October 13, 2011
No. 1 star: Ryan Strome, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Strome's season debut was worth the wait. After a week of watching the New York Islanders from the press box, the centre got off the plane in Ontario, rejoined the IceDogs and scored a hat trick in Niagara's every-lil'-thing's-gonna-be-all-right 5-0 win over the Belleville Bulls. Strome needed less than six minutes to get his first goal of the year as he took an Andrew Agozzino pass, carried in on goal and whacked the rebound behind Bulls goalie John Chartrand. It only took another eight minutes for Strome to tally again, off a feed from fellow Islanders draft choice Mitchell Theoret. Strome completed his hatty with a high-slot rocket past Chartrand — a former IceDog — in the final period.
Phoenix Coyotes goaltending prospect Mark Visentin had a 25-save shutout in his first start since returning from a groin injury. Judging by the lunge he made for a third-period toe save on Danny Elser that preserved the shutout, Visentin is healthy again. Suffice to say, fans in St. Catharines had a lot more to celebrate beyond being happy for Belleville bench boss George Burnett, who coached his 1,000th game.
No. 2 star: Brady Vail, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
The 17-year-old was the man of the match in the first installment of the league's best cross-border rivalry, scoring twice in regulation in the Spitfires' 4-3 overtime win over the Plymouth Whalers. Vail, a Palm City, Fla., native who is making great strides after playing sparingly as a 16-year-old rookie last season, sniped a sweet tying goal late in the second period. Sprung by a nice lead pass by Alexander Khokhlachev, Vail went down left wing and snapped a shot past Whalers goalie Scott Wedgewood on the short side. Vail nearly won the game in overtime, too, but Wedgewood denied him from point-blank range. That only bought the Whalers a reprieve for a minute or two before Craig Duininck scored the game-winner.
Sean who? The Voltigeurs began a Maritime road trip with a 5-1 rout of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles with the line of Raymond, Marc-Olivier Brouillard and André Bouvet-Morrissette combining for 11 points. The game was actually tied entering the final frame before Raymond (two goals, one assist) helped set up the go-ahead tally by Bouvet-Morrissette (two goals, two assists). Over the next eight minutes, Raymond, a native of Rouyn-Noranda, Que., scored back-to-back goals to ice the game.
Honourable mention: Andrew D'Agostini, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
It is probably too early for the Petes to stray from their goalie rotation, but they're 4-0 with D'Agostini in goal after his 41-save night backed them to a 4-2 home win over the Owen Sound Attack. D'Agostini, an 18-year-old who's allowed only four goals in his four starts while stopping 122-of-126 shots for a .968 save percentage, was sharp once again. The game was never in doubt after the second period despite the Attack having a territorial edge, as D'Agostini stopped 18-of-19 third-period shots.
Ottawa Senators first-round choice Matt Puempel paced the Petes' attack with two goals and an assist.
Honourable mention: Owen Werthner, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
The 19-year-old rookie defenceman had one goal and one assist in the 3-0 Remparts victory over Victoriaville that vaulted Quebec into top spot in the QMJHL. Werthner opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the game and also contributed to the airtight defenceman that helped Louis Domingue match fellow Phoenix Coyotes prospect Visentin by posting 27 saves.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports . Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: OHL Images).