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

    WHL

    Winnipeg Jets prospect Nic Petan has yet to practise for Portland since being cross-checked in the head last Thursday. (The Oregonian)

    Epic gets used way too loosely, but for a Portland-Kelowna matchup, it's permissible. (Castanet)

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    Amazing story if Medicine Hat comes back to beat Kootenay after losing Hunter Shinkaruk halfway through the season. (Medicine Hat News)

    Brandon's young group made huge strides over the season, and its core could still have two more seasons together. (Brandon Sun)

    Showing he could handle centre at the junior level helped Regina's Chandler Stephenson earn a contract with the Washington Capitals. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

    OHL

    Sudbury coach Paul Fixter isn't acknowledging that the team's midseason moves altered the dressing room chemistry: "I think it's a cop out. Mathew Campagna's production went down because we added a good player? Makes no sense." (Sudbury Star)

    It was a very quiet Sunday in London on what could have been Game 6 against Guelph. (Metro London, London Free Press)

    Which forward will Toronto Maple Leafs fans imbue with completely unrealistic expectations and not pay $25 to watch in the OHL? Niagara's Brendan Perlini? Peterborough's Nick Ritchie? (Toronto Star)

    Read More »from Petan not practising for Portland: the coast-to-coast
  • Devils pick Ben Thomson scored 2 goals in North Bay's clincher (OHL Images)

    New Jersey Devils pick Ben Thomson's short-hander midway through the third created just enough separation for North Bay to exorcise the ghosts of playoffs past against Barrie. The Battalion's 3-2 win wrapped up a six-game Eastern semifinal triumph and the second round of the OHL playoffs.

    Erie-Guelph will begin Thursday and North Bay-Oshawa commences the following night, with Generals star Scott Laughton slated to miss the opener due to the final game of a butt-ending suspension. On with the post-game questions:

    Read More »from North Bay Battalion bounce Barrie, reach Eastern Conference final: OHL post-game questions
  • Medicine Hat's Cole Sanford (Marissa Baecker, Getty Images)No. 1 star: Cole Sanford, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)

    Now that's a reversal of future: Sanford (4G-2A, +4) pulled a Sam Reinhart, or a Jaedon Deschaneau if you need your reference to be obscure, by scoring six points during Medicine Hat's series-extending 9-2 win over the Kootenay Ice on Saturday. The 18-year-old Vernon, B.C., native who had 33 goals in the regular season had been flummoxed by Ice goalies during the Tigers' two losses in Kootenay that put it one loss from elimination. But everything Sanford and Trevor Cox (1G-3A, +4) sent toward the goal "just seemed to be going into the net" as the Tigers went from trailing 2-1 at the game's midpoint to winning by a touchdown.

    Sanford redirected a shot into the net for his second of the night to level 2-2 with 6:31 left in the second period. That caused the Ice to sag and Medicine Hat scored just 97 seconds later to take lead. In the third period, Sanford threw the floodgate open with a power-play goal 5:43 into the frame. The rest was cake.

    Game 6 of the series is on Monday, back in Cranbrook, B.C.

    Read More »from Medicine Hat’s Cole Sanford gets 6 points to force Game 6: weekend 3 Stars
  • Brett Pollock is the Oil Kings' top ranked draft prospect by Central Scouting (WHL.ca)

    Edmonton Oil Kings forward Brett Pollock wasn’t exactly on many NHL scouts’ radars at the beginning of the year. He was coming off a 44-game rookie season where he only scored two goals and four points on a limited fourth-line role.

    As his sophomore season has progressed, though, Pollock has continued to make headway in draft rankings. The proof is in the pudding in how the 18-year-old jumped to 34th among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting Service’s final ranking; he hurled over 37 prospect from his previous 71st mid-term ranking.

    The 6-foot-2, 183-pound Pollock's breakout year, which entailed notching 25 goals and 55 points in 71 contests, came together largely because his role with the Oil Kings significantly changed. He went from playing sparingly to being a key offensive contributor in their top six. This opportunity did come about for Pollock because Edmonton lost several key forwards in the offseason to the pros, but he also earned it by showing up to camp in good

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Brett Pollock, Edmonton Oil Kings
  • Bertuzzi and the Storm begin the OHL semifinal vs. Erie on Thursday (OHL Images)

    Only one series remains in Round 2, between North and Barrie. Meantime, as you might have heard, the London Knights are in "competitive hibernation" until the start of the Memorial Cup on May 16, leaving them lots of time to catch up on all those PVR'd episodes of Quest For The Cup. On with the post-game questions!

