Erie was a sleeper choice this season in that tough Western Conference, and a big reason was because of all the talent they have up front. The Otters' offence definitely came alive for the team's home opener Saturday night, if it hadn't already. They'd scored 10 goals in the last two games on their five-game road trip to start the season, and beat North Bay 8-4 Saturday.
Toronto prospect Connor Brown and the overage Dane Fox each recorded two goals and two assists, but we're going to give the edge to Brown, who factored in on three of the first four goals for the Otters. The powerplay was buzzing, going 3-for-3 on the night before the Battalion decided after Fox's second of the night at 3:53 of the second period they weren't going to take minor penalties anymore.
That's 13 points in six games for Brown. Curiously, Connor McDavid has been held to just seven points all season, and five during the Otters' three-game outburst.
No. 2 Star - Mathew Barzal, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
After a relatively slow start to his Seattle Thunderbirds career, the 2012 first overall pick from the Bantam Draft finally had his breakout performance of the season Saturday night in Lethbridge. The phenom Mat Barzal recorded four assists for this third multi-point night of his career, and for the first time recorded more than two points. He helped Latvian linemate Roberts Lipsbergs record his second career WHL hat-trick, and Mission's Michal Holub for a 5-1 goal early in the third. Seattle would close it out for a 6-2 victory.
The Hurricanes don't have a great defence, having allowed 24 goals in the first five games of their season and now 30 goals against in six. Perhaps getting away from his home on the West Coast was what Barzal needed to really get going. After "just" getting four points in his first five games, Barzal now has six in two games during his team's short two-game Alberta road trip.
No. 3 Star - Riley Stadel, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
The feature matchup in the CHL tonight was probably taking place in Kelowna, as the 4-0-1 Rockets played host to the Portland Winterhawks, behind Seattle to start the season but probably won't stay there. Kelowna handed the Winterhawks their third loss on the season already, despite Portland striking twice in the first 3:32. Riley Stadel, a 1996-born sophomore from Surrey, scored a powerplay goal midway through the first that got Kelowna going. Stadel bookended the scoring for the Rockets, adding a second powerplay goal late in the game to seal the victory.
Also deserving of an honourable mention here is Jordon Cooke. He stopped 36-of-39 on the night and held Portland to zero powerplay goals on 10 attempts.
Honourable Mention - Brandon Halverson, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) - After his first ever Ontario Hockey League start, rookie goaltender Brandon Halverson has yet to allow a goal at the OHL-level, registering 32 stops out of 32 shots in Belleville. The Greyhounds are now 4-0-1 to start the season.
Honourable Mention - Anthony DeLuca, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) - Drummondville was up 5-0 on Rimouski midway through the second period thanks to five different goal scorers, but the Oceanic made a game of it. Let by Anthony DeLuca, who registered two goals and an assist, it was a 4-3 game midway through the third and placed a seed of doubt in the Voltigeurs minds. Louis-Philip Guindon, coming on in relief of Joe Fleschler, made four saves in the final 9:14 as the Voltigeurs hung on.
Honourable Mention - Ryan Hartman, Plymouth Whalers (OHL) - One of many notable performances from 2013 NHL draftees. Chicago prospect Hartman scored twice and earned the primary assist on the Zach Lorentz goal that wound up being the winner in a game over Saginaw.
Potent Notables: Back to the Q, Phoenix prospect Laurent Dauphin earned a goal and an assist in Chicoutimi's loss to Baie-Comeau… Anthony Mantha also had a goal and an assist for Val-d'Or, continuing his early season tear… Calgary prospect Emile Poirier also had a goal and an assist… in the OHL, Bo Horvat had an excellent assist, and two goals in his first three shifts… Nathan Pancel had a hat-trick for Sudbury… in the Dub, Jake Virtanen and Sam Reinhart, projected high picks in the 2014 draft, each had two points in Kootenay's 4-2 win over Calgary… Leon Draisaitl had a goal and an assist for Prince Albert, but Swift Current captain Colby Cave had two goals and his team won 5-2… Overage goalie Eric Williams had a 31-save, OT shutout for Spokane, as Rod Stewart's son Liam Stewart got the winner.
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