No. 1 star: JP Anderson, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Saginaw Spirit players will be sleeping with their mouthguards tonight in keep from grinding their jaws. Anderson earned his OHL record-tying 114th career win in style, stopping all 42 Spirit shots to help Sarnia win the border battle 3-0. The overage who's bounced back well from shoulder surgery was indefatigable and impregnable during an inspired first period when he was credited with 26 saves against one of the OHL's highest scoring teams. Several were point-blank stops, as dangerous Spirit attackers such as Justin Kea, Terry Trafford and potential Team USA forward Vince Trocheck came away empty-handed. Sarnia likely should have been behind, but instead had the lead thanks to Davis Brown's first junior goal.
The Toronto native's brilliance might have caused Saginaw to recede over the final two frames. They had only 16 shots across that stretch while Montreal Canadiens prospect Alex Galchenyuk (1G-1A) scored a backbreaking goal with a big-league wrist shot in the second period.
For Anderson, whom the San Jose Sharks signed as a free agent in 2010, it was his 17th career OHL shutout, counting playoffs.
No. 2 star: Michael Giugovaz, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Wait, two wrong-handed goalies had 26-save periods on the same night? Giugovaz, who wears the trapper on his starboard side just like Anderson, helped the Petes out of the OHL basement by stopping 49-of-51 shots in a 3-2 OT win over the Kingston Frontenacs. The 17-year-old rookie, who has been in goal for all seven Petes wins, was busier than a Canada Post kiosk on Dec. 22 during the second period. With the Petes down a defenceman after Clark Seymour was ejected over a first-period fight, Giugovaz stepped up by stopping 26-of-27 shots and also faced down a full two-minute 5-on-3 disadvantage where the puck barely left the Petes zone.
That kept his team in the game long enough to go to overtime. Detroit Red Wings prospect Alan Quine carried into the left-wing corner and dropped a pass on to Nick Ritchie's stick for a redirect for the win. That was karma for the Petes; earlier this season they lost an extra-time game to Kingston after failing to score on a two-minute 5-on-3.
No. 3 star: Connor Sanvido, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
If the Thunderbirds can win in the Toyota Center, then the NHL should be able to end the lockout. Sanvido (2G-2A) helped Seattle end a 22-game losing streak in the the Tri-City Americans' barn with a resounding 8-4 win. The Ams, whose last home loss to the T-Birds was in April 2008 — the month 19-year-old WHLers such as Sanvido were selected in the bantam draft — were up 4-2 lead late in the second period. With Eric Comrie in goal and their reputation as a tight-checking club, most would have presumed Tri-City would hold on to win. But the much-improved T-Birds clicked for three goals in a 2:04 span, with Sanvido setting up Seth Swenson (2G) and later sniping the lead goal.
The Thunderbirds had offence out the wazoo. Latvian left wing Roberts Lipsberg (1G-1A), who upped his point streak to 10 games, backhanded a pass to Alex Delnov for the 6-4 goal just 2:31 into the third. That Delnov goal essentially put it out of reach and Sanvido tacked on an empty-netter. Seattle has now beaten Kamloops, Kelowna and Tri-City (combined record: 57-27-3-4) in its past three games.
#TBirds have now beaten Kelowna, Kamloops, and Tri-City in their last 3 games. Those teams' combined records after tonight: 57-27-3-4.
— Tim Pigulski (@tpigulski) December 7, 2012
Honourable mention: Jeremy Beaudry, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
The Phoenix have officially risen from the ashes of early-season expansion-team growing pains to get in a playoff race. Beaudry scored two third-period goals and Anthony Verret got the gamer with 32 ticks on the clock to rock the Rimouski Océanic's world with a 4-3 comeback win.
Beaudry, who turns 19 next week, didn't move up to major junior until midway through last season with Victoriaville. However, apparently Phoenix coach Judes Vallée moved him from defence to forward and it's paid off, as he's scored 10 goals in his last nine games. Sherbrooke was down 3-1 after allowing two short-handed goals, but Beaudry scored unassisted just shy of the five-minute mark of the third period and buried the equalizer with 6:28 left. The win gave the Phoenix points in four consecutive games and moved them within three points of Cape Breton for the last QMJHL playoff berth.
Honourable mention: Ryan O'Connor, Barrie Colts (OHL)
The Colts captain did something rare for a defenceman, scoring a natural hat trick in their slow-start, sweet-finish 5-2 divisional win over the Sudbury Wolves. O'Connor (3G-1A, +1), an undersized offensive defenceman, had to shoulder more power-play duty due to a two-game suspension to star blueliner Aaron Ekblad. Suffice to say, the veteran of 302 OHL games delivered.
O'Connor's first goal late in the second period put the Eastern Conference-leading Colts ahead for good. In the third, he dropped the dagger with goals 103 seconds apart, one on a wrister-with-eyes off a faceoff and the other on a one-timer from the top of the faceoff circle that Wolves goalie Taylor Dupuis could not have stopped with an injunction.
"I've had two two-goal games this year and I really wanted to get a hat trick," O'Connor told Rogers Television. "It's my last year, Now that I've got it, it's a big relief."
Potent notables — Galchenyuk now has 30 points in his past 14 games ... Undrafted Mathew Campagna assisted on both Wolves goals ... Boston Bruins prospect Seth Griffith scored his 20th, putting London ahead for good as it beat Brampton for its 16th win in a row ... Projected first-round NHL pick Kerby Rychel scored late to lift Windsor over Sault Ste. Marie 3-2. Los Angeles Kings seventh-rounder Michael Schumacher (1G-1A) was in on both Greyhound goals ... Ondrej Kopta scored his first OHL goal in Niagara's 9-0 shutout of Ottawa. New York Islanders prospect Ryan Strome (2G-1A, +3) opened an 11-point lead over Galchenyuk (62-51) in the scoring race.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.
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