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New York Rangers pick Michael St. Croix almost ahead by a century: Friday’s 3 Stars

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

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Edmonton's Michael St. Croix (Marissa Baecker, Getty Images)

No. 1 star: Michael St. Croix, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

St. Croix (3G, -1), who had not scored during the defending WHL champs' three-game losing skid — which is likely not a coincidence — broke out with a hat trick in a 5-1 home win over the Moose Jaw Warriors.

The refocused Oil Kings worked assiduously to set up St. Croix for three power-play goals. The 19-year-old Winnipegger gave Edmonton a lead it wouldn't relinquish with a high-slot howitzer that went in off the crossbar, then one-timed a Dylan Wruck setup to open a 4-1 lead midway through the second. Veteran T.J. Foster also assisted on two of St. Croix's goals.

St. Croix later poked in a rebound to complete his hat trick. It was also his 99th WHL goal, so the next one will make him the first player in modern Oil Kings history to have a career century.

No. 2 star: Tomas Torok, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)

The 17-year-old Slovak provided a hint of what he might someday do on a near nightly basis in the Q, scoring his first three North American goals to help the Volts jolt the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 5-4. Torok (3G, +2), whom Drummondville GM Dominic Ricard recently acquired from the expansion Sherbrooke Phoenix, had yet to record a point in his first seven games in the league, but he struck once in each period on Friday, including the game-winner off a feed from Swiss centre Lukas Balmelli with 13:40 to play.

Rouyn Noranda's Jean-Sébastien Dea scored his QMJHL-best 16th goal in a losing effort.

No. 3 star: Eetu Laurikainen, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

One day after the Broncos made a trade with the Saskatoon Blades, Laurikainen helped Swift Current upend the MasterCard Memorial Cup hosts by making 43 saves in a 2-1 win. It was an all-around team win for Swift Current, but their Finnish netminder was paramount throughout the night, particularly in the second period when he made 16 saves while the Broncos weathered six minutes 38 seconds of penalty kill time, including a 5-on-3. The result snapped Saskatoon's three-game win streak.

Honourable mention: Brendan Ranford, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

Ranford (2G-2A, -1) outmuscled a defender and stuffed home a backhand, preserving the Blazers' win streak  in a 5-4 overtime win at Lethbridge. Kamloops flirted with losing in regulation time for the first time, as the host Hurricanes scored three times in fewer than six minutes early in the third period to wipe out a big lead. (Russell Maxwell scored two of those.) However, the overage Ranford, who was strong in the offensive zone all night, ended it with 1:40 left in OT, giving Kamloops their second consecutive 'after regulation' win.

Honourable mention: Ryan Murphy, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

Murphy (4A, +3) and Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick Matia Marcantuoni (2G, +3) were among the Rangers who were publicly chided by coach-GM Steve Spott earlier this week. With their ears burning  a little, both had star efforts as the Rangers christened the renovated Kitchener Memorial Auditorium with a 6-2 blowout of the Oshawa Generals. Murphy was in on goals 22 seconds apart early in the second period that gave the Rangers a vise grip on the game. The Carolina Hurricanes prospects also fed Eric Ming (2G, +2) for a tally early in the third that extinguished any thought of a Generals rally.

Honourable mention: Petr Sidlik, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)

Sidlik (1G-1A, +3), the Tigres' 18-year-old Czech defenceman, took first-star honours as Victoriaville won 6-3 to hand the Quebec Remparts just their second regulation-time loss. He scored the game-winning goal with 6:59 to play, much to the delight of 3,316 Victo fans, and also had a short-handed assist on the second-period marker that gave his team its first lead. Chicago Blackhawks first-rounder Phillip Danault (2A, +2) was also integral in the win, as the Tigres held star Mikhail Grigorenko to a one-point, minus-2 night.

Honourable mention: Josh Currie, P.E.I. Rocket (QMJHL)

Overages Currie (1G-2A, +1) and Ben Duffy (2G-1A) paced P.E.I. offensively in a 5-0 blowout win over the Moncton Wildcats. In a penalty-filled contest, Currie helped take the air out of the Moncton Coliseum by netting his 12th of the season in the first period. He and Duffy were also major cogs in a power play that went 3-for-10 on the night. Goalie Maxime Lagacé had a 30-save shutout.

Potent notables — Everett's Josh Winquist had three points in the Silvertips' 3-2 win over Prince Albert ... In the OHL, London's Max Domi, 17, and Erie's Connor McDavid, 15, each extended their point streaks to 10 games ... Belleville defenceman Jordan Subban, 17, scored in a loss at Sudbury, giving him points in 7-of-8 games ... Guelph Storm rookie Brody Milne scored his first OHL goal ... Brampton Battalion left wing Connor Jarvis scored for the first time in 63 career games ... In the QMJHL, Nathan MacKinnon scored twice, giving him 14 goals in 12 games as Halifax shaded Sherbrooke in front of a sellout crowd of 10,595 ... Overage Zach O'Brien (2G-2A, +3) had four points in Acadie-Bathurst's win over Cape Breton.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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