April 14, 2011
No. 1 star: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
One would think the Drummondville Voltigeurs were personally responsible for Pageau's absence from the NHL Central Scouting final rankings. The undersized forward tore into the Volts with a two-goal, three-assist outing to lead the 'Piques to a series-tying 6-1 victory in Game 4.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Pageau, who plays for an organization which has groomed successful smaller players such as Paul Byron, did all of his damage by the three-minute mark of the third period. Just for good measure, he was 19-of-30 on faceoffs. It made for a long night for Drummondville, especially Sean Couturier, who ended up being minus-4.
No. 2 star: Max Reinhart, Kootenay Ice (WHL)
The Reinhart-Matt Fraser-Joe Antilla line was again the best on the, uh, playing surface as the Ice swept aside the Saskatoon Blades with a 5-2 Game 4 victory. The trio scored all four of the Ice's goals before Cody Eakin, whose effect on the series and on Brayden Schenn, drove in the final nails with a short-handed empty-netter.
Reinhart, 19, scored goals early in the second and third periods, the first cutting into an early 2-0 Blades lead and the latte putting Kootenay ahead to stay. All told, his line totalled eight points, with Fraser counting four. Schenn, the world junior tournament MVP three months ago, was shut out in what will be his final WHL game.
No. 3 star: Jason Wilson, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
The big winger had a two-goal Gordie Howe hat trick to lead Niagara to a 6-1 win over the Oshawa Generals and a 3-1 series lead. Both tallies, coming less than four minutes apart in the first period, were the classic big forward's kind of goal. Wilson bulled to the net to open scoring after Freddie Hamilton had dug the puck out from the end boards after Ryan Strome put the heat on Generals defenceman Scott Valentine. Minutes later, Wilson made a great cut to the net to deflect home teammate Steven Shipley's pass and the IceDogs had firm control of the contest.
First honourable mention: Kirill Kabanov, Lewiston Maineiacs (QMJHL)
Kabanov continued to shuck off his image as the Notorious Double-K, scoring two decisive third-period goals in the Maineiacs' 4-1 win over the Montreal Juniors, who now trail 3-1. Kabanov, who now has a six-game point streak, broke a 1-all tie with a power-play marker in the opening seconds of the final period and scored again four minutes later. The New York Islanders third-rounder and his linemate Étienne Brodeur (three assists) have been the series' X factor.
Second honourable mention: Scott Stajcer, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Stajcer stopped the Plymouth Whalers' first 36 shots, letting in only the final shot of the night in Owen Sound's sweep-completing 4-1 road win. The New York Rangers draft pick who missed the last four months of the regular season due to hip surgery came off as very self-assured, seldom giving Plymouth a sniff of a rebound. All told, Stajcer (small sample size alert!) has a 1.08 goals-against average and .963 save percentage in his three post-season starts and two relief appearances.
Third honourable mention: Dawson Guhle, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Of all the circumstances for Guhle to post a 1-0 shutout in his first post-season start. With Red Deer staring down the barrel of a 3-0 series deficit to Medicine Hat and goalie Darcy Kuemper scratched with an injury, Guhle and his mates produced a 19-save shutout to extend their season for at least 72 hours.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.