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CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-11-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 7 @ Val-d’Or Foreurs 3
QMJHL Playoffs, Round 2
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-2-2, +2, 0 PIM, 7 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 3-4-7, +8, 14 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 3-0-3, +3, 0 PIM, 8 SOG, 0 Hits, *Second Star*
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 7-7-14, +9, 6 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

Joseph had a hat trick to give him seven goals in seven playoff games and the nearly unbeatable Etienne Montpetit (undrafted) finally looked somewhat human as the Sea Dogs went up 3-0 on Tuesday with a 7-3 win. Montpetit still made 52 saves in the game. Val-d’Or only managed 19 shots. Top-seeded Saint John can close out the series Wednesday.

Ontario Hockey League

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 2 @ Owen Sound Attack 4
Western Conference Semifinals
Best-of-7 series tied, 2-2

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 1-0-1, +1, 4 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff Totals: 9 GP, 7-5-12, +6, 10 PIM
Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

Owen Sound held serve at home, winning games 3 and 4 to knot the series at two games apiece. Katchouk extended his playoff point streak to nine games. Game 5 is back in the Soo on Thursday. Likely 2017 first rounder Nick Suzuki had a goal and was first star for Owen Sound. The center finished the year with 96 points (45 goals) in 65 games.

Peterborough Petes 3 @ Kingston Frontenacs 1
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Peterborough leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 5/17 FO
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 2-3-5, +6, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 1-6-7, +13, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-22-29, +9, 58 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, PBO: Did not play
Season Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
2015-2016 (Finland): 37 GP, 5-8-13, +10, 16 PIM

Spencer continued his point-per-game pace as Peterborough took a commanding lead over Kingston with a 3-1 win in Game 3. The Petes can eliminate the Fronts Thursday.

Erie Otters 3 @ London Knights 1
Western Conference Semifinals
Erie leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

W/C Mitchell Stephens, LDN: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 4-0-4, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 22-32-54, +19, 26 PIM

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 1-4-5, +7, 2 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 7/15 FO
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 5-3-8, +6, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 4-10-14, +9, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Erie took back home ice advantage in the series, winning Game 3 in London, 3-1. The Otters can get a strangle-hold on the Knights with a win in Game 4 Thursday.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-10-17

KHL Gagarin Cup Final
Magnitogorsk 3 vs. St. Petersburg 1
Series Tied 1-1
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-1-1, -2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Playoff totals: 15 GP, 6-11-17, +1, 2 PIM
Regular season totals: 57 GP, 24-47-71, +33, 8 PIM

Nikita Gusev assisted on SKA's only goal, but was also -2 in their 3-1 Game Two loss to Magnitogorsk. He played 18:33 in the match. Ex-Lightning pick Vasily Koshechkin led the way for Magnitka with 43 saves in the match, helping his club survive a stunning 44-17 shot deficit in the contest.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-9-17

Ontario Hockey League

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 1 @ Owen Sound Attack 4
Western Conference Semifinals
Sault Ste. Marie leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 8 GP, 6-5-11, +5, 6 PIM
Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

Owen Sound jumped back in the series by winning at home in Game 3, 4-1. Katchouk kept his streak alive of pointing in every playoff game. Game 4 is Tuesday.

Kingston Frontenacs 1 @ Peterborough Petes 4
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Peterborough leads best-of-7 series, 2-0

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 11/24 FO, *First Star*
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 2-3-5, +5, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 1-5-6, +12, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-22-29, +9, 58 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, PBO: Did not play
Season Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
2015-2016 (Finland): 37 GP, 5-8-13, +10, 16 PIM

Paquette scored in the first period and Peterborough skated to a 3-0 by the midway point of the third period, winning Game 2 against the Fronts, 4-1. Game 3 is Tuesday in Kingston. (Peterborough Examiner photo)

NHL Game Night: 4-9-17 Sabres at Lightning

Lightning end a season of disappointment with an abundance of hope.

BUF-2
TB-4

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. He was solid as a rock again today, making situational saves when needed and staying sharp despite long stretches where he had very little work. One of the biggest reasons for the Lightning missing the playoffs this season was subpar goaltending the first two-thirds of the year that came from the weird limbo situation that Ben Bishop was in. Once Bishop was moved out at the trade deadline and Vasilevskiy clearly moved into the number one role, Vasilevskiy played outstanding. He justified the opinion of a lot of people that he's the best emerging young goaltender in the game.

