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  • Mantha was selected 20th overall by the Red Wings at the 2013 NHL draft (Bill Kostroun, Associated Press)

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

    Mantha has a propensity for massive nights at that mecca of major junior hockey, Colisée Pepsi in Quebec City. The 6-foot-5 finisher nonpareil had his second career four-goal game, with an assist thrown in for garnish, to help the Foreurs embarrass the Quebec Remparts 11-2.

    When Willy Palov writes that you're supposed to do something, well brother, you step to it. It's almost like Mantha (4G-1A, +3), the Detroit Red Wings first-rounder who already has one hat trick on the nascent campaign, read that he's the favourite for the Q scoring crown and got down to business. The 19-year-old scored 42 seconds after the opening faceoff. Then he went on a binge in the second, getting three goals and a primary helper on a tally by Guillaume Gélinas.

    What else can one say? When Mantha's on, he's hard to stop; this was his seventh hat trick since the start of 2012-13. Mantha's teammates Gélinas and Louick Marcotte each enjoyed four-point games.

    Read More »from Detroit Red Wings pick Anthony Mantha scores 4 goals: Saturday’s 3 Stars
  • The Edmonton Oil Kings honoured the late Kristian Pelss on Friday (Twitter)

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

    WHL

    Morgan Rielly's destination depends a lot on the Toronto Maple Leafs' salary cap crunch. (National Post, Sportsnet)

    How could the Edmonton Oil Kings lose when they had their late teammate Kristians Pelss' spirit in the hearts? Edmonton honoured Pelss' memory by wearing his No. 26 en masse during warmups. (Edmonton Journal)

    The last time Spokane began a season 3-0, it finished it by winning the Memorial Cup. Just saying you have to set the bar high for yourself. (Spokane Spokesman-Review)

    But the last time the Seattle Thunderbirds started 3-0, many of their current players had yet to be born. (MyNorthwest.com)

    Florida Panthers selected Steven Hodges explains why he's missing the early portion of the Victoria Royals' season to have surgery. (Northern News Services)

    Josh Connolly, brother of the Tampa Bay Lightning's Brett Connolly, had a nice homecoming while helping Kamloops beat Prince George. (Prince George Citizen)

    OHL

    Nope, never expected Montreal Canadiens first-rounder Michael McCarron to fight in his first OHL game. He's playing the role. (London Free Press)

    Speaking of London first-rounders, Max Domi is back and Nikita Zadorov is not.

    Odd how that worked out: Edmonton Oilers first-rounder Darnell Nurse rejoined Sault Ste. Marie and suddenly North Bay couldn't score on the power play, after getting six extra-skater goals in its first three games. (Soo Star)

    Read More »from McCarron wastes no time throwing down, Sags throw hat into 2015 Memorial Cup ring: weekend coast-to-coast
  • Erie Otters' captain Connor Brown took over the OHL scoring lead with a five-point night in Friday's 6-3 win over the Sudbury Wolves. (CP)Erie Otters' captain Connor Brown took over the OHL scoring lead with a five-point night in Friday's 6-3 win over the Sudbury Wolves. (CP)

    No. 1 star: Connor Brown, Erie Otters (OHL)

    Captain Brown propelled the Otters to the Midwest Division lead with five points in a 6-3 road win over the Sudbury Wolves. Brown’s performance in the game moved him to the top of the OHL scoring list with eight points in the early stages.

    The 2012 fifth-rounder of the Toronto Maple Leafs had four assists and sealed the game with an empty netter in the final minute to give the Otters their second win of the young season. The Wolves dropped to 1-1-0-0. Both teams scored twice with the man advantage in the contest.

    Brown and linemates Dane Fox and Connor McDavid combined for 12 points in the win. Fox added two goals and two assists for the Otters, while super-prospect McDavid added a goal and two helpers.

    Nikolay Goldobin scored twice and added an assist in the loss. Anthony DeAngelo and Daniel Nikandrov both chipped in with a pair of helpers.

    It was Dansk party time for the Otters, as Oscar Dansk stopped 33-of-36 shots in the win. Brodie

    Read More »from Brown’s five points powers Otters; wild barn burner in Shawinigan yields big nights: Friday’s 3 Stars
  • BarzalTo hear Mathew Barzal tell it, he only had a couple of butterflies in his stomach returning home to play his first Western Hockey League game in Canada. Barzal was the first overall pick by the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2012's WHL Bantam Draft and a graduate of the Burnaby Winter Club program. He was also the runaway leading scorer last season in the British Columbia Major Midget League, scoring 29 goals and recording 74 assists for 103 total points. Even as a 15-year-old, the youngest age group in midget hockey, he managed to finish 18 points ahead of the next competitor, playing fewer games because of a brief 6-game stint for the Junior A Coquitlam Express.

