Olivier Archambault expanded upon his recent success with 7 points in 3 games this week. MacMillan and Nygren are both red hot right now, while Bozon is ice cold. Hudon and Nyström both were unable to keep their momentum going after monster weeks. Vail is starting to rack up the points playing as a defenceman and Bennett, Collberg, Nygren and Pribyl will all be seeing post-season action next week.
Brady Vail continued to play defence this week. Despite only having six healthy defenceman on the roster, Windsor suspended defenceman John Bowen for reasons unknown for three games. Which means that Vail certainly won’t be seeing any time at forward soon. Vail the defenceman and the Spitfires faced off against the OHL’s best in the London Knights. London won 5-2, but it was easily Vail’s best game as a defenceman. He finished the game +2 and wasn’t on the ice for any of the goals against. Vail also picked up two assists, one from a slapper generating a rebound, and the other with an end to end rush followed by a nice pass to Kerby Rychel for an easy tap in. Vail’s efforts were good enough for a second star. Windsor played against Erie on Saturday night, and they lost. Vail finished -1, but still had a solid game as he was Windsor’s best defenceman. With a 9-4 loss on Sunday against Niagara, Windsor was essentially eliminated from seeing post season action. While they aren’t mathematically out, they need to win at least four out of their last five games.
This week’s hottest prospect would have to be Olivier Archambault. Archambault scored three times and added four assists in just three games this week. He started the week off with a game against fellow Habs prospect, Charles Hudon. Archambault played probably the best he’s played all season. Drummondville won 6-0 and Archambault was involved in all six of the goals. He racked up four points (Video) and almost got into a fight, twice. Archambault dropped the gloves and was ready to go with Scott Carrier, but the linesmen jumped in and broke the fight up before it could occur. Later in the game they broke off from the scrum and were having a lengthy conversation, but yet again the linesmen broke it up. Archambault continued his strong play against the Remparts. He wasn’t able to pick up the point, but he looked deadly every shift and almost scored an absolutely incredible goal. Fortunately, the next game he did make a highlight reel play that found the back of the net. Archambault made a spectacular dash up the ice, dusting three players and then made a great toe-drag around the defender to bring it to the net and made a perfect pass to finish the play (Video). It was Archambault’s third point of the night (Video), and capped off a fantastic week by him. In Archambault’s last 12 games, he has 19 points. In that span he has a set career highs in goals, assists and points.
Following a two week stretch that saw Charles Hudon put up 11 points in four games, Hudon struggled to produce this week. Hudon’s first game was played against the Quebec Remparts, and Hudon struggled. His team lost 5-2 and Hudon finished -2. He picked up an assist, however, that would be his only point off the week. Hudon faced off against Olivier Archambault on Thursday night. While Archambault was having a performance to remember, Hudon was having one to forget. He didn’t have a single quality scoring chance and was completely invisible. Hudon’s third and final game of the week, came on Friday against Shawinigan. He had a very strong game, despite not getting any points. He looked very good offensively and came close to scoring multiple times. With three games next week, don’t be surprised to see Hudon, tie and then surpass his career high in points with 66 as he is currently two points off.
With no goals in his last eight games, it’s safe to say that Tim Bozon is currently on a scoring drought. Bozon had an intense week, with a game on Wednesday and then a back-to-back-to-back starting on Friday. Despite not scoring goals as much as he’d like to, Bozon has improved his defensive game and saw some rare time on the penalty kill. Bozon’s first game against Vancouver and it wasn’t the ideal way to start the week. Bozon finished with an assist, which was a simple pass from the corner, and a -2 rating in 5-3 loss. The Blazers and Bozon bounced back against Prince George with a 4-1 win. Bozon set up a goal just 41 seconds into the game, after winning a puck battle and intercepting a pass in his own zone. Bozon saw some rare time of penalty kill on Saturday, paired with Kale Kessy. It paid off right away as Bozon cleared the puck and set up Kessy for a short handed breakaway. He was not awarded an assist on the play as the defender caught the puck, but lost possession as Kessy skated past him. The final game of the huge weekend Bozon’s best. He looked very good on the penalty, fantastic actually. He made multiple good plays and looked very strong on the puck. He also used his speed and created some scoring chances off the rush. Bozon picked up an assist with a pass to the point on the power play. Bozon is currently on his longest goalless drought of his WHL career. While it would be nice to see him find the back of the net soon, Bozon deserves credit for the hard work that he’s put into improve his overall game.
