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  • 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
  • Philp and the Ice lead Medicine Hat 3-1 (Larry MacDougal, The Canadian Press)No. 1 star: Luke Philp, Kootenay Ice (WHL)

    Philp (1G-3A, +2), Jaedon Descheneau (3G, +2) and Sam Reinhart (3A, +1) did the legwork offensively to help Kootenay turn the tables on Medicine Hat for a 7-4 Game 4 win and 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal.

    The Tigers scored three goals in as many minutes to open a 4-1 edge in the second period. At that point, Ice coach Ryan McGill decided to stanch the bleeding by changing goalies, putting in Wyatt Hoflin to relieve the hard-done-by Mackenzie Skapski. Eighteen seconds after play resumed, a Tigers turnover deep in its own territory came to Philip, who wired in a shot to get the Ice within striking distance.

    The two-goal spread lasted until inside of the eight-minute mark of the third. The 18-year-old Philp got the primary assist on a Rinat Valiev tally with 7:44 to go. With 4:15 left, Philp's touch pass into the middle of the offensive zone created a skew of space for Descheneau to bury the tying goal. Descheneau came right back, deking Marek Langhamer with 2:06 left for the winner.

    The Ice's first chance to advance is Saturday in Medicine Hat.

    Read More »from Luke Philp’s 4 points helps Kootenay roar back to top Tigers, go up 3-1: Thursday’s 3 Stars
  • Jets pick Scott Kosmachuk (OHL Images)

    Winnipeg Jets pick Scott Kosmachuk and Minnesota Wild singing Zack Mitchell each potted a pair, and Guelph has Memorial Cup host London one loss away from a long respite before the tournament. Meantime, Barrie's power play went from drought to deluge in a series-tying win over North Bay and Oshawa ousted Peterborough. On to the post-game questions!

    Read More »from Guelph puts London in 3-1 hole, Colts score six unanswered: OHL post-game questions
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ... come for the chat at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT!

    WHL

    Sure, Portland is 35-2 over its past 37 games, but Victoria accounts one of the two losses. So the Royals have that going for him heading into the do-or-done Game 5. (Victoria Times-Colonist)

    Giving the puck away to Sam Reinhart? Never a good idea. As a result, Kootenay's up 2-1 on Medicine Hat. (Medicine Hat News)

    All draft rankings are "media-driven," says Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal, but hey, look at the jump the Oil Kings' Edgars Kulda and Brett Pollock have made. (Edmonton Sun)

    The Moose Jaw Warriors' defence of their "totally insensitive" throwback jersey constructed around the fact it will be used on a "LIMITED" basis, notes Chris Creamer. They used ALLCAPS, people. (SportsLogos.net)

    Coach Steve Konowalchuk's summation of a 41-win Seattle Thunderbirds that ended with being swept by Kelowna: "As proud as I am, I'm disappointed right now." (ESPN 710)

    Everett Silvertips graduating captain Matt Pufahl is getting a look-see with the Colorado Avalanche's AHL farm team, while Swift Current grad Graham Black has an audition with the New Jersey Devils' affiliate. (Mile High Hockey, Regina Leader-Post)

    How much longer until Portland's long-time super-scout, assistant GM Matt Bardsley, becomes a GM with another franchise? (Portland Tribune)

    OHL

    London has outscored Guelph through three games, but the goals have been in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Meantime, look at Erie sitting there with its feet up. (London Free Press)

    Darnell Nurse is the best prospect in the Edmonton Oilers system? Damn right. (The Hockey Writers)

    Niagara IceDogs play-by-player Steve Clark talks about the 15-game suspension to Josh Ho-Sang: "It's contact. It's contact you probably see in a game hundreds of times of year ... to use the heavy hand on Josh Ho-Sang and penalize a guy 15 games for what was called holding? ... it's punishing the end result and not the intent." (AM 900 CHML)

    Read More »from Winterhawks look to clinch, Rockets sweep by: the coast-to-coast
  • Jordan Papirny has stood on his head in the Wheat Kings' blue paint (WHL.ca)

    No. 1 star: Jordan Papirny, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

    The Wheat Kings will live to see another day thanks to Papirny’s outstanding play in the blue paint. The rookie goalie, who turns 18 tomorrow (April 10), turned aside 49 of 51 rubber bullets against the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 5-2 affair to force a Game 5. As the Oil Kings fired on all cylinders, he held the Wheaties in the game in the first 40 minutes by stopping 38 of 40 shots. The Edmonton native went on to get in front of all 11 pucks that came his way in the third period.

