Buzzing The Net

  • Guelph newcomers Nick Ebert (10) and Justin Nichols (39) - Terry Wilson:OHL Images

    The Canadian Hockey League's much-awaited Dynamic Dozen returns after taking a week off. The theme so far in 2014 is the dogfight at the top of the rankings between Kelowna, Guelph and Portland, but two of those teams pulled a little further ahead over the two-week period.

    You'll note how Guelph and Portland are separated by just a single point of RPI. They are, objectively, as close as close can be at this point although both teams face tough tasks in their own conference before we can pencil them in to face off on the final Sunday of the Memorial Cup tournament in London.

    1. Guelph Storm, OHL (.586 RPI, +2.3 SRS, +1) — The Storm have won six consecutive games, enough to push them back up to first place. Only the Kitchener Rangers, a distant 41st in RPI rankings, have a more difficult strength of schedule among OHL teams, and it's still incredible that they haven't already created a giant gap in the standings between themselves and rivals Erie and London.

    New challenge, could the Storm score more goals against the Norwegian, Austrian, Finnish and Latvian national teams than a team of Canadian NHL all-stars?* The Storm are most recently coming off a game they scored nine against Plymouth, during which Nick Ebert became the third Storm defenceman to hit the 40-point mark. A fourth, Steve Trojanovic, is at 37, and the rest of the league combined have just eight. With 280 goals, the Storm are in a class of their own on offence, and it doesn't end there: goaltender Justin Nichols is second in the league in save percentage.

    * - not a serious question

    2. Portland Winterhawks, WHL (.585 RPI, +2.0 SRS, -1) — It's not uncommon for major junior teams to enjoy long winning streaks, which is why it's a bit of a shock that Portland's current 17-game win streak is a franchise best. You might think that at some point, they'd have reached that during their four seasons of laying waste to the WHL's Western Conference.

    After a four-game-in-six-days road trip in which he scored ten points, Taylor Leier was named the CHL's Player of the Week, and he's shown during the streak how he can be leaned on offensively by a good hockey team. Mat Dumba is also fitting in to his new team, with 12 points and a +19 rating through 15 games. Dumba added the punch on D the Winterhawks needed, but rookie Garrett Haar has also stepped up with 13 points in his 17 games since 2013 began.

    Read More »from Portland streaking, but Guelph hold onto top spot in Dynamic Dozen rankings
  • Desrosiers earned his third shutout of the month in Monday's 5-0 win over the Tigres. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)Desrosiers earned his third shutout of the month in Monday's 5-0 win over the Tigres. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)

    No. 1 star: Philippe Desrosiers, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)

    Desrosiers has had an unbeatable month of February, literally.

    He pitched his second shutout in a row in a 5-0 win over Victoriaville, setting a new QMJHL shutout streak of 213 minutes and 15 seconds, beating the previous record set earlier this season by Quebec netminder François Brassard, who had a 212-minute streak.

    Desrosiers last allowed a goal in a game on Feb. 7 against Saint John. He’s had three shutouts and a spotless relief appearance since then.

    He also is undefeated in February, posting a win in every appearance so far. He is on a five-game winning streak.

    Desrosiers stopped 31 pucks for the shutout on Monday. Patrik Zdrahal had a goal and two assists to secure the victory.

    Rimouski jumped to 34-15-3-4 on the season, enough to tie them for fourth place in the QMJHL with Quebec. Victoriaville dropped to 29-21-4-2.

    No. 2 star: Travis Sanheim, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

    Sanheim had five assists in Calgary’s 7-1 thrashing of

    Read More »from Desrosiers sets new QMJHL shutout streak in win over Victoriaville: Monday’s 3 stars
  • Hard to buy into the notion that minor hockey is wholesome and wonderful after seeing footage of an ugly incident in Winnipeg last weekend that police are investigating.

    (Warning: NSFW language.)