    Read More »from Storm’s defensive soundness an X factor in ouster of Knights: OHL post-game questions
  • Mantha's hat trick included a short-handed goal (CP)

    No. 1 star: Anthony Mantha, Val-d'Or Foreurs (QMJHL)

    The Quebec League MVP had the hat trick plus an apple as he put Val-d'Or on his broad back in a 5-2 home-ice Game 5 win that opened a 3-2 series lead on the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Right off the hop, the Detroit Red Wings first-round pick and two-time 50-goal scorer established a tone. First, Mantha wired in a goal 1:15 into the contest, just 12 seconds into a Foreurs power play.

    The Longueuil, Que., native struck again just past the nine-minute mark, putting Val-d'Or in good stead with a 2-0 lead. The margin was still at two late in the second when Mantha went into beast mode, stealing the puck and scoring a short-handed unassisted goal to give Val-d'Or a 4-1 lead. Just for good measure, Mantha got a helper on Louick Marcotte's insurance goal 2:59 into the third that put the game out of reach.

    Mantha's five goals and 15 points over nine games is the most by any Quebec league player who's not Jonathan Drouin, or who doesn't regularly share the ice with Jonathan Drouin.

    Read More »from Anthony Mantha’s hat trick puts Val-d’Or one win from QMJHL semifinal: Friday’s 3 Stars
  • Playing hurt, Max Domi set up a crucial goal to keep London in Friday's game (OHL Images)

    The number on goalie Jake Patterson's back was hugely symbolic. Thirty-five. As in the number of days before the London Knights' next game — the opener of the Memorial Cup on May 16.

    For the sixth season in a row, the Cup hosts will enter through the much-maligned, oft-loathed 'back door' after the Knights' 5-4 loss Friday to the high-octane, healthier Guelph Storm, whose five-game Western Conference semifinal win assured the OHL of a new champion this spring. Some might try to make a case that the long stretch since a Cup host actually won its league title embodies a problem for the Canadian Hockey League, but if the CHL doesn't mind while it's wading in its deeper revenue stream, then well, life's too short to inveigh against the trend.

    The Storm, which pulled out of bidding to host once it became apparent London with its 9,046-seat arena was a slam-dunk preferred destination, went ahead for good late in the second period after Winnipeg Jets prospect Scott Kosmachuk banked a shot in off Patterson. That was just the last in a series of unfortunate events that encumbered London in the series. The combo of a stacked Midwest Division all playing in the same division and the league's playoff format meant a pair of the OHL's three 100-points teams met in the second round instead of, say, the conference final or championship. London also had star Max Domi playing hurt, goalie Anthony Stolarz suspended for stick-swinging and its two most seasoned defenceman out of action (Zach Bell with a broken fibula, Brady Austin with mononucleosis). Concurrently, though, the Storm persevered despite the fact its nominee for the OHL most outstanding player award, Brock McGinn, was also suspended.

    Those are the extenuating circumstances, but some schadenfreude should be indulged. The Knights, on some level, probably know that is the cross to bear for being a dominant franchise. Being off for five weeks might not even be a fail; it's a credit to the Storm and a mark against the league's playoff format.

    Guelph will face Erie in the Western Conference final, beginning April 17.

    Read More »from London Knights’ long layoff before Memorial Cup: how does it stack up in recent CHL history?
  • Kelly Summers is committed to Clarkson University for next season (Mike Carroccetto for Yahoo! Canada Sports)Kelly Summers' long-term thinking is putting Carleton Place and his Ottawa Valley hometown of Golden Lake on the hockey map.

    Possessed of a big-time shot and innate hockey sense, the redheaded rearguard from the Ottawa Valley has helped the Carleton Place Canadians take the Central Canada Hockey League by storm, racking up a record 54 wins and 110 points across 62 games. Summers, who's committed to play next season at Clarkson University where his cousin Mike Sullivan was a standout in the mid-2000s, averaged more than a point per game during the regular season. He's built off that to help the fifth-year Canadians franchise make its first CCHL final. On Tuesday, NHL Central Scouting ranked Summers No. 73 on its final ranking of North American skaters.