Darren Dietz’s month of February was amazing. He finished with seven goals, 12 assists and a combined +23 rating in just 15 games in a month in which Saskatoon did not lose a single game. Dietz’s first game was on Tuesday, and what a game it was. Dietz, while he was held pointless, put up a fantastic performance. Every shift he created offence, while being fantastic defensively. He made numerous rushes, stretch passes, and generated turnovers. Dietz finished with a +2 and was unsurprisingly the first star of the game. On Thursday, Dietz was a minus player for only the the second time the month of February. He took two lazy penalties, and had a pretty rough night in his own end. He still generated offensive though, and moved the puck well. Dietz’s third game of the week was played on Friday. Dietz finished with a +4 rating and was very good at both ends of the ice. He could have easily had a few points. The Blades wrapped up their week against the Moose Jaw Warriors. Dietz and the Blades got of to a great start. Dietz rang a shot off the post, but the rebound was buried just 43 seconds in. With the assist, Dietz tied his career high of 29. The Blades jumped up to a 4-0 lead, but they eventually gave up 4 straight goals. The Warriors ended up winning in overtime, ending the Blades winning streak at 18 games. Check out this article if you want to learn more about Dietz and his history in hockey.
Another Saskatoon Blades’ defenceman, Dalton Thrower also had a good week. Thrower’s first and best game of the week was played against Red Deer on Tuesday. Thrower was very dynamic offensively, he made some great rushes, including an end to end rush. Thrower also did a very good job finding open shooting lanes to get his shot through. Thrower and Blades faced off against Calgary on Wednesday. It was a very close game from start to finish and Thrower was a very big part of that. He did a great job defensively by blocking shots and effectively timing his poke checks. Thrower didn’t waste any time of Friday by dropping the gloves with Nick Walters (Video). The fourth and final game of Thrower’s week wasn’t a particularly memorable one as the Blades win streak was snapped after a third period collapse. As the game begun to get chippy, Thrower did too. He appeared to challenge two different players to fights, but both declined. Thrower is finding consistency in his game, some that he hasn’t had since last season. His offensive numbers haven’t been nearly as impressive as they were last season, but he’s shored up multiple defensive holes.
Mac Bennett continued to play on the top pairing with Jacob Trouba this weekend. However, he only played one game, but it was a fantastic one. Bennett finished the game +3 and had an assist. His assist was a magnificent stretch pass to set up a 2 on 1. Bennett sat out in the final game of the regular season on Saturday night, but will return for the best-of-3 playoff series against North Michigan which kicks off on Friday. It’s been a rough year for the University of Michigan, but with three wins in their last four, they might have clicked just in time for a good playoff run.
Josiah Didier had a solid weekend. Denver kicked off the weekend with a 2-0 win against the University of Minnesota. Didier finished with 3 shots on goal, and a +1 rating. He was on the ice for the empty net goal as he was protecting a 1-0 with 15 seconds left in the game. Unfortunately for Denver and Didier, they had to settle for a split against Minnesota because of a 5-1 loss the following night. Didier was only on the ice for one of the five goals. Denver’s regular season will wrap up next week after two games against Alaska-Anchorage.
