Peterborough Petes’ Nick Ritchie, projected NHL first-rounder, has 5-goal game (VIDEO)

Buzzing The Net

The Peterborough Petes feared Nick Ritchie's night might be done early when the projected NHL first-rounder was hit in the face with the puck.

That was hardly a harbinger of what was to come for one of the best power winger prospects in the NHL draft class, who had five goals and assisted on a sixth tally for the Petes during a game vs. the Kingston Frontenacs and top-ranked prospect Sam Bennett. At 6-foot-3 and 229 pounds with a NHL-calibre shot and a facility for reading the ice, Ritchie was far too much for the Frontenacs to handle.

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The only downside for the Orangeville, Ont., native, is that the Petes lost 7-6 in the shootout, where Ritchie's try was nixed by the Frontenacs' Matt Mahalak.

What a night for the 18-year-old, though. Ritchie had a little of the lucky-to-be-good, good-to-be-lu cky mojo working for him on his second goal when Vancouver Canucks prospect Evan McEneny poked the puck off his stick and directly into the net, but Ritchie had still done the work to get a step on the older defenceman. Fellow NHL draft prospect Eric Cornel also had the first assist on four of Ritchie's goals en route to a five-point night.

Ritchie's scoring has spiked since the Petes swung a trade with the Guelph Storm for centre Hunter Garlent, a contemporary from the two's days as provincial-level youth lacrosse players. Ritchie, whose brother Brett Ritchie is a first-year pro in the Dallas Stars farm system, has 11 goals and 24 points across his last 11 games since joining a line flanking Garlent and Cornel. Since that time, Ritchie has been consistently dangerous, which is presumably good for his draft stock.

Bennett had a four-point night in his own right, giving him 79, the most of any first-time draft-eligible player in the OHL. The Frontenacs centre's linemate, Spencer Watson, had three points and the shootout decider.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (video: TV Cogeco Ontario).

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