    As Global Winnipeg is reporting, during a game at Southdale Community Centre in Winnipeg involving a team from Sagkeeng First Nation, a scuffle broke out between the players during what had already been a testy game between 12-year-old players. With parents screeching in the background, two players began to exchange punches, with one referee "going down to the ice with one of the young players." Immediately after the boy was tackled — police confirmed he was injured — a man came off the team bench and tussled with the referee. Others came in to break it up, but Global's report said the hostilities resumed off-ice after the game.

    Anyone still think that Respect In Sport courses for hockey parents are unnecessary?

    Read More »from Minor hockey brawl sees 12-year-old player injured, parents and refs fighting (VIDEO)
  • Without a trace of hyperbole: Greatest. Intermission. Contest. Ever.

    Everything came up Cape Breton Screaming Eagles last weekend. Not only did the Eagles, who had worst record in major junior hockey last season, win both their games to secure a playoff spot, but two fans had pinpoint accuracy to win some pretty nice prizes between periods of their game on Saturday.

    First Karie Shaw, a fan from Glace Bay, N.S., put the three-inch-wide puck through a 3¼-inch hole from centre ice, to win a $10,000 prize sponsored by Scotiabank. The fans at Centre 200 were still abuzz when Megan Laffin of Florence, N.S., stepped up for the corner dot-to-corner dot challenge. That requires not only accuracy, but putting the perfect curling-style 'draw weight' on the puck so it stops right on the faceoff dot. Laffin pulled it off, winning a new Ford F-150 from MacDonald Auto Group, a Sydney dealership.

    Read More »from Watch two QMJHL fans make back-to-back shots to win $10,000, then a truck (VIDEO)
  • Baptiste's three goals give him 35 goals on the year, placing him eighth in OHL goal-scoring. (CP / Kenneth Armstrong)Baptiste's three goals give him 35 goals on the year, placing him eighth in OHL goal-scoring. (CP / Kenneth Armstrong)

    No. 1 star: Nicholas Baptiste, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

    Baptiste scored a hatty, including two in Sudbury’s four-goals-in-four-minutes outburst, to lead the Wolves to a 5-3 win over the Niagara IceDogs.

    The Buffalo third rounder opened the scoring for the Wolves, cutting the IceDog lead to 2-1 just :16 seconds into the second period. Niagara then scored again early in the third, increasing their lead to 3-1, making Sudbury go to work.

    And go to work they did.

    First defender Trevor Carrick scored at 8:41 to cut the lead to 3-2, then Baptiste tied it just 15 seconds later. Carrick scored again to put the Wolves ahead for good at 9:55, and Baptiste completed his hat trick with an insurance marker at 11:02.

    Carrick scored twice and added an assist in the win, while Radek Faksa had three helpers in the victory, but it was all about Baptiste’s three goals, giving him 35 on the year, and the game’s first star honours.

    Troy Timpano stopped 29 shots in a rare start for the Wolves, earning the win.

    Read More »from Baptiste nets hat trick to spur comeback for Wolves: Sunday’s 3 stars
  • Kootenay forward Jaedon Descheneau's four points gives him 82 on the season, enough for fifth place in WHL scoring. (CP / Larry MacDougal)Kootenay forward Jaedon Descheneau's four points gives him 82 on the season, enough for fifth place in WHL scoring. (CP / Larry MacDougal)

    No. 1 star: Jaedon Descheneau, Kootenay Ice (WHL)

    #FreeJaedon earned four points, a goal and three helpers, in Kootenay’s 5-2 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

    Taking his usual spot alongside Sam Reinhart and Tom Bozon, Descheneau took the reins of the Ice offence and took control of the game Saturday, earning two primary feeds and the winning goal on the powerplay.

    Reinhart chipped in with a goal and an assist of his own, and Bozon scored into an empty cage to ice the victory for the Ice, who improved to 33-22-2-2 with the win. Mackenzie Skapski made 28 saves in the win.

    Curtis Honey took the loss for the Wheat Kings, giving up four on 21 shots in a run-and-gun first period, before ceding the net to Jordan Papirny, who was spotless in two periods the rest of the way. Brandon dropped to 28-23-6-2.

