It's a somewhat curious situation considering local and national writers had all but buried the Saskatoon Blades after a rough first month, but, uh, the MasterCard Memorial Cup hosts for this season have won their 13th straight, with a 5-1 victory over Moose Jaw Wednesday evening. That just happens to be a franchise record.
Andrey Makarov stopped 35 of 36 shots and was named first star in the building. We'll give some lover over to Matej Stransky, awarded the second star tonight at the Credit Union Centre after scoring a goal and recording an assist in the win. He banged home a rebound off a Darren Dietz shot as part of a four-goal third period.
Overager Brendan Walker scored two goals in the final two minutes, one on an empty net and another on a late powerplay. Walker's second, scored with :48 seconds left by stuffing in a loose puck from right in the crease, caused tensions between the provincial rivals to boil over. Michael Ferland was ejected for crosschecking Warriors' defenceman Braiden Doucette, but there were no late fighting majors doled out.
No. 2 Star - Scott Simmonds, Belleville Bulls (OHL)
There was just one game on the Ontario Hockey League docket tonight, and it ended with the Belleville Bulls securing their spot atop the Eastern Conference standings with a home win 8-5 over the Ottawa 67s. Alan Quine recorded a hat-trick for the home Bulls in the contest, but Scott Simmonds' feat was perhaps a tad more notable: he scored the 5-2 and 6-2 goals, that effectively put the contest out of reach, with goals nine seconds apart in the second period.
The first was created off a great play from linemate Danill Zharkov, who took a pass from a rushing Jordan Subban, toe-dragged by the defenceman and put it on net. Simmonds took two whacks at it and eventually got it through. His second goal was unassisted and much prettier. He drove down the left-wing, went outside-in on defenceman Nevin Guy, and put it upstairs on over goaltender Jacob Blair's left shoulder.
No. 3 Star - Martin Frk, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Again, this easily could have been Jonathan Drouin's night as he continued his point streak, upping it to 21 games with an assist on a Stephen MacAulay goal 3:03 into the game. Drouin would score later in the first period on the powerplay, but after that, it was the vowel-less Martin Frk who drove the Mooseheads offensively in their dominant 8-3 win over Saint John.
Frk scored two goals 3:14 apart, although they were separated by the first intermission. After a Luca Ciampini powerplay goal to make the score 6-0 for Halifax, Frk completed the hat-trick, just hours after he read that his Halifax team had taken over top spot in the CHL in RPI this week.
Honourable Mention - Matt Hewitt, Regina Pats (WHL)
The Regina Pats got a rare win Wednesday night, in the same game that the Edmonton Oil Kings suffered a rare loss. Oil Kings' head coach Derek Laxdal noted that when you out-shoot the opposition 55-16 and lose 3-2, "you're not getting the bounces". The bounces in this case came courtesy of overage goaltender Matt Hewitt who stopped 53 of 55 shots against a potent Edmonton offence that went scoreless on four power plays.
Honourable Mention - Mac Carruth, Portland Winterhawks (OHL)
The Winterhawks' goalie only faced 27 shots in what was a fairly tight defensive battle between Portland and the Kamloops Blazers, but the Winterhawks have rebounded nicely as a unit after a tough 6-2 defeat against Tri-City on Friday. Portland has opened up a new three-game win streak, complete with a 3-0 victory in Kamloops Wednesday. Olivier Bjorkstrand picked up two assists and Nic Petan scored the capping goal late in the second.
Potent Notables: Prospect Jordan Subban had three assists in Belleville's win… Canucks' first rounder Brendan Gaunce had a goal as well… Chicago Blackhawks first rounder from 2011 Mark McNeill scored in Prince Albert's 5-2 win… Rimouski rookie Anthony DeLuca scored in the Oceanic 6-2 loss… a hat-trick in that game for Blainville-Boisbriand's draft-eligible Christopher Clapperton…