    His coach, third-year Seattle Thunderbirds bench boss Steve Konowalchuk, called his game against his hometown Vancouver Giants Wednesday night "solid. Not his best game. Not his worst game." Barzal was without a point in a 6-0 rout by the T-Birds over the Giants, a team that doesn't keep it a secret that they're rebuilding. While Barzal may have downplayed his own nervousness playing in front of a gathering of family and friends—as well as an ex-teammate—in his hometown, Konowalchuk said this was a good game to get out of the way early: "He mentioned to some of the guys or one of the coaches before the game that he couldn't remember the last time he was nervous, which is fun."

    The night before, Barzal had been texting with a friend of his from the Winter Club, 2012 15th overall pick Ty Ronning. The two were exchanging pleasantries and trash talk. During the game, Ronning had to twice elude checks from Barzal in front of a strong contingent of fans wearing Burnaby's gold and black sweater. Four players from the BWC were selected in the first round of the 2012 draft and this was the first time two of those players had gone head to head. While each player wants to do what's best for their team, it's no secret that Barzal is the most talented and the one most likely to have a run of success at the junior level and higher on up.

    Read More »from New territory: Managing expectations for the 2012 top pick Mat Barzal
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    How does a 2018 world junior championship in Pittsburgh sound? (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

    Erstwhile Medicine Hat Tigers captain Hunter Shinkaruk potted his second NHL preseason goal on Thursday, which augurs well for his chances to stick around with the Vancouver Canucks for the real thing.

    What about the two teenaged OHLers, London's Bo Horvat and the Belleville Bulls' Brendan Gaunce? Gaunce is headed back to junior. (NHL.com)

    The Portland Winterhawks' Keegan Iverson was player of the game during Thursday's All-American Prospects Game in Pittsburgh. Does that mean the Penguins will have to draft him? They tend to only take 'Hawks defencemen. (NHL.com)

    Suspension alert! It's not every day one can use a "Crunk out" pun headline without forcing it. Okay, perhaps that was a little forced.

    OHL

    Sean Monahan remains up with the Calgary Flames, who have to pare two more forwards off their roster by NHL opening night. Flames GM Jay Feaster on Monahan, via Kristen Odland: "He’s trained to be a professional. He continues to be in the mix." (Calgary Herald)

    The longer Horvat stays in Vancouver, the more prominent 19-year-old San Jose Sharks picks Chris Tierney becomes for the London Knights. (London Free Press)

    Sudbury Community Arena showed its age when the Wolves had a game fogged out last week. The OHL is a little concerned about the aging of what will soon be its oldest venue. (CBC)

    Bill Walker explains how new Owen Sound Attack goalie Jack Flinn, thanks to his adviser Darren Ferris, didn't have to be exposed to QMJHL waivers before switching leagues. (Owen Sound Sun Times)

    Washington Capitals first-rounder Andre Burakovsky will make his Erie Otters debut on Friday. (Erie Times-News)

    Injuries are helping Eric Locke's chances of staying with the Buffalo Sabres' AHL farm club instead of being an overage with the Saginaw Spirit. (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle)

    Read More »from Hunter Shinkaruk strengthens case with Canucks, Gaunce bound for Belleville: the coast-to-coast
  • Jujhar Khaira (Getty Images)Jujhar Khaira is ready to show the Dub what he’s all about in his rookie season with the Everett Silvertips.

    “I’m really looking forward to this season,” says Khaira, who left Michigan Tech after just one season to join the Silvertips. “I want to make an immediate impact and have a big year. I want to be a guy that they can count on to play hard every night.”

    There is ample opportunity in Everett’s offense for the 6-foot-3, 195-pound forward to succeed. Their leading point scorer last year, Joshua Winquist, only potted 51 points, albeit he only played 51 games. Behind him, only three other players scored north of 40 points. Khaira isn’t putting extra pressure on his own shoulders to carry of the offense, though.

    “I’m not setting any goals for points or thinking I have to do too much,” says the Edmonton Oilers prospect, who scored 25 points in 37 games last year with Michigan Tech. “I’m just going to work hard and try to show consistent improvements in my game.”

