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North American Juniors Game Night: 4/3/11

OHL

Western Conference Quarterfinals

No.2 Saginaw Spirit 6 @ No.7 Guelph Storm 5
Saginaw wins best of seven series 4-2

C/W Richard Panik, GUE: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM (check to the head)
Season Totals: 51 GP, 27-29-56, -6, 75 PIM
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 1-2-3, -4, 10 PIM

Guelph had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in Game 6, but needed three late goals just to pull within one score of the higher seeded Spirit. The Storm also had a series lead of 2-1, but couldn’t win Game 4 and eventually lost the series. Panik, who had another check-to the head penalty, can now join the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL again since his team is finished. Panik’s junior career is also over. He is expect to play for Norfolk or Tampa Bay next season. Step 1 is a contract, however.

Western Conference Quarterfinals

No.1 Owen Sound Attack 1 @ No.8 London Knights 0
Owen Sound wins best of seven series 4-2

D Geoffrey Schemitsch, OS: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 45 GP, 1-19-20, +17, 14 PIM
Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
G Michael Zador, OS: Win, 23 saves on 23 shots, shutout, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 31 GP, 19-5-1-1, 3.23 GAA, .888 sv%, 0 SO
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 2-0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 sv%, 1 SO

Zador (pictured) is taking the No.1 job and running with it. The former London Knight first rounder stopped 23 of 23 shots Sunday to shut out the Knights and help the Attack advance to the second round of the playoffs. Zador was part of London’s trade that brought John Tavares to the Knights from Oshawa. The Gens traded Zador to Owen Sound this season when the Attack was looking for a backup goaltender. Zador had fallen to No.3 in Oshawa. Owen Sound is the first team from the Western Conference to advance.

WHL

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

No.1 Saskatoon Blades 2 @ No.8 Prince Albert Raiders 1
Saskatoon wins best of seven series 4-2

D Teigan Zahn, SAS: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 72 GP, 3-20-23, +39, 133 PIM
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 0-2-2 +2, 6 PIM

Top-seeded Saskatoon got an overtime goal from Matej Stransky (2011) to finally put away the pesky Raiders. Prince Albert goaltender Jamie Tucker turned the puck over in overtime when a Blades player yelled “Tucks!” Tucker thought it was a teammate and handed the puck to him and before he knew it, the puck was in the net. Saskatoon will play either Kootenay or Brandon in Round 2.

NHL Game Night: 4/3/11 Lightning at Blackhawks

Smitty paints a masterpiece against the defending champs.

TB-2
CHI-0

Mike Smith stopped all 31 shots he faced for his first shutout victory of the season. He was magnificent. That was, by far, his best game of this year and maybe his best game since his concussion problems started 2 seasons ago. Smitty is 2-1-1 since coming back from Norfolk with a .934 save percentage in those 4 games. He also had a couple of good victories before going down to join the Admirals, So he's 4-1-1 in his last 6 decisions, with decent numbers, and he may very well have saved his NHL career.

First Period
07:56 TB Lecavalier (21), St Louis (64), Gagne (21)(PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
19:38 TB Thompson (10), Gagne (22), Hall (11)(EN)

Smith and Vincent Lecavalier were the game's 3 stars.

The shot totals in the game were pretty ugly, with Chicago outpacing the Lightning 30-14 in the game. The Lightning were in a bad spot playing a back-to-back and losing Lecavalier for most of the game after Michael Frolik left the mark of Zorro on his face. But, all that said, the Lightning played a masterful game defensively. It was Lemaire-esque how the team clogged the neutral zone, had sticks in every passing lane, and blocked a ton of shots to frustrate a Hawks team that desperately needed this win to help fend off the charge of the Calgary Feasters. And when the defense wasn't there, Smitty did his best Martin Brodeur impersonation tonight.

For their part, the Lightning are again 1 point back of Pittsburgh for 4th in the East and 3 points back of Washington for tops in the Southeast. The Lightning finish against two teams fighting for their lives in Buffalo and Carolina with a game against Florida sandwiched in between. Pittsburgh draws three dogs: New Jersey, the Islanders, and Atlanta. Washington also has three dogs left: Toronto and then back-to-back games against the Panthers. But, you know, that's why they play the games. The Lightning hold the ROW tiebreak over Pittsburgh, so if they win out and the Pens just lose 1 point anywhere along the way, home ice belongs to the Lightning.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Kval till Elitserien Game Day: 4/3/11

Rogle 1 @ Sodertalje 2
Riku Helenius, Sodertalje, Win, 29/30, 1.00 GAA, .967 sv%
Season totals: 18 GP, 4-11-0, 0 SO, 3.03 GAA, .884 sv%
Kval till Eliserien totals: 3 GP, 1-0-1, 0 SO, 1.50 GAA, .943 sv%

Riku Helenius just won the biggest game of the season for Sodertalje. Sitting in 3rd place behind Rogle, Helenius made 29 saves to defeat the Allsvenskan side and keep Sodertalje afloat in their race to stay in the Elitserien next season. Ryan Lasch had both goals for Sodertalje.