    Four points for Descheneau gives him 82 on the year, two back of Reinhart, the highly-touted prospect, and good enough for fifth in WHL scoring. The undrafted forward should hear his name

    Read More »from #FreeJaedon Descheneau with four in team’s 5-2 win: Saturday’s 3 stars
  • Russell Maxwell scored with 26 seconds to go to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 4-3 win over division rival Tri-City Americans, but the main event was a series of "disagreements" in the third period leading to a massive line brawl.

    As you can see in the video below, Americans forward Devon McAndrews crosschecked the Thunderbirds defenceman in the back following the customary hey-get-away-from-my-goalie shove by Wardley:

    (Headline idea: 'NO LOVE LOST ON VALENTI—')

    Then all hell broke loose. The 3,482 fans in attendance at the ShoWare Center in Kent all seemed to enjoy the sound of teenagers fists cracking on hockey helmet shells, with the sequence resulting in 17 infractions resulting in 84 penalty minutes.

    Read More »from Seattle Thunderbirds score winner with 26 ticks left; participate in line brawl with Tri-City Americans
  • Bartosak has started a league-high 52 games this season for Red DeerNo. 1 stars: Patrik Bartosak and Scott Feser, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

    Clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Rebels need every point they can get. Few expected them to get two points at Rexall Place on Friday night, but huge games by Bartosak and Feser led Red Deer to a 3-2 overtime win over the Edmonton Oil Kings.

    Feser, an 18-year-old in his second season, scored all three goals for Red Deer, including the game-winner 1:59 into the extra period. It was the first WHL hat trick for Feser, who came into Friday with eight goals in 71 career games.

    Meanwhile, Bartosak — the reigning CHL goalie of the year — owned his end of the ice, stopping 50 of 52 Oil Kings shots to earn his 26th victory of the season. While Bartosak hasn't quite dominated like he did in 2012-13, his .923 save percentage this season ranks third in the WHL.

    The win not only gave the Rebels a much-needed boost in the standings, but also gave the team confidence for a possible first-round playoff matchup against the conference-leading Oil Kings.

    Read More »from Bartosak and Feser leave Oil Kings seeing Red as Rebels prevail: Friday’s 3 Stars
  • DeAngelo is NHL Central Scouting's 10th-ranked domestic skater (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    First Anthony DeAngelo was suspended by the Sarnia Sting, now he is suspended by the league?

    Greater minds can make inferences about the combo of circumstances — the Sting's Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard of a lineup, its current slide into the first overall slot for the OHL priority selection and its best player having been suspended since the start of the month. Tinfoil hatters would note that in theory that a team drafting No. 1 instead of No. 2 or No. 3 is more attractive to a potential buyer, but ix-nay on the anking-tay.

    The 18-year-old DeAngelo, an offensive defenceman who is NHL Central Scouting's 10th-ranked North American skater, has not played since Jan. 31 after being suspended for what was called disciplinary issues, although he's resumed practising. On Thursday, the story changed; TV Cogeco Ontario reported that the Sewell, N.J., native is under a league suspension. That came in passing during an 11-0 loss to the London Knights. The teams reconvene again on Friday in London, where (just kidding, but not really) the goal spread might resemble those usually seen during football season. (Knights minus 6½?)

    From Shaun Bisson (@ObserverShaun):

    ...Anthony DeAngelo is still not expected to return to the line up.

    “We're looking forward to some closure on this (on Friday), and we have been told that that is what we're going to get,” said [Sting coach Trevor] Letowski.

    “It's been hanging over our heads for a while and it's been a distraction. It's not an excuse for the product on the ice, but it's certainly been a distraction and we're hoping for some closure.” (Sarnia Observer)

    Read More »from Sarnia Sting’s Anthony DeAngelo, high-ranked NHL prospect, in OHL purgatory
  • Athanasiou was a Red Wings fourth-round pick in 2012 (OHL Images)

    No. 1 star: Andreas Athanansiou

    How do you spell Athanasiou? With three A's and five G's. The Detroit Red Wings prospect became the third OHLer to hit the 40-goal plateau whilst going off for career-high seven points (5G-2A, +4) during the Colts' 9-2 trampling of the Niagara IceDogs.