First Period
13:56 BUF Carrier (5), (Nylander)

Second Period
5:59 TB Point (17), (Hedman, Dotchin)
12:20 TB Coburn (5), (Namestnikov, Killorn)(SH)

Third Period
11:17 BUF Kane (28), (Gionta, O'Reilly)
18:36 TB Point (18), (Kucherov, Stralman)
19:59 TB Hedman (16), (Stralman, Point)(EN)

Brayden Point, Vasilevskiy, and Victor Hedman were the game's three stars.

You never know what you're going to get in a game like this where there's nothing on the line after Toronto eliminated the Lightning last night with a late, come-from-behind win. I was pleased to see a pretty good overall effort from the Lightning, particularly for the first 40 minutes of the game, which I think in part stemmed from a smart decision by Jon Cooper to start Vasilevskiy and treat this more like a normal game. They were pretty sound defensively the first 40 minutes and, probably feeling a little more free with things settled in the standings, I thought showed more free-flowing offensive creativity. With tee times beckoning in the Third Period, I thought there were stretches it got a little too much like a QMJHL game with matching line rushes at both ends, but all in all I think the Lightning really closed the season strong and in style. Were it not for the heroics for Linus Ullmark in Buffalo's net, the Lightning could've easily put 7 or 8 goals on the board tonight.

The Lightning ultimately finish 2 points shy of a playoff berth with 94 points. Remember how we keep harping on that 96 point number? Yep, that's the number that would've gotten them in. There's no mysticism about it, and the Lightning learned a painful lesson this season about early season complacency. The good news, I'm happy to say, is that it seems that the team understands what happened, and after their first summer of rest in a long time seem ready to return next year with a renewed team identity and a chip on their shoulder. That's not to say there won't be changes to the roster. There are warts on this team, and players on the roster who either have plateaued as players or simply can't cut it on an elite-level NHL team. I trust that Steve Yzerman will make the changes necessary to address those issues, and have a lot of hope in my heart seeing the emerging young talent on this team.

Going into next season, you can see the Lightning have five forwards in particular that look to me to be capable of being among the NHL's best. Steven Stamkos, returning from injury, obviously is already well proven as an NHL superstar and Nikita Kucherov added himself to that echelon of players with his 40-goal, over a point-a-game campaign this year. Beyond those two, you saw two other players who I think have the capability of becoming top-10 NHL scorers: Jonathan Drouin and Brayden Point. Drouin's talent is undeniable, and it remains not a question of "if" but rather "when" he makes that transition to being a 30 goal, 80+ point a year player. He could've had 4 goals easily today were it not for Ullmark's heroics. Point, on the other hand, came into this year with significantly lower expectations as a guy who was selected outside of the top-60 in his draft year who wasn't even expected to make the NHL roster this year. Had he not missed a month with a broken paw, he would've topped 20 goals this season and something about his rookie campaign gives me all the same feels that Brad Richards' rookie campaign in Tampa Bay did as a third round pick who played like a high first rounder. Rounding out this group is veteran Ondrej Palat, who has looked lost at times over the past two seasons but down the stretch of this year started to look like the two-way beast of a player he's shown he can be. Those give on the Lightning's forward corps give me the belief the team will be dynamic offensively next year.

The defensive corps is a bit more unsettled, but Victor Hedman made a serious campaign for the Norris Trophy down the stretch of this year in finishing second in the NHL in points among defensemen. I wouldn't bet against him winning it next year, and what we saw in Hedman's game this season was the checking off of the last boxes he needed to in order to transition to becoming a great NHL defenseman. Namely, the rise of the Lightning power play this year can be directly traced to the rise of Hedman as a legit power play threat. Maybe that's the silver lining of Stamkos' injury. With Stammer out, the Lightning became a much more "left handed" power play with things primarily playing off of Kucherov's triggers in the right wing circle. Hedman at the center point fed into that change from a "right handed" power play, and he started to really sharpen up his shot and improve his distribution skills. We always knew he was a wizard off the rush, but Hedman learned to thrive in the more stationary/lateral third-ice game of the power play. Supplementing Hedman is stalwart righty defenseman Anton Stralman and the found money that was youngster Jake Dotchin. Anybody who tells you they saw the rise of Jake Dotchin coming is either a (bleeping) liar or has a time machine. One of the magical things in sports is that sometimes a guy just "gets it" out of the blue and comes out of nowhere to become a good player. That was Dotchin this year. Those three form half of a solid NHL defense corps, and with two righties already nailed down, the job of filling out the rest of the Lightning blueline becomes a lot easier for Steve Yzerman to deal with. Lefties are a lot easier to come up with. Righties are rare as hen's teeth.