    Khaira’s decision to

    Read More »from Oilers prospect Jujhar Khaira aims for a big year in Everett
  • Taylor Dupuis' 48 saves on Thursday was his career high (OHL Images)

    No. 1 star: Taylor Dupuis, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

    Dupuis made a memory in his Sting debut, discombobulating the Windsor Spitfires by making 48 saves in a 3-1 divisional win. Here's one juxtaposition that hopefully portrays what it was like at the WFCU Centre: the only time Dupuis ever got a moment's peace was on a couple Sarnia penalty kills. The Spitfires, whose lineup includes two NHL first-rounders in Slater Koekkoek and Kerby Rychel, levelled 49 shots but failed get any during two of its power plays. Talk about a tipoff that Dupuis had them frustrated.

    The 19-year-old from New Liskeard, Ont., came to Sarnia in a trade on the eve of the season after being the odd goalie out with the Sudbury Wolves, who went with overage Franky Palazzese and promising 16-year-old Troy Timpano. Dupuis got settled in with a 14-save first, with Bryan Moore (1G-1A, +2) and first-rounder Nikita Korostelev (2A, +2) helping author the game's first goal. By the middle of the second, with Dupuis staying square to the puck and locked in on the shooters, Sarnia was up 3-0 despite being outshot 23-6.

    Dupuis held in during some frantic flurries around the net in the third period. Windsor didn't score until its 46th shot of the night; by then, it was too late to mount much of a comeback.

    Read More »from Sarnia Sting’s Taylor Dupuis thwarts Windsor with 48 saves: Thursday’s 3 Stars
  • Nova Scotia native Jack Flinn played 18 games with QMJHL Sherbrooke last season (Ghyslain Bergeron, The Canadian Press)

    Those wacky Ontario Hockey League general managers looking outside the league's recruiting area to fortify their goaltending and win more games — what are you going to do?

    The what-should-be is always going to conflict with the what-is. The former is that Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League believe an embargo on European goalies is going to help create better North American netminders. The latter is that the CHL only reflects what's going on at the sport's lower levels. So it's a little ironic that now that importing European goalies is on the way out, two OHL teams this week moved to shore up their goaltending by bringing in players who had been waived through the QMJHL. It's a little ironic given that the flow through league waivers is usually eastbound since the OHL sticks its lines into a deeper player pool.

    On Thursday, the Owen Sound Attack picked up 6-foot-7 Jack Flinn to push Brandon Hope; Flinn was a unique case after being declared a free agent by the QMJHL, which ruled the Quebec Remparts has mishandled the goaltender. Earlier in the week, Philippe Trudeau, late of the Val-d'Or Foreurs, usurped Clint Windsor as the overage goalie for the Ottawa 67's.

    Read More »from 2 OHL teams patch up goaltending with dip into QMJHL ranks; slightly ironic following European goalie embargo
  • Jared Walsh has decommitted from Michigan to play for the Steelheads (OJHL Images)Sounds about right: the only two prospects on NHL Central Scouting's recently released preliminary list who played in the Ontario Junior Hockey League ranks last season will now both lace 'em up in major junior as they showcase their wares for the draft. On Thursday, Jared Walsh, a 5-foot-9¾, 174-poundpuck-moving defenceman who had been committed to the University of Michigan, got his blessing from the Junior A St. Michael's Buzzers and will join the Mississauga Steelheads, where he was a second-round choice in 2012.

    You can probably figure out the reasoning for Walsh eschewing the chance to play at Michigan. It's perceived as better to spend his draft year in the Ontario Hockey League, which counting fellow Buzzer (turned Erie Otters centre) Jake Evans, had 45 skaters and goalies on the Central Scouting list. (Not all are necessarily a lock to be selected in June, but there are others not on the list who probably will be, too, because crapshoot.) Joining Mississauga, which bid adieu to four defencemen at the end of last season, also means joining a team with a lot of available minutes for a young defenceman.

    Read More »from Mississauga Steelheads add NHL draft prospect Jared Walsh
  • Central Ontario rivals Owen Sound and Barrie play a six-game interconference season series (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

    When the OHL made it official its geographical footprint would again stretch northeast to North Bay, it took about 30 seconds to spin that news off into talk about realigning the 20-team league.

    That was downplayed at the time, which made sense. After all, (a) getting the North Bay Battalion re-situated after leaving Brampton was a big enough agenda item and (b) team governors, like you and I, are pattern beings who aren't going to rush headlong into change. There's always the fear of losing an accustomed rival and thus losing revenue. However, with expansion both unlikely (and unwise), the OHL will have to find some means of offering a new look. Plus there might be more willingness since the NHL has done it; monkey-see, monkey-do, you know.

    From Mike Farwell:

    Read More »from OHL realignment on table; 5 things to love and hate about it

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