursday’s 3 Stars
  • Red Wings fourth-rounder Marek Tvrdon leads the Giants in scoring (Derek Leung, Getty Images)

    Fortunately for Marek Tvrdon, he spoke up as soon as he realized he was in physical discomfort. The Vancouver Giants confirmed the 19-year-old Detroit Red Wings draft pick, who is leading the WHL team in scoring, has had surgery to remove a blood clot in his left shoulder and is out for the rest of the year.

    Tvrdon discovered the clot (keep in mind, blood clots have affected many big-name athletes, including tennis star Serena Williams and baseball legend Mariano Rivera) prior to a Giants game last weekend. It is a huge setback for the Slovak, who looked like a great draft pick for the Wings after they took him in the fourth round in 2011 even though he missed nearly all of his first North American season due to surgery on his right shoulder. As Elliott Pap reported, the clot was discovered during a pregame warmup.

    Read More »from Red Wings pick Marek Tvrdon has blood clot, will miss rest of WHL season

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