No. 1 star: Austin Lotz, Everett Silvertips
So much for a Portland Winterhawks sweep. Lotz made 55 saves and eighth-place Everett checked the vaunted Portland offensive juggernaut for 60 minutes to pull off a 4-3 win in Game 1. The 17-year-old goalie had a 43-save night three weeks ago when the Silvertips pulled off their first win over Portland since GM and former Winterhawks exec Garry Davidson went behind the bench. Lotz was busier and even more beastly this time — 21 saves in the first period, then 14 more in the second, including a huge on Chase De Leo late in the frame to help Everett stay ahead 2-1 after 40 minutes. Kohl Bauml scored two third-period goals sandwiched around a Ty Rattie marker, providing just enough of a cushion for the Silvertips to survive the last seven minutes.
Lotz's 20 third-period saves also helped end Everett's 10-game post-season losing streak, dating back to March 26, 2010.
Final shots 58-31 Portland. Lotz phenomenal in goal for the Tips with 55 saves.
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) March 23, 2013
Unreal effort by Lotz today vs Portland. Over 50 saves! #Eastman
— Dylan Hafichuk (@dylanhockey14) March 23, 2013
The other three 8 seeds in the OHL and WHL lost their openers by a combined 22-3 score. That aggregate annihilation jumps to 39-6 if you count the bottom two seeds in the Quebec league.
No. 2 star: Philippe Sanche, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL)nailed to the bench by coach Jean-François Houle for indifferent play, the 5-foot-5 Sanche was scoring two goals early in the third period to help the Armada climb out of a three-goal deficit. After the 17-year-old Sanche completed his first QMJHL hat trick, Christophe Lalancette scored 12:29 into OT to give the Armada a 2-0 series lead.
No. 3 star: Ryan Murphy, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
The Rangers captain scored twice on slapshots from the point, leading Kitchener to a 5-2 Game 1 victory over the Guelph Storm. The Rangers power play wasn't always dominant in the regular season, but the Carolina Hurricanes prospect scored just 11 seconds after a goaltender interference penalty. That seemed to put the Storm on edge and Kitchener pumped in four second-period goals to chase Guelph goalie Garret Sparks, with Murphy scoring the first of four unanswered Rangers tallies. Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Josh Leivo had three assists for Kitchener.
Honourable mention: Brandon Whitney, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
The Hall's Harbour, N.S., native helped the upset-minded Tigres take Game 1 over the favoured Moncton Wildcats, making 37 saves in Victoriaville's 3-0 Game 1 win. Whitney, who was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the seventh round last year, made 14 first-period stops to help the Tigres weather an early storm against the team which boasts its former captain, Phillip Danault. Angelo Miceli (2G, +1) scored goals early in each of the next two periods and the Wildcats evidently didn't dig deep against a determined opponent.
Honourable mention: Miles Koules, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
The Tigers have the Memorial Cup-host Saskatoon Blades in a 2-0 hole with the next two games in The Hat after winning 3-0 on Friday. Tigers goalie Cam Lanigan made 42 saves for the second consecutive night and earned first-star honours, but the 18-year-old Koules also had a second consecutive two-point night. Koules (1G-1A, +1) set up the only goal of the first two periods and then scored with 12:50 left to put Saskatoon down two and in full scramble mode.
Special distinction: Martin Frk, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL); Vince Trocheck, Plymouth Whalers (OHL); Stephane Legault, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
It's hard to recognize near-record performances compiled in blowouts. The Halifax Mooseheads, 11-1 winners over Saint John, were going to win regardless of what Frk (5G-3A, +4), Jonathan Drouin (6A, +4) and Nathan MacKinnon (2G-2A, +4) did. Trocheck had a three-goal, two-assist night during Plymouth's 11-2 series-opening win over the Sarnia Sting. Legault (3G-4A, +4) tied the mark for the second-most points in a WHL playoff game by getting seven during a 9-0 win over Kootenay. They should each be very proud.
Potent notables — Ottawa Senators-drafted goalie Chris Driedger stopped 39-of-40 shots in Calgary's Game 2 win over Swift Current ... Florida Panthers selection Steven Hodges scored both Victoria Royals in their 3-2 loss at Kamloops ... In the OHL, Max Domi (2G-1A, +1) and recent San Jose Sharks signing Chris Tierney (3A, +1) led London to an opening win over Saginaw ... Philadelphia Flyers prospect Scott Laughton (2G-1A, +3) led Oshawa by Niagara in Game 1 ... In the QMJHL, Sébastien Sylvestre had four assists to help Chicoutimi nab Game 1 over Quebec on the road ... Minnesota Wild prospect Raphaël Bussières had three points during Baie-Comeau's win over Sherbrooke.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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