Kerby Rychel was on the receiving end of a pair of nifty feeds Friday night leading to his two-goal game against the Guelph Storm. The Spitfires won 3-1 and, thanks to Saginaw's loss to Peterborough, are now four points out of the final playoff spot in the OHL's Western Conference. In the first period of the Friday game, Alexander Khokhlachev dipsied around the offensive zone with speed, circling behind the net and with his head up, spotted a streaking Rychel and connected with a pass in the slot to give the Spits a 1-0 lead.
In the third period, with the score tied 1-1, Rychel was again caught in stride, this time by Josh Ho-Sang who deftly tipped a Graeme Brown clear right onto Rychel's stick, who flew down the right wing and beat Storm goaltender Garret Sparks with a slapshot from right at the top of the circle. It was Rychel's 28th and 29th goals on the season for the prospect who is first-time eligible at the NHL draft in June.
No. 2 Star - Ryan Sproul, Sault-Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
An odd game played out between Plymouth and the Soo. Michael Vellucci's squad got up to a quick 3-1 lead 11:30 into the first period and Sheldon Keefe pulled young Matt Murray, replacing him with the even younger Justin Nichols. Nichols could very well have been a "star" in this one, stopping 34 of 36 shots from that point on, but the Greyhounds needed offence.
They turned to Ryan Sproul, the Red Wings prospect who benefit from the nine powerplay opportunities the Whalers gifted the 'Hounds. Sproul had two goals and three assists, setting up Andrew Fritsch for a 6-4 insurance goal with just 2:40 left in the game.
No. 3 Star - Laurent Brossoit, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Well, here's some awkwardness: in Laurent Brossoit's fifteen games since being cut from Canada's World Junior squad, the Oil Kings' star goalie and Calgary Flames prospect has gone 12-2 with a 1.22 goals against average and a .957 save percentage. His 23-save 3-0 shutout of the Swift Current Broncos was his third in the last fifteen. He's been playing at the same pace he was during last year's playoffs when he carried the Oil Kings on a long winning streak through to the Eastern Conference finals.
Up front, the 'Kings got a pair of first period goals from top prospect Curtis Lazar and a third period insurance marker from Oilers prospect David Musil. The Oil Kings have now won seven straight contests and ten of the last eleven and are getting hot at the right time again. Watch out.
Honourable Mention - Sven Andrighetto, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
The Swiss national had two points in the Huskies' comeback in Sherbrooke, including a late insurance goal with :43 seconds to go. Some good forechecking, presumably, led to Phoenix coach Judes Vallée keeping in goaltender Jacob Gervais-Chouinard right to the bitter end, but it didn't make a difference when Sven Andrighetto beat him clean for his 23rd on the year.
Andrighetto also assisted on Jean-Sébastien Dea's 37th of the season on a powerplay earlier in the period, and was named the first star in the building.
Honourable Mention - Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
The Warriors, for all intents and purposes, are out of it in the Eastern Conference playoffs chase, and holding onto No. 5 Toronto Maple Leaf select Morgan Rielly at the trading deadline was a risky move considering he may not be back in the WHL next season. Until the end of this year, he should help the Warriors sell some tickets, and 3986 fans came out to Mosaic Place to watch Moose Jaw crush Medicine Hat 8-4.
Rielly had four assists, despite just three powerplay opportunities (he set up Justin Kirsch's lone PP goal in the second period). Rielly has been relatively quiet since a torrid start, but a four-assist performance marks his second multi-point game in five outings, after having going without one in ten games.
Potent Notables: Xavier Ouellet scored a powerplay goal Friday in a 2-1 win and was named first star… Rimouski fired 52 shots at Val-d'Or goalie François Tremblay… he stopped 47 of them, but allowed two to Alexis Loiseau… Anthony Stolarz and Matej Machovsky fought to a rare 0-0 draw after overtime… Machovsky couldn't handle any shootout attempt, being beaten by Max Domi for the winner… Jordan Binnington out-dueled Joel Vienneau, stopping 36 of 37 in a 2-1 win for the Attack over Kitchener… Ryan Strome scored twice for Niagara and Brett Ritchie had four points… To the 'W'… Ty Rattie had four points for Portland as they beat Seattle 5-3… Tim Bozon had two goals and two assists in a Kamloops win over Spokane… Colton Sissons scored twice for the Rockets in a 5-1 win against Vancouver.