October 28, 2010
No. 1 star: Ryan Strome, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Quality is better than quantity; after coming across this clip, it's clear someone would have needed a five-goal night to nudge Strome out of top spot.
Not to oversell it, but has there been a better goal in the Canadian Hockey League this season than the first of Strome's pair in a 5-2 Niagara IceDogs win over the Plymouth Whalers?
This ain't one of your church-picnic shootout goals ... this was something done in a game.
Strome's between-the-legs dipsy-doodle to get around Whalers captain Beau Schmitz — anyone still long for good old days when defencemen could just put the clamps on an onrushing forward? — was nice enough. Then the 17-year-old had to deke New Jersey Devils-drafted goalie Scott Wedgewood and tuck the puck home after his momentum put him behind the goal line.
As TV Cogeco play-by-play man Steve Clark put it, "It looks better and better each time you look at it."
Even the pass linemate Steven Shipley threaded through a Whaler's skates to put Strome in the clear was pretty sweet.
Strome, 17, is on the early-season tear of early-season tears. The hell of it is his second goal was almost as good. Niagara was up by just a goal with less than four minutes to play when Strome beat Schmitz to the outside, used a teammate as a decoy and went top-shelf on Wedgewood.
The goal pulled Strome into a tie for the Ontario Hockey League scoring lead with Owen Sound's Garrett Wilson with 24 points in 14 games.
(Stick tap: IceDogsFans.com.)
No. 2 star: Taylor Carnevale, Barrie Colts (OHL)
More than a few people might have had the Barrie-Kitchener game pegged as a blowout, but not for the Colts. Carnevale, 19, had his second two-goal gamein a row, tallying four points in all to help the Colts rout the Rangers 8-3 and climb out of the league basement.
It was almost like Barrie was channeling last year's juggernaut. Fortunately, the TV cameras showed that was Dale Hawerchuk behind the bench, not former coach Marty Williamson, reminding us this is 2010.
Carnevale was in on three of the first four Barrie goals on a night that the Rangers absolutely reeked (Kitchener coach-GM Steve Spott termed it an "embarrassment").
Perhaps the Colts, having already lost NHL eighth overall pick Alexander Burmistrov for good, don't need 19-year-old forward Kyle Clifford back from the Los Angeles Kings. All right, let us not go nuts.
No. 3 star: Jeff Braithwaite, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
It is good a time as any to put the spotlight on a stay-at-home defenceman. Braithwaite, 18, was a big part of the Petes' 3-2 overtime win over the archrival Oshawa Generals, with two assists and a +2 plus/minus rating.
Braithwaite made a great pass out of the defensive zone that sprung Matt Puempel and Ryan Spooner on a 2-on-1 rush for the winning goal, with Puempel snapping a shot under the blocker arm of Tampa Bay Lightning-drafted goalie Michael Zador for the gamer.
Puempel and Spooner also set up Zach Tatryn's game-tying goal with 5:49 left in regulation.
Honourable mention: Dalton Prout, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Like Braithwaite, Prout wasn't awarded a star, but the leader of the Colts' blueline had a big night, scoring Barrie's first and last goals to bookend a big night for a young team.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.
(Photos: OHL Images.)