    The speedster helped ex-'Dog Mitchell Theoret (2G-3A, +4) have a memorable homecoming. Athanasiou, who's already had two four-goal nights this season alone (including one vs. Niagara), got started early with two first-period goals. The Woodbridge, Ont., native drew the first helped on Theoret's tallies 23 seconds apart in the second and buried another goal in the final minute of that frame. Athanasiou scored two more in the third to ensure BTN's 3 Stars decisions would be easy, which is appreciated since the Olympics are such a distraction.

    Read More »from Andreas Athanasiou scores 5 goals to Barrie the IceDogs: Thursday’s 3 Stars
  • Sea Dogs name Young as GM, ending two-headed power at the top

    Sea Dogs netminder Sebastien Auger has been one of the lone bright spots for Saint John, who are tied for 16th in the 18-team QMJHL. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)Sea Dogs netminder Sebastien Auger has been one of the lone bright spots for Saint John, who are tied for 16th in the 18-team QMJHL. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)

    The Saint John Sea Dogs ended their two-man experiment on Thursday, naming Vancouver Canucks scout Darrell Young as their new general manager.

    Young signed on for three years at the helm of the port city’s junior franchise. Terms were not disclosed. He will man his post starting March 1, when current co-GMs Ross Yates and Christian Vermette will go back to their old jobs of head coach and head scout, respectively.

    "I'm very excited to be joining the Saint John Sea Dogs organization," Young said. "In meetings with management and ownership, I can tell they are committed to bringing another championship to Saint John. It's an opportunity I could not pass up."

    Young is the latest addition in a season of struggle and turnover for the Sea Dogs, who canned former head coach and GM Mike Kelly in October. Kelly was a major part of the Memorial Cup-winning unit in 2011, and the President’s Cup-winning team in 2012, and his firing came as a shock to Sea Dogs fans. Yates was promoted to head

    Read More »from Sea Dogs name Young as GM, ending two-headed power at the top
  • Tieja MacLaughlin in court (via KNDU-TV's Facebook page)

    Just in time for Valentine's Day, it looks like we have a conclusion to the most talked-about love story in Canada so far this year.

    When we last checked in on Kelowna reporter Tieja MacLaughlin, she had been charged with one count of felony harassment with domestic violence after driving across the U.S. border after having threatened her boyfriend Jackson Playfair of the Western Hockey League's Tri-City Americans. That charged was later reduced to gross misdemeanour harassment.

    The 26-year-old MacLaughlin agreed to a plea deal offered by Benton County, Wash., prosecutors Wednesday afternoon:

    Under terms of the deal, MacLaughlin must undergo counseling and has been placed on probation. She is also not to have any further contact with Jackson Playfair, a 19-year-old hockey player with the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League.

    Part of those conditions is court mandated weekly cognitive-behavioural therapy for at least 10 sessions.

    Read More »from Reporter Tieja MacLaughlin, charged with threatening WHL player boyfriend, agrees to plea deal
  • Now a minor hockey coach, Paul Coffey may be in some hot water (CP Images)Well here's a mystery that needs solving: What was it that Hall of Fame defenceman Paul Coffey said to the coach of the Mississauga Senators that warranted a three-game suspension from coaching his own son's Greater Toronto Hockey League team?

    The Hockey News was the first outlet to break this story. It seems that Coffey was found guilty of a new Hockey Canada rule protecting players, coaches and officials from "discriminatory slurs." Coffey coaches the midget 'AAA' Toronto Marlboros, and, per THN.com, was assessed a gross misconduct penalty for "a discriminatory slur" last Friday:

    Coffey, according to the game sheet, was originally assessed a gross misconduct penalty for a discriminatory slur, which carries with it an indefinite suspension. After an investigation by the GTHL, Coffey was handed a three-game suspension. Coffey was not behind the bench for his team Tuesday night, which was the fourth game of his team’s league semifinal playoff series. (The series is tied 4-4 in points, with the first team to eight winning the series.)

