Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

The best from a 24-game slate on Friday night:

No. 1 star: Curtis Hamilton, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

The Edmonton Oilers second-rounder (pictured) helped the Blades win the Western league's showdown of conference leaders, snapping the Portland Winterhawks' 10-game win streak with a 4-3 win.

Big-time players make big-time players on big-time days. Hamilton, 18, had a three-point night in front of a crowd of 8,800 that included celeb couple Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed. He capped it with the game-winner with 1:59 left, converting Marek Viedensky's feed on a 2-on-1 rush.

The goal came moments after Blades goaltender Steven Stanford, who had come in after starter Adam Morrison left the game with an injury in the opening minute of the third, thwarted 'Hawks stars Sven Bartschi and Ty Rattie on a 2-on-1. Stanford, with 13 saves on 14 shots in his first appearance since returning from a concussion, was an unsung Saskatoonian on this night.

All told, the trio of Viedensky, Hamilton and Josh Nicholls combined for 10 points — or 10 more than Portland's typically terrific troika of Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Johansen and Brad Ross. 

No. 2 star: Tyler Toffoli, Ottawa 67's (OHL)

The Los Angeles Kings second-round sniped a natural hat trick to help the 67's keep pace with Kingston in the Ontario league's East Division by beating the Sarnia Sting 3-2. One of the goals was a top-corner laser from the high slot that would be a goal in any league.

No. 3 star: Josh Birkholz, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

The Florida Panthers third-rounder helped the 'Tips take down one of their conference's heavies with a three-goal, two-assist night in a 5-2 win over the Tri-City Americans.

Birkholz, 19, actually doubled his season goal total in one night, helping Everett roll despite being outshot 47-27. Before you assume Chicago Blackhawks-drafted goalie Kent Simpson had a great night for Everett, draft-eligible backup Luke Siemens was actually the one who turned in the 45-save effort. 

Honourable mention: Gemel Smith, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

One of the smallest rookies in the Ontario league made a massive impact in the comeback of the year, the Attack's 4-3 OT win over the Guelph Storm.

The Attack scored three goals within the final three minutes of regulation to force OT. The 5-foot-9, 150-pound Smith set up Florida Panthers prospect Garrett Wilson's league-leading 19th goal with 2:48 left, then scored 36 seconds later off a setup by Colorado Avalanche first-round Joey Hishon to make it 3-2. Owen Sound's veterans took it from there.

Second honourable mention: Taylor Doherty, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

The captain scored a hat trick in Kingston's 5-3 home win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, which would rank a little higher if it had come against a better team. The 6-foot-8 San Jose Sharks defence prospect's second goal was his best, as he used his long reach to put a backhand over Soo goalie Chris Perugini's left shoulder.

Third honourable mention: Philippe Maillet, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)

The Moncton Wildcats got their fill of centres named Philippe (spelling variable). Maillet, an 18-year-old centre, and Philip-Michaël Devos each scored two goals to lead Victoriavlle to a 4-2 win over the Wildcats. They also dominated in the dot, taking more than 80 per cent of the faceoffs for the Tigres. Maillet won 20 of his 34 faceoffs (58.8 per cent). 

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

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