January 29, 2012
No. 1 star: Ryan Murphy, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Funny how Murphy gets in a groove and now the Rangers have won 8-of-10 games to move into a tie for third overall in the Ontario Hockey League. The 18-year-old Carolina Hurricanes draft pick scored a short-handed breakaway goal and chipped in two assists in the Rangers' 5-3 win over the Guelph Storm, giving him 18 points in his past seven games.
There are few defencemen in junior who skate two-thirds the length of the ice for a short-handed goal, but Murphy broke the game open early by doing just that in the first period. Kitchener led 1-0 when Guelph's Andrey Pedan duffed a slapshot from the centre point. Rangers captain Michael Catenacci tapped the puck about 10 feet ahead to Murphy, who went coast-to-coast to beat Toronto Maple Leafs-drafted goalie Garret Sparks (who's been great lately, by the way) five-hole. Murphy also added two assists later on to help the Rangers play from ahead all afternoon.
No. 2 star: Angelo Miceli, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
The 17-year-old scored his first career hat trick, helping the Canadian Hockey League's highest-scoring team edge the division rival Quebec Remparts 6-5. The game must have resembled the NHL all-star game by times since there were seven goals in the second period, including four in a 2:38 span. Miceli, who just six goals on the season, got the Tigres started with an unassisted tally in the first period and scored twice during that wild second frame.
The Russian left wing had a goal and an assist in the third period against his former team, leading Calgary to a 4-1 thumping over the Tri-City Americans. The big win was Calgary's 14th in 15 games, moving them into third place in the WHL's Eastern Conference. Calgary, which also got a big day out of another ex-Am as goalie Chris Driedger turned aside 16-of-17 shots, led just 2-1 before Gogolev ripped home a slapshot in the third period and set up an insurance marker by Chase Clayton. Teammate Danny Gayle, who had the tiebreaking goal late in Period 2, was named the game's first star.
Honourable mention: Mark Visentin, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Consider this more of a monthly achievement award. Visentin increased his shutout streak to 206 minutes 14 seconds by handling 15 shots in the IceDogs' 3-0 shutout victory over the Brampton Battalion, whom Niagara leapfrogged for second place in the OHL's Eastern Conference. The IceDogs were impressive all-around, considering they allowed hardly any shots whiledressing only five defencemen due to injuries and Dougie Hamilton's suspension.
Honourable mention: Christian Thomas, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
The signed New York Rangers second-round pick had three points in the Gens' 5-2 win over rival Peterborough. Thomas wasn't named first star at General Motors Centre. It went to teammate Scott Laughton (two goals), but Thomas made one play that deserves to be honoured. On a rush down right wing late in the second period, Thomas flipped the puck over the head of retreating defender Trevor Murphy, darted by him to retrieve it and made a saucer pass to Laughton for the goal. This, from someone who had more goals than assists in each of the previous two seasons.
Potent notables — Potential NHL first-round pick Colton Sissons had two points, including his team-high 26th goal, in Kelowna's 4-3 win at Seattle ... Defenceman Collin Bowman had two assists for Calgary ... In the OHL, Niagara captain Andrew Agozzino scored his 149th career goal, becoming the IceDogs' career leader ... Detroit Red Wings prospect Petr Mrazek stopped 38-of-39 shots, helping Ottawa beat Owen Sound minus top defenceman Cody Ceci, who's been scratched from the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game due to an injury ... New York Rangers first-rounder J.T. Miller scored twice in Plymouth's 4-3 shootout win at Sault Ste. Marie ... fellow Rangers pick Andrew Yogan also had a two-goal game for Peterborough ... Phoenix Coyotes first-rounder Connor Murphy, playing his first OHL game in a city where his family lives part-time, was the game's first star in Sarnia's 2-1 win at Kingston ... Guelph Storm forward Tanner Richard, who's been slowed by injuries he suffered while playing for Switzerland in the world junior championship, scored his first OHL goal since Dec. 9 ... Sixteen-year-old Oshawa rookie John Urbanic, a native of Overland Park, Kansas, got his first OHL point ... In the QMJHL, potential NHL first-round pick Martin Frk scored twice for Halifax ... Ottawa Senators prospect Jean-Gabriel Pageau got his 30th goal in 32 games this season in Chicoutimi's win at Val-d'Or.
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).