December 04, 2011
No. 1 star: Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Once in a great while, people are privileged to experience an event so extraordinary, it becomes part of their shared heritage. Halifax hockey fans are going to long remember Dec. 3, 2011 as the night hometown phenom Nathan MacKinnon scored five goals against the Quebec Remparts and perhaps solidified himself as the favourite to be No. 1 overall pick about 18 months early. All right, rein it in.
A ton of scouts were on hand to watch Quebec star Mikhail Grigorenko, along with MacKinnon and the fellow 16-year-olds who star for the Remparts, Anthony Duclair and Adam Erne. All four scored in the game, but Nasty Nate took over and led Halifax to a 6-4 win.
Quebec was up 4-2 late in the second period until MacKinnon got his second goal by crashing the net with two Remparts hanging off him. The Cole Harbour, N.S., native deked Team Canada hopeful Louis Domingue to tie the game in opening minute of the third, then tucked in a wraparound with 8:30 to go for the game-winner. His fifth tally, which tied the Mooseheads club record held by Jason King, was an empty-netter.
MacKinnon's big night pulled him into a tie with Grigorenko, who's played two more games, for fourth in QMJHL scoring. It was a pretty nice little Saturday for 2013 NHL draft prospects whom Hockey Canada passed on this week. Ottawa 67's centre Sean Monahan also had a hat trick.
Double-A demonstrated why he is high up in so many NHL mock drafts despite a paucity of points, scoring a mortarboard trick to lead the Knights to a 5-3 win at Owen Sound. The four goals were one more than the 17-year-old speedster managed in the entire month of November. The most striking part of Athanasiou's best night in his year-plus in junior was that he just did not get four goals through speed and skill. Case in point: on his third-period game-tying goal, Athanasiou was robbed in close by Attack goalie Scott Stajcer, but tracked down the rebound and stuffed it in as defenders Matt Petgrave and Brayden Rose tried to clear him from the crease.
London rookie Tyler Ferry scored the winning goal, his first in the OHL.
No. 3 star: Damien Ketlo, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Calling Ketlo's 52-save night the best game of his junior tenure might be a stretch. What is true is that the overage goalie had a career high in saves to lead the Hurricanes to a 6-3 win over a Saskatoon Blades team which, on a good night, has scoring punch out of the quintessential wazoo. The Hurricanes were outshot 23-7 in the opening period and came out of it ahead 1-0 thanks largely to Ketlo, who faced the Blades regularly in previous seasons as a member of the Regina Pats. The netminder stayed calm, cool and collected despite being peppered more often than Peter MacKay during Question Period this week. Thanks in large part to Ketlo's heroics, the formerly last-place Hurricanes have their first three-game win streak.
Honourable mention: Martin Marincin, Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Marincin gave the Cougars what they needed from their 19-year-old defenceman, leading them to their first win of the season over the Kelowna Rockets. The Edmonton Oilers second-round choice had two assists, on the tying and winning goals, in a 3-2 road victory that must have been an emotion-filled, considering that it came one night after veteran forward Charles Inglis left the team. Sixteen-year-old centre Alex Forsberg, the top choice in the 2010 Western league bantam draft, scored the winning goal for Prince George. Forsberg also caused traffic in front of the net on a goal in the game's first minute that helped the Cougars set a tone for a total team effort.
Honourable mention: Ivan Telegin, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Was that world junior championship foreshadowing in the form of a backhand-to-forehand move? The Colts slipped by the Niagara IceDogs 4-3 in a shootout in a rivalry game featuring six players headed to Team Canada's camp, but the night belonged to a hopeful for Team Russia. Telegin beat incumbent Team Canada goalie Mark Visentin for the shootout winner by getting him to move toward the right post, then pulling the puck back and sliding it home. The Winnipeg Jets prospect had two points in regulation, including a short-handed goal 6:25 into the third that got the Colts back into the hunt.
Honourable mention: Mitch Holmberg, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
The 18-year-old right wing's first career hat trick gave the Chiefs their winning margin in a 6-3 road win over the Medicine Hat Tigers. Spokane's pattern of struggling on the road (2-5-2-2 record) seemed to persist for two periods. Holmberg, however, scored 55 seconds into the period on a setup by Steven Kuhn (two assists) and that opened the door to a five-goal third. Holmberg scored the eventual winning goal with 6:20 to play and got the empty-net clincher.
Honourable mention: Jonathan Brunelle, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
The overage forward had one goal and two assists, helping Cape Breton mash the Moncton Wildcats 6-1. Moncton was as flat as some of the sketches in A Russell Peters Christmas. Dany Potvin and Brunelle scored on the Screaming Eagles' first two shots; Brunelle later had the primary helpers each of Florida Panthers draft pick Logan Shaw's two goals that put the game away.
Potent notables — St. Louis Blues second-round choice Ty Rattie got his 28th goal of the season for the Portland Winterhawks, tying him with Medicine Hat's Emerson Etem for the WHL lead. Rattie's tally was the Teddy Bear Toss goal ... Prince George overage Cody Carlson ran his point streak to eight games ... in the OHL, Ottawa Senators draft choices Shane Prince and Matt Puempel each scored twice in the Peterborough-Ottawa game. Prince had five points and was plus-4 in the 67's 7-6 shootout win ... Carolina Hurricanes first-rounder Ryan Murphy scored his first goal since returning to the Kitchener Rangers from a concussion ... Nashville Predators prospect Josh Shalla had a hat trick in Saginaw's win over Sault Ste. Marie ... The Belleville Bulls' Danill Zharkov had his third consecutive two-goal game. The St. Petersburg, Russia, native has 11 in 11 OHL games ... both Rattie in the WHL and Plymouth Whalers C Alex Aleardi joined the two-time Teddy Bear Toss goal scorer club. Oshawa Generals right wing Christian Thomas pulled off the same obscure feat on Friday ... In the QMJHL, Montreal Canadiens first-rounder Nathan Beaulieu scored the OT winner to help Saint John down MasterCard Memorial Cup host Shawinigan 3-2 ... League scoring leader Zach O'Brien factored into all of Acadie-Bathurst's scoring in their 3-2 OT win over Chicoutimi ... Val-d'Or Foreurs goalie Hugo Campeau, 17, made 24 saves vs. Drummondville for his first major junior shutout. It was just his sixth start.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: The Canadian Press).