And then there's Vasilevskiy. Russia's answer to Carey Price. Mark my words: as talented as the Lightning are there will be other clubs in the NHL that will have better skaters and more skill... and the Lightning will have the answer in the form of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Watching him become what he looks destined to become is going to be fun.

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:25.

Greg McKegg played 10:51.

Dotchin had a helper, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 17:07. I'd be interested to know if he draws any attention from the Canadian hockey program as a potential IIHF World Championships player.

Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:13 and was 63% on 8 draws. He will be headed back to Syracuse to help the Crunch in the playoffs, which Syracuse clinched a spot in today.

Yanni Gourde had 1 shot in 16:35 and was 40% on 10 draws. What a weapon for Syracuse to be getting back into the lineup.

Adam Erne was -2 with 4 hits and 1 blocked shot in 13:01. The stat line looks ugly, but I thought he played a whale of a first 40 minutes in the game. The whole reason Drouin could've had 3-4 goals in this game was that Erne was absolutely dealing on the forecheck and was super-creative distributing once he forced Buffalo to turn it over. He needs to follow up this stretch run with a strong playoffs for Syracuse. He'll enter next season on the roster bubble, and if he approaches the task with the proper intensity and focus he can help this Lightning team. He has obvious size and strength and surprising explosiveness and skill. The fact he can work so well with Drouin like he did today speaks to the upside he has. He's not some bogus faux power forward plugger. He's got the tools to be a serious scoring line contributor in this league. You all saw the flashes of it over the last month.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

ECHL Game Night: 4-7-17 & 4-8-17

4-07-17: Kalamazoo Wings 2 at Wheeling Nailers 7
4-08-17: Wheeling Nailers 2 at Kalamzoo Wings 5

F Brian Hart, KAL, 2gp, 1-0-1, -2, 2 PIMS, 11 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 33 GP, 6-5-11, -7, 6 PIMs, 71 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 2gp, 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIMS, 4 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 20 GP, 5-20-25, +11, 10 PIMs, 51 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, 1gp, L, 60:00 MINS, 27/34
Season Totals: 31 GP, 18-11-0-1, 3.00 GAA, 0.903 SV%, 1 SO

Kalamazoo closed out its regular season this weekend, splitting a home-and-home with Wheeling. Friday night, Nic Riopel allowed 7 goals in the loss, while on Saturday night Lighting prospect Brian Hart scored one of the five K-Wings goals. Cam Darcy assisted on goals both nights, and finished his 20 game stint with 25 points. Kalamazoo now turns its attention to the Brabham Cup winner Toledo Walleye as the league's best team in the regular session, as their best of seven playoff series begins next weekend with the first two games in Toledo.

Howden Scores First Pro Goal, Crunch Top Devils


By Jeremy Houghtaling

In just his second pro grame, Brett Howden was focused on doing what he was told.

Drive to the net with his stick down.

Howden did just that and Tanner Richard found him on the back door with 3:22 remaining in regulation and the 19-year-old recorded his first pro goal, as the Syracuse Crunch topped the Albany Devils, 3-2, and moved closer to clinching a postseason berth at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“He’s been telling me these last two games to just go to the net with my stick on the ice,” Howden said of Richard. “He’s been trying real hard to feed it to me, and he found the seam there.”

AHL Game Night: 4-8-17 Devils at Crunch

Syracuse finally gets on the right side of a key divisional tilt.

ALB-2
SYR-3

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 26 shots for the victory.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
5:20 ALB Auvitu (5), (Quenneville, Camper)(PP)
10:51 SYR Richard (14), (Kurtz)(SH)
17:14 SYR Masin (3), (Condra, Peca)
19:12 ALB Rooney (12), (Gibbons, Stollery)(SH)

Third Period
16:38 SYR Howden (1), (Richard, Comrie)(PP)

Brett Howden, Dominik Masin, and Tanner Richard were the game's three stars. Howden's game winner was also his first professional goal.