    GTHL executive director Scott Oakman would not even confirm that Coffey was suspended, saying only the Marlies had been informed of the league’s decision. Oakman said the GTHL does not make public its suspensions and saw no reason to deviate from that policy in this case.

    For their part, neither the Marlies nor Coffey was willing to comment. But thn.com has learned an official from the opposing Senators team lobbied the GTHL to be lenient on Coffey, saying the situation was being blown out of proportion.

    Read More »from Hall of Fame defenceman Paul Coffey reportedly suspended by GTHL following “discriminatory slur”
  • Roy's no-show for the Screaming Eagles netted them four picks total in the next three years. Monday, the league announced protocol for players who refuse to report to their drafted team. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)Roy's no-show for the Screaming Eagles netted them four picks total in the next three years. Monday, the league announced protocol for players who refuse to report to their drafted team. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)

    Nicolas Roy's legacy on the QMJHL is already apparent, and he hasn't even completed his rookie season yet.

    The Saguenéens forward's refusal to join the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles last summer has hastened the league's latest rule changes, effective next season. Cape Breton, you might recall, had to trade Roy, the No. 1 overall, to Chicoutimi.

    The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League made a few tweaks to their rulebook for the 2014-15 season, and the biggest change is protocol for compensatory draft picks in case players don’t report. The league announced Monday that three changes were voted and passed.

    The biggest changes relate to drafting, as two rules were changed in that area.

    Starting with the 2014 draft, teams need to declare their request for a compensatory draft pick before the list of prospects for the next entry draft is announced. The player who refused to report will be put back into the draft pool and listed on Central Scouting’s list for the next year going forward. This is another effort to incentivise teams to go for the best players, even with the risk of them not reporting, with the reward being another high pick as compensation if they strike out.

    Read More »from QMJHL makes small changes to rules ahead of 2014-15 season, try to avoid another Roy fiasco
  • Jesse Graham was drafted by the Islanders in 2012 (Saginaw Spirit photo)No doubt everyone has seen an end-to-end sequence in hockey where a goalie denies a sure goal and her/his team comes right back up the ice and scores.

    On Saturday, there was just such an occurrence in the Ontario Hockey League, only it involved a goal being prevented by a defenceman. who promptly fired a breakout pass that started a rush that ended with a goal. Saginaw Spirit defenceman Jesse Graham, a 2012 sixth-round choice of the NHL's New York Islanders, made a have-to-see-it-believe-it play to prevent an empty-netter, racing back to his own end and getting his blade on the puck when it was right on the goal line. In one motion, the 19-year-old defenceman turned it into a breakout pass, sparking a rush that ended with Saginaw's Kristoff Kontos scoring.

    Who says you can't outskate the puck? The downside is that Saginaw was down by two goals to the division rival Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The Kontos tally ultimately only made the difference between a 6-5 or a 7-4 defeat, but Graham's hustle and pinpoint pass extended the game. Even easing up for a millisecond might have allowed the puck to slide into the yawning cage and essentially end the game, so share that with all those kids out there.

    Read More »from Islanders pick Jesse Graham makes amazing empty-net save for OHL’s Saginaw Spirit (VIDEO)
  • Konecny is the OHL's leading rookie scorer (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    Looking through the lens of the Ottawa 67's scuffling season, the beauty goal Travis Konecny scored on Sunday seems even more special. It is atypical to have a 16-year-old rookie impose his will on a key game with savvy and skill the way the OHL's No. 1 overall pick did Sunday with his game-winner during the 67's 4-2 decision over the Mississauga Steelheads, a team it's trying to bump out of a playoff position.

    With Ottawa and Mississauga knotted at deuces with just more than eight minutes left, Konecny skated out of the corner, catching a break when the Steelheads' Bryson Cianfrone passed his off to the defender. Then the 67's beacon deked around defender Nick Zottl and beat goalie Spencer Martin, a Colorado Avalanche pick.

