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Seattle Thunderbirds’ Connor Honey helps break 15-game losing skid: Saturday’s 3 Stars

Connor Honey was playing his second game since returning from injury (Kyle Scholzen, Seattle Thunderbirds)No. 1 star: Connor Honey, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

First-star honours should be in order when a team ends its 15-game losing streak by beating the top team in the league. The 18-year-old Honey, after getting his game legs back on Friday when he dressed for the first time in the new calendar year after being out with an injury, was part of Seattle's top line as they held off the mighty Portland Winterhawks 4-3. Honey (1G-1A, +1) set up impressive Latvian rookie Roberts Lipsbergs for the first Thunderbirds goal midway through the opening period to erase an early Winterhawks lead. The line with Honey, Lipsbergs (1G-1A, +1) and fellow 18-year-old Alex Delnov connected again before the first period was over to give Seattle its first lead and a triple-expresso shot of confidence. (OK, not more Seattle/coffee plays on words, we get it.)

Seth Swenson (2A, +2), who was traded away from Portland in the deal last year that led to top-ranked NHL draft prospect Seth Jones becoming a Winterhawk, later had the primary assist on the next two Seattle goals. That provided just enough of a cushion for Seattle to hang on for its first win since Dec. 7. The Winterhawks, who got three-point nights from league scoring leaders Nic Petan and Brendan Leipsic, had accounted for the first, fourth and eighth consecutive losses of Seattle's skid.

No. 2 star: Brandon Alderson, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Alderson guaranteed himself a very happy 21st birthday this week, as he had his first hat trick in 245 OHL games during the surging Greyhounds' 7-3 divisional road win over the Plymouth Whalers. The 'Hounds, coming off a flat performance one night earlier in Saginaw and facing a chance to pull within a point of Plymouth in the playoff race, took control with three goals in a six-minute span early in the second period. The 6-foot-4, 202-pound Alderson (3G, +1) buried the 3-0 goal on the power play, then scored again later in the frame with help from Philadelphia Flyers prospect Nick Cousins (1G-1A, +3) and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect David Broll (2A, +1). Plymouth pulled to within two goals in the third period, but Alderson dismissed the comeback bid by scoring the clincher with 8:56 left. Pittsburgh Penguins-drafted goalie Matt Murray kicked out 41 shots for the 'Hounds.

No. 3 star: Jonathan Tanus, Peterborough Petes (OHL)

The 17-year-old rookie Tanus completed his first three-point game by scoring the winner with 11:08 left, giving the Petes a 5-4 road win over the Niagara IceDogs. The youngster from Tappara, Finland developed some mojo with overage linemates Nick Czinder (1G-1A, +3) and Brett Findlay (1G-2A, +3), who would obviously prefer not to play out their junior tenure on an also-ran team. Tanus (1G-2A, +2) started out his big night by setting up Findlay in the first period when the Petes tallied three times in fewer than four minutes. Tanus set up Czinder in the second period, then Finn fired home the winner off a Findlay feed. With the win, the Petes are 5-2-0-3 under interim coach Jody Hull. They are also within 10 points of Kingston for the final playoff berth with 22 games remaining.

Honourable mention: Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

Hooray for hindsight! Binnington and the Attack came out on top against Malcolm Subban and the Belleville Bulls in a matchup of the Team Canada 'tenders, with Binnington notching a 32-save in Owen Sound's 4-0 road win. The Bulls came in having scored 24 goals in their previous four games and had more quality chances, particularly during a very close first 40 minutes. Binnington, whom frankly had some shaky moments in his previous start in Kingston on Friday, was up to the job as he made a one-goal lead stand up until Kyle Hope scored the dam-bursting dagger goal early in the third period.

Subban, who started ahead of Binnington during the world junior, stopped 26-of-29 shots in his second start since returning from the world junior.

Honourable mention: Corbin Boes, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

Boes started picking up his play around this point last season. Based on how he played Saturday, the 19-year-old goalie might do it again. Boes stopped 43-of-45 Saskatoon Blades shots during the game for the struggling Wheat Kings, then faced down 11-of-12 attempts during a marathon shootout before Brandon won 3-2. Boes, getting the start in his hometown of Saskatoon, came in struggling and winless since Dec. 8, but he picked up for a Wheat Kings defensive corps that was missing injured star Ryan Pulock.

Potent notables — Medicine Hat's Marek Langhamer made 30 saves for his first WHL shutout in a 4-0 win over Calgary; Cougars goalie Mac Engel stopped 31-of-32 shots to beat his hometown team ... Matt Needham had a hat trick in Kamloops' 5-4 home loss to Victoria ... Prince George's Chase Witala (2A, +3) led the Cougars to a 3-1 win at Red Deer ... The Kelowna Rockets' Carter Rigby had his second hat trick of the season in his team's 5-3 decision over Vancouver, its 19th consecutive home win. Rigby, 18, has two goals in his other 27 games ... Oshawa Generals captain Boone Jenner (2G-2A, +3) had four points in his first game since being returned to the OHL by the Columbus Blue Jackets ... Boston Bruins prospect Anthony Camara (2G-1A) led Barrie to a 6-3 doubling-up of Kitchener ... Backup goalie Chris Clarke logged the QMJHL-leading Halifax Mooseheads' first shutout, making 25 saves at Sherbrooke. Half-a-dozen Haligonians had two-point nights, including Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon ... Blainville-Boisbriand's Guillaume Decelles stopped 29-of-30 for the W in his first start for the Armada.

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

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