    "Being put on the first [NHL Central Scouting] list [in January] was just a big surprise, then a couple days ago, I checked it out and I was 73rd," says Summers, who was No. 155 on the CSS list on the midterm before more and more scouts began making a point to check out Canadians' games. "It's a good honour ... It was [a sense of] finally just knowing it could come true, As a kid you always think about it and it just seems out of reach. Now, just making the list, it seems possible to make it there."

    Central Scouting has only two Canadian Junior A players ranked above Summers, who tallied 17 goals and 60 points over 56 games. Those are exceptional numbers for any defender, let alone one who's only 17 years old.

    "He's a special player — he'll be a top-four guy in the NHL at some point for sure," Canadians coach Jason Clarke says. "Kelly's work ethic and Kelly's attention to detail and just overall maturity level has really just come to fruition ever since Christmastime. He's really taken the next step to becoming an elite player.

    "I think the big thing for Kelly is it's just him getting bigger, stronger, faster, His talent that he has, his hockey sense is just a God-given talent and he just has to move forward with some real hard work."

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Kelly Summers, Carleton Place Canadians
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    New York Islanders first-rounder Ryan Pulock has shown a new physical dimension during the Brandon-Edmonton series. (Luber's Lounge)

    Shaun Clouston's surmise of what went wrong in Moose Jaw's come-from-ahead collapse against Kootenay, which now has a 3-1 lead: "Some of the guys were just a little bit out in front of themselves." (Medicine Hat News,

    An 1,100-km bus ride? The Edmonton Oil Kings would prefer to finish off Brandon on Friday, just for that reason alone. (Edmonton Journal)

    Victoria didn't go out without several fights against Portland. (The Oregonian, Voice of the Victoria Royals, Victoria Times-Colonist)

    The Portland-Kelowna conference final to end all conference finals will start with back-to-back games in the Okanagan on April 18-19. (Global News)

    Kelowna won the season series 4-0 by an aggregate score of 28-10, but the last meeting was Jan. 2, before Mathew Dumba joined the Winterhawks. "We've never had our full team," Portland coach-GM Mike Johnston says. "It's a factor, but I'm not saying it's why." (Portland Tribune)

    Yes, Red Deer Rebels' NHL draft hopeful Haydn Fleury was once babysat by long-time NHLer Brenden Morrow. (NHL.com)

    Where's the scoring going to come from next season in Regina? (Regina Leader-Post)

    Admit it, you want Lethbridge D-man Lanny Hackman to make it big either in hockey or as a Catskills comedian. (Airdrie City View)

    OHL

    Guelph's Sleeman Centre shall henceforth be known as the Max Domi House of Boos, writes Ryan Pyette. Will that be for only one more game this spring, though? Domi might have got away with a spear on Thursday. (London Free Press, Guelph Mercury)

    Read More »from Drouin, Mooseheads look to finish off series, so too do Storm and Oil Kings: the coast-to-coast
  • As was the theme throughout their second round series, the Victoria Royals had no answer to the Portland Winterhawks in the Rose City. Portland went 2-for-6 on the powerplay in the fifth game of their Western Conference semifinal series and wound up with a 5-1 victory to clinch the series 4-1, outscoring the Royals by a 19-6 count on home ice.

    Bigger than the game, which was no longer in doubt about midway through the third period, was a series of fights between the teams' skilled players that caused the game to run long into the night. Right at the end of the second period, as shown in the video above, Portland defenceman Derrick Pouliot clocked Victoria defenceman Joe Hicketts with a vicious right-handed haymaker that felled the draft-eligible prospect.

    Later, after taking a hard crosscheck into the boards from Brandon Magee, Winnipeg Jets prospect and Winterhawks' leading scorer Nic Petan found enough energy in him to drop the mitts with Ryan Gagnon.

    Referees Jeff Ingram and Derek Zalaski had their work cut out for them, doling out 151 minutes in penalties between the two teams in all, and it could have been more had Royals coach Dave Lowry not pleaded with his bench to cut out the rough stuff as the seconds on the clock ticked down.

    Read More »from Portland, Victoria brawl as Winterhawks close out Western Conference series in five games

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