    A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

    Read More »from Ottawa 67′s Travis Konecny undresses defender for beauty goal (VIDEO)
  • Warriors' Brayden Point is a top 2014 draft prospect (The Canadian Press)

    Moose Jaw Warriors centre Brayden Point grew up hearing critics doubt him because of his smaller stature. So as a 5-foot-9, 160-pound 17-year-old, he isn’t surprised to hear his naysayers question whether he will be able to transition his game from major junior to the NHL.

    “I’ve heard people doubt me because of my size my whole life,” says Point, who turns 18 in March. “I remember they used to say I wouldn’t be able to keep on scoring like I was once I hit the hitting level. Then I didn’t slow down so people would say bantam, then midget and now my next step is the NHL. I don’t let it bother me – it’s more just motivation.”

    Point isn’t the first undersized skilled forward to come out of Moose Jaw. Former 50-goal scorer Theoren Fleury – who retired at 5-foot-6, 180-pounds – spent his junior days in a Warriors sweater. Although Fleury’s accomplishments do inspire Point, he sees Buffalo Sabres centre Tyler Ennis – who stands 5-foot-9, 169-pounds – as his role model of choice.

    “Fleury

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Brayden Point, Moose Jaw Warriors
  • Ho-Sang's six points is his highest single-game tally in his OHL career. (OHL Images)Ho-Sang's six points is his highest single-game tally in his OHL career. (OHL Images)

    No. 1 star: Josh Ho-Sang, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

    Ho-Sang went into beast mode on Sunday, netting two goals and assisting on four more in Windsor’s come-from-behind 6-5 win over the North Bay Battalion.

    Ho-Sang didn’t just lead the offence, he was the offence, with a point on every goal the Spits scored. His dozen allowed him to crack the 70-point mark this season in 52 games.

    Windsor trailed 4-1 and 5-3 at points in the game, before Ho-Sang flexed his muscles and propelled the Spits to victory, helping them to three unanswered goals in the third to come away with the win.

    Four other Spitfires scored in the game, with Brody Vail netting the winner.

    The Battalion outshot the Spitfires 48-27, including 19 shots in the third. Dalen Kuchmey stopped 43 shots for the win. Brendan O’Neill took the loss in goal.

    Windsor improved to 33-18-2-0 on the year, comfortably in fifth place in the OHL’s Western Conference. They are nine points out of fourth-place London, but a 13-point cushion on

    Read More »from Ho-Sang gets dirty dozen in Windsor’s win over North Bay: Sunday’s 3 Stars
  • Josh Ho-Sang is ranked 18th by NHL Central Scouting (OHL Images)

    In case there was doubt, Josh Ho-Sang illustrated that he has some of the supplest hands in the NHL draft class of 2014 while sparking the Windsor Spitfires to a comeback win on Sunday, namely by finding a way to chip the puck to himself before scoring a goal.

    Ho-Sang was one-on-one against the North Bay Battalion's Kyle Wood when he chipped the puck over the defender's stick, tapped it down and then roofed a shot over the shoulder of goalie Brendan O'Neill while falling down from the speed wobble. The goal got the Spits off the deck, as they rallied from a three-goal deficit to win 6-5 with Ho-Sang getting two goals and four assists. North Bay, mind you, has allowed the sixth-fewest goals in the 20-team OHL.

    Read More »from Windsor Spitfires’ Josh Ho-Sang chips puck to himself, scores sick goal during 6-point day (VIDEO)
  • Ikonen was Tampa Bay's sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    The puck had some English on it, so Henri Ikonen had to get creative with the Finnish.

    A short-handed penalty-shot goal is rare. Rarer still is a player trying a "one-hand top shelf" move in a regulation game like Ikonen, the Tampa Bay Lightning pick who plays for the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs, did on Sunday.

    As Ikonen crossed the blueline on his penalty shot, the puck took a hop, skip and jump over his stick. Perhaps that made him apprehensive about trying to pull the puck to his forehand against Sarnia Sting goalie Taylor Dupuis; so the 19-year-old Finn improvised and scored with a one-handed backhand flick.

    Read More »from Lightning pick Henri Ikonen scores one-handed penalty shot goal (VIDEO)