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Erie Otters’ Connor Crisp nets hat trick in Niagara: Thursday’s 3 Stars

Erie Otters' Connor Crisp (OHL Images)No. 1 star: Connor Crisp, Erie Otters (OHL)

Crisp has a hand in a hat trick before in Niagara, but this time it was his own instead of Ryan Strome's. The 18-year-old who famously filled in as a netminder last season filled the IceDogs' net, getting his third of the night with 4:29 to play to cement a 4-2 Otters win.

Getting his first major junior hat trick won't garner Crisp (3G, +1) nearly as much attention as his stint in net did. However, it was a delight for the Otters to see both he and Dane Fox (1G-1A, +1) in full flight after each has dealt with significant injuries. A shoulder injury cost Crisp nearly all of last season, but the Alliston, Ont., native has shown improvement with 12 goals and 18 points in 33 games. In the first period, Crisp pulled the Otters level just 78 seconds after Niagara's opening goal by popping in his own rebound on a 2-on-1 break. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder put Erie ahead for good with a tip-in 13 seconds into the second; in the third, he tipped in Fox's pass for the late-game clincher.

It was the Otters' first win in St. Catharines in nearly four years. The last came on Dec. 31, 2009.

No. 2 star: Morgan Klimchuk, Regina Pats (WHL)

The Pats ended two bad streaks — a seven-game winless drought and a scoreless skein that eventually reached 206 minutes 21 seconds — by beating division-leading Prince Albert 3-0. Klimchuk (2A, +1), who is bearing the heavy burden of being the Queen City kids' offensive catalyst at age 17, assisted on the first two goals to help provide some positivity for the Pats. That included a greasy goal by Trent Ouellette late in the second period and the 2-0 tally early in the third by 18-year-old Marc McCoy, whom the Pats acquired from Red Deer earlier this week.

The win gave the 11th-place Pats (12-18-2-2) something to build on for their three-game road swing to complete the pre-holiday schedule. Overage goalie Matt Hewitt (23 saves) also made an incredible save on Prince Albert's Josh Morrissey late in the opening period to keep the scoreline 0-0.

"It wasn't just the win, it was how we got the win," Klimchuk told Regina's CKRM 620. "We did all the little things and that added up."

No. 3 star: Dominic Beauchemin, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Halifax will be fine without its world junior-bound first liine so long as depth forwards such as Beauchemin keep popping in goals! The 19-year-old winger had scored just once all season, but he popped in a pair to help the Mooseheads ground the P.E.I. Rocket 3-1. Beauchemin (2G, +2) opened the scoring midway through the first period. In the second, he buried a breakaway chance after being sprung with a pass from Brad Cuzner, who plays for the St. Francis Xavier X-Men but is filling in for the Mooseheads during university hockey's exam/holiday break. That goal opened a 3-0 lead for Halifax, which was more than enough support for star goalie Zach Fucale (28 saves).

Honourable mention: Olivier Archambault, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)

The Montreal Canadiens fourth-round pick scored both Volts goals in their 3-2 home shootout win over the Quebec Remparts. That included a big goal early in the third period. The Remparts forced OT through a Jason Houde goal, but 17-year-old goalie Louis-Philip Guindon (26 saves, 3-for-3 on shootout stops) held firm and Marc-Olivier Brouillard bagged the shootout winner.

Potent notables — Philadelphia Flyers first-rounder Scott Laughton (1G-2A) led Oshawa to a 3-1 win at Barrie but was not named a star ... Erie goalie Devin Williams, 17, made 45 saves for his first win of the season ... Kitchener Rangers overage forward Nick Czinder scored his first of the season against his old team to help beat Windsor ... Brampton Battalion goalie Jake Smith stopped 33-of-34 shots in a win at Peterborough.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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