Despite having been a prolific scorer in the NCAA the past four years Danny Kristo has never registered a point against WCHA rival, Bemidji State. On Friday, Kristo was finally able to pick up that elusive point. Kristo found the puck in a scrum and sent it to the point, where it was a shot by Gleason who got credit for the goal. Kristo had a fairly quiet night though, he wasn’t able to find much space to use his speed and skill. Saturday was the opposite. He was unable to find his name on the scoreboard, but he created chances every shift. Kristo had a boatload of chances, including one with just seconds remaining in overtime to break to tie, but he fanned on his one timer attempt. As Kristo was held pointless, his eight game point streak was snapped. Over that span he accumulated six goals and seven assists. Kristo is currently tied for third in NCAA with 44 points.
After playing well, but being unable to find the back of the net, Mark MacMillan was finally able to get on the board for the first time in nine games with a three point performance last weekend. MacMillan’s first game came on Friday, and he kept his momentum going. He set the tone of the game right away with a huge body check in the neutral zone. Then MacMillan scored twice and added an assist (Video) for his second three point performance in a row. MacMillan was unable to get a point in his second game of the week, but just like on Friday, he set the tone right away by creating scoring chances and finishing his checks. MacMillan finished the game with a +1 rating and was instrumental in one goal. He acted as a screen and the puck went straight in from the point. Be sure to check this article out on Mark MacMillan and his brother, Mitch MacMillan.
Dustin Walsh struggled last weekend, and he continued that trend this weekend. Walsh’s first game was played on Friday against Princeton. He played on left wing on the second line, but was -1 and was only able to put a single shot on goal. Walsh’s struggles continued on Saturday night in a match against Quinnipiac. Walsh demoted down to the third line for the first time this season. Walsh got the secondary assist on Dartmouth’s lone goal in a 4-1 loss.
With Frölunda clinching a playoff berth, Sebastian Collberg will see post-season hockey for the first time in his young Elitserien career. Collberg’s week started off on a bad note as his scoring drought was extended to nine games. On Thursday Collberg was finally able to find the back off the net against Linköpings HC with a beautiful backhander right after the faceoff (Video). He was unable to score in a meeting with Skellefteå AIK on Saturday. Collberg has been playing on a line with Mathis Olimb and Anton Axelsson. Collberg’s Frölunda Indians will play their final game of the season against the Växjö Lakers HC on Tuesday
Magnus Nygren exploded offensively for four points in three games this week. His first game was a 3-2 loss against Skellefteå AIK. Nygren registered 2 shots, but finished with a -1 rating. On Thursday, he picked up his first point of the week with a cross ice pass. He also had 3 shots on goal and a +1 rating. Nygren had a three point night on Saturday against Luleå, including 2 assists and the game winning shootout goal (Video). His first assist was a nice a simple pass to his defence partner, but his second assist was a beautiful tape-to-tape pass through traffic. Nygren also had a staggering seven shots on goal. Like Collberg, Nygren’s Färjestads BK clinched a playoff berth. Nygren has five goals and seven assists in 24 career Elitserien playoff games. Nygren’s regular season will wrap up against Rögle BK Tuesday night.
While Collberg and Nygren play in for the Elitserien championship, Erik Nyström and Karlskrona HK could be relegated to Division 1. Nyström was loaned to Karlskrona HK by Elitserien club, MODO halfway through the season. He started the season with MODO’s U-20 team, in which he amassed eight goals and 16 assists in 22 games. In late November he was loaned to Karlskrona to play in a more competitive league. He racked up five goals and six assists in 23 games. This week, Nyström was unable to put up any points at all. He started out the week on the top line, but a 6-4 loss prompted line shuffling and Nyström was placed on the fourth line. He had a game to forgot as Saturday as he finished the game with a -3 rating.
Like the rest of the European prospects Daniel Pribyl will be seeing post-season action. His season wrapped up on Tuesday. Pribyl scored a goal in his final game of the season with a nice wrap around. It turned out to the be game winner. Pribyl scored 12 goals and 11 assists in his first full season in the Czech Extraliga, which was good enough for sixth place in team scoring. Which is not bad at all for a rookie who saw limited ice time. Pribyl finished the season very strong with 13 points in 10 games. Hopefully he can carry that momentum into post season hockey.