However, MODO killed Mora 8-1 today, giving MODO the tiebreaker on goal differential at +10 to Sodertalje's +4. So, Vaxjo sits in first on the table at 20 points with MODO and Sodertalje trailing at 14 points a piece. Vaxjo has clinched a spot in the Elitserien next season because MODO and Sodertalje have a head-to-head game remaining. The top two teams go to Sweden's top league next season, so it looks like it's down to MODO, Sodertalje, and Rogle at 1 point back all fighting for 1 last spot. Sodertalje draws Mora and MODO in their remaining games. MODO gets Orebro and Sodertalje. Rogle has Vaxjo and Orebro left.

And, out of nowhere, it looks like Helenius, who backstopped Sodertalje through last year's Kval till Elitserien, will be in the thick of it at the very end this year. It might be Helenius' final games under a Lightning contract as a BoltProspect, but at least he's making it interesting.

Also, in the Elitserien playoffs, Farjestads and Skelleftea have advanced to the finals. They were the 2nd and 3rd place teams during the regular season.

North American Juniors Hockey Night: 4/2/11

USHL

Indiana Ice 3 @ Fargo Force 5
C Jimmy Mullin, FGO: 2-2-4, +4, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Season totals: 50 GP, 22-36-58, +28, 26 PIM

Mullin scored shorthanded and into an empty net to give him 22 goals on the year. He also added two assists and was plus-4. Not a bad night. Fargo remains in fourth in the conference, but are two points out of second. They have two home games left next weekend before the playoffs start.

OHL

Western Conference Quarterfinals

No.7 Guelph Storm 4 @ No.2 Saginaw Spirit 5
Saginaw leads best of seven series 3-2

C/W Richard Panik, GUE: 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM (check to the head)
Season Totals: 51 GP, 27-29-56, -6, 75 PIM
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 1-2-3, -3, 8 PIM

Saginaw scored the tie-breaking goal just past the half-way point of the third period and held on for a Game 5 win over Guelph. Panik was penalized for a check to the head at the 20:00 mark of the third period. Two other Guelph players were also penalized after the final horn. No Spirit players were called for an infraction at that time. Game 6 is Sunday in Guelph.

Western Conference Quarterfinals

No.8 London Knights 0 @ No.1 Owen Sound Attack 6
Owen Sound leads best of seven series 3-2

D Geoffrey Schemitsch, OS: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 45 GP, 1-19-20, +17, 14 PIM
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
G Michael Zador, OS: Win, 13 saves on 13 shots in 51:26
Season Totals: 31 GP, 19-5-1-1, 3.23 GAA, .888 sv%, 0 SO
Playoff Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 sv%, 0 SO

Zador, who was once a first round pick of London, got the start in the pivotal Game 5 for Owen Sound and didn’t disappoint, stopping 13 of 13 shots before leaving the game midway through the third period. It was his first career playoff win. The Attack’s usual No.1 keeper, Jordan Binnington, didn’t dress for the game. He’s been shaky this series and was pulled in favor of Zador in Game 4. There are no reports of an injury to Zador, so it’s likely he was pulled in the third period with the game out of hand to prevent an injury.

"I felt like it was just an every day game, I was comfortable," Zador told the Owen Sound Sun Times after the game. "Our team played great in front of me so I'm really happy how it turned out. I'm just going to take it day-to-day and keep playing the way I am right now."

The Knights only had 14 shots in Game 5 despite having four power plays. Game 6 is Sunday in London.

WHL

Western Conference Quarterfinals

No.7 Chilliwack Bruins 4 @ No.2 Spokane Chiefs 6
Spokane wins best of seven series 4-1

C Tyler Johnson, SPO: Did not play – injured.
Season Totals: 71 GP, 53-62-115, +27, 48 PIM
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 2-2-4, +1, 0 PIM

Johnson missed his second full game with a head injury. His Chiefs teammates were able to overcome playing without their leading scorer and eliminated the Bruins in five games. This may have been the last time the Bruins represented Chilliwack as reports state a move to Victoria is expected. Spokane will face Lightning prospect Carter Ashton and Tri-City in the next round starting next Saturday. Hopefully the week off allows enough time for Johnson to recover.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

No.8 Prince Albert Raiders 0 @ No.1 Saskatoon Blades 8
Saskatoon lead best of seven series 3-2

D Teigan Zahn, SAS: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 72 GP, 3-20-23, +39, 133 PIM
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 0-2-2 +2, 6 PIM

After seeing their 2-0 series lead disappear at the home of eighth-seeded Prince Albert, Saskatoon made a statement in Game 5, destroying the Raiders 8-0. The Blades scored six times in the second period to break a 0-0 tie. Game 6 is Sunday in Prince Albert.

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