Syracuse now pulls to within 1 point of Toronto for the North Division crown with both clubs having just 3 regular season games left on their schedules. Syracuse finishes with Utica on Wednesday, Binghamton on Friday, and the regular season finale against Utica, again, on Saturday. Utica is in a street fight with two other teams for two playoff spots while Binghamton is out of the playoff race.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-8-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Val-d’Or Foreurs 1 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 4
QMJHL Playoffs, Round 1
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 2-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG, 5 Hits
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 3-2-5, +6, 14 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-1-2, +1, 2 PIM, 5 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 4-7-11, +6, 6 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

Etienne Montpetit (undrafted) was the story yet again, though despite him making 50 saves for Val-d'Or, the Sea Dogs got enough by him to win comfortably, 4-1. One of the goals was an empty-netter by Mathieu Joseph. Saint John is now 6-0 in the playoffs. Game 3 against the Foreurs is Tuesday.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-8-17

KHL Gagarin Cup Final
Magnitogorsk 4 vs. St. Petersburg 5
St. Petersburg Leads the Series 1-0
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 14 GP, 6-10-16, +3, 2 PIM
Regular season totals: 57 GP, 24-47-71, +33, 8 PIM

Nikita Gusev had a pair of helpers, one of which game on the power play, as SKA edged Magnitogorsk 5-4 in Game One of the Gagarin Cup Final. Gusev played 16:49 in the victory, which came on Magnitka's home rink. The wild game included a pair of brilliant goals by ex-NHL'er Evgeny Dadonov for SKA on the rush, a pair of ejections (one for each team) that included ex-NHL'er Ilya Kovalchuk being sent off for a hit to the head, and a power play goal by Swedish national and SKA defender Patrik Hersley that came on a point blank slapper that actually went through the Magnitogorsk net. Ex-Lightning pick Vasily Koshechkin took the loss for Magnitogorsk after allowing 5 goals on 34 shots. Fellow ex-Lightning pick Dmitry Kazionov was scoreless in 7:07 in the loss for Magnitogorsk, as well.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-7-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Val-d’Or Foreurs 1 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 2 (OT)
QMJHL Playoffs, Round 1
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 6 SOG, 4 Hits
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 3-2-5, +5, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 0-1-1, -1, 2 PIM, 5 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 3-6-9, +5, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

Etienne Montpetit (undrafted), who was the story in the Foreurs-Cataractes series, stopped 66 of 67 shots before the 68th beat him, giving the Sea Dogs an overtime win. Val-d’Or only managed 14 shots on Saint John, yet were winning 1-0 until 6:46 of the third period when Saint John scored on the power play. Mathieu Joseph had an assist on that goal. Samuel Dove-McFalls (Flyers) scored in overtime – his first of the playoffs.

Ontario Hockey League

Owen Sound Attack 1 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4
Western Conference Semifinals
Sault Ste. Marie leads best-of-7 series, 2-0

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 5-5-10, +4, 4 PIM
Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

The Soo won both home games to start their series with Owen Sound, taking Game 2, 4-1. Katchouk has had at least a point in every playoff game this season. Game 3 is in Owen Sound Sunday.

Kingston Frontenacs 2 @ Peterborough Petes 4 (Thursday)
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Peterborough leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 14/22 FO
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 1-2-3, +4, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 1-4-5, +11, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-22-29, +9, 58 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, PBO: Did not play
Season Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
2015-2016 (Finland): 37 GP, 5-8-13, +10, 16 PIM

The Petes took Game 1 against the Fronts, winning 4-2 Thursday. Paquette scored his first goal of the playoffs and Spencer added his fifth point in five games. Game 2 is Sunday.

London Knights 1 @ Erie Otters 5
Western Conference Semifinals
Best-of-7 series tied, 1-1

W/C Mitchell Stephens, LDN: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff Totals: 9 GP, 4-0-4, +1, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 22-32-54, +19, 26 PIM

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 1-4-5, +7, 2 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 13/22 FO
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 4-3-7, +5, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 1-2-3, +1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, *Second Star*
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 4-10-14, +9, 6 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Erie bounced back from a Game 1 shutout loss to take Game 2, 5-1. Undrafted free agent Darren Raddysh, a right-handed puck-moving defenseman, had a hat trick and an assist for Erie. He has nine points in six playoff games after an 81-point regular season. Taylor Raddysh’s power play goal with 2.5 seconds left in the second period extended Erie’s lead to 4-1. Cernak assisted on Darren Raddysh’s empty-net goal, and Cirelli’s assist came on the rebound of his wraparound attempt on Tyler Parsons (Flames). The series moves to London for Game 3 on Sunday.

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