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Medicine Hat Tigers’ Curtis Valk nets hat trick in crucial win: Sunday’s 3 Stars

Curtis Valk (left) reached the 40-goal mark on Sunday (The Canadian Press)

No. 1 star: Curtis Valk, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)

Valk, an undrafted 20-year-old who might have a case to be selected by a NHL team this summer, continued his superb season by scoring a hat trick in the Tigers' 5-4 win over their division rival Red Deer Rebels. Some players consider a good night to get three shots on goal against Red Deer, never mind three goals.

The 5-foot-8 forward who grew up right in Medicine Hat has been an excellent complement to highly regarded prospect Hunter Shinkaruk and has helped carry the scoring during the times when Shinkaruk has been injured. Valk (3G, +1) opened the scoring with a goal in the first minute of the game, giving the Tigers a shot of confidence. He also scored goals 3:11 apart in the second part to give the Tigers a commanding 5-2 lead. Eighteen-year-old Miles Koules also had a two-goal night for The Hat, which maintained its cushion over seventh-place Swift Current and eighth-place Kootenay in the Dub's Eastern Conference.

All told, Valk has 41 goals and 81 points this season after putting up 24 and 55 during his 18-year-old season.

No. 2 star: Sergey Tolchinsky, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Without suspended OHL scoring leader Nick Cousins, the 'Hounds turned to another diminutive dervish of a distributor to wrap their weekend with a 4-3 come-from-behind road win at Mississauga. Tolchinsky (3A, +2) was not named a star in the arena, but the 18-year-old Muscovite made a brilliant no-look pass to Andrew Fritsch for a redirection and the winning goal with 2:35 to play.

Mississauga played reasonably well; when it went up up 3-2 in the third period, one might have expected the visiting 'Hounds to begin fading. But Tolchinsky and Fritsch, who was nmaed first star, made a great setup that led to rookie Ryan Kirkup's first OHL goal to tie the game. Overall, the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Tolchinsky has 44 points in 55 games, including eight in the Soo's last four contests. This might have been one of his best weekends of his first North American season.

No. 3 star: Alex Aleardi, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

Aleardi delivered for the desperate Spitfires with five points in a 7-5 win over the Plymouth Whalers, his former team. The sand is running through the hourglass rapidly in southwestern Ontario. Windsor is still nine points adrift of a playoff spot with only eight games left. It could prove too little, too late, but Aleardi (2G-3A, +1) and 18-year-old Kerby Rychel (1G-2A, +1) allowed the Spitfires to trade goals with the ever-potent Plymouths, who had their seven-game win streak.

The Michigander scored the first Spitfires goal in the second period to cut into a Plymouth lead and also had an apple on fellow overage Emerson Clark's goal exactly 1:40 later. Windsor fell back into a 5-4 deficit, but Aleardi levelled with a perfectly placed shot with 8:42 left in regulation. That primed the pump for Montreal Canadiens draft pick Brady Vail to get the game-winner late in the third.

His nickname is Jo ...

The Halifax Mooseheads' Jonathan Drouin (2G-2A, -1 in the Herd's 11-3 annihilation of Acadie-Bathurst) frankly is a Buzzing The Net category unto himself these days. Like, let someone else have the gold star, ya hoser.

Honourable mentions: Sam Bennett and Spencer Watson, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

On the same day that 23-year-old skip Rachel Homan won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Kingston, youth was also served during the Frontenacs' playoff hopes during their 6-3 road win at Erie. Or maybe it was more like youth served Kingston, since at least one 16-year-old rookie was in on first five Kingston goals as Bennett (2G-2A, +5), with Watson (2G-1A, +4) riding shotgun, got the better of his former minor hockey linemate Connor McDavid for the second time this season. Left wing Henri (Hank) Ikonen (1G, +5), who is great with helping his younger linemates establish puck possession, also pitched in to help the Fronts move four points ahead of of Peterborough in their playoff race.

Bennett, whom Frontenacs coach Todd Gill has compared to two-time Team Canada centre Boone Jenner, has had a promising rookie season with 15 goals and 34 points on a young team. (He's also managed not to be a minus player.) Watson also joined McDavid as the first players from last April's priority selection draft to reach the 20-goal milestone.

Potent notables — Swift Current's Graham Black (2G-1A, +3) led the Broncos to a 6-1 win over Brandon ... In the OHL, likely NHL high first-round pick Sean Monahan scored two goals for the Ottawa 67's, even though there was so much doubt over whether he would play that the team's staff initially didn't bring his equipment to Scotiabank Place ... Scott Sabourin had two goals, giving him 29 in his overage year, during Oshawa's 4-1 win over Peterborough.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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