    Papirny has ultimately solidified himself as a genuine No. 1 goalie in the second-round series. He has been the Wheat Kings’ best player in all four games despite having a 195-shot workload. As the 24th ranked North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting Service, the odds are against him to have his name called at the 2014 draft, but his impressive showing may be enough to earn a rookie camp invite.

    Richard Nejezchleb (2G-1A, +2), John Quenneville (1G-1A,

    Read More »from Jordan Papirny saves the day for Wheat Kings: Wednesday’s 3 Stars
  • Brendan Leipsic (foreground) scored twice in Portland's 4-3 win in Game 4 (photo: Victoria Royals)After failing to make life difficult for the Portland Winterhawks and falling behind 2-0 in the Western Conference semifinals, the Victoria Royals got the defending champs out of their comfort zone in two tight games on Vancouver Island.

    The defending champs found a way to earn a split, though, and take a commanding 3-1 lead back to the mainland for Thursday's Game 5 at the Moda Center in Portland.

    The Hawks imposed their will on the Royals in taking the first two games by 8-2 and 6-3 margins at home, but couldn't get their speed and skill game together as the series shifted to Victoria.

    The Royals finally looked like a 48-win team at home, and they held the Winterhawks off the scoreboard for the first 59:46 in Game 3. A pair of power-play goals in the first period held up as Victoria won 2-1.

    Finding the neutral zone increasingly clogged, and struggling to generate chances off the rush, Portland embraced a grittier style in Game 4. It still looked like it might be the Royals' night again, though, when Steven Hodges scored seven seconds into the third period to put Victoria ahead 3-2. But the Hawks responded with a Brendan Leipsic goal less than 90 seconds later, and Chase De Leo notched the game-winner midway through the period as Portland won 4-3.

    For the Winterhawks, the ability to adapt pushed them over the top. All four of Portland's goals came from driving the net hard and going after loose pucks and rebounds. It's not the usual blueprint for success, but it worked well enough to earn a split and reclaim control of the series.

    It's also the kind of win that's typical of a team littered with players who have dozens of games of WHL postseason experience:

    Read More »from Kelowna and Portland closing in on anticipated showdown: WHL Western Conference playoff roundup
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Brandon's on the brink against Edmonton. Surprised? (Brandon Sun, Luber's Lounge)

    Victoria Royals coach Dave Lowry, with his team down to its last leg after a one-goal loss to Portland: "We still believe this can be a long series." As an aside, the Royals' Joe Hicketts is not on the NHL Central Scouting final list? The diminutive defenceman might make a great free-agent signing someday. (Victoria Times-Colonist)

    Overage goalie Jordon Cooke betrayed some human-like qualities, but Kelowna still put Seattle into a three-games-to-none corner. (Regan's Rant, Seattle Times)

    Isn't it odd how some old-media outlets only pick up on a story after it's been blogged about in this space? (QMI Agency)

    OHL

    Guelph coach Scott Walker, on his healthful exchanging of views with OHL officials supervisor Leon Stickle after a Game 3 win in London: "It was self-explanatory if you were at the game." (Guelph Mercury)

    London Knights second-rounder Ben Gleason, who had college interest, is planning on coming to training camp. I know, shocked me too. (London Free Press)

    As the Belleville Bulls' arena soap opera churns ... Bulls majority owner Gord Simmonds says "it’s a bit of red herring to talk about" a facility shutdown leading to the team having to move home games next season. At the same time, the city council has sticker shock about spending $2 million to fix an ice surface at aging Yardmen Arena. (Belleville Intelligencer)

    Read More »from Scott Walker’s issues with OHL officials ‘self-explanatory’: the coast-to-coast
  • Sam Reinhart is at the top of many 2014 NHL draft rankings (Larry MacDougal, The Canadian Press)

    The 2014 NHL draft class doesn't follow the same storyline as the last handful of entry drafts.

    Albeit some of the recent draft classes don't seem as cut and dry with hindsight vision, the storylines have been mainly based around two-horse races such as Nathan MacKinnon vs. Seth Jones in 2013, Nail Yakupov vs. Ryan Murray in '12 and Taylor Hall vs. Tyler Seguin in 2010. There was other top-notch talent in those respective drafts such as Jonathan Drouin last year and Alex Galchenyuk in 2012, but the consensus was they were not in the running to go first overall.

    Read More »from NHL draft experts’ take on class of 2014: ‘Ekblad is the slam dunk’

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