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Val-d’Or Foreurs’ Anthony Mantha gets 5th hat trick of season: Thursday’s 3 Stars

Mantha moved up to 5th in QMJHL scoring (Richard Wolowicz, Getty Images)

No. 1 star: Anthony Mantha, Val-d'Or Foreurs (QMJHL)

The scary thought with Mantha is that this he might have a hard-luck hatter during a 6-2 Foreurs divisional win over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The 18-year-old draft prospect who seems like a terrific confluence of speed, hands and size at 6-foot-3 was credited with 10 dangerous shots while notching his fifth hat trick of the season. For good measure, the grandson of Original Six-era Montreal Canadiens Andre Pronovost added an assist and was plus-3. His dangerous shots were a season high; who knows, it could have been a five-goal game if not for a couple saves by the beleaguered Huskies 'tenders, Alexandre Bélanger and Philippe Gingras.

Mantha, who is second in the QMJHL with 37 goals and fifth with 67 points (behind three overages and a 19-year-old), got started early by scoring off a setup from Randy Gazzola in the game's sixth minute.

Before the period ended, Mantha put Val-d'Or ahead for good with 4:24 left in the opening frame courtesy of a great pass from Samuel Henley (2A, +3).

By the end of the second period, Mantha had completed his hat trick with a booming shot after being teed up captain Cédrick Henley (1G-2A, +3).

Mantha paid it forward, showing some great vision by setting up his linemate Henley for a mid-third period insurance goal.

No. 2 star: Matthew Mistele, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)

Generally, it's better to recognize players who produced in close games instead of laughers. The OHL had two demolitions — London's 11-1 win at Ottawa and Plymouth's 8-2 pounding of Windsor — and two games that went to extra time. Barrie won 2-1 at Niagara in overtime in a game that was scoreless for 57½ minutes, while Peterborough continued to have the Belleville Bulls' number in a 3-2 shootout win. Those latter two results were total team wins, with no player notching multiple points.

So the compromise is to recognize Mistele (2G-1A, +3), since the 17-year-old was the youngest offensive luminary who padded his stats. The Whitby wunderkind, who's tallying nearly a point per game despite his youth, helped Plymouth put the game away with his goals 2:05 apart in the second period. First Mistele and linemate Zach Lorentz, a former Spitfire, collaborated on a hard-working rebound goal. Two minutes later, Mistele drove to the the net and was rewarded when linemate Sebastian Uvira's shot deflected in off him.

All told, Mistele has 17 points in 13 post-Christmas games as he continues to show improvement during his sophomore season. Nineteen-year-old Florida Panthers prospect Vince Trocheck (2G-1A, +2, including a shorty) was named the game's first star.

No. 3 star: Carter Rigby, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Since the Dallas Stars' Jamie Benn just signed a $26.25-million US contract, he's probably not going to mind that Rigby usurped his status as the most recent Rocket to record consecutive hat tricks. Rigby (3G-2A, +5), fellow 18-year-old Colton Heffley (1G-3A, +5) and overage JT Barnett (4A, +5) had the puck on a string as Kelowna began a busy weekend by smashing the Seattle Thunderbirds 8-0.

Rigby, who has more hat tricks (3) than goals (2) in all of his other games combined, helped Kelowna heat up early with a snipe 3:22 into the contest. Kelowna had a 3-0 lead and was well on its way its 20th consecutive home win before the Thunderbirds were even credited with a shot on goal. The eight-goal outburst also means the Rockets (213 goals in 48 games) have displaced the Portland Winterhawks (212 in 47) as the Dub's highest-scoring team.

Honourable mention: Bo Horvat, London Knights (OHL)

Man, did someone connected with the Knights just get audited by the Canada Revenue Agency? Judging from the 11-1 scoreline, they must think the Ottawa 67's had something to do with it. Horvat (2G-2A, +2), fellow draft-eligible dandy Max Domi (3G, +3), San Jose Sharks selection Chris Tierney (3G, +2), defenceman Dakota Mermis (4A, +4) and captain Scott Harrington (3A, +4) all piled up points during the worst-vs.-first wipeout.

Honourable mentions: Ryan O'Connor, Barrie Colts; Jonathan Tanus, Peterborough Petes (OHL)

Overage captain O'Connor and Finnish rookie Tanus were each the man of the match as their teams shaded a division rival. The Colts won, groan, a Gatecliff-hanger over the Niagara IceDogs. The teams traded fruitless chances for almost 58 minutes, then traded late goals. Niagara then took a penalty and O'Connor seized on the 4-on-3 opportunity, burying the decider 35 seconds into overtime. The 21-year-old now has 44 points in as many games, good for second in OHL defenceman scoring.

Tanus was named first star in the Petes' comeback win over Belleville. The Tappara, Finland native made a swift backhand-forehand move on Bulls goalie Charlie Graham (44 saves) for the shootout winner. With the win, the Petes, who are 6-3-0-3 since Jody Hull took over as coach, moved within eight points of the playoff picture with 21 games to play.

Potent notables — Plymouth's Ryan Hartman and Windsor's Kerby Rychel, who engaged in fisticuffs during the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, had another fight on Thursday. Rychel had a Gordie Howe hat trick ... Florida Panthers selection Logan Shaw (2A, +2) helped Quebec win 4-1 in his return to Cape Breton, where he played 3½ QMJHL seasons for the Screaming Eagles.

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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